Today’s show focuses on capturing the attention of customers and prospects through campaign strategy and planning. Our expert guest is Randolph Carter, the VP of Marketing in North America for Rentokil. Rentokil-Steritech represents the North American division of Rentokil, one of the largest business services companies in the world that operates in over 60 countries. Randolph is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic from his role heading Rentokil’s expanding marketing efforts across North America.
Randolph answers questions out of SBI’s How to Make Your Number in 2018 to share his deep knowledge of campaign strategy and planning. To follow along flip to the Marketing Strategy section and turn to Phase 6, Campaign Planning found on pages 264-269.
Why this topic? Every market has a “sweet spot.” Campaigns and campaign budgets generate revenues when focused directly at this “sweet spot.” Campaigns that are not hyper-targeted do not. To generate a return on marketing campaign dollars requires a clear objective, timeline, budget, accurate lists, correct media mix, and compelling calls to action.
Randolph is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic from his role heading Rentokil’s expanding marketing efforts across North America. Below you’ll find the questions and answers from his interview with SBI’s CEO, Matt Sharrers. Subscribe to ongoing episodes through iTunes.
Randolph as you think about your experience running campaigns and how you have evolved to the point you are today, can you share a little bit about that evolution just to help ground the audience in this big, meaty topic known as marketing campaigns?
Absolutely, I’ve been with Rentokil for about 10 years and over that time I have tried, to quote Clint Eastwood, “every which way but almost loose” to try and get marketing campaigns to work, And to be honest with you, it’s been a challenge. Most of them have been marketing-led, and I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried direct mail; phone and direct mail; email, phone and direct mail; but what I’ve found to be the most effective is training the sales team and giving them incentives.
During all that time what’s interesting is, I’ve had all the right elements in doing this but never had quite the right recipe. So, it’s become a bit of a personal challenge for me to go and find a way of making this work. And I’m glad to say over the last couple of years in North America I think we’ve found a model that’s starting to do exactly that.
If you think about a marketing campaign, you want to have objectives, a timeline, a budget and you’ve got to expect a result. Randolph, walking through that continuum, talk a little bit about campaign objectives. How do you think about objectives when you go into planning a campaign?
When it comes to setting objectives, the way I think about it is organic growth. We’re a company that’s growing both organically and through acquisition, but our key target is growing organically. There are lots of ways of doing that and the marketing campaign is certainly one that’s gaining in importance for us over the last couple of years.
Talk a little bit about the reactivity of the pest control industry relative to objective setting.
Our business is really split into two areas. There’s the residential business and then there’s the commercial side of the business.
On the residential side, it’s much more a question of being there and making sure your brand’s known and moving forward. On the commercial side, it starts at the beginning of the year. We start to do our annual planning, we sit down with the sales team and the sales directors and say, “Okay, we’re going to do campaigns. How many should we do? When should we run them? What audience should we target?” We typically do two to three campaigns a year that last three to four months each. The key is sitting down and agreeing with sales so that the campaign works with our plan and with their plan.
How do you think about the budget? The one thing that we always know the big rumor is sales guys make money, marketing guys spend money. How do you balance that and think through that over the span of a year?
When it comes to the budget setting, my boss is very keen on ROI, and after a couple years I think we’ve got a clear, solid model. We’ve actually got enough experience to say, “If we invest this amount of money, we’re going to get this return.” Now, I simply have to model this delivery and double market growth rates in the sectors we’re targeting through our campaigning.
The budget we break down into marketing and sales enablement. On the marketing side, we’re looking at pay per click. We build our overall budget and we ask the sales team, “What do you think you can achieve in order to get sales growth?” We then measure the return on investment on that incremental sales growth, and we have our budget
Now let’s talk a little bit about addressable markets. You guys are international, so the market is quite expansive. How do you think about allocating people, money, and time against your sweet spot in this addressable market?
Well, you’re touching on the joys of pest control. The world is our addressable market.
It’s really about focusing. We segment our markets by industry type and we focus on … commercial businesses who’ve got financial impact. I’m thinking about sectors like food processing or logistics, pharmaceuticals, retail, etc.
What we do is we sit down and talk to the sales team. Again, it’s very much a hand-in hand process, but we look at which segments we think we’ve got a relatively low share in compared to other areas, where we’ve got a compelling offer, and where we think there’s a sizable and big enough segment for us to go after.
Then, once we’ve got that first segment identified, we think about the sub-segments or groups within it. You can’t do all of it, that would just confuse your salespeople and your customers, so we just focus in on an addressable side market that has size and room for growth.
Randolph, how do you make sure your campaign message is provocative and differentiated?
If I think about the commercial side, when we’re developing a campaign, the first thing we do is our research into the chosen sector or segment or segment and sub-sectors and we create and we run what we call “Our Segment Bible.” Our Segment Bible is a really in-depth look into everything we can find, namely through desk research.
We’ll look at the trends within a segment or sub-sector. We’ll look at the decision-makers, the influencers, and their motives and needs. We’ll look at the competition and how we can differentiate ourselves from them.
From that, the marketing managers will work with our creative team to distill it and come up with the themes for the campaign, around which we base all our communications and propositions, and we drive the campaign through.
On the residential side, we have developed our proposition, which is called “Pest Free 365”. That’s much more again about understanding customers and consumers and really getting into that detail, the nitty-gritty. The secret to the sauce is that final drop of detail. But really understanding what it is the customers are looking for and differentiating ourselves from the competition, is the key to campaign success.
I think Randolph on that point, a marriage that I have loved to watch over the years is this great union between sales and marketing. How do you incorporate both sales and marketing together to execute an integrated campaign and have that interlock?
I’m really glad to say that we have worked hard over the last few years to become true friends with sales. The way we do it is starting the year with our planning phase and making sure we’ve got their input incorporated into our plans. When we then get to prepare the campaign itself, it will typically take about three months before they launch the campaign. We’ll sit down and establish a project team which includes the senior sales guys, the marketing managers, the creative people, the online people, and the sales training people.
Sales training is a critical part of the process. What we do is rather than say, “We’ve got a three month campaign. We’re going to launch it with a big bang on Friday and on Monday, we’re going to train everyone and then we’re going to let them get on with it,” that’s where things have gone wrong for me in the past. What we’ve been doing more recently is saying, “We’ve got three months. Every two weeks, we’re going to add a little more content and a bit more knowledge about the sectors and our propositions into these guys,” so over three months they build their knowledge. One of our goals, Matt, in these campaigns is not only to grow sales, but is also to increase the capability of our sales force overall in that particular sector so they continue to sell successfully and well beyond the period of the campaign.
Are there different types of compelling offers and calls to action that you all have experimented with and that you’ve tried? How do you think about creating those?
I’m becoming repetitive and I don’t mean to be, but the Segment Bible is really important to us and we start with the Bible because it provides insight and understanding of the customer. From there it’s about really working through what your compelling proposition.
It’s important for a compelling proposition to clearly answer the customer problem or issue. I’m a firm believer in having two elements to it: the rational side and a more emotional side, because as human beings we all make decisions with the emotional part of our brain, which is informed by the rational part of our brain.
For example, in our Ambius business, when we are dressing their healthcare sector, the theme that we came up for the proposition overall was “Improving the patient experience by design” because we know that healthcare facilities are all about patient experience. We know that in our proposition we are really strong when it comes to plant design work, and helping healthcare hospitals work out what plants to put where in order to bring down the stress levels of patients and make those waiting times more bearable. That’s the kind of detail you need, an incorporation of the rational piece versus the emotional piece that also meets the needs of the customer in terms of patient experience.
Randolph, how do you think through channel selection when it comes to campaigns?
The first thing I’d say is to measure the heck out of everything you do because without that you’re shooting in the dark. We measure everything we do and that allows us to know which channels are most effective when we’re planning campaigns.
Then, when we come to a particular campaign, we can go back to our Segment Bible and find out which channels our target audience are looking at, what websites they’re visiting, what trade associations, etc. When we can match our advertising to the channel we put it through.
A great example of that is again in our Ambius business. We’ve been doing some trade advertising, some banner ads on websites and through the results you can track all of this through data analytics. For example, we now know that a vertical banner performs better than a horizontal banner on our homepage.
You measure everything. You marry your knowledge of what works for you generally with specific channels allied to your Segment Bible insights, and that’s how we think it through.
Knowing that Randolph, let’s talk a little bit about the buyer’s journey. How do you make sure that the campaigns have enough content at the right points during the life-cycle of a campaign?
Again, we go to the Bible so that really helps us understand the buyer’s journey. We work really hard on the PR content, and what’s going to elevate our brand and position the brand well at the beginning of the campaign.
As the campaign progresses, we determine the buyer’s needs and wants. Through our research, we know what their concerns are and how they’re thinking about them. We know what the forums are, so we track the channels and then we write specific content for that audience.
At the same time, we’re thinking about our web content, our pay per click ads and how we’re going to run those campaigns. It’s our job to create content for the sales guys that actually presents a compelling case to the customer and resonates with them.
How do you make sure you have people there to convert the inquiries into buyer interest?
On the residential side, we’ve got an inside sales team who are dedicated to offering a calm voice, reassurance, and a quick response if necessary. It’s really about that human touch. They are very well-trained in the way they do that.
Then on the commercial side, what we try and do is get it out to our field sales guys quickly, so it’s about making the appointments and getting them in front of the customer, so they can start building a relationship as soon as possible. We don’t believe there should be multiple touch points between an inside and outside sales person.
- Understand the strength of their current brand strategy
- Determine whether they are communicating with the right buyers through the right channels
- Facilitate discussions with the Executive Leadership team on the importance and value of creating a strong compelling brand and message