Customer Engagement in an Evolving World: An Exclusive Q&A with Lisa M. Sherwin Wulf, Director of Federal Marketing at SolarWinds

by Jenna Sindle

LSWWith a growing number of exciting and evolving marketing technology solutions appearing in the marketplace, it can be easy for marketers to become distracted by new capabilities and platforms and forget about what truly matters to our customers: connection. Below, Lisa Sherwin Wulf, Director of Federal Marketing at SolarWinds, shares her thoughts on the importance of maintaining customer engagement while implementing exciting new technology, as well her top marketing priorities for 2015:

 

 

 

Tell us a little about your role at SolarWinds.

 

SolarWinds provides powerful and affordable IT management and monitoring software to customers worldwide, from Fortune 500 enterprises to nearly every civilian agency, DoD branch, and intelligence agency. I joined SolarWinds in the fall of 2012 as their first federal marketing hire, based in the Herndon office, to create and build a federal marketing program that supported the rapidly growing federal government sales and sales engineering team.

 

In my role at SolarWinds, with shared services support from our corporate marketing team, I am responsible for all aspects of U.S. federal marketing worldwide including demand generation, awareness, lead qualification, product marketing, and the expansion into other markets for national government. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve built out the marketing program steadily, as our federal team has continued to grow. We’ve launched a number of new initiatives to increase lead flow, and grow awareness, and my federal marketing team has expanded from just me to include a product marketing specialist, product marketing manager, and a federal sales development representative.

 

What are some of your top marketing priorities for 2015?

 

My top marketing priorities this year are continuing to increase lead flow and conversion rates, building upon the success of our awareness initiatives in 2014, initiating additional thought leadership research initiatives, expanding our top of funnel marketing activities, and growing our federal product marketing activities. In addition to that, I’m going to be building out our National and Central Government marketing program for the EMEA market this year.

 

Today’s modern marketer has quite a toolbox of technologies, platforms, apps and analytics. We are empowered with insight and intelligence like never before. What advice do you have for marketers as they navigate the marketing technology landscape?

 

It’s important to remember that even with all the tools and technology marketers have today it’s about engaging and connecting with your customers and prospects – that’s what will drive and grow your business. You need to look at where they “live” and how they want to be communicated with, then leverage these insights to grow your business. Analytics and technology can help you figure this out, but it can be tempting, and sometimes easier, to put your faith in every new platform and communication method that becomes available. But if the customers or influencers you want to reach haven’t yet adopted that platform, or if implementing the new technology isn’t expected to deliver enough results to justify the cost or resources, it is probably not a good use of your time and ultimately won’t help you to grow your business.

 

Is there any campaign or client work that you’re particularly proud of?

 

We launched a comprehensive campaign which leveraged market research that showed the daily cybersecurity obstacles that federal agencies face, and the tools and tactics they need to combat these threats for thought leadership and demand generation activities. We partnered with Market Connections in late 2013 for our first annual SolarWinds Federal Cybersecurity Research Report, which returned a great deal of relevant research. We shared the results in a press release, which helped us secure a significant amount of press coverage, shared the results socially through SlideShare, LinkedIn and Twitter, hosted a webinar with the Digital Government Institute (DGI), created a comprehensive white paper and infographic that were leveraged for demand generation activities, and leveraged the results in multiple conference presentations.

 

Based on the success of our first survey, we turned this into an annual SolarWinds federal cybersecurity survey. We are currently in the middle of this year’s campaign, which started with the release of this year’s results in January. Our corporate communications team and SpeakerBox, our federal PR agency, managed to double our press coverage from the previous year, including securing coverage in Forbes. An infographic and white paper will be released next, and we have used the research in multiple presentations including another DGI webinar, our third annual federal user group, and have a number of upcoming speaking engagements planned.

When I was at Software AG I worked on two multi-channel campaigns that saw really great results. We were looking for ways to drive awareness and change the perception of Software AG at a series of key Gartner conferences, while still driving leads. We developed themes two years in a row to leverage across pre and post show marketing, onsite in our booth, and in a hospitality suite. The first year we used a superhero theme focused on how leveraging our legacy modernization products and solutions would make our customers a hero at their organization. The second year we focused on helping our customers step into the winner’s circle and had a Kentucky Derby theme. We had lines out the door of our events, a big lift in booth traffic, impact on the influencers we were trying to reach, and qualified leads to drive revenue growth.

 

What are you looking forward to most at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit?

 

I’m delighted to be going back again this year and am most looking forward to participating in the B2G Marketing panel being moderated by Elizabeth Shea. The panel includes so many smart, interesting women in government and technology marketing and I am really excited to be a part of it. Unfortunately the session I’m participating in conflicts with Marc Hausman’s session on Web2Sales that I was also looking forward to, should be an interesting discussion. The event brings together so many marketers and produces great, insightful content about the latest technologies and trends in marketing, so it is a great educational opportunity for me. And it’ll be a nice change of pace to just attend sessions and listen instead of managing the event and worrying about booth logistics, other speaker’s content, etc.