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Rigler streamlines EDS global marketing group

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Gail Rigler, corporate VP-global marketing for Electronic Data Systems Corp., is approaching her 23rd year with the $22 billion business services outsourcing giant. But there are so many new aspects of her work—and of the company she works for—that she sees no chance she’ll become bored any time soon.

Formerly VP-marketing and strategic planning for the communications industry group within EDS, Rigler now orchestrates marketing efforts across the entire company.

Plano, Texas-based EDS is going through a significant "transformation plan," initiated by its new Chairman-CEO Mike Jordan, in order to trim costs and to compete more effectively in the data and business intelligence services arena. As part of this corporate plan, the marketing department has effected a significant transformation of its own, led by Rigler and her team. The goal? To streamline and better integrate EDS’ marketing function globally. Rigler recently discussed these moves with BtoB.

BtoB: You became corporate VP-global marketing in January. What has changed at EDS since you took the post?

Rigler: We’re going through changes as a company. The whole technology marketplace has been going through changes. One of the biggest parts of the transformation was the restructuring of the company to have a much more streamlined focus. We just moved to the new structure in the last several months. Several key execs are yet to be named.

BtoB: How has the marketing approach changed?

Rigler: Things like global marketing are support organizations that report right to the CEO. That is a shift from the marketing approach before the transformation. Also, last year it was a much more decentralized function vs. a much more integrated function now.

We have 11 regional marketing organizations in the Americas, Europe and Asia. We’ve got portfolio marketing, where we support how we bring [products] to market—and effectively gain understanding in the market—across our four [business] areas. And we recently added industry marketing, [which is] focused on gaining thought leadership and visibility.

BtoB: How do you convey a marketing message to potential clients and give them a good understanding of the breadth of services you provide?

Rigler: We’re developing "portfolio playbooks" to look at different markets, our solutions, the way we can best differentiate ourselves and how those solutions fit into what is needed by the industry segments. We created a tool for global calendars so that regions aren’t surprised an activity is going on in their region because an industry group decided to do it.

We’re launching something with the working title "Global Media Mall." It’s one-stop shopping for any presentations, white papers, video presentations, other collateral, CD-ROMs, industry fact sheets and solutions. Every tool we look at has to be productivity-enhancing and targeted to our salespeople.

BtoB: What is your marketing plan for 2004?

Rigler: We will move away from broad-based generic advertising and broad-based marketing to very targeted programs to our existing and prospective client base. I can’t speak to the advertising piece, but as far as marketing, it would be direct marketing programs, events, roundtables, sponsorship activities and client events.

BtoB: How will you prepare and execute those programs, given the new centralized organization?

Rigler: It’s a massive process. We started with a two-day meeting [in October], bringing in business executives from different areas, [assigning] a few hundred pages of pre-reading for the team on analysis that had been done. What the team will get back is key global marketing objectives and initiatives and key areas of focus.

There are 20 separate budgets. Based on people knowing their budgets and objectives, they’ll come back and present their plan. The industry groups need to know what the portfolio group wants to do, and the regional groups need to know: "Will they take this solution in this industry into my area?" We’re able to do that because we’re all integrated. That’s a process we’ll finalize before we go into 2004.

BtoB: How do you measure the success of your marketing efforts?

Rigler: Our metrics are not just the marketing process metrics like: How many mentions did we get? How many leads have we generated? What was the percentage of target audience we hit? Even if we’re tremendously successful with those, we still need to be tied to the metrics the business uses, such as revenue and sales and margins.

BtoB: Would you say EDS is more focused on retaining customers than on acquiring new ones?

Rigler: It’s sort of like the chicken and the egg. You need to be focused on both. Marketing is going to have different priorities based on the priorities of the business group we’re supporting, but we have a bigger focus on our existing client base. Your people need to understand what you’re trying to sell; customers need to understand what you have to offer them. The better we can do that, the more successful we’ll be.

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