From Personalization To Collaboration…The Key To Connecting With Customers

July 7, 2010

Today’s marketers live in an age of volatility and transition. Instantaneous transactions, multiple touch points, and the merging of offline with online have combined with a multitude of media outlets (including social media) to create ever-savvier audiences that are harder to find and keep. (Source: Business Week survey Sept. 2009)

For those of us who have been involved with direct marketing for more years than we care to remember, the “Holy Grail” was always the goal of personalization. That meant everything from testing closed face envelopes to highly targeted copy/content aimed at establishing relevance and attracting the interest of our consumer or customer.

Amidst this fast moving environment powered by technology, today’s marketer enjoys a rich menu of options for reaching the customer. In return the marketer receives a vast amount of data from which they need to be able to capture the meaning, implication, and importance of that data. Personalization alone is no longer sufficient. Today there are two other concepts that are even more critical to achieving success.

I came across a Business Week survey from September 2009 titled “From Collaboration to Personalization”. Hence the inspiration for my post however, I felt that from my perspective it worked better turning it upside down. The survey outlines three pillars critical to success and I could not agree more. They are: Collaboration, Multichannel Marketing and Personalization.

Collaboration: (Collaboration has both internal and external resonance)

Internally, the opportunity for collaboration exists between marketing teams that transact with all relevant marketing functions stemming from online and offline activity. Without collaboration, marketers may potentially employ both online and offline data and still be unable to serve customers fully. When internal departments and their functions do not exchange customer information, marketers are unable to craft a unified view of individual customers, and thus cannot target them with tailored information, offers, and products.

Externally, collaboration is about the way a marketer coordinates the online and offline customer experiences and data. Many companies today keep what should be “team” functions separated in silos, both internally and externally. Failure to coordinate marketing across silos results in an inability to fully enable multichannel marketing, which in turn prevents an effective personalization strategy. 

Multichannel Marketing:

Multichannel marketing is the act of bringing together online and offline data and functions. By weaving together the functions and consolidating information gleaned from combining multiple marketing activities, marketers can set in motion the actions that lead to full personalization. Only when multichannel marketing is employed will a company be able to personalize and target customers.

Personalization:

Personalization is rooted in the concept that the “customer is king,” and utilizes multichannel data to target customers with products and services specific to them based on their behavior. It requires a 360-degree view of a customer’s behavior so as to provide the most complete marketer-to-customer experience. The full concept depends on an integrated approach (collaboration), which in turn depends on multichannel marketing, without which personalization cannot be attained, and all of which depend on employing the most innovative technology available.

The survey asked Marketers, “Which statement best describes marketing accountability as it relates to activities in 2010?

46% of respondents said that it was about effectiveness.

41% said it was about optimization.

39% said it was about communications strategy.

Despite this apparent focus on effectiveness, optimization and communications strategy, at present only 58% of marketers’ report that they use technology to measure and compare all channels’ performance in one view. To my mind, this appears to be a very rich new business opportunity for agencies that can truly provide a unified approach, supported by all the necessary tools, capabilities and knowledge!

Advertisements

Gatorade Puts Social Media At The Center Of Marketing

June 21, 2010

 

The company recently created the Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media. (Source: Mashable.com)

 According to a recent blog post on Mashable.com this iconic mass marketer is taking social media marketing very seriously.  The goal of this project, says Carla Hassan, is to “take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into largest participatory brand in the world.” To that end, the company’s not only monitoring its brand on social media, but giving its fans increased access to its athletes and scientists.

 In the realm of marketing, Gatorade is probably best known for splashy commercials featuring some of the world’s most famous athletes. However, a new effort behind the scenes of the sports drink maker is putting social media quite literally at the center of the way Gatorade approaches marketing. 

The company recently created the Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media.

The room features six big monitors with five seats for Gatorade’s marketing team to track a number of data visualizations and dashboards (also available on to employees on their desktops). The company custom built this capability with partners that included Radian6 and IBM. Below are a few of the visualizations that Mashable.com featured in their blog post:

 This monitor is a visualization of tweets that are relevant to Gatorade; the company is tracking terms relating to its brand, including competitors, as well as its athletes and sports nutrition-related topics.

 This monitor measures blog conversations across a variety of topics and shows how hot those conversations are across the blogosphere. The company also runs detailed sentiment analysis around key topics and product and campaign launches.

Mission Control in Action 

While this certainly looks impressive visually, it’s also actually being used on a day-to-day basis, to lead product and marketing changes at the company that might not have happened without it.

Gatorade’s Sr. Marketing Director, Consumer & Shopper Engagement Carla Hassan offered a few examples, starting with the company’s monitoring of its “Gatorade has evolved” campaign. The commercials featured a song by rap artist David Banner, which, Mission Control quickly saw was being heavily discussed in social media. Within 24 hours, they had worked with Banner to put out a full-length version of the song and distribute it to Gatorade followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.

On a day-to-day basis, the facility is also being used for more conventional marketing tactics like optimizing landing pages and making sure followers are being sent to the top performing pages. As an example, the company says it’s been able to increase engagement with its product education (mostly video) by 250% and reduce its exit rate from 25% to 9%.

What’s interesting to note is that this innovative approach to social media marketing is not being led by an agency, but more surprisingly by a large traditional mass media marketer. Is this just another missed leadership opportunity for the agency world? Given the significant up-front commitment required in terms of technology and people resources, would this not have been an ideal opportunity from a multi-client agency perspective?

Social media is no longer just a stand-alone communications channel that can exist and be managed in a silo environment. It underpins the way we all communicate with each other and with brands and the companies that own them. Marketers that understand this and embrace it the way Gatorade has will be able to maintain considerable competitive advantage. In fact to put it in their own words…“take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into largest participatory brand in the world.”



Mobile Marketing ROI… The Key To Incremental New Business Success

May 18, 2010

25% of clients surveyed intend to spend between 15% and 30% of their total marketing budgets on mobile marketing. However, agencies are going to have to demonstrate a quantifiable ROI in order toget their share of the money! (Source: R2i survey, Jan 28, 2010)

When asked what the most critical area of improvement was in mobile, 43% of respondents listed quantifying ROI as their top response. Respondents said the main goals of their current mobile campaigns were raising company awareness and generating leads. To that end, marketers were most likely to measure their success by an increase in customers or sales.

Not surprisingly, more than 50% of respondents were focused on mobile Website development, while 40% used apps for their campaigns. (With iPhone and BlackBerry being considered the most important platform for mobile development).

To date, most mobile campaigns have been developed in silos as standalone initiatives. Creative assets from other channels are often just repurposed to make it appear integrated, even though in reality it is actually nothing more than a tactic. The results of this approach are confirmed in the survey findings.

Mobile actually has an amazing capability of being not only a very effective channel in its own right, but properly integrated into a campaign it has the ability to provide a bridge between digital and traditional media. Increasing the effectiveness of both as well as delivering results within the mobile channel itself.

There is an incredible new business opportunity out there for those agencies that truly understand the role of mobile and the technology platforms and applications available. Integrate mobile into your thinking and your solutions. Explain its role and its unique ability to bridge the other media to make them all more effective. Above all, quantify its individual effectiveness and its ability to generate immediate results.

You will answer a lot of open client questions, differentiate your agency from the competition and win more new business opportunities. I believe that you will find this to be easier and more effective than you might think.


Effectively leveraging Digital Channels to Drive Incremental Ad Agency New Business Leads!

April 7, 2010

Most ad agencies are not effectively leveraging digital channels to help drive incremental new business leads. Here are five simple steps you can implement immediately to increase your new business lead flows…

Optimize your website for SEO: Is your agency website full of flash and streaming video? Then it’s probably highly ineffective from an SEO perspective and you are probably invisible to many potential prospects conducting agency research online. Now there is new technology available that makes Flash SEO friendly. (WhittmanHart Interactive is currently at the leading edge of this technology) You now have two options to choose from. Either redesign your site with less flash or update your flash programming to be more SEO friendly.

Monitor your daily website traffic: You would be surprised how many agencies put up a website and then fail to track daily visitors to the site. Simple monitoring through Google analytics can provide you with some very useful leads. Take a look at who visited, how long they stayed, what they looked at etc. This is a very useful tool to monitor activity after a recent new business meeting, seminar presentation or capabilities presentation.

Develop and Implement an agency SEO/M strategy: When questioned on the subject, most agencies admit to not having one. Given that 100 percent of clients looking for an agency conduct online research during the process, it’s hard to imagine why this would be the case. A basic SEO/M strategy can be highly effective at generating interest and inquiries.

It’s time to become more social: A social media strategy is a must have in today’s conversation economy. If you are not involved in the conversation you are unlikely to become a consideration. And don’t think that by putting up a Facebook page, agency blog and by twittering that you have a social media strategy. You will need to implement a comprehensive approach that includes developing your content strategy and how you are going to build your following. It does not end there either…

Ongoing Social CRM: What really makes “social + CRM” work? Connecting customers/prospects, business processes, and employees. Social CRM involves multiple elements, linked together, to provide an end-to-end understanding of how your brand, product, or service is received in the marketplace and how your internal processes produce and deliver experiences that drive this reception. If you are going to reach out through social media you will need a Social CRM strategy to keep the conversation going and deliver the value exchange required to move your prospect along the sales funnel.  

   


Successful Ad Agency New Business Social Media Strategies

March 30, 2010

Just because you build it does not mean that they will come! Contrary to what you may believe, social media marketing may not turn out to be that fantastic “Field of Dreams” you were hoping for. With over 200,000,000 blogs already out there in the Blogosphere, just because you put up your new agency blog does not mean that your new business prospects will find it… Let alone read it.

 

Overnight success stories related to social media marketing are rare. Even more rare to find is an agency with an actual social media strategy. Last year my online agency survey (which included a diverse group of agencies) found that nearly two thirds of these agencies did not have a social media strategy!  

Putting up a blog, starting to Twitter and updating your Facebook page is quick and easy to do. Actually building a following/community is a totally different set of tasks and responsibilities that takes a lot of resources and time to do. Most agencies have no idea about the investment they will need to make to build an active following, beyond the nuts and bolts of getting it live on the Web.

One of the first considerations is to determine what your content strategy is going to be:

Content is still King and keep in mind that we are all creatures of habit. If there’s already an active community dedicated solely to what you are interested in communicating about, it’s likely you aren’t going to be able to move people from that community into your brand new “branded community.” In social media, people tend to avoid the loud “Here I am” type of marketing efforts in lieu of marketers who actually are interested in
building relationships with them in genuine ways.

Spend some time doing some buzz monitoring and take the time to really listen to what the data is telling you:

Try to understand how your different prospect segments consume content. One segment might like conversing on forums and message boards. Another segment might want more information, so a blog providing that information would be better suited for that segment . If you don’t dig into the
data, it’s tough to really know what your audience is looking for.

You have to actively build your following versus waiting for them to come to you:

This is an extremely important yet overlooked component of a successful social media strategy. You need to strategically integrate every tool and channel available in your arsenal to get the right people engaged. For example, consider content federation strategies if you happen to have a substantial amount worth sharing. Identify key influencers and follow those people who follow them as many will go ahead and follow you back. This can be a very effective strategy for building a large following quickly.

It all starts with a social media plan based on sound insights and leads to effective, sustainable engagement. You will know that you are successful when you are able to get YOUR prospects to share THEIR personal networks with you.  


Does Your Agency Have An Effective “Elevator Speech”?

March 23, 2010

Most agencies do not have a succinct “Elevator Speech” that effectively communicates both what they do and their unique value proposition. In fact, if you asked ten different people within the same agency, you are likely to get ten different answers! So how can we expect prospective clients to understand clearly who and what we are?

 

If you do not believe me, I challenge you to take a walk around your agency tomorrow and ask ten different staff members to explain in a simple statement what it is you do and what your value proposition is. I have done this recently on several different occasions and the result has been consistent. Complete inconsistency!

What has been consistent is the gratuitous use of super superlatives that just add to the noise and clutter and make our industry seem naive and commoditized. Common place are words and phrases like:

  • Full service integrated agency
  • Proprietary planning methodology/tool
  • Highly insightful creative
  • Award winning creative agency
  • Channel agnostic
  • Outside of the box thinkers
  • The industry’s leading….
  • Widely known throughout the industry for our…
  • Nationally recognized experts in …

The bottom line is that clients have heard all of these claims before many times. They also tell me that in their experience, no agency to date has ever delivered against their claims and the therefore their BS Meters are tuned way up. I recently heard a well known Search Consultant describe the situation as “Embarrassing”!

My advice is before you do any more new business prospecting that you sit down with your team and take a deep and considered look at how you position your agency. Try not to “drink the cool aid” as you do so. Be honest and ask yourselves the hard questions, such as:

  • What do we as agency really do well?
  • What is it about the way we do it that helps us do it well?
  • Is there anything unique about what or how we do it and what’s our value proposition from a client perspective? Why us and not any one of the 5000 other agencies out there claiming to do the same thing?
  • What proof do we have to support our claims versus just rhetoric?
  • What are the characteristics of our ideal target client? ( Partner vs. vendor etc)
  • What categories are we relevant to? (Not which do we aspire to)

These are just a few of the questions that every agency should answer in order to be successful at differentiating itself from the competition and winning new business. Every day I continue to be amazed at how many agencies out there have not taken the time to do so.


Six Agency Search Questions Clients Ask…How You Answer Will Determine Your Success!

February 25, 2010

These six questions consistently come up in most agency search RFI’s. Your answers to them play a critical role in the decision as to whether you move forward in the process or are eliminated at this early stage. Take the time now to develop considered points of view rather than a rushed “in the moment” response.

 

What are the exclusive or unique services and capabilities that give your agency a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

 While the actual wording may differ, the question is almost always included in most agency RFI’s. Clients want to know exactly what it is that makes your agency different. What value does your agency bring to the relationship and how will what you offer help them compete more effectively and win. It’s not about a laundry list of capabilities – as every agency claims to have every capability. My suggestion is that you take the time to ask yourselves not only what you do well, but also what it is about what you do that makes you measurably better than the competition. Remember that you cannot be all things to everyone.

Describe the top three trends in the industry as you see it and how is your agency leading and reacting to these trends?

 Clients want to know that the agency they select is a leader and not a follower. They want to make sure that it is at least constantly keeping abreast of current trends if not predicting what the next one will be. In addition, clients are interested in knowing how you are leveraging them to give your clients competitive advantage. Depending on the RFP and your type of agency, the question can vary from broader consumer trends to specific category or vertical developments. 

Why do you provide better thought leadership than your competitors? 

This is just another question aimed at helping the client determine whether your agency is a leader or a follower. This question probes areas like strategic thinking, use of technology, innovative media and communications planning and data analytics etc. Once again they are trying determine what your value proposition is and how do you keep current.

How do you help your clients manage their brand and the total consumer experience in the digital space?

The buzz surrounding brand and customer experience continues to grow exponentially. Lead by Forrester Research, there has recently been a plethora of articles on “customer engagement agencies”. In fact, Forrester was even planning to publish a wave focused on  “customer engagement agencies” in the first quarter of 2010, however I am led to believe that this has been put on hold due to a lack of agencies who meet the basic selection criteria. You can be certain that this question is going to become ubiquitous in the near future so I would suggest that your agency develops not only a point of view, but also a track record of delivering it on behalf of your clients.

How have you used social media to generate business results? How did you measure ROI?

I would be very surprised if your agency has not already had this question thrown at you. Currently this seems to be the question that is on the tip of every clients tongue. It’s probably one of the most difficult questions to answer. I am certain that there are more agencies than not who cannot truly answer this question based on their own experience. I recommend that if you fall into this category that you at least develop a POV and approach that you can share. This will demonstrate to the client that you have given it serious thought and have a strategic approach to answering the million-dollar question.

Explain how you test, measure and optimize results for your clients?

This question is top of mind for most if not every client out there. There has never been in the history of marketing and advertising, a stronger focus on effectiveness, tracking, measurement and ultimately results. ROI is the subject d’ jour with many clients even asking agencies for some type of guarantee or at minimum shared risk participation. Some of the larger companies have moved all of their agency compensation models to a pay for performance model. Take the time to document your philosophy, approach, process, tools and tracking capabilities.