marketing communications

How a solution marketing expert and marketing communications expert partnered to achieve major results

Around 2012, Rachel Spasser, currently managing director and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Accel-KKR, joined Ariba, now an SAP Company, with the responsibility to orchestrate marketing efforts. She was not to do so alone but rather under the direction and vision of CMO Tim Minahan, now CMO and Senior Vice President of Marketing at Citrix. 

In this partnership, Tim provided vision, strategy and forward-looking direction for Rachel to implement across all levels of the marketing department, weaving the messaging as tightknit, consistent and effective. They paired their individual expertise in solution marketing and marketing communications for four and a half years. As a result, Ariba experienced major wins that could not have been achieved otherwise.

The following are direct insights and experiences from Rachel herself:

 The View of Marketing’s Position at Many Companies

Where a lot of companies fail is that they look at marketing with a lowercase M. Marketing’s role is demand generation — aka promotion — and that is where many think it starts and stops.

I like to evangelize marketing and reference it with a capital M. If you think back to business school, marketing is not just promotion; it is holistic and the combination of pricing, packaging, promotion, distribution and more.

But this happens all the time: Someone is hired as the demand generation lead, another to lead marketing communications, another for public relations. These people may be good at these positions and they start generating demand, but it is not necessarily the demand you want. Why? Because you have not identified your ideal customer profile or you have failed to generate content that is particularly relevant for you and the unique value proposition you bring to the market.

Many companies end up spending a lot of money on demand generation and creating a lot of waste. So being able to take a step back, to look at marketing more strategically and to view solution marketing as a key input for demand generation reduces waste and only increases marketing’s effectiveness. This is what we were able to do at Ariba with Tim and my roles.

The Marketing Framework at Ariba

Tim was acting CMO when I joined Ariba. He was the visionary, focused on strategy and where the industry was going. He was truly a thought leader.

But his marketing team was growing and becoming more fragmented, so he needed someone to orchestrate the marketing efforts and to ensure all various functions within marketing were working well together to deliver the results we needed. This became my role, initially to orchestrate across demand generation and marketing communications, and then eventually across the entire marketing department.

I essentially headed the marketing department and reported to Tim. His responsibility was the big picture, and everything else marketing-related was in my domain.

The forward-looking strategy and vision of Tim became the fuel for our marketing content and campaigns. I helped our marketing teams take his messaging and break it down into actionable components that we knit together into a compelling and consistent story through every channel and effort.

The Major Wins of a Unified Solution Marketing and Marketing Communications Team

There were a couple of unique outcomes that would have been hard to accomplish without the vision and messaging execution Tim and I achieved together.

The first: When I started, Ariba had been transforming from a software company with a business network to a business network company that offered software programs to the community operating on that network. Tim and I took this challenge and looked at what that transformation really meant — and what we needed to do to achieve this new positioning. It was important to make this meaningful to employees, to the marketing, analysts, third-party influencers and clients. To do this effectively is a huge undertaking. Tim provided this vision and messaging framework and my role was to take that vision and translate it into solid marketing execution across all departments. Ultimately our reward was the acquisition of Ariba by SAP for more than $4 billion.

The second: Tim was a true thought leader and excelled at engaging and connecting with clients. He brought them closer with Ariba and they found value in building a close relationship with him. We were able to take Tim’s strong client relationships and leverage them in a way that could help drive demand generation on many occasions. One of our most successful events was Ariba Live, an industry event where we brought in these business leaders who Tim had connected with and provide a platform for them to talk about their successes with Ariba. We had more than 2,500 attendees, clients and prospects, who came to hear from their peers and other luminaries in the industry and to learn more about Ariba. And we were able to compel these clients and prospects in a unique and meaningful way as a result of Tim’s clients connections.

Seeking Out This Partnership Elsewhere

Ariba managed the solution marketing and marketing communications expert partnership well, but this framework can be discovered in many different shapes and sizes.

For a lot of companies, especially founder-driven, the founder is the vision. A good marketing leader should be able to translate that vision into actionable initiatives that drive business. Marketing leaders need to be able to identify and leverage whoever that visionary is and to implement the vision in a marketing capacity.


Read more about Ariba’s experience in working with Mereo and supporting its acquisition and more.