IBM: Ongoing innovation for 105 years

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Above the Clutter: Episode 7

From coffee grinders and clocks to barcodes and the first online flight reservation system, IBM has invented machines that change the way we do business throughout its long history. The inventions have spanned a spectrum of industries, demonstrating a versatility that CMO Jon Iwata says creates a bit of a conundrum.

“You can either say IBM hasn’t done the same thing in 105 years, or you can say we’ve done exactly the same thing for 105 years,” he says. “That’s what defines the brand: We keep our clients moving to the future. That’s the constant.”

Still, the brand doesn’t equal a product or category, and it isn’t anchored to something people can touch and feel. As a result, the brand’s value is tied to its mission and purpose: being the company that generates innovative answers that solve the world’s biggest business or enterprise problems.

That goal best ties to Watson, IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system that exemplifies the company’s relationship to its inventions: man and machine, not man versus machine. IBM exists to help and collaborate with its customers. Learn how the company broadcasts that message on this week’s episode of Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik.

Above the Clutter: Episode 6

Plastering the company name on a stadium gains community visibility, but that’s not the only tack CMO Jennifer Dominiquini wanted to take when rebranding global bank BBVA Compass. She instead empowered staff to “live the brand” by inviting them to go out into the community and commit “a random act of brightness” with $25 gift cards provided by BBVA. The directive built on the bank’s new tagline — “Banking on a Brighter Future” — and allowed employees to establish relationships beyond those within the bank’s four walls.

BBVA has continued to integrate itself within the community by partnering with local organizations to help rebuild homes in the area, which has stoked economic revitalization and supported small businesses, a sector of particular importance to the bank. There are 28 million small businesses in the United States, Dominiquini remind us, and they account for 54 percent of all sales nationwide.

Providing services to small businesses means BBVA works with clients who must plan for growth, observes Aimee Munsell with IBM Commerce, offering a tip for companies who themselves are considering ways to expand their business: “The way we look for ideal clients and prospects is the ambition they have around using customer experience as a differentiator.”

Hear what else Dominiquini and Munsell have to share on this week’s Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik.

Above the Clutter: Episode 5

With summer fast approaching, the travel and hospitality industries are gearing up for large crowds of tourists, daytrippers and holidaymakers. More than 220 million passengers are booked for air travel in the months of July and August alone, according to the New York Times.

To La Quinta CMO Julie Cary, that means just one thing: “In the hotel business, customer experience is everything.”

That focus on the customer signals the company’s recent shift — instead of seeing their guests’ experience from an operator’s perspective, La Quinta began looking at it from the customer’s viewpoint. That’s resulted in mobile initiatives that offer improved rewards, check-in and reservation experiences.

Those initiatives obviously required collaboration between La Quinta’s mobile and tech teams, but internal partnerships are key to a company’s success, “Mobile isn’t just owned by marketing,” Catrina Boisson of IBM says on this week’s episode of Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik.

Join Pete as he talks to Julie and, later, Catrina and Aimee Munsell — also of IBM —  about marketing strategies and work-life balance for executives juggling leadership and parenting.

Above the Clutter: Episode 4

The St. Louis Cardinals are a small-market team with big-time ticket sales. They’ve ranked in the top five of MLB clubs for home attendance for the last decade and increased revenue every year since 2010. Their recipe for success? “We focus on tickets all the time,” says Dan Farrell, CMO, on Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik.

That’s meant doing things a little differently, like allowing local high schools to hold baseball games at Busch Stadium during the season. Other ball clubs would shy away from sharing their field with youth leagues, “but it’s that kind of organizational tie where the grounds crew says, ‘Hey, it’s important to generate revenue. We’ll work a little extra to get that field back in shape after these high school kids,'” explains Farrell.

That collaboration boosts the Cardinals’ ticket sales, Krainik says, but it also builds brand equity by instilling enthusiasm and loyalty in a younger generation. It helps that the team is so savvy with its data and audience segmentation, says Aimee Munsell, director of marketing with IBM Commerce, who joins Krainik and Ferrell, on this week’s episode. Listen in as they discuss how the St. Louis Cardinals maintain champion-caliber marketing.

Above the Clutter: Episode 3
After remaining quiet for 40 years, luxury brand Steinway & Sons is ready to make some noise. Leading the charge is CMO Darren Marshall, who chats on “Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik” about the process of transforming an analog brand for the digital set.

“Bringing Steinway to life really started with the fundamental of ‘What is the brand?'” Marshall told Krainik. The company queried internal and external stakeholders, speaking to everyone from artists and retailers to shoppers and managers. The responses elevated a single value above all others: uncompromising expression, now the rallying cry that powers the company’s storytelling on

Krainik talks further with Marshall about the brand’s resurrection and learns how attention to detail is as important to Steinway’s storytelling as it is to artistic expression itself.

Above the Clutter: Episode 2

The Grammys were this year’s most-watched entertainment telecast — great for a once-a-year broadcast, but how does the iconic, global brand advertise itself the other 364 days? And how does the organization do this when there’s no tangible product to sell?

Easy, says The Grammys CMO Evan Greene. The not-for-profit ensures that it’s building and contributing to communities year-round through the various 501(c) (3) nonprofits it operates, Greene told host Pete Krainik in this week’s episode of “Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik.” It might bring an award winner to her former high school or distribute musical instruments to musicians devastated by disasters, as it did via MusiCares after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005.

Aimee Munsell, director of marketing at IBM Commerce, joins Krainik to point out how The Grammys “have these natural communities, whether it’s country music or around a particular singer or a particular cause that an artist is associated with.”

That’s allowed Greene to push for a different approach. Instead of the one-way conversation he says has characterized The Grammys in the past, it’s now an open, two-way exchange. That kind of leadership is what distinguishes marketing change-agents, says Catrina Boisson, with Customer Engagement Solutions at IBM.

Above the Clutter: Episode 1

Go to The Home Depot and you’ll find yourself in a vast building full of tall shelves featuring hundreds of widgets, gadgets and geegaws. It can be overwhelming for anyone just looking to buy a stud finder.

Look for it on the the company’s app, though, and you’ll find an interactive map that’ll lead you right to the product. You can also visit the store on a Saturday and sit in on a workshop designed for The Home Depot’s army of do-it-yourself homeowners, builders, artisans and customers. Both the workshops and the app exemplify the company’s vigorous emphasis on customer service.

Pete Krainik, founder of The CMO Club, chats with The Home Depot CMO Trish Mueller in “Above the Clutter With Pete Krainik” to learn about the company’s motivations. Along with executives from IBM, the two discuss solutions, tools and technologies that top marketers rely on to cut through the clutter of viral links, hyped-up posts and jargon that can distract the unfocused marketer.

“We spend so much time worrying about how to market what we’re doing that we don’t spend the time inside the building socializing and marketing the contribution we’re making and building respect,” says Mueller.

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