After last Thursday's earnings call, it seems that all eyes are on RIM. Either to watch it "slowly die a painful death," or to see how they will "get out of this one." And it also seems like everyone wants to tell RIM what to do to solve their situation. We're no different, but our advice comes out of a place for love of the brand instead of spitefulness.
Either way, RIM has no time to lose and has to keep kicking to churn the cream they are in into butter to crawl out. Last May, Frank Boulben was hired by RIM as Chief Marketing Officer, and although we have yet to see what he has been working on for the last few weeks, we can be sure that he has the credentials to get the job done.
In a previous life, Mr. Boulben was an executive VP of strategy, marketing and sales at wireless broadband network LightSquared. He's also held marketing possitions at various European mobile carriers Vodafone, Vivendi and Orange.
Since Mr. Boulben will oversee global marketing, he has his hands full creating a solid marketing strategy. That is why I am providing this unsolicited advice to Frank on how he could tackle the US market. Although I do not have a degree in marketing, I did take intro to business in college. With the current situation, it is clear that RIM needs to implement an aggressive marketing strategy to keep current subscribers and attract new ones.
Fortunately for RIM, they have already identified their target market and aim to "Empower their Success".
Let's take it back to basics with a little marketing 101. RIM needs to execute on the "5 P's of Marketing" to keep the company on course until BB10 arrives.
1. Product: "BlackBerry People Do"
Thorsten Heins filled the room with excitement this year when he began to talk about "BlackBerry People" at this years BlackBerry World in Orlando. He also talked about the "BlackBerry DNA" and ultimately about what BlackBerry devices do for these people. BlackBerry is in a good position having a partnership with Microsoft, leveraging the Bing search engine, whose slogan, "Bing is for doing," aligns nicely with the "BlackBerry DNA" of BlackBerry people. It is a clear message that caters to a specific market, and positions the BlackBerry solution as a tool for productive people. To further strengthen this notion, it would not be a bad Idea for RIM to seek a strategic partnership with another company which is also invested in helping its users do more. Lenovo has had a campaign going for a couple of years now, leading with the very similar slogan; "Lenovo: For those who do." Another added advantage is that Lenovo's target market also happens to be the enterprise user. This one is a no brainer. Just look at a Lenovo ad in comparison to RIM's †recent "BlackBerry: People Who Do" campaign. BlackBerry is a product that helps people do, to keep their businesses open and not only that, but BlackBerry can be social too, helping people to connect with friends and family.
2. Place: "#BeBold"
Undeniably, the #BeBold campaign has taken off all over North America due to RIM's strategic product placement at baseball stadiums, and other sporting events, sponsoring a massively televised New Years Eve show in New York, but most importantly, this campaign has slowly made its way around the World through social media. RIM got to be at the top without much marketing; word of mouth, coupled with enterprises adopting fleets of BB's to make their employees productive sealed the deal for RIM. To have a BlackBerry meant that you were somebody and that you were important. Now, despite the negative gut reaction some people have towards the company, avid BlackBerry users have flooded facebook and twitter with their #BeBold statements and others have followed suit.
If RIM is to captivate the minds of more users, it is absolutely imperative that BlackBerry is seen and heard everywhere, not just the web. I want to see more BlackBerry ads on TV, and print media. The public needs to understand what #BeBold really means.
3. Price: "BOGO or No Go"
RIM has already invested a LOT of money into further subsidizing their phones and tablets and even continued sales of PlayBooks long after the holiday seasons. Kudos for that. But more people are weary of purchasing a device due to the massive amount of misinformation out there. Starting with some unprofessional and irresponsible sales people who purposely steer customers away from BlackBerry devices dishing out false information. Not too long ago, I heard of a customer who was discouraged from purchasing a Bold 9900 "because they crash a lot."
One strategy to really have customers try a BlackBerry device is if it is offered as a freebie. However RIM can't afford to just give away hand sets left and right just like that. If a partnership between Lenovo and RIM were to happen, I can easily see an offer similar to the competition where if you purchase a laptop for college, you can get a free phone. And if that is not possible, RIM can also emulate the promotion of providing a voucher for AppWorld apps or even accessories on the purchase of a PlayBook or upgrade to a BB7 phone. And hey, its not imitation, there are no patents (that I'm aware of) on marketing campaigns, its business.
4. Promotion: "Make a #BoldMove"
Of course the hardest part for Frank will be to deliver this message in an exciting new way. And it has to be in a way we have not seen before. Apple had a successful strategy with the "I'm a Mac" ads, but BlackBerry is not in a position to be comparing apples to oran…er…berries. Instead we need a #BoldMove, one that screams I am an individual, I am a free thinker, I get my *ish done. Visiting my alma mater this past weekend, I realized that there are still plenty students who are rocking a BB, I saw Curves, Torches, and even Bolds. There is a huge untapped market in college students. They are always on the go, and they need a device that can help them keep track of exams with a reliable calendar, can form impromptu study groups with BBM groups, and tap into all their social networks. There are real opportunities to be had on college campuses so if that means sending out reps to demo phones to students, then so be it.
5. People: "Harness the Power of #TeamBlackBerry"
After the dust settled, people have began to show their true colors and the culling process for the hardcore loyal BlackBerry fans began. As some users have decided to abandon ship, others have confirmed their loyalty by sending out encouraging words to various employees at RIM, including the official @BlackBerry twitter account. Just today, a tweet went out thanking the over one million followers, dedicating tomorrow to celebrating those that have stuck with RIM through thick and thin. It is no secret that your best marketing team is your end user. If they are satisfied and happy, they will too be happy to do all the ground work. And RIM has a very powerful user base. Looking at their Facebook page, you can see that they have almost 11.5 million likes. These same loyal users around the world will continue telling their friends and family to try a BlackBerry despite the competition. For one, the team here at is also committed to BB10, and continuing to cheer RIM on.
So Frank, if you read this, I'm willing to work under your direction to get the word out for BlackBerry. Who's with me?