Citrix is perhaps best well known for server, desktop and networking tools. But with the acquisition of micro-app platform Sapho last fall, it made a big move into ramping up its profile as a provider of digital workplace solutions.
We recently sat down with Citrix CMO Tim Minahan—a veteran tech marketer with experience at SAP and Ariba—to discuss how Citrix is evolving its marketing strategy, and the ways a partnership with Aston Martin Red Bull racing is creating engagement on and off the racetrack.
CHIEF MARKETER: What are your biggest marketing challenges when it comes to reaching decision makers and promoting the new solutions?
TIM MINAHAN: Our heritage. It’s opening up their minds to who we are today. There’s an investment in brand awareness from a thought leadership level in a few different channels. We’re guiding discussions around things like employee experience and customer experience in a few different places, like the Wall Street Journal. That has been more top of funnel—virtualization has been our strategy, so that was the easy part. And we’re redirecting our spending from traditional tech conferences to some of the workplace transformation and HR/IT conferences. We’ve also supplemented it with having an open dialogue around employee experience and bring chief human resource officers together, [so we can] earn the right to have the conversation. It’s been something different for Citrix over the last year or so.
CM: What forms does the thought leadership take?
TM: We want to not just showcase our wares but be in the dialogue. So we’re sponsoring research or articles or whitepapers, advertorial types of things, and podcast series where we may have an executive or customer participate or we may just sponsor it because the topic is relevant. We might supplement research efforts with a real world sit down on how technology can enhance the workplace experience. It’s not just about what Citrix can do, it’s about how you should be thinking about this issue.
CM: Are you finding that your audience is thinking about ways to improve the employee experience, and considering how employees are customers within the organization?
TM: Yes. The CEO of a Canadian bank going through a workplace initiative told me [his company] wants to find ways to attract people to Toronto. But they also have to find ways to go where the talent is, and arm them with an environment where they can engage and be collaborative and [the company] can access their skills without requiring everyone to come into the office. That’s a key shift—you hear a lot about the talent crunch. Ebay, for example, was doing constant recruiting. They partnered with us to [create a] digital workspace. They’re testing this out now— they’ve got about 600 or so people in their ‘home worker’ [program], like stay home parents in Montana or gig workers in Boston, and they give them a digital workspace with the knowledge and applications they need. They’re planning on growing this model to 4,000 employees by the end of the year. These are the kind of decisions companies need to make.
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CM: How is Citrix leveraging partnerships to create engagement with customers?
TM: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been a long time Citrix customer. They use everywhere from the manufacturing facilities to the track to their operations center, wall to wall, to put the best car and the best team on the track and perform at their best. That partnership has had a huge impact in [our target audience] being able to understand who Citrix is and our value and [amplify] our social reach.
CM: How does the partnership help tell your story?
MINAHAN: When we’re sitting in front of, say, a financial services company, we can talk about how the team is using our virtualization product to collaborate with suppliers with very dense CAD/CAM drawings in a lightweight way, and they don’t need to bring a data center with them, and the security components around that. This year they’re doing 21 races in 10 different countries. Imagine every week picking up your company and bringing it somewhere else. There’s two cars at every race, 7,500 parts and every week there’s design changes depending on how it performed last week, or the track conditions. [We can share] the fact that they’re taking a real time telemetry from the sensors on the car and in real time making race decisions.
CM: Are you creating experiences with Red Bull Racing?
TM: Last year, the team came up with the idea to do a stunt, on the 63rd floor of a downtown Miami building. We lifted the car in and the driver did doughnuts. From an earned media standpoint, it was the equivalent of an estimated $5 million worth of exposure, because it was on ESPN all weekend, it was on NBC. We linked back to our site on social, so people could see how they were using our technology. A lot of it is around impressions and reach, and we were able to see what companies were getting exposed to the stunt.
CM: Have you gotten feedback from customers on events like this?
TM: We had our Customer Council soon after that and the CIO from Arca Continental, Jose Guereque, came up to me and said “Hey, I wanted to thank you for the awareness you are putting out on the market. I got into work the week after the race and our CEO said, ‘Hey, did you watch the race? Citrix was everywhere. Tell me again…what we do with Citrix?’” It gave us the opportunity to have a conversation that we normally wouldn’t have.