Voices of the Engagement Economy: Mark Wilson, CMO, Blackberry

Engagement Strategies


Christian-NolteMark is responsible for partners, developers, industry solutions, and events.




In this discussion, Mark talks about the winds of change, influencer strategy, and how Blackberry engages with their customers.

Q: Blackberry has undergone significant changes over the past few years. Walk me through this transition.

As a challenger brand, we have found ways to connect with customers and future customers in different and bold ways to get industry attention. Blackberry has made a fundamental change from smartphones to mobile software. We asked, “How do we best let the market know?” This change so significant that we couldn’t communicate it through programs or blogs. Our CEO, John Chen, met with our customers, partners, and employees. Not only did we get John exposure in live events, including TV, we needed to provide fresh content on social media, particularly YouTube, to provide a drumbeat to our audience. John explained why we were pivoting to secure enterprise software, how he led the turnaround, and provided a consistent, compelling story. This effort to uniquely connect with the market has amplified our brand and provided customers with a compelling experience.

Q: How has your engagement strategy pivoted?

Blackberry has always been known for our place in the enterprise. As we evolve, we want to continue to capitalize on that strength. Online communities have been an excellent means to promote Blackberry. For instance, our LinkedIn group, Blackberry for Business, not only has grown to almost 16,000 members but was recognized several years ago for the high number and quality of conversations taking place there. While it’s important that we reach out directly to our audience, having our audience engage with each other to provide meaningful insights is very powerful. Users are looking for trustworthy sources to learn from and explore. While we contribute content to the community, our biggest value proposition is to provide these users with a platform.

Q:  When it comes to content, what other strategies do you utilize?

As we identified key markets for ourselves, it became important to become involved in industry conversations. Whether in online industry communities, events, or through other thought leaders, participating in these conversations gave us the opportunity to both convey our message and have the learning opportunities for both market trends and user needs.

Influencers, such as industry analysts, have been critical to delivering the message of our software shift. Analysts provide a trusted source for our potential customers, IT managers, CIOs, Chief Security Officers, and more. Analysts are inundated with vendors vying for their support. To cut through the clutter, analysts appreciate a credible, easy to understand story. When John and the new executive team arrived, we realized that as a turnaround, Blackberry needed to pivot from the smartphone market. The gravity pulling the company down was simply too great to overcome and grow again. We decided to leverage our software assets into new growth markets such as mobility, security, and IoT. Analysts offered key input on our strategy. As we grew the business, we continued to engage them. Due to their contributions, they became stakeholders in our success.

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