“Selling to tech buyers means convincing them of the total value of their purchase,” said Mike Dane, VP-marketing at Ricoh Americas. “Tech buyers, perhaps more than any other b-to-b category, are concerned about the investments they make and that the results match the promise.”
Ricoh is hoping to reinforce both promise and results with a new campaign launched in April. That campaign, “imagine.change,” aims to introduce the tech-buying public to a company that now goes beyond its roots in office imaging equipment and printers, and blends in the document management systems and services acquired through the 2008 acquisition of IKON Office Solutions, for $1.62 billion. The campaign includes PR, social media, TV spots and banner ads.
“This marks the final integration of these companies and the launch of a single brand in the U.S.,” Dane said. “We're a diverse company that has traditionally been known as a producer of output devices, but our brand is lagging. We're now taking steps forward to reflect what the company is now.”
The “imagine.change” campaign was created by brand consultancy Interbrand, New York, a unit of Omnicom Group, which worked with Tokyo parent company Ricoh Co.
In a sense, Ricoh is on a path similar to that blazed by IBM Corp., Oracle Corp. and other hardware-oriented tech companies that have expanded into consultative services and software, and which are working to recast their corporate brands as something better aligned with their contemporary offerings.
Ricoh's branding campaign also recognizes the evolving diversity of its target audiences, Dane said.
“Historically, we've focused on the IT purchasing organizations inside companies,” he said. “Today we have broader targets. We're still aiming at IT, but now [at] more CFOs and other C-suite executives looking for hidden cost-savings and opportunities, as well as individual users and department heads.”
Dane noted that much of the tech world has been product-led in the past, but that approach is rapidly changing.
“It's now about business issues, pain points and offering solutions contributing to true business value,” he said. “And it's not just about who we're talking to but also the way we're talking and engaging with prospects.”
Dane pointed in particular to the company's overtures to the healthcare industry. Ricoh's multifunctioning products—devices that print, scan and copy documents, and that when networked offer document management services as well—are particularly appropriate for hospital use. When the devices are tablet-enabled and connected to electronic medical records systems, nurses can input information that is tagged to particular patients' complete medical records.
Another recent Ricoh acquisition, Pentax cameras (acquired last year from Japanese company Hoya Corp.) allows health practitioners to take pictures of wounds and send the images via Wi-Fi directly into the same EMR system and attach them to a patient's records.
In addition to healthcare, Dane said, Ricoh is moving aggressively to get its message out to the legal and higher education professions.
With 2012 the company's 50th anniversary in the U.S., that message is being spread by social media, Dane said. The company is using YouTube to demonstrate company products in action, and it's using Twitter in support of live customer events.
“I'm not one to be concerned about the number of fans we have, but rather in engaging with our audiences and giving them the opportunity to talk to us,” Dane said, of social media marketing. “Sometimes they complain, which is OK. Social provides the opportunity to engage more readily and to address issues.”
Ricoh's “imagine.change” campaign also contains an internal communications plan to encourage employees to “embrace and engage” the IKON integration and understand how to represent it to customers. Dane said this component has gone well but that the rebranding to external audiences will take a while.
“It's a progression, not a big bang, in getting the message out there,” Dane said. “What I would consider success is when a rep walks in and the prospect already knows what Ricoh is.”