This month I’m delighted to be speaking to Claire Rahmatallah, Director of Marketing at one of our clients, Sova Assessment. Claire is an experienced marketing leaders with huge amounts of professional services marketing experience.
Here’s her 5 minutes with…
What is your marketing background?
I started my professional career at SHL and was lucky enough that they supported my development and transition from the client development team into marketing in 2000. Since then I have had a range of roles from product marketing through to creating and leading marketing teams at Talent Q, Future Work Centre and now at Sova Assessment.
What does your role at Sova Assessment involve?
As Director of Marketing I am responsible for all aspects of Sova’s brand, marketing and communications globally. It’s an exciting time for us as we’re growing rapidly and so we’ve been building our team, refreshing our brand, implementing marketing automation technology and focusing on creating compelling and impactful content to help communicate what we do.
What are the fundamentals of a good thought leadership campaign?
I am really lucky at Sova, we have a fantastic team of highly experienced people who are happy to contribute to thought leadership. Particularly important is the commitment I have from my CEO to contributing actively in our thought leadership. The trick is designing a process to get his thoughts and perspective on paper in ways that don’t take up lots of time, so we work with South Thames Marketing who interview him and help draft a white paper for example. This works really well. Ultimately though, it’s about anchoring what you do to the challenges facing your clients.
When you look through your career what has been the best campaign you’ve undertaken and why?
During my time at the Future Work Centre (a social enterprise, championing the use of evidence to improve the experience of work) we conducted some research about the role of personality in how people use email at work, offering targeted advice about how to manage the deluge of email we face every day. The campaign was picked up by several media channels including BBC breakfast, Radio 5Live, American press, Turkish television and across the broadsheets such as Telegraph, FT, Daily Mail and Metro. It all happened very quickly and as a very small team, it was quite challenging responding to all the requests, but absolutely thrilling at the same time!
How do you measure the impact of the campaigns you run?
We’re currently implementing Hubspot so hoping that over time our reporting will evolve, but for now we do assign an engagement score to individuals and organisations depending on how they’ve interacted with us. Some of this is a manual process though, so looking forward to having a much more automated process.
You recently undertook a brand refresh what lessons/advice would you offer others who are about to do something similar?
I was very clear from the outset that this wasn’t a full rebrand and that whatever we did had to work within a small budget and deliver most impact. So that really helped us make decisions along the way and create a brand framework that’s flexible enough to grow as we do.
You’ve got a seat at the table with the leadership team at Sova, how important is that for marketing leaders?
I love this part of my role, helping to shape and create the organisation as we grow. I’ve always enjoyed the process of helping to create an organisation and build a team and have been lucky enough to do this a number of times in my career. You get the opportunity to be involved in lots of different things and influence the direction of the organisation. I have always felt very strongly that marketing professionals at all stages of their career must have a really good understanding what the organisation does and not operate in isolation of other teams. As a marketing leader, I couldn’t do my job without having a seat at the table.
Your team also has a close relationship with sales; what advice could you offer marketing functions that are struggling to get that close relationship?
It’s not just sales we need to be close to, but I think you do need to actively build this relationship. We have a really experienced sales team at Sova and we have regular marketing and sales meetings which is a great opportunity to share what’s going on, but as we are a remote working team it’s key to talk regularly and not rely on email to communicate. I’m also a strong advocate that marketing need to get out and talk to clients so that have a really good understanding of the issues facing organisations.
For people who are walking into a marketing director role for the first time, particularly in professional services, what advice would you offer them?
I can only speak from my experience, but I think it’s important to take the time to get to know the business and the market. It can be tempting to jump into new initiatives without a clear link to business strategy, so being really clear about what the main priorities are is key. In a small team especially, you’ve got to focus your time on what matters most. I’d also say not being afraid to say something isn’t working well and having the courage to try something different.