Marketing Mojo: Insights from One Door CMO & SVP of Product, Tom Erskine

By Julianna Sheridan

Julianna Sheridan, account manager at Matter, recently spoke with One Door CMO and SVP of product, Tom Erskine, to discuss B2B marketing, the retail industry and more. Check out the video from the interview and read the full conversation below.

Julianna Sheridan (JS): Tom, tell us a little bit about yourself and One Door.

Tom Erskine (TE): I’m the senior vice president of product and chief marketing officer here at One Door. I’ve been in the B2B marketing business for 23 years. In my role at One Door, I’m responsible for our product management team and our marketing team, working with a our president and CEO E. Y. Snowden, who was one of my first bosses about 20 years ago. We work in the retail industry and provide a software application for retailers with a new and different approach to the way they merchandise their stores. Our software enables retailers to do a better job of communicating their visual merchandising plans between headquarters and their store teams. This is a big problem in retail because it’s still a very manual process with paper and binders. At One Door, we digitized this process.

JS: What marketing initiatives at One Door will you invest in more heavily over the next year?

TE: Great question. One of the big initiatives for us in 2019 from a marketing perspective is to create consistent and excellent content throughout the year. The buying process has become much more of a team decision and there are more people involved now than ever before. We need to give our salespeople, buyers and proponents the appropriate content to generate interest in our solution within their organizations, and solicit support for our application within their teams.

JS: Interesting. And, what would you say is becoming less of a priority?

TE: Not really less of a priority, but one thing worth noting is that we’re shifting to a more account-based marketing approach. We’re focusing less on things like the classic metrics-  sales-qualified leads and marketing-qualified leads – which have been commonplace in the industry for a long time. Instead, we’re focusing more on account-based metrics. For example: Where do our relationships stand with  accounts? How many people are reading our content? How broad is our support within the 122 accounts we’re targeting around the world?

JS: At the beginning of the year, One Door attended NRF. How do you amplify your presence at trade shows to stand out in such a crowded market?

TE: Amplifying your presence at a trade show when you’re a company of our size and scale is difficult. Whatever you can do to let your customers do the talking makes a big difference. Our customers are some of the world’s largest brands and they attract people far more than we ever could – no matter how successful we are at building our brand. For one of our customers to do a presentation speaking about our software, where over 470 attendees show up to a 250-seat theater—that’s pretty remarkable.

JS: Are there any companies or marketers you admire, in terms of their approach and/ormarketing strategies?

TE: I think I’d probably point to HubSpot. It’s a Boston-based company that’s done a great job. They took a commoditized marketing tool and created this idea of inbound, which differentiated itself in a crowded space. Another company I’ve always respected and admired is Salesforce. It has been great at just riding the wave and truly tackling industry trends like cloud and AI-  their ability to do that is harder than it looks and it’s impressive to watch.

JS: Amazon is obviously a huge player in the retail industry. What can marketers learn from Amazon?

TE: Amazon is a remarkable company. It’s done an incredible job creating an operational and fulfillment distribution machine, listening to its customers to create an incredible customer experience, and also branching out to new industries. Do I consider them a world-class marketer? Actually, I’m not sure that I do. While I think Amazon is an incredible company, when it comes to companies that I look to for ideas about how to be a world-class marketer, I wouldn’t say that I’d put Amazon at the top of that list.

JS: You recently announced a partnership with Oracle. How do you leverage a big name like that in your own marketing?

TE: One of the things we’re most excited about our relationship with Oracle is that its sales team (that’s much larger than ours) gets excited about jointly marketing and selling our application. While doing a release with a company like Oracle certainly helps us establish credibility, at the end of the day, it is all about the relationship and what we’ll deliver. Our recent Oracle release showcases our ability to bring our two applications together and deliver value for our customers.

JS: How do you get customers to participate in things like speaking opportunities and testimonial videos? How important are your customers to your marketing strategy?

TE: We ask them a lot and never stop asking.  Most importantly, we first need to deliver value and a good customer experience to develop that trusted relationship. This makes the request a lot easier. When our customers speak at events, it helps establish them within the industry. We try to emphasize this so they don’t think they’re just promoting One Door, but rather showcasing their impressive accomplishments.

JS: What do you think will be the next “big thing” in retail? VR? Robots? Voice? Beacons?

TE: You mentioned a couple things there. All those things are great eye candy and have real business value. We’ve seen Pepper the robot walking the aisles. We’ve seen companies starting to do a great job using AI to match the products they sell with what customers want. But the biggest thing in retail for the next year or two is combining AI and automation to streamline processes as the way companies do business. Retail is a difficult business because there are so many logistics involved to get products from point A to point B. When you help retailers digitally transform, you recognize how non-digital some of those processes still are. Helping retailers use automation, intelligence, AI and analytics to streamline and automate will drive changes in the customer experience and profitability.

JS: What KPIs are most critical to your executive team and board? How are you being asked to measure the effectiveness of your marketing and PR programs?

TE: As the head of marketing, the most important thing is: How much are we selling? At the end of the day, what really matters is how much we’re partnering with our sales organization to help bring in deals, get deals across the line, and help to build our top line revenue. From a marketing metrics perspective, as we’ve shifted to an account-based marketing approach, we’re focusing a lot more on: How are we doing in terms of getting engagement within our 122 target accounts? How many people are we talking to within those accounts? How deep is that engagement? How often are we interacting with them?

JS: Why is PR an important part of your marketing strategy? What are some of the benefits of working with an agency like Matter?

TE: When we look at our sales pipeline and our marketing funnel, we look at it in three stages. The first stage is to educate and help customers gain awareness. The second is to help those customers prioritize and understand that it’s important for them to solve this problem now. Finally, the third is to convince them that One Door and Merchandising Cloud are the right tools to help them solve the problem and to do the job. If you think about those three different buckets of work, Matter and our PR strategy applies across all of them because it helps to amplify the message. Our PR results help drive awareness and help customers understand the ROI. The relationships our PR team fosters with the analyst community and trade press help get the word out about our continuous innovations. We’re really thankful that we have a partner like Matter to help us accomplish our goals across all three of those areas.

JS: When you first joined the company, it was called RBM Technologies. What has the process been to rebrand and how do you get customers to care about One Door?

TE: The branding process has been an adventure. First of all, we love the One Door brand. You asked me before about trade shows. Sure, we let our customers do the talking. But, one of the things we wanted when we created the One Door brand was a logo that stood out in a sea of logos. So, we imagined ourselves walking the halls of a trade show trying to find a brand that stood out -we think we’ve accomplished that. Our brand has more of a human touch than your typical B2B brand. Especially in the retail space, a lot of the brands tend to be a impersonal and cold. Our brand is also authentic to the culture that we believe we’ve created here and people are excited about it.

Check out more from our Marketing Mojo series here!