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EMC President: 7 Digital Marketing Success Factors

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At the intersection of products and marketing is where Jeremy Burton has found his dream job. An engineer by trade, Burton served EMC as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for three years before taking on his new role as President of Products and Marketing. With revenues of $23.2 billion in 2013 and 60,000 employees worldwide, EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service.

Jeremy Burton (Twitter: @jburton) - President, EMC

Burton believes that great messaging from technology companies comes from an innate understanding of the business and products and the application of the technology. "If you understand what's going on on the product side, you can understand the basis for your message to marketing and the sales team," says Burton, who has always made it a top priority to dedicate a portion of his time to learning and understanding the product set and engaging with key folks on the product side.

Burton shares his advice for how marketing leaders can rethink the way they approach marketing to deliver more robust marketing messages geared toward a digital world.

7 Digital Marketing Success Factors:

1. Go to market with one voice - Under Burton's direction, the EMC marketing organization has changed dramatically over the last several years, going from a business unit (BU) model where each BU was responsible for marketing, to a centralized marketing model. The consolidation of corporate marketing and field marketing has allowed EMC to have one, unified voice to the market verses many different messages. The business units still retain product marketing under the guidance of a divisional marketing president who facilitates agreements on key campaigns so that all the BUs, along with corporate marketing, can go out as one team to the market with a simplified the message for the customer. "In the past we optimized for every business unit, but now we optimize for EMC," says Burton who feels that key to making this change was helping the business units to understand the model and the rationale behind it. By focusing on getting quick wins and creating great global brand campaigns, Burton's team was able to prove their value and earn the right to make changes.

2. Create high quality content - Diminishing response rates coming from email mimic what happened with direct mail. Customers don't want to be spammed and will only read what's relevant. This has created a shift toward quality content. If companies don't produce content that adds value, then no one will listen to what they have to say. It's a cycle where marketing needs to earn the right to be listened to, which happens by providing quality content, which people will then want to follow, after which marketing needs to continue to earn that right.

Burton says the biggest challenge is getting people to change their mindset. He says that tactics will need to be very different. In order to deliver local quality content and knowledge, field marketing will need to move away from the old role of campaign execution and into the new role of knowing the nuances and trends in the local markets that they serve. Companies will end up making a greater investment in more content people and relying on social channels for free execution and delivery. "With 60% of buyers going online to make up their mind before ever talking to a sales person, we need to be online with quality content if we are going to be part of the decision," says Burton.

3. Start with great systems -With social, you have the tools available to measure everything from tracking engagement all the through to website interactions. As marketing is becoming less of an art and more of a science, marketers will need to have a good understanding of the technology behind the scenes. Creating the metrics needed to show the value of marketing starts with great systems. At EMC, Burton retooled all of the marketing systems and created a marketing science lab where they build propensity models to make their dollars go further. To better target marketing dollars for execution, marketers need to have dedicated analytics people or a data science team and a data set that is shared between marketing and sales.

4. Use storytelling to convey the brand promise - According to Burton, marketing's first and foremost job is storytelling. Thanks to YouTube and HDTV, using video as a vehicle to tell your company's story and to engage employees and customers has become an accessible and invaluable marketing tool. Burton has created EMC TV, which is staffed by kids out of school who are doing TV production quality work. "The ability to articulate our company value has made a big impact," says Burton.

On all levels, communication is key to driving digital business transformation. Product marketers need to know and follow their new set of key influencers - bloggers and communities. Corporate marketing needs to start producing "snackable" content to deliver the brand in an exciting way. Field marketing needs to get in tune with local markets and know the nuances and what the popular social media channels are for their country.

5. Communicate based on unique preferences - Burton believes that social media is the great equalizer. If you want to engage, interact and empower people in an organization, you need to communicate the way they want to. To manage the communications to 15,000 employees, memos, quarterly emails, webcasts, all hands meetings and PowerPoint are not going to cut it. People want regular, more immediate interactions. "The one-to-many model that social media brings is amazing," says Burton, who encourages organizations to look at what it can do for them. Social media can scale a message instantly and make you accessible. According to Burton, "Fighting this trend will be the death of any company. It will be the way to communicate in the future." Don't fight fashion, just do it.

6. Move aggressively toward developing online relationships - If Burton could have done anything differently it would be to have been more aggressive about moving his team from the traditional tradeshow and events to online and social. "No one has ever said we went too soon with this transition. There is so much opportunity in developing online relationships, yet most companies go the traditional route," says Burton.

7. Show value and quick wins by embracing SaaS solutions - According to Burton, the new conflict is no longer between the head of marketing and the head of sales, but between the CMO and CIO. Some CMOs are going with SaaS apps so that they can avoid dealing with IT. Burton notes that when CIOs work for the CFO they tend to focus more on business processes and efficiencies, rather than sales and marketing business enablement. If challenged by getting mindshare or support from IT, Burton suggest CMOs can apply thier OpEx dollars toward technology investments such as marketing automation systems. He found that after demonstrating some initial success, IT will start to see the value in marketing technology and be more proactively engaged to co-deliver future services.

Burton mentioned that he would love to see CIOs back at the executive table, instead of being pushed under the CFO and focused on back office functions. "With a big shift going on as businesses transform to a digital business model, every business will need to become a software company, giving IT a chance to assist the business and drive dramatic change in the enterprise."

You can watch the full interview with Jeremy Burton here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk - connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.