Intel’s five-note jingle and distinctive “Intel Inside” logo helped make the computer chip-maker a household name thanks to its consumer-facing PC business, but Intel’s tech products and solutions don’t end there—the company is helping transform a swath of businesses and industries.
In April, Intel launched a global B2B marketing campaign with brand ambassador Jim Parsons and a new character called “The Future.” The campaign humanizes its cutting-edge technology shaping the future—including innovations in retail, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence—with humor, turning pain points into possibilities. (Tagline: “We know the future because we’re building it.”)
In our latest Q&A, Alyson Griffin, Intel’s Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications Business-to-Business Marketing Strategy, shares how Intel is building a brand within the business realm beyond PCs and consumers. It’s reaching new clients with fresh thinking about business transformation through automated lead nurturing and compelling content marketing to tell stories that stretch beyond the data center.
Alyson, what do you see as the major differences between building a brand in the B2B space versus the B2C space?
The things that you do might change, but it’s not dramatically different. It’s still about creating relevance, stickiness and love for the brand. It’s just a matter of who you’re understanding and targeting specifically. In B2C it’s much more broad and generic, but in B2B it is much more effective if you do very specific targeting.
Intel started looking at where the next big growth area was going to be. So as technology started being used more to help businesses and people be more productive, we knew that it was moving more towards the data center, because data is at the core of those changes.
Up until now, we weren’t primarily known as a brand in business. “Intel Inside” was probably one of the best brand campaigns of all time, but it’s a blessing and a curse for me as a B2B leader. We have such high recognition as a PC component, but that doesn’t help me on the B2B side. We realized we were being seen as mostly a consumer-facing company and needed to start marketing to the business audience.
Now we’re very targeted—reaching business decision-makers such as Network Administrators and placing content where they are on the web to give them valuable information wherever they are.
How has reaching out to business customers shaped your communications and the stories that you’re trying to tell?
We’re talking about Intel in a new way to a new audience. One of the things that have helped me as a marketer is that I have managed consumer marketing in the past. One of the big mistakes that B2B marketers make is thinking that they only talk to this audience as business people, and they only talk to them in standard business places.
What I found is that, first of all, they’re people too—so how do you find the hook and the fun stories or places to talk about the technology in interesting ways? Facebook has fantastic targeting. So I’m a business person and I’m on Facebook, and you can be very effective there in fun interesting ways that aren’t boring or overly technical stories about business.
For example, one of the coolest technology stories we’ve done recently is SnotBot (with Parley for the Oceans). There’s a group of marine biologists flying drones over humpback whale colonies. When the whales surface and blow water out of their blowholes, these bots catch their excretions—their snot—in sterilized cups to analyze them.
In the past, it would cost millions to get this kind of information. You needed to track the whales, chase them and harpoon them just to get one sample. Now you can get dozens of samples from hundreds of whales on one trip—the bot can even recognize each whale’s tail and figure out which it’s taking samples from specifically.
This is crucial because the health of the whales tells you the health of the ocean, the fish, the atmosphere, and humanity. So it’s a great story about Intel’s technology capabilities, and that it’s not just a chip in a PC—and it has general interest as well. These are the kinds of stories we want to tell.
Any new technologies you’re focusing on right now?
We’re doing automated (lead) nurturing, and we’re thinking through a customer journey based on each of the initiatives that we’re running: artificial intelligence, network transformation, cloud computing, for example. We’re thinking through what people need to know about it, what they need for awareness, and how we can move them down the funnel.
In B2B, and especially in the areas where we are in, the purchase cycle is long. People don’t change their entire data center on a whim. So we have to have that entire customer journey and narrative thought through. We have a whole very sophisticated and automated process to understand that flow and journey, and automate the messages we send accordingly.
How do you see customer expectations changing along with the B2B technology space?
Often, we don’t know what we don’t know, but no technology is going to come into existence that hasn’t been talked about or tested in an Intel lab a decade ago, because Intel’s technology is at the core of most new technologies. So part of what we do is helping our clients understand what they don’t even know is coming.
We’re enabling and helping businesses understand what to get ready for, what they may not know is coming down the pipe, and how to architect solutions that will best take advantage of not only this current set of technologies, but what’s coming next. So there’s there’s a lot of education in the role we play there. For AI or autonomous vehicles, we also have to play a role in advising on and answering policy questions.
There could be life-or-death decisions these machines are making, and we need to be at the forefront. We’re working with the best technologists in the world, both inside our own company and those of our partners, and together they’re creating a world that you and I can’t even imagine yet.
What other brands influence and inspire how you bring fresh thinking to Intel’s brand?
GE is an amazing company, and in so many different areas that the general public has no idea about, from wind turbines and jet propellers to the light bulbs you buy for your home. I’m fascinated by the companies who don’t have just one audience and one product. GE is already known for some of its products, but makes its money and is involved in so much more.
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