Anatomy of a Corporate Video…Xerox Makes the World Simpler

From “A World Made Simpler” – all rights reserved Xerox Corporation.

What happens when a globally recognized brand needs to change what it means?

This is the fantastic challenge facing our CMO, Christa Carone, as Xerox evolves from “the copier company” into something more – a company dedicated to providing simple answers to complex business problems.  Last week, Xerox introduced a new video that highlights how where the company has been shapes where it is today and where it will go tomorrow.

Through advertising agency Y&R, Xerox teamed with visual storytelling studio, Psyop, and production company, Blacklist, to produce “A World Made Simpler… by Xerox” – a 2-minute video that uses printer paper, stop-motion photography, and a bit of computer-generated graphics to tell Xerox’s story. I think you will be surprised to learn what the copier company does to help doctors monitor patients and deliver better care, set up call centers during natural disasters, provide tamper-proof drug packaging, and make public transportation easier.

Xerox also published a “behind the scenes” look into how Y&R, Psyop, Blacklist and the Xerox team produced this video.  As you watch both the original and the background versions, I think there are a few key lessons B2B marketers can learn about storytelling and why video is such a compelling medium in B2B communication:

1) History matters – so stick with it. Chester Carlson invented xerography almost 75 years ago for one simple reason: finding an easier way to replicate and share information. Xerox embraces this legacy by using what people know us for — paper — to tell a story about what most don’t know us for — providing services that make business simpler. Many will look at the video and say “it’s all about the paper” — which is exactly the point. Having a strong sense of who you are as a company helps you to remain true to your brand identity even as that identity changes. And it also makes for a mesmerizing experience as you watch to see what the paper will unfold to reveal next.

2) Video illustrates intangibles. The value of IT services — and why a company would outsource parts of its business to another — is sometimes difficult to understand. Rather than bury the message in meaningless techie jargon or hyperbole, the video uses concrete examples of ways Xerox solves customer problems (without specifically naming names) to show how we’ve moved beyond our technology roots.

3) Emotion and B2B marketing are not mutually exclusive. The production of “A World Made Simpler” is inspiring and surprising without being overbearing or maudlin. It evokes an emotional response to some very important problems that we relate to easily.  

If I have any criticism, I wish that the behind-the-scenes explained more about the motivation behind developing the spot.  Xerox bought Affiliated Computer Services in 2010 to expand business opportunity beyond its document reproduction origins, but now faces the challenge of communicating the new Xerox without losing the old. That’s the business problem behind a story worth telling.  A bit more transparency into that challenge would make the “inside view” video more interesting to me than watching technical details about the production. Alas, a fascination with technology is something Xerox will never leave behind, and the how-we-did-it video remains true to this cultural quirk.

Video also represents a great opportunity to receive peer recognition.  Congratulations to Barbara Basney and team for winning AdWeek’s coveted “Ad of the Day” for A World Made Simpler. Watch both and let me know if you agree — it’s the right step toward writing a new chapter in the Xerox brand story.

Xerox Asks TEDMED: What can we do to simplify healthcare?

TEDMED 2012 – courtesy of TEDMED Facebook page

Last week TEDMED 2012 was an amazing experience. More than 200 phenomenal speakers and entertainers took the stage to explore challenging issues in healthcare and to inspire innovative, cross-disciplinary thinking. Many of the topics – that I will share with you as TEDMED makes the videos available over the coming weeks – are complex, complicated, and sometimes controversial. Is it even possible to make thing simpler in the business of healthcare? It’s a challenging question when posed to an industry recognized for complexity in the study, processes, technology, and science needed to advance new therapies and address increasingly more complex diseases, health problems, and social issues.

During the past couple of months, I’ve had the great fortune to work with an exceptional TEDMED team to engage Xerox as a sponsor of this unconventional event.  Healthcare? You may wonder where Xerox fits in this world, besides supplying printers at nurse stations, doctor’s offices, and admissions desks. Though my TEDMED journey, I’ve learned a bit about how Xerox plays a surprisingly diverse role inside the research, clinical and operational side of healthcare.  Here’s how:

Helping caregivers.  Through its investment in innovation and research, Xerox employs ethnographers who study how caregivers work. These folks help to develop solutions that can free floor nurses from paperwork so they can spend more time with patients.

Reducing complications.  Xerox helps hospitals convert mountains of clinical data and health history into electronic format and monitor it to assess risk and prevent potential emerging complications. For example, we use text-mining technology to analyze information such as symptoms, drugs prescribed, and types of bacteria found in the environment to help detect and prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Going electronic.  It always amazes me how much paperwork still exists in healthcare. Besides transforming paper charts to electronic records, we deliver them to mobile devices and the Cloud securely. Electronic medial records not only reduce the cost and trouble of managing truckloads of documents, but helps providers better coordinate treatment and therapy across everyone involved in a patient’s care.

Our Chief Innovation Officer for Healthcare, Markus Fromherz, goes into a bit more detail if you are interested in what else we do.

Despite these accomplishments, it is humbling for me to listen to the speakers at TEDMED – and talk with other delegates – and see first hand how much work truly remains to be done. I am proud to see Xerox join the TEDMED community and work to simplify the business of healthcare.

What is TEDMED? – Lessons Learned on Corporate Sponsoring

TEDMED is the medical version of TED. This unique 3-day event applies the successful TED format to the world of healthcare. Hosted next week (April 10 – 13) in Washington DC, TEDMED stands to become the nation’s premier gathering where folks from inside and outside the world of medicine. Delegates explore key issues and think up new, out-of-the-box ideas for solving some very big challenges facing our nation as healthcare becomes the largest line item in our GDP. It is a multi-disciplinary collaborative experience that aims to develop a lasting community – not just an annual event —  dedicated to imagining how we can make the future of healthcare happen today.

For me, TEDMED is also a crash course in corporate sponsorship. Back in January, I moved over to Xerox corporate to head up industry marketing across the enterprise. Coincidentally, Xerox had signed up to sponsor TEDMED as one way to continue to demonstrate our long-standing commitment to healthcare innovation and to simplifying the business of healthcare. So, guess which new kid on the block got the nod to activate this sponsorship?

It’s been a thrilling, busy, exciting time acting as the head mistress of all things TEDMED at Xerox. Here are a few lessons I’ve collected along the way regarding advertising, event management, and message communication:

  • A well-planned creative brief is essential to any large event or sponsored program. So is a detailed program plan. But the brief is the centerpiece for communicating what you plan to do, with whom (audience), why, and what you want to convey in the process (message).  It’s the scaffolding that supports the whole event and makes a myriad of decisions flow smoothly. Other key elements include: proof points/evidence, creative mandatories and key assets to draw upon.
  • Avoid the temptation to view advertising and messages through your eyes, not the audience’s. I was surprised at how easily I fell into this trap. I’ll share the ad with you in a later post – after it’s aired at TEDMED – but the key was to appeal to the full TEDMED audience, which includes educators, lawmakers, inventors, medical students, investors, and health activists.  Pictures of people with stethoscopes looking at x-rays cast too narrow a net.
  • Hire a good meeting planner. This is very tactical, but very necessary. Meeting, incentive and travel firms – like our partner BCD M&I – make life easier, handle all the tricky last minute details, and keep you from going bonkers.  Perfect example of why outsourcing client registration and travel to experts is essential and cost effective.
  • Get your friends to help out. In this case, help comes from our friends at FORTUNE magazine, who will co-sponsor a dinner event for our guests, Xerox executives, and select delegates. Besides wonderful counsel on great places to eat in Washington DC, FORTUNE (more importantly) adds provocative conversation as Marc Gunther, contributing editor, MCs dinner commentary.
  • Small details can make a big difference. Case in point, as one of the major sponsors for TEDMED this year, we worked closely with our hosts to ensure delegates see Xerox equipment when they queue up at registration. Will anyone notice?  Maybe not.  But, then again, what if they do? If you are a major sponsor, you need to make sure to sweat the details and act like a major supporter, not just someone contributing their name to the program.

There are 20 more lessons I could add to this list. But this experience proved to me that successful corporate sponsorships have been and will continue to be a useful and productive way to get your company’s name and message in front of a key audience – industry-specific, role-based or otherwise. The best lesson I have learned, however, it that the folks at TEDMED are very, very committed to being the best partner to their sponsors. It’s very easy – and productive – to work with a team that is always willing to say “yes” – but who have a solid vision and purpose that helps to keep you on the straight and narrow as you work to provide the most differentiated, exciting, and memorable experience for our delegates.

Like Xerox, I am a proud sponsor of TEDMED 2012  — and so very excited to be there next week!

PS: For a sample of the TED experience, go to this link and watch the presentation.  It will blow your mind.

Creating Content for a Digital World – At Digital Edge LIVE

Last week I had the privilege to attend and present at BtoB Magazine’s Digital Edge LIVE conference in San Francisco. I joined HP’s Alex Flagg and Tellab’s George Stenitzer on stage to talk about what it takes to develop great marketing content for an increasingly digital world.  While the number of digital channels increased exponentially since the late 1980s, the challenges around reaching prospects and customers through these channels have not. 

At Xerox, we’ve found thought-leadership — featuring specific people with specific points of view — and digital environments featuring our customers and their successes work best to produce content that business-to-business buyers find interesting and relevant. During the conference, I shared some success we’ve had with our thought-leadership destination and Real Business Live.  If you’d like to see the slides from my section, you can view/download them from Slideshare.

Creating good content consistently is a major challenge all marketers face as they work to find new ways to engage buyers and feed the growing demand of digital channels.  Surprisingly, understanding that good content starts from the buyer’s perspective, not your company’s, is a key lesson many B2Bers still struggle to learn.

For a great summary of the day, visit the Digital Edge Live site, read coverage by Kate Maddox and Christopher Hosford, and scan through the tweets. I thought the panel on social media, featuring marketers from Cisco Systems, Hitachi Data Systems and Royal Dutch Shell, was particularly insightful. Social media continues to push the boundaries into new ways to generate and share content.

For me, the highlight of the day was BtoB’s third annual Social Media Marketing Awards.  Top honors went to Aon and CenturyLink Business.  In the non-tech category, Aon took the “People’s Choice” award for its “Pass It On” program that featured a contest challenging employee teams in different geographies to share knowledge and create a sense of common purpose by competing online in games that required them to answer questions, upload video, and share details of local events. Winners then got to share the best results with customers and prospects. 

In the tech category, CenturyLink launched its “Ultimate Problem Solver” program to challenge technology-oriented customers to participate in an interactive, 50-stage trivia game. Solving problems – where some answers could be found in CenturyLink marketing materials — let participants unlock passwords to get to the next level in the game. The game also encouraged players to interact and share their experiences to earn rewards faster. During the eight-month timeframe, almost 90,000 people played the game with about half registering on the site, giving CenturyLink a valuable well of leads.

I found it interesting how both award winners focused on gaming as a key element of creating innovative marketing programs – one focused on employees and the other on prospects. It also highlights leading-edge applications that use social interaction in the B2B space.  And who said social was only for consumers?

Content That Generates Meaningful Thought Leadership

Talk to anyone about marketing automation, demand management, or lead nurturing and the conversation inevitably turns to content. 

Copyright ITSMA 2011

Most marketing operations folks starting down the automation path talk more about their people, change management, and technology implementation woes. But after they get a couple of campaigns under their belt, the challenges of developing a steady stream of relevant, interesting content surface.

Here’s proof.  In the chart here, ITSMA shows that among services marketing teams surveyed in a 2011 study on lead management maturity, Leaders say content creation is the biggest concern they face.  So what does it take to create great content?  Great ideas.  Good marketers express great ideas through thought leadership. 

I think thought leadership is a fuzzy term. Many think thought leadership has to be truly unique and leading to be worthy of publication.  I like Forrester Research’s definition, from my former colleague Jeff Ernst, because it focuses on outcomes.  Jeff says that thought leadership is:

“The process of formulating big ideas and insightful points of view on the issues your buyers face capturing those ideas in multiple content vehicles and sharing the ideas with prospects and customers to enlighten them, engage them in a dialogue, and position your company as a trusted resource.”

At Xerox, I think we work hard to present insightful points of view on industry and the role of managed print, document, IT and business process services in those industries. I don’t think we are leading edge, but our experiences demonstrate that thought leadership is best crafted around three key ares:  your experts, your customers and your take on vertical industry problems (expressed as views shared with recognized industry experts.) 

If you are in the Denver Colorado area, and you want to find out more, please join me for the Colorado chapter of the BMA Keynote Luncheon on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.  I will post the slides from this presentation on my blog afterwards and share a few of the key comments, if you can’t make it.  I’m sure the folks at the BMA will share as well!

To preview a key lesson learned ahead of time, I want to point to Jeff’s research on thought leadership and say that his framework for upgrading your content to thought leading is very useful. He suggests 10 criteria for evaluating your content through a thought-leading lens, including:

  • Relevant – does your content deal with big issues your buyers face?
  • Provocative — does it challenge conventional thinking?
  • Forward-looking – does it anticipate what’s over the horizon?
  • Distinct – is it different than what your competitors, partners, or industry cohorts are saying?
  • Inspiring – does it energize people around this idea or way of thinking?
  • Actionable – does it provide advice on what to do now?
  • Results-driven – can using your ideas produce breakthrough outcomes or change?
  • Conversational – does your tone encourage dialogue and feedback?
  • Credible – how do you show your company can help others get there?
  • Independent – do you avoid making reference to your products and services?

(Source: Forrester Research, June 7, 2011, “Thought Leadership: The Next Wave Of Differentiation In B2B Marketing”)

Indirectly, many of the points Jeff makes are the same criteria we used in Xerox Document Outsourcing Services to determine which experts to feature, what type of content to develop, and which to feature in our campaigns. So it is a very useful and practical tool for assessing your content’s thought leadership acumen.

What challenges have you faced in developing great content?  I hope you will join in the conversation with the BMA and me next week.

A Revenue Marketer’s Journey

You busy this February 23, at 1 pm ET?  I hope you can spare a few and join me for my first (and hopefully not only) appearance on WRMR – Revenue Marketer Radio.

What is WRMR? 

Debbie Qaqish Host Revenue Marketer Radio

It’s the call letters for a virtual radio station.  Actually, it an online radio show sponsored by friends of mine at the Pedowitz Group – one of the up and coming demand generation agencies that help marketers build lead generation and nurturing programs that convert a larger number of prospects to opportunities and turn more qualified leads into sales pipeline.

I’ve know Jeff Pedowitz for about as long as I’ve been active in the lead management automation field. We met when he ran professional services at Eloqua. His business partner, Debbie Qagish, I’ve come to know since and found her to be one of the most dynamic and outspoken advocates for professionally generating and managing demand as a core marketing function. Together they have built a fast-growing, thriving business and live in the world of demand management daily.

Debbie invited me to join her for a little tête-à-tête on how I came to be a Revenue Marketer.  Or at least how I found myself on the journey to become one. 

And it is a journey.  A long one.

According to Debbie, the journey to Revenue Marketing nirvana begins by recognizing that marketing activity – outreach to prospective clients with educational and informational offers coupled with good inbound visibility and relevant content delivery — helps to speed the sales process along.  Just like with any problem, recognizing that you have one is the first stage.

The second part of the journey she calls Lead Generation where marketers begin to devise programs — and use some type of technology, typically an email service provider or ESP system — to help generate leads and deliver them to sales. Qualified leads, not just those fished out of a bowl at a tradeshow.  In the Lead Generation stage, marketers measure progress in terms like open rates, click through rates, and registrations – simple activities that correlate loosely to buyer interest.

It’s a big jump from Lead Generation to the next phase: Demand Generation.

Marketers in the Demand Generation phase graduate to higher levels of automation and campaign sophistication.  They use marketing automation tools integrated together with a CRM system. (This also implies some rigorous use of the CRM system by sales and sales management for the purpose of managing accounts and tracking pipeline progress. — More on this if you come listen to the show.) They learn to measure marketing impact in terms like Marketing Qualified Leads, lead-to-acceptance rates, and pipeline value generated. In this stage, the marketer can begin to demonstrate a direct impact on revenue without getting laughed out of the room by sales.

The ultimate stage defines the whole process – Revenue Marketing.  In this phase marketing programs, processes and results earn the RPS seal of approval, where RPS stands for Repeatable, Predictable, and Sustainable. (Sounds a lot like the words my buddy Sean Geehan uses in his B2B Executive Handbook. But I digress.)

On Thursday, I’ll share some of my hard-won insights into what it takes to get started on the journey to becoming a revenue marketer at a large, multi-billion dollar enterprise with a highly-recognizable brand and a long history of sales management best practices. I plan to share a bit about my role in industry marketing and how this led to the start of my revenue marketing journey.  How my team and I adopted marketing technology to drive revenue. And what makes Revenue Marketing at a large, global, diverse enterprise — with many long-standing sales traditions — different than RM at smaller, younger firms.

The goal of our talk show segment is to help pave the way on your road to becoming an elite Revenue Marketer and to make your journey smoother — with less bumps and potholes.  If you can’t make this date and time, don’t worry, BlogTalkRadio records the session for you to access on demand.  Check it out when you can.  Or you can download them from iTunes.

(Full disclosure: This post is not an ad for the Pedowitz Group. I am appearing on the show as a favor to Debbie and to boost my personal brand on this topic.  I receive no compensation.  Although she did buy me a drink a couple of times…)

Why Must Future MBAs Know More About B2B Buyers?

Segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

These are foundational concepts of any good MBA course focused on market strategy.  If you don’t start with “who” you want to reach — and understand whether or not the audience represents a lucrative market for your products or services — then B2B marketers stand to waste a lot of time, effort, and money. 

Ask Phil Kotler, if you don’t believe me!

Yes, this is all true.  But today it’s not enough.

B2B marketers set themselves up for disappointing results if they stop short at positioning and fail to look at what motivates purchase behavior and how buyers buy. This is a tough one for many B2B marketers — those with a tech bent in particular — because we tend to think we sell to companies, not people. And we tend to talk a lot about our companies, products, and features, not about the problems and issues buyers care about.

Profiling, personas, and “behavior”-graphics are tools B2B marketers should use more to shape marketing strategy. Knowing how the business purchase process work — all of its intricate, convoluted glory —  is as important to choosing where to play in the market as are understanding what you do uniquely, the market potential for your offerings, and how you should communicate and deliver your capability to the market.

I explored the how and why of B2B buyer behavior with Professor Ravi Shanmugam’s Marketing 551: Marketing Analysis and Decision Making class at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business this evening. I was the “special guest lecturer” — which means I got to talk with a bunch of bright, aspiring marketing students about business buyer behavior and why great marketers need to know their audiences intimately to succeed.  Some of the more interesting points of the discussion centered on:

1) Whether or not B2B personas are any different than B2C — and how the process of building personas is very similar, but the components and features that make up the B2B persona are different.

2) Which characteristics distinguish the B2B buyer from the B2C — and whether B2B buying motivations and behavior more or less complex than B2C.

3) Why knowing the difference between decision makers, influencers and gatekeepers (like purchasing agents) is important in understanding buyer behavior.

Still surprising to me, the students seemed more interested in Xerox and what I did as the head of industry marketing there than in hearing about theory or research insight. Examples shared on thought-leadership, promotion of educational/industry content (in the form of webinars), and integration of social media into the marketing mix were popular.

As always, I asked Prof. Shanmugam’s class to comment on my presentation and discussion through this blog post.  (Professor Shanmugam offers class participation credit if they comply with this request!) Please read their comments to learn what this future group of MBAs think about as they reflect on our session together.

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