In this edition of Marketer of the Week, Ignite Visibility spotlights Lara Hood Balazs, Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager, Strategic Partner Group at Intuit.
Ignite Visibility applauds her and the Intuit team for the successful launch of a new online business management platform called QuickBooks Commerce.
The new sales tool allows small businesses to handle inventory, manage orders and fulfillments, gain insights about profitability, and access a variety of sales channels.
Recently, Oppenheimer analyst Scott Schneeberger maintained a Buy rating on Intuit stock.
“We anticipate Intuit delivering a multi-year double-digit adjusted EPS CAGR via high-single+ digit Consumer tax segment revenue growth, high-single+ digit revenue growth in its Small Business segment, and mid-30s margin in a status quo environment,” he said.
Further, Intuit recently revealed that its Prosperity Hub Program generated 2,200 jobs and delivered $123 million to communities in need.
But Intuit also faced challenges in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lara Hood Balazs helped the company navigate through those stormy seas.
A Quick Turn-Around
The virus hit and the federal government stepped in to help. Legislators passed, and the president signed, a stimulus package that included a Paycheck Protection Program.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. It’s designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the economic catastrophe that accompanied the pandemic.
What does that have to do with Intuit and the leadership of Balazs?
Many of the small businesses that qualified for assistance via the PPP relied on Intuit’s Quickbooks product. That’s cloud-based accounting software.
In three weeks, Balazs and her team offered a PPP program that provided more than 1.5 million Intuit customers with about 25,000 loans valued at $867 million.
That kind of thing would normally take a year or more to complete. She led the team that did it in 21 days.
“Working with the government to get that stood up, it’s not an easy feat. And the teams worked rapidly to do it,” she said. “We have very much supported those who need it most, those who are underserved and in unfortunate positions.”
Working Her Way Up
Balazs brought 15 years of senior management experience to Intuit when she joined the company in 2018.
She’s definitely not a job-hopper, though. She spent 11 years at Visa.
And what does Balazs say all of her roles have in common?
“It’s the idea that we’re serving customers and solving their problems with messaging, marketing, and brand building to support that,” she says.
Her ability to solve customer problems became clear with her work on the PPP initiative. But she also had to respond to another challenge in 2020.
A Deadline Shift
In an effort to help struggling businesses and families during the pandemic, the IRS extended the 2020 tax deadline from April 15 to July 15. That move impacted Intuit’s marketing strategy.
For starters, people who used TurboTax (another Intuit product) were hit with a new deadline. And they had questions.
Additionally, the company division that handles QuickBooks and Mint (yet another Intuit property) works with small businesses, self-employed individuals, and consumers. Intuit had to rethink its marketing plans from top-to-bottom of the sales funnel.
Balazs said that with the consumer group, the company wanted to put PPP funds in the hands of people who needed them the most. That’s when she worked to have the stimulus money available through the TurboTax product line.
Further, she updated Intuit’s marketing strategy to promote TurboTax Live. That program enabled customers to get help from experts in a virtual setting during the pandemic.
Additionally, Balazs also helped roll out the Intuit Aid Assist tool. It was a free online offering that allowed people to understand what kind of assistance they qualified for under the CARES Act (that’s the legislation that created the PPP).
In other words, Intuit simplified the 300-pages of the CARES Act the same way that the company simplifies the tens of thousands of pages in the Internal Revenue Code for TurboTax users.
It was the kind of marketing that matched Intuit’s brand perfectly.
Balazs passed the key test of leadership in 2020: she adapted and succeeded.
As a result, her company is doing well as it churns out new products and its stock continues to rise. And that’s happening in the midst of a pandemic with accompanying economic hardship.
That can only mean good things for Intuit going forward.