During the 12 years that Christa Carone has been with Xerox, the company has been on quite a roller-coaster ride, having gone through significant challenges back in 1999 through 2001/2002, when the company's brand and reputation really took a hit.
Recently she discussed with Roy Young her work to strengthen the company's reputation in the marketplace, to bring the brand back to a place that is worthy of such an iconic name like Xerox, and to help the company grow.
RY: Please describe one marketing initiative you are working on now that you find particularly exciting.
CC: As we've looked at our marketing opportunities in 2009, we're trying to identify ways to bring the power of the brand to more of the company's channels of distribution. While we have a direct sales force that sells Xerox products and services, we also rely on many, many other channels of distribution, people who may not be as closely associated with Xerox. It could be a local business supplier in any town or a reseller, distributor—and being able to arm these distributors and channels of distribution with the materials and the tools that they need to effectively sell Xerox is a key priority for us.
We're going from a one-size-fits-all marketing approach to a localized focus, getting much closer to our customers' and channels' needs. We're taking a new look at how we buy media for advertising, and perhaps not always going with the obvious sweeping ads in business publications, but rather reallocating some of those dollars to targeted advertising opportunities in certain metro centers, major metropolitan areas. Looking at doing that same type of approach with sponsorship, we're reallocating some of those sponsorship dollars to more local outlets—like sponsoring a major jazz festival in a metropolitan area where your brand gets tremendous and can have much more of an intimate impact and help our local distributors sell the brand. This is an important marketing initiative for us—looking at very strategic, effective ways where we can take a global or a national level and make it more local.
RY: When you consider the marketers you have respected most, what made them effective?
CC: I've been very impressed with the work of Aldo Papone from American Express. He is a guru in the advertising world and somebody who has a very clear sense of the value of brand. I'm privileged to be in a position to run a marketing organization with a powerful brand. Aldo Papone has done a brilliant job over many, many years with American Express to protect and nurture their brand.
I think everybody looks at Apple—they are seriously loyal to their brand, willing to be provocative with it and stretch it, but at the end of the day the brand positioning is so clear. Whether you're watching one of their ads or walking into their store or having an experience with their products, the brand experience is very powerful.