Posts Tagged ‘CMO’

2010: The Perfect Social Marketing Storm

November 24th, 2009

So, if you believe 2010 is the year of the return, forget the “u” shaped recovery, etc. We are talking the “V” shaped RETURN.” The tsunami of pent of demand, the rise of social marketing as a recognized marketing channel, and the competitive pressures to outperform the market to validate your company’s supreme dominance will be firece. No problem, finding budget for marketing will be the least of your problems. Having to justify social marketing doesn’t seem as daunting when you have budget and sales are coming in… “Cool, where do I sign-up?” If not sure about 2010 being the roaring recovery, read further….

We know that social marketing is becoming mainstream. I think in 2o1o it will become table-stakes. If you don’t have a facebook page, twitter account, and linkedin profiles; you are so 2009…. In reality, we are seeing major brands begin to increase their budgets for social marketing by a factor of 20% – 30% of budgets. One major CPC brand is dictating that a percentage of product innovation come from ideas from their community. Increasingly, we are not having conversations about “Why should I do it?”, but “How do I use it for competitive advantage?”

We know that most companies have stabilized the bleeding even though they had a mediocre year. Sales are off from their height, profitability is down, budgets are constrained, probably a layoffs/backfill hires not made/new positions not budgeted. Entering into another year of a multi-year recession means most organizations now expect that you will figure out how to do more with less and will not accept “the economy” as justification for underperforming results. The expectation is that you will figure out how to outperform the market.

However, the real question is not whether the economy will recover with pent up demand in 2010, but what if it doesn’t? What if the recovery is a real dud? Will the corporate boards be simpathetic to another year of mediocre performance? Will CEOs be calm with back-to-back mediocre years? The average tenure of CEOs. CMOs, and other senior executives is what? Will anyone accept the excuse that it “the economy”? Will the pressure ratchet up even more?

What if the market fundamentally is shifting towards social media and away from advertising and even search engine marketing?,What if I don’t shift our sales, markmarketing and customer management to reflect the market? What if the market slightly improves but we don’t improve with it? What if our competitors find a way to add a lot of new customers and revenue and we don’t?

The best estimate is that it takes 3 to 6 months to establish a baseline measurement program for social marketing. That means that I need to build a program and execute within the first half of 2010 to give me time to see if it will work. That means 2010 is ALREADY HALF OVER in terms of impact.

We are not talking about setting up a twitter account and adding followers. I am talking about getting legitimate lead generation, customer retention, brand reputation, product development feedback, and team productivity using these tools. Someone tells you that you need a branded twitter account, ask “Why?” If you don’t hear a crisp answer related to a strategic initiative, then you should realize your return is probably equated to the time and cost you invested to set it up… Free Twitter Account Does Not Equal to a Gazillian Free Leads…

Here are the Major Questions that you need to ask to determine if you need to invest in a social Marketing Strategy…

We can’t hit the marketing performance numbers? Not Necessarily. Your competitors may be slower to adopt than you.

Can we get predictable and measurable results out of just doing tactical social media participation like having a twitter account and a facebook page? I don’t know, can you? How is it working for you now? Getting the results that you want? Seeing the strategic impact on revenues or customers?

Can we build a social marketing strategy on our own? Sure, always a factor of core competencies, time, resources, and money. Give anyone enough time and money and resources and they usually build a plan.

Can my team execute a social marketing program effectively? Are they doing it now? We find with a little coaching, a clear plan, and training that organizations are able to drive execution to meet their business objectives.

Can you tell me if you can tell me the 2010 social media forecast for my market? No, we would have to do a Social Market Audit to get a better idea. We can tell you …

  • If the market is adopting social media
  • How big your company’s footprint
  • How effective is your marketing messaging
  • How well are you doing against your competitors
  • How you can compete over social marketing better
  • Provide you with strategic marketing plan for executing and integrating social marketing

We find that our best partners in this are the folks who are already toe-dipping into social media. They have seen what works and what doesn’t. They recognize a sophisticated program will lead to better, more predictable results.

Self-serving? You betcha…. but also true.

Why Social Media Really Matters to Business

October 18th, 2009

Now that my email is finally working, I can continue a theme that started as my big “rant” about customer service and apply it more globally to why social media matters to business. Lost at the bottom of that long post was a case example of why my hosting company did not get the impact social media was having on it market. They are the market leader in domain registration, but they were losing the war on market perception. They are opening the door for competitors.

It doesn’t really matter how many people will join a “I hate XYZ brand” facebook group. Nor does it matter that one exists. It is almost a badge of honor to have a “I hate” group. The larger point was that they did not have a group of their own. They had more employees on linkedin than their facebook group. What does that say for a leading internet company?

Additionally, I put a major “rant” post out there that was pretty brutal in the describing the poor experience. I heard nothing back. You would expect that even a counter post, or a message back on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin, or something, but the silence was deafening. That is the major point. If you realize that for all of the money that your company spends on “branding” can be balanced by the broadcast messaging from your disgruntled customers, what does that mean for marketing? It is becoming more telling that customer testimonials, good or bad, are displacing and discrediting marketing. All of that advertising dollars now go to getting back to a nuetral position, forget about creating a positive. That I think is the underlying issues with social media for business.

Additionally, couple customer messages with the employee or ex-employee messages out there. The most damaging Anti-brand sites are run by disgruntled employees or ex-employees. Not only are they pissed off, they have insider knowledge about your organization’s warts. The ex-employees have an axe to grind and they are using it.

So, what does that look like. You spend a lot of money on advertising, your website, direct marketing, search engine marketing, etc. At the same time, your prospects do a search and see all of the negative opinion of your service. Doesn’t matter if it is actually true or not, perception is reality…. if you don’t counter it, enough of it will be taken as a sign of larger problems. If you are a public company, it is even harder to counter that because of the communication restrictions. You have seen instances of short sellers creating rumors to drive stock prices down, right?

Well, how do you counter the negative noise? First, assume transparancy in your customer experience. What happens will get out. I would be looking at ways to strengthen my processes, bring my employees closer to the customer experience, and making sure that we are using the web 2.0/social media collaboration tools internally.

Second, I would make sure that I am systematic in my social marketing participation. For those companies that ban social media sites from corporate networks, you are running a race with one leg tied behind your back and are even farther behind.

The point of social media is engagement. The good companies are empowering employees to become ambassadors for the brand out on the web. They are anyway… everytime you tell someone who you work for socially or professionally, it represents the company. If the guy is a schmuck or arrogant, it reflects on the company. It is hard for business leaders to realize that it isn’t about them… companies are made up of people, cultures, and relationships.

The best companies are trying to tap into that internally and externally. What if you could take your internal employee engagement and extend that to ex-employees. There are tons of corporate alumni networks. Many of them are proud of their experience and would love to advocate on your behalf. Probably for self-interest reasons in that if the company has a good brand, it translates into better marketability to be associated with a strong brand.

Also, the best way to prevent disgruntled employees and ex-employees is to improve engagement and communication. If you lay someone off via email and cut off their system access overnight before they know themselves, then you are probably going to get the same level of respect that you give out. If they don’t have a forum for communicating their emotions regarding a layoff, they will create their own.

Additionally, a layoff or a firing is a reflection of poor management. As business leaders, we have to realize that separating an employee from a company is on us. We made a poor decision that led to this situation. It may be the right decision to separate them now, but we made a bad one before. Same with business decisions. Giving a voice to that and receiving the feedback will actually difuse the situation. Hiding behind the corporate veil only compounds that situation.

As we do research into social marketing, we are seeing a pattern emerge. Companies that engage employees and treat them with respect are the ones who are winning the war in social perception. Companies that assumes that employees will behave badly or who ignore customer complaints as annoying distractions, are getting hammered online.

If you are a large player, you have a lot more to lose. Public companies get nailed for missing forecasts when they are growing market share, they get hammered when they lose it. The average tenure of a CMO is something like 2 years. Part of it is the pressure to perform, but a lot of it is the speed of market conditions are accelerating.

You see the same in College Football Coaching. You don’t get time to have a “rebuilding” year in either case. If you are doing the traditional market development and branding model, it takes a long time to turn negative brand perception around. You don’t have it. You have to figure out how to first address the fundamentals, then perceptions, and then focus on growth.

Not spend more money on flashy marketing campaigns and larger budgets to drive more customers. Not that you will get bigger budgets in this economy. You are fighting inertia in that the more you spend against negative perception, the more desperate that you look. People are intuitively discounting marketing messaging.

There is a great deal of cynacism in the market when it comes to corporate messaging. It is perceived as self serving. That is why buyers are craving social media; it is perceived as authentic. A complaint from a customer is perceived as a natural response to a poor customer experience. It isn’t seen as self-servicing, but rather a natural response to an impotent customer service interaction. Other customers can relate to that more than they can relate to a canned advertising message…

This isn’t going away.

Why this Blog isn't Like Others

July 30th, 2009

Since the focus on my blog is marketing strategy, most of my followers will be surprised to find me writing on tactical blogging. However, I have gotten a good number of requestsregarding how am I getting such traction with my blog, even more so than most websites. So, this is a deconstruction of my approach for those who aren’t familiar with how to build a blogging strategy.

First, let me outline why this blog is different than most of your traditional blogs:

  1. More like a corp blog than a traditional individual blog- I am running this as I would if I were the CMO of a company and I needed dynamic content for my website and for direct messaging to the market.
  2. I am playing a specific role as a content manufacturer versus a content distributor – I have written about how I see the the development of tiered content distribution on the web (Search Engines versus Social Media for Marketing Awareness)
  3. Focused on establishing my thought leadership in the social marketing space – hence the original, higher quality content.
  4. My audience is the “C” level executive decision-makers that doesn’t have time to read blogs -Kind of tough to reach people via a blog who don’t read blogs, but my strategy is to leverage indirect channels of establishing relationships prior to engaging. I am getting read, but I am reaching them through other channels and then bringing them to my blog one at a time.
  5. My blog is obviously integrated with my offline and other online marketing activities -The decision makers don’t care whether the information is offline or online, they just want quality from validated sources. My marketing strategy does both prior to engagement.
  6. My blog isn’t as targeted – I would like to be more targeted, but I am having to balance my desire my long term goal to find a permanent role with my short term social marketing consulting. Hence, it is a bit schizophrenic in switching between broader CMO topics (Web 2.0 product management, product marketing, and lead generation) and more targeted social marketing.
  7. You will notice that I don’t have links – It is not that I do not want to be helpful to assist you in finding additional strategic marketing resources, but they are time consuming to build and, in truth, they distract from the narrative that I am building between posts.
  8. Very little third party content for the same reason – I am showcasing my expertise, building a narrative around social marketing, and focused on building a library of original content. I will occasionally comment on really cool information, but I try to be a destination for original content.
  9. I have turned off the commenting (too much SPAM) – I receive feedback through my social networks, twitter, email, and back links. Please reach me through these vehicles (contact info in the sidebar) as I appreciate people the feedback.
  10. I have a micro targeting strategy versus a macro blogging recognition one – In part, I am more focused on creating a thought leadership center for people to leverage for understanding social marketing, validating my expertise, and providing a call to action around my resume. Hence why I am on a hosted wordpress with poor Seach Engine Optimization. I am not looking to establish myself as a blogger, but rather I am validating my knowledge as a Marketing Executive with some very cool, cutting edge expertise.

My Recommendations for Starting a Corporate Blog

1. Start with the Strategy first. Are you blogging for brand recognition, validation, sales support?

2. Understand the mechanics of blogging – what rules will you follow, which ones will you not. I break some rules because it supports my strategy to do so.

3. Build an editorial calendar – map out the narrative that you want to deliver and manage to that

4. Pace yourself – fewer posts of higher quality is better. On the other hand, make sure that you are at least once or twice a week, preferrably more.

5. Don’t “Build it and They Will Come” – doesn’t work. You need to promote it, get it added to online catalogs, cross promote with other marketing communications channels, and get the word out. It takes a while to build visability and even longer to build a regular following.

Hope this helps.

Social (Marketing) Must Evolve to Survive

July 15th, 2009

A friend of mine recommended yesterday that I rewrite my BIO to reflect my expertise in social marketing. I appreciated the feedback, but it also highlighted an identity crisis that I have been struggling with since before I started this blog.

I am looking for a strategic marketing role that leverages my experience over the last few years in product managing, evangelizing, and consulting around social media platforms for marketing. I have also been consulting in social marketing and I am getting considerable recognitition for my thought leadership in the space, but I never saw my future as an independent social marketing consultant. I haven’t figured out the consultant’s dilemna; balancing sales with delivery.

Here is my real dilemna… although I am consulting on social marketing, I really see that social marketing as an independent discipline will eventually go away. If it is succssful, I believe that ALL marketing disciplines will be socially enabled thus social marketing as a term will become redundant. I suspect that it will take a while. So for my social marketing colleagues, you can rest easy that you will have jobs for a while.

I see that Social Marketing will be elevated in the marketing portfolios to become a strategic discipline reporting to the CMO akin to Product Marketing, Product Management, Marketing Communications, Marketing Operations, and even Web Marketing. But, I also see that each of these discpilines will need to become proficient in social marketing and understand how the changing dynamics on the web will impact their individual disciplines. I think that social marketing represents a fundamental shift in buyer behavior which will require a rethinking of the marketing function at large. Social media is a catalyst, but it isn’t the actual change. Buyer expectations around information, relationships, and the very nature of transactions are evolving. I see this as another phase (in a long line) of the changes driven by deeper internet integration and evolution.

Product Marketing & Brand Management - Today, the product value proposition is designed for multi-channel, but how do you design for user generated content where you cannot control the location, context, or delivery? Social media and marketing represent a shift in the direct communications of marketing messaging to the indirect. Product Marketing will have to package product messaging to become more compact (sound bites), reusable, and repurposable to ensure sufficient distribution through social media channels; ie. blogs, social networks, digg, delicious, Youtube, etc.

Product Management – We are already seeing the trend in Web 2.0 product management to build “lite”, component applications that are driven more by adoption that overwhelming features. These applications are built to be a point solutions, but can be scaled easily and as modules. The reasoning is that for many potential users, more is less… attractive. We are so overwhelmed with information that taking time out to learn a complicated application is not attractive. Building just-in-time functionality to meet specific pain with the ability to add more functionality later is attractive. In reality, you are seeing agile manufacturing of web applications. We are also seeing that happen in manufacturing, services, and distribution across society. This puts more pressure on Product Management to understand the customers, identify the segments, build targeted functionality prioritized to their needs, and delivery the right experience. A much more complicated and fluid environment made more difficult when the potential markets can self identify and congregate virtually. You can miss the mark and it will be much more readily visible.

Marketing Communications – Advertising is in full retreat from the recession, but also from the fact that more messages do not translate to more sales. Actually, the inverse. SPAM has overwhelmed our email infrastructures. The key to marketing communications now is multi-channel, targeted, and coordinated messaging that catches attention, engages, and provides a specific call to action. Social media empowers the audience to tune in or tune out the message as they see fit. Marketing communications needs to adjust to the power shift in this relationship. Marketing Communicatiosn firms are even more vunerable as many of them are transaction oriented (campaigns) where the newer channels are relationship oriented (long-term, one-to-one mass customization of relationships). Marketing communications needs to evolve to more of a pull strategy versus a push strategy.

Marketing Operations – CRM, Multi-Channel Marketing, Enterprise Content Management, Measurement and Reporting, etc. all get impacted. When does a lead start? How do you measure a fluid environment? How do you manage corporate information assets that aren’t in your posession which are designed for reusablility and redistribution (blog posts are an example)? How do you measure all of the activity to develop an ROI? (This one I can answer: you should build the ROI based upon your traditional metrics. Force social marketing to justify why these activities will lead to more effective marketing, not create justification as to why you should do social marketing)

Web Marketing – Where does Corporate Online Communities come into the equation? SEO and SEM? How do you balance the shift from search to social media? How do you manage the transition from social networks to your own onlne community? Engagement, Interaction, Adoption, Momentun?

Ironic that a social marketing evangelist is advocating the end of social marketing as a discipline. However, as a marketing executive first, I believe that social marketing is really about applying the fundamentals of marketing to a new environment.

Why Fortune 1000 (All) CEOs Needs to Understand Social Media and Marketing

July 7th, 2009

The reality is that very few Fortune 1000 CEOs (or even Divisional CEOs) will read this post. Actually, very few will read any posts. BUT here is why they should…

  • Marketing – Traditional marketing activities are getting diminishing returns; social marketing leveraging social media represents a shift to lower cost, higher return activities. Ecomomics is the driver. Mantra should be “Find more cost effective ways to drive revenue”.
  • Competition – The competitor that can figure out how to leverage online social relationship networks to drive customer acquisition at a faster rate grows faster.
  • Employee Productivity - Your employees can be much more productive leveraging these web 2.0 tools. Problem is that most organizations approach these tools at a tactical level and therefore only get marginal results. Some of the real innovators are using it to rethink and realign their value delivery systems.
  • Cost of Sales – Used to be that vendors that could short circuit an RFP could command higher margins. If your prospects are doing research on the web, you need to short circuit that process OR at least get in early enough to influence the process. You will lower your aggregate cost of sales.
  • Customer Relationships – Customers are demanding better information and better interaction throughout their lifecycle. Every major company has customer retention and referral programs. How is your organization trying to provide a better customer experience?

Could you cut lead generation, customer acquisition, or customer support costs leveraging social media? Can you demonstrate a ROI?

The short answer is “yes”, but having a Corporate Facebook page is probably not the right answer when someone on your board asks your CMO about how you will leverage social media …. or how you will drive sales growth over the next 2 quarters when you are also cutting marketing budgets. You could probably flog the troups to work harder to get the short term results, but the reality is that a lot of smart companies are crafting strategic approaches to social media to help change the market dynamics. If you are not getting the sales growth that you would like even in the face of a myriad of corporate initiatives, you may want to rethink “Social Media is a Fad” or isn’t really for <insert your market here>.

Why? Social Media represents a fundamental shift in the way people interact on the web. As a result, this impacts the way customers and employees interact in business. We all have B school case studies where innovative companies leveraged innovative technology challenge the established market order. There are just as many examples of where the established market leader crushed an upstart competitor by leveraging the same innovative technologies to maintain their market lead.

Your organization spends a great deal of money and time around preparing strategic plans, why aren’t you taking the same approach to social media? Could be a game changer for your business… or your competitor…

If you don’t have people in-house who can build and articulate real strategy with a Roadmap, Business Case, and ROI around social media & marketing, then I suggest that you acquire that talent post-haste. Even if you decide that you need a slow-roll approach to leveraging social media; having a strategic gameplan that is well thought out and justified is priceless. Especially if social media represents a fundamental paradigm shift in the way businesses interact with customers.