Greg got started in marketing while still in college, as the PR guy for his local County fair, the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival, the 10th largest in California. Greg also worked on two congressional campaigns while he was still working and worked on the media relations side. From there, he got into high-tech marketing during the .com era.
Today we talk about how to rebuild a marketing team in a legacy company.
In this episode:
- Learn more about Infinity QS, what they do, and how they rebuilt the marketing department.
- How to start rebuilding the marketing department from the ground up?
- The role of talent management in rebuilding the marketing organization?
- What marketing skillsets should a business look for?
- What is the right approach with the management, and how to get their buy-in?
- With the rebranding and the right people, what is the next step in processes and tools?
- In what ways rebuilding the marketing department affects content creation?
- What is the best way to present the results?
- How to use rebuilding to redefine effective conversions and build on the demand generation?
- In what ways can digital marketing be used to gain results?
Quotes from the episode:
“We moved methodically, and we didn’t try and do everything at once.”
“I didn’t have the legacy knowledge about the company or the legacy brand messaging approach. So I was able to come in completely immersed in this new messaging, which made a big difference for us moving forward.”
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To expand your knowledge about building and rebuilding a marketing organization, check out some of my previous podcast episodes and blog posts.
A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode, B2B Marketing & More. I have a wonderful, wonderful and kick-ass guest. Greg Matranga from Infinity QS will discuss how to rebuild a marketing team in a legacy company. Let’s hear what Greg has to say.
All right, Greg, thank you so much for coming to my show. I know you are the VP of Global Marketing at Infinity QS, so happy, so happy to have you on my show. Can you tell our audience a little bit more about yourself and your awesome company?
Greg Matranga: Well, hi Pam, first off. Thank you. Thank you for having me on your show.
Pam Didner: My pleasure. My pleasure!
Greg Matranga: Just so you know, I drank two Red Bull before this call, just so I can try and match your energy level. (Pam laughs)
Pam Didner: You know what, you are right in the zone. Right in the zone! I’m not even drinking Red Bull, and I’m like, I’m energy up to the wazoo.
Greg Matranga: Yeah. I would hate to see you on Red Bull. That would be quite the adventure. (Both laugh)
Pam Didner: All right. Talk to us a little bit about yourself and your company.
Greg Matranga: Sure. So I got started in marketing while I was still in college. I was very fortunate. Uh, two summers, I served as the PR guy for my local County fair, the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival, the 10th largest in the state of California. So I got my start there, and then I also worked on it. Two, um, congressional campaigns while I was still working on the media relations side. So I kind of cut my teeth at an early age in PR. Um, and then from there, eventually, I was able to get into high-tech marketing during the.com era.
Pam Didner: I know, way back in the two thousand. I hear you. I lost tons of money, tons of money during that time. (Pam laughs)
Greg Matranga: I think a lot of people did. Yes. So, uh, but I moved into, um, the high-tech, uh, marketing, working as, uh, for two PR agencies in the Bay area, including at one point doing a PR for Sun Microsystems Storage Division and working for a couple of PR companies. And then eventually I was able to escape to the client-side. I didn’t really like working on the agency side, so I know.
Pam Didner: Oh yeah, I understand that. But I think it’s kind of important for marketers to have both, uh, experience both on agency and the client-side.
Greg Matranga: And an agency gives you a nice overview. You get to learn the best, uh, in the latest and greatest skills, best practices, things of that sort. And so it is a good place to start, but, uh, I left the Bay area, moved to Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, where I live now and had the opportunity to go straight to a startup.
And, uh, was the PR manager there. And from there I’ve, I’ve been with a number of startups and with publicly held companies and things of that sort. And along the way, uh, just continue to expand my repertoire of skills until now, I’m on my third stint as the Head of Marketing here at infinity QS. And, uh, I handle the full range of marketing, um, you know, soup to nuts–everything from market research and branding to demand generation and sales enablement, which you helped us out in the past.
Pam Didner: That was my pleasure. And it was such an honor working with you and your sales team. You guys are fantastic. So you join Infinity QS in 2015. And what state of the marketing was to the company at that time.
Greg Matranga: Well, let me tell you about the company, to begin with.
Pam Didner: Please, please.
Greg Matranga: So infinity QS was, is a 30-year-old company and, uh, with our, our two original, co-founders still leading the company as CEO and CTO and heavily engaged driving. Great, awesome guys to, uh, to work with. Um, the company provides statistical analysis software that manufacturers use on the production floors to ensure and improve the quality of their products. And to continuously optimize their manufacturing processes.
But, um, before I joined the company, so as I mentioned, there were 30-year-old company. And for the first 20 years, they had their traditional marketing, but also their traditional competitors. Over the last ten years, the manufacturing, uh, the software industry has been expanding. And such big companies like SAP, we’re starting to encroach on our space. And now, with all the buzzword bingo tech companies out there, we have AI vendors coming in and IOT vendors that are trying to enter into the market as well.
So, the company needed to evolve their marketing. And then, they were also launching a new product that they were looking to help them expand within the marketing space. To get the awareness and build beyond that niche market, we needed a modern marketing department. And so, the previous marketing team was doing a really solid job for what they had been hired to do.
They were primarily a reactive sales support team. So if you wanted a piece of collateral—
Pam Didner: Yeah, they would get it done for you. Yeah.
Greg Matranga: And then, um, they were outstanding at trade show events–a great event marketing group. Because traditionally, that is where the company for the previous 20 years had been getting most of their leads. We all know, after 2007 and the financial crash, trade shows, um, aren’t driving the same opportunities as they would in the past. And so this, the previous team had difficulty because they still had to do their day jobs of, you know, responding to the crazy requests from sales that we always get and putting on 12 shows a year. And at the same time, they’re trying to evolve.
Pam Didner: Into the modern marketing space.
Greg Matranga: Exactly. And they just weren’t able with all those other demands, um, they, they weren’t able to make the transition fast enough. And as a result, eventually, management lost faith in them. The VP of Marketing was forced out, and all the marketing programs were put under the microscope. And, and it was a team in disarray that I inherited when I came on board. Um, out of the five employees, two left before I even started. And two others left within three months of me starting. So I was inheriting an outdated marketing program with a team that was disintegrating on me.
Pam Didner: So why would a couple of things that you did initially? I mean, granted that there is a huge turnover that you have to deal with that, and that’s probably good and bad in a way. You know, I probably don’t have to fire people, but you probably brought some talent. What else did you do?
Greg Matranga: So, as you said, with, with having the prior employees leaving the company that allowed me to build the department from my, from the ground up.
Pam Didner: Yeah. Based on your vision and what you wanted to do.
Greg Matranga: Exactly. And so over the next several years, I brought in four, uh, four people that I’ve worked within the past. I knew their skills, so I knew exactly where to focus them. I knew how to motivate, how to communicate with them. They understood me and my chaotic, uh, management style and whatnot, um, and had to trust in me, so I think it’s helpful when you can bring in your people you eliminate what I call the dating period. Whenever you hire somebody new, it takes several months,
Pam Didner: A little bit of time to figure it out each other’s, you know, preference and how to work together and stuff, et cetera, even though you did the extensive interview, but it’s still just like you said, it’s a honeymoon and dating period is still need to get to know each other daily.
Greg Matranga: Yeah. And so, in this case, I was able to bring people in and quickly get them to hit the ground running and get going, which was, was so important for us.
Pam Didner: What were the, um, you know, marketing functions. That or the skillset that you were looking for? Were you looking for, you know, somebody, uh, to do events again, or you, when you’re looking for somebody strong in SEO?
Greg Matranga: Sure. So I, I approach this pretty methodically cause I had limited resources and, and also there was suspicion about marketing from the management team and, and so they,
Pam Didner: They still have that suspicion. I don’t think that ever. That ever went away.
Greg Matranga: So I so far, I think I’ve been able to turn them, so.
Pam Didner: Oh, awesome! I want to talk to you about that. That will be my next question in terms of buying. Okay. So hold on to that thought.
Greg Matranga: So what I did is we moved methodically, and we didn’t try and do everything at once. I inherited a, uh, a brand project that was already in the process about halfway through, and it was a corporate brand project in advance of a new major product launch.
Pam Didner: So what are they doing, talking about the company’s complete rebranding and product lines? Okay. That’s huge.
Greg Matranga: Yeah. We’re using a big agency spending a big chunk of money on this. Because of the disarray with the staff loss and leadership loss over the previous year, this brand project was not moving as quickly as before. And so, fortunately, I’d done a bit of brand project at a previous company, and so had had some experience there, and it was a good agency that I inherited. The first thing was to try and get this back on track and bring that to a close because once that was done, I could start dealing with the websites and all other stuff.
Pam Didner: I 100% agree. When the brand is not updated and if you don’t have a clear messaging or the logo for your product, it’s very hard to move the rest of the marketing forward.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. Absolutely. So we worked on the rebranding, which was a good opportunity to start with them because as part of that, I got to learn more about the company and the industry.
Pam Didner: Yeah. And the essence and the persona of it.
Greg Matranga: Exactly. That was that new brand. I didn’t have the legacy knowledge about the company or the legacy brand messaging approach. And so, I was able to come in completely immersed in this new messaging, which made a big difference for us moving forward.
Pam Didner: You know, you brought up a very good point because many CMOs join a company, and one of the first projects they tend to start is rebranding. I think they want to put their stamp on it. You mentioned another thing. I didn’t think about in addition to their stamp on the brand, that whole process also helps CMOs understand the essence and also the persona of the brand, or if they want to redefine that, and they can, you know, through the whole process, but you are right. It’s kind of expensive.
Greg Matranga: It is. And so it was great that I didn’t have to fight for it, that it was already in place.
Pam Didner: (laughs) Yay! That was a good start.
Greg Matranga: I didn’t have to fight for that cause that’s always the worst discussion to have. It’s like, “Hey, I need a chunk of money for a branding project.”
Pam Didner: For a branding project! (laughs)
Greg Matranga: So, so, you know, we, we get creative, and now it’s, you know, “messaging refinements”, and it’s “website refresh” and “Oh, by the way, there’s this other messaging work here that I need a chunk of cash for.” So, yeah, we have to be creative in how we, uh, we sell that internally.
Pam Didner: So that brought a very good question I want to ask you, specifically. So now you got the, uh, the, the rebranding started, and you hire the talent, and the people that you know can do a great job. And what is the next step in terms of processes and tools? What did you do next?
Greg Matranga: Sure. So it was, then it was the point where we needed to take that new brand and out through the rest of marketing. And obviously, the big place to start is it was with the website. So that was one of the other landmines that I inherited. So the MarTech stack was a mess–both the web platform, the website, and then the marketing automation platform.
So we can get into that, too, but I inherited a website that was, uh, you know, probably ten years old, at least. And they’d just been bolting on top of this, um, over those last ten years.
Pam Didner: Yeah, I can understand. (laughs)
Greg Matranga: Yeah. So that was ripe for hacking and, and was not conducive for, uh, for, for a modern, uh, marketing department. So my first hire was kind of my digital marketing guru, and then the next one was three or four months down the line after that. But I also brought in an agency that I’d worked with within the past, and we rebuilt the website on a Kentico platform. So Kentico CMS, um, and, and that was quite the project. So not only were we having to incorporate the new brand into the website, we were merging or moving to a new platform. And, and that’s a real challenge because you got to, it was a ten-year-old website, which means it’s got incredible SEO juice. And so, as we were doing this conversion, we had to be certain, very careful as we were doing this refresh.
Pam Didner: You have to be very careful, like what content is key, what content to update, you know, what content to retire and what to keep, what not to keep and also how to classify the information.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. And then save as much of the SEO juice as you can along the line.
Pam Didner: Yeah. I, 100% agree, um, in any kind of website updates and refresh, you know, I sympathize with anybody’s doing that kind of work. It’s very tedious. It’s very mundane, but it’s so necessary.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. So we did that. That was the next big project. Then I brought on a content person to help us. I was using the agency to do a lot of the content creation as I was looking for a good content person. Um, brought somebody on, they started helping with that, getting the blogs regularly going to keep feeding, driving that SEO.
With the blogs were, have become a really powerful tool for us where before people look at blogs, as it was just, you know, SEO, keyword stuff. And yeah, we’ll just put this blog out. But you know, great. So you can, you’ve got a blog and a feature SEO juice, but if people come to your site and it’s crap, they’re not coming back.
Pam Didner: Yeah, I agree. So you focus on content marketing, and you have a blog, you have a regular post out, but you also focus on the quality of the blog post.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. Because we’ve discovered the blog is so important in, in numerous facets. So obviously for SEO juice. But it’s, it’s one of our most valuable sales enablement tools. The sales guys use these various blog posts and can use that as engagement with their prospects. Kind of more top of the funnel where we cover such a wide range of topics when a customer comes in with a specific, unique need. It’s like, “Oh,” they already know how to answer that because we’ve done the blog posts, and they could send that over to the, uh, the, to the prospect and say, “Hey, here’s some more information about it.”
It’s also knowledge transfer. We have industrial statisticians, big brains on our staff, and trying to share their knowledge with the rest of the team can be a challenge. And yet we’ve found with the blogs. These are bite-size morsels to help feed the brains of our salespeople and other people in the company. To understand how to talk about the capabilities of our software.
Pam Didner: So, Greg, let me ask you a specific question for blog writing. Uh, was that written by your subject matter experts or was it outsourced to an external agency for them to write?
Greg Matranga: Initially, I outsourced it to an external agency. They would interview our SMEs and then write it from there. And I’ve since brought on board a writer dedicated to the blog.
Pam Didner: To that and working with subject matter experts directly.
Greg Matranga: Directly with subject matter experts. And it’s great. We’ve got six to 10 that we, we are constantly pulling from. And if you’ve got ten different SMEs, then that means they only have to do maybe once a month or once every two months.
Pam Didner: Yeah. So you rotate that. So it’s not so much work for them.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. Absolutely. And one of the nice things is we’re also able to break them up into series that gives such a great download that we’re able to break those up into series. Um, but, but I’ve done that and just had the dedicated person assigned to it.
Pam Didner: You have tried, uh, the in-house and also outsource, you know, the writing talents. And, um, it sounds like your sense that the best approach for you is for the in-house talent to write the content.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. That’s what worked for us.
Pam Didner: So now that’s to hit the chord. How did you get buy-in from management? So they lost faith, and I’m in my getting, and then you have to build it. It took time to kind of show the results. So how do you manage that? And also, how did you get buy-in from management?
Greg Matranga: It took about six months before I felt like I had gained the true trust of the management team, and it was, it was difficult, and it was a pain because I,
Pam Didner: (laughs) Thank you for being honest about that. I agree with you. I mean, everybody was like, “Oh, you’ll get buy-in. Let’s do these couple things.” But it’s not that easy to build trust. It’s not.
Greg Matranga: Absolutely. Because there are those immediate demands on the marketing of, “Oh, what are you going to do to help us close out the year?”
Pam Didner: Right. Exactly. They want to see these quick wins, right. Sometimes a quick one does take time!
Greg Matranga: Right. Yeah. They’re not quick, you know, I started, I started in mid-September, and they’re like, “what are you going to do to help us hit our numbers before the end of the year?” And it’s like, “Hmm, probably nothing.” Do you know? And you know, part of that was honest. It’s like, “look, I can do a couple of these email blasts to our customer base. But what you’re looking for is going to take time. We, we have a 12 to the 18-month sales cycle. There’s nothing I’m going to do for you in three and a half months that’s going to move the dial that significantly.”
Pam Didner: You know, Greg, I love that. I think that is incredible. And the honest assessment and the biggest takeaway of this podcast is if you are actually in a new job, any marketer and your purchasing cycle is very long and, uh, you’ll management expect you to do a quick win. You need to make sure and set expectations upfront and say, “that’s not going to happen.”
And I think all of us, including myself, like working with clients; I would like a, “yes, we can do that.” But now I learned over time, Greg, I will tell my client that’s not going to happen. You know, and it just is very honest about that. And I think that’s the key things that all of us, like we are afraid of our jobs, or we are afraid of our billings that we cannot fulfil the obligation, they’ll meet the expectation and we tend to over-promise. And, um, I think that’s kind of important, to tell the truth sometimes.
Greg Matranga: Yeah. And, and that was the key to my group is, is that my management team will accept honesty. Um, But then you’ve got to prove it. And so, and so that’s what we did is we focused on smaller projects and succeeded with those smaller projects.
So we’ve, so there’s stuff that was working, and it’s like, “Great if it’s working, don’t mess with it. We’ll come back to that and optimize and improve it on it.” But let’s pick a few projects that we know we can succeed. Let’s start small, take the lean approach and, and, you know, start small, right. And, and I failed at times, and the thing they appreciated was we would try something, and I would come to them and say, “you know what? This didn’t work. And so we’re going to kill it.” And so they, they appreciated the fact that I would come to them and admit when things weren’t working, but that I would fail fast and move on.
Pam Didner: Yeah, but you also come; I assume you also came with a recommendation regarding what you wanted to do next, right?
Greg Matranga: So I, I had the plan built out and, and, uh, and, and it was a year-long plan. And then, by the end of the year, I had this detailed budget, which they’d never seen before. And so it’s like, “this is exactly what I’m going to do.” And they’re like, “Okay, we’ll give you a little more time. Yeah. We’ll give you the Q1 budget.” And so we, then by the end of Q1, we did what we said we were going to do. And we spent what we said we were going to do. And so at that point, they’re like, okay, “you know, you can have the rest of your budget. We don’t need to micro. We don’t have to microscope you anymore.”
Pam Didner: Very good. So, um, obviously, I know you dial up and dial down multiple different marketing channels, um, on to do campaigns will infinity QS. So what chia knows from your perspective that works well for you that’s very effective in driving conversions and building the demand gen?
Greg Matranga: So, yeah. So for demand gen, we built our marketing is built around digital marketing around inbound marketing. Fortunately, the website I inherited had that strong SEO. And so, we were already getting, um, good lead volume or traffic volume from, from that. And so, we built upon that. That was, that was the plan all along. Fortunately, that was great.
The trick then was once you get them to the website, you know, we got to fix the website to get them into leads and then get them into MQLs. But we’ve built everything around inbound marketing. So SEO, paid search, of course, digital advertisement, all that,
Pam Didner: All the pay ads, everything that will drive the inbound traffic. That’s why you focus on. What about email marketing? Was email marketing effective for you?
Greg Matranga: Um, we find email marketing is effective as nurture. So in terms of bringing new leads and bringing new traffic, that’s not a big contributor. LinkedIn has turned into a much better performer for us to get new visitors coming to the website.
You know, you love the, you love the organic traffic. We’ve done our research. The organic traffic is,
Pam Didner: It’s probably the best overpaid.
Greg Matranga: It’s absolutely the best. Somebody, somebody is, if they’re searching, they’re probably in the buying process. And so that’s why we put so much effort into that. Because I want to make sure that we have the, that we get exposed to somebody who’s in the buying process, we get considered because if we get considered, we’re going to stand a better chance of winning against our competition. And so that’s why we put a major effort into our SEO, which was the big focus initially. Then LinkedIn has been helping us drive additional traffic.
Pam Didner: For LinkedIn, do you do paid or organic or a combination of both?
Greg Matranga: Combination of both, but, but a lot of paid. So InMail, the digital advertising, I’m starting to do a little bit around the conversation ads. LinkedIn has been a great thing, of course, about LinkedIn is that you can target your audience. And so that’s been a great performer for us.
Pam Didner: Very good. Very good. You have accomplished a lot in the past five years, and, uh, what are a couple of the key initiatives you are doing, um, this year and the next couple of years.
Greg Matranga: Sure. So ongoing sales enablement, and then ongoing optimization of the website, uh, so, and, and nurture program. So again, we get a great volume of traffic to our website. We get a good volume of leads. It’s then converting those. Once you get them to the website, set up the website navigation properly to get them where they need to be to become leads, then nurture them so that they eventually become MQL.
So that’s just an ongoing optimization that we’re doing and areas we’re looking to improve. And then the other area is now trying to build, um, an aggressive, very functional outbound marketing. So we’ve spent the last several years creating an award-winning inbound program. Now we’re looking at market domination, going after specific niche markets through an outbound campaign, um, to try and dominate those markets and create that demand.
We’ve been able to get the recurring volume that we need–you know, what I call kind of lead gen, which is, you know, that inbound marketing that feeds the sales team. Now we’re looking to see what can we do to dramatically expand that volume. And we’ve done all the things we can on, on inbound, um, and digital. And now it’s what can we do from an outbound perspective to start building that demand—
Pam Didner: Building that brain awareness and also build the demand proactively.
Greg Matranga: Exactly. Exactly. That will then eventually create a higher volume of love at leads for our sales team.
Pam Didner: Sounds great. Sounds great. It sounds like you have a solid plan looking ahead. So the next question is. Okay. It’s a silly question. Do you have a ridiculous goal in your life?
Greg Matranga: So my ridiculous goal in the world of COVID is to be able to travel again! So yea, that’s my ridiculous goal!
Pam Didner: All right. So with that being said, what is your first stop? That’s assumed like the border, you know, the border’s opened up. Like you can go anywhere. What is your first stop?
Greg Matranga: We want to go to Italy.
Pam Didner: I love Italy. That’s one of my favorite countries, too. My god, I love the food. Oh my God. I’ll go anywhere for food. (both laugh)
Greg Matranga: Yeah.
Pam Didner: Oh, that’s fantastic. Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us, Greg. It’s wonderful. So happy to have you on my show. You shared so much of your insight and the journey of building the team from scratch. And also, be able to be, tell the truth, and be honest with your management. I think that’s super, supercritical. Thank you so much for coming.
Greg Matranga: Thanks for having me, Pam. I hope it was useful.