I love my new job, and I love my new title. I am the "chief storyteller" for SAP. My official title is senior vice president marketing, customer central, SAP, "chief storyteller," but the chief storyteller part is what I find the most fun. I can't take credit for the name, as that was given to me by one of our co-CEOs. But the point in his mind, I think, was that B2B companies have great stories to tell, especially SAP. In this digital age where information is overwhelming, breaking through the clutter and differentiating are essential and often overly complicated with the latest social, viral, or digital gadget. And what better way to do it than to simply tell the stories of how a company, in this case SAP, helps its customers, and how its customers help the business run better and improve people's lives?
Lest this article start to sound too much like a sales pitch for SAP, let me share with you more about the journey, the challenges, and even a few tips (some borrowed), for making a difference in a new company, a new industry, and a new position.
First, my background is based in marketing for largely B2C companies -- big B2C companies. However, the last five years of my career, I was the founder of my own company where I served as a marketing strategy consultant to 50-plus clients, many of which were B2B. That experience served me well in that I was able to not only grow my network and make a living, but I was able to work in industries, departments, and companies that were as small as start-ups and as large as Fortune 50 companies. This provided me with tools and knowledge that I hope will serve me well as I work to craft a new organization inside of the larger marketing organization at SAP -- sort of like a start-up in the middle of a well-established organization.
The team I lead is called customer central, and we have been established, or have begun getting ourselves established, since January of this year when I started with the company. Our job is to help to humanize the SAP brand by sharing some of the amazing stories that our customers tell us about how our technology helps them run better and helps their customers live better lives. Using my B2C background to tell stories in a humanistic fashion, and to share these stories in and outside of the company to change perceptions, generate interest, and of course help sell technology, are the key objectives. The company itself is full of bright people who are passionate and very entrepreneurial so, culturally speaking, I feel right at home.
Still, I have been dubbed a change agent for most of my career, and while I resisted the moniker for a long time, I now know that there is value in that notion, but it comes with baggage as well. For clarity, Barron's business dictionary defines a "change agent" as "a person whose presence or thought processes cause a change from the traditional way of handling or thinking about a problem." The department and role for which I was hired fit that bill pretty well. Humanizing the brand through storytelling is not the traditional method or process that most companies employ. And if one really thinks about it, advertising and other forms of marketing are just stories of a different color, right?
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Great write up Julie. The agencies I worked at over the past two decades did tons of work for smaller ERP cos but never had a chance to work on a brand as rich with story as SAP. That is a fun opp for you and nice to hear your thoughts applied to the space. I recall at an award show once a rep from a major consumer mag group said to me of our really strong story driven work in B2B tech, "you guys do such great TRADE advertising." Trade advertising?! Arghhh. How annoying a comment that was, still irks me to this day. So again nice to see you working in this space and speaking of it so highly.
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