Social Media Marketing: Do The Same Marketing Rules Apply ?

February 15, 2010

This is the 5th in a series of periodic guest posts. Catherine Davis is a marketing executive with extensive experience at Diaego, Harris Direct Online, Morgan Stanley, Discover Card, and Leo Burnett. 

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Do traditional marketing rules apply to Social Media ? Just before the holidays, I attended the CMO Club Summit in San Francisco, where the topic of discussion quickly turned to social media. Industry experts from Guy Kawasaki to Hewlett Packard’s Michael Mendenhall weighed in on whether marketers should incorporate social media as part of their overall strategy.  

Our conclusion? While social media marketing is driven by unique characteristics, the marketing evaluation process follows that of traditional media planning.  

 

When embarking on a social media marketing plan, marketers must consider the following points:   

1.  Social Media Marketing is Particularly Well-Suited to Building Brand Affinity

Estee Lauder created a powerful and actionable social media marketing campaign, where they encouraged women to try new products and have a makeover done at department store locations. Sounds ordinary? Well, post-makeover these women were photographed — and the photo was uploaded to the social networking site of their choice.  

Estee Lauder: Social Media Marketing to Women

There are fewer examples of social media driving sales.  Dell is probably the best known example.  Reuters reported that Dell attributes more than $3 million in sales to Twitter, where the company has  600,000 followers.  Considering these figures as a sole output of viral marketing, it is clear that  Dell will continue to make headway with its  integrated social media program.  

2.  Understanding  Your Target and Whether They Actively Participate in Online Social Networks are Equally Important

One of the best examples of understanding the target consumer comes from  Sears.com. The online retailer created a website for teenage girls called “Prom Premiere.” On the site, girls are encouraged to use Facebook applications and email to share photos of prom dresses with family and friends. This initiative demonstrates a concrete understanding of the target audience, as well as the purchase decision process for prom dresses.  

Sears: Prom Dress Sharing via Facebook

  

3.  Social Media Campaigns Require Scalability and Measurement

How do brands develop scalable initiatives? Take Nike’s  “Nike Human Race,” which leveraged Nike’s legacy of sponsoring local races and supporting running training programs.  By rallying an international community of devoted athletes, Nike converted 40% of previous non-consumers after only one year, and had 800,000 runners participate in the 2008 race.  

The “Nike Human Race” is clearly scalable and impactful in long-term brand building. The next level of scalability is understanding how the program translates into sales. Digital campaigns are more easily measurable, more timely, and therefore more usable in a yield management model. Put in place precise metrics to measure the marketing ROI on your social media initiative.  

4.  Make Sure There is a Strong Strategic Link to Your Product or Brand

Estee Lauder’s program works because their makeover inspires confidence in the picture a woman posts on LinkedIn or Match.com. Sears Prom Premiere made it interactive and fun to choose just the right dress for prom.  Each brand offered a product that was part of the solution and that made it ownable. 

5.  Nothing is Free – Budget Carefully

Marketers often think of social media as an inexpensive way to build a brand or promote a new product.  While there are a few high profile exceptions, that is generally false. Social media marketing requires the right resources, a budget to seed and then support the program, and time to build.  Like any other marketing campaign, maintaining realistic expectations and timeline will help lead to success.  

What’s the Bottom Line in Social Media Marketing ?

Social media can be an incredibly creative way to engage your customers and help define your brand.  If you haven’t done a social media campaign yet, begin monitoring any large or influential communities where your products or your competitors are frequent topics of conversation.  Identify the role your brand plays in their lives and how you can add value. 

Evaluate your in-house assets –many companies have a wealth of information that can be used to create and syndicate content on highly trafficked sites.  Start small and create a test and learn environment. You will quickly learn what works and should be scaled up.  If you are already actively involved in social media, take a step back and evaluate your program.   It needs to be assessed on it’s own merit and against the channels it is replacing.  It should be just one part of a fully integrated marketing program. 

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Catherine Davis was most recently SVP Marketing at Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic beverage company including Johnnie Walker, Guinness, and Smirnoff.  She is a marketing executive who builds brands and creates new media and marketing models to drive business growth. Catherine is experienced in CPG, financial services, and online businesses and has demonstrated leadership across all marketing functions, including digital.  

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Should CMO’s Lead the Corporate Growth Agenda ?

December 28, 2009

From my December 6th guest post on Mike Ferry’s  blog “Leading Good Brands to Greatness” and December 22 guest post on Branding Strategy Insider:

The CMO’s job is simple—to drive growth, right? As Lou Gerstner ex-IBM and American Express CEO once put it: the role of Marketing is to build the brand and deliver a great customer experience. But is it really that simple?

At the recent CMO Club Summit in San Francisco, I was part of a panel discussion with Joe Ennen, SVP Consumer Brands at Safeway and Scott Thurm, Management Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, titled “CMO’s as Leaders of the Corporate Growth Agenda.”

How CMO's can Lead the Corporate Growth Agenda (image courtesy of CorpGrowth.net)

Scott led off the discussion by reframing the topic, asking, “What are the barriers to CMO’s leading the corporate growth agenda?” Joe, Scott and I spent the session discussing and debating this important question. To see another take on this topic, see Brand Autopsy’s “The New Complete Marketer.”

Barriers to CMO’s Leading the Corporate Growth Agenda

CEO/CMO Alignment – The best CMO is a CEO who believes in Marketing. The CMO’s ability to lead the corporate growth agenda starts with alignment with and support from the CEO. Not all business models and CMO’s are created equal. The role of Marketing in an organization can vary widely. And the CMO role can range from a narrow Marcom role all the way to something like a Chief Growth Officer. The CEO and CMO must be aligned on the role of Marketing in the organization for the CMO to effectively lead the growth agenda (see my blog post “Leading Your Brand Beyond Marketing”).

Growth Means More Than Marketing – The CMO has to think more broadly than Marketing. What are all of the potential growth drivers – Marketing or otherwise ? Companies such as Zappos.com have actually gone so far as to define a non-Marketing function like customer service as Marketing. A critical part of the CMO’s job is to understand the business model and all potential drivers of growth.This is becoming even more important as digital and social media blur the lines between Marketing, Public Affairs and Customer Service.

For example, at UBS, we learned from Corporate Reputation research that being “open and transparent” was a key driver of reputation, and that reputation scores correlated  with “willingness to refer others” and other business growth metrics. This led the Marketing function to explore programs to communicate to stakeholders in more open and transparent ways.

Corporate Growth: More than Marketing.

CMO as Voice of the Customer – Another key barrier to the CMO driving the corporate growth agenda is customer neglect. The CMO needs to continually advocate for keeping the customer front and center. All CMO’s could learn from A.G. Lafley, ex CEO of Procter & Gamble, who continually reminded employees that “the consumer is boss.”

Customer satisfaction surveys not only measure satisfaction. They also measure the important factors contributing to satisfaction and quantify the relationship between those factors and satisfaction. Understanding these drivers enables Marketing to define areas outside Marketing that are central to driving growth.

For example, at UBS we learned that client contact frequency was an important satisfaction driver—more was better. Yet, the majority of client advisers were contacting clients well below the threshold. This led to a concentrated effort to improve contact frequency—and drive growth.

Connecting Customer Needs with Enterprise AssetsI stressed the important role the CMO plays in getting the organization to think about the entirety of the enterprise’s assets and capabilities. Connecting customer needs with assets from outside a business unit is a great way to drive growth—and one that organizational structure often stymies.

Crest: Consumers had an unmet need for whiter teeth, and paste formulations simply didn’t do the job. A smart R&D person connected this need with synthetic bleach technology from laundry and substrate technology from paper making to create—voila–Crest WhiteStrips.

Amex Gift Card consumers wanted to buy the cards in retail. The Amex Gift Card group had no relationships with grocery and drug store chains, but another group within Amex did. So, the organization leveraged the other organizations retailer relationships to facilitate introductions and help gain distribution in over 70k locations in less than two years.

Keys to CMO Success

CMO’s clearly have a tough job, with an average lifespan of just 28 months. Lou Gerstner’s formula for CMO success is a good starting point, but CMO’s need to go further.

Building the  brand and delivering a great customer experience plus driving the corporate growth agenda can help CMO’s and their firms be more successful in the future.

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Leading Your Brand Beyond Marketing

June 25, 2009

Every Marketing organization needs to answer a fundamental question: “what’s the role of Marketing in our business ?” Why ? Because the “brand” is almost always much more than just the Marketing plans.

In many organizations, for example CPG, Marketing’s role is clear, well defined and a given. But for many organizations, particularly non marketing driven ones, it’s a question that needs answering. In an earlier post “What Do CEO’s Really Want From Marketing?,”  I summarized ex-IBM and American Express CEO Lou Gerstners’ point of view: the role of Marketing is to build the brand and deliver a great customer experience. But is it really that simple ?

Brand Experience -- More than Marketing

Brand Experience -- More than Marketing

Extending Marketing Influence

At a recent CMO Club dinner in New York, I had the privilege of leading a discussion on this very topic:  “Leading the Brand Beyond Marketing.” What followed was a spirited discussion among CMO’s about how and when Marketing should exert more influence over the brand experience. The simple part was agreeing that Marketing should influence the brand experience beyond the marketing plans. The hard part is how.

Tools for Defining Brand Experience Drivers

Here are 3 tools I’ve found helpful in increasing Marketing’s influence over the total brand experience–including some areas historically considered irrelevant to Marketing.  The common denominator with all of them is facts. The tools provide a data based approach to defining which factors are driving the brand and what role Marketing should play in influencing them.

  1. Market Contact Audit — This is an excellent tool to help you understand the relative importance of various Marketing contact points in your category. It measures the top 35 contact points for impact, as well as brand ownership–e.g. the degree which contact points are owned in consumers minds by different brands. Importantly, the approach forces you to think beyond the standard marketing touchpoints–e.g. advertising, sponsorship, etc. and consider new ones like answers forums, annual report, etc. A likely outcome is a clearer understanding of the most impactful contact points in your existing marketing mix as well as new ones outside the traditional marketing mix that you hadn’t thought about before.
  2. Brand Equity / Customer Satisfaction Drivers — Customer satisfaction surveys not only measure satisfaction. They also measure the important factors contributing to satisfaction and quantify the relationship between those factors and satisfaction. Understanding these drivers enables Marketing to define areas outside Marketing that are central to driving a superior brand experience.
  3. Corporate Reputation Drivers— Similar to above, a corporate reputation survey measures the overall corporate reputation and the key drivers which most impact, positively or negatively, the reputation of the firm. For single brand firms, this can be a critically important element of managing the total brand experience. It’s different from satisfaction research in that it measures all stakeholder groups (e.g. media, analysts, NGO’s, etc. ) and it is focused on corporate reputation, not the user experience or brand equity.

Defining The Role of Marketing

With a clearer understanding of the most important drivers of brand experience, the question then becomes: “what’s marketing’s role in driving it?” Developed by the Marketing Leadership Council and Corporate Executive Board, the “Marketing Alignment Survey” is a great tool to foster discussion and alignment as to the role of Marketing in your organization. It surveys non Marketing functions to understand, across the full range of Marketing activities, both the perceived importance and impact of the Marketing organization. This helps answer the question: “does everyone agree on what marketing should be doing?” and if not, to define gaps and how to bridge them.

It’s vitally important that within the firm, there’s  a central point of influence over the key drivers that impact brand experience. It’s less important that Marketing have direct functional control–and in most organizations it’s not realistic or appropriate that they do so. What’s most important is that the Marketing organization play a leading role in ensuring that there is focus on the most important touchpoints that bring the brand to life.

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