4 April 2023

Top Customer Marketing Challenges From the Field

Interview with Heather Pritchett from OutSystems

No one ever said customer marketing is easy, but that’s likely why so many creative, smart and engaged marketers are drawn to the field. Overcoming challenges is what keeps so many customer marketing professionals on their toes and always innovating.

And one such customer marketer is Heather Pritchett, Director of Customer Voice at OutSystems. Heather and I had a wide-ranging conversation about customer marketing, including:

  • new challenges she’s facing as her customer marketing program grows and matures
  • how she measures the performance of her case studies
  • some of the tactics Heather uses to streamline the case study approval process

Looking for a customer marketing solution?

Check out 29 Best Customer Marketing Solutions to Drive Customer Growth and Retention (2023)

Heather Pritchett interview

Heather Pritchett, Director, Customer Voice, OutSystems

Name: Heather Pritchett
Job title: Director, Customer Voice
Company: OutSystems
Heather’s hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
Degree: BSc Marketing


Fun facts about Heather Pritchett:

☕ Tea, coffee, or something else?: Both! I have both coffee and tea most every day. And I’ve been known to enjoy some wine on occasion 😊
👉 We’ll often find you: At the gym….Or outdoors walking. I love being active and also in nature. When I can combine both it’s the best!
👪 You’re a parent to: Our hound dog Cooper – a rescue that has been with us for four years, and I enjoy being a foster mom to rescue dogs in need!
🛫 Last place you’ve traveled to: Hawaii, just after Christmas. It was my 2nd visit to the islands and I already can’t wait to get back!

How did you get your start in customer marketing?

Heather Pritchett: I went to school for marketing and my first role was in a small software company. I hadn’t thought about the technology industry for a career, but, looking back, I am really grateful for that opportunity as it gave me the chance to work in a dynamic, always changing and in-demand industry.

My early days of working primarily in corporate marketing exposed me to working with customers through customer stories, customer events, etc. I enjoyed interacting with the people who were actually using the product or service that I was marketing—and learning how they use it and how it brings value to them.

Then, as I spent several years leading marketing for the US region, I got the opportunity to spend more and more time with the customers and thinking about how to engage them.

The Chief Marketing Officer at OutSystems saw the need for and the value of customer programs. He said, “We’re going to make this a full-time role, and it’s global.” So I jumped head-first into it because it was a great fit for my interest and passion around working with customers.

Our team does not—and my role has never focused on—upsell, cross-sell, expansion or anything like that. It’s more about customer advocacy and engaging customers. A lot of expansion and retention comes naturally through the programs that we do, but that’s not been the focus. 

What has been your biggest customer marketing challenge in the past 12 months?

Heather Pritchett: One of the biggest challenges for me, especially as the team leader, is the shifts we’re trying to make. We’ve gone through a lot of the traditional stages of advocacy where we start with references or stories or reviews and more of the tactical programs.

We’ve gotten to a point now where we have a lot of stories, a lot of online reviews, a lot of customer advocates. Now it’s, ‘we’ve got these assets, so where do we go from here? How do we leverage what we have? And then how can we be strategic in the way that we’re serving the needs of the business? How do you really quantitatively measure what you’re doing and the impact to the business?’

It’s been a shift of trying work towards those goals, but then also maintaining the stuff that still needs to be done, like fulfill reference requests and speaker needs, publish stories and those kinds of things. 

Have you had any other challenges recently?

  1. One challenge is engaging those larger customers because it can be difficult to get some of the larger organizations that are more broadly known to tell their stories.
  2. Another challenge is thinking about how we need to shift our storytelling model. We’re getting higher demand for video and shorter formats, and we’re trying to determine the strategy around how stories fit within that. What types of stories do we need when and where?

What’s your biggest customer marketing success in the past 12 months?

Heather Pritchett: It’s not one defining thing. Seeing our company become more customer centric is extremely rewarding. To see our customers featured and highlighted as successful and innovative is a huge success to me. Having our team be seen as highly valuable to our organization is a huge success!

How do case studies play a role for OutSystems?

Heather Pritchett: Case studies aren’t just assets that live on our website. There’s also a huge amount of value in leveraging the stories in many different ways: 

  • Case studies are one of the first places that our PR team goes to look for story ideas to pitch to the media.
  • The Demand Gen team uses them in campaigns for customer proof.
  • Sales are asking for case studies with different use cases all the time.  Case studies definitely help provide a foundation for Sales to have something to point to.

How are you measuring the performance of your case studies?

Heather Pritchett: For a while we were watching web traffic. Then, as we shifted our strategy to focus more on story impact outside of our own properties measuring traffic brought less value.

One of our best indicators from a case study perspective at this moment is internal consumption. We’re looking at Highspot, which we use as our field repository for content. We watch consumption levels to make sure that we’re educating our teams on what is available for use.

What are some of the challenges with producing quality case studies?

Heather Pritchett: The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a lengthy process. Case studies can be expensive, and the approvals are challenging.

Getting business value metrics is also pretty difficult sometimes. Either the customer doesn’t know them or they don’t want to share them. A full-length case study of the quality that we like can take a very long time and can be very challenging with the customer’s approval processes. 

What tactics do you use to streamline the case study approval process?

Heather Pritchett: Connecting with our customer’s Communications Team upfront has worked well. The better aligned we are with them, especially with the larger companies, the more easily we can produce the story that the customer wants to tell. 

Our awards program has also been a great way to showcase the success of our customers. This is a big recognition and celebration for them and their teams, and the case studies generated through this program are a great tool for the customer to promote their achievements internally. 

We also want to try shifting into some of the smaller, lighter-lift case study and testimonial formats, so we can get them produced and approved faster. It would be less where we’re writing the customer story and more letting the customer tell their own story. We’re in full experimentation mode with this. The idea is to have a range of case study and testimonial formats so we can decide what’s right for a specific purpose and customer.

What advice do you have for someone new to customer marketing?

Heather Pritchett: Understand what your business goals are, and focus on the top two or three programs that will impact those goals. Then build from there!

P.S. Want more customer marketing insights?

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And just in case you missed it, check out our 2024 Customer Story Trends & Insights Report, where we surveyed 115 customer marketers to gather their insights and experiences with customer stories.

Here’s a preview:

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Emily Amos

As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads her team in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and blog posts for high-growth SaaS companies like ClickUp, Calendly and WalkMe. Connect with Emily on Linkedin

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