What Lenovo has done to keep generating leads in a pandemic

B2B brand leader's CMO talks through the content and technology innovation helping it cut through to prospective customers

Despite the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent clampdown on conferences and seminars, lead generation still needs to come from somewhere.

Much of that effort has been directed online, which has led to massive growth in content and webinars. But as many brands have quickly learned, they have not been alone in going digital, and find their messages drowning in a sea of content. So for B2B brands with long sales processes and complex buyer considerations, gaining and holding a prospect’s attention online is increasingly difficult.

This is the situation faced by Sachin Bhatia, the Singapore-based chief marketing officer of Lenovo Data Center Group for Asia-Pacific. As a company that sells high-end computer infrastructure to large organisations, Lenovo DCG found itself needing to strengthen its connection to would-be customers, and especially those planning to step up their investments in infrastructure to support ongoing digital transformation initiatives.

Bhatia’s challenge was to find a way to replace traditional face-to-face events without being lost in the rapid rise in produced by competitors.

“If you look at the last six months, the audience is consuming a lot more serious content, and a lot more negative content, because of COVID,” Bhatia tells CMO. “The attention span in the digital space is dropping from minutes to seconds. And if you consume that content, are you excited to share with your peers?

“What comes to mind is humour and infotainment. So we thought it was a good time to have innovative content that helps audiences understand the message and entertains them at the same time.”

That thinking led to Tech Tonic, a series of comic strips using humour to engage the audience. These chalked up 4000 subscribers from IT decision makers in less than two weeks after launch.

“It talks about our software-defined and hybrid cloud offerings, but in a very, very humorous and entertaining style,” Bhatia says. “In a very short period of time, we had more than 4000 subscribers for this content. That really opened up our thinking.

“It has a smart witty humour, it has truly resonated with the audience, and represents the office scenario and their typical challenges and how they are coming out as a winner.”

Bhatia and his team also worked with other Lenovo DCG executives to ensure they were able to promote content more effectively through social channels, primarily via LinkedIn and Twitter. But Bhatia says even Facebook has proven effective in reaching some desired audiences – especially when the content conveys a more humorous or informational tone.

“The audience is opening up and consuming content in Facebook,” he says. “What works in LinkedIn doesn’t mean it will work the same way in Facebook, so adaptation is key.”

Another initiative has been creating the Lenovo C-Suite Chat Show, which kicked off with its first webcast on 9 June and included a range of speakers from outside the traditional expectations of an enterprise computing audience. This included a session featuring video blogger, Nuseir ‘Nas’ Yassin, who broadcasts as Nas Dailey and has 17.3 million followers on Facebook.

“He has a point of view on every aspect of what is happening around in the industry, and he was very interested to chat with us,” Bhatia says.

Other guests included Dr. Ngiam Kee Yuan, the chief information officer for the National University Health System of Singapore, and Lee Pickering, the director of technology services at Brisbane Boys School. Bhatia says that first broadcast had more than 2200 attendees and generated more than 500 qualified leads who are requesting workshops on Lenovo’s technology solutions.

The company has also revamped its partner portal to provide a greater range of assets for partners to launch their own campaigns using Lenovo DCG assets.

Martech backbone

Bhatia says much of the company’s efforts now will be supported by the recent completion of a martech transformation, which saw technology from Marketo, Anaplan, Domo and others integrated go live in August.

“It originally was to go live in November, but with COVID coming in we decided to speed up things,” Bhatia says.

Having brought the new stack online early, Bhatia says he has been grateful Lenovo DCG had worked to tear down the siloes that often existing in marketing functions.

“You need to include all your stakeholders – your sellers, your product managers, your talent team – and look at comprehensive strategy in transforming,” Bhatia says. “Define the business object at the very start, and be very clear of the final outcome to help you achieve your marketing and business objective.

“And have a realistic time frame, because marketing transformation requires a lot of IT collaboration and a lot of things can pop up for you which you don’t anticipate. So you need to buffer some time and have a realistic timeline. So when COVID happened we used that buffer up.”

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