WashingtonExec has reached out to leading govcon communications and media executives about the latest trends in a post-pandemic world. These interviews highlight success stories that resonate, discuss how organizations are navigating current challenges, and provide insight into lessons learned. Jesse Humphrey, vice president of marketing at DMI, shares her thoughts below.
What were you and your team heavily focused on this year?
A heavy focus revolved around continuing our marketing growth coming out of 2021. Following on the tail of a major investment from private equity firm, OceanSound Partners, in November 2021, our team began a massive rebrand effort as we moved away from a founder-owned business to a founder-inspired business with a bigger, bolder vision for our future.
Because our company is focused on serving commercial, state and local and federal markets, our marketing strategy needed to center around building an integrated brand image that effectively communicated the full value of how we support our clients while also considering the different approaches, needs and complexities of each audience.
This required a balanced investment in both long-term brand building and targeted marketing programs to achieve our near-term and future growth objectives. As part of these efforts, our team conceptualized, designed and relaunched the company website from the ground up featuring each business unit’s capabilities and industry expertise as an integrated part of the DMI brand.
At the same time, we have been developing a targeted campaign strategy that extends the new brand to every touchpoint encountered by our customers and stakeholders ⏤ from internal communications and sales materials to tradeshows and social media ⏤ to ensure that every engagement is not just a business unit experience, but a DMI experience.
The new website and brand identity (what we are calling DMI 2.0) now reflect the bold, unique and forward-looking culture of our company. This brand refresh has not only helped us to create consistency across our new industry-focused go-to-market model, but in my opinion, is a real work of art that shows a beautiful evolution of who we are today.
What were some of this year’s biggest media and communications challenges, and how did you overcome them?
As with many organizations, this year brought on some major challenges specifically with the impact of the “great resignation.” As we worked hard to roll out our DMI 2.0 brand from an external perspective, we also recognized the huge need to bolster our brand in support of recruiting and retention efforts.
This led to marketing proactively partnering with our HR and recruiting teams to overhaul DMI’s employer branding. The goal was to establish and communicate DMI’s culture, values and benefits to not only external candidates, but also to our global, distributed workforce.
Through ongoing collaboration and internal focus groups, our team guided the launch of a brand-new interactive employee newsletter, careers page and recruiting campaign.
In my opinion, these efforts also put into perspective how much marketing influences and contributes to the overall brand experience. From prospect to client and from candidate to employee, each touchpoint can either make an individual an advocate or an adversary of your brand.
For us, it’s an ongoing journey but one that is well worth it. We know that our business is only as good as the people behind it, and our ability to create a unique brand experience has become a force multiplier in DMI’s ability to attract and retain the best talent in the industry.
What are some of the biggest media and communications trends you are anticipating for the remainder of this year, and into 2023?
One trend that I have seen gain a lot of momentum in the last year is “influencer marketing.” The rise of micro-influencers, industry-specific thought leaders and even employee influencers has become more and more prevalent. Authenticity and transparency are key in building trust, and today more than ever, people trust recommendations from individuals over brands and businesses. Because of this, I anticipate an increase in investment from organizations to create content with a more personal human touch, incorporating more live streaming, video and audio in their media strategies.
To build on this, what we stand for and how we show up to the public, to our employees and to our clients matters, which is why we have also seen an increase in environmental, social and governance-led strategies for organizations across public and private sectors.
Today, we are seeing governments and enterprises beginning to make decisions on who they work with based on ESG criteria, the best talent gravitating to companies that align with their values, and investors backing companies that embed ESG into their missions and report their impact.
With that said, I believe MarCom leaders should lead with their company’s purpose, vision, mission and CSR goals as they develop their media and communications strategies for 2023.
Are you/your team spearheading any major media and communications initiatives at the moment? If so, can you explain?
We are well underway in our preparations for 2023, planning an exciting brand campaign that conveys our mission, values and orientation for growth, while remaining true to our longstanding reputation. This campaign will leverage a multi-channel approach, reaching each commercial and government audience with a unique message delivered through both digital and in-person events.
In addition, I have always believed that our people are our biggest brand advocates, so as we have continued to grow both organically and through acquisition, our team has scaled up our efforts to support the consistent and ongoing delivery of brand communications, enablement materials and onboarding. As part of this, we are actively building and retooling our internal knowledge-sharing platform to enable more self-serve employee activation.
For a company like DMI that provides end-to-end transformation to clients across a multitude of markets, the key is to build a solid foundation of employee engagement, taking steps to ensure every employee understands and is aligned with our mission and vision (WHY), our approach (HOW) and our offerings (WHAT). The goal is to deliver a single platform that brings this all together for our people and ultimately empowers them to tell our story and provide valuable insights to our clients as they progress through their own transformation journeys.
What are you most passionate about enhancing communications-wide in your organization going forward?
As DMI continues to evolve, I am very excited to lead an amazing team and work alongside such a forward-thinking, people-first leadership organization to take DMI to the next level. I have been at DMI for nearly 12 years, and I still wake up every day excited and inspired by the work that we do.
I truly believe that DMI is different because of our people, and those people are the ones out there making a difference and delivering transformative outcomes for our clients every day. For me, my passion is telling those stories, making connections, creating “aha” moments . . . and ultimately, finding new and inspiring ways to do that ⏤ both internally through our people, and externally through our clients.