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For Maximum Impact, Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

New ways of doing things may not always work as well as what’s familiar, but you’ll never know if you don’t think and act differently.

SAP Guest Blogger

November 21, 2019

4 Min Read
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A few years ago, my team at SAP began executing an in-person event focused on partner engagement. Based on its success and lessons learned, the event has grown each year, eventually becoming my company’s largest global event dedicated to our partners.

This year, however, I was asked to do something new–to build a showcase with our partners for customers and prospects in the SMB space.

Admittedly, this was a departure from the types of projects my team usually executes, and there was a bit of trepidation as some of the deliverables were outside of our comfort zone. But we took the risk, coming up with the concept of creating an immersive 90-minute live-streamed broadcast that which would drive awareness and consideration, and fuel our sales pipeline. We set our sights on small and midsize organizations that, despite the size of our SMB customer base, don’t always see SAP as fit.

We featured four showcases of the latest SAP technologies paired with partner innovations, demonstrating how growing businesses can attract and retain the right talent, optimize operations and expand their customer base, as well as how emerging technologies like AI and blockchain can be embraced for competitive advantage.

The live-stream featured an insightful Q&A session with our special guest–investor, serial entrepreneur, five-time New York Times best-selling author and chairman of VaynerX, Gary Vaynerchuk. We connected with our live external audience via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and SAP’s online event platform, providing practical examples and advice from companies that are growing by embracing innovation.

As part of our campaign to promote this new concept, we targeted those who we thought would gain the most benefit: partners considering working with us, existing partners looking to broaden their scope, indirect customers, and prospective customers. We developed a tool kit and customized messaging for partners recommending they host “watch parties” for their customers, generating interest and encouraging dialogue regarding innovation. We executed a comprehensive marketing campaign, which included extensive communications organic social.  And, we targeted new prospects via paid placements across social media.

There were, of course, concerns that naturally come along with new ventures. Would this be successful? How would we measure success? And, perhaps the biggest fear: What if this altogether fails?

Reaching customers, partners, and prospects exclusively in this way was uncharted territory for our group. With in-person events we have historical attendee data and can see and measure the interest and forecast the audience as people register. A fully digital live event provides less upfront transparency. If we could get at least 10,000 live viewers, we’d consider it a success as this would be SAP’s largest-ever live-stream event.

Much to our delight, we had over 50,000 live viewers join us for this 90-minute virtual event! Plus, tens of thousands more have viewed the on-demand replays as we move into an aggressive post-event campaign phase. Having that level of engagement in-person would be logistically impossible and prohibitively expensive. It was an eye-opener into just how valuable and far-reaching a digital approach could be. A bit ironically, during the Q&A session, Vaynerchuk stressed the importance of reaching audiences digitally as opposed to using traditional methods.

I’ve been innovating in the channel a long time–nothing ever stands still, and neither do I. But this experience has reminded me of a few things. Sometimes, you need to take chances. You need to step outside your comfort zone to discover new approaches. And to keep innovating even further, you can’t be afraid to fail. We all have new things to experience and learn along the way. It may not always work as well as our recent experience, but you’ll never know if you don’t think and act differently.

I could not have anticipated the incredible results of implementing this concept of using digital communications as our key focus. We were able to reach an entirely new group of prospects that traditionally may not have considered SAP. I now see this as a primary method of driving business, and I already intend to integrate this strategy into my 2020 marketing plans.

In case you missed it, Innovate LIVE by SAP replays are available, providing independent insights and demonstrating real-life examples of how SAP technology, when paired with powerful partner innovations, is helping small and midsize businesses turn brands into icons, products into obsessions, employees into ambassadors, and customers into fanatics.

Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter – @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html.

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This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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