Marqui and Stephen King’s Rules On Brand Transformation
Stephen King is an intriguing character and is a tech serial entrepreneur, it’s not the fiction writer that I’m refering to.
King successfully negotiated the sale of Merant, a leading change management software company, in 2004 to its competitor, Serena Software. This made significant shareholder value.
He joined a Canadian communication management software company, as president and CEO. He then oversaw the transformation of the company; renaming it Marqui, rebranding and repositioning it successfully for a launch in the US in 2005.
While for some 2005 may seem like a long time ago, one of the reasons I mention Marqui is that their US launch included a significant blogging campaign. They recruited a panel of paid bloggers to propagate the Marqui brand online. Not only did they pay them, they ensured they maintained the right to blog whatever they thought about Marqui. A high stakes move you might think for a brand breaking in to a major new market?
But in terms of the increase in online presence, a Google count at the time proved impressive. For the month of August 2004, Marqui only gained 1,024 hits on Google. With the blogger programme in place, the hits went up to 244,000 hits for just one week in November. If you’d like to learn more about Marqui and what they do visit their website (http://www.marqui.com/) or learn a little more about the blogging campaign at (http://www.scoutblogging.com/success_study/blogger_interviews/marqui_janet_johnson.html).
Stephen King has developed a set of transformation rules that he uses as a very successful business tool. They may seem a little West Coast US Business School in their flavour for some. But I hope you’ll take a further look at the guy and his thinking from this taster:
1) Profile your people using innovative methodology – in this case using Insight Team Effectiveness. Profile your leadership team using archetypes. Create a company story – Marqui is an Explorer and serves Everyman. Stephen King is a lecturer on archetypes, and is applying the learning he has garnered in his studies to earn a PhD. in mythology.
2) Create teams that support your company’s mythology. Consultants, vendors and advisors take the archetype profile to determine whether they’re a good ‘fit’ for the vision of the company.
3) Bring the customer and industry perspectives into the company through smart advisors.
4) Look at the solution and the market in a simple, creative way. It will open up opportunities to change the way you think about your solution. Marqui was a first-generation Content Management System (CMS) business, today it is now more accurately positioned as a Communication Management System (also called a ‘CMS’ – a little confusing, but that’s acronyms for you) and works in a literate Web 2.0 manner.
5) Try to find radical ways to reach your target audience. Marqui’s audience is marketing and communication professionals, so in 2004 Stephen King sought advice from industry experts in determining the best, most innovative way to create a buzz about Marqui. The plan they developed was to Pay bloggers to blog about Marqui, but don’t put restrictions on them. They also made the process completely transparent by publishing contracts and terms – as well as the results.
6) Give back to the community – as a start-up, Stephen King determined that a percentage of Marqui’s profits would go to charities. Not only does this add to the brand’s appeal, it also makes some good business sense, because one of Marqui’s target verticals is non-profit organisations.
Transformation is one of the more difficult consultancy roles, as it involves the conversion of the views of others to embrace a new (brand) way of doing things and being something different. A difficult change for both the staff, who breath life into the company every day, as well as consumers who use the products and services.
Cynicism, or even hostility, from employees who don’t embrace all that is entailed in a rebranding challenge is common and many mergers or relaunches are detrimentally affected by this.
But Stephen King’s honest, open and earnest approach appears to be accompanied by the buzz and excitement associated with a charismatic entrepreneur. Good leadership and a clear planning process may be infectious and great news for brands.
In a sense Stephen King, like some other entrepreneurs, puts a huge effort into doing fewer things; but these few things are brilliantly executed and achieve a whole lot more.
I believe such focus and clarity are to be admired and learned from.
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