Deborah Nelson, senior vp-marketing at HP, gave attendees a behind-the-scenes look into how HP’s marketing department is leading the charge within its organization to fully leverage and realize the power of social media. She encouraged attendees to become agents of change, too. “We need to take a fresh look at how we define marketing,” she said. A few highlights from Nelson’s presentation:
At a fundamental level, Nelson said marketing today is no longer just about the four “P’s”: product, price, place and promotion. Product, for instance, has evolved to become more about consumer preferences. “It’s not about what could we sell, it’s about what should we sell,” said Nelson. Promotion, too, has evolved, from a push strategy to a participation model—a two-way communication that invites customers into the conversation.
One way HP is facilitating greater participation is through blogs. And the key, Nelson said, is to pick the right people to represent the brand. “This is not a marketing job,” she said. “Find out what topics are most important to you and [your customers], and then aim your greatest asset—your people—to them.” At HP, it’s the engineers who deliver the message. “My job is to get all the engineers engaged in social media and talking to all our customers,” Nelson said.
The strategy involves significant changes, like making social media outreach part of the HP job description. For instance, Nelson assigns the brand’s engineers the blogs the team would like them to participate in, and then steps back and lets them go. For many marketers accustomed to managing the message, this can be a difficult, but necessary, step. “Marketing needs to enable this,” she said. “Social media is not about control—it’s about empowering the right people in the organization to go out and talk to customers.”
Nelson’s team hosts monthly blogger talks and frequent roundtables so the engineers-turned-bloggers can learn from each other and from the social media experts on the marketing team. A code of conduct drafted by the marketing team helps remind the engineers to keep the blogging professional.
Since social media and technology move at the speed of light, Nelson’s team also takes it upon itself to help the marketing organization stay lean and mean so it can keep up and stay light on its feet. A year and a half ago, the team introduced a new concept called DORA—Develop Once and Run Anywhere—to help streamline processes and reduce redundancies across its global event portfolio. Now, one team creates events that can be executed anywhere around the globe. “It takes the democracy out of what was happening,” Nelson said. “Now we have a global campaign team and put the best people for events and p.r. in that and build the events for everybody.”
Thanks to the DORA project, the team has “raised the digital IQ [at HP],” Nelson said. “Locally, we’re a lot closer to customers and getting better ROI for campaigns.”