To view the final piece of work please visit http://straighttalk.hcltech.com/magazine
How It All Began
Back in late 2010, HCL faced a marketing dilemma. As a still-emerging global player, HCL needed to achieve the base-line credibility enjoyed by its larger and more established rivals, partly by elevating its thought leadership profile to their level. Meanwhile, uneasy IT professionals were increasingly eager to get ideas from their peers at other companies on how to adapt to changes in the industry that threaten the traditional CIO role. And that’s how we came up with the idea of creating Straight Talk stemmed.
Straight Talk, created by HCL entirely from scratch, is an ambitious multi-channel thought leadership platform that in various ways turns the idea of thought leadership marketing on its head. The idea of getting Straight Talk to the forefront was not to create a platform with “sales pitch.” The complete idea, from the very beginning, was to initiate, build and create a thought leadership platform that leverages both HCL and its customers, while providing “Thought Leaders” across the globe a platform to engage in discussions and exchange thoughts with their peers. Thought leadership marketing is designed to enhance a company’s reputation and the Straight Talk initiative certainly has that as the main agenda.
The Straight Talk initiative includes conventional thought leadership vehicles: 2 magazines; namely CIO Straight Talk and CTO Straight Talk, a website, events and webinars, social media presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. But instead of using these media to exclusively feature/highlight its own thought leadership, HCL has swung the spotlight around to showcase the insightful thinking of CIOs and other IT practitioners, creating and deepening relationships with prospects and customers through intellectual engagement rather than sales pitches.
HCL has taken a bold but somewhat risky step. Unlike competition which use media channels to highlight its own thought leadership, HCL turned heads by paying attention to the inovative and insightful thinking of CIOs and other IT practitioners, including its own customers. Straight Talk’s pilot Thought Leadership Experience program is what you might call a micromarketing initiative, aimed not at market segments or even at individual accounts but at individual individuals – in this case and for now, the contributors to CIO Straight Talk magazine. If successful, it might be broadened to a larger set of important and intellectually able – and intellectually ambitious – customers.
The idea is to provide such individuals with a platform to share their thinking – not cynically, simply to feed their egos and win more business, but because, as experienced CIOs, they undoubtedly have some hard-won insights worth sharing with their peers. By working with them to shape what may be interesting but ill-focused ideas, and communicate their refined ideas in a compelling manner via various channels, HCL can help them raise their personal thought leadership profiles. Such intimate intellectual engagement may not lead to a rush of upselling, but it undoubtedly can strengthen and deepen a business relationship.
In the last five years, there has been a significant direct business impact of from our unconventional platform. Over the years our numbers in $ value have doubled. And the signs so far indicate that this new manifestation of thought leadership marketing – that is, intellectually engaging with, instead of simply preaching to, customers and prospects – is a powerful means for creating and deepening the relationships that drive business results.
CIO Straight Talk magazine is the first manifestation of Straight Talk – especially for the CIO community. Started out as an editorial program in 2010, CIO Straight Talk has featured insights from the world's top IT practitioners: Award-wining CIOs and CTOs of global corporations. Also perspectives from leading technology gurus, analysts, advisors, academia etc.
Post the success the CIO Thought Leadership platform and with requests from internal stakeholders, we launched the CTO Thought Leadership platform in 2014 on the same model. The world’s first content platform for CTOs & R&D Heads. Both the platforms have contributed in increasing HCL’s global face and also have had a positive impact on deal values.
With a total of 7 editions (6 CIO and 1 CTO) to our credit, we’ve already featured 130+ CXOs.
To read the digital versions of all our publications click here .
In 2014-15 alone we’ve featured global corporations like Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Walmart, Merck, TIAA-CREF, Meritor Inc., Chemtura, Helsinki, etc. Our editions stories revolving technology topics that would interest CXOs across the globe. Edition 5 covered Mobility Initiatives by forward looking companies. And our recent edition, CIO Straight Talk 6 was an ode to Women, IT and Leadership. The magazine featured articles by female technology leaders of AT&T, Old Mutual, and Biogen Idec and was globally launched in Sydney at our “Women Lead Australia” program.
EDITION 6 EDITION 5
EDITION 6 LAUNCH PLAN
Creating a buzz around the magazine amongst senior sales leaders internally and the using social channels in this rising digital world to leverage magazine among CXOs was the need of the hour.
While launching edition 6, we decided to run a full-fledged organic campaign in order to harness the power of digital marketing and leverage the magazine.
Issue 5 was published in January 2014, Issue 6 in March 2015. We timed our edition 6’s launch with Women’s Day Week in March and launched it at our Women Lead Australia Program in Sydney.
- The promotional campaign is divided into three phases – teaser, pre-order, and launch, targeting both internal (Sales and Business Marketing teams) and external (C-Level IT decision makers) audiences.
- Integrating many elements – social media posts/tweets, banner ads, and visually appealing HTML emails - the campaign’s call to action was to order copies and/or read the digital version.
- Banners were published on all internal HCL employee platforms and in newsletters.
- Mass/personal emailers, and mentions in a monthly newsletter were carried.
- Publishing of creative which had a featured CXOs article quote generated traffic and buzz.
CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT WITH CXOS VIA POSTS/TWEETS/EMAILS
Issue 6 can be viewed here
Within a month of the announcement, 1500+ orders for the magazine were received and 50+ digital versions of the magazine were downloaded.
- C-Level Senior Executives from AARP, AT&T, and Sanofi personally placed an order for the edition.
- Personal Tweets led to CIOs of Infonic, the FCC, and University of Mississippi Medical Center, among others, to place orders.
- Launch Tweets were re-tweeted by CXOs like Adriana Karaboutis, Becky Blalock, Martha Heller and Michael Watkins.
- Currently we’ve shipped 3200+ copies, received 600+ digital downloads and 400 copies were distributed to attendees at the Gartner SSVC Meet.
- LinkedIn community members saw a stark increase of 32%, especially from the ANZ region
- Twitter followers multiplied four times. We stood at 2000+ followers last FY and closed on 8000+ this FY.
- While edition 5 created a funnel influence of $450Mn; edition 6 created an influence of $750+ Mn ($122 Mn alone from direct deals)
- Edition has been widely consumed by IT Decision Makers across geographies, highest being in USA, Australia and Europe regions.
- Apart from creating brand value, there has been positive revenue impact, new access to prospective customers, and engagement with high-value prospects through quality content.
Our revamped website features articles by CIOs, CTOs, and Director+ from G2000 companies– e.g., SAP, WorleyParsons, TIAA-CREF, AT&T, Biogen, Boeing, and Xerox – as well as technology bloggers like John Halamka and Bill Schrier. CXOs share insights and experiences by contributing articles, engaging in discussions, commenting on articles, and joining Twitter communities.
Straight Talk website was a non-interactive website that required improvement in the below areas:
- The website navigation architecture required re-building and had several design flaws
- Important information such as articles, webinar links were not prominently placed
- The website was not integrated with real-time social media channels such as CIO Twitter handle and CTO Twitter handle, which was limiting the website’s reach to the target group
- In terms of page views and bounce rate, the website performance was not up to mark – the bounce rate was 73%, page views were 24000, and average session duration was 100 seconds
- The website was not SEO optimized, which was affecting presence in Search Results
- Straight Talk Online was not mobile responsive and not delivering unique experience for mobile users
- Revamp a traditional Straight Talk website into a world-class thought leadership platform for enabling sustained engagement
- Extend Straight Talk’s reach and enable continuous engagement with and among HCL prospects and customers between print issues of the magazine
- Create HCL mindshare among G2000 companies & analyst by creating brand value through thought leadership content
- Provide digital footprint/intelligence about the visitors to ensure real-time engagement and better prospecting
- Offer engaging content on the website via articles, infographics, and real-time social engagement
The new Straight Talk website:
- Enables deeper, interactive engagement within the community of CIOs, CTOs, ITDMs
- Provides agile application to allow editor to enter a variety of content such as webinars, events, articles, digital magazine, featured blogger
- Takes Mobile first approach, so that the website provides an optimal viewing experience across a wide array of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones)
- Has a well-defined content strategy to ensure content on top technology trends, disruptive technologies
- Is built on Drupal 7 for responsive interface and publishing workflow. The dashboard allows editorial teams to seamlessly publish content
- Integrates Straight Talk social channels to ensure real-time engagement
- IBM, Xerox, Boeing, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco are among the top company visitors
- The revamped Straight Talk website content has influenced bookings worth $122 mn in FY15
- Within one month of launch, the portal received 9762 page views; unique page views 7056; average time spent is 147 seconds; & average bounce rate is 65%
- Top industry influencers, CIOs & CTOs have engaged with Straight Talk content via Twitter - namely, Cynthia Stoddard, CIO, NetApp; Vince Campisi, CIO, GE, Software; Patty Hatter, SVP Operations and CIO, McAfee; Lee Congdon, Red Hat CIO, David Finn, Health IT Officer at Symantec; Khushnud Irani, CIO & SVP, Holcim
- Touched 430+ ITDMs via the launch mailer campaign
- A 8076 strong followership for @CTOStraightTalk
- A 1127 strong followership for @CTOStraightTalk
- A total of 63.4k impressions in the month of June ’15 alone
- An average engagement of 1027 with a % engagement rate of 2.09% with an average of 119 retweets per month and favorites of 148
- An average URL clicks of 219
CIO Straight Talk YouTube channel, which offers videos by CIO Straight Talk contributors and other videos of interest to the CIO community.
Straight Talk Interactive on LinkedIn, is the centrepiece of the Straight Talk social media presence.
- A 5000 member strong CIO community
- A 1500 member strong CTO community
The community of senior IT executives will offer members onsite videos, Q&As with prominent community members and an interactive webinar series, in addition to the discussion threads of a normal LinkedIn group – all of these designed to extend to an interactive platform the sharing of CIO insights with peers, Straight Talk’s raison d’etre. A number of high-profile CIOs have joined pre-launch. The first monthly CIO-to-CIO webinar – with CEVA Logistics CIO Peter Dew, presenting on the topic “Preventing the Extinction of the CIO” – will take place near the end of June, followed over the next few days by an online discussion. Land O’Lakes CIO Barry Libenson follows in July.