Atlas Shrugged In 2011

Ayn Rand's sign.

Image via Wikipedia

2011 is off to a rather fast start with a bit of inspiration from Ayn Rand. I’m starting a new journey in marketing with a company based out of Ann Arbor, MI that is the industry leader in customer satisfaction / Voice of Customer measurements that drive informed decision making leading to increased revenue and customer satisfaction for a wide variety of F1000 clients.

My blog will continue to be focused on marketing and strategy but will be enhanced with the power available via analytics and knowledge … it is a reflection of my journey and not representative of my employers past or present.

So, how does Ayn Rand or Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead fit into all of this?  Simple.  You have the power to effect personal and professional change that influences your own journey … it’s your outlook (like the quote above) that will determine how successful you are.  In my humble opinion, of course.

Advertisements

Happy New Year! (Auld Lang Syne Social Media Style)

Times Square at night

Image via Wikipedia

My New Year’s Eve tradition has always included watching the ball drop in Times Square on television – either at home or from another location.  But, it was always via television. You remember what that was, right?  You may think I’m kidding – but, in another 5 – 10 years that will be a truly valid statement.

December 31, 2010 brings this time honored tradition into the realm of Social Media.  As of today, Facebook has officially passed Google as the most visited site on the internet.  The passing of the guard from a search based user experience to a social media user experience has occurred!  Befitting this type of change, my New Year’s Eve tradition will shift from watching the ball drop in Times Square on television to leveraging a wide variety of social media.  The power of social media is remarkable as my tradition will now include sharing my experience with my network of professional and personal friends via Facebook and Twitter.  There are a variety of tools and links available  including apps for Android phones, apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, Facebook apps, live stream on Twitter as well as video streaming sites.  I bet you can even attend the event virtually via Second Life!  Leverage the links below and be a part of the New Year Social Media experience but most of all … Happy New Year!

Facebook New Years Eve Ball Drop App:

http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=205194694192

Links for live streaming:

TimesSquareNYC.org
Livestream.com/2011
TimesSquareBall.net


Holiday Marketing Perfection via Coca-Cola

You didn’t think I was going to let the Holidays pass without a marketing spin, did you?  : )

Coca-Cola has once again mastered the art of Holiday marketing with its latest commercial featuring the band Train’s new single “Shake Up Christmas”.  The commercial is titled “Snow Globes” and has been played in traditional and digital channels since Thanksgiving.  Holiday marketing can be a tricky strategy for many companies that try to be everything to everyone.  Rather than focusing on a single message (that would ultimately offend someone somewhere), Coca-Cola adapts current branding and messaging to local markets at a cultural level – whether you’re in Africa or North America.

Fun Fact:  Did you know that Coca-Cola’s marketing engine is responsible for the North American depiction of Santa Clause?  Read all about it on the Coca-Cola site:  http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_santa.html  or simply enjoy the North American version of their Holiday campaign below …

Happy Holidays!


Facebook’s Relational Map of the Earth

Doubt the importance of Social Media and the power of a personal or professional network?  Facebook intern Paul Butler was able to create a visual map of the Earth based on Facebook’s Apache Hive data (their data warehouse)!  This is not a map of the world with Facebook members plotted against it, rather, it is a map of the world that slowly appeared during the rendering process of Facebook connection and relationship data.  More from Paul’s post on Facebook:

“After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.”

The world as we know it still exists from a cartography perspective – but, the value of relationships is finally displayed as a mechanism that transcends traditional or natural geographic boundaries.  This poses an interesting dilemma for marketers everywhere – are you truly Global from a strategic marketing perspective? Whether you know it or not – you already are.

Link to Paul’s original post:  http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/visualizing-friendships/469716398919


Social Media ROI – Fact or Fiction?

Image Credit:  http://www.webguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/roi.jpg

ROI (Return On Investment) is a rather simple mathematical calculation that evaluates the efficiency of an investment or its performance in comparison to other investments.  How simple?  Here it is:  Gains – Costs / Costs = ROI.  Pretty nifty, right?

Here’s an example – if you use $100 of budget that nets $150 in revenue or gains your ROI is 50% (150 – 100 / 100 = .50).

The basic ROI equation becomes rather tricky in the Social Media realm.  How valuable is a Twitter follower?  What quantitative impact does a Facebook wall comment provide?  Is the quantity of LinkedIn connections more important than the quality?

Social Media is a channel of open communication that exists outside of the normal boundaries of push and pull marketing and is difficult to provide firm ROI in the traditional sense.  And this is where things get tricky …

Trying to prove the value of Social Media in a traditional ROI sense is rather difficult.  You cannot easily quantify the value add of a Social Media presence in terms of traditional ROI gains.  In fact, you’re more likely to show a loss when using a traditional ROI model.  Social Media, as a channel, should be analyzed from a branding, engagement, influence, and competitive value add perspective as a component of strategic marketing initiatives.  This allows for qualitative measurements of individual marketing channels that combined lead to revenue gains.  Strategic marketing encompasses the channels and messaging that will deliver on business initiatives (i.e. sales, hires, brand recall, viral marketing, etc.).  Thus, the Social Media aspect of marketing ROI cannot be measured alone.

I guarantee you that a marketing executive will get fired looked at funny if they delivered an ROI analysis that included this statement: “We spent $50,000 on a Facebook page and have not been able to prove that anyone posting comments on the wall or who has followed the page actually buys our products.  But, it looks cool. And, everyone else is doing it.”

Social Media’s ROI should (typically) be tied to branding and influence initiatives within the marketing budget and strategy.  Branding ROI is component of marketing ROI and should never be analyzed independently … rather, the entire marketing budget (thus, your strategy delivery mechanism) should be utilized against total revenues or gains to determine effectiveness of the strategy.  No results = Bad strategy.  Plain and simple.  Simply creating a corporate Facebook page or Twitter account is a tactical response to a strategic problem.  Changing your channels of communications as part of a shift in marketing mix that is quantifiable in gains (ROI) is a strategic move.

That marketing executive I mentioned earlier would look like a rockstar if their statement included:  “We built a fan base to mitigate negative public comments and bolster positive consumer opinions that would impact our brand.  We leveraged sponsored campaigns on this channel (Facebook) that were tied to the page and tracked click-throughs and sales via web analytics …”  and so on.

At the end of the day, it’s all about ROI.  Plain and simple.  Did your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. create gains on its own or was it part of a marketing mix that worked in unison from a strategic perspective to deliver gains?  The person signing checks or giving you a budget doesn’t care about fans, followers, comments, and so on … they are concerned with your strategy and its ultimate impact on revenue.  Positioning social media as a progressive and innovative component of your overall strategy makes you look like a rockstar – if, and only if, that strategy, as a whole, actually delivers something quantifiable like revenues, hires, etc.


Now Hiring! Brand Ambassadors …

Social Media Landscape

From time to time I’ve seen job postings or requisitions for Brand Ambassadors to represent a Brand in a positive way and carry the brand message out to the public via a variety of media channels.  This is an extremely important role in marketing that often represents a strategic initiative to initiate or further customer engagement especially in new marketing channels like social media.  The role affords the organization control over public messaging and can provide valuable feedback and metrics for analysis of market engagement, penetration, segmentation, etc.

I believe a lot of organizations have failed to recognize their employees as Brand Ambassadors. Yes, I’ve heard almost everyone say that they feel their employees are Brand Ambassadors but this isn’t something typically supported from a corporate perspective.  Thanks to social media (whether YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs … take your pick!) everyone can truly be an ambassador – and to the chagrin of a lot of marketing organizations … they already are.

Why not EMPOWER your employees to be brand amabassadors?  Every company has an opportunity to do this during new hire training, onboarding, or even via their employee handbooks.  HR and Marketing could team up and devise a very quick yet powerful brand overview or guideline that employees could feel empowered (and supported) to leverage across their social media presence.  Employees are (usually) very proud of their workplace and want to share stories, interactions, etc. with their personal networks … and trust me, they already do … but have not been armed with referencable items like logos, tag lines, style sheets, or even a Top 10 List of do’s and don’ts.  In the recent past, Google’s handbook summed all of this up in one line … “Don’t be stupid.” … although, I’m sure that’s changed by now.   Wouldn’t it be great if your entire organization felt empowered to be brand ambassadors?


Sales vs. Marketing – An MBA Opinion (Part 1)

The old adage still rings true at most organizations – sales and marketing do not get along.  In fact, most organizations fail to acknowledge (outside of quotas) that the sales team is ultimately responsible for revenue and unknowingly pit Marketing against Sales and vice versa.  In my opinion, ALL functions of the organization should be aligned to enable revenue growth. Too often, leadership fails the sales organization in properly aligning corporate resources and departments to enable the best performance of the sales organization.  Simply purchasing email lists, attending trade shows, etc. is NOT properly aligning marketing with sales.  Both departments should work in tandem towards revenue attainment.  If marketing, customer support, development, etc. do not have “skin in the game” then leadership has failed to enable a sales team that can deliver revenue.

The root cause of this, in my opinion, is the failure of business schools to provide sales theory and practice to MBA students (heck, even Business Undergrads).  All the marketing theory, product management, business analysis, financial modeling, etc. you learn in B-School means absolutely nothing if revenue isn’t ultimately generated.  There is definitely an innate skill set component to sales that cannot be taught – but, without a proper introduction or understanding of basic sales methodologies in an MBA program there is never an opportunity to understand the importance (and mechanics) of properly aligning an organization for revenue growth or attainment.  And the net result is almost daily conversations like this:


%d bloggers like this: