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Awards case study: Find out how Nutanix was able to nab the award for ‘Best corporate decision-maker-targeted campaign’

Learn how CXO Focus fast became the cornerstone of Nutanix’ marketing activity through its exceptional campaign. 

About the client company 

Founded as a tech start-up in 2009, San Jose-based Nutanix is now a global leader in cloud software and a pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, making computing invisible anywhere. Organizations use Nutanix software to leverage a single platform to manage any app at any location for their private, hybrid and multi cloud environments. The company reached a $1 billion valuation by 2013 and in 2016 it listed on the NASDAQ in what was the biggest IPO that year. Today, the company has a market cap of US$5.5 Billion.

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing 

Nutanix found itself competing for substantially bigger deals within largely siloed organizations. But to stand a better chance of winning those deals, it needed to raise brand awareness at C-Level earlier in the sales process – to instil confidence, knock down those silos and unlock budgets. 

The conversation needed to elevate from technical nuts and bolts to the transformative power of technology. But how to impactfully influence Board Level decision-makers? What would truly achieve cut-through? 

Cue to a series of interviews with CIOs from the world’s top 200 organizations to ask what they really wanted to hear from a company like Nutanix. Based on this, the Nutanix global marketing team partnered with Shaped By to devise CXO Focus – a high-level framework of exclusive content and events built around four pillars, each designed to tackle an issue close to the hearts of C-level leaders: Learn, Network, Advise, and Give Back.

Objectives of the campaign 

In addition to the content itself, to help position Nutanix as a thought leader and a go-to resource for C-level execs, CXO Focus needed its own identity, so Nutanix partnered with Shaped By to create a standalone look and feel with a subtle association to the parent brand – one that is recognizable, exclusive, and ownable. 

Nutanix expected that after 12 months CXO Focus would yield an ROI of 50:1, with specific objectives related to: 

  • Number of C-Level execs that engage with the program 

  • Minutes of engagement from those people 

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) generation 

  • Conversion to pipeline $ 

  • Actual closed business $

The target audience 

CXO Focus is a global C-Level program like no other, targeting around 20,000 CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, CFOs (and more) across 172 countries. Some of these were existing customers, but a large proportion were people that didn’t know Nutanix at all. Time-poor CXOs should never have to ask themselves “what is this, and why should I care?”. They want to network with peers. They want to help their team learn about bleeding edge technology. They want to give advice within their industry. And they want to give back in a socially responsible way.

Media, channels or techniques used 

Shaped By created a visual identity to bring on-and off-line content to life across all touchpoints. Sharp, angular shapes and a contrasting black and white aesthetic provides a cutting-edge look and feel, and the X/chevron treatment complements Nutanix’ branding. The clean, minimalist visual style is paired with clear and direct messaging. A brand film is used to engage people on a more emotive level. 

Exclusive, engaging and comprehensive content and events all focus on what target customers want, housed on a CXO Focus’ microsite. And then Nutanix crafted a journey to interact with them and drive them to the microsite. 

Content/messaging was delivered to the target audience via Display advertising, Emails, Social channels, third party sponsorships via Harvard Business Review and other top tier publications, and targeted direct mail to key individuals. Nutanix also partnered with community members to recommend and share the content to broaden brand awareness within their own networks. 

Thought Leadership


Innovative, change-driving thought leaders provide inspiration via articles, blogs, infographics, presentations, and more. 



Exclusive, invitation-only classes – learn how to anticipate and successfully address unexpected threats, mitigate the negative impacts of digital disruption, transform your organization, and elevate your career. 

Nutanix University 

Accredited executive learning around digital disruption, in partnership with Columbia University Executive. 

The Cloud Counsel:

Program for business technology leaders to gain actionable advice on business challenges and opportunities. 

Women in Tech Leadership Exchange


Evaluating the impact of role and gender-based stereotypes in the workplace, the goal is to start a meaningful series of conversations to solve everyday workplace challenges.

CXO Spotlights: Peer

interviews to encourage networking and knowledge sharing. 

CIO Assessment Tool:

Measure leadership maturity with a CIO assessment tool. 

Up until this point all comms and content were built on CXO Focus branding. As people engaged with that content, the Nutanix brand – and solutions to meet the CIO needs – were introduced. 

At the same time, engagement with the program continues to be built. For example, offering opportunities to build their personal brand through Columbia program mentorship, speaking slots, or CXO spotlight interviews. 

Timescales of the campaign 

  • Sep/Oct 2019: Research 

  • Oct/Nov 2019: Strategy development, Planning, Content Development, Branding development 

  • December 2019: CXO Focus microsite launch 

  • January 2020 onwards: Ongoing content development and target audience communications 

  • March 2020 onwards: Pivoting Masterclass and other in-person CXO activities to virtual formats


The total budget was split as follows to December 2020: 

  • Research: 5% 

  • Media spend: 20% 

  • Agency fees: 12.5% 

  • Fees for content contributions by industry leading experts: 12.5% 

  • Other marketing resources/tech platforms: 50%


One year after CXO Focus’ December 2019 launch, and under the huge challenge of a sharp pivot from live to online events due to COVID just three months in, the results are nothing short of extraordinary. So much so that the program has been extended into 2021 – with a 25% budget increase. CXO Focus is fast becoming the cornerstone of Nutanix’ marketing activity. 

  • C-Level Engagement: +176% more C-Level execs engaged with the program vs objective Minutes of Engagement: +175% more minutes of content engagement than expected Marketing Qualified Leads: +220% more MQLs than target 

  • Pipeline: +316% conversion to pipeline in US$ as a direct result of CXO Focus 

  • Actual closed business: +220% vs US$ objective 

  • 100:1 return on marketing investment doubles objective

We want to elevate the role of IT in business – from functional to transformational. So we need to build relationships with people who shape the future of business: C-Level execs. Together with Shaped By, we’ve built a platform that enables us to do this, showing Nutanix as thought leaders, rather than simply promoting our products and services. By forming a community of C-level executives around learning and knowledge-sharing, we are able to demonstrate that we understand their business challenges and how to address them. The outcomes are proof positive that our strategy is working.

Qabil Shah, Global Marketing Senior Director, Nutanix

Elevation Awards 2021 

This entry won Gold for ‘Best corporate decision-maker-targeted campaign’. Check out our full shortlist and full list of winners now to see who won big! 

Check out the winners here!

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