Wow!   We won a Platinum MarCom award!!

We, IBM,  created a comprehensive marketing strategy designed to energize thousands of IBM Software Business Partners worldwide and drive double digit software revenue growth by leveraging social media.

The Perpetual Campaign. Based on feedback from our Business Partners through blogs, tweets, calls, and classic surveys, we developed a Business Partner strategy that would leverage social media and traditional tactics to deliver greater client value while driving software revenue growth for IBM and its Business Partners, and allowing for continual feedback from the Business Partner community on new requirements.

One cycle of our perpetual campaign centered around our January 25 virtual event at which 20 core announcements were unveiled. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube videos with a blend of traditional marketing tactics such as emails, newsletters, and web postings, IBM invited the entire ecosystem of Business Partners, Analysts, Press, Value Added Distributors, and IBM colleagues to the virtual event.

An innovative virtual invite on YouTube was created and sent to all Business Partners. In addition,virtual communities were leveraged to send invitations on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Pre-briefings with analysts and others resulted in an active stream of tweets directing Business Partners to the virtual event.

The IBM Virtual Event.  The virtual event itself, on January 25, 2010, combined avatars, virtual chatting, keynote and breakout sessions plus an online exhibit hall and press center. Key Business Partner enablement offerings included certifications on cloud computing architecture, industry summits with the availability of industry sales mastery tests across 17 industries, and a Green ROI tool to address clients’ demand for green solutions. More than 7,000 Business Partners worldwide participated in the virtual event, with more than 10,000 immediate downloads of IBM assets and over 9,000 keynote and webcast views. To personalize the virtual experience, participants were invited to create avatars and network with peers and specialists at the Expert Pavilion. A key indicator of the initial success of the virtual event showed that attendees stayed at the event twice as long on average compared to other virtual events.

The Results While the January 25 virtual event was successful, reaching 7x the number of participants compared to a single face to face event at 50% of the cost, it was not the end game. We then expanded our deployment in terms of scope, reach and results. Business Partners, who previously would provide a quote for a campaign, were encouraged to utilize social media to drive the message. More than 50 Business Partners issued their own press releases indicating how the new IBM announcements would help them level their business. Others, such as Software Information Systems (SIS) reached out to their customers with a YouTube video talking about the impact of the announcements on their business and how it would help their customers. Other Business Partners, such as Prolifics, accessed our virtual event center and hosted their own client virtual event that included custom virtual briefing centers with on demand access to IBM assets, live sessions, chats, and videos. Still others utilized Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their customers and others about the value of the announcements.

The Momentum Continued The momentum and energy of the virtual event continued and led to a second wave of our compaign, centered on cloud computing architecture. Utilizing analyst recommendations via blogs and face to face events with Business Partners, IBM introduced IBM Cool Cloud Cash Workshops, and offered education – both online and face to face – to prepare Business Partners for cloud computing architecture certification, allowing our Business Partners to differentiate themselves in the market. Cloud-certified Business Partners, such as CloudOne, are utilizing social media to take their skills, solutions and services to their clients to drive more revenue.

Summary.  The Business Partner strategy that showcased our Virtual Event has allowed IBM to continue the perpetual campaign, listening and responding to Business Partners requirements to address their skills, solutions, offerings and revenue needs through a variety of social media tactics and face to face offerings, including the latest IBM offering of social media education on how to leverage multi-channel strategies for Business Partner success. From the IBM Virtual Summit an energized community of Business Partners has emerged, contributing great crowdsourcing ideas for new offerings and who assist each other to grow their business.

Tactic Results IBM is a leader in leveraging social media and traditional tactics to create a campaign to drive revenue and grow the business.

Results of the IBM integrated campaign, led by the social media experience and Virtual Summit are:

 Influenced IBM software business results to realize 4 quarters of double digit Business Partner software revenue growth

 7,000 Business Partners worldwide participated in the Virtual Event

 7x as many participants as compared to a single face to face event, at 50% lower cost

 Attendees stayed at the event twice as long as on average compared to other virtual events

 An energized, connected worldwide community of Business Partners enabled to leverage social media and the virtual event to drive their business results