The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced March 25, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person May 11 at the The Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia.
Next is Chief Marketing Officer (Private & Public) finalist Matt Maurer, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at ICF. Here, he talks key recent achievements, proud career moments, overcoming struggles and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021/2022?
The last year has been filled with important achievements for my team and ICF. As a company, we closed out 2021 with a record $2 billion in sales and $1.5 billion in revenue. My team contributed to this milestone achievement through a remarkable 85% increase in marketing-influenced business pipeline and $200 million+ in marketing-influenced contract wins — ICF’s biggest year-over-year increase in our more than 50-year history.
Additionally, marketing supported an aggressive M&A program this year. My team developed and executed the communications strategy for two acquisitions: ESAC and Creative Systems and Consulting. These highly strategic acquisitions were essential in showcasing how ICF continues to make critical investments in expanding the value we offer clients by adding more advanced technology solutions and capabilities that complement our industry-leading domain expertise.
Over the course of two months during the holiday season, I led the acquisition announcement and brand integration of these companies by carefully crafting external and internal messaging that both excited clients, employees and the broader industry, while also mitigating any anxiety or concerns that often comes along with an M&A.
We highlighted the acquisitions’ key value propositions, expanded solution depth and scale, and perhaps most importantly, strong cultural alignment. We not only secured dozens of media placements in local and trade publications around the announcement, but also delivered key growth messages to employees.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
Above all else, ICF is a mission-driven company filled with incredibly smart and talented people who have a genuine passion for solving some of the toughest challenges of our time. Every day, our teams work on projects that improve lives and communities around the globe.
And being a marketer means being a storyteller. In my work at ICF, it has been my greatest privilege to share our stories of impact, in partnership with our clients, to make meaningful improvements in services provided to citizens and stakeholders. From advancing IT modernization efforts, to supporting the fight against climate change, to the ongoing turbulence from the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to enhance public health and much, much more, our best and most powerful marketing is when we simply package up and share the incredible work we do with our government partners.
These are stories I take great pride in telling. And more importantly than just positioning our company, these stories create ways for leaders in government and business to better understand and be aware of compelling strategies and approaches to the work they do. The peer-to-peer element and championing relatable, accessible stories of true leadership in the industry are real contributions beyond any marketing effort.
Beyond my external-facing work, I am also proud to have built a team of future leaders and talented marketers here at ICF. I’ve had the immense pleasure of leading a team that is motivated for growth — both personally and professionally — and is always ready for innovation.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
Working in partnership with our business teams, my team has put forth a robust marketing campaign that shares the incredible benefits achieved through the adoption of advanced digital solutions and platforms within the federal government. While it may seem daunting, modernizing legacy IT systems can give agencies the tools they need to rapidly deliver better government services. And deliver much greater mission impact.
Through compelling storytelling that centers on our clients’ experiences and perspectives, we share the increased impact government agencies can have now — and in the future — to citizens and communities all over the nation by adopting new ways of thinking about how we use technology. Each time we publish a new report, share a client project or convene industry experts, it’s more than just marketing; it’s helping evolve an industry in need of transformation for the better.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
When I joined ICF, marketing was not seen as a strategic lever to drive business growth. After a short period of time, it became very clear to me that this approach needed to change for the company to truly seize our market opportunity.
Maintaining our track record of doubling in size every five years, as we have for the past two decades, required the brand to show up in new ways with new capabilities to longstanding, existing audiences. And we also had to introduce ourselves to new audiences. This required marketing to become an integral partner to the business growth strategy, not a peripheral observer.
Recognizing the need to evolve both our marketing strategy and execution, I changed the department 180 degrees. Moving beyond a traditional “set it and forget it” approach, I took “growth marketing” to heart.
First, I refreshed the look and feel of our 50-year-old brand. Then, I ensured we were adding value at every step of the buyer’s journey: from attraction to engagement and eventually, acquisition. I created strong partnerships with business leaders to include the co-creation of integrated marketing campaigns. And I unified our external and internal communications team so we could better leverage our strongest brand ambassadors: our people. Now, with the help of my talented team, we’re leading ICF to new levels of success.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
When you look at the ongoing struggles and challenges in our world today, thriving democracies are not a given. Each day, we must build, grow and nurture our democratic values. At ICF, we tell the stories of governments that are constantly growing stronger as they work towards their missions. With the help of ICF’s incredible expertise — providing services, advising on critical issues and leading implementation — and technology, we are lending a hand in strengthening our government institutions on this journey.
Each step of the way, we help governments think differently to increase mission impact and accelerate mission delivery so they can continue to have a profound, positive impact around the world. For those in government and especially for those of us supporting government missions, it’s important to remember that whatever the challenges we face, it’s a special privilege and responsibility to build, strengthen and nurture a democracy that does so much good for so many people around the world.