Posts Tagged ‘social media’
I truly enjoyed my CMO 2.0 Conversation with Aaron Davis, the CMO at Schneider Electric — a 170-year-old company with 24B Euros in revenue. Aaron grew up as an engineer in a family of engineers — with even his grandmothers being engineers. When he got out of school, however, he was attracted to advertising — leading to his life-long perspective that good marketing operates at the intersection of science and art. He was a co-founder at APC, which was acquired by Schneider Electric a few years ago, and subsequently named Aaron the CMO for the company.
The CMO role at Schneider Electric was created as part of an interesting transition — one in which the company transitioned from a corporate holding company with multiple sub-brands to more of a large well-recognized brand that can drive the economies of scale that allows for cross-organizational innovation needed to capitalize on fast-changing markets and opportunities. During this transition they went from 130 different brands to 10 associated brands — brands that can keep using their name in association with the Schneider Electric brand — and a few that can keep operating on their own for competitive or market amplification reasons. Those brands that survived as associated brands had to be the number one or number two brand in their space.
At Schneider Electric they truly live their brand values as part of their organizational culture. With sustainability being a cornerstone of their brand they also happen to be one of the top 20 sustainable companies in the world. They gamefied their internal process of sustainability — resulting not only in a better bottom line, but also in a more collaborative culture, one in which people work more closely together across functional boundaries.
For Aaron, one of the most exiting changes in marketing was caused by collaborative technology — Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Those technologies allowed for widespread intimacy — a contradiction of terms, but clearly a reality. What he is even more excited about is bringing those technologies in-house allowing his organization to compete not just on price but on agility.
Aaron has an interesting approach to making sure that new marketing channels, processes, or technologies do not lead to silos in marketing. First off, whenever something new comes on the horizon, he rarely forms a dedicated team Instead he tasks a trusted person from one of his competence centers to go and become an expert on the topic, and to report back to the team with recommendations in 3-6 months. If something becomes real he will always try to make it part of the genetics of the marketing organization, and he forces it through training and KPIs.
For example, everyone on his team is knowledgeable about SEO. He also tries to anticipate which technique or function will likely be cannibalized or eliminated if something new becomes real. He then gives that team the responsibility for the new function or the new tool — thus making cannibalization more natural and avoiding silos fighting with one another. Another technique to avoid silos it to constantly force people to have a much broader view of the marketing mix than their own area of expertise — be it demand generation, social, or events.
The advent of social media has forced a shift in marketing content development, one which Aaron describes as a shift from polished content, the way you would create a brochure, to more raw content, the way you would send an email to someone. Social amplifies raw content, not polished content.
Aaron is a firm believer in the premise that culture trumps strategy. At Schneider Electric they are trying to foster a culture that’s mostly driven by speed and a willingness to fail, but to fail fast. They also have a measurement culture, which makes for a self-correcting system. You screw up, you fix it, and you move onto the next thing.
If you do not have speed as part of your culture, and this is true especially for large companies, you can end up with situations where your strategic implementation cycle is longer than the strategy cycle itself — and you fool yourself if you think that your strategy is what the market is actually feeling.
Like with many companies that I recently interviewed, at Schneider Electric they try to have a unified corporate culture that trumps the local cultures, the age-related cultures, or any other culture layers that people bring to work.
The benefits of having a great culture include brand building, employee retention, and less failure of new employees.
Changing or creating culture in a large company is much harder than in a small company. The advantage that they have at Schneider Electric over other more unified competitors is that at those competitors it already means something to be a company person while it’s much more of a blank slate at Schneider Electric. They just need to get people to stop talking about their shared local history, great stories, and local lessons learned and instead focus on talking about the shared vision and how they are going to work moving forward.
In terms of talent acquisition, there is a generational aspect at Schneider. Many of the big problems that Schneider Electric has identified will not be solved in a year — they’re all 15 and 20 year problems. So knowing that a person’s peak in the corporate world is 40-50 years old, it is the 30-year-olds that are going to change the world.
Other things we discussed include:
- How to change a legacy brand and make it relevant while not losing the benefits of the legacy.
- How everything new in marketing, with the exception of the fax is additive.
- On the use of Centers for Competence for various marketing functions.
- The importance of depoliticizing failures and encouraging people to fail fast but document what they did so others can avoid it.
- The importance and real benefits that companies derive when they create cultures of trust.
- The need to measure people not just on KPIs but also on cultural traits.
- How to develop metrics integrated success metrics to avoid friction between sales and marketing.
Tags: aaron davis, culture, gamification, kpis, metrics, schneider electric, social media, sustainability
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Peter Mahoney, the CMO at Nuance, and I have been crossing paths on and off for the past few years in social media. So, it was great to finally speak in person and prove to one another that we were in fact not social media bots.
After getting a degree in Physics, Peter started his career in marketing and sales at IBM, even though that was the furthest from his aspirations at the time he started to work. After stints at PictureTel he ended up with Nuance, where he has been for the past nine years — seeing it grow from $150M in revenue to more than $2B in revenue this year.
Peter believes that marketing has become more strategic in the past few years — especially in the tech sector, where it had not been seen as a strategic piece of the business on par with some others. It has also become much more technical — involving optimization, lot’s of data, and digital capabilities. However, fundamentally, marketing is still about connecting people with the right product.
Even in B2B environments, marketers need to realize that it is people who are buying products, not companies. Another huge change in marketing has been caused by social media, which allows a marketer to have a different and deeper kind of conversation with their customers. It also allows your customers to have conversations about you without you being there. In fact, engaging in social conversations may be the biggest sea change in the marketing mix.
Nuance has grown primarily through acquisitions, and in the nine years that Peter has been there, there have been around 65 acquisitions. The good news of being in constant integration mode is that there is a good relationship between marketing and IT — a requirement for success as marketing is becoming more and more technical. That being said, marketers also need to beef up their technical capabilities internally.
Part of Nuance’s brand is to humanize technology — they sell, after all, technology that can hear, talk, reason at some level, see you, and have memory and context, — so having a humanized brand, especially the ability to listen to social conversations, comes almost natural to them — it’s part of their DNA.
The role of marketers has really shifted to one of being connectors rather than communicators. Marketers no longer need to consider themselves the spokespeople of the company in market place but instead need to think of themselves as the company advocate within the company.
When it comes to branding, companies need to be honest — and honesty means many different things. It is about connecting the right audience with the right product — not some kind of made up hyperbole. Marketers need to communicate very precisely what the product or service does in the terms that are interesting and relevant to their audience. Honesty is also something marketers need to have when engaging in social media conversations — which at scale are really good at outing falsehoods.
Next we talked about the importance of culture in marketing — both employee culture and consumer culture. As many other CMO’s I interviewed recently, Peter is convinced that there cannot be a dissonance between the internal employee culture and what the brand stands for. You cannot come up with a brand attribute and make it happen — it has to be part of your true essence and your values for it to be perceived as real in the marketplace.
The way Nuance deals with the various cultures that come through acquisitions is by celebrating diversity — including diversity of culture — as part of their culture. They don’t try to strip new groups of their personality or their individual group culture, but they instead understand how that links to the overall corporate message and culture. Peter compares it to marrying into a family that comes from a different culture — you do not want to completely throw out the old culture. You want to bring it along and add it to the mix and change it a little, but also recognize the fact that there’s this broader thing that has a set of values and a culture that they are interested in.
Other things that we discussed include:
- The importance to having a good core set of technical vendors as partners to marketing.
- Understanding the role of the marketer in social conversations — when to engage and when not to.
- The changing role of content marketing in the age of social recommendations.
- The challenges for marketers that have products embedded in other people’s solutions.
- The future applications of speech recognition, and the possibilities that open up when you combine speech recognition with data.
- How to walk the fine line of promoting “do good” applications as part of your marketing mix when you in fact help people with disabilities and other impairments.
- What to do when the culture of partners is different from your own culture.
- The importance of understanding consumer cultures as part of marketing.
Tags: branding, culture, customer trust, listening, marketing, nuance, peter mahoney, social media
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I thoroughly enjoyed conducting this CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with the T. Austin Finch Senior Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Chris Moorman — discussing the latest results from the annual CMO Survey. Chris has been in academics for 25 years and a professor at Duke since 1999.
The CMO survey, which has been conducted since August 2008 and happens twice a year, seeks to get the perspective from 500 or so top marketers in organizations on where markets are going, what companies are doing, what some of spending patterns are, and how companies track marketing excellence. While the interview happened before the new February results were published, you can review the latest results of the CMO survey here.
Here are some of the top findings that Chris picked for further commentary in our discussion.
Social Media Spend
Social Media spend, which was at about 7.6% and projected to grow to 18% in the last survey is now at 8.4% and projected to grow to more than 21% in this latest survey, is clearly becoming a considerable chunk of marketing budgets. The interesting part of this budget item is that there are very few in-house people who are actually allocated against it. In August, that number was 3.6 and in the latest findings, that number came down to 1.7 people. So for a fairly sizable portion of the budget, there are very few people engaging with that strategy. Chris thinks that it could be that companies have not quite caught up in terms of building their human capital around this particular strategy.
Interestingly enough, many successful companies are not approaching social media as another marketing silo — instead integrating it as part of the other marketing functions (e.g., lead gen, thought leadership, innovation, customer support, etc.). Even though those companies are probably in the minority, and with the survey showing that most organizations are not well integrating their social media with their marketing strategies, it could account for why the number is lower than what it really is.
The next topic we covered was that of marketing analytics. Companies in August reported they were spending 5.7% of their budget on marketing analytics and that number was projected to go up to 9.1% ( 6% and going up to 10% in the February survey). It is interesting to see a predicted 60% increase in marketing analytics budgets even though overall marketing budgets have only grown by 8.3% in the last two years.
Now keep in mind that this does not include budgets that might be spent in IT to support marketing analytics. Chris believes that when IT departments take over marketing analytics, they spend a lot time creating the infrastructure for it but then don’t spend an equal amount of time and effort on making sure that the information is getting used by decision makers. In fact usage is a problem with marketing analytics in general, with managers not using the analytics that are available to them or that have been requested 62% of the time. Chris is not surprised by this number, as her research in the past 25 years has shown a general tendency for managers to ignore market research. Interestingly enough, when companies have an evaluation process for the quality of the marketing analytics data, the date has a much higher likelihood of being used.
Performance metrics is another area of the CMO Survey that Chris finds interesting. The survey measures a lot of performance metrics, including growth, marketing leadership, and others. They do a really good job at looking at growth rates across multiple geographic areas — finding for example, not surprisingly, that companies were growing strong in China.
A real interesting exercise that they went through, and which Chris describes in one of her blog posts, is how much risk companies are willing to take with their growth strategies. As the economy has tightened up, they have not found an increase in low risk growth strategies, such as market penetration strategies targeting existing customers with existing products and services , but instead found an increase in more risky growth strategies — like launching new products or entering new markets.
Another growth strategy, found especially in the tech sector is — tech, software, and biotech, — through acquisitions. What is interesting in that space, as Chris describes in another great blog post, is that many companies are doing acquisition to acquire patents which they ultimately do not show an interest in developing — so in effect using acquisitions as a defensive strategy.
On the other performance metrics front, many of the metrics are pretty dismal. Customer retention is down, customer acquisition is down, and brand value is down. That trend continued in the latest February CMO Survey. Note that the numbers are still positive with companies still acquiring customers, but the fact that the growth has slowed shows that there clearly is a lot of negativity and uncertainty going around.
Despite the tough economic times that we are going through, a lot of marketing indicators are on the rise — including overall marketing spending. Not surprisingly, the CMO Survey also found that investments in traditional advertising is on the decline. Somewhat surprising is the investments that companies were making in marketing knowledge, developing knowledge about how to market, although that number dropped in the last survey.
The CMO Survey also has a great set of interviews with CMO’s that can be found here.
Other things that we discussed include:
- How lack of integration of the various marketing channels leads to not being able to track the customer journey.
- How marketing analytics really should be supported by both IT and Marketing.
- Why Apple has consistently won the CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence.
- How customer priorities are shifting towards price and what that means for marketers.
- Top rated skill sets that marketers were looking for in their new hires.
Tags: Chris Moorman, CMO Survey, Duke, Fuqua, marketing excellence, marketing performance metrics, marketing spend, social media
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I truly enjoyed my CMO 2.0 Influencer conversation with Tom Asacker – who I consider a friend and also admire as an original marketing thinker. Tom is the author of multiple books, including Opportunity Screams: Unlocking Hearts and Minds in Today’s Idea Economy, and also blogs at A Clear Eye. Before becoming a successful author and speaker, Tom started his career at GE, where he participated in a management buyout of an electronics firm. After that he became the founder and CEO for a medical devices company.
The first topic we tackled is that of marketing in a world where everyone, including executives, is increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of information that is coming at them. Tom is convinced that most executives need to pause and rethink their purpose and how they will execute that purpose. While the priorities of marketing have not changed all that much - drive top line growth and grow marketshare -, those are results that come from understanding and feeding the hungers of your audiences and the customer insights, and from better defining one’s brand and how to deliver a differentiated value proposition. Marketing executives cannot optimize their way to success by measuring everything and everyone to death. They need to care deeply about their audience and create unique value that improves their audience’s lives. You cannot expect results from spreading messages all over the place hoping that somehow you will connect with the feelings of your audience – you have to really care.
Marketers also have to rethink their content, and develop it in a way that it will travel in those circles where buying recommendations are being made. That means that we have to understand what value people will derive from using the content we develop with others. After all, most people only do what they value – and that is true for making recommendations and reusing vendor content. Marketers need to switch from their traditional inside-out perspective and start looking at everything they do through the eyes of their audiences.
People need to realize that everything in the marketplace has changed – the amount of products and services is overwhelming, and the amount of information is overwhelming, buyers’ attitudes about how they filter and process information and how they are making their decisions has changed.
Next we switched to one of Tom’s favorite topics – branding. Branding is of course something that exists in the mind of a customer – it’s an expectation of value that gets created through interactions in the marketplace. Those interactions can include advertising, pricing, social exchanges with other users, packaging, financing options or interactions with company employees. As you can see, many of these interactions are happening with touch points that are somewhat controlled by the company. So to say that the consumer owns the brand is a fallacy. Tom wishes we would have a Deming-like figure in the branding space – someone who could influence how everyone in a company feels responsible for the brand.
About engagement, Tom said: “People at successful companies love what they do, they believe in what it is they get up in the morning and go to work to do every day. Secondly they love who they do it for; the’re interested in in their audience and what they’re all about and how to improve their lives and how to make things better. And the third thing, is which I call engagement, is that they like the process of keeping what they do and what they love connected to others: others’ interest and others’ values. They love the idea of injecting energy into their idea and bringing it to life for everyone’s benefit.” How is that for a definition of engagement? Much better than most definitions being bantered around in the agency space if you ask me.
Continuing on the topic of engagement, Tom described the three steps you need to follow to engage people – three steps that are described in more detail in his latest book “Opportunity Screams: Unlocking Hearts and Minds in Today’s Idea Economy.” The first step is you want to engage people’s conscious attention. How do you get someone to stop and think about what’s being presented? You do that by charming them and by providing some cue to value. Once you feed their hungers and you’re reflective of them and their self-identities, you entice them to participate. All they want to do then is believe, and you can help them believe in what you do by conveying purpose through your actions, by stimulating interaction and sharing like you discuss all the time. But you always have to have value and unfortunately most businesses don’t believe in the distinctive value they add to people’s lives.
You cannot have a conversation with Tom without talking about culture and so we talked about this whole notion that culture trumps strategy, and what that means for older companies that may not have ideal cultures to roll out new strategies. In older companies you often have what Tom calls cultural immune systems that end up blocking new ideas and new perspectives. Leaders need to be aware of this and be willing to take off their cultural glasses and expose themselves to new ideas (Note that we will be conducting a research project on culture and strategy in partnership with the Schulich School of Business at York University, email me if interested).
“Business is about people, it’s about culture, it’s about feelings, it’s a way to help people feel prosperity and well being. It’s not about numbers,” said Tom, and I must say that I could not agree more.
We talked about a lot more things than can be captured in this blog post. I hope you will find the time to listen to the podcast.
Other things we discussed include:
- How Drucker’s moto that business is marketing never materialized
- The importance of the last transaction on the brand perception
- How the expectations that we have from brands has soared
- The role (or lack thereof) of agencies in meaning making
- How engagement is not the same as sustained attention
- The resistance of middle management to cultural changes
- Ways to change corporate cultures that do not involve a near-death experience
- The importance of finding meaning at work and being able to bring passion to work
Tags: branding, consumer culture, culture, drucker, employee culture, engagement, francois gossieaux, marketing, marketing strategy, social media, Tom Asacker
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I truly enjoyed my CMO 2.0 conversation with Karen Quintos, the CMO at Dell. Karen has somewhat of an unusual background for a CMO at a high tech company. She spent almost half her career in the pharmaceutical industry and did a stint in the financial services industry before landing at Dell 11 years ago – a rich background that was clearly reflected in the conversation. Karen also has a passion for being close to the customer – a good trait for any CMO.
We first talked about social media, a topic we had discussed at length with Erin Nelson, the previous CMO at Dell, and Manish Mehta, the VP of social media and communities, during an earlier CMO 2.0 Conversation. Karen confirmed that social media absolutely has to be built into the fabric of the company and that the (social) customer has to be at the core of everything. In fact, Karen believes that customer centricity is key to win in the marketplace. At Dell, they leverage social media as part of everything they do – product development, sales, marketing, HR, IT, finance, and service and support.
Karen then described the evolution of IdeaStorm, the Dell innovation communities, and how they now include Storm Session – focused and directed customer feedback sessions bound in time. Examples of successful Storm Sessions included discussions with CIO’s around virtualization, sustainability, and data center-type solutions – where customers could discuss how they think about ROI and total cost of ownership rather than just talk about technology deployment issues.
The Dell Social Monitoring Command Center, which was launched last year, is set up for employees to monitor, respond, and trend the conversations that are going on about Dell all over the world. On any given day they get upwards of 25,000 different conversations about Dell. A small team of people triage the conversations by coding them red, orange or green, and feed them into processes like product development. Karen made the point that when it comes to social media monitoring companies need to realize that it should not be about hearing, but about listening and making sense.
“Leveraging social media cannot be a bolt-on strategy,” said Karen, “it has to be built into the culture…it cannot be someone’s second job, it cannot be something that they think of once a week. It has to be something that’s integrated into their day-to-day operations.” Right on! But amazing to hear that and then realize that more than 60% of those companies that participate in our Tribalization of Business Study (co-sponsored with Deloitte and the Society for New Communications Research) have 1 or less than a full time person associated with these efforts. Those companies need to wake up and listen to truly Hyper-Social organizations like Dell.
There are of course risks associated with social media. One of the early risks that Dell identified was to react too quickly – either latching on to negative comments first or latching on to proposed product ideas that very few people want. Sounds a lot like not giving in to the “tyranny of the minority” and instead reacting to real trends. Another risk they identified early on was around transparency – especially when eager employees don’t disclose that they work for Dell. Karen believes that many of the risks can be mitigated through training and education.
As many other CMO’s at successful Hyper-Social Organizations, Karen pointed to the importance of having simple values to ensure consistency across the multiple employee touch-points that they have with their customers – in their case be open, be transparent, be simple, and be caring.
Next we switched to the topic of culture, which Karen believes is, if not the most important, one of the most important elements in a company’s success. She considers Dell’s culture fairly young at 27 years old, but truly believes that is what guides behavior and brand. She also believes that it is extremely important to link your own culture(s) with that of your customers – especially in the B2B and public sector space, which make up 80% of Dell’s business.
An important part of culture is the culture of innovation. Over the last two years, Dell has fueled innovation not just from within but also through acquisitions. Interestingly enough, but not surprising (the world is not flat after all), Dell sees aquisitions from major innovation centers like Silicon Valley as being totally key to continue to bring the spirit of innovation within the company.
We closed the conversation by talking about a super-cool program that Dell is doing in partnership with the University of Texas – the Dell Social Innovation Competition. It’s open to higher education students around the world who have a passion for taking a social issue that they see within their community and coming up with a plan to address it. They submit ideas, business plans and videos which get voted on. The best ones get to travel to Austin where a finalist gets selected. With kids from India, Nigeria, France and the United States competing with one another, they are able to create a cauldron of diversity of thought necessary for innovation that would be hard to create in any corporate environment.
That is definitely something I would want to tell my 16 year old son about!
Other things we talked about include:
- The recommendation for companies to listen and engage with the both the good and the bad in social media, and how the sooner you engage the more successful you will be
- How Dell has training programs in place to teach people (9,000 people trained so far) how to listen and how to engage
- How to ensure that the proper experts get involved in deeply technical discussions
- The importance of trusting employees to do the right thing
- The importance of being able to trend conversations and launch more in-depth discussions with customers about important topics
- The importance of hiring people with a passion to win
- The importance of tying compensation and rewards to a set of behaviors – not just “what” behaviors, but also “how” behaviors
- The importance of social rewards in fostering the right culture
- The importance of employee rotational programs to foster innovation
Tags: culture, dell, francois gossieaux, human 1.0, innovation, karen quintos, social media
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My CMO 2.0 Conversation with Eran Barak, the SVP of Marketing and Community Strategy at Thomson Reuters was a good way to restart the series.
Eran has been involved with social technologies for a very long time, dating back to the precursor of ICQ (sold to AOL) when he was in college. He joined Thomson Reuters in 2004, just about the time when blogs and podcasts were becoming very popular – turning everyone into a content creator, and potentially a competitor. He quickly realized that social media was a great way to interpret content – and not just a way to syndicate/filter user generated content. Using the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” game show analogy, Eran described how social media allows financial analysts to now have three lifelines instead of one – call on experts, call on people they trust, or rely on the crowd to analyze situations.
It’s very clear that for Thomson Reuters, Social Media is all about the social and not about media – an interesting perspective coming from a company with deep media roots. They use social media to connect their customers with one another, and not to try to raise awareness about their company in the markets they operate in.
At Thomson Reuters they take the social seriously, applying lessons learned from the wold of epidemiology and sociology to their sales and marketing processes. Specifically they leverage the friendship paradox to penetrate accounts and to make their marketing messages go viral. The friendship paradox says that if you recommend a friend, that person will be more connected (i.e., have more friends) than yourself. So by having their sales people ask prospects to recommend others within their organization that they should talk to, they get closer to the center of decision making than by navigating through the traditional hierarchies. Thinking about the social in business outside of social media is a trend that we increasingly see happen within successful organizations. Humans have always been social, but for some reason we leave our social being at the front door of our companies. Bringing that back in business the way Thompon Reuters does it with their sales force is a powerful business driver.
The two “must have” criteria for the social to succeed in financial related businesses, according to Eran, are trust (knowing that the person you are talking to is indeed who she claims to be) and security of the interaction between people (knowing that what I am talking about and sharing will only go to who I want it to go to).
We also talked about risks associated with social media and how it is better to deal with them by educating people and make them risk intelligent rather than developing policies and rule books to try to control every possible risk contingency.
Every industry is faced with accelerating change, but the ones in which Thomson Reuters operate are seeing their core foundations shift. The innovator’s dilemma is not just a periodic occurrence, it’s a constant. Eran talked about how you innovate in an environment like that – by hiring really smart people, allow them to do crazy things, and by developing a sound acquisition strategy. At Thomson Reuters, they also leverage social media to crowdsource business and product ideas with customers.
We wrapped up the conversation by talking about the fundamental changes that are happening in marketing. What is important to Thomson Reuters’ marketing is making sure that they develop content that travels among their customers and prospects. Eran truly believes that the messages that you put out in the marketplace need to be short and simple – so people can remember them and repeat them in conversations. You need to be able to distill your value proposition to one or two sentences. If you want to turn your customers into word of mouth engines, the story needs to be so unique and compelling that people want to tell their friends. If they don’t retell your story, your marketing dollar stops with the few people that are listening to you. Spending on traditional, old school advertising and marketing programs is something Eran really cannot wrap his head around in this day and age. Marketing needs to embrace simplicity and differentiate on the basis of emotion.
Eran, who truly deserves the CMO 2.0 title, ended the conversation with some final and very valuable words of wisdom for fellow marketers – when thinking of social media, don’t start with social media (e.g., we need a Twitter feed or a Facebook page). Think through what your strategy is and then see if you can leverage social media as part of that, and ask yourself whether you can develop a message that is compelling to the point that people will want to retell it to all their friends.
In a lot of ways not all that different from what we say in our book The Hyper-Social Organization: find you tribes and what makes them tick, and engage them where they hang out.
Other things we discussed include:
- Social media in heavily regulated markets
- The importance of having social media policies that are encouraging rather than discouraging
- How you keep a good balance between providing high quality professional content and being a curator for user-generated content and how to use social filtering to deal with the increasing “infobesity”
Tags: cmo 2.0, eran barak, francois gossieaux, human 1.0, risk intelligence, social media, thomson reuters
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I just had another great CMO 2.0 Conversation – this time with Mark Gambill, the CMO at CDW. As usual we started by having Mark provide some context about his company and his focus there. In this case the company is an $8B provider of software, hardware and services to a variety of industries that has more than 400,000 customers.
The conversation then moved to how some of fundamental changes in the industry – e.g., the fact that people are making their buying decisions based on information they gain online and in social networks, that they increasingly bring their own tools to work, and that mobile devices are more and more looking like full fledged computers – is affecting marketing. Mark talked about the blurring lines between consumer and business applications and about the need to not flail as a marketer when it comes to integrating social media as part of your marketing mix.
He also talked about the need to segment customers differently and how deep consumer research allowed them to uncover six customer profiles that help them better answer the questions: “what do we stand for?”, “who do we serve?”, and “how do we win?” Interestingly enough (and we see more and more marketers follow this trend), much of the segmentation was based on behavioral characteristics of potential buyers and not traditional market segment data. Other information that came with the profiles include data on where those people like to hang out, how they prefer to receive and consume their information, who else they are listening to, and more. All of this allows them to create and distribute content – both online and offline – in a much more effective way than what they were able to do before.
We then talked about the challenges of developing a recognizable brand when you do not manufacture your own products but instead distribute those of companies that may have pretty strong brands themselves. The way CDW tackles this complex problem is by being “technostic” (meaning technology agnostic) and by positioning themselves as a trusted solution partner. They also realize that buyers establish trusted relations with people more so than with companies or organizations, and so every customer gets a dedicated account manager. With a maniacal focus on customized personal service for every customer they hope that this is what will allow them to deliver against that “trusted partner” brand promise.
We also talked fairly extensively about CDW’s commitment to and use of social media. They had started a small business community but then decided that they would be better served by engaging, as participants as well as sponsors, in places where people were already hanging out. (It is always good to speak with a marketer who resists “the not invented here syndrome” that we have witnessed so many times when companies deploy communities as part of their business processes. They feel like the only way to be successful is by hosting the community on their own platform, even if a strong community already exists on some other platform.) Mark sees social media as a meaningful way to engage people in the context of customer support, but he thinks there is a scaling issue when it comes to leveraging it for lead generation. This is something we have heard from other marketers who need hundreds of thousands, if not millions of customers to be successful. The key here may be to develop a comprehensive leader/ambassador strategy and to understand how those people will help amplify everything you do across the various platforms where your customers, prospects, and detractors hang out.
Although, as usual, we ran out of time, we did get to talk about the types of people that Mark is looking for in staffing his marketing department. Besides finding people who are a good fit from a corporate culture point of view, Mark is looking for well rounded people who, while they may not yet have the full battery of skills one might desire, can be trusted to learn them as well as embrace future skills that we don’t yet know will be valuable. Another important hiring criteria in Mark’s business is diversity. Mark is also convinced that a CMO has to increasingly become a well rounded generalist, with knowledge that goes well beyond marketing.
Other things that we discussed include:
- The importance of face-to-face meetings in customer relations
- The importance of good customer service in brand building
- How they are monitoring what is being said about them in the social media space and how they are engaging
- The importance of understanding “human 1.0″ in explaining what is happening in a web 2.0 world
- The importance of appealing to the altruistic part of the brain instead of the pleasure side of the brain when running communities
- The impact of the “green wave” on technology sales
- The importance of ROI, customer loyalty and other marketing metrics
As usual you can listen to the interview below and soon we will put up a transcript of the call.
Tags: beeline labs, cdw, cmo 2.0, computer retailer, francois gossieaux, mark gambill, social media
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