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BtoB Top Marketer: Judith Sim, Oracle

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If there ever was a marketing mantra in today's economic climate, it's to do more with less. In the case of enterprise software company Oracle Corp., the “less”—a continuously shrinking marketing budget—has indeed produced “more,” with savvy marketing moves producing dramatically faster sales cycles and higher average deal values. “Brand is important, which has helped us lately, but more important is the way enterprise software is sold,” Oracle CMO Judith Sim said. “It requires multiple touch points, in particular face to face. Customers won't do business with us unless there's a chance to interact and partner with Oracle.” The company is known primarily for its Oracle database software, but it also offers solutions in resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management. Sim's efficiencies can be linked partly to the rise of digital marketing. The company has introduced a social networking forum for users, and its news releases target customers as well as the media. All news releases are search engine-optimized, so certain keywords are likely to be picked up in industry-specific searches. They're also linked to online resources, such as videos and blogs written by Oracle in-house gurus and customers. “Social media has allowed us to extend our marketing model,” Sim said. “It makes a difference what your peers say on blogs and forums.” Oracle also has been making a huge push into corporate events, normally considered some of the most pricy forms of marketing. Over the past year the company has doubled the number of its face-to-face events to about 7,000 worldwide, encompassing everything from breakfast get-togethers to hotel-based training sessions and information exchanges. “We took a look and noticed that when we had an event within six months of closing a deal, the deal value was 38% higher and it closed 22% faster compared with when we didn't do an event in that sales cycle,” Sim said. The mandate from the executive suite: Increase events significantly and quickly. Sim has kept event costs low by using a template approach, with similar agendas and modest locales. Many confabs are held in Oracle offices. The various marketing approaches are paying off. For its fiscal year ended May 31, Oracle logged sales of $22.4 billion, a 25% increase from the previous fiscal year, while earnings jumped 29% to $5.5 billion. —Christopher Hosford
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