The Marketing Strategist:
Vodafone’s Business Brand: Repositioning for Global Growth
When Vodafone’s enterprise business marketing team sat down several years ago to consider brand differentiation for the Group, the repositioning opportunity was clear. As one of the world’s most valuable brands, Vodafone could achieve its ambitions in enterprise, if the brand was seen as being more relevant and credible to business buyers. This called for a comprehensive B2B branding initiative and an overhaul of how it marketed to business customers, from large corporations to single-owner enterprises.
“The company realized it had to shift perception that it was mainly a tactical supplier of mobile services,” says Catherine Walker, Group Head of Digital & Marketing Operations. “Our challenge was to reposition ourselves as a strategic partner able to help business customers fully exploit the potential of communications to deliver sustainable competitive advantage.”
ITSMA’s new case study, Repositioning Vodafone: Simplifying the Story to Drive Global Growth, highlights the approach taken by Vodafone’s B2B marketers, the story they developed, the steps they took, and the results they have delivered to date.
This case study excerpt highlights the three key initiatives that guided their successful effort:
- Understand what customers need
- Build a marketing platform with consistency, creativity, and flexibility
- Implement an integrated, collaborative rollout
Understand what customers need
Any program had to apply across the company’s diverse markets, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia, and across businesses from multinationals to small office home office (SoHo) business people. So the first stage was to carry out a large piece of multi-country research that identified what kept business customers awake at night.
What emerged from the research was the idea of “readiness.”
“The research carried out by the marketing team demonstrated clearly that businesses operate today in an environment characterized by changes unprecedented in their speed and scale and how technology can help them,” Walker explains. “In tests, the concept of readiness clearly resonated with key decision makers. Based on this insight, the team came up with the idea of the Ready Business platform. This was designed to lift the conversation and go beyond talking about the latest Apple or Samsung phone.”
To support the new positioning, Vodafone’s marketing team used the research to develop a Business Readiness model which identifies the characteristics of a successful “Ready Business.”
Importantly, the concept aimed to give Vodafone permission to have a discussion about a business’s strategy and direction, demonstrating that the company could have these bigger conversations and was experienced in dealing with complex business challenges as a partner and advisor.
Build a marketing platform with consistency, creativity, and flexibility
The simple but powerful idea of the Ready Business messaging framework is that, to succeed in a world of rapid and unpredictable change, businesses need to use technology to become more customer centric, responsive, fast moving, and scalable. In other words, they have to become “Ready.”
This strong core message offers rich scope for marketing and sales activities across the board while allowing adaptation to local markets.
Underpinning the platform is an integrated content marketing framework based on a standard approach to encourage new customer conversations throughout the buyer journey. The emphasis is on aligning core trends across the business and developing consistent points of view on topics targeted at customers in businesses of all sizes.
Historically, the same brand guidelines had applied across Vodafone’s consumer and enterprise businesses. To enable customers to differentiate enterprise offerings and be distinctive in the market, Vodafone’s enterprise business now has a clearly defined brand which complements the consumer guidelines, created with the global brand team.
The guidelines cover every aspect of the marketing frameworks, assets, and insights, including:
- Ready Business Messaging frameworks
- Print, outdoor, and online advertising
- Content marketing across online and social media
- An online Readiness Index tool to engage prospective customers
- The blueprint for a physical demo center: The Ready Business Experience Center
- Email-based lead nurturing and direct marketing campaign frameworks
- Sales training and the development of sales tools
- Internal communication
The team worked jointly with the local markets so that the overall creative and design framework could work for them. Cooperation and collaboration from the start was essential. By working with the markets throughout the development process and providing centrally-created insights, assets, and toolkits along with clear expectations of how they should be used, Vodafone’s central marketers were able to get the markets engaged and excited and achieved rollout.
Implement an integrated, collaborative rollout
The campaign was first rolled out in 2014 to 20 markets in 12 countries with a wide array of marketing tools, from high-level advertising through to digital, social media, and sales training.
The rollout’s success derived from several critical factors.
- Local input. The global enterprise and brand teams brought in a number of local marketers at the start to join a working group to understand their individual challenges and priorities. Giving them the opportunity to have a definitive impact on the final program meant they were fully supportive when it came to rollout.
- Guidelines and toolkits. The central team has developed several comprehensive toolkits for local teams as the basis of the integrated marketing program. The kits are designed to help directly with overall messaging and creative design while also providing best practice guidance, campaign templates, and content assets to support ongoing marketing and sales activities.
- Sales alignment. A major success factor has been getting the sales force to embrace the new platform. From the beginning, the team worked to create a comprehensive sales enablement program that both explains the concept of a Ready Business and shows salespeople how to use it with customers to generate leads.
The commitment to the more strategic, content-led approach has paid off significantly in terms of brand awareness and consideration. For example:
- Ready Business is live in 20 markets
- Spontaneous awareness has improved in 11 markets
- Brand consideration increased in 12 markets
- Dramatically improved audience engagement and lead generation
For the complete ITSMA Case Study, see Repositioning Vodafone: Simplifying the Story to Drive Global Growth. This document is available at no charge to ITSMA members (password required) and for sale to everyone else.