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.
Jennifer Montesano, director of strategic communications and marketing for General Dynamics Mission Systems, shares her thoughts below.
What were you and your team heavily focused on this year?
So, rather than doing more with less, we’re doing more of the right things to best communicate and connect with our customers in meaningful ways. This means we need to understand the value of what we’re doing and make quick changes accordingly.
Working for an engineering company is paying off as the traditional agile approach is an ideal framework to better focus our marketing efforts on priority projects. And as marketing expands into new nooks and crannies, our function needs to be nimble and scalable.
As such, the benefits of working cross-functionally continuously help us to deliver on the commitments we make to our business partners. An unexpected benefit of more frequent collaboration across our strategic communications and products marketing teams is more eyes and voices.
In parallel, we’re incorporating content strategy to drive interest and engagement. The portfolios my team and I support are extensive and complex. We’re taking a holistic approach. It’s not only about the content but how we deliver it and in what form. We also look at where customers are in their journey cycle ⏤ how they consume content changes as they move through the funnel.
What were some of you/your team’s lessons learned as you addressed the pandemic?
In hindsight, the pandemic did bring about some goodness from a marketing perspective. Humans need each other, and when we lost the ability to engage in person, our interactions became flat and impersonal.
At the end of the day, our job is to communicate to the humans in the markets we serve. When trade shows were removed from our repertoire, we lost the ability to shake hands. We knew how important these relationships are but took for granted the significant value of talking to someone in person and connecting on a human level.
We quickly introduced GD Live, our webinar franchise, to keep us connected and nurture these relationships. While not in person, we brought our human selves to the table to create enriching experiences.
We hold these relationships dearly, and our marketing mission is driven by the humans we serve and the humans they serve.
How did you/your team approach a post-pandemic world? What does that look like in your organization?
With gusto. The General Dynamics Mission Systems team came out stronger than ever. Our relationships with each other are tighter. We pushed each other to explore new ways of getting our jobs done and refine where we could. I think when we were remote, we dusted off and employed interpersonal skills to help us stay a team. We leaned on each other as we embarked on a journey no one had planned for, yet we were resilient.
So, all that we introduced, all that we learned, is now a part of us. I could not be prouder of all my communications and marketing humans.
How do you hope current or ongoing media and communications initiatives positively impact the organization and its workforce?
We’re working on some exciting campaigns related to portfolio expansions, product launches, program milestones and the humans of General Dynamics Mission Systems. It’s always a win when we bring new capabilities and products to the market, but we’re doing it in unique ways that deliver flexible designs faster than before to missions that literally change every day. Our teams who work on major programs are our marathoners ⏤ they are in it to win it.
I simply have the honor of telling these stories. My hope is that all that I do strengthens our brand and puts General Dynamics Mission Systems on the radar screen of the communities we serve. And this includes the entire General Dynamics Mission Systems team because they are who make us who we are. We are the humans of General Dynamics Mission Systems.
What are you most passionate about enhancing communications-wide in your organization going forward?
I have two that are tied together, so let’s call it “personal marketing.”
First is personalized marketing. Going beyond using the first name in a greeting, I really want to dive deeper into our personas. How can we layer their preferences and needs over their purchase journey? With this knowledge, building out interactive marketing content to align with who they are and what they seek.
For example, companies look at me as a marketing professional, so I receive content in all sorts of ways. I’m Gen Z and I’m particular about how I consume data. Throw me a “download now” CTA, and I’m all yours.
Now, if you look at one of my marketing peers, she has no interest in downloading and printing a file. She wants to consume the same data but optimized for her iPhone. Honing in and working with these nuances can make for better marketing.