Company: Avaya Inc.
Years in current job: less than 1
Quote: "Once you have someone who has begun a conversation with you [in social media], you are at the beginning of the awareness trail, on the way to consideration and, eventually, purchase."
In early 2006, Paul Dunay, then global director-integrated marketing at consultancy BearingPoint, started a blog called Buzz Marketing for Technology. This February, in the depths of the most severe recession in decades, Dunay got a new job as global managing director-services and social marketing at Avaya Inc.—and signed a book deal. "Facebook Marketing for Dummies" from Wiley Publishing is set to debut next month.
Dunay calls the blog he created more than three years ago "the single most important thing I've done professionally so far in my entire career."
The importance of the blog was not in its content, per se, but in the way Dunay used it to showcase his expertise in viral marketing and social media for technology companies. At Avaya, he is using a similar approach on a much larger scale to position the company's people as thought leaders in communications technologies rather than experts in telecommunications products.
In fact, Dunay was recruited by former BearingPoint colleagues who had moved to Avaya earlier and were given the job of leading the company from a product manufacturing mindset to a managed services orientation.
When he joined Avaya, Dunay was not inclined to clean house. "I wanted to keep the team as it was, but one of the things I saw very quickly was that everyone was doing everything. To be able to scale, they needed a marketing infrastructure, so I set up a grouping of shared services," he said. "I added rock-star writing resources, best-of-breed research resources and great interactive resources so that they could become conductors instead of doers who had to knock out each deliverable."
Dunay is also challenging the traditional definition of marketing. "Instead of interrupting people and trying to force them to our events or burning our e-mail lists to get people to come to our webinars, we're packaging great, innovative ideas in a social way and spreading them around the Internet to attract people," he said. To execute on this goal, his team is creating "more social content and social objects that can be shared."
For example, Avaya held a small, high-level event on the topic of SIP, a protocol for voice, text and other multimedia sessions over the Internet. Presenters included a research analyst and some Avaya clients who shared how they used the technology in real-life business applications. A four-hour roundtable discussion followed the presentations.
Out of the event came a premium research paper based on the business cases, four blog posts about interesting things the team heard, six videos produced from interviews filmed on site and a traditional white paper. "So instead of creating a fact sheet or a piece of collateral on this new technology, I've got people working together, talking about it and sharing information," Dunay said.
Dunay and his team also monitor social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to find conversations about Avaya, its competitors and communications technologies. This generates inquiries that might turn into sales leads and, in at least one case, actual sales. "Someone on Twitter said they were interested in two technologies, Avaya and another one. Naturally, we immediately engaged with the person and closed that deal within 13 days," Dunay said.