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.

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.

5 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2012

Sourced from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net (see below)

Happy New Year! To kick off 2012, I thought I’d journey back to my industry analyst roots and make a few predictions about the issues most likely to impact B2B marketers during the next 12 months. I can’t say these predications are as well researched as my prior efforts, but – hey! – I don’t get paid to give advice any longer. (Doesn’t stop me from doing it, however.) I based this list of ruminations more on firsthand experience than third-party study and pseudo-science stuff:

1. Marketing automation (MA) interest, purchase, and use will accelerate. Despite claims from the vendors here, the MA market has been slow to develop. As the recession deepened, marketers turned to MA to cut costs and shift expenses from heads to tools. But the automation investment stakes will rise in 2012 as large enterprises move beyond initial trials to tap into the promise of building demand ahead of the sales effort. Sirius Decisions predicts 50% of enterprises will make the jump to MA by 2015 and Annuitas CEO Carlos Hidalgo expects MA purchase intent to double this year. I think the trend is positive, but that growth won’t accelerate dramatically. Experiencing this shift at a big company (Xerox) these past 18 months, I believe that the transition will be slower – and more painful – than these predictions as large enterprises in particular come to grips with the talent, process, and content issues (not the technology) that keep marketing automation on the B2B backburner.

2. Market program focus will shift from building brand and consideration to sales enablement. Marketing and sales cannot survive independently from each other, but only a minority of executives will address this dilemma in 2012. I don’t believe the solution is to make Marketing report to Sales and lose its position at the boardroom table. However, the core marketing conversation must demonstrate how marketing activity impacts sales pipeline and, ultimately, revenue. I see revenue performance management become more than just a buzzword as B2Bers start to demonstrate predictable, sustainable growth in sales, fueled by tighter marketing and sales alignment. Interestingly, notable successes will come from firms that grow sales with existing clients rather than bold moves into net-new markets.

3. The role of the customer advocate will emerge and take shape. B2B marketers have long known the value of the customer reference. Buyers want proof that you did what you say you do for someone else like them. And they want to learn from those experiences. While customer case studies and success stories were the physical and online record of this achievement, lower cost advances in technology will make it far easier for B2B marketers to capture customer testimonial in the form of video or interactive apps, particularly those suited for tablet presentation. I see companies like BrightTALK, ntara interactive, StoryQuest, and Velocity World Media experiencing a bumper year in 2012. Social networks – and plain, old, traditional industry associations and conferences — will let marketers turn clients into advocates by promoting mutual successes and shining the spotlight on customer achievement rather than product features.

4. To increase lead scoring effectiveness, marketers incorporate fit and interest criteria. Sales continues to complain that marketing delivers terrible leads. Lead scoring helps to bring discipline to the lead development and qualification process. But scoring backfires as marketers get too sophisticated too early when rating the value of prospect engagement with marketing activity. Because the threshold always changes, smart marketers will use scoring to prioritize leads, and let sales determine where to draw the line. As a best practice, they will use hard profile information – rightness of fit, account demographics, contact relevance, and audience rating – to augment softer behavioral information passed along with each “qualified” lead.

5. Content marketing will evolve as a separate function within the marketing organizational structure. The Internet has helped to make B2B buyers more sophisticated. Today, over half of the purchase decision is complete by the time buyers talk to sales. To get noticed during the early investigation phase – when the realization dawns to decision makers that the status quo is not working – marketers must produce interesting, educating, thought-provoking content. In 2012 they will quit relying on agencies to do this. The need to publish points of view in-line with thought-leading positions will cause firms (in particular: big ones) to hire or retain journalist-quality writers to pump out content for field and solution marketing programs (demand gen) to consume.

What do you see and how is that view different?  Post a comment here to share your thoughts.

PS: I sourced this image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

What Did B2B Marketers Learn in 2011? – A discussion on Focus.com

Craig Rosenberg, VP and leader for the Focus Expert Network (aka @funnelholic), invited me to participate in an online discussion about what B2B marketers learned in 2011. Now that I am into my “sophomore year” at Xerox, I can’t presume to speak for all B2B marketers like I did when I was an analyst. However, I thought I would share a few personal insights about what I’ve learned working from the marketing trenches at a very large, very tenured, highly-recognized brand in the tech space.  Here are my top 5 “hard won” lessons from this year:

1) B2B marketers must give Sales any excuse to talk to clients. There are a million things to do as a B2B marketer. If you prioritize those things that create an opportunity for your account managers to check in with a client — or your sales reps to reach out to a prospect — you will do more to align marketing activity with sales outcomes and increase marketing’s value to the business. As you put together marketing programs and campaigns, always ask “where does Sales engage the customer in this process?”

2) Time spent on segmentation and targeting is invaluable. B2B marketers are learning to understand buyers better, but the lesson isn’t complete. Knowing your buyer intimately — having the ability to define a buying persona precisely– lets B2B marketers develop the content that engages buyers and put it where buyers will find it. You also have to understand who Sales considers a target, because if you develop leads that aren’t in anyone’s territory or too small to sustain your average deal size, no one will pick them up and work on them.

3) The pressure to move from lead generation to demand management will continue to increase. Sales can’t pursue every “lead” that marketing uncovers because sales need to focus on those prospects that offer the best immediate opportunity.  B2B marketers who think beyond the current event, campaign, or quarter-end will better create programs that develop demand, qualify it over time, and deliver those “ripe” opportunities to sales — within the territory and opportunity criteria that sales wants to pursue. This is the best way to scale the pipeline and put the revenue generation engine of your firm into high gear.

4) The value of marketing content must be measured in the buyer’s eye, not yours. This is a tough one for B2B marketers to learn because they believe their products and services are so special — and require such obscure, tedious description — that they find it hard to talk about much else with authority.  This past year, top marketers learned that hiring people who know how to write, who can tell a compelling story, and who can make content interesting to watch is the best way to leave the meaningless blather and inside-out perspective behind.

5) Learn how to extend the life of your content assets and events. B2B marketers focus a lot of activity around events like tradeshows, sporting events, dinner meetings, or webinars. While these events help tell your story or make executive-to-executive connections, the activity also presents many opportunities to capture an asset and use it to engage those who could not be there live. Whether it is slides, photos, video recordings, interviews, tweets, or blog posts, every event creates artifacts that smart marketers can use to help sales keep client conversations going — or to engage new prospects — while demonstrating your unique point of view, expertise, and commitment to building deeper customer relationships.

What have been your key lessons from 2011? Check out the Focus.com discussion on this topic and join in!

“Between the Lines” – Xerox Shares a View on the Future of Documents

"Between the Lines" by John Kelly of Xerox

One of our top Xerox executives — and my boss’s former boss — recently published an ebook about documents in business and why documents will remain important. (Note, a document does NOT mean a printed page in this context — what a novel concept for Xerox, huh?)  I’d like to invite you to download and enjoy this ebook over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I would also like to plagiarize heavily from a great blog post that Karen McDermott, one of my colleagues, wrote last week. I think her perspective is clever and interesting — so I have basically replicated the post here:

A Businessweek article from 1975 entitled, “Office of the Future” predicted the paperless office. In this article, George E. Pake, the head of the (then) newly formed Palo Alto Research Center, predicted“… that in 1995 his office will be completely different; there will be a TV-display terminal with keyboard sitting on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he says. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don’t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I’ll want in this world.””

Fast forward 35+ years and that “TV-display terminal” (better know as a computer screen) that George envisioned sits on our desks – but we still have a lot of paper sitting there, too. What happened? Maybe the future of the lowly document is more resilient than we first thought.

John Kelly, Executive Vice President, Major Account Development at Xerox, published a book called “Between the Lines”, that looks at the future documents as we know them today. You can read the ebook on your Kindle or iPad, or print it as a PDF if you’re still a “paper person”. (We are “digital vs. physical” neutral on this one.) But do have a look, especially at the first chapter. While Xerox moves, together with our clients, into more and more digital media, we still recognize the role that the document — as the primary person-to-person and human-to-computer interface — plays in our lives and the value it delivers to business regardless of its physical form.

John’s book is full of real world examples about how companies use documents to reduce costs, improve investment returns, and achieve other business advantages you might not expect. It also talks about futuristic technology like erasable (reusable) paper. Here’s your chance to get a glimpse at other innovative technology that — like the computer screen — might become commonplace over the next decade and beyond.

I hope you will download it. It reads quickly and may get you to look at documents in a whole new light.

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