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Let’s get into some marketing 101: Every marketer has some kind of base they market their products to. For example, if you’re in the market for a tire, Goodyear is probably on your radar. At Adobe, the marketing team attempts to appeal to customers who want to tap into their inner creative side. But what happens when you don’t have a defined customer base? What if your customer base is literally any business, and every industry? 

“[We’re] dealing with every single industry out there. You’re getting to see customers who are going through some of the biggest challenges from going global, and that drives activity and questions in the marketplace that we try to jump on and have better answers for. They’re getting into new products and services, new markets, and they need to rely on us for our expertise about how to handle customs in any marketplace.”

Meet Chris O’Brien, the Chief Commercial Officer for C.H. Robinson. Through his 25-plus years at C.H. Robinson, Chris has seen it all. From dealing with customers at both a regional and national level, to working on supply chain management around the globe. On this episode of Marketing Trends, he details how and why the supply chain industry has seen increased visibility over the last few years, and he explains the importance of building a customer experience that puts the user at the forefront and the implications that doing so will have on your company’s culture.

Main Takeaways:

  • Increased Visibility: The stress the pandemic has placed on global supply chains is a brand new challenge in the industry. As a result, there is increased visibility and the relevancy of companies like C.H. Robinson.
  • Level Up: Your customer experience should not only touch consumers at multiple levels, but it needs to be more proactive and less reactionary. By being proactive, you can create a better overall customer journey from start to finish and serve your customer in multiple ways.
  • Brand Over Everything: In the current climate, the power and stability of your brand is more important than ever. Maintaining a strong, stable, and meaningful stance among customers is a top priority for marketers.
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Key Quotes:

“There’s really nobody that’s not an addressable customer. That makes the marketing job at Robinson challenging, but a lot of fun.”

“[We’re] dealing with every single industry out there. You’re getting to see customers that are going through some of the biggest challenges from going global, and that drives activity and questions in the marketplace that we try and jump on and have better answers for. They’re getting into new products and services, new markets, and need to rely on us for our expertise about how to handle customs in any marketplace.”

“The business of supply chain management is more visible and more relevant. A lot of that is based on the fact that global trade supply chains have become more and more global for years. And so they are more relied upon and critical.”

“The whole marketing team really pivoted and said, ‘Let’s support this business in this new remote environment because there will be things that we learn from this that are going to continue, regardless of when the pandemic clears out.’ …We went from reacting to thinking, if we start to treat this as more of a permanent situation, then we will invest that way and that’s going to be good for us in the short-term and the long-term.”

“What we have been debating is how much do we need to be a household brand? And we said, ‘Let’s just start measuring the messages that really matter, and let’s figure out the difference between the things that customers would really say is important and those points that really make them choose a company.’”

“We do have a robust customer experience program. It’s a part of a broader approach. Although we have this great customer listening program, we first want to make sure that we have a customer reacting program or a customer reacting culture. Being a successful services company, we’ve always been customer-focused and it’s a part of our nature and our history to be very customer-focused.”

Bio:

Chris O’Brien is the Chief Commercial Officer at C.H. Robinson. He was named Chief Commercial Officer at C.H. Robinson in December 2014, having served as senior vice president since 2012. Chris joined C.H. Robinson in 1993 and has served as the manager of the Raleigh, North Carolina branch as well as general manager and later president of the company’s European division. Chris has global, enterprise-wide responsibility for all customer-related strategy and functions including overseeing sales, account management, and marketing. In addition to corporate support for these functions, his teams oversee the Global Account Centers and lead the company’s integrated relationships through the Collaborative Outsource® solutions portfolio. Chris started in sales and account management roles at the company’s Chicago South office, and later was a C.H. Robinson on-site representative at a major global grocery retailer working on a supply chain reengineering project focused on inbound logistics conversion. Chris is a member of Logistics Quarterly’s advisory board and also serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Alma College in Michigan.

Marketing Trends podcast is brought to you by Salesforce. Discover marketing built on the world’s number one CRM: Salesforce. Put your customer at the center of every interaction. Automate engagement with each customer. And build your marketing strategy around the entire customer journey. Salesforce. We bring marketing and engagement together. Learn more at salesforce.com/marketing.

To read an unedited, automatically-generated transcript of this interview, click here.  

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