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CMO Close-Up with Dan Murphy

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In April, Dan Murphy was named VP-global marketing at Avaya Inc., a telecommunications company that greatly expanded its operations with the acquisition of Nortel Enterprise Solutions in December 2009. Murphy brought more than 25 years of marketing experience to Avaya, with prior marketing roles at Ricoh Corp., Pitney Bowes and IBM Corp. In the following interview, he discusses his marketing vision for Avaya and the brand challenges related to the Nortel acquisition. CMO Close-Up: What are your marketing goals for Avaya? Dan Murphy: For 2012—we're on a fiscal year that ends in September—I have four primary objectives. The objectives are building brand, so creating brand strategies for the new Avaya; driving effective demand-gen, so enabling the sales force with new leads and new ways to help move sales through the sales cycle and find and acquire new customers; effective corporate communications and messaging, and within that is all PR, corporate messaging, all of our launch messaging and field communications, and all the things that go into positioning the company and delivering clear and crisp messages; and the fourth one is really looking at the total marketing spend for all of Avaya and then enhancing the ROI that we get in terms of our spend. CMO Close-Up: What are the brand challenges for Avaya, particularly with your recent acquisition of Nortel and how you're positioning the company? Murphy: If you think about Avaya, it's a company with 19,000 employees in 54 countries, with 10,000 channel partners and 400,000 customers. These are all constituents that, from a brand perspective, it's going to mean different things to different people. It's all about making sure that we understand who we are as a company, what our key message is, how we're different from other players in the market and what someone can expect to get from our brand—because that's really where brand equity comes from. When you think about Avaya and its history, the acquisition of Nortel and the lack of a strong brand investment and commitment in the recent past, these all give us the opportunity to say, “Who do we want to be going forward; what is the new Ayava;, what do we stand for; and what is the brand equity we're trying to drive?” When you think about the company itself, there is some tremendous innovation the company has: 5,400 patents; we've introduced 50 brand-new products in the last 18 months; and there is so much energy in terms of looking at the collaboration space and how employees work in organizations and how we can help them more effectively share information through our technologies and services and solutions. When I look at the brand challenge, how do you bring all that together into messaging that is really easy to understand? That's what we've been working on. CMO Close-Up: What is your new brand positioning? Murphy: We are focused on rolling out our new tagline, which is “Avaya. The power of we.” We looked first at what is the new Avaya brand, and we're all about bringing people together at the right time with the right information using the right technology to make better decisions. Workers today in companies are road warriors. They're on the road; they're more mobile. They're using different technologies with different smartphones and different video systems; and they're always on in real time. Our position in the market is, we can help because we have open architecture. We can help companies use their existing infrastructure and upgrade to the technologies we provide to work seamlessly together, enabling people to work more efficiently in their organizations. So that's how we came up with the concept of “The power of we.” It's all about real-time collaboration, and that means getting the right people and the right information together quickly and easily so people can achieve the best possible outcome. Our technology helps employees in our customers' organizations do that. CMO Close-Up: Which media platforms will you use for the new campaign? Murphy: We're looking at very traditional media across print and TV, we're absolutely looking at increasing our investment in digital marketing and social marketing, and then we're looking at sponsorships and some other things to help increase brand awareness and recognition in the marketplace. We're also using some nontraditional strategies in marketing. A great example is the “Cake Boss,” (a reality show on TLC). (Carlo's Bakery, where the show is filmed) is a customer of ours, and we spent some time with them to help them look at their whole communications infrastructure challenges. As they grew their business and expanded and really became the success that we know them to be today, they had a lot of challenges with a small business becoming a medium business and having such a global presence. As we worked with them and helped create a solution for them, we became involved with (Carlo's Bakery owner) Buddy (Valastro) and his team. We created an episode with them and it just aired (on July 25). It was a lot of fun, and of course we'll use that to leverage in our marketing. CMO Close-Up: How are you using social media in your marketing? Murphy: I think we're doing a pretty good job in terms of using different elements of social media and incorporating them into our messaging. For example, Facebook and Twitter were going crazy with all the “Cake Boss” stuff because we were using those to help communicate our presence on that show. When we go to trade shows, we have people in the audience who are tweeting when our executives are presenting, and sending links to the videos of the executives who are speaking. So there are a lot of cool things we're doing that are not necessarily on the bleeding edge of social media but they are effective for a b-to-b company.
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