Pitney Bowes has a diverse customer base for its mailing and ecommerce solutions, from small offices to Fortune 500 firms. We recently chatted with CMO Bill Borrelle, to get his take engaging individuals within those enterprises, what types of content gets their attention and the challenges of keeping a nearly century-old brand fresh.
CHIEF MARKETER: What are the biggest marketing challenges for Pitney Bowes?
BILL BORRELLE: There’s three things. One is how we’re perceived as a company. When you are 99 years old—our hundredth anniversary is next April—you have legacy perceptions. So I constantly think about messaging and positioning, and how we portray ourselves as a modern technology company. It’s about ensuring that the perception of our company match the reality of what we are achieving. It’s about brand, and client experience and relevancy in 2019.
The second thing is the people within our marketing organization, and the talent required in today’s world of B2B marketing. I think about whether we have the right talent, and are we training [those individuals] to be as good as they could possibly be. And the third factor is whether we are driving outcomes—leads, more business online, engagement with sales, content that will drive field and phone sales. The more outcomes we drive, the more budget we get and the more successful we are.
CM: Who is the target customer you’re trying to reach?
BORRELLE: They are very different in each line of business. Clients are people, not companies. While we are really proud to serve 90 percent of the Fortune 500, and close to a million small businesses, what we try to focus on is the individuals within those companies, and their roles, and what keeps them up at night. [For our] mailing and shipping solutions for small companies, it might be the president. It might be the mail room operator, it could be someone who is a multi-tasker. It could be a receptionist in a doctor’s office. Those individuals are diverse, but similar in the way that they work with us. In our software business, it’s the C-suite, because the software solutions work across the company, often on a global scale.
CM: What channels work best for Pitney Bowes? Do they vary by line of business?
BORRELLE: We’re an omnichannel marketer, like most marketers are. Direct mail is a part of our marketing strategy, because we believe that it lifts all channels. Events play a big role for us in the ecommerce world and the retail world. We have our own event called Retail Revolution—it helps us bring in new clients and build relationships with existing clients. And we’re a big email marketer and a big search marketer. We get a lot of content out there to position our product—there really isn’t a channel that we don’t use.
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CM: What type of content resonates with your audience?
B: Thought leadership and research works on the most levels. Once a year in October, we do a global ecommerce consumer study to get up to the minute data on the expectations consumers have from the companies they do business with online. We use that content in many ways—we amplify it and we gate it. We use it from a brand perspective, because it emphasizes something that people don’t always associate with Pitney Bowes. It opens their eyes to what we have become. And we chunk out the content and use it throughout the year in social media. Proprietary research helps drive brand perception, drive leads and create a continuous stream through the year, [starting] at the peak of the ecommerce season. We do similar research for our software business, and we’re about to embark on research for small businesses in the shipping and mailing space.
CM: How do you gauge the ROI of your marketing efforts? Is attribution a challenge?
BB: For sure. One of my goals for this year was to conquer attribution, and we’re still working on it. It’s very complex and challenging when you spend your money across many channels to get it right. We have a good understanding of the lifetime value of our customer, and we know what it costs to acquire a customer. We’re building our own proprietary method to conquer attribution—there are a lot of solutions out there, but none were perfect for us. We’re getting there—attribution is one of the biggest challenges marketers have in measuring their budget effectively.
CM: What’s your marketing focus going into 2020?
BB: Pitney Bowes leases equipment to our mailing clients, and [offer] financing. We’ve just launched Wheeler Financial, [to offer] financing for non-mailing equipment, such a dentist chair or medical equipment. That’s a big push for us in the second half of 2019. We’re extending our relationship with customers for their non-mailing needs. To drive clients into that business, we’re starting off with good PR and communications, and then targeted events where we can talk to small businesses at a local level. And then there’s email and direct mail, and we’re also forming partnerships with other companies to reach more clients that might need financing.