A Conversation with Brett McCarey of Ontrack Workflow
In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Brett McCarey, the CMO of Ontrack Workflow, a brand asset management and sending solution.
McCarey explains his success with PPC and LinkedIn content and why outbound calling hasn't been as successful. He also talks about the problem with email vs. physical mail, and his ideal piece of content.
Ontrack Workflow is a brand asset management and sending solution. When you're in a marketing or sales department, you tend to get a lot of requests for marketing materials. What we do is create an internal business portal where teams can localize content and marketing materials all within brand standards.
We have a number of clients so far, and they tend to be either businesses with disparate locations or businesses with large sales teams who work out in the field.
Marketing managers, marketing directors, and VPs of marketing tend to love the tool. Firstly, because it allows them to set branding rules so that other team members can access materials and customize them within the boundaries of these rules. A great example of this would be the regional menus for a franchised restaurant. You can create a menu that fits the brand's template while still customizing imagery based on the unique regional location.
From a sales perspective, we're integrated with Salesforce.com and with HubSpot. Whether it's through those channels or whether it's directly through Ontrack, a salesperson can go in and pick something like a gift and send that to a prospective client.
Originally, Ontrack Workflow was part of a family-run commercial printing company called Piedmont Graphics, which started in the '80s. In the '90s, the company became a web-to-print service. Eventually, in 2007, this became Ontrack Workflow.
One success for us in the past year during the pandemic was that we expanded the range of what we can send out to clients to include care kits—a work-from-home kit, a happy hour kit, and so on. The idea was that salespeople could send these out to their clients to make their working-from-home life easier. What we found was that these kits overtook gift cards, becoming our most popular option, because they were so relevant.
The CMO role is so broad nowadays, but for me, it's being responsible for new customer acquisition, it's being responsible for product development, it's being responsible for customer success and retention. Those are kind of the big things. And, of course, there’s branding, but that really falls into long-term acquisition. Essentially, wherever you are in the funnel, that's what I'm responsible for.
I have a full-time designer because design's pretty important for us. I have a developer that works specifically on the website. I've got customer success people, as well. And then I've got a marketing coordinator.
No day is typical. Recently, I've been working on onboarding a very large client, so I get a lot of questions from folks coming to me and asking me about onboarding them. That could be one day. Also, I look at HubSpot and at Google Analytics to see things like what our pipeline is looking like, how people are engaging on the site, and where our new leads are coming from. Another part of it is dealing with customer challenges.
On a daily basis, there is always something that I'm dealing with that is associated with an existing customer—something that goes beyond a typical customer service question. Then there's the new customer acquisition play. I have folks making discovery calls, and I'll be briefed on what the discovery call was about and how we should position the demo based on that.
Well, it's always the same goals: You want to drive more business. You want to continue providing value to your customers so they stay happy.
One of the things that we've always prided ourselves on is being a high-touch company with excellent customer service. But we've actually formalized a customer success group this year. That's a goal this year, to continue to work on more formal customer success metrics, make sure that we continue to keep our clients happy, and develop enhancements and products that they would like to see in Ontrack.
In terms of brand competitors, that can be broken down into two subsets. We fit into the world of brand asset management where the goal is digital asset distribution, but because there's the customization piece and the localization, we don't necessarily fit in 100% with that competitive space. Then, because we don't just send things digitally—we also send gifts and cards and so on—we also fit into a whole other competitive landscape too. We do straddle a number of industries, so that can be a challenge.
What has worked for us is PPC,directories, and using our own platform to send physical gifts to prospects. Having an effective, optimized website with the right landing pages is also key. This year, we've focused more on content, and we do a lot on LinkedIn. We tried LinkedIn outreach and we haven't loved that. What has worked for us has really just been continuing to post through our LinkedIn company page—and posting as executives. Our CEO and I post whenever we can on LinkedIn, and we link to relevant content that we have on our site. So we try to create content on a weekly basis.
Outbound sales calls and emails have been lukewarm for us. We have tried that in the past, and it's always been a challenge for us. It just doesn't drive as much for us as things like PPC. And we've been focusing more on content and LinkedIn than outreach. A lot of the stuff that has worked for us has been very targeted.
There has been such a strong move towards technology with respect to email and digital communications. I think there's an overload now, and we've seen it the last couple of years. I think there's a little bit of a comeback happening for things like direct mail and physical items being sent to people.
I read a stat the other day, something like, "The average person gets 12 direct mail pieces a week in their mailbox, whereas your inbox gets tons of email." We're just overloaded with all these emails that we have to sort through, and most of it is just sales junk. So the way to stand out now is to send physical items. I think there's been a swing back—I think direct mail went away for a while, and I think it's coming back.
For us, that's been interesting. We're not all about direct mail, but we've seen that it’s been rather effective. And I think that might continue.
Another trend has been virtual events—obviously accelerated because of COVID. I've been talking to a number of event companies who did virtual events, and they're really looking forward to getting back to the physical events. They just feel like that is more effective. So I don't know if that's going to swing back now, but I think we'll see more people going to more physical events now.
There’s also a convergence or blurring of the roles between marketing and sales. They work more hand-in-hand, I think, than ever before. This is something we’ve had to take into account as we continue to evolve and innovate with our solution. Field offices, franchisees, communities, office locations, and salespeople all need to feel empowered to conduct what we call “everyday marketing” while the brand stays intact.
What's worked for us has been content that is relevant to what we offer, but isn't so salesy. It's not all about how great Ontrack is; it's something that's helpful for the reader. We won't push Ontrack too much.
If you’re a marketing person, for example, we want to have content that asks, "Have you considered these things?" or, "These are the challenges that we know that you face, here are some things you should consider, and this is the type of solution that would help you with those issues."
I think it's about keeping content short, relevant, and fresh. That's why we try to do something at least once a week—to continue to have something that’s relevant to our potential and existing clients.
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