Talking with Sarah Dudley, Marketer for IBM, on How the IoT Can Improve Customer Experience

Kendall Pennington

In this episode, Joe sits down with Sarah Dudley, Marketing Manager at IBM, about how to best utilize smart devices to better connect with employees and customers. Sarah hones in on the importance of having one single customer experience, and the increasingly human-centric nature of corporate marketing strategies.


Her Role(s) Today

Sarah is currently working on the product marketing team at IBM Watson IoT (Internet of Things).  

Having been with IBM for over six years working more from a content marketing standpoint, she feels she brings a fresh perspective and unique angle to the product side. Sarah finds her experience in content to be a helpful lens in crafting customer experience as well as in her side hobby as Executive Director of Boston Content, a nonprofit community of over 2000 marketers in the greater Boston area.


Maximizing Touchpoints

It is often said that people will forget what you did for them, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.  We’re finding this to be a more and more accurate description of how the best companies in the world are approaching their customers via marketing.

The current state of product marketing is much less about “what specifically a product can do for you and what are its technical features,” and much more about appealing to the customer as a human being.  This people-centric approach tends to require more long-term engagement and operating at various touchpoints.  Sarah uses the example of how we don’t usually bring up marriage on the first date; we get comfortable, get to know the person, and establish trust.  This isn’t necessary for all industries but is the best strategy if your company is looking to play the long game.

From a business perspective, these touchpoints could look like many different things.  Maybe it’s a long-form blog post from a niche blogger that much of the customer base finds credible.  Perhaps it’s a relevant joke tweet that resonates with a lot of your social followers.  It’s all about creating an experience that your customers remember.  This especially goes for millennial and gen-z consumers.


The Recipe for a Good Experience

When it comes to crafting a memorable experience for customers, there are three things Sarah mentions are essential:


  1. Connection: creating a sense of personal value and community around a product is key. 


      2.   Customization: completing discovery to determine a specific demographic’s pain points and then allocating marketing efforts to target their needs.


      3.   Shareability: providing the opportunity and/or means for your customers to organically market your company and its products for you via their smart devices. Allow them to help tell your brand’s story.   


Tackling a Rebrand

A few years back IBM began stepping up the branding of Watson, rebranding a lot of formerly IBM labeled products as IBM Watson or more simply, Watson.  

A rebrand, especially one that involves a name change, isn’t always easy for iconic global brands.  A significant amount of brand salience and customer recognition is attached to a name, so if a company rebrand is being considered, it better still align with your product to your customers and have a marketing strategy to back it up.

In the case of IBM, Watson made a lot of sense as the company wanted to begin integrating more artificial intelligence and infuse the Internet of Things into the core of what they do. 


In Closing

Sarah wraps up our chat by mentioning a new virtual assistant that IBM Watson has had at recent product events also named Sarah, who bears significant similarity to herself even though she had no hand in the particular project. Sarah (the virtual assistant) is fun to interact with, creates a memorable experience for potential customers at the event, and there are even opportunities to take photos with her, which people often share on social media.

This is just one example of the types of experiences Sarah and her team are putting together to market new products from IBM.  

We’re looking forward to seeing the creativity that comes from her department in the future.

Listen to the episode here.

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