HP: Reinventing Marketing and Leadership

I recently attended the Brand Innovators Consumer Engagement event here in San Francisco and thought I’d write up some of the high-level takeaways. I first connected with Brand Innovators in 2014 at the Content Marketing Summit in Atlanta (my recap), and caught them again at SXSW last year featuring Mark Cuban. They always bring top-notch speakers and content so I do my best to get in the room whenever they’re in town.

This is part one in a three part series from the event. Next up:

Seeing as today is Equal Pay Day (thanks for the heads up, Salesforce!), I found it relevant to post about HP’s leadership program first.


HP’s Leadership Imperative

Presented by Alex Craddock, Global Head of Marketing, HP Personal Systems

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Alex is responsible for leading all aspects of global marketing for HP’s Personal Systems business, including HP computers, devices, and wearables. For those curious about the structure and hierarchy of the ~75 year old company, Alex explains how the business is split into two main sectors: 1) Printers, and, 2) Personal Systems. Moving on from corporate ideology to Alex’s belief that ideas and creativity are the currency of marketing, Alex shared the following formula as a reinvented marketing model:

E = i3 d e a

E = Emotional connection

Alex started off stating how an emotional connection is the single biggest driver of differentiation, thus becoming the biggest driver of revenue. Think rational benefits, not just superfluous. Your content should be anchored in the benefit of X product, bringing the value to life. Here’s an example, seen in HP’s Reinvent Romance ad featuring R2D2:

i (1) = insight

You should have a deep understanding of your consumer(s) and what they’re actively looking for in both products, and day-to-day life. Engagement and attention are by-products built from your understanding of your consumers. An example here, in HP’s Z2 Mini for CAD users video:

i (2) = innovation

Simply put — If you fail to adapt and change, you’ll be left behind. You must be able to take on (and beat) Apple at their own game. Check out this HP Spectre laptop ad unveiled at Cannes, where HP featured two brothers in a #ReinventGiving holiday season commercial:

i (3) = integration

To capture your consumers’ complete attention, you must fully understand their interests and daily activities. The more you know about your customers, the deeper you’ll be able to integrate messaging and accomplish paid and earned media beyond traditional marketing. Be creative, and talk to the people in your target market. Get in their heads using focus groups and interviews.

d = digital engagement

Alex explains how his teams are structured somewhat agnostically, and always customer-first. For example – HP’s traditional marketing teams are encouraged to learn social media marketing, and vice versa. Marketing as a whole must be catered to how people live their everyday lives, and focused around digital channels and digital-first campaigns. Each team will find its engagement sweet spot and have an understand for where the other teams are finding success, too.

e = experiences

Deliver a seamless experience with your marketing campaign. This experience should tie to the insight and understanding (above) you have of your consumers. However, the experience isn’t over after a single video. You should guide your buyers all the way from the awareness and consideration stages through to purchase. #Integrate

a = accountability

Create a consistent narrative that drives business value. Boom.


HP’s Reinvention of Leadership

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HP recently unrolled an internal Leadership Imperative, driven by Antonio Lucio, HP’s Global Chief Marketing & Communication Officer. In short, they’ve balanced their teams to better represent the communities they’re selling to by establishing a 12-month initiative putting women in 50% of their senior positions. Next, Antonio demanded that their five agencies increase women and minority members in senior creative/strategy roles, stating a disgust in their representation of society and people. (See article from Adweek in September 2016 where HP calls for agencies to improve leadership diversity within a year.)

Alex also highlighted the ANA #SeeHer campaigns that are working to eliminate bias against women from ads and media.

In reinventing leadership, HP defined three main pillars:

1) Perseverance

If at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again. Try again. 🎶

I get knocked down, and I get up again… you’re never gonna keep me down. 🎶

I think you get the point. 🙂

2) Purpose

Know who you are and begin to craft your personal legacy. Work on defining your purpose, but don’t be frustrated — it can take years of experience before you achieve your clarity. Practice experimentation and trial and error, not being afraid to close a book that’s not for you.

3) Community

Recognize that you fail and succeed together. Use your community to build perseverance.


A reinvented marketing model and shift in HP’s leadership strategies are powering their continued growth and competitive advantages, keeping the consumer at the core. This Keynote did not disappoint, however, for more you can follow Alex on Twitter @thealexcraddock and LinkedIn.

Special thanks to AT Kearney for hosting, and the Brand Innovators crew for having me out (Marc Sternberg, David Teicher, Brandon Gutman & co.). Part two coming soon.

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2 thoughts on “HP: Reinventing Marketing and Leadership

  1. Pingback: Airbnb: Content Strategy and Consumer Engagement | steffan pedersen

  2. Pingback: Google: Connecting with Emerging Generations | steffan pedersen

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