Climbing the Alternate Route
Michelle Cirocco has taken a unique route to the top. As Televerde’s new head of marketing, she’s gone the old-school route of investing in a company that continues to invest in her.
Her nearly 20 year career with Televerde means she knows just about everything there is to know about the company. More importantly, her leadership roles in sales, client services and, now, marketing, mean that she has a distinctive vantage point from which to view both the existing client and new customer experience.
Service is at the heart of how Michelle works. As the new head of marketing at Televerde, and the person that will be conducting our “Human Touch Spotlight” interviews with industry luminaries, it only made sense to shine the light on Michelle herself to find out more about how she works, what she’s focused on, and why drinking champagne has new meaning these days.
How will you relate your client success experience to your new role as head of marketing?
Client success and client service are at the heart of my work, so it’s only natural that our customer is the focal point from where I make most of my decisions. I like to say I bring the customer along with me everywhere I go – thinking in terms of what they have wanted, what they need today and how we can show our appreciation for them on a daily basis. As head of marketing, that helps me ensure that our customers are being treated the way I think they should be treated.
That said, my role within Televerde is also to build a world-class demand generation and sales acceleration engine for ourselves. The good news there is that we’re experts, having filled this role for our clients for many years. My experience with customers on the client success and client service side of the house means that I bring years of commitment and focus on customer retention, loyalty and growth, which is and should be one of the focuses of any great marketing organization.
Customer retention, loyalty and growth are the focus of any great marketing organization. - @MCirocco Click To Tweet
What are your biggest priorities for the next 12 months?
I’ve been with Televerde for nearly 20 years and am pretty well-known around here for being big on setting goals and staying hyper-focused on achieving them. Throughout 2018, the big picture for me is to drink our own champagne – meaning that we need to take the demand generation excellence and best practices we have refined for our clients and apply them to our own business. More specifically, I’ve mapped out my teams’ top five goals through 2018:
♦ Build a world-class global demand generation engine to drive results for Televerde. A subcomponent of this is to create a regional play specifically to develop global marketing that aligns to our global demand generation strategy;
♦ Invest in and create a consistent, branded, effective and measurable approach for our own social selling and social marketing programs;
♦ Focus heavily not just on client growth and retention, but on advocacy for our own clients. This stems from my experience with client success. By advocating for our clients, we build unique programs for them and foster a healthy relationship that helps them meet their goals while allowing Televerde to retain and grow revenues from existing clients;
♦ Related to the first item above, I want our team to focus on developing strong thought leadership programs that are centered on world-class demand generation and sales acceleration. We have been doing this for more than 20 years and have an important job to share our knowledge and insights about where the industry is going;
♦ Effectively leverage the investments Televerde has made over the past 18 – 24 months. This includes the partnerships we have formed with various organizations. I read that only 9% of companies fully optimize their martech stack. We want to be able to clearly and methodically identify how to use our investments to their fullest potential.
...move obstacles out of people’s way and let them do what they were hired to do... - @MCirocco Click To Tweet
What are three elements that you think are crucial to your role now at Televerde?
Because I come to the marketing role from a less-traditional background of sales and client support, I have given this a lot of thought. I don’t see my role stopping at the boundary of the marketing department. What we do in marketing is intricately connected to so many parts of the business that, for me to be successful, is going to require connection and rapport across the organization. The top three keys to my role are:
♦ Alignment within the C-Suite – I am 100% supportive that sales & marketing have to be aligned. But I think it goes well beyond those two departments, requiring marketing to be aligned across the board with operations, sales, client success, etc. By aligning at the executive level, we can make smart decisions about Televerde’s goals and objectives and make strategic plans to help us meet them.
♦ KPIs, metrics and measurement – This goes back to alignment. More specifically here, the various internal departments have to take what we’ve defined as our goals and work to create an agreed upon way to measure against them across the organization. It’s not worth throwing budget at a goal if we’re not going to be able to measure its success. We have to get everyone speaking the same language, agreeing to what we consider a qualified lead or opportunity so at the close of the quarter or the year, we can look back to see if we did what we set out to do as an organization.
♦ Sync up the marketing team – This one sounds like alignment within my own department, and it is to a certain degree, but what I mean is to build and foster excitement within marketing about what we’re doing, who we’re doing it for and how we’re going to do it. Once we get it done, then it’s time to bring in some champagne to celebrate!
What does “The Human Touch” mean to you?
That personal interaction between people that provides the building blocks for meaningful relationships. It doesn’t have to be having a conversation, necessarily – it’s all of the different elements of interaction with one another. Whether it’s through social media, emails, phone calls or meetings – it’s the combination of the personal elements that make up our relationship. At the end of the day, people buy from people they like and through those relationships, we develop deeper, more engaging, more meaningful and more rewarding customer relationships.
What marketing trend is most exciting to you?
The unique experience that I bring to this role is exactly what excites me about marketing: looking at things through the eyes of the customer. The idea of the ‘customer experience’ has gained steam over the past few years and I’m thrilled to see that the concept is making its way into traditional and social marketing programs. We have to think about the customer and their experience every step of the way if we are going to earn their business and foster loyalty between our organizations.
How do you describe your approach to business leadership?
It’s important to me to make sure that people have strategic direction, are empowered, and have the tools they need to do their jobs. Beyond that, my responsibility should be to move obstacles out of people’s way and letting them do what they were hired to do.
Where do you get your news from?
There is a lot to read and consume, so the biggest challenge is determining what’s most relevant, and how to invest time in what’s most important right now. To know where to invest my time, I use tools like the sales and marketing book summaries by Hubspot, which give short summaries of the best business books out there. I like to use Owler – I tag the companies and keywords I want to follow which cuts through a lot of clutter. I also am active on LinkedIn and am a big believer in the peer groups they have available. I recently joined a CMO Advisory Council through AZ Growth Advisors and am excited to start participating in conversations there.
What’s your favorite quote?
Dr. Seuss said it best:
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go….”