6marketingI have often been asked where great marketing talent can be found and how this talent can impact an organization’s marketing strategy.

It’s increasingly difficult to find a great marketer as customer attitudes and behaviors shift rapidly, and innovation moves at lightning speed. Today, an ideal marketer should be a well-rounded personality who is deeply plugged in to the business’ strategy, plans and results and can keep up with the fast change of pace within the industry. Essential skill sets include the ability to glean customer insights beyond standard research, knowledge of new and emerging media trends, the ability to make quick decisions and last but certainly not least, to measure and present how marketing outcomes are making an impact to the brand and bottom line. Being creative to differentiate the brand and leveraging non-traditional engagements are now essential in an increasingly crowded yet connected environment.

As a leader in PCs and connected devices globally, Lenovo understands the importance of having the right talent and strategy to drive and sustain our momentum. We have been outgrowing the industry for 16 straight quarters, and marketing has played a critical role in growing our brand awareness, driving customer consideration, developing brand advocates, as well as in successfully introducing our PC+ innovations like smartphones and tablets into the global market. For the first time since 2008, we are ranked in the 2013 Brand-Finance Global 500 list of the world’s top brands. Through our differentiated and integrated marketing efforts, Lenovo secured its place on the list at #395 with a brand value of $3.132 billion.

Drinking from the fountain of youth

Innovation is a key focus in everything we do at Lenovo. We develop new and game-changing products like our award-winning Horizon Table PC at breakneck speeds to meet evolving consumer needs and user scenarios, and we rely on top marketing talent to similarly use a combination of creative and unique ways to engage our target audience in meaningful conversations about our brand and technology.

We believe a great source of savvy marketers can be found in adjacent consumer industries which are dynamic and fast-paced, and which like us, regard Millennials as a primary target market. Millennials represent 18-30 year olds who are action-oriented, are motivated to turn their dreams into reality, and who are globally connected and have a keen awareness of the outside world. In the past, we found that marketing and media agencies also have passionate, innovative and hardworking individuals who are collaborative and on top of trends.

In our rapidly evolving industry, a traditional plug-and-play marketing strategy doesn’t work. Our target customers don’t want to be marketed to – they want to be engaged on their own terms. By nurturing and tapping on passionate and innovative marketing talent who understand Millennial consumers, Lenovo is able to successfully engage this audience through marketing and ultimately influence their brand decisions.

Targeting those who do

In order to stay connected and relevant to this dynamic, entrepreneurial and upwardly mobile population, we launched a global brand campaign called ‘For Those Who Do’ in 2011. The concept of this campaign celebrates a ‘Do’ spirit and advocates taking action towards the achievement of one’s goals. It is particularly powerful because of its authenticity - it represents our company (we are an action-centered organization where ownership is a major focus), our technology (DO machines that empower people to achieve their goals), and our Millennial target audience.

As an extension of ‘For Those Who Do’, Lenovo recently partnered with MTV in a campaign titled CO:LAB. This aimed to provide the Millennial generation with a platform to connect and collaborate with fellow talented individuals with different creative skill sets, and from different countries. The online campaign was geared at finding and enabling Asia’s most progressive, creative and talented Millennials who wanted to share stories about themselves and their community through different aspects of music. To engage Millennials and position Lenovo as a brand that champions these forward-thinkers, we provided resources such as local and regional mentors to coach participants and refine their skill-sets. In addition, the campaign winners will also be given the opportunity to showcase their talents in an original MTV music video.

A campaign linked to the ‘For Those Who Do’ brand mantra included ‘Do Network’ (2011-2012), a platform that brought together communities of Doers in three key emerging markets to discuss societal issues that Millennials were passionate about and ideas on how to make a difference to their communities. Do Network achieved impressive results for our brand and led Lenovo to be ranked the #1 PC brand against competitors by respondents in those countries.

It is clear to us that the success of these campaigns are built on the fact that our motivation is a genuine intent to engage Millennials in longer-term, meaningful conversations aligned to the theme of taking action, that last beyond one campaign.

Scoring a backstage pass for Lenovo

At the end of the day, what differentiates our marketing experts from that of others is that our marketers also live and breathe our brand. While every member brings different skill sets and experience to the team, what they have in common is a drive to DO TOGETHER – taking action to turn a creative idea in a presentation to an actual ground-breaking campaign, a wildly successful product launch, a moving advertisement, a spreads-like-wildfire social media game or a perception-changing public relations activation – and recognizing that through collaboration, the sum of all our motivation and actions equates a force far greater and far more impactful to achieving our common goal of building a #1 brand for a #1 personal technology company.

Oh and for those of you non-Millennials who are still wondering what ‘YOLO’ is – it’s ‘You Only Live Once’.

By Howie Lau, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Lenovo Asia Pacific