Posts Tagged ‘marketing 2.0’
My CMO 2.0 Conversation with Larry Flanagan, the CMO at MasterCard was a good one.
As is usually the case with these interviews, Larry started off by giving us some context to the career that led him to become CMO at MasterCard – in his case a background that includes a stint in the advertising business, as well as client side experiences with Proctor & Gamble and L’Oreal, where he was involved with major acquisitions. He joined MasterCard 13 years ago when the brand was in dire straits, and became CMO 5 years later. Not surprisingly, one of his main yardsticks in managing global marketing campaigns for MasterCard is Marketing ROI.
MasterCard has an interesting and fairly complex business model. On the one hand, they deal with partners, for the most part banks, but also merchant partners and non-financial institutions, who are basically franchisees. On the other hand they deal with consumers, who are the carriers of the cards. That makes for a business that is not just into B2B or B2C, but also into B2C2B and B2B2C – resulting in interesting and unique challenges as it relates to balancing the marketing mix and branding.
We then talked about the challenges associated with delivering a consistent brand experience when you have as many customer touch-points as MasterCard has – most of which are not in the company’s control. Brand is especially important for MasterCard as it is fully intertwined with the value propositions to their partners. At MasterCard, just as is the case with many other companies, branding has undergone dramatic shifts over the last decades. Larry described how branding went from being a process that consisted of a one way dialog in which companies told the consumers how they should think about the brand, how it’s differentiated from competitors, what the key benefits and value proposition are, to a many-to-many process in which the brand exists in the consumer’s daily experience, and is influenced not only by what the company says, but also by what is being said in consumers’ social networks, and what friends are telling them. Larry calls this a consumer inside-out view of the brand – one in which the brand truth lies with the consumer.
What that means for marketers is that they have to think differently about the channels through which they try to influence consumers. Sometimes the best way to have a dialogue with the consumer is through third party influencers and stake-holders who enjoy a high level of trust within their communities and networks.
In Larry’s view, social media and digital technologies have ignited a revolution that has leveled the playing field between individuals and corporations. In a way, it has enabled word of mouth, which has always been one of the most successful means of influence and decision-making, to become word of mouth on steroids, with everything being amplified and traveling much faster than before. That is true in all aspects of business, not just in marketing, but also in the way we recruit and manage talent, and how job applicants select the companies they want to work for. And while we may not fully understand the long term impact of social media on our business – one thing we know for sure is that as companies we have to be part of those conversations.
One of the challenges facing marketers who are investing in these new channels and leveraging these new-found opportunities to engage with consumers, partners, and competitors, is how to measure the impact of those programs, and how to attribute value to all those new behaviors so that we can influence the ones we want. Clearly there are no good models out there to do that and Larry believes that many companies will develop proprietary models.
We then talked about an issue that is very specific to the financial sector, yet applicable to all industries – that of trust. It’s no secret that the last economic downturn have severely damaged the trust that consumers have in their financial institutions. When you are hit with a trust confidence crisis like this – how do you overcome it and how do you regain that trust? According to Larry, the key to overcome this is by first listening to the marketplace and truly understand what is going on. Next is to engage with the marketplace in a manner that is transparent and value driven. Specifically for financial services companies that means convincing consumers that they want to make their lives easier while not hiding the fact that they are for-profit commercial institutions and not charitable organizations.
Other things that we discussed include:
- The changing role of reputation management in a social media world
- The importance of listening to what is being said about your company and how to select the conversations in which you want to engage
- The skill set of people needed to successfully lead you through the current changes
- The importance of mobile applications in the marketing mix
- The role and valuation of impressions and engagement in paid media, earned media, and owned media
- The balance between global/local needs in the marketing mix
As usual, you can listen to the full podcast below.
Tags: beeline labs, cmo 2.0, francois gossieaux, larry flanagan, marketing 2.0, mastercard
Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 3 Comments »
I was looking forward to interviewing a marketing executive from the airline industry, and speaking with Virgin America’s CMO Porter Gale was no disappointment.
As usual, we started the conversation by setting some context – in this case we are talking about a new airline which started flying just one and a half years ago, has 28 airplanes, and 1,400 employees.
The motivation for Virgin to start a new airline in the US was driven primarily by the opportunity that presented itself to redefine the category in the face of rapidly deteriorating customer expectations. I think that is putting it rather mildly – and would have categorized the state of the industry as one in which the service providers seem determined to make their customers lives’ miserable while they are with them. At any rate, it was a perfect fit for Richard Branson’s philosophy for Virgin companies to be customer champions.
We spent a fair amount of time discussing the essence of the Virgin America brand, and how they are making deliberate efforts to humanize the brand and the service. In order to ensure consistency of this experience throughout all the customer touch-points, and to get buy-in from all the employees, they have a very rigorous hiring and training process. Showing respect and a human face to the customer may seem like common sense, but it is a tough thing to scale – it requires the right culture and zero tolerance for mediocrity. Another important aspect of Virgin America’s success in humanizing their brand is not to brainwash people into telling the corporate story, but rather to empower them to tell their own stories. To support that personal passion they also continuously focus on making sure that they have a product that employees can be proud of – so it is a big closed loop system.
Porter spoke at length about the importance of social media in customer support, branding, innovation, and marketing. From how they monitor everything that is being said about them and deploy customer recovery actions when someone twitters or blogs about a bad experience during flight, to how they empower people to act as they see fit when they see some negative comment online. For some reason they attract a very tech-savvy crowd, which makes it a natural choice for them to social-media-fy their marketing, or to use Porter’s words “to explore the digital space, look at all of the trends that are happening, the social media changes, and find more ways to engage and have deeper relationships with people who love the brand through digital.”
Another interesting aspect of Virgin America’s marketing strategy is that they find themselves to be not just be an airline or travel company, but also a media company (which I think will be increasingly true for companies who are successful in harnessing consumer movements, communities and tribes). In the case of Virgin America, they were basically able to fund the launch of a new city through a paid media partnership with HBO.
Other topics we covered include:
- How there are totally new career paths in marketing
- How they are continuously trying to reinvent the category
- The importance of fairness in how you deal with customer problems
- How they focus hard on ensuring brand consistency throughout the travel “ribbon” – including the flight experience, the website, check-in, and where they can, even the terminal experience.
- How Wifi in the airline industry is a true game changer
- The role of advertising in awareness building when launching new markets and new offerings and the shift to social media after awareness is created.
- How they were able to create a movement before they even flew – rallying people around the cause to let Virgin America fly
When you have an airline and passengers write to you to tell you that they wished the flight was longer, or that they rescheduled their honeymoon so they could fly with you – you know you are doing something right. I wish I could interview some other CMO’s from the industry to get their perspective.
As usual, you can listen to the podcast below and we will start posting transcripts next week.
Tags: airline marketing, beeline labs, cmo 2.0, francois gossieaux, marketing 2.0, Porter Gale, virgin america
Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 2 Comments »
I had the pleasure of conducting another CMO 2.0 Conversation with many teachable moments – this one with Mark Colombo, the Senior Vice President of Digital Access Marketing at FedEx. For the sake of full disclosure, I should say that Mark is a client of Beeline Labs, the company I co-founded and where I am a partner.
Mark set the stage by giving an overview of the FedEx business, a $36B company. Mark described his business as a “network business,” with very similar characteristics as telecom carriers, railroads, and airlines – facing unique challenges in that they can not easily reconfigure their network based on specific market segment requirements.
We talked a fair amount about the changes in marketing caused by shifts in audience expectations. In this case the audience expectation shift has to do with how customers interact with FedEx and with one another. People increasingly want to interact on their own terms. In Asia that may mean through a text based interface on a cell phone, while in the US people expect a richer Web experience. Meeting expectations gets further complicated by generational differences – with some people using technology only when they interact with FedEx, and others expecting the same rich interfaces that they have grown accustomed to in using other online environments and applications. FedEx now handles 13 million digital experiences with their customers every day, making them not just a business services company, but also a software application development company – and one that has to deliver on its brand promise of trust and reliability through all those software applications. Managing the shift from having most of your customer touch-points happening through digital interfaces instead of through humans (the FedEx drivers) is not a trivial challenge.
From a brand perspective marketing has gone through some interesting transitions. In the 50′s and 60′s, brands used to be built on a set of attributes. Now brands are built by customers, one experience at a time, and those experiences are, obviously, more and more online experiences. Fedex has seen additional changes in branding as their offering is increasingly becoming a critical part of their customers’ offerings – thus becoming an “ingredient brand.”
Mark also talked about changes in market research and in measuring marketing effectiveness – with the most important measure of marketing effectiveness at FedEx now being customer loyalty instead of customer satisfaction. It’s not hard to understand when you realize that a 1% increase in loyalty comes with an extra $100M straight into the bottom line. Interestingly enough, loyalty is strongest among people who had a problem that was resolved to their satisfaction, not among those that never had a problem. When discussing market research we also talked about the power of the 2.0 world and how it makes it so much easier to get instant feedback.
Other interesting topics that we touched on include:
- How Fedex uncovered affinity-based group behavior in their community, and the role of cognitive surplus in brand champions and customer (self-)support
- How the new “word of mouth” is increasingly coupled with customer support
- How they set up a listening infrastructure to monitor what is being said about the company and to be able to quickly turn negative word of mouth into positive word of mouth to increase customer loyalty
- The importance of co-marketing with customers
- The role of listening in innovation, and how listening is the most important thing you can do as a marketer
- How fairness plays an important role in customer loyalty. You can fail to solve a person’s problem but still instill loyalty if what you did appeared to be fair in the eyes of the customer.
Mark also touched on the type of marketing people he is looking for – well rounded people with strong technical skills who are good listeners.
You can listen to the recorded call below and soon we will be posting a transcript of the conversation as well.
Tags: beeline labs, cmo 2.0, FedEx, francois gossieaux, Mark Colombo, marketing 2.0
Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 3 Comments »
Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Will Prest, the CMO for Transamerica Retirement Management, for yet another great CMO 2.0 Conversation (these are proving a ton of fun for me – hopefully for you, our listeners, too). Will and I talked about some of the issues and obstacles around creating a new “challenger” brand within a larger company and in an environment that is heavily regulated.
From a marketing perspective, Will faces unique and interesting challenges. While retirement investment decisions may be some of the biggest decisions in one’s life, most people procrastinate and actually spend very little time making those decisions. Unlike the tax world, where you have to pay your taxes every April 15th, the retirement market has no such deadlines. For most people, retirement investment decisions are, surprisingly perhaps, not top of mind. Add to that the fact that the products one can choose from are fairly complex and you start understanding the unique marketing problem he faces – how do you get people’s attention in a space like that and how do you alter their behavior when you know that current behavior is not in the person’s best interest?
Here again we covered a wide variety of topics, including how:
- you switch market penetration strategies when your initial plans prove harder to achieve than previously thought
- to reach people when they increasingly make buying decisions based on information that does not come from the company
- to insert branded content into conversations that you do not control and in a heavily regulated space
- you can get customer and market insights into your product innovation process
We also talked about the importance of the company culture in allowing a startup to flourish by trying things, failing fast and learning.
You can listen to the CMO 2.0 Conversation below. We will also be posting transcripts of the interview soon.
Tags: beeline labs, cmo 2.0, francois gossieaux, marketing 2.0, transamerica, will prest
Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 2 Comments »