Hasta Luego, Xerox … And Thanks!

Today is my last day working for Xerox Corporation.  For a variety of personal and professional reasons, I have decided to return to Forrester Research and join the team serving the Chief Marketing Officer.

I have really valued the opportunity Xerox gave me to see the world of marketing through the lens of a $23 billion dollar company.

I'm heading back to Forrester Research

I’m heading back to Forrester Research

In particular,  I want to thank Julie Meyers, Duane Schulz, and Christa Carone for making this opportunity possible and for allowing me to participate in a rich set of activities during the almost 3 years I enjoyed working there.  My appreciation also goes out to all the great colleagues, team members, and other folks I had the pleasure to meet, work with, work for, and learn from as I experienced what makes Xerox unique and special.

For me, the highlights of my Xerox career include:

1) Experiencing marketing from the corporate side – and learning about the importance of brand, how brand evolves, and the role advertising, sponsorship, client experience, and public relations in the stewardship of the brand.

2) Heading up the Xerox sponsorship for TEDMED and the internal healthcare marketing council which taught me a lot about the difficult challenges and issues facing healthcare in the US today.  I look forward to keeping in touch with the great folks at TEDMED in the future.

3) Charting the way for industry marketing at Xerox, both for the US Field organization and at corporate.

4) Experiencing the complexity and intricacy of field marketing and sales operations while building new business demand for document services — and the benefits and issues associated with delivering multi-year contractually outsourced services. I’m thankful to my great friends at the ITSMA for their support, research and insight into the services industry.

5) Sharing my experiences with the great people at the BMA, ANA, ITSMA, Geehan Group, BtoB Magazine, and other organizations that invited me to speak with their members.

Returning to Forrester as an analyst is both exciting and reassuring.  Much will be familiar and much will be new.  I look forward to working with top B2B marketing executives at many Forrester clients over the coming months and years.

Due to Forrester intellectual property policies, this means unfortunately that I will take a hiatus from writing the B2B Marketing Posts blog while I concentrate on developing new research and sharing it via the Forrester blog for CMOs.  I hope you visit me there often as I hope to improve my public publishing frequency.  B2B Marketing Posts will remain live throughout 2013, but I will not contribute to it in any way related to marketing or professional advice.  I may drop a post or two about what I am up to personally, and may decide to change the focus of the blog going forward. Let’s see where 2013 takes us.

Until then, thanks for reading and I look forward to (re)connecting with many of you at lramos@forrester.com or on twitter as @lauraramos.

Happy 2013!

The Art of Evolving A Big Company Brand

It’s pop quiz time, folks.  Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say?:

BMW           (ANSWER:   “The ultimate driving machine.”)

Nike            (ANSWER:   “The swoosh.”)

Apple          (ANSWER:  “Products designed to be incredibly desireable.”)

Xerox   —   Yeah, yeah… “The copier company….”

This little experiment into bad game-show trivia demonstrates how difficult it is to change well-recognized, deeply-ingrained brand perceptions.  For many people, Xerox will always be the copier company. Although half of our annual revenue now comes from helping other companies shed business process burdens and focus resources more on what they do best.

Last month, I had the pleasure of sharing some steps in my current journey, on the quest to move public perception of Xerox from the old to the new, with a great group of marketers at the ANA Business-to-Business Committee Meeting, held in lovely San Jose, California.  The basic objective of the presentation — that you can find here on Slideshare – was to explain how we adapt Ready for Real Business (our company communication platform) to specific industries (in this case healthcare) to demonstrate that Xerox has been — and will continue to be — about making business simpler. 

Can Xerox make the transition from “the copier company” to something more?

For marketers, the lesson is crucial – develop your brand and be true to it.  In the second half of the day, Intel presented its story behind the new “die” logo and brand image.  The presentation began by contrasting firms that struggled with brand image (think Burger King versus McDonalds) against their more successful counterparts.  I thought it was VERY interesting to have these two presentations open and close the day.  (Nice job, ANA folks!)

During my presentation, I explained how Xerox uses affiliate advertising to tell our services story and highlighted our surprising success with online video storytelling.  I then showed how we evolved this top-level positioning into what we call the “Freedom to Care” campaign, which features our engagement with conferences like TEDMED and the World Healthcare Congress, by engaging in earned and purchased social activity, and with MESC 2012 (the renamed Medicaid conference.)

Key lessons learned through these travels so far? I would say:

  • Be persistent, not impatient. Evolving a brand is a years-long process, so don’t whipsaw your strategy around if the immediate pay off doesn’t surface. 
  • Put the focus on your clients.  If your marketing talks about what’s important to their core business and to their customers, you will be more relevant and your message will get through faster.
  • Top-notch brands are disciplined. Marketers who steward them apply consistent effort and investment. And they are not afraid to be a bit repetitive in their communication.
  • Get everyone singing the same song.  In really big firms (those that have really big brands), cross-business line collaboration is key. Lead business lines by example, it’s easier than trying to be the brand police.
  • Digital technologies help to speed up the process. Of course, it’s always best to integrate marketing into a consistent set of messages and offers/promotions that cross traditional and online channels.

Did my message matter?  I think so –  the folks at ANA let me know today that attendees rated my presentation the highest of the day.  Yay for me, but more importantly “yay” for the marketers who can marry the art and science of brand evolution in ways that stay true to company value but adapt to changing times.

“Moneyball for Marketing”: Why Automation Matters

Source: October 4, 2006, “Improving B2B Lead Management” Forrester report.

Remember this picture?   As a Forrester Research analyst, I published a report called “Improving B2B Lead Management” in October 2006 where this image first saw the light of day. 

Since then, it’s become popular with every marketing automation technology provider who uses to help explain a fundamental problem: how potentially good leads leak out of the demand generation process and how marketers must then spend more time, effort, and money recapturing them and putting these opportunities back in the sales pipeline. Which begs the question, “What am I really getting for my marketing dollar if some portion of the demand generation activity gets wasted?”

A CMO study sponsored by IBM last year found that, by 2015, most marketing departments will measure success using return on investment (ROI) as the primary metric. Most CMOs, however, struggle to demonstrate marketing’s ROI in a reliable way. Why? Because we haven’t instilled measurement discipline in marketing — or the technology, process, and automation to back it up. Since John Wannamaker turned his famous phrase about advertising, marketers have taken the easy way out by assuming much of marketing can’t be measured in a meaningful way.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (ISBN 0-393-05765-8) by Michael Lewis (2003)

But is the idea of measuring what matters in marketing that unattainable?  Recently, I joined Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle CRM (a start up firm I advise), in a conversation about why it’s important to plug a leaky demand generation process. Bonnie drew a great analogy to the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, which details Oakland Athletic general manager, Billy Beane’s focus on an analytical, evidence-based approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland’s disadvantaged revenue situation.

Like putting together a championship sports program, marketing teams must run a broad range of programs from advertising, public relations, and social media campaigns to lead nurturing and customer engagement programs. And they must do all of this with shrinking budgets and resources, against competitors who seemingly always have more (like the New York Yankees who brought in 3X the revenue when compared to the A’s).  Showing how each of these programs contributes to the business requires a way to track every marketing generated response without overstating or distorting the results.

Using a response-based solution to automate this process helps level the playing field by allowing marketers to track, differentiate and report on the ROI of each program — and to connect multiple program touches to the people in the account where opportunities are developing. With response-centric intelligence, marketing executives can better optimize their portfolio and drive demand more efficiently. Automation allows marketers to be more like Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, where you can use statistics and evidence to figure out which marketing tactics to “draft” and how best to put the lineup together.

Check out Bonnie and my conversation about what it takes to move to response-based marketing and see why marketing automation can help you get there.

What Can Marketers Learn from an Innovation Powerhouse?

Courtesy of ITSMA and PARC, A Xerox Company

Xerox PARC.

The name is synonymous with “innovation”.  Since it’s founding in 1970, this research center has pumped out a wealth of ground-breaking inventions: laser printing, Ethernet, the graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented computing, and so much more. Spun-off in 2002, PARC (as it’s known today) is squarely in the business of developing new breakthroughs in technology for commercial and government partners including Xerox.

What can a research think-tank like PARC teach B2B marketers?  Quite a bit.

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum in Napa. While CEO Dave Munn and company put together another spectacular agenda (you can review the tweet stream at #ITSMAmlf12), that they asked Lawrence Lee, PARC senior director of strategy, to talk about how to become and stay innovative was an insightful move.

Sure, I happen to enjoy office space at PARC and to hold a warm spot in my heart for this Silicon Valley institution. But let’s walk past my little biases for a minute. Lawrence’s talk was particularly relevant to B2B marketers because good CMO’s spend a lot of time collecting and sharing customer insight. By studying customer behavior and pain points, good marketers uncover non-obvious opportunities to solve problems and create new business – like researchers at PARC do.

To achieve this, Lawrence explains, it’s important to create a learning mindset in marketing where taking calculated risks is part of the culture. PARC manages research projects like a good VC or stock broker manages a portfolio of investments.  Top marketers today must also manage a portfolio of activity aimed at increasing consideration and deal opportunities.  Fundamentally, both activities are pretty similar.

Courtesy of Lawrence Lee, PARC, June 2012

In the digital age, the marketing portfolio has become quite broad. Many marketers struggle to find the right combination of program tactics that move the needle on demand creation and sales enablement.  It’s never one particular approach – like creating a Facebook page, buying the right email list, or running a world-class event or Web seminar – that brings in the prospects.  Instead, marketers make the biggest impact when they take a consistent, investment-oriented approach to engaging customer and use different elements of the marketing mix to target buyers at different stages of the purchase cycle.

Using the figure shown here, Lawrence shows how PARC categorizes projects in four distinct risk/reward profiles. This helps PARC balance its need to make new breakthroughs against the requirement to drive new business.  Marketers should take a similar approach to deciding which marketing programs to pursue and which to abandon.  The matrix of risk/reward criteria for marketing may look slightly different, but each quadrant should include activity dedicated to:

  • Core – engaging with current customers to keep them well-informed, engaged with your company, and advocating for you.
  • Next-Gen – looking for new opportunities to cross-sell or upsell current customers and continue to add value to your relationship.
  • Scouting – building awareness, consideration, and trial with net-new customers for your existing products and services.
  • Options – investigating new opportunities in break-out, brand new markets that complement where you are now.

Determining what percentage of the marketing mix to dedicate to each area is an important consideration.  I recommend you put a healthy dose in Scouting, with Core and Next-Gen following. Never completely overlook Options, however, because new opportunity is often where true growth gets started.

It was fascinating to see SAP CMO Jonathan Becher’s presentation the following morning where he showed how SAP puts the innovation portfolio concept into practice.  Based on technology from an acquired company, Jonathan demonstrated SAP’s marketing dashboard that provides an online way to view, manage, and communicate activity health across marketing programs by region. This dashboard also helps to show the impact the tracked campaigns have on the pipeline.  Whether he intended to or not, Jonathan mixed together the PARC theory with SAP practice to really make the agenda hit home.

There were many other presentations — on balancing the demand generation equation, using simulation games to get to know your buyers better, creating stories, short messages and online demonstrations to embrace the customer perspective, and navigating the uncharted waters of marketing transformation — that were equally interesting and informative. Thanks to all the great speakers and attendees at the ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum. Your participation made it one of the premier events for me this year.

What Major Account Sales Wants from Marketing

Leads: The Center of the Sales and Marketing Disconnect

You’ve heard this story hundreds of times.

You’ve probably lived through similar situations at some time in your marketing career. I’m talking about the ages-old argument between marketing and sales.  The conversation goes something like this:

  • Marketing wants to know “what did you do with those leads we generated from <fill in the blank event or activity>?”
  • To which Sales replies, “What leads?  Oh, those leads were terrible — send us better ones.”

Despite great advances in demand management and marketing automation – where marketers can use technology to target, engage, educate, and nurture prospects long before sales gets involved – the process of developing leads has yet to change fundamentally the natural tension between those who create market awareness and interest and those who turn that desire into deals.

This week I had the occasion to attend the Marketing Leadership Board Meeting, sponsored by the IDC CMO Advisory service.  The first item on the agenda was a “voice of the sales person” session that we could have continued all day.  Held jointly with the Sales Advisory service, this panel included front line sellers from top tech firms here in Silicon Valley. We’re talking enterprise sales — folks who manage one or two major accounts that create millions of dollars in revenue each year.  This friendly discussion was intended to give marketing counterparts some perspective and feedback on how to best impact sales’ productivity and effectiveness. What resulted was some very pointed commentary that set many of the marketing operations folks in the room back on their heels.

What does marketing do to really annoy those who manage major account relationships? Here’s my paraphrased synopsis of the key points made:

1) Sales builds key relationships and marketing messes them up. Every one of these sales people felt that it was Sales’ job to develop and maintain executive relationships at key accounts.  When marketing sends unsolicited communication — that is either off-topic, redundant, or too frequent — this interferes with their ability to keep the executive-level conversations moving forward. As a result, Sales is reluctant or unwilling to share contacts with marketing so they squirrel their most important information away on smartphones and personal databases.

2) Most marketing-generated leads are still poorly qualified. Even though they agreed that it can be helpful — from an awareness and credibility perspective — to communicate with contacts outside those involved in the current deal, these sales execs believe they hold deep insight into what makes buyers tick and that marketing should just butt out of these conversations. Generating net-new leads, and asking for timely follow up, simply takes too much time away from persuading their primary decision makers.

3) Marketing helps most when it makes content look snappy and throws a great party. Executive events, sponsorships, polishing RFPs and oral presentations, and dinners at nice restaurants provide great opportunities for sales to meet with top-level clients and prospects face to face. Marketing can help put that best foot forward (as I did with the recent Xerox TEDMED sponsorship). Beyond that, Sales doesn’t see much value in the advertising, direct mail, online content, or social interaction that Marketing often leads.

So what’s a dedicated marketer to do?  Throw you arms up in frustration?  Resort to the “oh boys will be boys” attitude of marketing in the face of direct, major account sales?

No, I think if you can’t beat them, it’s time to join them.  But in a very specific way.  Marketing must work to reinforce its purpose as the revenue generation engine of the company.  In building demand ahead of the pipeline.  If major account sales doesn’t yet appreciate that Marketing can help to drive the business in this manner, then it’s time to:

1) Find the parts of the business that can benefit from qualified lead generation. OK, major accounts may not (yet) see the benefit of marketing communication directed at the parts of the account that don’t yet know about your company and its products and services.  So work with the new logo/business development folks.  Channel partners are always hungry for net-new lead opportunities.  Look for small teams offering specific solutions or addressing specific markets (like healthcare or higher education.)  Showing that marketing can have an impact is the primary goal.  And major accounts may not be the first place to start.

2) Put sales in control of the demand generation process — in their accounts.  Many refer to this as account-based marketing, but the guiding principle is the same – develop demand generation and customer communication programs that target a specific audience.  Whether industry or role focused, programs that progress a buyer through a specific set of educational or business problem resolution steps can help sales people attract the interest of new buyers by delivering interesting, relevant content instead of promotional messages.

3) Double down on marketing/business centric metrics. The best way to demonstrate that marketing can truly help sales develop new opportunities or progress current deals is to measure your impact on the pipeline and the business. Marketing dashboards, reports, and portals that reflect the same business issues that Sales cares about it the way to start.

Will marketing and sales ever see eye-to-eye with sales?  I see many smaller to mid-size companies achieve this goal today.  But large, enterprise firms — with a long history of sales-centric operations, direct account coverage models, and professional sales processes — will take a longer time to develop this appreciation.

Thanking TEDMED Delegates for an Inspiring Event

TEDMED and Xerox Thank Delegates for an Inspiring 2012 Event

How do you leave an impression with over 1700 attendees of TEDMED that is both surprising and personal? Between two and three weeks after the extraordinary event that was TEDMED 2012 concluded, participants received a large, sleek black envelop in the mail. In it came a simple quote, suitable for framing, that speaks to the spirit and inspiration that is at the center of all of  TEDMED.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  — Albert Schweitzer

Cosponsored by TEDMED, Xerox sent this art object to delegates as a way to say “thank you” for being a part of this year’s event and for adding their voice to the thousands of discussions and debates that made TEDMED an immersive, engrossing, and utterly captivating experience.  The quote was wrapped in crisp, white linen which carried a small, personal message to each recipient.

Getting to this result was both gratifying and exhausting. The experience taught me a lot about what inspires me and how the path to inspiration is not always smooth and straight.   Here’s a quick synopsis — and a little “behind-the-scenes” look — at how Xerox, through its fantastic partnership with TEDMED and our creative agency, Pappas MacDonnell, iterated through this process:

1) February: TEDMED plans to hold a Sponsor Celebration Party on the last evening, Thursday, April 12th, at the National Building Museum. Total number of attendees may reach 1,500 and Xerox would like to present each guest with a small gift/favor as they depart the Gala that will leave a positive lasting impression of Xerox.

2) Criteria: Gift should provide a human touch and evoke an emotional reaction. Gift should not require elaborate assembly. It should be consumable or easily portable with a reasonable price point. It must require the recipient to interact with it.

3) The intended experience: Imagine 6 to 10 ambassadors lined up at the exit area hand out the gift, bid each guest a fond farewell, thank them for attending, and personally hand them a token of appreciation. The overall experience is genuine, warm, gracious. It’s an end to a wonderful evening; the gift is a reminder of the time spent together. (Note, while this sounds great, it did not happen as planned.)

4) First round: Agency selected a number of whimsical, packaged food items to meet the above criteria. As TEDMED’s gala plans evolved, we found that early gift selections competed with the extravagant desserts designed for the event. Late in March, we scrub the food gift item and go for something that combines art and experience. We also want an item that we can hand out at the end of the evening. We selected the Schweitzer quote – that also appeared in the TEDMED brochure — as the centerpiece of the experience.

5) Conclusion: Logistical problems prevail and we decide to send the art/gift after TEDMED concludes.  We also decide to add the matte/frame and to make the item of sufficient size so that it doesn’t get overlooked in the mail room.  The result is what you see in the image above.  There were countless other steps required to design and approve the artwork, color selections, embossing, packaging materials, mailing lists,  and postage costs! 

The result, we hope, is a surprising and inspiring touch from Xerox that shows all TEDMED delegates how honored we were to join them this year, add our voice to the conversation about the future of health and medicine and show how we intend to engage in the dialogue going forward. Anecdotally, we heard positive responses from those who received the gift.  If you received one, post a comment here to tell me about it. Were you surprised?  Inspired?  Did you hang it on your wall?  Let me know.

A Solid Communication Platform? TEDMED Ad Shows How It Works

2012 Xerox Corporation – All rights reserved.

As the Xerox mistress of TEDMED last month, I learned a few lessons about how a strong communication platform can help create a distinctive brand voice that delivers a consistent brand message. The Xerox TEDMED 2012 program advertisement (shown here, since it only appeared in print during the conference) had one simple objective: convey our support, in a thoughtful sponsorship message, for the event and its purpose. 

While creating a “proud sponsor of” message may sound easy enough to accomplish, several other communication objectives come into play when deciding exactly how this ad should look and what it should say. The ad also illustrates what a solid communication platform can do to inform a campaign and why communication platforms are an important prerequisite to any marketing program.  A bit of background may be helpful before sharing what I learned from working with the Xerox team and our agency on this ad.

“Ready for Real Business” is what we call the Xerox master brand communication platform. It’s not a tagline, but a platform that tells customers what we do and what we provide – technology and services that help you manage your business functions better so you can focus on what you do best, your core business. It defines the rational or emotional territory that the brand intends to own over time. It forms the foundation for how we act, sound, and look in all internal and external communications. It frames how we do this in a consistent manner while providing the flexibility for each product and field marketing function to accomplish its goals.

While this simplifies the process a bit, to activate the platform you must answer three key questions:

  • What do customers do? What is truly core to their business?
  • How does Xerox help our customers do this?
  • How do our customers benefit as a result?

How well does the TEDMED 2012 ad accomplish this and meet the requirements of the communication platform? Pretty well, I think.  (Special thanks to Jason Bartlett here at Xerox, and the Roberts Communication team, for all their hard work that really hit the mark on this ad.) Here’s how I see it address each of the three key questions:

1) What’s core to the business of healthcare? — “Caring for people is the real business of health care.”
2) How do we help do this? — “…by working behind the scenes to free up resources and simplify the way people work.”
3) How do customers benefit? — “… ensure they have more freedom to deliver the level of care that everyone deserves.” (The last question/answer also supports the key TEDMED theme of exploring how to make the future of health and medicine happen today.)

Through the image and headline, the ad also creates a connection between a diverse audience of practitioners, medical students, entrepreneurs, public officials, educators, researchers, and administrators and Xerox, a company with a serious commitment to the healthcare industry. Rather than stethoscopes and scrubs, we picked an image that is medical but ambiguous — he could be a physician, researcher or other healthcare professional. However, he is someone intent on his activity and serious about what he is doing. Alignment between audience and message was really key here and hard to do when you bring other factors — like art selection with unlimited rights at a reasonable cost — into play. The headline is straightforward in its attempt to connect Xerox to the TEDMED audience by saying “Just like you, we’re here to make things better.”

The key lesson for me is about using language and imagery to evoke an emotional response, and how to do this while getting a message across that fits the parameters of a very specific communication platform — one intent on preserving the integrity of the Xerox brand. I have to confess, I’m an old product marketer. I’m all about the facts and getting straight to the point.  Isn’t that what B2B marketing is all about?

Who needs emotion to do that?

I think the ad demonstrates a beautiful answer to the question. It shows how you can deliver a message (Xerox is proud to sponsor TEDMED with a passionate commitment to the healthcare industry) in a simple, elegant manner that creates a warm, human bond with the reader. It’s a lot for one little ad to accomplish, and it think it does it quite nicely. I also think its a lesson more B2B marketers could learn: how to connect with prospects and buyers in a way that goes beyond jargon and hype to show how you really can help customers improve their business.

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