UPS loves the Web

Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, spoke today to about 150 execs at the Potomac Officers Club luncheon here in Tysons. It was my first chance to see him speak. His talk was mostly about the 100-year UPS story and the evolution they've gone through over the past few years to focus on 1-to-1 shipping. He had wise-but-common advice like focusing on your customers and keeping your employees happy. The overriding theme that stuck with me, though, was that Mike -- or at least UPS -- loves the web. He touched on it in a few key ways:
  1. He used the web as a metaphor for their transition from a big company acting like a big company to a bigger company acting like a small one. To paraphrase: "The web lets small businesses look big, and lets big businesses act small."
  2. He stressed that being successful now (if you are) shouldn't distract you from the need to transform your business. It's happening. Change or lose. It's a 1-to-1 world, meaning customers expect personalized attention. He touted being nimble and responsive -- words rarely associated with a company that employs more than 400,000 people -- as being the key to success these days. The cornerstone of their ability to communicate with and support their customers in these ways is technology, mostly through their web site.
  3. When he showed off UPS's $35M "whiteboard" marketing campaign, he inadvertently illustrated how tightly their online marketing is integrated, and how much he likes it. He broke from his PowerPoint presentation to a full TV commercial and then on to their live web site (www.ups.com/whiteboard) and the message, interactive video, and branding was all as consistent as could be. He was downright giddy about the "send a whiteboard" viral marketing feature. He even showed that he pays attention to analytics, noting that the average length of visit is over 4 minutes for the millions of visitors they've had since the campaign launched.
Even though he never said "ajaxy" I was impressed with his web savvy. It was cool to see such a big-business guy focused on the ways the web can help create tighter relationships with customers. Whether you have $42.5 billion in revenue or just $42.50, the fundamentals are the same, and those who embrace this mind-set will win. Update: Thanks to StreamCenter, you can watch the entire event online.

Brian is Viget's co-founder and CEO. He does everything from advising our clients to building our conference tables with his bare hands in our Falls Church, VA, HQ.

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