by: Scott Goodson

This article is printed in the fall issue of The Hub Magazine:

The same old CRM is not good enough.

It seems that nearly every brand is drowning in its own beliefs about Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They all believe that only warmth drives purchase; that customers have to love the brand to use it; that the brand has to be highly visible among top management, even though they are a relatively small group of people.

All of that may be true. And yet, for all the CRM ideals about being close to customers, no one seems to be picking up on the real issue: How many of you reading this take the time to open a CRM message?

It also seems as if every manager in every consulting services organization has been reading the same research, and getting the same dismal result. They all know that business management -- CEOs, CIOs and CFOs -- are crazy busy, and getting through to them is impossible. They fly their own corporate jets, so they don't even travel through airports where typically the advertising is designed to reach them.

That's exactly how we saw it when Unisys asked us to infuse their marketing with something more strategic and creative.

"We see the advantages of brand advertising," explains Ellyn Raftery, global chief marketing officer of Unisys. "But in today's world, with the convergence of media, I wanted to surround our prospective customers with highly individualized content, in a highly personalized way, on a global scale."

Sounds like a job for ... CRM. But a traditional CRM strategy was not the solution. Unisys knew it needed a campaign that played to its heritage, its organizational scale across markets, and made a virtue of being its customers' expert.

As Peter Doyle, the author of Value-Based Marketing, observed: "Increasingly, superior knowledge of how to solve the problems of customers is the key capability for competitive success. Value today comes from knowledge, not products."

New Positioning

Working closely with the top marketing management of Unisys, StrawberryFrog developed an innovative CRM strategy that took "individualized" solutions to a totally new level.

We created a positioning which liberated Unisys from being a servile supplier of outsourcing products to that of an educating partner, guiding its customers through misconceptions into new, modern effective services.

To do that, we needed to change the way Unisys communicated its expertise to its customers. We didn't want them to sound like your "best friend" but we didn't want them to behave like a hard-edged teacher, either. We needed the right balance between inspiration and education.

We realized that those in the C-Suite are always thinking about their companies. Their fate both worries and excites them. They think about where it is going all the time, how it flows and how to get the most out of it. The role of Unisys is to support that dynamic.

With that in mind, we transformed a generic positioning of "outsourcing solutions" to a more provocative platform: Unlearn Outsourcing. It was an extremely liberating switch, and a whole lot more interesting.

The campaign took aim at inspiring corporations and government agencies to unlearn their misconceptions about outsourcing, to uncover their cost and growth benefits and to unleash their full business potential in today's hyper-competitive business world.

Unlearn Outsourcing focused on discovering a new, positive perspective for outsourcing with the ultimate goal of helping leading corporations use outsourcing services to capture growth opportunities.

For most corporations today, simply talking about expertise versus unlearning a major significant competitive advantage is an entirely different approach. It's not the usual arrogant, self-obsessed, and boring high-tech kind of message.

Unisys' expertise with outsourcing would be demonstrated not by talking about Unisys, but by talking about the specific situations in which the world's top corporations and their leaders found themselves.

The message is all about business and cultural values -- again, not something done by competitors. The role for communications also was clear: The idea was to re-position Unisys as the outsourcing expert -- and the one partner that understands each customer's individual situation -- in a thought provoking and authoritative way.

Personalized Messaging

Our communications strategy was premised on the knowledge humans take a lot of pleasure in knowing that our efforts are making a difference. Businesspeople, who are more results-oriented than most, certainly are no exception.

In today's world, the top business leaders -- the management of the world's biggest organizations -- follow financial indicators. But there are certain things even financials can't tell you. Are you a great leader? Are people impressed? Are you succeeding? That kind of feedback usually comes from articles in magazines or interviews on television programs.

Our communication began by sending a personalized edition of The Economist to a select group of the world's top management. Each company leader was featured on his or her own personalized cover of the magazine. It is accompanied by a headline on the magazine cover, explaining how that individual is spearheading change in his or her industry.

Inside each issue of the magazine was a personalized letter to each leader, including an invitation to visit a personalized, password-enabled website where a world-famous journalist presented a story about him or her -- and how his or her company would become smarter, better, more effective and more efficient working with Unisys.

There was also a virtual "Unlearn Center." Part mind-space, part metaphor, The Unlearn Center takes business leaders on a guided personalized tour in an imaginative and interactive online experience -- with no two experiences alike.

Because a public awareness of Unisys is important -- especially its core values -- the Unlearn campaign was also supported by major print and outdoor executions across the United States and globally in publications including The Economist, Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, CIO, and the Australian Financial Review.

Out-of-home advertising spanned the globe in New York City, Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Switzerland, and Australia. The campaign also included special events and unlearn workshops.

In addition to the personalized microsites, an online version of the campaign is available for the general audience by visiting the campaign website at securityunleashed.com/unlearn.

Overwhelming Response

Overall, the campaign achieved a 78 percent response rate versus the average Direct Mail rate of 2.61 percent (one recipient even visited his site 21 times!).

Qualitative research from the Unisys sales force indicated that the campaign provided a platform to initiate dialogue and sales leads: "This is very timely and exactly what we need to help us drive sales!" "The customers will fall off their chairs when they receive it!"

Comments from key potential clients also confirmed that the campaign helped cement Unisys' position on short lists: "The portrait was fun and the materials you have sent me have certainly put you on the radar more firmly."

How do you break through the wall of indifference surrounding the world's busiest leaders to introduce them to a brand that has a lot to offer, but also has enormous competition from competitors that are spending millions trying to convince them of the same thing?

Unisys unlearned the answers to those questions by making its customers the stars of its campaign.

Original Post: http://scottgoodson.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/11/unisys-unlearns.html

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