Opportunity is probably the last word you’d associate with bankruptcy; yet that’s the term Avaya software had in mind when it filed for Chapter 11 in January of 2017. Instead of panicking over its $6 billion debt, the company sought to capitalize on financial reorganization. With CMO Morag Lucey at the helm, Avaya launched a campaign to not only communicate its dilemma to employees, but also to maintain trust among customers.
Lucey explains how Avaya preserved client and employee confidence while it recovered from Chapter 11. You can listen to Lucey tell the story in her interview with Drew Neisser on the Renegade Thinkers Unite podcast:
Here are three strategies Avaya used to sustain its image while filing for bankruptcy, and bounce back strong.
Telling the Truth
The possibility of job loss weighs heavy on employees. To minimize the uncertainty and ease the tension that came with bankruptcy, Avaya kept its communication lines open. Lucey explains how the company corresponded transparently with its workers. “We met daily and talked about the narrative of what was happening to us and why it was happening,” she says. “It was openness and it wasn’t something that was happening in the executive suite.” This information reached employees through a variety of mediums, which included CEO video communications, weekly employee newsletters, and an internal online network.
Lucey’s team launched a campaign called Avaya Strong to build trust with clients. The program included one-on-one meetings with partners and top customers. “The key is the stories that we tell, and the customers that continue to rely on us to provide the experience that is outstanding,” says Lucey. “Being able to share daily those stories…externally and internally and internally really helped us ensure that we were driving the momentum and the confidence that this was not an execution issue.” By laying its cards on the table, Avaya protected itself from speculation and distrust.
Avaya wanted to show that bankruptcy was just a necessary bump in the road. “We had to bring the past to the future,” Lucey says. “And so we really did write the narrative of where we’ve been and where we are going.” Bankruptcy wasn’t the end for Avaya; it simply opened the door to a new beginning. As the software company regularly needs to develop new products and services, its business structure may have to evolve from time to time.
Conclusion: The Power of Storytelling
Storytelling is key for Avaya’s marketing campaigns, just as it was during its financial reorganization. Avaya seeks to maintain strong connections with its network. “There’s an emotional connection in most stories,” says Lucey. “If you get away from the ‘yes, we bought the technology and we wanted to do the following,’ most companies [are] all wanting to connect with their customers.” Brands aren’t about products; they’re about helping people achieve a goal. Through honesty and assistance, business and consumers can work towards their goals side by side.