Archive for the ‘Case Study’ Category
September 6th, 2010
The Zen of Marketing Management
I was thinking about how, as marketers, we are so completely focused on end results, whatever they may be. We are obsessed about new product intro dates, pricing, social media impact, web site hits, sales, profit, market share, and the list goes on. We are whipped into a frenzy around measurement and ROI of our marketing investments.
This in turn reminded me of a Zen story that will shed some light on another important aspect of marketing. It goes something like this:
A student asked a Zen Master,
‘If I work very hard,
how long will it take for me to realize Zen?’
The Master replied,
The student replied,
‘If I work very very hard,
how long will it take for me to realize Zen?’
The Master replied,
The student replied,
‘If I work very very very hard,
how long will it take for me to realize Zen?’
The Master replied,
The student replied,
‘But, I don’t understand…
why does it take longer when I work harder?
The Master replied,
‘When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.’
Too often in marketing we are obsessed with the goal, to the point that we fail to understand that the path, or the process, we used to reach the goal is equally, if not sometimes more, important. Oftentimes, marketing professionals fail to invest adequately in infrastructure and business processes that will ultimately help us achieve the expected business results. In marketing, it is often hard to rise above the challenges of the quarter to quarter “what have you done for me lately mentality.” Truth be told, businesses need to ensure that the right processes and tools are in place to reach those treasured results. Having a processes-oriented mentality (following the path if you will) will achieve many important things. First and foremost, it will help you build a better framework for problem solving.
For example, do you want to build a more effective new product launch capability? In order to do that, you need to map out all of elements of a successful product launch – the timing, actions, owners, and interdependencies. A second important outcome is that a well-defined process should improve overall operating efficiency. Build the process out and you will find what you really need (and don’t need) to run the business efficiently. A well-defined process also optimizes workflow, making the overall decision process more efficient. That could mean reductions in people, time and money. Great BPO projects don’t add resources—they take resources away, because they are more automated, require fewer steps, and so forth. Finally, there is the matter of effectiveness. The path will lead to more effective decisions. The results include (among many other things) better product designs, enhanced time to market for new products, more accurate forecasts and improved pricing. One shortfall of the marketing function is that it is not always favorably viewed as being a tightly-run ship, due to all of the processes, metrics, and control systems such as the supply chain or the financial aspect. Because of this, we get a bad rap; but I think we are getting better and improving over time. Having said this, we still have a long way to go, and a long path to follow!
Therefore, the path to great decisions is as important as the goal. Being more process-oriented will help you keep your eyes on the path. Marketing professionals who focus only the goal will miss the enlightenment that can be found by following the path.
What is your marketing Zen?
[RG1]Singular because this refers to “path.”
August 25th, 2010
DOES A RETRO PRODUCT STRATEGY REALLY WORK?
Lately, I have been thinking about retro product strategies. You know, when companies maintain or introduce new products that are rooted in designs or use models of the past. I am not talking about products that are just a continuation of trendy or faddy products and categories from years gone by – lava lamps, soda bottle dispensing machines, rotary telephones, and other forms of retro collectibles. No… what I am thinking about are 1) products that have withstood the sands of time and are still popular today and 2) products that are introduced with modern features but packaged in industrial designs to look like they are retro or vintage. They are designed to evoke feelings of nostalgia and of the durability inherent in yesteryear’s products. Let me explain these two types of products in more detail.
Old Products That Still Sell Well Today
Most of these products are CPG-type food and sundry products. They may have been reformulated, have had new packaging/sizes, and varied pricing over time; however, they are products that have been around for a very long time. Examples include the original McDonald’s hamburger, Crest toothpaste, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, WD40, Pyrex, Jack Daniel’s whiskey,[RG1] Crayola crayons, and so on. They still sell very well because they have become imbedded in the fabric and use of our everyday life. They were the best in class then and best in class now. Their product designs and packaging are timeless and very much aligned with their histories.
Some products have become retro because customers never perceived the incremental features and benefits of newer products as outweighing the old products. A great example is the HP 12C calculator. HP makes other calculators (some more fully featured than the HP 12C), but old-school [RG2] people (note: you started work before 1990) still prefer the original 12C.
This was quite a surprise to HP early on. As a result, HP adjusted its strategy and has not only continued to produce the calculator since 1981, but created derivatives such as the 12C Platinum and 12C 25th Anniversary calculators.
What happens when companies push too far with product development that favors the new over the old? Nothing positive, I am afraid. They [JB3] violate one of those universal laws of marketing by creating products that their customers don’t want. Remember the New Coke – Old Coke marketing and product debacle? Coke had to reintroduce “Coke Classic” to address the customers’ complaints and differentiate the product from “New Coke.” Later, the company killed the “New Coke” product and quietly renamed “Coke Classic” just plain, regular “Coke” again.
Still other old products become niche products with certain customers and applications. For example, DJs and rappers like to scratch real, old-fashioned records, using turntables, when they perform or record and use equipment especially for that purpose. Of course, some of the newer versions have USB interfaces and other ways to plug them into computers and recording equipment. A lot of musicians like the sound of old synthesizers like the Yamaha DX-7.
Modern Products That Draw On the Past for Inspiration
A retro product is a modern product that draws on the past for inspiration. Some retro products are replicas or reissues [RG4] of old favorites, while others are completely new designs with style or detail touches that bring to mind an earlier period. Some industries in which fashion and design are important excel at this.
For example, take the new Chevy Camaro or the gull-winged Mercedes SLS AMG, whose lineages are clearly tied to the muscle and sports car looks of the 1960s and 1970s. Baby Boomers in their 40s and 50s desire those cars, and indeed many drove them back in the day. People like to play old video games either through emulation or on new gaming platforms like the Xbox 360. This is often called retrogaming. Another specific and clear example of this trend is the way in which the sport garments from the ‘70s and ‘80s are used nowadays. Soccer jackets, jerseys and T-shirts with former logos of the soccer associations are very popular; their designs commonly invoke the old days by using lines in the sides and combinations of colors characteristic of those times.
Brands such as Adidas, Converse, and Nike have their own divisions that specialize in retro products. Jukeboxes could have evolved their designs to keep up with the times; however, even though they play digital files or CDs these days, the design is firmly rooted in the past. Some Motorola police radios look remarkably similar to the ones used in the 1970s, albeit with better LCD displays.
When Does A Retro Strategy Work?
Of course, that is the $100M question. Nobody wants a retro version of an Apple II PC , the original, walkie-talkie sized Motorola cell phone (sometimes called the “brick”), or VisiCalc, the original spreadsheet software. Clearly there are limits to what a retro strategy can achieve. High technology devices that are constantly changing – getting faster, cheaper, better, smaller, and so on – don’t do particularly well with a retro strategy. In some ways, the most successful retro product strategies are derived when the customer views the technology or product as so mature that it cannot be improved upon. Like a fine wine, time makes the products better (compared to alternatives). Retro product strategy is also tied to retro brand revival. This means the brand and the products are revived together, as opposed to creating a retro product within a portfolio of an existing product line and brand.
Retro product strategies seem to work better in categories such as toys, food, candy, beverages, sundries, [RG5] fashion/apparel, music and cars. With rare exceptions, they don’t work well with most IT products, communications, consumer electronics, etc.
In its paper “Everything Old Is New Again,” DDB Communications tied the success of retro products to their ability to 1) allow for rediscovery, 2) connect with timeless consumer values, 3) stay true but contemporize, and 4) build a community around the products.
In summary, understanding the role of nostalgia in the consumption and customer experience is a valuable product strategy. If it is there and can be tapped, it could be a fruitful business strategy for your business.
Please share your classic and retro product cases and observations on this blog.
August 18th, 2010
My colleague, Nathan Kievman, who publishes the blog, Linked Strategies, recently posted an informative guide for executives about social media and why some executives hate it so much. I really enjoyed reading his article. It highlights some of the challenges/concerns to adopting social media and marketing that top executives often have. While it is important to acknowledge these challenges and concerns, the author goes on to show how quickly offline media is transitioning to online and social media marketing. The proverbial ‘bus’ has left the station. And executives need to get their marketing programs on board, if they desire to stay relevant to their customers.
The complete blog posting is attached below:
I’m an executive and I HATE social media. There, I said it. It’s finally “out there.” But before you Twitter a flaming flash mob link to assemble pitchfork-wielding Second Life villagers outside my door, I urge you to take a deep breath, put down your double frappuccino, remove your earpiece, step away from your iPad, and set your iPhasers to stun, for I come in peace. If you’ve ever wondered why your CEO ALSO hates social media, social networking and, well, socializing in general, I urge you to continue reading. Just as Fox TV’s Masked Magician series demystified the tricks of the world’s most famous illusionists, I offer the following as both a behind-the-scenes peak and a confessional of sorts, into the mind of the executive. For to truly understand the conflicting yet predictable stonewalling in this domain, one must search deep below the surface, plumbing the depths of the executive psyche, motivations, and worldviews, for only then will you be able to “crack the code,” engage us in our native tongue and communicate in a vocabulary and language to which we will respond. Consider this your own personal backstage pass to the inner sanctum of the Executive Suite.
Executive: More Perception Than Position
For starters, the term “executive” isn’t a title as much as it is a mindset or a set of attributes – often leading to career success and the achievement of such rank – but what might surprise most is that this ambition and executive mentality often begins to manifest itself early in life. For example, while most were partying and hanging out in high school, we were already taking college-level classes while holding down several part time jobs. And when most were “finding themselves” in college and still deciding on a major after three years, we were serving in student leadership, doing internships, or doubling up on classes to finish college a semester early. And when most were finally in the workforce, instead of clubbing and playing in multiple softball leagues, we were completing an advanced degree in night school, pursuing professional certifications, and framing out retirement plans.
Executives are high achievers – that’s just how we’re wired. Give me a mountain and I’ll climb it. And if you don’t have a mountain, I’ll find my own mountain and I’ll climb it. And if I can’t find a mountain, I’ll build one – just so I can climb it. But here’s what most people don’t get about executives. Once a CEO climbs a mountain, he doesn’t feel the need to Tweet to the world that he did it. He doesn’t have the natural desire to blog, “Look what a great climber I am” and include multiple pictures with links to his Facebook and LinkedIn account. He did it because it’s in his DNA. He doesn’t require the attention, approval, or applause of others, and therein lies the fundamental source of the problem – executives are non-narcissistic in a YouTube world. We’re outliers. In a society that brags, blogs, and Tweets about the tiniest personal minutia, we could care less because, frankly, we expect success, it’s normal to us. It’s like Vince Lombardi’s admonition to his running back after an overly exuberant display, “Next time you make a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before.”
Eagles Don’t Flock
Executives are “eagles,” and unlike seagulls, eagles don’t flock. We’re not joiners and we’re not groupies, which is why we overwhelmingly prefer challenging single-person sports like running, cycling, weightlifting, and our one concession to “group sports” – golf (which is still technically a single-person sport, but more fun in groups). Lance Armstrong didn’t win his titles without leaving the peloton, and ditto for greats like Sampras, Tiger, and Arnold. They had to go above and beyond the group to achieve greatness, and for this reason it truly IS lonely at the top (not that we mind).
Social Networking: The Problem is “Networking”
The reason we hate social networking is the same reason we hate REGULAR networking. Exchanging small talk for 2 hours in a room full of strangers, with a drink in one hand and a business card in the other, and a “Hi, I’m Doug” nametag peeling off my lapel, and standing – my goodness the standing – and looking unsuccessfully for ANY food with some protein in it, and wondering if this guy with the too-firm handshake is going to see if we can “LinkIn” after sharing an elevator ride, before glancing at my watch and counting the minutes until I can leave and get back to work. It’s a nightmare. Why? Because – surprise, surprise – most executives are actually introverts, who value their time and their privacy and are constantly evaluating the ROI tradeoffs of every hour of every day. (Quiz: How many times have you heard a CEO describe himself as a “People Person”?)
To say that we are ANTI-social would be a huge misrepresentation, but when you combine the word “social” with “networking” – let’s just say it sends shivers up my spine. Do I like the company of others? Sure I do – but I want the time to be well spent. Instead of random, shallow, unfocused SMALL talk, CEO’s would much rather sit around with a small group of peers for 2 hours and discuss BIG specific challenges – and their solutions. In fact, the reason so much business gets done on the golf course is because it’s one of the few places leaders actually congregate and feel relaxed enough to discuss what’s really on their minds.
Social Networking: The Problem is “Social”
The next hurdle for executives with social networking are the implications of the root word “Social”, and, by its very spelling, its association to Socialism. Socialism is defined as, “Any system of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively,” and further, “An economic and political theory based on public ownership or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources.” (At least that’s what someone wrote on Wikipedia). The premise and value of the “social media” movement is the power of the collective in the production, distribution, and ownership of goods, and the reason executives resist this model is that it flies in the face of their existing worldview which, quite frankly, has been pretty successful to date. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Most of us have a pretty big chip on our shoulders, attributing our career success to the years of diligence, education, ambition, delayed gratification and sacrifices we’ve made to reach the leadership levels we’ve achieved. Therefore, the anti-capitalistic notion that my work and contributions would be homogenized with the uninspired masses, and that ultimately my value would be determined by the randomness of the collective is a jarring and unpalatable departure. I want to control my company! I want to control my brand! I want to determine my destiny! It’s too important to leave it to chance (or simply be outvoted by the uninformed bourgeois)! Unfortunately and tragically for us executives, the beauty and power of social media is only fully unleashed when we LET IT GO, and that, my friends, is the hardest thing for us to do (…and also explains why we hate checking luggage at the airport).
Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts
Okay, I promised that this would be a confessional, so here’s a shocker. Over time, there is a tendency for CEO’s to get inflated EGO’s. Now granted, a healthy ego can serve as a necessary defense mechanism to provide protection from the relentless attacks from subordinates, peers, and the media, but too much amounts to just plain pride. We like to think of ourselves as a pretty smart bunch, and our position is such that even if we don’t completely understand something, we often project to our colleagues that we do. A classic example of this phenomenon transpired during the Enron debacle, where ranks of senior executives refused to admit that they couldn’t comprehend the mechanics of this powerful conglomerate, until it was too late. It’s the same with new advances in technology, which has accelerated during our careers from “hit or miss” to “mission critical,” going from bricks to clicks and from mortar to mindshare, while serving as a platform for everything from infrastructure, billing, and product development, to security, scheduling, and sales. The rapid rate of change in digital innovation has caused CEO’s to feel EXTREMELY vulnerable around technology because it is something on which we have become VERY reliant, but which we understand and “control” so little, and this vulnerability leads to fear, and this fear to irrational decisions and suboptimal outcomes. When CEO’s don’t have the confidence in their staff to delegate, or lack the humility to admit their ignorance regarding technology advances, they get defensive and act out in fear – or fail to act altogether.
Social Media: Justified Fear?
Executives justify their fear of social media by pointing back to a historic drumbeat of disappointment and unfulfilled promises. They recall with vivid detail the never-ending parade of new online engagement vehicles and “paradigms” introduced over the past 15 years by turtleneck-wearing gurus with names like Kip or Seth, which were then propagated by self-proclaimed “New Economy” experts sporting titles like “Chief Innovation Officer” and “Director of Chaos,” and then championed by sideburn-wearing hipster foot soldiers who never metafilter they didn’t like. In the 90’s, we were promised that customers would beat a path to our door if we created something called a “web page” and then “posted” it on this thing called the Internet or World Wide Web or something. Then they convinced us to buy electronic lists and send out “Email Blasts” to our target markets, and next it was a website redesign, push technology, pull technology, exchanged links, partner intranets, eBusiness, eCommerce, blogging, webinars, podcasts, search engine optimization, YouTube videos, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, yada, yada, yada. Each time they promised that THIS TIME it would be different, and that this new product/protocol/portal/potion would somehow (magically??) drive revenue, increase efficiency, and optimize utilization (or some other buzz word or invented metric). You told me to blog, so I blogged. You told me to Twitter, so I Tweeted. What’s it going to be tomorrow – scan my body into a mashup simulator to create a hologram so I can telepresence myself into sales calls in Madrid via FourSquare using Flickr? All I know is that I’ve spent a LOT of time and money on a series of disjointed initiatives and campaigns and so far NONE have performed as advertised.
Don’t Feed Me Another Fad
Look, executives aren’t that complicated. While I can handle the many nuanced “grey areas” of business leadership, I prefer to see things in black and white; victories and defeats; profits and losses. I don’t mind making significant, strategic multi-year investments and committing to enterprise-wide initiatives which will improve the future performance of my company – in fact, I ENJOY it – what do you think got me to the Executive Suite in the first place? Just don’t insult me. I don’t want to waste any more time or money on the hype of “the next big thing” or the newest tool or toy, only to be disappointed when the latest flash-in-the-pan fad fades and goes the way of Harvard Graphics. It’s not that I have a fear of commitment – frankly, it’s just the OPPOSITE! I have a healthy fear and distaste for doing things randomly just to be doing something; or because someone saw an article in USA Today, or CNBC did a story on it, or out of fear that I’ll be the last one in my circle to “get on board.” (Believe me, the things that keep me up at night can’t be solved in 140 characters or less). The truth is, I would LOVE to commit to social media in a significant way, but so far nobody in my organization has stepped forward with a cerebral, strategic, multi-generational, integrated, systematic, and sustainable methodology and roadmap for synergistically capitalizing on this medium over the long haul.
Your Network is Your Net Worth
Executives are uniquely conflicted because we know better than anyone the power of relationships, and the truth of the old axiom, “Your network is your net worth,” yet we are inherently introverts, and gravitate towards solitude versus socializing. We understand on an intellectual level that none of us individually are “too big to fail,” and that even the Lone Ranger had Tonto and Batman had Robin, yet we find initiating conversations and exchanges with others to be draining, distracting, and exhausting rather than invigorating and inspiring. Hence we yearn; as a group we pine; for deep within our heart of hearts burns a great bright hope that somehow and in some way this social media movement or platform or culture or whatever could be harnessed and leveraged to cross that chasm and create valuable, authentic exchanges and relevant, real-time dialogue with stakeholders of all persuasions. If we could just develop an all-encompassing framework for how this would integrate into our enterprise-wide strategy, and manage it like a mission-critical project (complete with milestones, deliverables and accountability instead of fuzzy metrics like “buzz”), I am supremely confident that we could achieve escape velocity and – for the first time – truly establish and be able to articulate a synergistic, sustainable, and quantifiable strategy for leveraging “Best-In-Class” social media options to achieve desired corporate outcomes and maximize financial returns.
A Gift From Media To You
You know, it’s interesting. Somewhere in the convoluted catharsis of composing this confessional, I came to a surprising realization. Maybe I don’t HATE social media after all. Maybe I just hate the Quixotic context in which most social media conversations exist, featuring a perpetually moving target, combined with an obsessive, cult-like worship of the default worldview, “If Something is New = It Must Be Good”, and where subjective criteria like “mindshare” and “impressions” are considered quantifiable deliverables and irrefutable barometers of success.
Come to think of it, maybe it’s high time that a C-level individual engaged this topic, and – once and for all –created a high-level overview and synopsis, crystallizing all of the strategic benefits and critical value streams, and distilling them into a language that speaks to executives everywhere in our native tongue – bottom line stakeholder value. So here you go. I’ve done the work for you. What follows is an “Executive Summary” of my findings.
Social Media Value #1: Unfiltered Feedback
As you already know, some of the scarcest (rarest) yet most valuable information a CEO can obtain is honest, unfiltered feedback. Think about it. You interact all day with managers, employees, and handlers working to keep the boss happy and therefore keep their job. Sure, being surrounded by “Yes men” can be more comfortable, but it can also insulate you from the stark realities of your business. If done correctly, social media enables CEO’s to hear raw, candid feedback from real people – people who aren’t afraid of being fired because they CAN’T be fired. The truth is, leaders with their ego in check are already fully aware that they work for the customer – the customer is his boss – so if the customer doesn’t like dropped calls on their iPhone or the sauce on their Domino’s pizza, it’s their job to make it better. Now, every customer is not always right (or wrong), but if 850 out of 1000 user comments say that the new Sketcher’s Sport shoe caused them to sprain their ankle, then something needs to be fixed – and FAST! CoolCleveland’s Founder Thomas Mulready is a perfect example of a CEO with this customer orientation. After emailing out his weekly eMagazine for 7 years, he decided that it needed to be updated, and set about introducing a new format with much fanfare. In doing so, he also did something revolutionary – he asked all 90,000 of his readers for feedback on what they thought of the new style – and boy did they reply with scores of comments submitted over the span of a few days. But then he did something else revolutionary – he actually listened, modifying and improving the new site to reflect reader tastes and preferences. Yes, it takes humility (“Who are these people to give ME feedback? I invented this product! Don’t they know they can just click the links?) but the end result is an engaged audience who now feel genuinely empowered to provide even MORE feedback, emboldened by the knowledge that their comments actually impact (and can improve) the end product.
Social Media Value #2: Authenticity
Hand-in-hand with the unfiltered feedback above is the ability to leverage social media to authentically communicate with your employees, partners, customers (and non-customers), investors, and media, directly engaging ALL of your brand ambassadors efficiently and economically. Rather than layers of staff, spokespeople, and sterile press releases, social media now offers an elegant and effective medium for disseminating information either “straight from the heart” or “straight from the horses’ mouth” depending on your preferred idiom. Dan Gilbert’s recent LeBron James “rant” would qualify as both, capturing the owners’ anger, frustration, and competitive resolve just moments after James’ announced his departure. As you’ve probably noticed, NOBODY can tell the company story and embody the company brand like the CEO (think Steve Jobs) and by offering the ability to immediately and directly engage stakeholders – whether on a typical day, during a product launch, and/or especially during a time of crisis – social media provides an invaluable medium for maximizing brand value and minimizing potential brand degradation. Social media helps firms “Keep it real” but couches it in a positive brand-reinforcing context.
Social Media Value #3: Six Sigma (Low Cost)
In case you were wondering, executives LOVE things like Six Sigma because, 1. It reminds us of our Greek fraternity days in college, 2. The other soccer Dad’s don’t understand Value Stream Mapping, and 3. Six Sigma and lean processes are all about SPEED and COST SAVINGS, two of our favorite topics. By its very architecture, social media is positioned to leverage firms’ Six Sigma orientation by expediting interactions, exchanges, customer service, feedback loops, product launches, marketing, and advertising, AND enabling it at a fraction of the cost of traditional media, to a much more targeted audience, and in a far more nuanced and contextual value exchange. Social media options allow your message distribution format to evolve from shotgun to sniper, from billboard to message board, and from broadcast to narrowcast. PLUS, it takes your marketing posture from a one-way, blanketing, bullhorn approach to a more intimate, just-in-time interaction; offering the opportunity for a more detailed, valuable and more PROFITABLE conversation and connection with your audience (and you don’t need a Black Belt to do it).
Social Media Value #4: Balancing Transparency AND Privacy
The only thing worse than NOT using social media tools is using them in the WRONG way. Your firm could very easily invest time and money on social media, and then end up spending even MORE time and money doing damage control because you did it wrong the first time – talk about a lose-lose situation. With social media, there’s a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do things – so if you’re GOING to do it, do it RIGHT. Remember, anywhere-anytime-anyone social media channels must be handled as the “nuclear options” that they are, with the capability to destroy your brand value in a single Twitter, email, or YouTube video that goes viral.
With great power comes great responsibility, and a healthy respect for the global reach and impact of social media must emanate directly from the CEO, who knows better than anyone that the same programs allowing firms to connect and influence the marketplace can also be turned against you to alienate them. And just as social media can provide the market with a transparent window into the soul of your company, it can also showcase you at your worst, doing more harm than good. Let’s face it, your firm is ALREADY dabbling in social media as it is – so you might as well manage your risk and liability by codifying corporate expectations, establishing specific ground rules, and educating your stakeholders regarding proper use of these seemingly innocent yet powerful tools.
Social Media Value #5: Supporting Statistics
Executives rely on market research to support and substantiate any designated course of action, and devour facts, stats, and data-points like shrimp at a wedding reception. Summarized below are a few statistics buttressing the explosion of this social media trend, and detailing how Corporate America is leveraging it to realize significant revenue and market share growth going forward.
- In the last 7 years, Internet usage has increased 70% PER YEAR. Spending for digital advertising this year will be more than $25 billion and surpass print advertising spending (forever)
- Lenovo has experienced a 20% reduction in activity to their call center since they launched their community website for customers
- Blendtec quintupled sales with its “Will it Blend” series on YouTube
- Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
- Naked Pizza set a one-day sales record using social media: 68% of their sales came via twitter and 85% of their new customers
- Software company Genius.com reports 24% of social media leads convert to sales opportunities
- Dell has already made over $7 million in sales via Twitter
- 37% of Generation Y heard about the Ford Fiesta via social media BEFORE its launch in the US and currently 25% of Ford’s marketing budget is spent on digital/social media
- 71% of companies plan to increase investments in social media by an average of 40%
- A recent Wetpaint/Altimeter Group study found companies that widely engage in social media surpass their peers in both revenue and profit
(Sources for Statistics: meyersreport.com lenovosocial.com George Wright Blendtec Mashable.com econsultancy.com businessweek.com )
Getting Your Board On Board
Lest we forget, even the Boss has a Boss – they’re called the Board of Directors – and these are the people that recruit and hire CEO’s for the purpose of serving as a charismatic and visionary leader of their organization. And so I urge you, don’t disappoint them when it comes to leveraging social media within your organization. The “Bang for the Buck” value proposition is too compelling to ignore, and the fact is – your competitors are already entering this arena and establishing new service baseline norms and minimum threshold expectations – so standing still amounts to losing ground and therefore is not an option. What you need is a plan.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
My associates and I are going to go out on a limb and try something a little crazy, something we’ve never done before. We are going to offer senior leaders an exclusive, live, invitation-only Executive Briefing entitled “Maximizing Your Social Media Strategy” and presented by the top brass at DemingHill. This executive-to-executive webinar will feature a deep-dive into the ROI and business case for leveraging social media, and will allow participants to ask questions and interact real-time with the authors of this article. (Because there is no charge, we must limit this event to executives and/or members of their management teams. Held August 10 & 11th).
Do I STILL hate social media? No, BUT I’m only going to embrace it on the “executive terms” that have served me so well to this point in my career and they are, “If you’re going to do something, go ALL IN and do it right.” From now on, all social media, social marketing, and social networking will be discussed in the context – not of a CAMPAIGN (which starts and ends) – but as part of an ongoing, strategic, and systematic DIALOG with our stakeholders and marketplace.
Executives have the focus and vision to roadmap strategies playing out 3, 5, and 10 years into the future. But, we’re also “plodders” and are comfortable with short, measured, consistent steps – day in and day out – as long as we know that they are aligned with reaching a desired goal. When we discuss your social media strategy, the focus will be on consistency and sustainability over the long haul. Remember, executives don’t have the ego needs, risk profiles, or the TIME to be on the bleeding edge, or even the cutting edge. We just want it to work.
I can confidently predict that every month for the next 100 years there will be a new “Must Have” application, portal or community that one of your employees will discover, and then try to convince you that your company will implode if you don’t immediately join, link, or Retweet. In five years, all but three of these ideas will probably be forgotten. During our meeting, we will discuss how to frame out an enterprise-wide social media strategy, predicated on the foundation of proven tools and that have stood the test of time and offer “Best-In-Class” results, so that you will be empowered to handle these conversations proactively in the context of a larger roadmap, rather than reacting to these weekly ambushes in a dismissive defensive way. Remember, our goal for social media is not a lark, but a LIFESTYLE, and work-shopping a strategy which builds on stable, scalable tools, yet also affords the flexibility to address unprecedented “Black Swan” technology developments, provides you with a welcome buffer from being whipsawed by a weekly website. Between the two of us, we’ll finally take that reliable “80/20 Rule” and apply it to social media, and then spend time focusing on the 80% of stakeholder value that can be extracted with 20% of the effort (while knowingly and purposefully ignoring the remaining 20% of value which takes up 80% of the effort).
The Bottom Line
In the Forward of Geoffrey Moore’s bestseller “Crossing the Chasm” Regis McKenna writes:
“Fundamentally, marketing must refocus away from selling product and toward creating relationships. Customers don’t like to be ‘owned’ if that implies lack of choice or freedom. But they do like to be ‘owned’ if what that means is a vendor taking ongoing responsibility for the success of their joint ventures. Ownership in this sense means an abiding commitment and a strong sense of mutuality in the development of the marketplace. When customers encounter this kind of ownership, they tend to become fanatically loyal to their supplier, which in turns builds a stable economic base for profitability and growth.”
While there will always be a “me” in media – social media, social marketing, and social networking tools were designed to work best as a conduit for enabling information exchange, establishing a dialog, and creating a two-way conversation with your audience. At the end of the day, social media is simply about creating and maintaining relationships – and even and executive can do that.
So what do you think? Share your feedback.
About the Authors:
|Douglas J. O’Bryon- MBA
Chief Marketing Officer VendorCert
Executive & Startup specialist with 20 years in B2C & B2B .
|Nathan Kievman- MBA
Chief Executive Officer DemingHill
Business Owner & Executive for the last 8 years in B2C & B2B.
Executive Vice President DemingHill
Business Owner & Executive for over 15 years in Sales & Marketing in B2C & B2B.
May 21st, 2010
Elements of a Successful Partnership
If you haven’t already, sooner or later you will need to develop a business alliance or marketing partnership with another organization or company in order to deliver a product or service that is greater than what could be brought by your company on your own.
Alliances and partnerships can take many forms. But the usual goal of an alliance or partnership is to drive market share or revenues by strengthening one (or more) of the elements of a marketing mix – be it price, distribution, promotion, branding, awareness, or technology/product.
Here are a few examples of successful partnerships.
HP is kicking off a series of online photo contests that merge themes from the movie “Shrek the Third” with contestants’ family memories. Beginning today, participants will have the opportunity to win one of more than 3,000 prizes, including a grand prize of an HP Digital Home Entertainment package and a trip for four to attend an upcoming DreamWorks Animation movie. “Life, like ‘Shrek the Third,’ is full of enchanted moments, and great photos are what make them last,” said Kathy Stromberg, vice president of marketing, North America, Imaging and Printing Group, HP. “This photo contest provides an engaging and dynamic new way for users to creatively showcase photos of their families’ heroic, adventurous and funny moments.”
Legoland and Hyundai in Germany have announced a new partnership that will see the Korean automaker providing the theme park with a total of 25 vehicles ranging from the small i10 city car to the new iX35 SUV for service and shuttle rides. The two-year long sponsorship deal also includes the branding of the toy cars used by Legoland’s driving school for children aged 3 to 7.
Ocean Spray and PepsiCo today announced a long-term strategic alliance in which Pepsi-Cola North America will market, bottle and distribute single-serve cranberry juice products in the U.S. and Canada under the Ocean Spray name.
Microsoft and HP announce a $250 million technology development partnership and a series of software/hardware/service rollouts that HP CEO Mark Hurd called “the deepest level of collaboration and integration” in his company’s history. The agreement, which appears to have no official name, is to develop a comprehensive software/hardware stack that is preconfigured, tested and optimized for use in public and private cloud data center environments.
A few key questions can quickly establish the benefits of a partnership to each party.
1. Why do we want to partner with each other?
- What specifically does the partnership do?
- What is the end benefit – to the customer and each of the partners?
- How does is it tie back to the company’s strategy, business goals, market access?
- How does the partnership strengthen the results and of both companies? For example, I bring a product and you bring customer segment access to me that is my target market.
2. What does each party bring to the table?
- What specific capabilities or assets of does each party bring to the table?
- Who does what? How does the partnership translate into what each company brings, provides, and has to do?
- What investment dollars will each party bring to the table to launch the marketing alliance?
- Is one party more dependent on the other, bring more to the table, leading the alliance, etc.?
3. What does the end result look like?
- Describe the completed partnership in 1-2 sentences?
- What is the end game or result?
- What does success look like?
- What does the PR/messaging, strategy, and content look like?
- Is it a low key or big bang alliance launch?
- What is the partner commitment and effort going to be? The sum of the parts should lead to a better end result than going alone.
4. How do we each make money?
- How does each party derive a financial or market benefit from the partnership?
- Where does the benefit come from – a financial perspective, distribution perspective, market access perspective, brand building perspective (the list of possibilities could be broad)?
Alliances and partnerships should not be confused with sponsorships.
There is often times a fine line between marketing alliance and partnership and more strategic business development or strategic partnership. The more inclusive the partnership is of licensing, joint research, IP sharing, operations, etc., the less it looks like a marketing-only play.
A strategic marketing partnership is different than a joint venture. In a joint venture, the parties agree to create, for a finite time, a new legal entity and new assets by contributing equity. They then share in the revenues, expenses, and assets and “control” of the enterprise.
March 17th, 2010
I came across this article the other day and it reminded me of how great business ideas and strategic messages often get executed in the most unusual ways. Of course, companies are always looking for ways to message and express their brands, vision, and business aspirations in their advertising and strategic messaging to stakeholders like customers and channel partners. That is what world class marketing organizations do communicate the value and attributes of their brands, products, and services. Having sat on the client side, I thought this was a humorous set of messaging gone awry. I just could not imagine approving messages like this with their hidden messages and parodies.
At a keynote address on Monday, Twitter CEO Evan Williams said the aim of his company is this:
“Be a force for good.”
TechCrunch writer Michael Arrington, who reported this quote from the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, said the statement made him cringe.
Any company that’s out for profit cannot claim simply to “be a force for good,” he writes:
… it’s basically impossible to balance a profit motive with a goodness motive. And in fact the nice thing about capitalism is that everyone acting in their own self interest tends to be good for everyone else, too, if appropriate government forces are put in place to stop monopolies, pollution, etc. Being a socialist is a great way to get laid in college but it’s no way to run a society.
With that in mind, here’s our list of the five cheesiest – or otherwise bizarre – tech company mottos, slogans, mission statements and unofficial tags. Can any profit-seeking company claim to be in it for the betterment of humanity? (Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tried until investors stepped in, as NPR explains). And do they have to wear their ideals on their sleeve in such bumper-sticker fashion?
Let us know what you think in the comments section. And, without further ado, here’s the list:
Google: “Don’t be evil.” (”Star Wars,” anyone?)
Apple: “Think different.” (Like the rest of us? Part of an older ad campaign.)
Microsoft: “Your potential. Our passion.” (Well, at least they’re passionate).
Facebook: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” (A little long-winded for a mission statement, and doesn’t include any money-making goals).
And, of course, Twitter: “Be a force for good.” (See above).
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