Listening? Check. Planning? Check. Now? Deliver...

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Martyn Etherington, Mitel (Photo by: Shane Kisliack)
Martyn Etherington, Mitel (Photo by: Shane Kisliack)

Enough talking and planning. It's time to execute our plans—namely, implementing our new MiCloud campaign and fortifying our digital center of excellence.

We began our marketing transformation journey focused on the strategic, structural, process, and people changes we had to make. We also narrowed our strategic focus to four central pillars: brand, demand, digital, and new product introductions.

Additionally, we rightsized our organization to free up resources to reinvest in the four pillars, while restructuring to align our teams around market segments. That work was tough. However, the toughest aspect has been and will continue to be implementing a change in our planning, tracking, and reporting processes based around outcomes tied to business growth.

Our first tangible set of deliverables, which are tied together in a comprehensive and integrated marketing campaign, requires some context. We're in the communications business; we help businesses and people communicate and collaborate while also helping companies lower their IT, staff, and hardware costs. We're able to deliver this value, in large part because our innovation is centered on virtualization, a delivery mechanism for the cloud. Simply put, all of our products— telephony, collaboration, and contact centers—are delivered in the cloud.

We have a great story to tell, but we have not done so. Why? Like many organizations, we face intense demands to “do stuff,” and operating in that reactive mode is not  conducive to structured thinking, planning, execution, or any notion of sustained implementation. We fell into that “do stuff now” trap. Over the past few months we've been meticulously planning our MiCloud campaign. The term represents a derivation of Mitel, and “my” in the vernacular of a customer means they can choose how they want their cloud structured (private, public, or a hybrid depending on their needs).

(Mi)Cloud Nine

We're developing the MiCloud campaign with UBM Tech, one of the largest media firms in high-tech. The collaboration helps extend our reach to subscribers of UBM's media assets, gives us access to leading content, and associates us with a leading brand. The underlying purpose of the MiCloud campaign is to drive brand awareness, drive demand, and provide a platform to tell our cloud story; even more important, the campaign will illustrate how we have helped customers communicate and collaborate better and save money. In keeping with our philosophy, the center of the campaign is based on a series of customer personas to make our messaging, propositions, content, and offers relevant to our audience. We use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments. In short, this approach makes us more relevant and more targeted to our users.

MiCloud is a digitally centric, content-rich campaign that will begin in the next three weeks. Our one-year road map for the campaign contains several phases, beginning with persona development, content development, campaign development, and consistent messaging that will be across all marketing vehicles. Given our maniacal focus on measurement and accountability, we'll be measuring the campaign's effectiveness at our monthly operations review against our stated monthly goals so we can look at actuals versus plan and actuals year-to-date versus plan to see if we're on track and delivering value to our company. For example, we use lead calculators based on industry conversion rates (we currently do not have any past data to determine conversion ratios). This lead calculator determines the universe of customers we need to touch, educate, promote to, and help influence buying decisions that will ultimately convert to a sale.

A second action area that we've focused on recently concerns our drive to build out a digital center of excellence; this represents a lofty goal, given that we only had two employees focused on digital six months ago and less than 5% of our marketing budget was tied to this important area. We're fortifying our digital center of excellence because customer feedback shows us that the Internet is the number one resource customers go to when they want to find, learn, buy, and use products in our space. Therefore, it's critical to our entire business to provide a great digital experience for all of our customers.

Going digital

As a result of the rightsizing process and our redline exercise (reviewing all planned programs line by line and cutting out irrelevant programs/events), we were able to dynamically reallocate direct response advertising from old marketing to digital marketing. By next month we'll have expanded our digital team fivefold, and shifted more than 25% of our marketing budget to digital. And this is just the beginning. We have a two-pronged approach to fix our digital brand and improve our customer's digital experience with the Mitel brand.

First, in terms of fixing our digital brand, we've done extensive voice-of-the-customer (VoC) work to improve our homepage. We leveraged our user group and asked them to seek out certain content, watched how they navigated, how they interacted with key areas of the new homepage, and listened to their insight and input. This interactive process helped us make changes, which we then ran by user group members for additional feedback that we used to further enhancements. Overall, we improved our website's navigation, content, segmentation, and calls to action. Among many other improvements, we also made it easier for website visitors to receive support and to talk to people when they need to.

While this first step is largely cosmetic, we needed to execute the website improvements because our digital platforms were not working for us. The second step is to transform our website from a rigid content management system and to a new Web platform that's entirely based on VoC so that it welcomes customers as they launch their journey to find, learn, buy, and use our products. The newly designed homepage will be completed in less than six weeks. The new platform will take four to six months to complete. We also know, based on additional VoC, that when we fix our digital brand, we'll see a tremendous uptick in demand for content.

Finally, I want to report that we just completed the second of our marketing operations review. Although it sometimes feels, during these sessions, as if we take one step forward and two steps back, we've made progress in testing our metrics. Specifically, we stress-test our measures to determine if they're valid, we review how we came up with the numbers, and determine the extent to which we're moving the needle.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, we ban PowerPoint in these reviews in favor of simple Excel-based KPIs and actions plans. This fosters a rich conversation. For example, our intensive revenue discussion, coupled with a deep dive into our marketing KPIs and action plans, showed us where our logic gaps are, where our data gaps are. These realizations can only make us better. By our new fiscal year, which begins in May, our goal is to have the right set of KPIs.

Patience is supposed to be a virtue, but one I think is a tad overrated. We are making progress. For example, in some cases where our KPIs called for X, we have achieved 3X. Although there is a whole lot more that is coming together, it never feels as if quite enough is coming together quickly enough. That tension, impatience, but a steadfast focus on moving forward, not apologizing for incomplete data at this point, is what gives me the confidence that we'll continue to get better and, in doing so, be more relevant to our customers and business.

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