“To successfully sell a product,” say the marketing folk at Kimberly-Clark, “you need a big idea.”
The maker of Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers, and Viva facial towels is typically associated with brands that are cozy and soft.
The process of implementing its latest big idea, though, was anything but.
It was distinctly tough…and risky.
The Kimberly-Clark promo video that’s making waves
Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KC) had just wrapped up a massive, three-year SAP rollout (involving Marketing Planner and BI applications from SAP AG) and had its employees trained on the system…another tough task.
But with the tools in place to comprehensively track the metrics on its marketing campaigns, KC decided it was ready to embrace some risk – all in a good cause.
“Love winning more than you fear losing,” is a key tenet of the company’s new Marketing Made Simple Process, noted Kim Greenwood, IT manager at Kimberly-Clark.
“It was time for us to put this tenet to the test by executing on a really big idea.”
A big idea, she said, is very different from an integrated marketing plan. “It’s about identifying a pervasive consumer need and addressing that.”
In this case, the pervasive need was identified in the company’s Australian market, and rooted in a cultural trait.
“There’s a great reluctance, in Australian culture, to discuss feminine hygiene,” Greenwood said. This reticence, she added, often leads to women going untreated for hygiene-related sicknesses and diseases.
“We wanted to influence a change in the Australian culture…to encourage women to keep healthy, and [show them how] KC products could help them do that.”
So the company designed a rather courageous campaign.
It launched a humorous promo video for its U pads and tampons with the slogan “For the Ultimate Care down there.” The promo is currently running on Australian TV.
“The promo clip is targeted at teenage girls and women in their 20s, and aims to get them talking,” Greenwood said.
In the two months since its launch, the video has been uploaded several times to YouTube by people who have recorded it off TV.
“One of the uploads has nearly half-a-million hits,” notes Greenwood. “It’s getting people talking for sure. It is helping to drive a culture change.”
And what role does the SAP system play in a “Big Idea” campaign?
Greenwood says it allows the company to accomplish at least four things.
Integrate insights data – KC gets insights and data on customer needs and preferences from retailer partners. Integrating these ideas, helps the company do predictive analysis on the potential impact of a marketing campaign – both from a brand equity, and a financial perspective.
Link all marketing campaigns to associated “Big Ideas” – The SAP apps helps the KC marketing team understand whether and how its activities support the “big ideas” it’s trying to promote.
Measure results relentlessly – “This is a phrase you often hear at KC,” said Greenwood. Post SAP, there’s a renewed focus on ensuring marketing spend drives the value expected.
Scenario planning and predictive analysis – KC is looking to integrate SAP data with a scenario planning application that will support better decision making.
And decision making of marketers and senior executives has already improved significantly as a result of the SAP rollout, says Karen Francart, with KC’s marketing centre of excellence.
The SAP tool, she said, “enables us to measure results, understand if our projects are profitable, and whether we are delivering on our objectives.”
Overcoming the buy-in barrier
But before these groups could actually start to experience the benefits of the SAP system, there was a big hurdle to overcome – their reluctance to use it!
The user interface in SAP CRM 5.0 wasn’t particularly easy for KC marketers to use.
“To be honest, we still get a lot of complaints about usablility,” Greenwood admitted. “[The interface] is click-heavy, tab heavy and will continue to be a stumbling block until we can get out it.”
And that may happen quite soon, given that the company is set to adopt the SAP CRM 2007 Web interface. The soon-to-be implemented interface, she said, “looks fantastic” – and is something users are keen to move to.
In the interim though, much has been done to enhance the usability of the existing toolset.
For instance, marketers use an integrated event calendar application that’s written outside of SAP. “We pull the information from SAP, and from some of our legacy systems and put that into a really user friendly environment for our marketers,” , Greenwood said.
From a workflow perspective, she said, the company has implemented the enterprise portal universal work list so senior leadership gets all of its approval requests in the same place. “That was big win for us.”
In the area of reporting, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) scripting has helped put a nicer format on the reports coming out of the SAP BI (business intelligence) application.
The challenges marketers experienced in adapting to the new system provided some great insights, Greenwood said.
“One of them is you need to crawl before you learn to walk.”
She said the effort required to modify marketing processes should not be underestimated. “If you’re changing the process, systems and analytics on your marketers all at one time, that’s way too much structure for them all at once.”
She emphasized that marketers are usually not technical. “They’re creative people and are hired precisely for that creativity. So you need to do stuff in step by step format.”
While the design and usability tweaks have made the user interface more attractive, the real buy in began only when the marketers began to perceive the actual value in the new system.
That’s best grasped, when you understand the state of affairs prior to the SAP rollout in 2002, Francart noted. At the time, she said, processes, across the corporation globally were inconsistent and not standardized.
“When our marketers moved from business unit to business unit, they had to relearn – not just the brand business – but how to do the marketing plans as well.”
Brand and customer plans she said were not long term and focused. “We were focusing on the short term.”
Globally, the corporation was organized by sector and geography.
“We had no standardization,” recalls Francart.
This lack of standardization can be – and was – a serious issue for a corporation that does around $18.2 billion in Net sales, employs 55,000 people and whose products are sold in 150 countries and used by more than 1.3 billion people.
“When it came time to roll out numbers everyone was using different comparisons – it was an apples to oranges scenario,” said Francart. “We didn’t have one consistent, measurable plan.”
She said marketers couldn’t run a report that gave them a comprehensive picture of all the campaigns out there. “We had our business units using Share Files, Excel documents and it would take weeks to pull all that together into a report.”
With the marketing relationship application – based on SAP CRM 5.0 – all that’s no more than an unpleasant memory.
Today KC marketers can use the application to put in multi-year marketing plans and have those reported on through the application’s business intelligence interface.
SAP workflow streamlines the approvals process for marketing spend.
“We were able to take a 14-day approval process down to less than two, and sometimes hours,” Francart said.
Marketers, she said, can consistently track key metrics and perform a statistical analysis once the campaign is completed. “What’s more in tracking each marketing campaign, we can tie it back to the objective or initiative the campaign is in support of.”
She said ongoing tracking gives marketers the ability to change plans – if required – based upon fluid market conditions, and their impact on the business.
Consistency is the other blockbuster benefit.
Francart said Kimberly-Clark is able to tie together multi-channel marketing initiatives – via TV, Web sites, message boards, chat rooms, coupons, direct mail, and packaging samples – to ensure they are all timed appropriately; have a consistent look and feel; provide visibility into the different functional areas for which planning is being done; and offer external partners a view into what’s happening.
She cited the example of the company’s Be Kind to Your Behind campaign.
“It has consistent branding and imagery from our NASCAR representation all the way to the packaging on the shelves. So at each consumer touch point it drives our brand message.”
The SAP product, she said, also offers marketers and senior leadership immediate visibility into their financials.
“No more Excel spread sheets, or pulling data form 15 different places to determine where we are from a budget perspective, and what we’re planning to spend money on. Rather, at a push of a button they can get a report, or see a chart to determine where they are from a spending perspective.”
These capabilities, she said, help marketers and senior leadership change tacks rapidly based on market conditions, take advantage of a coupon modeller in the tool to predict redemption rates, and understand remaining liability on financials.
“By determining how much more we’re going to spend we can turn up funds, if required.”
The new system also speeds up Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance, she noted.
“Since we implemented SAP, every one of our internal SOX audits has been done within weeks and has passed.”