Generating the Big Idea
In early 2012, when Jeannine Rossignol, VP of Marketing Communications for US Client Operations (USCO) at Xerox, set out to develop new demand generation programs to support a recently-reorganized sales force, one of her team’s first activities was to review the messaging of the division’s competitors. What they found was shocking: when displayed side by side, the value propositions of all the companies in their space looked exactly alike. Indeed, if you removed the names and logos, you couldn’t tell them apart.
The marketing team needed a “big idea” that would help Xerox break out from the pack. So they put together an RFP and sent it to a dozen agencies asking them to take a fresh look at the entire portfolio of Xerox services and create a breakthrough campaign that leveraged the division’s existing value proposition and the corporation’s “Ready for Real Business” messaging platform.
Executing the Big Idea
The idea of using “optimism” as an overarching campaign theme was a breakthrough idea that excited not only the marketing team but also the Xerox management team. In the solutions world, everyone focuses on problems. Xerox’s message to targeted decision-makers would be just the opposite: that optimism is smart business and Xerox can provide valuable insights into how similar organizations have used optimism and confidence to reach new heights.
The Get Optimistic campaign began with a series of targeted biweekly emails that drove prospects to a personalized microsite where they could access content specific to their role and industry. These emails were followed up with a series of telephone calls to invite identified decision-makers to a C-level event or webinar, or to schedule a meeting.
Approximately two months after the campaign started, the first “Chief Optimist” magazine – a large format color magazine created in partnership with Forbes -- was sent to top prospects. All prospects were also sent a link to the digital version of the magazine that could be accessed via iPad or PC. Both formats of the magazine had industry-specific versions.
An important aspect of the campaign was the strong involvement of sales throughout the process, from identifying key prospects to participating in the email and phone campaigns. Sales representatives were also given specialized cards that provided the link to the online magazine and extra copies of the magazine they could share with prospects in face-to-face meetings. Soon, sales representatives were reporting that sharing the magazine with the prospect changed the very nature of the first call conversation. Instead of immediately diving into the details of products and services, the prospect would often start talking about the topics in the magazine, allowing the sales representative to pursue a higher level business relationship rather than just being seen as another “me too” vendor.
The Xerox marketing team was also able integrate the campaign with a series of “Focus Forward” regional events that were already taking place across the US. For example, the keynote speaker, Bill Taylor, co-founder and editor of Fast Company, was also featured in the inaugural issue of Chief Optimist. Prospects could also view a video containing excerpts from his speech via a link in the electronic version of the magazine.
Tangible and Intangible Results
In the approximately nine months since it is initial launch, the campaign has already generated measurable business results. It has changed the perception of Xerox with its key prospects and it has also generated over 1000 new sales appointments and more than $1B in pipeline revenue.
The campaign also had an unexpected internal benefit. The event that triggered the need in the first place – a major change in go-to-market strategy and organizational structure -- had the potential to create a serious loss of momentum for the sales force, By also using “Get Optimistic” as the overarching theme for its internal change management communication, the USCO management team was able to help the entire organization embrace the positive nature of the change and experience the reinforcing effect of a strong linkage between the company’s external and internal messaging.
The campaign has also already received industry recognition for its creativity and effectiveness. In April, Xerox won a “Killer Content Award” at the 2013 Content2Conversion conference, and in early June, the Business Marketing Association (BMA) announced that the campaign won four B2 awards including “Best in Category” in Multi-channel Lead Generation – C-level.
The Get Optimistic campaign is less than one year into its expected multi-year life, but Jeannine and her team have already identified the following key lessons learned:
- Be willing to think differently. The Xerox team took a chance by reaching out to a new set of agencies and ultimately was rewarded for embracing an approach that some might have rejected as old fashioned (a print magazine). When no single agency had all the answers, they were also willing to buck tradition and take on the extra management required to work with two agencies to get the best of both worlds.
- Spend the time necessary to choose the right targets and ensure internal buy-in. Often, in the rush to get a new campaign launched, marketers fail to effectively involve sales in identifying the best targets for a C-level campaign. They also often do not spend enough time communicating the strategy and ensuring buy-in from senior management and field leaders. Because they took the time to do both, the Xerox team achieved excellent response rates and strong internal alignment.
- Provide truly valuable content. Although it is a basic tenet of content marketing, companies often still provide content that is thinly-disguised self-promotion rather than innovative thought leadership that is of real value to the prospect. By partnering with Forbes, who provided 60% of the content, Xerox was able provide content that was not only credible but also highly relevant and targeted to the individual and his or her industry.
- Customize, measure and refine. To increase the value of the content, the Xerox team went to extraordinary lengths to personalize everything from the initial emails and destination microsites, to industry-specific versions of the magazine. Detailed tracking and measurement strategies also helped the team measure results and continue to refine the strategy as the campaign continues.
Images used with permission from Xerox Inc.,