Intuit’s Lara Balazs: The best marketers are great storytellers

As the parent company to QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint.com, Intuit’s mission to help small business owners and any average consumer with their finances seems pretty obvious. And yet, Intuit had never really marketed itself, as in the brand Intuit, until last year. Lara Balazs joined as CMO in November and is tasked with increasing the brand awareness and making sure each of the individual companies is better connected.

Having just come from Amazon, where she led marketing strategy for the Prime membership program, Balazs is quite familiar with giant tech companies. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Why did you decide to join Intuit?
I chose Intuit because of the mission: powering prosperity around the world. Intuit really believes in it and supports it through a customer focus. They truly have customers and consumers at the center of their tension, working to solve problems so that they can power prosperity. Also one of the things we talk a lot about, especially in marketing and communications that intersects with technology, is: What are your moats? And I truly believe a moat that Intuit has is, a durable competitive advantage if you will, is their culture. They really put their employees first so that was all really compelling to me.

Amazon, your former employer, is now a powerful advertising player. Why do you think that’s so?
They’re customer obsessed, and they’ve done a great job bringing a personalized experience to their customer because of that. They’re delivering on that and that is something that ultimately has been incredibly lucrative to them, and it’s a great story. It’s interesting because it’s part of the reason I was so excited about Intuit, to see so much customer obsession akin to what I’ve seen at other companies I’ve worked at. Amazon has done great things, are getting a lot of press, and part of that is they’ve made an impact in their customer’s lives.

Intuit made a big push last year to emphasize the Intuit brand, not the companies under the umbrella. You had a TV campaign. What’s the next step?
It’s incredibly exciting to join a company that has incredible brands like Intuit, TurboTax, QuickBooks that solve customer needs. So you have these terrific brands that we’re working from a point of strength. These brands all work together to solve customers problems. I’m in charge of the Intuit brand and marketing it as well as marketing and communications at large. Part of that role is ensuring our total go to market approach is done in the most optimized way across all the brands, delivering the right martech tools and capabilities, delivering learning and development tools to build the best marketers and communicators in the world.

So it’s not just campaign creation, but making sure the product reflects that?
Yes, I think the idea that as one Intuit platform with these great brands we solve customer problems end to end our customers. So consumers, small business owners, self-employed, accountants, we are about solving their problems, and by having this suite of brands, we can do that in a holistic manner.

Do you plan to invest more in influencer marketing in 2019?
The best marketers and communicators are great compelling storytellers so when we go to market we want to make sure we’re telling meaningful stories. If that includes influencers as part of that, if that includes events as part of that, then those are the channels we’ll use as we tell those stories.

What will the industry be talking about at Cannes in 2019?
Without a doubt, I think it is going to be about authenticity and transparency. The year we’re coming off of is a clear indication that our consumers and customers are craving transparent, authentic companies and because of that our marketing and communications has to reflect that. The companies that are authentic and genuine are going to do well, and the companies aren’t are not going to do well.

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