5-minute Armchair Advertising Advice for SAP

June 27, 2006

I wrote a short overview of SAP and what I felt was “their brand story” a couple weeks ago and Thomas stopped by to comment. He asked what I thought of SAP’s current “[insert company name here] runs SAP” campaign and what I would do next.

With the combined Microsoft-SAP product, Duet, launching and a Wall Street Journal article last week on how SAP is focusing (once again*) on the design of the user experience, I think I have more than enough to drive some off the cuff comments.

[insert company name here] Runs SAP
On one hand, this approach seems to make sense. When I was at American Airlines, I was told that the CEO chose SAP, saying

“If it’s good enough for [some other big company that I cannot remember], then it’s good enough for American Airlines.”

That CEO was probably bolder than most. But many executives do look at what their counter parts are doing. Big decisions need rationalization to fit what their gut tells them they want to do. The last thing a decision maker wants to look like is a fool.

Some of my European SAP contacts find the advertising expression a bit odd. “Since when does Colgate run SAP? Did they buy us?” It’s a language issue that might have been thought out a little better. Easy for me to say – hindsight is 20/20.

The ROI Sell
The Return on Investment (ROI) advertising SAP has been doing is powerful because it is results driven. And, results help decision makers rationalize the purchase. (Many leading psychologists say that all decisions are emotional first, then rationalizations simply support what they’ve already chosen to do.)

But, Oracle’s cheeky response to those ads (which basically counters and says that SAP companies actually have worse financial results), now has everyone likely thinking (again) that “All Marketers Are Liars!” So Larry has done a good job and creating mistrust. Personally, I’m inclined to trust Larry less, but I digress. . .

So What Next?
The Wall Street Journal article last week talked about improving the SAP user experience (Designing Away Tears). The release of Duet (see www.duet.com) also simplifies the end-user experience. It seems to me, that if SAP can show the business implications of an improved user experience and the flexibility of the business process based on NetWeaver/Business Process Platform, then that combination might be an attractive sell.

Especially for making good traction in small and mid-sized enterprises, which seem to be the gold rush of this decade.

So, without the luxury of a long, in depth analysis, I’d mix ease-of-use/productivity gains with the flexibility of customizable business processes to strike a winning chord and also give justification for current customers to upgrade – many don’t understand why they should. A campaign that would show the value might be a nice targeted campaign as well (maybe not advertising, but through some other touchpoints).

I’d also contact Morsekode to help SAP make that happen! ☺

* I say “once again” as SAP engaged Alan Cooper in the late 90s to help improve usability of SAP applications in a large initiative that was entitled “Enjoy SAP.” As I peek at Cooper’s Web site, it looks like he has continued to help and may even still be involved.


One comment

  1. John,
    good points.
    Everyone forgets about the Enjoy! project. Lots of Deja vu….

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