Sage launches massive campaign to build brand

Sage delivers on the promises it made last year to invest to make its products better known. It laid out its marketing strategy here to partners, and indicated that partners need to respond by stepping up to the plate in their turn.

Santiago Solanas

Santiago Solanas, Sage’s Chief Marketing Officer

CHICAGO – On the first day of Sage Summit here, Sage Software CEO Stephen Kelly stressed the important of Sage better building its brand, as a key part of their goal this year of winning in the market. To this end, Sage has made a significant investment towards this goal, commencing a new brand awareness campaign that is part of a general new marketing initiative this year.

“We plan to increase brand awareness and lead generation, so customers will love you, and you can do more business with Sage,” Santiago Solanas, Sage’s Chief Marketing Officer, told the approximately 2000 channel partners attending his keynote.

Solanas told Sage’s partners in his keynote that Sage is targeting three strategies for growth this year – including one where marketing is absolutely central.

“We have high ambitions for significant growth across three areas,” Solanas said. These are new customer acquisition, upselling and migration, and cross-selling.

Cross-selling was an important priority last year, and Solanas said it is once again in FY 2017.

“We can do better here,” Solanas told partners. “On average, a Sage customer has 1.2 Sage products. This is very low. It’s too low. We shared our strategy and our product plans with you so you can partner with us and address this.”

Solanas said upselling and migration is being addressed by a strong emphasis on much greater simplicity in the product portfolio.

“Upsell and migration requires a massive effort, and the product team has to make migration as easy as possible,” he said. “We are using data analytics to assess which companies are the best prospects for upsell and migration. We need to make migration super-easy, and we are doing it.”

The other priority – which Solanas acknowledged was the most important – is new customer acquisition. Marketing is a major element of the strategy here.

“New customer acquisition is not an area we have excelled in in the past,” he admitted. “We will be aggressive in growing market share and acquiring new customers. We have a great road map, and now we have the marketing programs to make it happen.

“Bringing in new customers is the biggest opportunity for all of us,” Solanas continued, with an emphasis that better marketing is critical here.

“We can do better, we must do better, but we are already doing better,” he said. “We are driving lead generation with multichannel vertical campaigns.”

Solanas told Sage partners that Sage will also invest in them.

“We will provide you with tools, materials and campaigns – to migrate customers to solutions that best fit their needs.”

Van Diamandaskis, Sage’s Executive VP of Brand, provided details of a new brand marketing program Sage has just introduced.

“Sage Summit has kicked off this new brand awareness campaign,” he said. “It is a new brand strategy, designed to connect with customers emotionally. The brand will be brought to life powered by the theme of ‘Business Builders Build On.’

Sage has hired a hot agency to design this campaign, which will first launch in the U.S. market after the elections in November are done.

“We are also doubling down on public relations in earned media, to engage with analysts and journalists all around the world,” he said. “They don’t really know who we are, but we will make sure they do.”

The goal of this well-funded, integrated campaign is ambitious,

“Over time, Sage will become one of the best-loved tech companies in the world, measured alongside companies like Virgin, Apple and Nike,” Diamandaskis said.

Another aspect of the Sage strategy here is consolidating its marketing around solution campaigns.

“We want to be the market leader in every market we operate in,” said Neil Morgan, EVP of Digital Marketing. “That has been hard in the past, because we have been focused on marketing individual products. That has fragmented how we have gone to market.”

Morgan detailed five specific ongoing solution campaigns, including accounting for the journey, how businesses of any size can embrace payments, why they no longer brand products as ERP – which they refer to as Expense, Regret and Pain – and their Unstoppable theme.

“Each of these campaigns is going globally now in local languages – all highly targeted at people we want them to see,” Morgan said. “We have built a global marketing platform to enable targeted campaigns, and all these campaigns are ‘always on,’ in multi-channels, and in real time.”

This is the prescription for successful modern marketing, he stressed.

“Outbound marketing is dead. You need inbound marketing that will draw customers to you.”

The objective, he said, is to provide content that people associate with helping them with their businesses – so when it comes time for them to consider a solution, Sage is front of mind.

As an example, Morgan cited the objectives of the Accounting for the Journey messaging.

“We think this will resonate with business builders and accountants, and provide answers to the specific problems that they have and need to solve,” he said. “We can direct them to the right solution that they need, through media that is ‘always on’, social and mobile-first.”

Marketing materials will now be delivered to the U.S. on the Zift Solutions platform. This is live now in the U.S., and scheduled to become available in other geos “in coming quarters.”

“Partners have said in the past that they could see campaigns but couldn’t use them.” Morgan said. “We are now committing that all programs will now be available to registered partners in a month.” Campaign playbooks will be available, and delivery will be though the partner portal.

“We are investing millions to ensure Sage takes its rightful place,” he told the partner audience. “Last year, we promised we would make these investments, and we have. But the only way this works is if we BOTH make the same levels of commitment.”