GE is Social: The Battle to be Friends with GE
By Jim Lundy
This is a post about marketing and the battle for the right to talk about Customer Brands. General Electric (GE) is one of the most revered brands in the world. The battle to be able to say that “GE is a customer” has waged for years. I’ve witnessed it and been part of that battle. In a quote I made a few years back about Plateau (now Successfactors/SAP) winning a deal at GE, it had PeopleSoft Execs chasing me down at events. That was then. Now it is a battle to be able to claim GE as a Customer in a Social Business Era
The battle to be a friend of GE was on display at last fall at Salesforce’s Dreamforce Event. GE was there in force, partly due to discussions that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had with GE CEO Jeff Immelt and his staff earlier in 2012. Not only did Jeff Immelt show up, so did one of the GE CIOs, Charlene Bagley, as well as executives from GE Capital.
GE CMO Beth Comstock rocks Dreamforce
In one of the more compelling videos given at the event, Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, gave an emotional and focused talk about what GE is doing to make their Salesforce digital. The video ended with Beth giving a demo of Salesforce Chatter. Interesting. It left people with the impression that is what Salesforce is using. The reality is that GE has multiple tools and Chatter is not their primary social network.
Did Salesforce leverage GE or Did GE Leverage Dreamforce?
This is a battle about mindshare and Salesforce did an excellent job. That said, the question is, who was marketing to whom? Did GE use Dreamforce as a marketing weapon to build their brand? When you look at how many sessions GE was in, it makes you step back and wonder, who used whom? GE got as much press at that event as Salesforce did, so a tip of the hat to Beth Comstock.
GE’s participation at Dreamforce is still being discussed by business executives. One of the biggest things that happened as a result of Dreamforce however is that it made Beth Comstock one of the most sought after CMOs and she is doing a great job of using that popularity to drive awareness for GE.
Analyzing an event like Dreamforce for its impact from a Marketing perspective is something we spend time discussing with clients and prospects. How are you leveraging your customer’s brands? The answer that we often get is not enough. This is an important discussion for driving growth. Customer reference selling is one of the most powerful ways of getting others to buy from you.