In a world where everything is connected by advanced networks and time is at a premium, Bill Rozier, Ciena’s vice president of corporate marketing, is endeavoring to transform business-to-business marketing into condensed storytelling.
What's more, Rozier is doing so on a topic—networking—that can be as complex as it is crucial to today’s corporations and governments. He recently discussed his efforts with Anoop Sahgal, industry strategy & marketing, Adobe Systems.
On…marketing in a connected world.
Rozier: Ciena Corp. is responsible for providing unfailing network connectivity for the world’s largest organizations, from service providers and communications companies like Comcast and AT&T, to airlines, retailers, television content distributors, and even submarine cable operators that interconnect with land-based cable landing stations through optical links.
We always have to keep in mind: Our customers use Ciena’s solutions to maximize the capabilities of their networks and understand the many ways their networks contribute to their businesses. If our customers can tap into the full potential of their networks, it can play a pivotal role in driving game-changing business outcomes. We have deep expertise in optical, Ethernet, and network automation, and our job is to unlock our customers’ potential through their networks.
So…it must be challenging for you as a marketer to sell something that’s “behind the scenes.” How do you get through to customers?
Rozier: We do amazing things and put a lot behind research and development. But we can’t rely on a technical sell. We have to be sure our information is resonating with our customers, solving their problems, and making sure they understand our brand values. We interact with our customers daily, so we have the opportunity to create what I call a thousand small moments of truth.
On…acting like a business-to-consumer company in the world of business-to-business.
Rozier: We’re global, and we live in the business-to-business space. So some people think there’s less of a chance to be provocative. I couldn’t disagree more.
The Internet has changed everything. We can reach out to our customers in personalized and individualized ways. We think collateral is dead, but believe in the importance of storytelling and things like infographics to give people the ability to quickly scan and understand data and see the facts in a few seconds. People need that. We also try to drive many live interactions that are memorable and create genuine and lasting relationships.
PowerPoint presentations and brochures? Forget them. They can be one of the quickest ways to lose your customers’ attention.
On…gauging your success and fine-tuning your strategies.
Rozier: We keep a pulse on our brand value. We’re a global company, so we have to communicate in ways that are universal. For instance, if you go to our Web site, you will see a series of videos, not a bunch of static collateral pieces. Analytics are very important for us. We have a global perception study that we do every year to be sure what we are putting out there is reaching our customers with an accurate and meaningful brand message.
We use Adobe Marketing Cloud to measure and gauge our impacts, relying heavily on the metrics it generates. Our executives are always hungry for numbers. We have a report card with several elements: lead generation, qualified leads, sales abandonment, and other categories, such as attendance at webinars and video views. We can see right away whether or not we are on topic and providing the right answers. Our products are very technical, so we need to be relevant, memorable, and highly understandable. At the same time, we have to understand and provide viable options to the business problems our customers need to solve.
On…marketing with speed and precision in a busy world.
Rozier: You’re right. We don’t have the luxury of a movie like “The Hobbit,” where we have hours to tell our story. We get maybe 90 seconds with a potential customer to reinforce our brand proposition, explain a new technology, and deliver a compelling call to action that someone will react to. The challenge is to take all those nuggets and build them into a full brand experience.
On…the critical role of social media.
Rozier: Social is an area where we are learning as quickly as we can, and, honestly, as a tactic, social media is still in its infancy. This doesn’t mean that we’re not doing everything we can to keep pace in this arena. We know what someone says about us is far more important than what we say about ourselves. Brand reputations can be built or broken in the social landscape.
In many ways, social media feels like the Internet 20 years ago. We’re learning that what needs to be on YouTube is entirely different than what should be on LinkedIn. It’s evolving to the point where keeping an ear to the ground and listening to your company and to your competitors is more important than publishing content, although we still need to push out relevant information. We’re hoping that social in the near future will be a powerful, new medium for lead generation in particular.
On…why is digital marketing important, and what’s your strategy?
Rozier: The biggest challenge is to think two years ahead. We have to become as good at mobile marketing as we have been at desktop marketing and take many more variables into account: screen size, navigation, speed, and personalization. The bottom line is to become experts at delivering answers, not experts at showing information. Anticipate and answer your customers’ questions for them. We must also be skilled storytellers, regardless of the devices our customers use. Remember: Be relevant and give answers and solve business problems—all in a minute-and-a-half or less. Don’t just send out facts and figures. That’s our guiding principle.