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CMO50 2016 #23: Nick Reynolds

  • Name Nick Reynolds
  • Title Chief marketing officer, Asia-Pacific
  • Company Lenovo
  • Commenced role August 2014
  • Reporting Line President, Asia-Pacific
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 75 staff
  • Industry Sector IT and telecommunications
  • 2015 ranking 24
  • Related

    Brand Post

    There are 3 million commercial IT professionals in Asia-Pacific making or influencing buying decisions, according to Lenovo’s Asia-Pacific marketing leader, Nick Reynolds.

    “We analysed segments and identified a slightly younger group, much more active on social media than the average in IT, that were directly responsible for 22 per cent market share, and that recommend IT products eight times over the average,” he explains in his CMO50 submission. “We named this group ‘IT progressives’ because they are the most influential in the workplace and openly enthusiastic about adopting new technology.”

    Knowing more than 50 per cent of IT purchasing decisions today are made before an individual picks up the phone to talk to the vendor’s sales team, it was clear marketing needed to reach these potential clients much earlier in the selling process and deliver the right content at the right time.

    To do this, Lenovo is working to influence decision making increasingly through thought leadership content, delivered through targeted portals. Today, the brand has more than 40,000 SMB decision-makers visiting its websites in A/NZ. By analysing visitors, the team can nurture relationships via traditional marketing and new media, positioning Lenovo as brand option for them, Reynold says.

    This data-driven approach has led to 86 per cent of IT progressives engaging with Lenovo on social and 67 per cent considering its products as a brand choice. In turn, this has increased the average B2B lead value of Lenovo’s sales pipeline by 63 per cent, seen sales worth more than $1 million rise by 117 per cent, and increased sales conversion rates by 20 per cent, all while taking 38 per cent less activity.

    Most importantly, this ‘nurture engine’ has shortened timeframes for new customer acquisitions by 34 per cent, Reynolds says, while upping levels of retention measure by repurchase rate and higher average spends. The content portal approach has since been extended from Australia into 16markets.

    Not surprising then, that the key metric Reynolds uses to demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing with the c-suite is Lenovo brand consideration and customer engagement. Or that his proudest moment in the last 12 months was becoming third on the list of PR share of voice for tech hardware brands in Asia-Pacific.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    Reynolds says strong brands must be more than just great marketing. “They must deliver on the marketing promises they make: Be easy to buy, be simple to set up and use, exceed customers’ expectations, be supported through the lifecycle, and deliver a customer experience that aligns with the brand promise,” he states in his submission.

    “It’s my job at Lenovo to evolve the Lenovo brand and navigate this journey for our commercial and consumer brands, across PCs, tablets, smartphones and smartwatches, data centre infrastructure and smart connected devices. This means building upon global brand values while remaining relevant to individual countries, creating marketing mechanisms built on customer experience that support product and brand in market, and creating propositions and products that people can actually buy and use.”

    In the last three years, Lenovo has created a new consumer product category with its YOGA ‘multi-mode’ convertible laptops. In 2015, this multi-mode category grew 110 per cent and in Asia-Pacific Lenovo continues to lead the market with 46 per cent category market share.

    “Our job is less to persuade customers to buy products, more to explain the benefits to their lives,” Reynolds continues.

    Marketing is doing just this to support the YOGA range through Lenovo’s social influencer program in Australia. Two years in the running, it now boasts of 120 engaged influencer participants, all engaged with earned media activations. The brand works with lifestyle influencers in a range of segments from fashion, music and design to integrate Lenovo product into their lives.

    Using data-based decision making to identify up-and-coming social influencers has been a backbone of the successful growth of the Yoga brand, Reynolds says. The brand’s combined influencer following is more than 17 million, while unique earned posts are up 300 per cent year-on-year. Engagements have exceeded 1.2 million and reach is up over 141 million.

    “We live in a constant state of readiness to be able to pivot if a customer experience with a competitors become tainted,” Reynolds comments. “Having social and digital data makes that a faster process that is again more accountable. Our product design creates new categories whenever possible.”

    Empowered business thinking

    Employee advocacy is a another powerful tool helping amplify influence, reach and brand awareness. Two years ago, Reynolds says Lenovo moved to become a digital and social company and shifted more than 60 per cent of its spend in Asia-Pacific into these media.

    This also meant becoming a socially adept company. To do this, his team has expanded the Lenovo Social Champions’ program from A/NZ to the entire Asia-Pacific region to include senior managers and leaders as social influencers. This approach is supported with content analysis and creation and KPIs.

    “We have made it simple and easy for employees by deploying tools such as VoiceStorm to allow simple content sharing and which overcomes any reticence to start on social media,” Reynolds says. “Our target is for 25 per cent of Asia-Pacific employees to be live on the social web and online with original content; we are well on the way with over 15 per cent already doing so.”

    The other important focus in the social and digital space is a social selling program linked to LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This aims to teach the commercial sales and marketing teams to use social media to drive sales through engaged relationships and online discussions, with business partners, influencers, customers and prospects, Reynolds explains.

    To date, this program has launched in Australia and it’s now being expand into the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Lenovo’s LinkedIn Social Selling Index had an average score of 21 when it started in 2015; today it’s 55.

    “We’ve seen those sales reps most active in social selling consistently hitting their revenue and margin KPIs. Social media is improving sales at Lenovo,” Reynolds says.

    Fostering team capability

    According to Reynolds, you can only scale marketing by allowing individual team members to be their best. And this requires empowerment.

    One way he’s overcoming the unique challenges of a regional market and regional cultural differences is by adopting global Lenovo campaigns as areas of focused marketing spend, with regional Asia-Pacific overlays.

    An example was when Lenovo took its YOGA campaign to consumers in India. Using a platform called #GoodWeird, it actively engaged during the peak sales period leading up to the Diwali festival season. The local team took global assets and created content with a unique Indian flavour that remained true to the global campaign.

    “We have aggressive targets in the region, so I need to listen to great ideas from the teams around the region, and allow the courage of their convictions to carry these programs into the market,” Reynolds says.

    Another example is the social influencer program, which was originally brought to Reynolds two years ago. At that time, Lenovo’s share in the ANZ consumer space was close to 0 per cent. Making the decision to go social, the vendor appointed agency, Digivizer, to deliver the insights needed to be certain that this internal recommendation made good business sense and that Lenovo had the data to prove that the concept would work.

    Two years on, with 107 influencers reaching an audience of 141 million, publishing over 9000 earned posts, with engagement over 1.4 million, and market share of 25 per cent in desktops, 20 per cent in notebooks and 9 per cent in tablets, it’s clear the strategy worked, Reynolds says.

    Demonstrating agility

    Being digital and social first lets Lenovo be more customer-centric than many of its competitors, as well as be more agile and successful, Reynolds says. An example he points to was when competitor, Toshiba, announced its intention to withdraw from the consumer laptop market in April 2016.

    “We turned on aggressive ‘switch’ Internet searches and social alerts and paid advertising triggers within hours, to serve relevant content to consumers searching for the Toshiba name in the consumer laptop context,” Reynolds says. “Lenovo won a 2 per cent market share gain across Asia-Pacific [excluding Japan] and Toshiba suffered a corresponding loss of 6 per cent. Speed mattered and when reputations are disrupted by company strategy changes, you can take advantage.”

    Creativity

    According to Reynolds, creativity is much more to do with new ways of thinking. One example he highlights is the mobile-only campaign for the Lenovo Phab Plus smartphone in India, which ran in partnership with content creator, InMobi. The objective was to drive interest for Phab Plus among buyers and to take them directly to the product purchase page on Amazon.

    Reynolds says the marketing team learned a number of lessons, the first being that mobile provides superb targeting capabilities, such as geo, device, consumption type, and sharpens the ability to draw defined customer personas. Mobile also provides extremely rich and immersive opportunities. The outcome was a clickthrough rate more than 50 per cent ahead of target.

    “We’ve also partnered with Google DoubleClick to create more efficiencies for the entire marketing team across the region,” Reynold says. “Buying programmatic media directly has delivered improvements in efficiency of up to 30 per cent, removed the agency middle man and upskilled the team's knowledge in-house. This may not be considered ‘creativity’ in the traditional marketing sense, but is creative in keeping marketers in Lenovo nimble.”

    In the case of Lenovo’s social influencer program in Australia, Reynold says it took its partnership with fashion design icon, Toni Maticevski at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in 2015, to a new level in 2016 by engaging influencer, Dan Moore, to do the

    first commercial live Periscope broadcast from Maticevski’s opening show with cameras held by the models on the runway. Organic reach from Twitter alone was over 26,000 on the day.

    “In my view, there is never any ‘best’ point - every successful program, engagement or growth point acts as a foundation for the next steps we always make,” Reynolds adds. “‘Better’ pushes us to continue to do more and improve and reflect our company’s ethos - in our products, marketing, employee engagement and engagement with our customers. It’s a personal mantra, and one I’m proud to share with my team across the region.”

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