A MassMutual CMO Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

04/29/2015 09:29 am ET | Updated Jun 27, 2015

Heather Smiley, CMO, Retirement and Worksite Insurance at MassMutual, will address these 4 questions;

  1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
  2. Why is this so important?
  3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
  4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

Please send your feedback and ideas for people you would us to interview to

Heather is the Chief Marketing Officer of Retirement and Worksite Insurance at MassMutual, a Fortune 100 financial services company. Her focus is to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love through employee benefits at the workplace. MassMutual currently serves 3 million American workers at over 40,000 companies and organizations.

A strong supporter of our military and their families, Heather is active with the USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?

MassMutual's mission is to help Americans secure their future and protect the ones they love. To make that mission a reality, our customers need to be informed and motivated about something that is often out in the distant future or hard to imagine.

And when we do succeed in creating this "motivated moment", it needs to be easy to take appropriate action. Creating and managing increasingly targeted, personalized and action-oriented messaging across today's many and changing marketing channels is our biggest strength and continued opportunity.

2. Why is this so important?

The stakes are high when your mission is to help America's greatest asset - its workforce - insure their family from the losses of a major illness or untimely passing and having an adequate retirement income. So, whatever we can do to enable our customers to take action is a win for both the customer and our business.

We sell and service through the workplace where a business-level sale happens first, so having a unique and comprehensive employee benefits experience across human, mobile, social and web formats differentiates us and helps us win us the privilege of working with America's employees.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?

A major business principle for us is being easy to do business with, which is at its core about constantly improving the customer experience. Knowing what's important to our customers given their life stage or job role and where they consume information helps them to quickly get guidance and make decisions on critical matters. We do this by matching images and messaging that fits a customer's age, gender and life stage. They can then increase their savings rate by checking one box on a business reply card or one click on an email. Attention spans are short and our offering isn't often top of mind for much of our audience, so we'd better get it right within seconds.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

No matter if you are buying for your company or buying for yourself, today's consumer expects that you understand them and their unique needs before you even engage. They expect you to make use of information that they know is available or are willing to give to you -- if it leads to a higher quality, faster interaction. When a customer enrolls in their 401k plan, we ask how they'd like to be contacted and about what. Print, email, or phone call? Webinars about paying off student loans or teaching your kids about money? We have seen a clear pattern in superior marketing results coming with deeper targeting through increased knowledge of the customer's preferences and behavior. My marketing leadership philosophy is simple - do more of what works and less of what doesn't, and better personal relevancy works.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Outside of work I like to spend time with my children, but my husband and I are on the verge of being empty nesters so that dynamic is changing. I'll have more time to focus on my passions of being physically active, driving fast cars and keeping up with the latest in fashion.

Ernan Roman
President, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing Corp., (ERDM)

Inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame based on results companies achieve with three Customer Experience methodologies he created: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing and Opt-in Marketing.

ERDM specializes in conducting Voice of Customer research to identify Customer Experience strategies that generate significant increases in response and revenue for clients including IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC, Microsoft and Norton AntiVirus.

Named by the Online Marketing Institute as one of the "2014 Top 40 Digital Luminaries" and by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".
Ernan's latest book is titled, "Voice of the Customer Marketing". He also writes the widely read and Huffington Post published blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices".