Five Minutes With: Alicia Tillman, CMO of Ariba

What at your biggest opportunities & challenges for the next 12-24 months?

Growing our brand awareness and ensuring our value proposition is communicated in a way that is easily understood, and differentiated. My company has been in business for nearly two decades and we operate all over the world. We can never stand still–and neither can our marketing. Therefore, I need the most dynamic digital marketing strategy to ensure we are bringing new opportunities into our funnel and then building sophisticated nurture programs to move opportunities to closure–and quickly. Driving the right content is key, but also identifying the right targets and delivering them information that is relevant is also critical.

What keeps your clients up at night? 

My company is in the business of connecting buyers and sellers so that they can buy and sell goods for their companies.  For our buyers, they want to find the sellers that can best meet the needs of their company and employees. For our sellers, they are looking to showcase their goods and services and land potential buying contracts. For both groups, they need a network that serves as that community and offers a seamless, and easy, way to connect and build relationships. What most keeps them up at night is how they get connected to the right partners. Our network has two million companies within it. To make it easy for our customers, we’ve created a match-making type of service that allows buyers to detail their needs and then RFPs are sent out to targeted suppliers that meet the criteria. It helps to take the pressure off the buyer to do the searching on their own and suppliers feel this is an excellent way to position their services and be matched to a buyer in a very easy way. 

What’s the hardest thing to educate a client about?

The cost of change in today’s marketplace is high. Switching from one supplier to another is perceived to be a lot of work, especially in B2B environments. Buyers need to have quantifiable reasons for why the cost is greater if they don’t change. My team needs to be at the forefront in quantifying the benefits that our value proposition delivers when we are looking to attract new customers. Cost savings, improved user experience, an ability to grow your business. We need the case studies, white papers, client testimonials to prove it and dynamic campaigns and marketing strategies that tell that story. Our inability to deliver that means missed opportunities for us, and missed opportunities for customers to transform their business.

What are some of the unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

Attracting new business leads and reporting are always going to be the top two needs I have and while there are incredible products out there today to enable this, I am always looking for what is new and improved. Especially those that are simple to integrate and implement. Months of technical integrations of marketing technologies are painful, so the faster I can get new capabilities in, the more effective I can be.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

LinkedIn is an incredible lead generation and resource recruiting community, but I still think many companies and individuals have a ways to go in optimizing what it offers. I think every sales, marketing and HR organization can benefit by getting a deep dive lesson in using it to support their business goals. Most people I speak with, have tried to learn it on their own, and while I feel It is very intuitive, there is so much that it offers beyond some of the basics. I also believe LinkedIn will continue to evolve and add more so important to have someone on your staff or an outside consultant who can ensure you are truly maximizing the offerings

–Alicia Tillman is CMO of Ariba, an SAP company

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