Alcatel-Lucent, the technology company named one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies by MIT Technology Review, is also a B2B marketing innovator. From reaching new target markets to developing innovative marketing campaigns, the company moves quickly to address new opportunities.
I learned about some of the latest B2B marketing strategies the organization is employing from Allison Cerra, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs at Alcatel-Lucent and co-author of Identity Shift and The Shift. She emphasizes that evolving their strategies and tactics is one of the most important aspects of Alcatel-Lucent’s success:
“The industry is constantly changing. What worked a year ago might not work today. For example, in 2009, we deployed mobile briefing centers because we found our customers were on a travel freeze at that time and couldn’t make it to our executive briefing centers. This was very successful. But after two years, this approach hit diminishing returns, and we’ve since refocused our strategy around executive briefing centers.”
Constantly evaluating campaigns and eliminating ones that have grown unsuccessful is an important part of Alcatel-Lucent’s culture. Alcatel-Lucent has had success by selectively using B2C marketing campaign approaches with its B2B audiences. One of Alcatel-Lucent’s newest B2B marketing campaigns is called “What’s Your Sweet Spot?” The campaign targeted prospects with specific network challenges. Kevin Easterwood, Vice President of Marketing Communications, provides some detail:
“To capitalize on the term ‘sweet spot,’ the marketing campaign literally centered on sweets -- M&M chocolate candies personalized with answers to various network challenges. The M&Ms and program messaging were mailed to the decision makers of Alcatel-Lucent's target prospects. When the intended recipient picked up the envelope, he/she could hear the unmistakable sound of the M&M's rattling in the case, piquing their curiosity and ensuring that the envelope was opened. Upon opening, the customer was greeted by another sweet surprise once they learned that by contacting Alcatel-Lucent, they would be entered into a drawing for an Apple iPad.”
The results of this campaign exceeded expectations, generating significant qualified leads for the company.
The company has also experienced success with reaching new markets through the influence of Identity Shift and The Shift, books that explore how technology affects how we perceive our relationships and ourselves. By turning their extensive research into marketable books, Cerra and co-author Christina James were able to reach a new market for Alcatel-Lucent—marketing executives. Cerra explains:
“Marketing executives of prospective customers were coming to us after we published the books, and we were able to open doors for the sales department. Historically, sales had been in contact with engineering, not marketing. Each book opened a new storyline to the customer. The book, as a content marketing approach, builds on the salesforce efforts.”
These strategic dialogs built on Alcatel-Lucent’s strong sales efforts by giving the company access to two areas of decision-making in prospective customers’ firms and solidifying their reputation for innovation.
It’s clear from my conversations that “sweet spot” is more than a single campaign at Alcatel-Lucent—the company has pinpointed the sweet spot of B2B marketing in technology. Its culture of collaboration and innovation helps it meet the evolving needs of the marketplace and to reach customers in ways they find meaningful.