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How Tennant Transformed its Marketing Culture Via a Customer-focused Strategy

Chris Hawver, Tennant

Tennant is a 140-year-old global manufacturer of cleaning equipment, and it seemed as if its marketing efforts hadn't changed since its foundation. Marketing campaigns weren't integrated. Markets weren't segmented.

The focus was the product, not the customer. Marketing also didn't report results.

But when Chris Hawver joined the company at the beginning of 2013 as Team Leader, Americas Marketing, Marketing's value was proven in the following ways:


Instead of cajoling the leadership team to take a fresh approach to marketing, he proved to them how much they could gain.

He ran an email pilot targeting plant managers. One email carried the typical company-focused message, while another was designed to be an edgier customer-focused email that raised eyebrows. Of course, the eyebrow-raiser won. In fact, it produced an unheard of $1.5 million in revenue in 30 days, even though the company's sales cycle is 90 days.


Hawver did far more than segment by persona. He segmented by narrow industry verticals and by "share of wallet" — how much business each customer already had done with Tennant.

He explained that messaging should be different for a company where you have strong presence, as opposed to one where "they know about you, but you aren't married yet" or where they're using competitors' products.


The marketing strategy was intensely focused on product vertical and commercial vs. industrial, rather than how the customer used Tennant's solutions.

"I can't imagine a facility manager waking up in the middle of the night going 'Oh my gosh! I've got this industrial cleaning problem!'" he explained. "[They're saying,] 'I have a carpet cleaning problem or I have an image problem or I've got to clean and I have to worry about health and safety while doing it.' We really focused on the benefits of the process and the solutions."

In essence, he targeted and executed campaigns at the appropriate account level. The most important outcome? Marketing was embraced as a serious contributor to the organization.

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