Taking Care of Small Business: 5 Questions with GoDaddy CMO Barb Rechterman

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Once known for its ticklish commercials that put innuendo in the spotlight, GoDaddy, an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company, has more than cleaned up its act—and people are taking notice.

By shifting away from the brand’s signature ads that amped up the sex appeal, GoDaddy is now appealing more directly to the small business owner and how they can help them. Moving forward, American auto racer, model and spokesperson Danica Patrick will still grace the GoDaddy’s media touchpoints, but in a different and seemingly less suggestive way.

Today, the brand’s advertising, products and messaging emphasize time- and cost-efficiencies and being better able to leverage the web—without losing the brand’s witty, irreverent, ass-kicking voice and approach.

brandchannel chatted with Barb Rechterman, GoDaddy’s Chief Marketing Officer, to learn more about the brand’s evolving image (check out its new logo below), creative vision and go-to-market strategy, as well as how they’re staying authentic to the audience segments they serve.[more]

brandchannel: Beyond changing its image, how is GoDaddy cultivating its new persona?

Rechterman: We have shifted a whole lot more than just our image or our advertising. Over the past year we launched new products, like Get Found, Get Paid and Online Bookkeeping, and reinvigorated existing products like Website Builder—all with the very small business owner (VSB) in mind. Our goal is to make the “business of doing business easier,” especially for what we call VSBs, which we define as businesses with five or fewer employees.

In addition to the product evolution, we redesigned our own website, streamlined our checkout process and improved our user experience. We’ve recruited some amazing tech talent who are here to help solve problems for our customers. We have added personnel from the likes of Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, AT&T and eBay.

This has been a lot more than just launching a new tag line and rolling out new TV commercials—this is a transformation from every corner of the company. Our mission is to radically shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures. We’re living it.

bc: As the brand evolves from its past persona and messaging, how do you remain authentic to the audiences you serve?

Rechterman: It’s really about understanding the customer we serve. As part of our shift, we did extensive research about our customers, who they are, what they want, how they want it.  It’s interesting, the small business customer is a target for a lot of companies to market to, but in a lot of cases companies try to provide solutions better oriented for enterprise, which are too expensive or require technical expertise … or there’s the other end of the spectrum where the consumer has to try to make “free” offerings work for a growing business, which usually only works for a short time and there’s no customer support.  

If you think about it, the VSB, the business with 5 or fewer employees, is underserved right now. Our new ad campaign has some fun with this concept in a way that’s authentic. We address the harsh realities of what it takes to “make it” as a small business. It’s not always easy and more often than not there’s not enough time or money, that’s about as authentic as it gets. What we want to do now is talk to these VSBs about what we can do to help them succeed, save them time and serve them with our 24/7 personalized customer care consultants.

bc: How has the new creative strategy impacted your targets for growth and new audiences?

Rechterman: There are 220 million small businesses worldwide, and we are now in 42 markets, working in 44 currencies and 17 languages working to help people make their small business dreams come true. When we made our brand shift, we talked about global expansion as one of our goals and the creative strategy absolutely works to support that growth around the world. 

bc: What opportunities does this new campaign open up for the GoDaddy brand? 

Rechterman: You know we had a lot of fun with new social media opportunities with our latest campaign. In fact, one ad critic, who shall remain nameless, tweeted something negative about the first new commercial and our social media team replied telling him, in a fun way, to “Stick It.” It was actually pretty funny. He responded and ended up saying that after the engagement he understood the beauty of the campaign. You gotta love those memorable moments in advertising, right?**

bc: What metrics are being used to gauge small business-owners’ (as well as the general public’s) receptivity to GoDaddy’s new creative approach? What are the results so far?

Rechterman: We are definitely watching new customer stats and we looked at social media. We also make it a point to engage with customers every day to learn from them. Heck, our CEO talks to customers. We believe customer feedback is as important as anyone’s. Customers are where you learn about problems, issues and concerns. So far, with our new creative, we have heard a lot of positive feedback, but it’s funny … a very small business owner generally doesn’t have too much time to talk about advertising, they are much more interested in running their business and learning about new ways technology can work for them, so they can spend more time doing what they love.

**Editor’s note: We do indeed. Thanks to GoDaddy’s social media team for this memorable response to our story on the new ad campaign —

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