SAP's Maggie Chan Jones Discusses Event Strategy and New Campaign

Sapphire Now Event Brings 'Run Simple' Campaign to Life with Customer Stories

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Maggie Chan Jones, CMO at SAP, at the company's Sapphire Now event
Maggie Chan Jones, CMO at SAP, at the company's Sapphire Now event

Maggie Chan Jones was named CMO at software company SAP in November, succeeding former CMO Jonathan Becher, who took on the role of chief digital officer at SAP.

Since then, Ms. Jones has been busy preparing for Sapphire Now, the company's annual marketing event, taking place this week in Orlando, Fla., and developing the next phase of SAP's ad campaign "Run Simple."

In the following interview, Ms. Jones talks about SAP's event strategy, its new campaign and how it measures ROI.

Advertising Age: How important are events to SAP's marketing strategy?

Ms. Jones: Sapphire Now is our annual marketing event where we invite customers, partners and prospects from around the world to come to Orlando. There are really three things that we want to do. One is for our customers to hear from us on our latest strategy, our vision and how we bring our vision to life. Second, we want to hear from our customers and partners about how they are getting more from our software in their environments. Finally, our customers and partners want to connect with each other, and this is a great forum for them to do that.

This year, we have record-breaking attendance, with over 20,000 people in Orlando and over 150,000 people watching over our virtual platform.

Ad Age: How do you measure ROI on an event like this?

Ms. Jones: At SAP, we truly run SAP. From the performance perspective, every single day we can see the pipeline for our business and how many of those customers and partners are actually here at the location. At our meeting center, which is part of our show floor at Sapphire Now, we'll have over 5,000 meetings taking place. I have a "CMO dashboard," and I can track our pipeline, how many deals actually get closed, and how long it takes for a deal to get closed. When I look at the overall average of deals that come through marketing influence, we see a tremendous increase in the percentage of close rate and an acceleration of close rate when [prospects] come to Sapphire Now.

Ad Age: What's new this year at Sapphire Now?

Ms. Jones: Two weeks ago, we launched a global ad campaign, "Run Simple," celebrating [database software] HANA as the answer. Last year at the Sapphire Now event, our CEO Bill McDermott announced that "Run Simple" is what customers are asking us to help them on, and that has become our operating principle. With this campaign, we are really celebrating HANA as the answer, as the ultimate simplifier.

This year at the Sapphire Now event, we are showcasing different customers to show how these scenarios come to life because they have an in-memory real-time platform. For example, as part of the campaign we showcase the Port of Hamburg. They are the largest port in Germany, and they have to deal with 9 million containers in a year, and at the same time they are constrained by the infrastructure, because they can't really grow in size because of the land. Using our technology and our real-time platform HANA, it helped them increase their capacity by 178%. So in one of our ads we say, "How do you grow 178% without growing at all?" Those are the types of provocative questions we want people to start thinking about, and what is possible through technology.

Ad Age: Which media platforms are you using in the campaign?

Ms. Jones: We have a TV commercial that will launch next week in the U.S. We are also doing print, digital, social, mobile and airports around the world. At the end of the day, our technology is really about celebrating what our customers are able to do because of innovations and co-innovations we have with customers as well.

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