The SAP Ariba LIVE conference brought together procurement professionals from all over. Two smart marketers in attendance were Alicia Tillman, chief marketing officer of SAP Ariba, and Lisa Skeete Tatum, co-founder and chief executive officer of Landit, a technology platform that's been described as "Linkedin for women."

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I invited Alicia and Lisa to sit down and talk with me for Marketing Smarts and discuss the success of SAP Ariba's recent rebranding, the importance of embracing diversity as part of your corporate mission, and the reason women's pursuit of leadership positions is good for business.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Consciously creating (or re-creating) your brand can dramatically influence your overall business goals. (07:31): [Alicia] "One of the things that we measure from a brand appreciation standpoint is how much the willingness to buy is amongst your buying population.... When we had first come into SAP is, we did a brand study to really well understood was the Ariba brand and, despite the fact that the business had been in business for...over 18 years and the name recognition was quite well known, [but] the understanding of what business the company was in was quite low....

"Our former brand was very inward focused. That's not unusual for startup organizations. They create brands that are reflective of the vision they have when they're starting out...but it doesn't that often necessarily speak to the value that your brand is creating. So our ability to focus on creating a brand that did that we knew would link to our one brand metric: How much has the willingness to buy grown? In the first six months, we saw that we had a 10% increase and then six months after that, it jumped up to 20%."

To attract modern buyers, your company needs to stand for something more than quality products (12:27): [Alicia] "Ten years ago, the No.1 driver of a sale was how good your product was. That was the primary reason for why you were able to sell, because you had the best product with the best technology to help solve problems.... Today...the buying trends have expanded so that you not only...have to have the best product but you also have to have a product that speaks in a value that is relevant and connects with our buyers emotionally.

"We find more and more that buyers, especially the Millennial population, they of course want a top-notch product, but they want to be part of a community that is focusing on delivering purpose. They want to be with organizations that have values aligned to theirs, and they want to be with organizations that are delivering to a higher good." 

To succeed, you need more than a mentor (or even several mentors)—you need an entire board (30:44): [Lisa] "Most people think of a mentor, and they don't think of having a formal 'board.' We very much believe that you have to codify your network. You have to have the right ask of the right person. Different people have different roles....

"There's the mentor, someone you bounce ideas off of.... There's a sponsor, so someone who talks about you, who amplifies you, who can make things happen. There's a point expert because we don't know what we don't know.... Then there's your connector...who can help make [necessary] introduction[s]. And then who's your friend? We all need that close, 'ugly cry' kind of friend. But I think the missing element is coaching.... Having that external, objective expert to help you with the framework is a very important component of that board."

You can learn more about SAP Ariba at, or follow Alicia on Twitter: @AliciaTillman. You can also check out Landit, and follow the company on Twitter: @applandit.

Alicia, Lisa, and I discussed much more, including why it's important to train managers to be leaders, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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