On the sidelines of the Direct Marketing Association of India’s (DMAi) 2014 Convention, Campaign India caught up with Costanza Tedesco, SVP, marketing communications, SAP, who had come down from New York. Edited excerpts:
SAP has been on a brand transformation journey from being an ERP player to an organisation with a much larger portfolio. How has this journey been so far?
It's been a long journey and I have been lucky enough to be with it from almost the very beginning. Before the year 2001, SAP didn’t really have marketing as an expertise. Nobody was paying too much attention and then our founder said that we need to do this and we need to do this professionally. We sort of missed the internet. He hired the company’s first global CMO and I was a part of the team. Being there from the very beginning, seeing the establishment of marketing and branding as a disciple at SAP, we have seen it moving from a German back office ERP company that nobody really paid any attention to, to a dynamic, global, innovative company. There still needs to be a lot of work done.
How has B2B marketing changed over the years?
Prior to being at SAP, I was a part of the IBM team bringing the first campaign around e-business. I think that back then that was really pioneering in the whole idea of marketing and B2B; it could go beyond and speak some essential truths of business and influence economies. What’s been exciting over the years in B2B is that we are starting to learn much more from B2C marketing. It is the realisation that we aren’t just marketing to companies. Firstly, we are marketing to people. In the end, they are people that buy our plans. So now I think the separation between B2B and B2C is not so distinct.
How different is B2B technology marketing from consumer marketing?
They are becoming closer and closer. Marketing is all about understanding your customer, understanding their needs and speaking to them in a way that is relevant. In the end, it is the same practices. The thing that I think that is unique about B2B, particularly technology, is to be able to make really complex things simple and that is what makes it fun; that is what it makes it different.
How do you see the role of marketers changing with the emergence of digital, social and analytics?
It is interesting to see the transformation in marketing trends that was back when I started, where it was all about a push. You created a campaign or a commercial put it out in the media and your job was done. Now, with digital and social, you really do have the opportunity to make it a conversation and learn so much and make it so much richer with that continuous back and forth. And so we talk about the transition from a mindset that was about hoping our sales people sell to hoping our buyers buy - and how we create the experience that is a service to our buyers. That’s been fun to watch and technology has made that possible.
What is your view on the way B2B can explore social media/ digital media to enhance customer experience and how has SAP used it?
What we find in the area of digital marketing and digital media, is it’s about being always positive.
You have a lot of money behind you, you can be in a lot of places but you can never be always where your customer wants you to be. So our focus is now on creating our own content in our own spaces. We do quite a bit in the area of social media. We have a very vibrant community - software developers, IT professionals and others that are interested in our software. And we do quite a bit to nurture that community, to profile them, highlight them, to help and make them more visible. In the end what it does, is it creates a network of smart people that are talking about SAP.
It’s real, authentic and valuable content and that becomes a growing organism. There has been quite a lot of investment. It is something we started five or six years ago to nurture bloggers and other folk in our community but now it is really paying off. We really try to make our campaigns long-term sustainable. What is important is to have that continually switched on audience.
A lot of companies are taking the story-telling approach to marketing. What is your take on that?
I think the term is a trend. Everybody likes to throw around the term story telling but in the end it’s as old as society itself. The way we get messages across is by creating stories and making them relevant. Particularly, I was talking about making complex things simple. Rather than just talking about data analytics, we will show how SAP can help analyse cricket games and project what is going to win - that taps in to somebody’s passion, interest and makes it relevant for them.