The Marketing Strategist:

How Social Media Brought the Humanity into HP Technology Services Marketing

February 22, 2012

At the beginning of 2010, Hewlett-Packard Technology Services (HP TS) was faced with unprecedented challenges to its traditional support services business. The economic downturn had caused its target market to reevaluate the traditional approach to outsourced support services. Customers were looking for lower-cost alternatives to traditional phone and in-person support—including a “no support” self-service approach. Given this shift, HP TS marketing wanted to understand how customers perceived the value of its support services. HP TS hoped to differentiate itself in the market by aligning its value proposition and messaging to the needs and wants of customers. In-depth research is the key to this kind of understanding. Using research, companies can truly understand customers and their shifting needs—and then apply the knowledge gleaned to create targeted marketing campaigns. Taking an Outside-In Approach HP TS conducted a wide range of internal and external research to learn what the market values. Some of the key steps taken were:
  • Global customer focus groups with enterprise IT professionals. HP TS conducted both face-to-face and online interviews with some of its most important IT customers (CIOs, vice presidents, and directors) to determine their wants and needs and, ultimately, to validate HP’s marketing concept and the strength and credibility of its message.
  • Interviews with the HP TS support business initiative team and key customer-facing organizational team leaders. These internal interviews provided insights on what frontline employees were hearing from customers—based on personal client experiences—and helped cultivate understanding of HP TS’s overall business objectives and challenges.
  • Research with analysts and industry influencers. Through research, HP developed a list of relevant analysts and influencers and contacted them to get their perspectives on customer support challenges and provider-branded support.
Bringing Humanity into the Mix HP TS worked with its creative agency to develop a single-minded idea around which to build an enhanced message and concept and to build the campaign. What that new idea boils down to is humanity. Customers value connecting with real people for their services and support, having a face and a name—and documented expertise to go with them. To differentiate itself from its competitors, HP TS put the focus on the individual people who provide technology services and support via its “Where’s the Humanity in your Technology” campaign. Though HP TS initially conducted the research around its support services, the Humanity campaign expanded to include its full services portfolio. Giving the Market What It Wants HP TS created a Meet the Experts microsite to give customers easy access to the names, faces, and descriptions that they wanted. Customers can read about experts from each of HP TS’s service areas and regions, with detailed profiles about their focus with HP, their background, and what they have to offer the customer. The experts even have videos linked to their profiles so they aren’t just static pictures on a webpage. To determine who should be featured on the microsite, HP TS launched an internal “Wall of Humanity” program. The program asked managers to nominate employees so they could showcase and recognize the top talent around the world. Those employees were then used to create the pool of experts featured on the microsite. All that remained was to figure out how to get people to view the Meet the Experts microsite. Blazing a Trail in Social Media Social media were being used broadly by its competitors, but HP TS had never before launched a campaign focused around social media. However, the only way the Humanity campaign could work was by creating fast and widespread awareness. With the marketing budget decreasing, social media were the best choice and were used in two primary ways to drive people to the microsite:
  • The HP Technology Services Experts Sweepstakes. Customers viewed videos of selected experts and were asked to vote for those experts who were best suited to help with their most challenging IT issues. Aligning to the Humanity message, each vote resulted in a $10 contribution, up to $100,000, to CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty.
  • HP TS’s Facebook IT Personality Quiz. This quiz asked customers about a typical workday and various IT challenges in order to determine their work style and match them to an IT personality. Customers were then driven to the Meet the Experts microsite so they could connect with TS experts with similar personalities and work styles.
Innovation Paying Off Putting social media at the core of its Humanity campaign brought many positive results for HP TS, including:
  • The HP Technology Services Experts Sweepstakes resulted in a USA Today blog post, which subsequently made the sweepstakes go viral within four days of launch. Enough votes were cast to max out the $100,000 CARE contribution in only nine days.
  • LinkedIn ads had more than 4.5 million impressions in five weeks, bringing a global audience to the Facebook quiz. The quiz received more than 10,000 tab views and helped increase the number of fans of the HP Enterprise Business Facebook page by 149%.
  • YouTube video views more than doubled quarter to quarter as a direct result of the experts’ videos on the sweepstakes page.
  • HP TS achieved its ultimate goal of driving traffic to the Meet the Experts microsite, bringing in more than 60,000 page views in only six weeks.
Research showed that customers place significant value on the ability to connect with real people when working with vendors for IT services and support. Shifting the focus from offerings to people, as HP TS did with its Meet the Experts microsite and Humanity campaign, is one way that companies can create that personal connection.

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