Erica Brinker on Defining and Creating Value
Episode 7 of the Accelerating Value podcast series featured special guest Erica Brinker, CMO of Honeywell.
We spoke about applying digital transformation logic to marketing, reviewing brand value post-Covid, minimizing risk in marketing, and plenty more. Erica offered expert insights on value creation in both her professional and personal life.
Here are some of the main points from the conversation:
So software creates value by taking what human beings are capable of and scaling it dramatically through automation. You can also eliminate a lot of human errors this way. There are a lot of things that soft work can do, not to replace human beings but to augment their decision-making capabilities. How are you guys thinking about that right now?
When you think about traditional industrial customers, the idea of bringing in software can be very daunting to a traditional manufacturer. But when you think about it, all of the assets, the equipment has already been sending off data for a long long time and it just hasn't been harnessed.
And so our software has the ability not only to pull down the data and aggregate it but because we've understood these industries for over a hundred years, we also know what to do with it - because lots of analytics firms just track analytics. Unless you know what those analytics really mean, they don't turn into actionable insights. So what we try to do is help our customers not only connect their enterprise but also secure it so that you're able to run your business more efficiently and more safely.
How do you apply that same logic path (of digitalization) to marketing? The way that you create value is asynchronous with sales, so how do you think about it right now?
We think about it in a couple of ways. There are some businesses, especially SAAS businesses, that have a shorter sales cycle. When you talk about building management, that's something that in a matter of hours we can look up and start pulling down data and showing value. But when you talk about oil refineries, that's something where the sales cycle is quite long and the process is long, so we think about it in other ways. We try to do things short-term to try to make sure that we're getting new leads for our salespeople. We focus on lead to revenue.
Since sales teams have become much more sophisticated around how to leverage marketing, it's that constant partnership. We don't want to entice customers that have no chance of ever being talked to. So we want to make sure that we deliver on that promise, even in marketing as well.
How do you think about the value of the brand when it comes to Honeywell’s business?
I think about it differently than I did three years ago. So when I led the Future Shaper brand campaign that we launched about two and a half years ago, the first thing that we did was find out: What do people around the world think about Honeywell, and do they think of us at all? As we've been making the transition from a pure-play, industrial manufacturer to a software-industrial, we wanted to make sure that we were striking the right tone with our customers and also that we were beginning to be in the consideration set for our customers when they thought about software.
We are trying our own technology and we have it implemented across our building face and our own manufacturing, making sure that we're sweating our assets as much as possible. So we first prove it to ourselves before we go out to customers to make sure it's working as well. So, when we think about the brand now, I think we've done a great job of making sure that we've been consistent on the message, but also delivering on what we've said we can in terms of a product that really provides value to our industrial customers.
So, let's talk a little bit more about risk. Part of a brand from the outside-in perspective is built around confidence and trust. How do you think about this when you're putting together a marketing campaign? How do you realize your own risks, and then how do you think about your customers’ risks?
I think of them as two sides of the same coin. I mentioned piloting, and pilots are the ultimate weapon in de-risking anything that you do, whether you're talking about marketing or talking about implementing new software. I think sometimes, as marketers, we want a one-size-fits-all for everything we do. We want something to be able to work for everyone.
We do try to find similar tools and ways to be scalable, but at the same time, the same tool doesn't work for different challenges, and so what we often think about is: If we're going to introduce a new technology, what is the actual use case where we think it's ideal and why would it be better than something we're already using? I map out those use cases so that we make sure that we're fitting the right tool to the right challenge.
Erica Brinker understands that customers define your value - something that she has worked on with Honeywell. Our full conversation offered loads of helpful takeaways on value creation in marketing, sales, and branding. It also covered the intersection of personal and professional lives. In all of these different areas, Erica is a true master of value creation.
The Accelerating Value podcast series focuses on how we see, create, and plan value. Every week we talk to new guests, who are leaders across various disciplines. We understand their definition of value and showcase their expert insights to help you in your own quest to create value.