How do you generate awareness for your company when your industry is defined by two Goliaths — namely SAP and Oracle? That’s the question that confronted Infor, a company that develops and sells ERP and other software solutions designed specifically for mid-market companies.
With over 70,000 customers, Infor has a strong mid-market presence — with very low name recognition. (In fact, I had not heard of Infor until I first saw their ad in the Wall Street Journal.)
Although SAP and Oracle have been moving into the mid-market with their own offerings, the market has been very poorly served. Designed for the biggest companies, “Big ERP” — as Infor calls it — was retrofitted for the mid-market, and in the process, has created a great deal of frustration.
“According to market research by analysts such as Forrester, people know of Oracle and SAP, and then you drop way down and a bunch of companies get mentioned, including ours,” says Dave Alampi, Infor’s VP of Marketing Strategy and Services.
“We wanted to move the needle on unaided awareness and preference and wanted people to think ‘Infor’ when they considered a business software solution. We wanted to take the big guys to task and create a campaign that would touch a nerve and connect what people were thinking about the market.”
Here’s how Infor set out to achieve these objectives.
Step #1: Develop a message and test it.
Infor’s Cambridge, Massachusetts agency PJA Marketing + Advertising, developed the campaign, which features the “Big ERP” characters who represent the frustrations mid-market companies have with regard to Big ERP software.
“We gave these characters personality,” says Mike O’Toole, President of PJA. “Our creative staff gave them a fun voice — and this voice worked naturally with the social media elements of the campaign. Infor began testing the “Big ERP” concept message to determine if it resonated with customers and prospects — which it did, in virtually every geography tested.”
Step #2: Get C-suite buy-in.
When asked if they had push back with regard to using social media and the Big ERP characters for the campaign, Alampi and O’Toole both said the top brass at Infor believed the campaign was the right thing to do.
One lesson marketers can learn is that it pays to have marketing strategy that’s based on business objectives and real world research — which is especially helpful when you have a new CMO come in when you’re in the middle of creating the campaign.
“We reviewed our goals with Robert Humphrey, our new CMO,” reports Alampi, “as well as the thinking behind the campaign, the details and media strategy, and our research and test results. He became a strong advocate very quickly.”
Adds O’Toole, “Infor isn’t opposed to social media nor do they believe in doing it just because ‘everybody’ else is. To back up our recommendation for social media integration, we used data from IDG Connect which showed that close to 80% of decision makers in the software adoption process use information from social media channels. We were able to prove that prospects and customers in Infor’s industry use social media to make purchasing decisions.”
Step #3: Create external and internal campaign components.
In addition, Infor ran an internal contest for employees on who could develop the best video or submit the funniest photos. To generate excitement, the company created full-sized cut-outs of the Big ERP characters, mouse pads, etc.
“We had lots of employee engagement,” says Alampi, “and over 40 submissions, including three videos, from individuals and groups around the world. Our employees really understand the frustration in the market and are very excited about this campaign.”
Once the campaign went live, Infor and PJA began engaging market influencers by following editors and analysts who write about ERP. “We commented on their Tweets and blog posts and after awhile, they started commenting back. We have over 300 followers now for our Big ERP Twitter feed — and while that sounds like a small number, these are highly influential people,” says O’Toole.
Step #4: Measure results.
Because the goal of the campaign was to raise brand awareness, Infor will be looking at its market awareness every six months and retesting to see how far they’ve moved the needle. The team is also looking at the impact on its sales pipeline and the number of hand raises due to the campaign microsite and traffic to the Infor site plus the 29 country sites.
And, the company will be tracking RFPs and RFIs to see if these numbers increase as well as the impact of social media on the broader conversation. The team is using Radian6 to look at naturally occurring conversation around ERP and the mid-market within the blogosphere, list serves, and social networks.
“We want to know,” says O’Toole, “how much of this conversation includes Infor and how we can increase natural mentions within conversations.”
When asked what other large companies like Infor can learn from the campaign, Alampi said, “You have to follow through. Our CEO, Jim Schaper, wanted to be bold and make a bold statement. As a marketer, you hear this often but once the C-suite sees what ‘bold’ looks like, ideas get watered down or campaigns canceled altogether.”
“Schaper wanted a bold campaign with a sense of humor,” continues Alampi, “and this gave PJA the freedom to develop ‘Big ERP.’ It’s different, it’s getting people’s attention, and people are responding to it. The campaign, which has yet to be launched in Europe and Asia Pacific, is already paying off. In fact, we’ve even received a couple of leads via Twitter, which was completely unexpected!”