Marketing models tend to be wallpaper to me. I'm more interested in seeing what's beneath the surface.
During strategy reviews delivered via PowerPoint-enhanced charts, graphs and model diagrams, my colleagues often hear me say, “What do we do with this?" or the ever popular, “How does this translate into something real?" (That's when their eyes begin to roll.) So imagine their surprise when I started talking about a new engagement model - when my presentations morphed from single word slides to model-rich rhetoric.
But, let's step back for a moment. Because when I was first presented with an early glimpse of the Arthur W. Page Society's new model of corporate communications, I wasn't initially a believer. It took some mileage to get there.
Here's where the virtuous cycle began for me. It was March of last year. We met in an early 1900s mansion where time stood still. The estate loomed above stark countryside in a town called Esopus. We were in New York State but I'm still not sure if I was upstate, downstate or just in a small-town state of mind. It was a surreal setting for a meeting with other chief communication officers in what was billed as a “Thought Leadership Summit on Communication."
We'd driven really far to talk about models. There were no .ppt just lots of white paper used to capture random thoughts and meaningful insights. We had great discussions about our roles, the value of corporate character, how to define corporate character, purpose-based communication, how to define a corporate purpose, the ownership of stakeholder engagement and how to collaborate with internal stakeholders to engage, not just communicate. Heady stuff. Meaty stuff. And lots of ideas now captured in color on yards of white paper. Plus, a purple booklet that summed it up: the engagement model in the making. And, I kept thinking: we'd driven really far to talk about models.
On the equally far drive home (funny how that works), my mind wandered to what I always ask my team. So what do we do with this? I played it out against the backdrop of Xerox's brand repositioning campaign. No easy task.
Quick digression here: At Xerox, we're going through a massive transformation. Some companies talk about transformation; we're doing it. About two years ago, Xerox bought Affiliated Computer Services – a company you've likely never heard of but one that is in your life in unexpected ways: like EZ Pass (ACS processes automated toll transactions) or insurance claims (ACS processes those too) or customer call center support for smart phones and tablets (ACS runs the call centers and Web support teams). All this ACS work – and so much more – is now part of Xerox. In fact, we don't even call it ACS anymore. It's all Xerox. More than half of our revenue now comes from business services. A far cry from the document company. But with our brand so firmly entrenched in that “synonymous with copiers" space, our repositioning is tough, takes time and (ah-ha…here's what we do with the model) starts with belief.
Back to the road from Esopus….
Keep in mind, I'm still driving and wishing I had a voice record app to capture the random whims of my model magic. I started reimagining our marketing and communication initiatives against the principles…
By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had developed in my mind new creative briefs, the formation of new communication strategies, and the concepts of new organizational design. And, because my cluttered brain tends to work like a sieve, I raced into the house to get it all down in writing. Once in black-and-white, the ideas started taking a more permanent shape.
I started with the basics of spreading the word. First with my senior team in marketing and communications, then with my colleagues on the Xerox executive team, then with the broader Xerox marketing community, and so it goes. I introduced the Page Engagement Model as a way to knock-down the traditional barriers of B2B marketing and communication – and, hopefully, to re-energize our teams into experimenting more with concepts that shatter the status quo.
We're starting to see education turn into actions. That means stopping or reducing business as usual activities (i.e.: Do we really need a press release for THAT? Wouldn't our voice be more authentic by telling the back story? Note: see how we announced news of retiring the ACS brand). As a result, we're asking different questions in strategy review meetings. We're aligning ourselves more closely with customer service (since social media plays a key role in building confidence and encouraging advocacy). We're being more critical with our findings from market research, spending more time on meta-data analysis to mine even more actionable insights.
We've articulated a strong purpose that links our heritage with our future: Xerox's technology, services and expertise simplify the way business works so the world works better. By doing so, we help our clients operate more effectively and focus more on what matters most: their real business. This new video brings it to life.
And, from there, we tell our story. Forging shared belief… one mile at a time.
By Christa Carone
Chief Marketing Officer