Building A Brand: Innovative Marketing Strategies Create Customer Loyalty

Apr 18, 2012
  |  by Andrew Hamilton

Early in her career,while working for Abbott Laboratories as a sales representative, Se-Se Yennes (MBA ’01) was offered an opportunity in marketing.

Just a decade later, she has leveraged that opportunity into her current position as vice president of marketing in pharmaceutical acute care for Cardinal Health in Dublin,Ohio. “Sales and marketing are separate disciplines with different requirements,” says Yennes. “Yet having a background in both areas has given me a unique perspective, and it has helped me discover a passion for developing innovative strategies and tools.”

After serving in a number of sales and marketing positions within the health care industry, Yennes now applies her experience in both are as as she leads a team of nearly 100 people in developing and executing strategic marketing initiatives. The benefits of having both perspectives are particularly helpful in this role, she notes, as Cardinal Health works toward its goals of integrating hospital pharmacy services, aligning sales teams and generating a new customer presence.

Cardinal Health,rankedNo. 19 on the Fortune 500 in 2011, provides pharmaceuticals and medical products to more than 60,000 healthcare facilities every day, in addition to manufacturing medical and surgical products, such as masks, gowns and gloves.

While a major component of Cardinal Health’s business is distribution, the company also offers many other valuable health care services—and that is where Yennes plays an important role. “We help hospitals deliver quality care more cost-effectively and we are very customer-centric,” she says. “All customer services and experiences must provide value in order to drive customer loyalty.” For example, she recently led efforts to launch one of the company’s newest solutions for hospital pharmacies, the BarCode360™ Safety Optimizer. According to Yennes, this administrative solution helps hospitals get medications to the patient’s bedside safely, while helping the facility save time and money. To ensure thatCardinal Health continues providing valuable products like BarCode360, Yennes’ team gets to know their customers through analytics and market research, such as surveys and conferences. “Before my team introduces an initiative to the public, we spend countless hours conducting detailed market research to determine how a product would meet our customers’ needs,” Yennes says. “There’s no point in launching a productif it’s not valuable to your stakeholders.”

While Yennes’ team sets the marketing strategy and tactical rollout plan for the acute care services, there is another critical component in getting the right services to the right customers.

“Our sales representatives are on the front lines, engaging directly with our customers,” she says. “So it’s my responsibility to make sure they have a thorough understanding of what we offer and to help them deliver the information successfully.” To do this, Yennes closely supports the sales leaders in designing and implementing successful training and collateral materials to be used by the sales reps.

Marketing and sales teams may be different, but they work toward the same goal. With a background in sales, Yennes is well-positioned to build the bridge between the two teams. “At the end of the day, all of our efforts are designed to ensure that we are providing our customers with the health care services they need to support the patients across the continuum of care,” she says.

Prior to joiningCardinal Health’s leadership team,Yennes was a global strategic marketing director at Johnson & Johnson, an organization that she says has a deeply embedded culture around brand positioning. “When people from around the world know and trust your company,” notes Yennes, “you must be doing something right.”

Through her global role, she also learned how to work closely with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. “I spent 60% to 70% of my time traveling around the world — usually I was in Europe every other week,” says Yennes. “Working with people from around the globe, I learned how to build strong relationships across cultures — an invaluable skill in today’s global marketplace.”

From the start, Yennes was well positioned to hold a global role. Her father, a native of Palestine, and her mother, a native of Ecuador, brought their two cultures together in a household in New Albany, Ind. Yennes attributes much of her success to a disciplined work ethic,which she says she learned from her parents, who own a commercial and residential carpet business. “From about the time I was 10 years old,I helped them with anything from sweeping the floors to assisting our customers,” she says.“Even atthat age, I saw the importance of hard work and meeting customer needs. Yennes’ parents had always stressed the importance of education to their four children.“ When I earned my bachelor’s degree, it was one of my father’s proudest moments,” says Yennes, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, becoming the first person in her family to earn a college degree. After getting started on her career, Yennes realized that to achieve the kind of career success she wanted, she would need to earn a master’s degree.

She says that Strayer University’s master of business administration program taught her how to become more focused in her thinking and how to look for more than one “right answer” in the workplace, which has been invaluable throughout her marketing career. “In my career, I always want to be innovative and open to other people’s thoughts and ideas,” she says. “After all, you never know where you might get that next great idea.”




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