Know Your Buyer Better – MaryAnn Holder

In this episode of the show, I talk with CMO, MaryAnn Holder. MaryAnn talks about really knowing buyer and serving them with information tailored to their personalities and education. She explains how she looks for ideas outside of her core circles at fashion and dance to energize her content for her different buyer personas.

Questions During Episode

  1. What are you working on for One Network?
  2. What do you think are some of the like top-line challenges for marketers for chief marketing officers or maybe even their suppliers?
  3. When you say buyer, are you talking about the supplier-buyer the individual persona like all of the above?
  4. How many degrees deep do you think your buyer persona is?
  5. How do marketers need to address these diverse buyer challenges?
  6. Where do you look for ideas?
  7. If marketers need to innovate and generate new ideas, where can they look instead of generating the same old content?
  8. How do you see digital marketing or digital experiences evolving?
  9. Why do you look to the fashion industry?
  10. Do you have a fashion background?
  11. Are you recruiting Millennials or Generation Z on your staff?
  12. Who or what do you listen to, watch, or read to get inspiration?
  13. If you didn’t have any responsibilities at home or work next week what would you do with your time?
  14. If someone had a question for you what is your preferred method to receive questions?
  15. Closing thoughts?

Contact MaryAnn


What are you working on today at One Network?

Well, it’s good that you asked. We were working on a lot of great initiatives for 2019, especially
around AI. We’re looking at how artificial intelligence is impacting the supply chain and how our solution can really help companies to better their supply chain and their relationships with their supplier networks.

What do you think are some of the like top-line challenges for marketers for chief marketing officers or maybe even their suppliers?

We are working on personalization. Really getting that right tailored content to our individual buyers and the community that surrounds them. When you think about a network, every buyer comes with their own network and a set of influencers that need to be messaged to accordingly. We have to really figure out what that message is and hone in on it and deliver it in a really personal way that it’s not canned or automated. There is a challenge in identifying the right technologies to help us do that. Then, also, the right types of content. Then

When you say buyer, are you talking about the supplier-buyer the individual persona like all of the above?

The supplier-buyer has their own sort of set of needs and research materials and places that they go to get information. But, when you think about an individual buying they are influenced by their immediate sphere and there may be their generation maybe their educational status and where they reside in the organization. Along with that, we build buyer personas. The buyer persona really helps us to map out who we’re talking to and what types of things and what types of issues really would make them tick and make a decision.

How many degrees deep do you think your buyer persona is?

The same buyer group has multiple. A lot of times they’re at VP level, director level, C-level people.

They have the same kind of educational background but do yours vary? For instance, if you’re trying to provide a solution to someone, are you dealing with multiple educational boundaries or
any type of boundary like that?

Well in a certain sense, yes. The office of the CFO is going to have a different, well, maybe not different educational status, but they’ll certainly have a different bent to their studies. They will have a different focus. We market to the whole organization when we’re looking at the supply chain. What we’re looking at the office of the CFO, the office of the CIO, the office of the CEO and then the office of supply chains. All of those buying units have their own individual needs that they have to balance within the greater organizational structure. When we build out our buyer personas, we look very closely at what are the things that are going to make that person a superstar even down to what are the types of people. I mean we look at the psychographics as well as the basic demographics that you get for a position such as a supply chain director. We might look at an engineering background and the way they make decisions so a lot of that factors into how we message to that.

How should marketers address those challenges?

I think it’s really getting the heart of how people consume the information that they want. We are living in the information era. The digital era of information. With the advent of the internet first in
the early 1990s through now. With all the newest latest modes of communications such as YouTube and different parts and pieces of different parameters within communication and content, people are really geared sometimes in one direction, being visual, being auditory,
being a reading learner. If you think back on the educational status of someone, sometimes age sometimes the demographics will tell you where they might reside in that spectrum of learning. But, really when you’re consuming data for your organization, it’s you’re on a learning process because you’re looking for the newest and the latest information to help you shine in your position and help make you a better employee, a better partner you know with your suppliers with your organization.

If we need to find ideas on how to engage all these different audience members especially as technology and people evolve, do you look at other industries and see what they’re doing?

That’s a good question because we’re evolving so fast. The landscape is changing really quickly. I think people’s consumption is changing very quickly. We look at a lot of different factors. We’re increasingly a social media world and is very heavily influenced by social media, the characters, and the stars and the tenants of that generation that has been raised on a social media platform. It’s multi-generational so we’re we’re consuming things in smaller sound bytes but that doesn’t mean that the smaller sound bytes can’t something very very applicable and really relevant to what your needs are. We look at the social media
world. We look at the music world. We look at the fashion world. B2B, oftentimes, we might get stuck in sort of an ivory tower. But, if you look beyond that into the B2C world how consumers are consuming in the consumer market, it really leads in terms of what the next generation of B2B is going to adopt. You can call it a bullwhip effect.

We are oftentimes reacting to how people are being trained in the consumer world. Their expectation in the consumer world is so far and above what they expect in the B2B marketing world. How can AI help us make better decisions with all of the data?

Using AI for all this definitely will help over time. We can track in our technology where
the trends are, most buying patterns and how suppliers and hubs interact with one another and what are the modes and mechanisms that make a company more efficient. If you think about supply chain and the efficiencies and the inefficiencies that they can have, we look very heavily at the data to see where people are saving operationally and where they’ve been able to aggregate economies of scale by using a network platform. Again, the technology is changing us. We’re shaping the technology but the technology is shaping us.

You mentioned fashion earlier. Is that somewhere do you look for ideas in the fashion industry?

I don’t have a background in the fashion industry but it’s it’s a passion. I look to the visuals that are being created in fashion and in the social media norms that we see out there. Our perceptions are being shifted by a lot of the visual, not just data that we’re receiving, but the imagery that we’re receiving. Shapes and design and a lot of the creative process that’s happening right now, the look is very different from the 1990s.

Do you think we as B2B marketers could get engagement from the fashion industry or the music industry?

Maybe we just need to know our buyer a little bit better. The total surround, if you think about it people only embrace this around when they’re stark raving fans. Some of that boils down to the customer experience and how we interact with them on every level. If it’s a positive interaction, you’re more apt to have the stark raving fans. That generation that you’re talking about, there are external buyers and they’re going to expect that as they enter the workplace. They’re already entering the workspace. We see that the Millennials and now gen Z, they’re entering the workspace there’s an expectation that there should be delight and pleasure along with whatever solution they’re currently evaluating.

Do you have anybody like that on staff? Are you recruiting Millennials or GenZ?

We have a team with quite a few Millennials. We don’t have any GenZ. Well, we might we have one who’s on the coast maybe of Gen Z. It’s changed our parameters. It’s changed some of the things that we’re we’re actually creating right now. We’ve got much more emphasis on video. The thing that we’ve noticed is that people are consuming our video ten times the rate that they would be consuming our white papers or our very technical written briefs that maybe are digestible for an IT person but not necessarily for a line of a business person. We’re looking for those really salient points and for kind of a great graphical way to represent them. Video seems to be doing it for us right now.

Are you a stark raving fan of anything? Where do you find your personal inspiration?

I look in a lot of different places. I was a visual artist when I was younger. I was in the dance field so I understand movement and the visual appeal of the art form that is dance. I’m a big fan
of dance. Also, just the consumption of literature and books and art and again, fashion. I feel like there’s there are multiple ways that you can get your sphere of influence and art seems to be
at the center of it for me.

Is there like a number one person that you follow or listen to?

I listen to a lot of different artists. I’m a child of the 80s so I harked back to my eighties roots. Maybe it’s just a reflection on my life and looking at artists from the 80s. Mostly music right now so I’m just listening to a lot of that. I do a lot of reading. I’m very interested in the feminist movement, so I find that it’s interesting watching what’s happening with the young women in our country.

If you didn’t have any responsibilities at home or work next week, what would you do with your time other than listen to 80’s music and wear neon?

I’m a big fan of photography as well. I think I would love to pick up my camera and take
it and travel somewhere just beautiful and take images.

What do you like to photograph?

I like to photograph people. Again, I’m going back to dance and art forms and figure
forms. For me, figures can be people in nature scenarios and just really nice beautiful images of

Closing thoughts?

You can derive creative inspiration and ideation for your marketing campaigns in any sphere, in an academic setting, in any sort of fashion setting. Look beyond the norm. I think buyers and consumers get fatigued easily. We are apt to change dramatically and our technologies are changing so dramatically so we always need to be watchful to look beyond what’s working now and remember what works today might not work tomorrow.