Marketing Needs to Be More Than a Coat of Paint

It’s inevitable that a new chief marketing officer will launch a new campaign within 18-months of taking the marketing helm. In many cases, this new work will be no more effective than previous messages, simply because it’s like a new coat of paint on a rickety old house. However, when the new campaign is combined with an innovative product or service offering that reinforces the new storyline, the results can be staggering.

This was certainly the case for Jennifer¬†Deutsch, CMO of Park Place Technologies, a company that provides extended warranties for the hardware in server farms. Identifying that “uptime” was to server farms as “tough” is to trucks, Deutsch and her team paired this message with a new product that applied machine learning to predict when a server would fail and thus enable preemptive repairs. As you’ll see in our interview below, this one-two punch resulted in the marketing equivalent of a technical knockout.

What’s your definition of marketing?

To find the “a-ha” of the brand. To identify and define the key differentiator. What differentiates your brand from the competitive set? And then very quickly you can come up with communication that delivers that message very simply and easily to the target audience.

What were your top priorities in the first hundred days as CMO?

I’ve been at Park Place for 10 months, and when I arrived, I looked at the first 30, 60, and 90 days and immediately, I wanted to make an impact. But I also wanted to establish the vision and create the pathway to get there. I also wanted to elevate the work that we were doing.

How did you get to you’re a-ha moment for Park Place?

In every single brand that I ever worked on, it’s the same answer on how we got to the ‘a-ha’ moment. It’s listening. it’s speaking to the end user, whether you’re in the B-to-C or B-to-B space. Speaking to the consumer, the customer, the client, the end user and then also talking to your salespeople. I spent a lot of time talking to salespeople and a lot of time talking to consumers.

One of my proudest career moments was on Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. We did an A&U and we spoke to users about French Bread Pizza and we came up with a huge a-ha moment. We looked at when they were eating the product and what they were watching while they ate. Basketball, after dinner. So, we went to the NBA. For Park Place, we listened to customers as well. Now, instead of eating pizza and watching TV, everybody talked about eliminating downtime.

How did you start the external launch?

We launched our campaign, “All About Uptime”, in tandem with launching Park View, which is our new product, and we did it at Gartner’s big industry event in Las Vegas. When we had our booth up, we had people stopping by and telling us that they saw the word ‘uptime’ and were propelled to our booth, because their job is keeping their data centers running. We did communication before the launch, as well, and it was all about how we have you covered from head to toe. We prepared packages with hats and socks everything was all about uptime.

How did that part of the launch go?

Gartner had never seen such a successful booth or speaking session in the history of Gartner. In fact, Gartner de-briefed with us afterwards to find out what we did to drive so much excitement. I attribute it to the fact that we were very vigilant about the way that we promoted before the event, at the event, and then ongoing.

Then what?

We did a lot of analysis post-show and then ongoing communications from there. A lot of the elements are digital, but we also do a lot of direct mail. We also have timed email blasts going out to a very, very large database and we start to track leads and we start to track responses.

Was there an internal launch too?

We started internally and took about a month to train everybody. And the training was global. When we launched the campaign on day one, all the creative was up in every office. Then we did training with our sales force globally. In every single office there was live sales training and then they had two to three weeks to spend working with the materials we prepared for them. Everybody got a PowerPoint deck to walk through.

How did the product Park View fit into the launch?

Our new product called Park View uses machine learning to help us to predict failure. This is proactive maintenance. Before something breaks, we know from machine learning what the signs are that something’s about to break. Before it breaks, we send the parts and we send an engineer to do the replacement and do the fix preemptively. And that actually delivers “uptime” for a data center, and “uptime” is the most important word in data centers because when your data center goes down, you have a major problem.

What percentage of leads does marketing drive?

Marketing drives 90 percent of the leads. Our recipe includes heavy PR. Kwitten is our public relations firm and they do a phenomenal job for us and we do a lot of global PR. We do a lot of digital and we measure our leads on a daily basis and we have leads coming in from all over the world. The number one source for us, though, is the web.

With your campaign, do you think it’s the words driving it?

I don’t think so. I think a campaign needs to be paired with a claim and an offer. And I can tell you that any time that I have launched a brand or a product, there has been significant differentiation. With Park Place Technologies, it’s also very simple in that we’re all about uptime and for those in that space, uptime is everything because if you have downtime, you’re down and you are running the data center you’re out of luck.

Will machines ever be able to do your job?

Machines won’t be able to replace marketers. Machines will be able to replace other folks. It’s interesting that you’re asking that question because we just launched Park View, where we’re using machine learning to take folks who are actually working at data centers, I.T. folks, and change their responsibilities to give them greater value. But we will not be able to have machines who will replace marketers. We need to have an awful lot of innovation and forward-thinking, and it’s the human brain that evaluates how people are perceiving the brand.

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