"Our top priority this year was to drive pipeline for our sales and channels," Forsythe said. "We tend to be very sophisticated and analytical in our approach. Because we have a single view of the customer across the organization, it is easy for us to understand where we are in the overall customer relationship and where we are in the buying process."
Forsythe oversees global brand management, advertising, partner marketing, demand generation and analytics at Oracle. Beginning about three years ago, he helped lead a reengineering of the marketing organization to help generate more revenue.
"We rolled out a business planning process on the global level, aligning sales, channel, marketing and development around key business initiatives," he said.
Under the new structure, teams from each of these areas develop and execute marketing strategies around common business goals. The change, combined with Oracle's greater visibility into the customer relationship cycle through the use of proprietary software, has helped dramatically improve marketing ROI, Forsythe said.
For fiscal year 2006, which ended on May 31, marketing's influence on the pipeline was up 150% to 160% over fiscal year 2005, Forsythe said.
For fiscal year 2006, Oracle's total revenue reached $14.4 billion, up 22% over fiscal year 2005. Net income was $3.4 billion, up 17%.
Another key priority this year was using Oracle's marketing dashboard to optimize the marketing mix, Forsythe said. "The dashboard enables us to look at every investment globally and understand how that program is operating across sales and marketing," he said.
Oracle has made some significant shifts in media, including a move away from traditional banner advertising to increased use of targeted online media, including webcasts, webinars, blogs, podcasts and online video.
The company also is using more traditional print advertising. "Industry media can be phenomenally successful in some product offerings," Forsythe said.
Oracle did not launch any major brand campaigns this year; rather, it kept its focus on communicating its key differentiation from competitors.
"Our strategy in advertising, and with all of our messaging, is not to shout the loudest, but to point out the key points of differentiation," Forsythe said.
For example, a print campaign launched this year targets competitor SAP, citing what it calls SAP's "expensive upgrades," and offers SAP R/3 customers a special deal if they switch to Oracle. —K.M.