Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Social is the “New” Customer Experience

April 1st, 2010

A friend of mine and I have been emailing about the value of “social media”. Like most skeptics, the conversation is that social media is just a marketing channel. From the skeptic’s perspective, social media is about twitter, linkedin, facebook, youtube, etc. If viewed from that perspective, he is right. Social media doesn’t rise to the top of the priority list. Although consumer products’ budgets are migrating to social media, most of those budgets are creative advertising, games, promotions, etc. Directors of Marketing Communications worry about those budgets, CMOs worry about market share, valuation, new product innovation, sales and channels, etc.

Well and good, but there is a “but”…

In my opinion, CMOs need to “get the impact of social on the enterprise” as it is one of the most critical disruptions that we have seen in the last 15 years. We lived through the web disruption, this will be equally as disruptive. My friend is right that CMO’s don’t get fired or hired for “social media”, but they will get fired or hired for performance; which is going to be impacted on their ability to leverage “social” in their customer lifecycles.

Our consulting business is about socially enabling the enterprise, in particular, the end-to-end customer lifecycle. Lead generation over public social networks is only a small part of it. Customer retention rates, churn rates, customer satisfaction, referrals, etc. are all a part of the customer experience. We are seeing a fundamental change in the way customers (B-to-B, B-to-C, Channels) expect to interact. Social CRM is the first step, but it needs to be more strategic, cross-functional and impactful to reach its full potential.

We are seeing the set plays that Marketing used to call FAIL faster because they aren’t fluid enough to react to the dynamic flow of information. By the way, it isn’t only CMOs… CIOs are hungry for how to manage, VPs of HR, VPs of Sales, Channels, etc. Yes, I see CMOs getting churned much faster if they don’t perform, but because they can’t figure out how to leverage social strategy to compete. Social Market Leaders will become Market Share leaders.

As an example, we gone into several large companies recently and recommended  in the initial meeting that they change their sales and marketing strategy based upon the social market research that we then present to them. All outside, public information.

We are not playing “gotcha” with them, we are showing how Social is the “New” Customer Experience. Buyers are approaching the buying research, selection, and validation process is now very different because of social media. Not about the technology or “chatting with friends”, but about business impact.

Not only did they listen to us, but it validated their perceptions in the market as to the challenges they were seeing. By the way, these aren’t leading edge, consumer internet software companies, but  ”Old School” brick and mortar B-to-B companies…

Interestingly enough, we started with a good number of skeptics at the start of the meetings. We were brought in by executive sponsors; who wanted to get the rest of their executive teams around the need for a  “social media” plan, but their teams didn’t realize how strategic this could become.

You know that you are in a disruption when the pace of change feels overwhelming. Information is just pouring over the wall and you are trying to keep up. We were there with the last major disruption with the world wide web in the mid-90′s. Small companies were figuring out how to leverage the web to drive massive growth, much of it at the expense of larger companies that were caught looking at the web with distain or disbelief.

Don’t be THAT person!!!! if you don’t understand, there are many free and/or paid resources to get educated. Doesn’t mean that you throw out your existing business model and “kamikaze” your marketing resources into social media, but at least have a social marketing plan with a roadmap, milestones, budget, and performance measurement.

5 Social “Truths”

February 18th, 2010

We, Social Gastronomy, hold these “truths” to be self-evident. These beliefs are a synthesis of our learnings from our social consulting. These are the foundational beliefs that are core to our practice; from analysis, planning, consulting, to execution.

  • Shift in buyer behavior is due to social media technology disruption on par with other major technology shifts
  • Social market leadership is becoming a critical business performance indicator
  • Social media technologies are better enabling the customer experience to become more customer-centric; both from a process and online community perspective
  • Unstructured social interactions can be integrated into quantifiable business performance metrics to enhance business intelligence
  • Key to social market leadership is social enablement of each stage of the customer lifecycle

I have More Twitter Followers Than You

February 11th, 2010

We recently got that feedback from a company that we were introduced to provide social marketing services and consulting. Struck a chord worthy of a blog post. It is a consistent theme as of late on what is the value of social media participation. How do you keep score? How do you measure ROI?

First, I will respond to the more “twitter followers” statement. SO WHAT? For all of those folks who are building massive follower lists on twitter without a relationship, are you really getting value out it in your business? Do you have a strategy to convert these “eyeballs” into business relationships and revenue or are you just collecting names to spam? Do you have a plan?

I think there is a middle ground. Despite working nationally and internationally now, I have been building a list of Atlanta based marketers because I couldn’t find one. I have published it and I am adding to it all of the time. It is my “give to get” to the community. Yes, I get followers from it and I get name recognition, but the real value to my business is that I am integrating that list into my offline branding. I am also giving back to the community.

I am interested in participating in the larger Atlanta marketing community because I live here and I want to be a part of it. I don’t get to many events due to family constraints; young kids and most meetings scheduled in the evenings or early morning right in the heart of family time. I do a fair bit of speaking so I get to talk about my favorite topic “social marketing”, but the reality is that I want to be more connected.

On the twitter front, I don’t tend to write pithy 140 character pearls of wisdom. I write longer, more meaty blog posts. I also don’t tend to forward research reports, or other content to my contacts because I want to create a reputation as a thought leader; hence why I spend the time that I do researching and writing my own take on the market. I use twitter to send out the headlines to bring people back to my longer blog posts.

So, in summary, I blog, I participate on the social networks, I integrate my offline marketing with my online relationships. I practice what I preach. Now if I had a larger marketing engine, I would be spending more resource dollars in building a sustained presence that reinforced our expertise, gave back to the market more original content, shared case examples, and tried to help the market synthesize the large amount of noise around social marketing. I do what I can do.

But, I don’t see having more followers as a way of keeping score. I would rather see a company or individual have fewer, better quality relationships that large numbers of followers on twitter. At least on Linkedin, you can get email addresses to build into your social CRM efforts. I actually send out an occasional email digest of my latest blog topics to my social contacts via email. This serves as a reminder of what I do, makes it easier for them to get the information, and allows them to forward as they see fit. I run an opt out program on those emails and I track the clicks, forwards, etc. The point is that a good integrated social marketing program can be qualitative and integrated, but a badly designed program becomes about meaningless numbers….

Now, that being said, you are welcome to follow me on twitter directlyat www.twitter.com/mmrosenhaft if you want the occasional headlines of my blog, or just sign up for the RSS feed.  If you are Atlanta-based and in marketing, I am happy to add you to my list of Atlanta Marketers http://twitter.com/mmrosenhaft/atlanta-marketing.

10 Recommendations for Socially Enabling the Customer Lifecycle

January 27th, 2010

We have had a lot of discussions as of late around how to socially enable the customer lifecyle. Also, begs the question “What does that mean?”

First, we are talking about how you manage customers from awareness, through interest, purchase, delivery, support, repeat, and referral. Depending upon your market, how complicated your sales process, channels, etc. this will vary to a degree, but we are talking about managing a customer from cradle to grave ( hopefully “not” grave). Companies are paying a lot of money for business intelligence systems, CRM systems, contact center, marketing and sales technologies to try and address the challenges around the heightened customer expectations.

Customers do not want the disjointed, endless closed loop frustrations of trying to manage a relationship with a company who doesn’t understand that customers choose from whom they receive “service”. This customer experience is bleeding through into marketing and sales with the ability to mass distribute customer complaints. We have all seen the blogs, tweets, viral videos, etc.

The company that can enable a sustained and coherent engaged relationship with a customer from introduction through purchase and repeat purchases will see a decline in customer churn, increase in referrals, and a decrease in the cost of customer acquisition. Bottom line is that better engagement with your customers leads to a better bottom line. The “means to an end” in this is through social media, online communities, collaboration, web 2.0, etc. type technologies that enable individuals to engage and interact online. Huge wins in terms of brand equity, customer satisfaction, and understanding of buyer behavior, beyond streamlining the service and support processes.

To that end, we spend a lot of time working with companies to design this roadmap since many are still trying to figure out how to get started, let alone walk or run. As we do a good number of presentations on what a roadmap looks like, we thought that we would share the high-level framework in the spirit of ”give to get”; which is the basis of social marketing. Here is our recommendations:

  1. Find out what your market is saying. If you aren’t, you have no idea literally.
  2. Have a plan to engage with them on social networks, blogs, video, etc
  3. Build a good “fishing program” for lead generation
  4. Identify the top places, people, and discussions that your market is engaging
  5. Build relationships online as you would a good PR or business development program
  6. Build engaging content that will educate, entertain, or influence your market
  7. Build an online community for your customers, prospects,  and partners
  8. Listen to what they have to say, measure it, and respond to it
  9. Build an online community for your organization to collaborate and to engage employees
  10. Integrate your applications, corporate content, processes, and data into the community

10 Top Questions for Contemplating Social Media Monitoring

January 25th, 2010

For companies contemplating social media monitoring, this post analysis is meant as a starting point for integrating such an offer with Social Gastronomy’s Enterprise Social Management consulting services.

The Social media monitoring technologies are not sufficiently mature to be “install and go”; especially if the provider is looking to integrate multiple tools. This will require additional selling, implementing, customizing, and executing to manage the integration of the multiple data stream; which are exponentially more complex beyond single tool selection. Some large brands use up to 16 different tools in its social media monitoring program, we use 10+ for just our social market audit. Adding to the complexity in tool selection is the fact that a strategic snapshot that shows the relevance to the brand and business is different than the tactical dashboard and may require a completely different tools set.

Additionally, the competitive tool landscape becomes more complicated as provider moves up the “food chain” to sell to new levels. The expectations as to how extensive the monitoring program will become will be dictated by the CMO’s desire to consolidate efforts; ie. Across monitoring for brand, reputation management, customer contact, etc. the provider could find itself competing for a broader base of business against PR, Marketing Communications, and Contact Center firms for the Social Media business. We suspect that this will naturally (already) occur as CMO’s will come to the conclusion that the monitoring and listening capabilities should be centralized and feed data for multi-purposes.

Recommended Planning Steps

Area of Planning Key Issues Impact
Business Planning
  • Expected return
  • Ownership within Organization
  • Measure success
  • What are you really buying
  • Investment required over time
  • Resources
  • Business case
  • Technology investment to support offering
Roadmap will dictate the business and investment requirements. If requirements are more extensive than expected, will cause perception issues as to quality and ability to execute.
Program Management
  • Pricing
  • Packaging
  • Target customers within organization
  • Tool selection now and future
  • Duplication of data
  • Data cleansing process
  • Start with a core application and add other offerings
Expectations around the offering will dictate whether one tool or many will be required. We are seeing client have more mature requirements in terms of comprehensive information collection and synthesis.
Operation Execution
  • People Requirements
  • Process Requirements
  • Technology Requirements
How far along the business requirements have gone in preparing to scale the a program
Solution Customization
  • Add’l types of listening tools
  • Process
  • Training
  • Dashboard
  • Addl tools
  • Packages?
  • Pricing
If you trend as other enterprise social media clients that we have seen, then the customization requirements eventually will be extensive. Preparing for scenarios may allow for better initial package and accelerated scalability
Integration
  • Process
  • Requirements
  • Customer training
  • Project set-up
  • Policies and procedures setup
  • Roadmap for clients
The enterprise customers seem to be more mature in expectations around integrating offering into their environments and not as tolerant for siloed management. Has impact on operations and customization.

10 Top Takeaway Questions to Answer

  1. What is the expected hand-off when Social Gastronomy does strategy?
  2. What if organization wants other tools to include into the mix?
  3. What if monitors in other areas and wants to combine – call center, pr or marcom firm?
  4. Reputation monitoring, brand reach, complaints, categories, competitive intelligence, and qualitative analysis – what are you monitoring and why?
  5. Sentiment analysis – how leverage, how integrate with other data, how overcome shortcomings?
  6. Sentiment analysis challenges and manual review, omissions, volumes, discrepancies
  7. What does the integrated tool dashboard look like? Is there a different dashboard for the daily user, weekly manager, and monthly/quarterly executive?
  8. Integration into CRM – process, results, so what?
  9. How integrate into broader programs, how to use as door-opener for new expanded social media presence management?

10.  Where does this go? Roadmap?