GUEST: Jiri Marousek, Chief Marketing Officer at the AOPA
You’ve seen plenty of companies focused on pushing sales organizations hard to generate more revenue. There’s often a focus inside companies to get more out of the salespeople they have.
This is a viable plan of attack, but it’s not the only one. Over the last five years, we’ve seen an increase in marketing and services agencies, and they aren’t cheap—even if the services they provide are seen as critical.
So today, we want to talk about how building that internal capability is not only worth the investment: it can also increase revenue. To do that, we talked to Jiri Marousek, Chief Marketing Officer at the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association).
Here are the highlights of what Jiri had to say.
Why the AOPA Chose to Keep More Things Internal
When Jiri started, his boss hired him to move the organization to the next level. They both knew that the company had the opportunity to be the core lifestyle brand for aviation. In their industry, there isn’t a Harley-Davidson equivalent, so they wanted to be the passion brand, the place of belonging for the aviation community.
Previously, they did not have a strong marketing department. The various divisions were committing what Jiri calls “random acts of marketing,” with only a logo design as the common denominator.
One of the things Jiri and his boss decided on was that they needed a strong core team, present every day, who cares about the business, communicates to all divisions, and is 100% focused on making sure they are a lifestyle brand.
What Kind of Skillsets Did They Identify as Critical for This Internal Marketing Team?
They had a strong team in place to support customers after transactions. They didn’t have a problem with customer service: it was before that where the business was flailing in water.
Jiri had to ask, “Where are we not doing well?” They looked at all the areas that modern customers expect to be done right: website performance, a catalog of relevant content, etc. There was enough that they were outsourcing or simply not doing that they decided to hire totally for those areas.
This happened about three years ago, and Jiri was frank in admitting they are barely halfway to where they want to be.
“We’re changing a massive organization,” Jiri said. “And also, as we get talent in house, we find more opportunities where we can do things better.” In many areas such as web development, they didn’t have enough talent to do what they can now years ago. When they brought that expertise in, it helped them identify other areas where they were struggling.
What Was the Reaction Internally?
A big piece of the “we’re halfway there” Jiri mentioned is that the rest of the organization is still learning how to work with a proper marketing organization that has a plan, makes changes on the fly, and maximizes the ROI of everything they do.
A lot of what they do is teaching the organization how to work from the ground up properly. All the organizations are intertwined in how they affect one another. If something happens with their advocacy team, it might impact the regulatory environment of their legal services plan for pilots.
Any change in one impacts the other. That on its own is an argument for keeping the team integrated from a marketing perspective. In light of that, Jiri’s team took a lot of freedom away from people who were used to those “random acts of marketing.”
The marketing team has run into friction in changing the process, and Jiri says the only thing that’s making them successful is the fact that he’s had the full support of the CEO and collaboration with his peers to make sure the change happens.
Because of that support, they’re getting where they want to be. The fact that it’s taken awhile might even be a good thing, since they’re constantly learning about areas they didn’t even know they could improve before.
What is most effective when someone is trying to sell to you?
We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Jiri responded:
“There are two points I’ll make here. One, I cannot believe that in the age of the Internet it seems like every other day sales folks and business development are not doing their homework. They’ll reach out to me and make blatant mistakes that could be corrected with one Google search to understand what I do or what our business does or needs or where we’re going. I will likely ignore that call no matter what it’s selling. That person just wants to pitch and doesn’t want to understand how that product fits my business.
“The other one is, talk like a human. If I get a pitch that’s overstuffed with the latest and greatest buzzwords that you’d find on the cover of Ad Age or some other magazine . . . just talk like a human. It’s so easy.”
In each episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we ask our guests for one nugget of wisdom they would impart to a sales professional. Here’s this one:
“The one thing I see my team do, and I’m just as guilty of it, is a lot of time when we’re trying to exceed our revenue goals, we get really focused on what we’re doing wrong in the sales pitch or the presentation of our case or product. I’d say close to half the time, the problem is much earlier in the process. If the sales are failing, we’ve usually failed six months earlier in positioning the product or communicating our brand to the right people. Don’t be so laser-focused on the sales pitch being wrong; be open to the fact that there might be other things you’re failing at if the sales are not there. There might be a leading indicator to address first.”
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.