The 2017 Crystal Awards may be behind us, but AMA Houston professionals have the Marketer of the Year Award (MOTY) to look forward to. The award recognizes marketing teams for doing what they do best: branding a company, researching a new audience, and growing a successful business. Read more about MOTY and how it differs from Crystals here.

Three-time winner, Fredrica Cudjoe, director of B2B communications at Phillips 66 Company, knows exactly what it takes to win. With eight Crystal Awards also in her team’s trophy cabinet, Cudjoe spoke with AMA Houston about what it takes to succeed in marketing communications, and what it takes to win a MOTY.

What are some ways you’ve been able to elevate your communications strategy?

I think for the most part our company thought of communications in a more siloed approach. We assumed that if we sent out one communication to a customer or to a prospect, it was all they needed to embrace whatever program we were promoting. Over time, Phillips 66 allowed me to be exposed to best practices outside of our industry, which taught me that communications should be constructed more like a traditional campaign, moving people along the buyer’s continuum.

Have you found it difficult to bring communications to the forefront and get involved in the business development strategy?

We’ve done a lot to ensure communications are included in the front end versus an afterthought. Historically, business leads will design a project plan, build a go-to-market plan, and then shift it over to communications to deploy. But it’s more advantageous if communicators are a part of the conversation from the beginning so we can understand the challenges, how the project is progressing, and effectively craft messages that resonate with the audience. It is our role as business communicators to find a seat at the table and make our value known to the organization so that we become part of the strategic process.

Can you explain your work at Phillips 66 for those outside the industry? How are you able to affect your brand in Oil and Gas?

We have one person on my team responsible for developing tools for our sales force. They ask questions like, what do we need to give to our sales force to keep them abreast of what is going out to customers? How can we enable them to have good conversations with our customers? The second group is focused on customer communications, they ensure our communications are timely, targeted, relevant, and measurable with consistent branding. Then we have prospect communications, and their goals are to help us engage with individuals who don’t currently do business with us through campaigns and media.

Lastly, we have a Communication Systems team that helps build and maintain our digital communication platforms, giving us greater insights and making the user experience more seamless.

How were you able to identify that you needed to make a change in your marketing communications strategy?

Our leadership team identified a need for a new approach to communications. We were missing a key component to engaging prospects earlier in the buying phase because buyers don’t shop the way they used to. The Prospect Communications team started in 2013 and back then we leveraged a consulting firm because it was a mind shift, and we wanted to institutionalize the knowledge within Phillips 66. That was the year we won MOTY.

We’ve also tried to focus on measurement at every stage. Marketing traditionally looks at click rates and open rates, while sales primarily cares about volume. In this industry it takes a long time to prove out any of your marketing efforts. So, with us, the most challenging question we have to continue to ask is how do you engage and when do you engage someone with contract terms that are typically 10 years long. Marketing speaks a different language from sales. So, with those dynamics a continual challenge for us is how do we explain our “story” internally.

What were some of the results you submitted for your MOTY Award in 2014?

We won overall in 2014 and category in 2015 and 2016. In 2014, we set up a pilot campaign to try and understand what needed to be tweaked before we launched a full campaign. That was really helpful in that we were able to maximize our spend with the pilot. From a tactical standpoint, we highlighted how we established a microsite, customized emails, an engagement calculator that showed customers how they would save if they became engaged in our program, and leveraged our Lead Development Rep to nurture conversations. A lot of our findings throughout the campaign were meaningful and helped guide us to make more effective decisions.

What happened when you took the campaign to your entire audience?

When we built out the campaign and set up our B2B site, we used a lot of engagement tools such as videos, email, quizzes and such for three to four months. We took the questions we had during the pilot and answered them in the campaign. We ended up with about 9.5 million impressions at the end of an eight-week campaign. 119 sales qualified leads—all in only 10 months! We spent a lot of time in each individual stage but it resulted in millions of gallons in sales.

What were some of the results you submitted for the MOTY Award in 2015 and 2016?

One thing we confirmed is that our target audience doesn’t change often, so we addressed a different question in 2015 and then again in 2016. During the first campaign in 2014 we introduced who we are. We focused on our power beyond the pump, which highlighted our offerings beyond providing fuel. The second and third campaigns were more conversational. In 2015, we talked about those same attributes but also asked, “What are you missing from your current supplier?” We engaged prospects by including them in the conversation and encouraged them to ask us questions and explore their options.

Do you think you’ll make a submission for the 2017 MOTY Awards?

Prior to January 2016, I was only responsible for prospect communications. Now that my team is also responsible for sales, digital and customer communications, I would like to submit if for no other reason than to have the rest of the team’s work recognized in the industry. But we will see.


Marketer of the Year is one of AMA Houston’s premier events, honoring Houston companies, organizations, and institutions in more than 20 industry categories for excellence in their organizations' overall marketing programs and results. Submit your entry before September 1, 2017 for your chance to be recognized as the 2017 Marketer of the Year.


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