Years in current job: 10
Quote: “The distinction between b-to-b companies and b-to-c companies is artificial. At the end of the day, it is all about business-to-people.”
Enterprise software company SAP early this year made a top management change that set the tone for a new corporate vision and marketing strategy, said Marty Homlish, who has served as
global CMO at SAP for 10 years.
“This was an opportunity to ensure that the marketing strategy truly reflected the transformation strategy and vision of our two new CEOs,” Homlish said, pointing to the announcement in February that Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe had been named co-CEOs, succeeding Léo Apotheker, who resigned.
“The first opportunity for that was Sapphire Now [SAP’s annual customer event], which gave us the opportunity to showcase the depth and breadth of the experience and insight of Jim and Bill, with Bill in Orlando and Jim in Frankfurt,” he said. “We were able to deliver a more exciting experience around the transformation of Sapphire Now.”
Homlish oversaw the event, which combined a virtual platform with a live event taking place simultaneously in Orlando and Frankfurt. The event attracted about 20,000 physical attendees and 30,000 virtual ones.
SAP used interactive technologies to let attendees create their own agendas, download and stream content, interact with speakers, and share ideas with SAP and each other.
“One objective of Sapphire Now was to leverage the power of social media. It really helped me as a marketer wave the flag inside the organization and help people understand the power of social media,” Homlish said. He added that, on the second day of the conference, “Sapphire Now” was the fourth-most tweeted phrase in the U.S.
“The single most important thing is to leverage the power and insight of the content coming out of social media,” he added. “Social media gives us a very strong opportunity to listen to multiple audiences, to listen to conversations about our products and services and to help us communicate and market better to our audiences.”
He said SAP took learning from customer feedback at Sapphire Now and various social media channels—Twitter and Facebook, blogs and online communities—to inform its product development as well as its marketing efforts this year. Part of that learning culminated in the launch this month of a new brand campaign, called “Run Better,” developed by Ogilvy & Mather New York.
The campaign includes TV, print, online and mobile, and shows how SAP helps its customers improve their businesses. The ads feature SAP customers such as BlackBerry (Research in Motion), Harley-Davidson, NEC, Sharp and Speedo, with headlines such as “Run Sharper,” “Run Cooler” and “Run Brainier.”
“The ads reflect the leadership style and transformation of the company, and the personality of the company—being much more approachable and open,” Homlish said. “They show the depth and breadth of what we do as a company to help our customers become best-run businesses.” (The campaign budget was undisclosed.)
Homlish said he is now focused on helping McDermott and Snabe achieve their goal of reaching 1 billion people with SAP products and services by 2015. “We need to standardize processes, use mobile devices and create a volume machine to reach 1 billion people with SAP solutions,” he said. —K.M.