Recently ranked #20 on the Forbes list of most influential CMOs, Matt Preschern, EVP and chief marketing officer at HCL Technologies, understands the value of partnerships, customer experiences and engagement to build brands.
A global IT and engineering services organisation with 115 000 employees in 32 countries and generating $7 billion in revenue, HCL has entered into strategic partnerships with both Manchester United and the Volvo Ocean Race. This has substantially elevated the company’s visibility and seen them recently rated as the world’s fastest growing IT services brand by Brand Finance, a leading brand valuation firm.
As the IT services providers to the Volvo Ocean Race, HCL Technologies is providing the IT platforms and services required to run the Race, setting up command centres in twelve locations, and delivering experiences to three million race village visitors in 12 stop-over ports, and to millions of fans across the world.
Cape Town is the second stopover on the VOR and Preschern was in town to network and facilitate customer engagement.
Unlike other sports sponsors, HCL’s involvement is not just about “putting logos on jerseys” to leverage their brand, but more about their service offering as a “digital transformation partner”, says Preschern.
“Manchester United has 635 million fans across the globe. Chances are that less than 0.5% of those fans will ever have the opportunity to experience Man U at Old Trafford in person. Manchester United chose to use technology to bring a personalised experience of the game, the players, the history and culture to life to their fans of all ages across the globe,” he said.
Deeper fan and sponsor engagement
HCL is facilitating deeper fan and sponsor engagement through an enhanced immersive web presence and a global app servicing 200 countries across the globe.
The relationship with Manchester United allows HCL to offer unique experiences and opportunities to engage with their own customers and potential prospects. HCL has hosted several business advisory councils at Old Trafford and recently hosted a session for 25 key CIOs from the Asia-Pacific region with a keynote on leadership from Sir Alex Ferguson, football legend and former Manchester United manager. HCL also hosts Manchester United soccer schools and invites their clients to bring their children to enjoy a unique experience of meeting the players and a day of coaching by the Manchester United coaches.
Preschern says HCL’s partnerships with Manchester United and Volvo has allowed them to attract and engage people that they would not have had access to before.
According to Preschern the lines between between B2B and B2C marketing are becoming blurred and the two are moving closer to each other. “The buyer in a B2B context may be a CIO of a company and the transaction may be bigger, but from the marketing side it’s still an individual who has a personal life and who’s on social media, so B2B is still I2I (individual to individual) – you still need to have a profile of who your buyer is using structured and unstructured data and you still need to understand that person,” he says.
The role of AI
Looking at the future of AI and the impact for marketing, Preschern says most companies are now deploying some level of marketing automation such as CRM, content marketing and analytics.
“Companies are looking at how to achieve better targeting. Automation is about really understanding and profiling your buyer at a personal level and then targeting your customers with the right offers and the right information based on past interactions and where and how they buy,” he says.
The hottest and most challenging IT issues are now around security, privacy, digital transformation, automation and IoT (Internet of Things) and Preschern says in the last 18 months, the company has elevated these to board level and each has a designated business leader.
While the partnerships with Manchester United and Volvo Ocean Race have greatly elevated the HCL brand’s visibility, Preschern says the client engagement and business generation opportunities are substantial.
Preschern’s tip for South African marketers who are struggling with tighter budgets is not to start with the size of the budget, but to start with the idea of what you want to achieve.
“The one thing I’ve learned in my twenty plus years of working in this space when it comes to marketing budgets which has invariably always held true, is that if it’s important enough and potentially impactful enough, there’s always money to be found,” he says. “Even though marketing budgets are not increasing and companies are being asked to do more with less, you’ll find that if you have the right idea that you’re able to execute and it becomes a company priority, the budget will become available.”
Bettina Moss is an inspirational writer, motivational speaker, GlowCoach, intuitive counsellor, mentor and presenter in the field of personal growth and development. She founded GloWoman in 2010.