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How a Love Song Can Turn SAP’s Customers into Fans, Thanks to Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift isn’t known for her marketing savvy. She is famous for her music, her just-as-famous boyfriends and their very public breakups — and for turning those into modern-day love songs.

But this millennial of pop and country music industry knows a thing or two about business. Swift has been able to make money in an age when streaming and stealing music downloads is supposedly killing her industry.

The Wall Street Journal agrees, having published an op-ed by Swift this month. And she has a few lessons for a modern marketer to consider.

Rely on Your Experience to Create an Experience

In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. –Taylor Swift

We know the drill on anniversaries and birthdays. Dinner, gifts and cards are nice, but predictable. To be memorable there has to be a surprise. An unexpected proposal? A performance? An alternate set of secret plans?

Like Swift’s fans, SAP customers do their research and know what to expect. We know that. They read the studies, the blogs, the forums before they ever talk to us. They know the competition, the startups and the big business offerings.

But most of our customers think we are under prepared, according to a Development Day presentation by Carlos Horn, who leads the client results team at B2B marketing agency Yesler. Do our customers really know more than we do?

Before SAPPHIRE NOW, customers have seen the lists of everyone who is going to speak — they can even look up prior speaking engagements of special guests to catch their flavor. Schedules are laid out in advance, and all that’s left is to run through the motions.

Our job is to exceed those expectations and leave them with the ultimate experience. They don’t need a product; they need a solution that gives them an experience they can’t stop talking about — something worth bragging about on Facebook.

The Art of “Surprise”

I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say “shock;” I said “surprise.” I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can’t this love affair exist between artists and their fans? –Taylor Swift

We might feel tempted to replace “fans” with “customers,” but really, we want our customers to be fans. When we make the lives of customers easier, faster and simpler they will love us.

We became fans of our smartphones when they made it simpler to check e-mail shop for groceries  And when your smartphone isn’t there, you feel like you are missing a limb — or maybe you feel like you are missing a piece of your heart (aww)..

Likewise, we can keep SAP customers in love with us by continuing to surprise them with the innovative ways we solve their problems and make their lives easier — via our products, our services and our solutions. Our job in marketing is to communicate all of that. We need to become masters at the art of surprise.

People Listen to Those with a Following

Taylor Swift predicts that more actors get hired for key roles based on their social media presence. This makes sense. An actress with 4 million fans would be able to bring more attention to a movie then someone who opened their account the week before the premiere.

Does that mean one day in the future, marketers would be selected based on their followings and engagement in social media? Maybe.

Does that mean customers would select their vendors based on the company’s involvement in social media and digital?  The trends are leaning this way.That’s why we have a whole organization focused on this. The company must have an account and be active — and the same goes for those inside the company. It’s notable when the CEO, CMO and CIO are engaged in social media, and soon it will be just as notable as more of us get involved too.

We may not get followers as quickly, but we have just as much to add to the conversation. And if anything, socially engaged executives provide great examples of how to engage without feeling like you are selling your soul.

Hint: you don’t have to talk about SAP all the time. It’s about finding the right mix for yourself.

So, are you free this Saturday?

To build the greatest love story in the world of enterprise software we need to take a few hints from the princess of love songs. Let’s take this one date at a time: It’s about providing a great experience; it’s about including the element of surprise; and it’s about being available in the digital world starting right now.

Follow me @SylviaSant

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  • Sylvia, thank you for an entertaining blog! What a nice change to see something in this space that actually has a soul. 🙂

    As much as I hate strongly dislike Taylor Swift, those were very interesting observations that didn’t have to be far stretched to be connected to the SAP world. Well done.

    When we make the lives of customers easier, faster and simpler they will love us.

    Seems like a great principle, so what is preventing SAP from actually following it? 🙂

    • Hi Jelena, I’ve noticed that your recent comments on the Business Trends space are laced with a lot of sarcasm and criticism that is more hurtful than helpful. SCN is an open platform, so totally understand that people can voice their opinions and that’s what makes it special, etc. But if you really feel that the Business Trends space lacks a soul, why spend so much time here? You did proclaim it to be one of your favorite spaces but I guess that’s changed?

      • Tim, I actually don’t spend time specifically in the Business Trends space, I just open a blog roll in search of good blogs all across the SCN. And there are sometimes 10+ blogs posted in this space on a given day, so I have no choice but to scroll through all of them and occasionally fall a victim of a “link bate”. Surely I need to stop being so naive and careless, but then again I might miss something good, so taking the chances here. (Unfortunately I haven’t found a better way to follow the blogs/documents in multiple spaces at a time. If you have one – let me know.)

        You are correct – it used to be a favorite and I went out of my way to promote it. It’s easy for the “techies” to get stuck in our own world and forget what our applications are about (business), so it actually seems like a great idea to have a space like that on SCN. But that’s why it’s also especially upsetting that the quality of the content decreased significantly in the recent past. It seems that pretty much everything goes in this space nowadays because somehow anyone can declare anything a “business trend” and therefore it qualifies to be posted in this space on SCN (here is just one recent example).

        If that’s how you see this space on SCN as an editor – that’s fine, but then perhaps the “mission statement” on the overview page should be updated accordingly?

      • Hi Tim. Jelena Perfiljeva is not the only person who thinks this way about the Business Trends space. Like Jelena I like to be exposed to content outside my areas of specific interest, and so I follow an RSS feed of all SCN blogs. I’ve found much interesting content this way. Content I would have otherwise missed. Obviously this means I get to see summaries at least of everything that gets posted here, and I do follow the links to read quite a lot of it.

        At least, I used to. Now, it seems the blog posts here can often be described as “I want to write something and it doesn’t fit anywhere else, so I’ll put it in the Business Trends space”. There’s often a very tenuous connection to the world of SAP, if there’s a connection at all. The blog Jelena linked to is but one such example. In general I don’t have a problem with the content, just with where it is posted. Most of it would be fine if posted to the author’s personal blog here on SCN. Apart from the Millenials-themed stuff, of which I think we’ve had more than enough of late.

        I’ll be honest and say I was expecting, from the title, for this to be more of the same. I was wrong, so thanks Sylvia Santelli 🙂 . If it was me, I might have posted it in the Social Media and Social Networks (Read-only) space, but it makes perfect sense here too.


      • While I agree Tim that sarcasm can be translated as snarky and critique can be off-putting or even hurtful, sometimes this kind of writing or comment is simply a matter of style.  If we bear in mind that the goal in SCN (and by extension SAP and product development) is “continuous improvement” and we remember the “ad hominem” approach, (meaning we are critiquing the content or product or vendor offerings and not the human) perhaps we can also be more tolerant of a less than kid-glove treatment of our published words.

        I spoke to a colleague of Sylvia last week after her content was treated in a “less than welcome way”  and shared with her that I wish we still had the “Coffee Corner” for this kind of a post.   I coached that same colleague to learn more about the culture of the participants so that that same author could better engage with her audience.I also talked with her about the “search before you post” concept and we talked about understanding your audience (fans) before delivering to them.

        In regard to this post,  I also thought, like Steve Rumsby that the content might have been better served in Social Media and Social Networks space so I am interested in understanding the thinking behind posting it here.

        But since this recent post has opened up a lively dialogue with the editor of this space, I’m glad for its publication here.

        I also welcome Sylvia Santelli back and enjoy her “surprising” and refreshing approach.

        If her post has surprised readers such as Jelena Perfiljeva then perhaps the Business Trends space has accomplished an additional winning strategy.  I’d take that rather as a compliment Tim (and I know that you care deeply about quality here and in every place you publish and edit externally as well).

        • As for why this space, I considered Social Media and Social Networking, but nothing to me about this blog speaks to those topics. There is surely an overlap but this blog compares the trends in the entertainment world (music, movies) and compares that to the way marketing may be evolving.  In the end it was more of a trend that I saw — but very interesting that both Marilyn Pratt and Steve Rumsby thought otherwise.

    • Thanks Jelena Perfiljeva and Steve Rumsby for your feedback. I definitely held my breath when I published this one but great to hear it came across well. I haven’t blogged in awhile but I have been part of SCN for several years.  While I haven’t been as active I understand the written rules, some of the unspoken rules and that it is valuable on many many levels.  For new bloggers and maybe seasoned bloggers like yourself, putting yourself out there is always a risk as in it might not be well received. And that is the story of the internet.

      I’ve seen some comments recently on SCN that was a bit aggressive and was surprised just because in that instance they were a new blogger.  Keeping quality up is important, but to keep SCN fresh with new types of content and new “blood” means that new, inexperienced bloggers and new to the world of SAP will come through (as in students, those beginning their careers).  There is a learning curve for the new and for the seasoned as SCN evolves to stay relevant.

      Steve Rumsby I love the fact how you mentioned the dilemma of spaces. I went through the same process and landed here just because I had to choose one. But it was something that I thought about longer then it may seem. I think many do. Often.

      Always interesting to see how others browse SCN (I tend to just bounce around homepages and take ques from Twitter) and a good reminder that many look out for the quality and relevancy of the content for the sake of keeping SCN around as long as possible. I’m all for that.



      • Keeping up the quality of content on SCN is important, and I know people can get quite passionate about it. But you’re right that we also need to be welcoming to new people, and new people don’t always produce content of the same quality or style as existing people. There’s a tension there, and I know I’ve reacted inappropriately sometimes. This is made harder because SCN is an international community with different cultures, and where for many English isn’t the first (or second, or third) language, and so expectations can be different and comments can be misunderstood. And sometimes us oldies need at accept that different isn’t always bad 🙂

        There’s a saying I came across many, many years ago in the context of writing programs that had to talk to each other, and for which there were therefore standards of communication. It goes something like, “Be strict in what you produce, but flexible about what you accept.” I think that works here very nicely.

        And it is good to see you back!


    • Jelena Perfiljeva just wanted to respond and say that when it comes to the quote you mentioned– believe it or not SAP is running to get there as fast as possible. We also wish the process did not take this long but hopefully everyone will be experiencing major strides of change in the very near future.