UNIT4’s 10 years with JRocket Marketing strategic positioning yields mega growth, U.S. market launch and, ultimately, sale of the company for $1.6B.
In January 2006, the North American operating arm of UNIT4, a global enterprise resource planning (ERP) company, hired JRocket Marketing to perform a strategic marketing exercise to help formally launch the UNIT4 operating unit into the U.S. landscape. UNIT4 was well-established in Europe, but had no brand recognition in the U.S. in a marketplace of giant-sized ERP players. JRocket Marketing conducted its 90-day PLAN-IT® program: Month 1 – Market Positioning; Month 2 – the 12-Month Marketing Plan; and Month 3 – hiring and training marketing/sales staff to execute the Plan.
By the end of the first 30 days and right on schedule with the PLAN-IT program deliverables, JRocket Marketing presented a breakthrough strategy for the company, identifying two things that this decades old company with thousands of employees and thousands of global customers did not previously realize:
- UNIT4 had (many years ago!) built a UNIQUE architectural foundation that could not be matched by ERP competitors of ANY size; and
- This architecture provided the means to address a serious, recurring and escalating market requirement: business agility, and could support a rapid, no-coding-required response to changing circumstances.
This unique discovery uncovered independently by JRocket Marketing, and the following 10-year engagement with JRocket Marketing to provide ongoing strategic inputs and analyst relations guidance/services (JRocket Marketing Nitro®) provided the company with a go-to-market advantage that was unimagined at the time. Locally, the fledgling North American Division would grow to become a significant participant in the U.S. and Canadian markets. Globally, the branding advantage JRocket Marketing discovered and vetted, would ultimately help the overall company grow from revenues of just under $400 million, to be sold in 2014 for $1.6 billion. Today, even with subsequent branding/ positioning exercises performed by big brand name strategic marketing companies that are 1,000 or more times larger than JRocket Marketing, the initial “change advantage” capabilities and branding that JRocket Marketing built, still stands.
UNIT4’s Shelley Zapp, CEO of the North American operations, who originally hired JRocket Marketing and has been with the company throughout JRocket Marketing’s 10-year engagement, says she quickly recognized the broader significance of what had occurred when JRocket unveiled the proposed new positioning.
“We’ll take the credit here in North America for doing the initial marketing exercise and also selecting JRocket Marketing. There are a lot of strategic marketing services out there that are a lot larger and more expensive. It’s clear that our ‘little’ JRocket Marketing exercise has had a major impact on UNIT4’s identity in the marketplace for 10 years.”
Shelley Zapp, CEO,
UNIT4 – North America
Once JRocket Marketing discovered the company’s previously unknown market differentiator and the competitively unaddressed ERP market pain point, company founder Judith Rothrock did the following:
- Rebranded the UNIT4 architecture with the name “Vita”, which means “life” in Latin, and she advocated that all marketing materials and digital interfaces lead with the company’s unique advantage;
- Created a series of related corporate taglines and campaigns: “ERP with no expiration date”, “Post-Implementation Agility”, “Embrace Change” and later, she identified/created UNIT4’s “5 Cloud Market Advantages: Security, Portability, Elasticity, Completeness and Forgiveness”;
- Identified the five most common areas of business change and created materials explaining the difference between technology-required change (i.e. upgrades/new releases) and business-required change (i.e. regulatory change, mergers & acquisitions, etc.).
- Created a prospect pre-qualification checklist to help the sales force quickly identify the best “change-centric” company prospects and markets to pursue to gain the fastest traction;
- Established and promoted to the global analyst community a new market category called BLINC – Businesses Living IN change;
- Established UNIT4’s first coordinated global analyst program with specific program and event elements to optimize/promote the company’s advantage on a competitively limited budget.
“It (the JRocket Marketing contract) was the best $45,000 we ever spent. It would have been worth a million. It was the most effective and concentrated marketing program I have ever experienced.”
John Scott, Former VP, Sales and Marketing, UNIT4