Market differentiation must be earned. ADP has earned their differentiation by placing client experience at the center of everything they do. Jill Taksey, Senior Director of Content Strategy for ADP, attributes the company’s successful differentiation to a co-ownership of the sales funnel and an audience-first approach to thought leadership.
Jill believes that disruptive marketing is on its way out. Instead, she says, brands must embrace thought leadership programs that are altruistic at their core and powered by the invaluable relationship between marketing and sales. Take a look at the full interview video or the transcript below for more insights into this winning approach.
Note: this transcript has been edited for concision and clarity.
Q: Jill, you’ve been connecting sales and marketing around the ideal customer experience since before it was cool. It’s definitely cool now. But a lot of folks struggle with making that transition from a product- and sales-led narrative to more of a customer narrative. Can you talk about how you made that transition and what you learned along the way?
Jill Taksey: Sure. I mean, just for a history lesson, over the past several years we’ve seen the idea of disruptive marketing completely phase out, especially in B2B marketing. And digital transformation has changed the way in which our prospects and our clients are consuming content. And as a result of that, it’s just making it even more difficult to gain a share of voice in a really competitive area with lots of noise. We’ve adapted the way that we look at and leverage thought leadership in particular, which is an area that I hold very near and dear to my heart. And our vision—or my vision—for ADP’s thought leadership marketing is to develop content programs with an audience-first approach. Because if we’re not providing something of value in exchange for our audience’s attention, we’re doing something wrong. And that’s the filter through which we look at all of our thought leadership or top-of-funnel storytelling.
Q: You’ve really positioned ADP as a go-to resource for business. How has this helped you and the sales organization, when you think of creating a value narrative and differentiation within the market?
Jill Taksey: So that’s a very good question. I think that I can talk about the relationship between marketing and sales as a whole just to start. There’s no single more important partner to marketing than sales, and vice versa. And all the research in the world doesn’t equate to prospect and client objections and feedback that’s provided to us in marketing by the sales organization. Leading through thought leadership programming at its core is altruistic in nature and designed to help our audience learn to improve their approach to grow their business. So we’re all about telling stories that elevate the successes of our clients and providing insights that help our audience tackle everyday challenges together. We’re ultimately building trust with the audience and trust is imperative for building any relationship, especially that between a client and their solution provider.
Q: How have you involved sales in truly creating a partnership that makes your efforts better and stronger, not only from their participation with the content, but from the content itself?
Jill Taksey: We began as almost an internal agency model in which we were getting requests for content and we were just turning around and spitting that content back out. And over time, we’ve used the feedback of sales and the partnership of our sales partners and other internal partners from different areas within the organization to help discuss and strategize on the types of stories that we want to be telling from a thought leadership standpoint and top-of-funnel standpoint. The feedback from sales has been invaluable in creating that feedback mechanism that we need in order to be able to satisfy the demands and the stories that sales would like to be telling to the market, as well as maintaining our content strategy of telling stories to the market that are audience-centric in nature, that they really want to hear. And by having this partnership with sales, we’re able to satisfy sales’ needs and also maintain a constant beat of telling those stories that our prospects and our clients want to hear.
Q: So as you evolve with the organization, it’s really easy for these efforts to lose steam. How have you fostered trusting relationships as new stakeholders have come in and out of this program? And what have you found to be effective?
Jill Taksey: The primary reason why I chose to build my career at ADP is the people—plain and simple. The intelligence and the experiences combined with the willingness to collaborate here is unmatched. And so that has kept collaboration alive and kept my interest, honestly, in working with the organization as long as I have. Our clients, associates, partners, and our investors trust us as an organization to act ethically and responsibly and to meet the highest standards when it comes to conducting business. And that’s exactly what we do. So while I’ve been here for some time, and we definitely do have new people coming in with new experiences, at the end of the day, it’s the culture and our focus on integrity and delivering content and programs to the market at the highest level of standards possible that keeps us all excited and focused on that north star.
Q: So given your experience, if you were talking to folks just starting out, and they’re trying to figure out that core alignment between sales and marketing to create the spark that you’ve created at ADP, what advice would you give?
Jill Taksey: I would say that sales and marketing alignment is a marathon and it’s not a sprint. If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the past several years here it’s that it’s a relationship that’s being forged and worked on continuously in a cycle. Interestingly, there was a Beckon report that said 5 percent of content typically generates 90 percent of customer engagement, which means 95 percent of the content that we’re creating has little or no impact at all, which is a frightening statistic for somebody coming from a content strategy role. And you can create great content all day long. And you can hope that it’s discoverable. And oftentimes, it is discoverable through organic search and other efforts. But that partnership with sales, and their processes and channels to help share the great content and marketing work that you’re creating is invaluable. And it helps increase the odds of higher content performance down the road. So in order to be perceived as a valuable partner for sales, marketing needs to earn the trust—as we do with our own audience—we need to earn the trust of our sales counterparts. And then leverage that trust that we’ve built together to share valuable stories with the market together.
Q: You’ve done a lot, you’ve accomplished a lot, but you’re still excited. What’s next? And what are you most excited about?
Jill Taksey: One of the things that keeps me going on a day-to-day basis and keeps me excited about the program is that when really good content or a marketing program helps sales gain access into an account that otherwise hadn’t been taking their calls, it’s a good day for all of us. So I’m looking forward to having more opportunities to help our sales counterparts gain access into wonderful accounts. I can tell you from a purpose-driven standpoint, I sit within ADP. I’m a global board member for our business resource group called iWin, which is the International Women’s Inclusion Network. Advocating for diversity in the workplace is a passion of mine, for sure, and especially advocating for diversity in the role of women and women leaders. So ADP shares in this commitment that I have and we have. I believe that we were just ranked for the 12th year in a row on the Corporate Equality Index, with a rating of 100 percent, which is exciting. And for the 15th consecutive year we were honored in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list. So we continue to place client experience at the center of everything that we do, and associate experience from a culture standpoint as well. Because at ADP, after all, we’re always designing for people.
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