How a data stalwart is rediscovering its sass

SAS head of marketing shared the B2C marketing insights fuelling her vision for B2B marketing

An irony of the data age is that while it is mostly B2C brands lauded for their data prowess, the companies supplying them with analytics tools tend to be B2B. And for this latter group, that means they don’t always get the bask in the glory of what they enable.

It’s a situation well understood by Jennifer Chase, senior vice-president and head of marketing at US-based analytics and data management company SAS. A 21-year veteran of SAS, Chase held a variety of marketing roles before being appointed leader of the function in 2020.

“I tip my hat to B2C marketers - they do two things really, really well,” Chase tells CMO. “One is they are much more in tune with customer’s emotions, whereas I think B2B marketers tend to get too focused on logical marketing, which can very easily get us talking about speeds and feeds and technical jargon.”

Jenn ChaseCredit: SAS
Jenn Chase

The second is B2C marketers use data to look at the whole consumer. “It’s something as a B2B marketer I recognise the need to do more of,” Chase says. “I have often talked to the individual in their role. But when you recognise the individual as a consumer themselves, you think more holistically.”

Brand awareness

Since becoming head of marketing, Chase has set about creating a new brand identity for SAS using techniques that would be familiar to any B2C peer, including conducting extensive brand research. She describes the results as a real eye opener.

“We knew we needed to improve our general awareness,” Chase says. “The second [insight] we learned was innovation was key decision driver, and we weren’t always getting the credit for innovation that we felt like we should, based on our history. And the third was we needed to appeal to emotion [as well as] the logical.

“So we took a step back and said, ‘We need to lean in on innovation, and make sure people know we are both the founder and the future of analytics’.”

From these findings, SAS appointed an agency of record and invested in a new campaign based on the idea of ‘curiosity forever’, which kicked off with a run over advertising on 31 March.

“Curiosity is at the heart of everything we do, and that is what drives our innovation, and we believe it is a shared value,” Chase says. “Curiosity is one of those transcendent values we know our customers have, to always ask the next question.”

As the campaign moves from its awareness phase to driving consideration, SAS has chosen to focus on promoting the opportunities for data and analytics in five specific consumer-facing industries: Banking, government, health and life sciences, retail, and manufacturing.

“[Because] no matter what you did for your 9-to-5 job, you still benefit from those industries and would recognise the value of data and analytics,” Chase says. “It is another example of taking a page out of the book of B2C and recognising the full customer.”

Aside from the new campaign, Chase has big ambitions for SAS’ marketing function, including a complete restructure of the team.

“I have established a vision for marketing – we want to be indispensable to SAS, both internally and externally, and we said we need to transform ourselves to do this,” Chase says. “The role of marketing has changed more in the past year than probably the last 10, and so what are those skills every marketer needs to have in order to be as effective as they can and future proof themselves?”

That led Chase and her team to launch another project to define the eight traits of modern marketers. This surfaced attributes such as being customer-centric, having a digital mindset, being innovative and creative and being analytically curious.

And being SAS, it’s not surprising to know that everything Chase and her team is doing comes from data.

“We are going through the biggest brand effort we have had in 20 years, and that was founded on research and data,” Chase says. “We started with a brand research study so we could understand our customer base better, and what’s driving their decisions. And we are so much more focused on first-party data and the health of our first-party data than ever before.”

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