positioning, product promotion and education, digital marketing, social media, and more. Every effort is in- tended to create a positive customer experience and drive long-term growth and support for the company’s more than 470 employee-owners. “We have two people in marketing who act as program managers or spe- cialists,” explained Wilhelm. “One works closely with our sales team and product divisions developing content, creating sales tools, facilitating incen- tive programs, etc. The other focuses on organizational effectiveness and supports various department initia- tives. These efforts are brought to life by two people who handle all the cre- ative work—from video production and graphic design to social media and web content.” Despite their individual expertise and responsibilities, Wilhelm’s staff works together closely. “Nearly every- thing is a team effort—one person in- terfaces with the client and writes copy, while another might schedule a photo shoot and begin design work. That said, we’re growing and can’t all be in the thick of it on every project. We have to trust and empower one another. A weekly phone call keeps everyone informed and engages others as needed. At our monthly in-person meeting we brainstorm, strategize, and plan for upcoming larger, more important efforts.”
Lessons from Summit
Since she began at Albu- querque, New Mexico- based Summit as a stu- dent, Vice President of Marketing Sheila Her- nandez has seen market- ing evolve from primar- ily print and broadcast to a more technology-based discipline. Her depart- ment has adapted to this
digital transformation and increasing customer self-service by becoming pro- ficient in a wide variety of disciplines. The marketing team is still respon- sible for traditional activities includ- ing research, analytics, branding, graphics, supplier co-marketing, events, print, and video. In recent years, however, Summit has expanded its expertise to include e-commerce solutions, customer self-service appli- cations, customer portals, mobile apps, and punchout catalogs. Marketing also houses the product information management group. “As data plays an ever-increasing role in our business today, data integrity and accuracy are critical to a company’s ability to compete,” explained Hernan- dez. “Some of our team members work on master product data—managing and augmenting it to give customers the information they want and need to make a purchasing decision.” Although Summit’s marketing team helps with recruiting efforts, vendor messaging, and community outreach, most work is customer fac- ing. Hernandez said, “We try to stay focused on what really matters— communicating our value proposition, delivering great products and services, and providing our customers with the tools they need to access relevant in- formation and make decisions. When we combine the strengths of effective branding, accurate content, and inno- vative technology—and strategically manage them together—we can better differentiate our company and meet the market’s expanding expectations.”
Marketing Is a Management Function
In the past decade, marketers have begun demanding a seat at the man- agement table. To perform effectively, they must be involved in long-term strategic planning and direction for their companies and organizations. Marketing must be treated as a management function or else, as Wilhelm puts it, “the marketing team will forever be developing fly- ers and planning golf outings. I ask our sales leaders what they need to accomplish rather than what deliver- able they need. When we have a dia- logue and strategize together, great things happen.” ;
is a strategic communications con- sultant and freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUILD A NIMBLE
Karmen Wilhelm, vice president of marketing at Van
Meter Inc., offers the following tips for those who want
to build a highly functioning, integrated marketing team:
. Hire right.
Bring in hard-working, creative, committed people with the right
attitude, experience, and skill set.
. Build diversity into the team
—in age, skill set, working style, etc.
. Invest in training and education.
Marketing functions are more sophisticated—and evolving
faster—than ever before.
. Outsource as needed.
Consider which functions or projects are best kept in-house and
which should be farmed out to writers, agencies, programmers, designers, editors, etc.
If a request doesn’t fit a strategy for helping to accomplish a mutually agreed-upon
goal, it only takes time away from what the team should be doing to grow business.
Feb. 17 • the
ELECTRICAL DIS TRIBUTOR
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