For Ericsson and Verizon, a strong partnership makes one plus one equal three
What happens when two powerful, creative brands unite their talent and resources? They’re able to produce something that is unique, experiential and visionary. In this blog, Verizon’s Danny Johnson and myself share the ways Ericsson's partnership with Verizon is accomplishing far more than either could alone.
“Are your marketing efforts making a business impact?” This is a question I ask myself every day. Fortunately, a new focus on partner marketing allows me to answer this question with a resounding “yes.” Many of us go about our marketing lives thinking that by keeping our customers in mind and focusing on their needs, we are adding value and therefore driving business. Throughout my career, I have been guilty of thinking I knew which marketing techniques worked best, but a recent experience showed me a path that was so much more effective and rewarding.
Successful marketing comes down to becoming customer-obsessed and focusing on helping customers drive their own business initiatives. The best way for us to truly immerse ourselves in our customers’ business and to produce effective marketing elements is to help our customers market to their own customers. At the end of the day, it’s important to ask yourself if you’ve been able to successfully move your—and by “your” I mean both your and your customers’—business forward?”
A shift to partner marketing can help us do just that. Partner marketing means we have a seat at the table. We are helping our customers drive their marketing engagements towards their own customers. This can take many forms, including joint events, webinars, articles or blogs, but it should all be a cohesive and integrated joint effort. You shouldn’t shy away from encouraging your customers to take a new path, because when you do, you open the door to new possibilities, develop a stronger relationship and ultimately drive successful business.
When I joined Ericsson as Head of Marketing for Customer Unit Verizon in 2018, I turned our traditional marketing approach upside down. I envisioned a scenario where the Ericsson marketing team and Verizon marketing team were truly unified; so, for instance, we could take a concept like 5G for business and jointly promote it to Verizon customers. From there, the #5G4B2B event series was born.
All hands on deck for 5G4B2B
Envision yourself climbing aboard one of the North America’s most iconic spaces—the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City—and being transported to a lively, interactive environment where the 5G future could actually be experienced. “Super Animoji” captures your facial expressions on a mobile phone and animated celebrities mimic your actions in real time. You’re able to share sensory experiences with someone way across the aircraft carrier’s vast deck—as though they were standing next to you. And with the dazzle still in your eyes, you get to meet and hear top researchers and business leaders who are enabling the “step-function” technological leap that is 5G.
500 lucky guests got to do just that at a recent “5G4B2B” event. It was just one of the unique ways that Ericsson and Verizon are partnering to introduce everyone, from small businesses to large enterprises, to the way Ericsson’s 5G technology and Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network are unleashing new applications, use cases and immersive experiences.
But what did it take to get here? Strong collaboration between two global companies who understand each other’s strengths, business goals and strategies were the essential ingredients. While balancing each company’s unique strategy, voice and tone was challenging, the result has been just rewarding.
Ericsson and Verizon demonstrate the power of a strong partnership
Fast forward to a panel discussion about the power of our partnership that I had with Danny Johnson, Verizon’s director of product marketing/network services at the 2019 Digital Marketing World Forum North America. Below are a few highlights from our conversation about how we’ve made this partnership work.
Analisa: Danny, in your view, what makes the Ericsson/Verizon partnership a good one? Can you articulate what you like most about our partnership?
Ericsson enables us to do things in the marketplace that we couldn’t conceive of doing ourselves. To be able to get global scale, to be able to elevate the brand that we jointly have in the marketplace absolutely necessitates partnerships.
This is the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of design sessions, a lot of late nights and a lot of debates. But it’s all done in order to align our strategies from both the technical and operational perspectives as well from the marketing angle.
We share each other’s risks and each other’s rewards. And we have that level of trust, good, bad or indifferent. That just doesn’t happen overnight.
One of the things I most appreciate about Ericsson, Analisa, is that we’re not just aligned from a business perspective. Ericsson doesn’t just care about their direct customer, Verizon, but they also care about Verizon's customers as well. This concern is very meaningful for us because it influences how we provide value to our own customers as well.
Analisa: What perspectives did Ericsson bring to the partnership?
Analisa and her partners at Ericsson will come back to us with ideas and we’ll debate in order to decide what our strategies ought to be. That’s how we created a variety of the campaigns that reach out to our customers with a variety of tactics, whether that be through media buys, search engine optimization tactics, overarching campaigns, nurture streams, or high touch events.
You’ve heard the axiom “one plus one equals two”? In our case, one plus one equals three in added value to the marketplace and our customers.
Ericsson comes with a perspective and a point of view on certain technologies, on the merits of those technologies and on how those technologies also should be represented in the marketplace. I can tell you definitively that Ericsson brings very good perspectives that challenge us to be better as well. As we all know, content is critically important. You could have the best digital marketing machinery, but if you do not have content that resonates with the customer base, the machinery is meaningless.
Together with Ericsson, we’ve done events and roadshows and embarked on digital campaigns and nurture streams that really perform. Within the last 30 days [of the interview], 95 percent of our visits have been unique, new visits from new prospects. If you want growth in your business, you need prospects.
Analisa: I’m very happy that we were able to do that for Verizon. I think it all stems from trust. If your customers don't trust you, you're not going to be at the table. If you don't truly align your business objectives with theirs, they're going to understand that they're going to see that in your actions.
I was saying, "Team, we need to be talking to your B2B customers. We need to be telling them all of these great things. I mean, you have the greatest network on the planet, but there's more to that network. There's more to this story and there's more to the evolution of 5G on this path that we're all going down.”
Analisa: As you pointed out, one-plus-one equals three. We're stronger together. What advice would you give to organizations looking for partnership success?
One is, know your partners. Whether your partner is a someone you’re joining to provide solutions to the marketplace or actually your customer, make sure that you know them. Don't just rely on a tactic and think you know them. Be aligned with their business objectives, understand their needs, motivations and pain points. Do whatever you need to do to understand your customer. That's number one.
Number two is, once you understand your customer, start creating messages, content, materials that are meaningful for them. Create content, materials, et cetera, that are meaningful for your customer, really drive true outcomes, really drive true value.
And then lastly, figure out a way to scale it jointly. If you can think about those things, you're going to be able to establish a really solid foundation for the partnership.
Analisa: I was very passionate about the fact that I could help you communicate and drive a really strong message into the marketplace, and help you excite people around 5G. My perspective was always that “I'm the technology behind the network and these guys (Verizon) are the network.” My goals were aligned with yours and your success is my success. That's the perspective that I came from.
It absolutely is a win-win. I think that this really demonstrates and underpins the value of what partnerships can accomplish. As we said, through our partnership, we’re rewriting the laws of math: one plus one doesn't equal two. We will make it equal three.
Analisa Dominic: We’ll make it equal 100!
A hundred's even better.
I hope the excerpts from my discussion with Danny help you understand the impact that a strong partnership can have. I would like to end with the following. In order for a partnership to be successful, you need to become one team. That means that all participants should have an equal voice, shared goals and objectives. It is also important to remember that as the partnership evolves and the team establishes trust, objectives may change. That’s ok, as long as your objectives remain aligned with those of your customer and your customer’s customer. Ultimately, the goal is for the team to continually evolve and strive for better.
We have experienced this firsthand while facing the unprecedented challenge of navigating through these COVID-19 times. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted traditional marketing models and we are working with the Verizon team to reshape our marketing approach to focus on digital activations. Stay tuned for the learnings from our next adventure together.
Over the last year in working with the Verizon team, I have come to really love the way we are able to accomplish so much more together than what I could have done alone. It’s clear that when you bring two powerful, creative brands together, you're able to create something that is unique, experiential and visionary, and that goes across all the marketing components.
Learn more on how to Rise to your 5G business potential
Watch the most recent #5G4B2B highlight video
About Danny Johnsson
Danny Johnson, a 20+ year veteran in the technology industry, is a season executive possessing experience in software development, engineering, sales, consulting, product development, and marketing. Danny has started and launched innovative products and solutions into multi-billion dollar markets and is currently Director of product marketing for Verizon where he shares responsibility for the profitable growth of Verizon’s Strategic Network Portfolio
Danny holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and is a very active in a variety of outreach programs within his community.