Beystehner drives UPS’ brand vision

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John Beystehner, senior VP- sales and marketing at United Parcel Service of America, has held numerous jobs in his 30 years at the shipping company.

In the late 1970s, he worked in the marketing department. "Marketing was new to UPS," Beystehner said. "We didn’t feel that it was needed before that. At that point, our marketing department was six people."

He later worked for UPS in aircraft acquisitions and was eventually named chief of operations for UPS’ airline. In 1997, Beystehner became head of UPS sales. Four years later, he became head of sales and marketing and now oversees about 6,000 people, a far cry from the tiny marketing department he joined two decades earlier.

Under Beystehner’s direction, UPS launched its "What Can Brown Do For You?" campaign last year, which positions the company as much more than a shipper. Last month, Beystehner sat down with BtoB to discuss the Brown campaign and getting sales and marketing to work together.

BtoB: At UPS, you oversee a sales and marketing department that is about as large as it comes. How do you manage to get the two sides to agree on overall direction?

Beystehner: We have a very distinct culture at UPS. One foundation of our culture is promotion from within. We like to rotate people into various jobs. It’s truly advantageous to have various experiences. It’s the best way to learn. Our existing sales people come from a variety of backgrounds within UPS; same thing for marketing. It’s extremely useful to have operations, sales or industrial engineering experience.

I do think there was an us-vs.-them mentality that used to exist [between marketing and sales]. We’ve been successful in trying to improve the overall atmosphere. Gary Mastro is responsible for our advertising, customer hospitality, NASCAR and product marketing. Gary’s background is in sales. Ted Gradolf is the worldwide sales manager; his previous job was as marketing manager. Those types of rotations tend to get people working together.

BtoB: The current wisdom is that marketing dollars should be spent on leads. Why is UPS a contrarian, currently spending hundreds of millions on a branding campaign and a rebranding featuring the redesign of the logo?

Beystehner: These are tough times for a major rebranding and to back it up with advertising. But at UPS we have a vision for where we are trying to go as a company, and it led us to the ad campaign. Also, it led to an overall rebranding effort earlier this year. It was time for us to do it. Once we started down the road, there wasn’t any turning back. Considering the size and scope of the program, we started six months in advance. Even the war in Iraq couldn’t affect the launch date. [UPS launched its new logo on March 25.]

BtoB: Brown isn’t the most exciting of colors. Were you worried at all about the reception of the Brown campaign?

Beystehner: Honestly, no. Prior to launching the Brown campaign, we tested other campaigns. I’ll say they fizzled as opposed to flopped. Seeing the tapes of the focus groups for the Brown campaign, there was no apprehension. I knew it was going to play with our most important constituencies.

We launched Brown in February 2002, and it has been our most successful campaign ever by a few measurements. In our research and tracking studies, it’s off the scale. When our research firm initially completed the data, they said they had to review it all, because they had never seen anything this high. From the business side and from the employee side, the reaction has been positive. On the personal side, my wife likes it.

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