breaks down borders, connects
February 1, 2007
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
you think of boundary-breaking tech marketing, Apple, YouTube,
MySpace and Google come to mind, not Berlin and Munich, Germany-based
Siemens AG. Yet the quiet, understated Siemens is best-in-class
at global marketing.
Listening to Jack Bergen, senior vice president of corporate affairs
and marketing for the $110.8 billion Siemens, you realize Bergen
is no ordinary marketer. Bergen is a multidisciplinary executive
who was born to break down borders.
He’s a former Army Ranger and Vietnam vet who graduated
from West Point and taught English, philosophy and ethics at the
military academy. He worked as a strategic planner at the Pentagon
during the Reagan administration and was the chief speech writer
for Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
Before joining Siemens in 2001, Bergen was the founding president
of New York-based Council of Public Relations firms. He played
a key role in the Westinghouse-CBS merger and was CEO of GCI Group,
Grey Advertising’s PR arm based in New York. Bergen’s
held top positions at Hill & Knowlton, RCA and GE.
what’s a West Point grad doing at the top of one of the
world’s biggest technology organizations? He’s helping
Siemens CEO Klaus Kleinfeld write the playbook on business-to-business
Consider these facts: Siemens invests $6.3 billion in R&D
annually and 75% of Siemens’ revenue comes from products
that didn’t exist five years ago. They have more than 53,000
active patents and created 8,800 inventions in their last fiscal
The 159-year-old company operates in 190 countries, employs 460,000
people and ranks No. 21 on the Fortune 500 list. The company has
a market cap of $85.8 billion.
Siemens markets under the tagline, “Siemens Global Network
of Innovation.” Bergen is not happy with the line. “We’re
working on changing that,” Bergen says. “It doesn’t
really help us cross borders,” he adds. Crossing borders
and connecting with customers is what Bergen’s marketing
playbook is all about. He wants to tear down geographical, organizational
and functional boundaries.
One way Bergen crosses geographical borders is by linking his
CEO with the world’s power players. Bergen is proud of his
executive relationship management program.
“When Klaus Kleinfeld became CEO, we set up a system for
him so that he could very quickly get to know people,” says
Bergen and his team identified global leaders who Kleinfeld felt
he should know to advance Siemens’ business.
“We saw an article in The New York Times about
Hank Paulson—who is now the Treasury Secretary and had been
head of Goldman Sachs—doing a lot of running when he traveled,”
Bergen says. “Here was an opportunity for the boss to make
a connection—a personal connection. It could be a phone
call. It could be a note. It could be an e-mail.”
Knowing Kleinfeld is a marathoner who wanted to build relationships
on Wall Street, Bergen proposed an e-mail from Kleinfeld to Paulson
that read in part, “I’m going to show my wife this
article about you and your itinerate life. She’s always
on my case (about) traveling so much and always spending so much
According to Bergen the note generated a response that led to
a relationship. Last May, when new German Chancellor Angela Merkel
visited the United States and wanted to convene a group of American
and German CEOs, the Paulson/Kleinfeld relationship was pivotal.
They teamed to bring the group of business leaders together. “It
became a very historic meeting,” Bergen says, and good for
Siemens’ business, as well.
When Siemens, a perennial competitor to GE, posted good financial
results while GE struggled, a Wall Street blog suggested former
GE CEO Jack Welch must have gone to Siemens. Bergen saw the opportunity
to create a connection.
“We alerted Kleinfeld, and he wrote a three-liner note to
Welch that said, ‘I’m complimented for them to think
that you are running the company,’ ” Bergen says.
Welch replied within 30 minutes that he’d like to come and
“It all happens by these little notes,” he adds.
To break down organizational boundaries within Siemens, Bergen
has instituted a City Ambassador’s program.
Siemens is composed of large vertical units in Information and
Communication, Automation and Control, Power, Transportation,
Medical and Lighting. Typically there’s not much collaboration
across these units, but Bergen’s changing that.
“In one city we brought all the people from our 13 operating
companies together in a room,” Bergen says. “Two of
the companies are at the same building, but they did not know
they were in the same location.”
“I give each one of the City Ambassadors money and someone
from my staff to work with them. They find ways to work together,”
Bergen says. Getting Siemens people acquainted stimulates new
business. Bergen funds bonuses of $500 to $1,000 for cross-divisional
leads with $5,000 going to the individual whose efforts generate
the most business.
“It is one of my smallest marketing investments,”
Bergen says. “You don’t need a lot of money.”
The program resulted in $130 million in incremental business last
year for Siemens.
The functional barriers that Bergen is trying to obliterate are
those where advertising types don’t talk to PR people, and
direct and online marketers don’t talk with special events
experts at Siemens.
Bergen draws an oval with all the marketing and communications
competencies surrounding a central circle containing the terms
“customers and influencers.”
“If you want funding for an advertising program,”
Bergen says, “you have to use one or more of the other competencies.”
Such cross-functional thinking is transforming Siemens. Mundane
golf events have become multidimensional thought leadership programs
with a charitable component. Sales efforts selling high-tech medical
diagnostic devices have become digital health initiatives that
unseat entrenched competitors.
“It’s all about people working together,” says
Bergen, the master at getting people to collaborate across boundaries
of geography, organization and function.
Krauss is a president of Market Strategy Group, based in Chicago,
and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Mkt-strat.com