Engage Customers with “Content Marketing”

Imagine this:  Your marketing mission, if you choose to accept it, is to convince Global 2000 CIOs (Chief Information Officers) to use Serena Software’s orchestrated IT solutions.  The company’s “core purpose is to advance the business value of IT.”

Photo: Serena Software Website

Photo: Serena Software Website

Tough one!  I’m not a CIO and I don’t speak the language of “orchestrated IT solutions,” but I can share a clever way to solve the problem.  Let’s talk about the smart marketing Serena Software developed and implemented to bring a rather dry product/service to life with its prospects and customers.

Perhaps you know something about “content marketing” and “inbound marketing” and maybe you’re applying these marketing techniques today.  Basically, content marketing is leveraging “owned assets” (and “earned assets” too) such as websites, social media pages, and a variety of custom produced material to further your sales and marketing objectives.  Inbound marketing, according to Hubspot, “is a set of marketing strategies and techniques focused on pulling relevant prospects and customers towards a business and its products.”

If you’re not leveraging some form of content and inbound marketing today, you’re missing the boat.  In particular, video offers excellent opportunities to engage, inform and persuade customers.  Serena Software created an excellent five-part video episode series called “Doug Serena, CIO” to  bring the benefits of its orchestrated IT solutions to life with its CIO targets.  

Watch Episode One:

Serena described the marketing as “an entertaining documentary-style web miniseries that follows a particularly savvy CIO and his team as they navigate a realistic IT business scenario: developing and delivering an application to production within an incredibly tight timeframe. Failure to deliver will lead to doom and the downfall of Doug’s organization at the hands of a competing company. See how the team reaps the benefits of Orchestrated IT — the reward: huge success and massive economic advantage to their company.”

Episodes were rolled-out during a five-week period in Spring 2012 with integration across social media, including the creation of a Doug Serena Twitter account and contest for his Twitter followers.  Serena even used the Doug actor at its Serena xChange Global User Conference.

Watch the entire series here.

Here’s what Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing David Hurwitz had to say in a company blog post shortly after the series ran:

“We created Doug Serena, CIO to educate people about the benefits of Orchestrated IT in a fun and fresh way. The results have been gratifying, both anecdotally and quantitatively. We’ve heard from customers, analysts and journalists that it provides insight into the real goings-on of senior IT leadership teams in a way never before seen.”

Hurwitz later added in another blog post that “we are excited that Doug Serena, CIO has continued to drive awareness of the benefits of Orchestrated IT.”

Unfortunately, according to a company 10K report, Serena’s revenues declined 4% in the Fiscal Quarter ending October 31, 2012 (latest results reported) and declined in the prior quarter too.   Of course, there may be an important set of metrics in place for the Doug Serena marketing beyond pure revenue performance.  And, in fairness, there may be long lead times in Serena’s selling process; revenues might have declined further without the marketing; and/or there are other factors impacting the company’s financial performance.  It would seem that the next two quarterly reports should give a better read.

Nevertheless, the Doug Serena, CIO marketing initiative is a good example of creative content marketing and should be a thought-starter for you and your team.  While Serena hired professional actors, often the best people to use are sitting nearby – your colleagues!  For example, when I led marketing at global food ingredients supplier Tate & Lyle, we produced a series of short videos featuring key employees to highlight and dimensionalize many of the company’s differentiated capabilities for customers.


Content marketing should be part of your marketing mix and deserves to be treated strategically because it can be a real difference-maker.  Think holistically and be willing to experiment with communication ideas as long as they are on-strategy.  The key is finding special ways to engage so that prospects become comfortable and turn into buyers; and existing customers are reassured, stay, and become promoters.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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