Category Archives: change management

Getting Social to Work at Your Company

I think one of the most difficult things for true social marketing professionals is to implement a successful social strategy and plan at their company. As I engage and converse with a number of social professionals I hear frustration from them. There is a significant delta between what they want to accomplish to be innovative and what their company is comfortable doing. Social professionals often look to do something different however their companies often look for proven social marketing and validation by asking, “who has done it.” If someone has already done “it” in social media marketing, “it” is not likely to capture a big audience and get a strong response.

So what do you do?

change

This week I read a great article from Bruce Turkel “Being Relevant, Empowering, and Significant.” The article reminded me of my career experiences. At times I was frustrated by doing what the company was comfortable with compared to doing what I knew would drive success. I would consider myself someone that has always pushed the envelope and years of experience have taught me how to be an innovator even in the eyes of innovation paranoia and business as usual mentality.

If you have read my blog before, you are likely to know that I am not a follow the pack guy. I call it like it is even if it bucks the masses or is short on corporate political correctness. This is my own branded persona in the digital marketing world. Yes, like the views of Bruce Turkel, I look to be relevant, empowering, and significant in my own social space. But truth is it takes a delicate approach when working with companies (both full time and consulting). As a thought leader you need to be bold and provocative. When working with companies that need to change you need to be bold, but less provocative. You need to get people to buy in and be comfortable.

“Getting Social to Work at Your Company” is really an exercise of successful change management. It is very difficult for any company to change the way they do things, and yet the audience behavior and technology demand companies do so.

I have two change management philosophies that have worked well for me in the 12 years of my marketing leadership career …

The rubber band approach – Everyone can be stretched beyond their comfort zone a bit, but when you push too hard they get to their snapping zone to the point where they do not trust you at all. This is the exact scenario with a rubber band. They all have elasticity, but when expanded too far, they snap. I do believe that as a person responsible for driving a new endeavor must take their stakeholders to some uncharted territory. And this means taking people to an uncomfortable place. Do so gently and not with a sharp push. A slow stretch and not too abrasive to cause a snap.

Positive viruses – virus are caused by passing a condition from one person to another. When you want to drive positive change, you need to first find the person or people that will likely go where no man or woman has gone before. The special person who really wants to change for good. Work with them. Make them the hero. Let them take the front of the stage and get the adulation. Be content being the director behind the seen. Once the effort is successful, shine a beaming light on them. Rally their success. Most people want to follow success. It is human nature. If you really want to drive positive change, allow others to shine and be content knowing you are the behind the scenes person that really throttled success. This is how you cause positive viruses … by planting a seed in one place, nurturing that seed and then letting the desire of continued success blossom and spread.

As we look to win over customers through long-term social commitment and strengthening relationships, we must do the same in the organization we work for and with. Build relationships and build trust. This is how social media success needs to be carried out. Not by a fantasy of revolutionary change. The same mentality must be invoked at changing your organization, company, and/or client. Hit singles and bring runners around to score. Don’t count on home rums. Yes, they come … be joyous when they do happen. But most likely, you will score by hitting a number of small hits in a continuous string.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under social media, SocialSteve, Social Steve, socialmedia, social media marketing, change management, leadership, social marketing

Digital Technologies and User Behavior Change What it Means to Be a Brand

If you look on Wikipedia for the definition of a brand, you find that it is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” But as a marketer, I think it is much more important to think of what it means to be a brand in terms of your target audience.

Thus, I define a brand as a promise made from a company to its target audience with regards to the product(s) it sells. A brand is defined by characteristics such as quality, features, availability, and overall user experience. When done right, every single aspect of the brand definition is lived by and delivered by every employee of the company.

brand and digital

But a funny thing happened along the way. Knowledgeable marketers started using poetic justice of communication and claims of the product/service sold by the company and stretched the truth. All this in an effort to increase sales. In some cases, this resulted in members of the target audience reacting and purchasing the brand. If shoppers were unhappy, they would stop buying the product, and maybe even tell a friend. The user did not believe “the promise” and reacted. As this plight has continued throughout marketing and advertising of brands, it has spawned an overall skeptical outlook by people with regards to company claims and advertisement belief. This cynical perception did not happen overnight. It took a good 50 years or so of “Mad Men” to drive this behavior.

Fast forward to today’s world. How do people react when they feel they have been misled by product claims? How do they react when they have a bad user experience? More and more users are sharing their product experiences. Whether it is sharing with their entire network on a platform like Facebook or broadcasting it to the world on a platform like Twitter.

The promise is still part of being a brand, but it is exponentially more important today.

So now that you understand the change, let me describe for you the gigantic immense problem this creates. The stretching of the truth that companies get caught in is a big problem, but it really is not the biggest problem. The key problem today is that companies have lost their ability to build brand AND engage appropriately in the digital world, simultaneously. Too many companies treat branding as one activity and digital/social marketing as a separate implementation. Company executives need to take responsibility of this detrimental scenario.

How many companies have a responsible leader in place with experience, business knowledge, and creativity to build and retain a brand COUPLED WITH experience, business knowledge, and creativity to drive successful digital marketing? The answer to this question is very few. And even worse, the fact that brand marketing and digital marketing are siloed exacerbates the problem.

The debacle up from this problem shows its ugly face daily. There are numerous companies that do not reinforce brand positioning through their digital implementations. The people running the digital channels are most often blind to what it means to carry out a brand voice and imaginary through social engagement. Many companies do not have a digital engagement strategy that centers on upholding the brand persona.

And adding to the challenge is the fact that brand position is equally in the hands of the audience as well as the company’s hands. The audience has a voice that is stronger and moves faster than ever before. You need to have a strategy and a plan that addresses how to leverage this audience rather than ignoring their voice and power that is carried in the digital world.

I think it is imperative to understand how the world of a brand has changed due to the technology changes and more importantly, human behavior. Every company needs a leader that has the skill set to address the change. Through my experience, I have worked with companies that do not want to address the change head on. Working the corporate environment and being a positive change agent has become a slippery slope. I would not go so far as to call the two a dichotomy, but together they are definitely challenging.

It takes bold, strong, experienced leaders to navigate a company due to the real and significant changes that technology and user behavior have created. The outcome of these changes cannot continue to be ignored or swept away. Whether it is fear, lack of skill set, or don’t rock the boat corporate mentality, it is no longer acceptable to keep brand marketing and digital marketing siloed. The future of your business depends upon it.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under ads, behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, digital media, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Digital Ignites the Human Economy – Brands Must Act

More and more people have displayed a strong disdain for corporate acts done with the sole interest of revenue and profitability. Whether it is unjust labor acts, environmental flaws, or unacceptable political positions, individuals are holding companies accountable for their operations. People want to stand by a company that shows concern for issues beyond its financial well being.

On the flipside, many consumers are seeking information and supporting companies that show strong support for communities, needy groups, and the earth preservation.

Human Economy

While I am not the first to use the term human economy, I will define it as a business condition where individuals are loyal to brands that demonstrate commitment to causes of interest and importance to them. Conversely the individuals may propagate and disseminate information on brands that take inappropriate actions against people and causes that they support.

Digital technologies have literally changed our society. We now seek and have access to an abundance of information that includes corporate activities and behavior of business leaders. It is virtually impossible to hide as more and more companies become (willingly or unwillingly) transparent.

I find it ironic that while many blame social media for the degradation of human communication and relationship building, that the exact opposite is prevalent for brand-audience relationships. People want and look for a deeper connection with the brands they purchase. They take the stand that if they are going to give companies their money and support, they want to know the brand is worthy of their contributions. The degree of (positive and negative) emotional bonding has increased as a result of digital and social media.

Shrewd companies recognize this cultural change and have incorporated relevant programs to their corporate or marketing agenda. Take the Dove “beauty from within” campaign. Think of Paul Newman’s corporate philanthropic commitment and activities. Whether these are true heart felt endeavors or not really does not matter, but rather the perception of the audience is what matters.

And now that digital and social use is the norm, corporations would be wise to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and/or adopt a social movement and utilize a social strategy to proliferate information and gain recognition.

While I would like to think that all on earth look beyond their own well-being and show a strong regard for all inhabitants of the earth, I am not quite so naive to believe this is the case. But independent of your personal convictions or not, I will tell you that corporate development of social cause is a business imperative. Our world has moved to the human economy. The people of the world are demanding more from corporate leaders. If businesses are to attract a target audience that cares way beyond corporate profits, business leaders need to change their image. And while companies work to market the new image, they need to consider how digital and social platforms will be used to listen, engage, communicate, and unleash their audience to share the brand in a most positive light.

I remember the early days of social media where most corporations were afraid to use social media because they were afraid what people would say. Well we are well past that day. Business leaders recognize that people can say what ever they want independent of the companies’ participation or not in social media. Executives must recognize the power of the human economy and adapt appropriately. Even if it is for their own selfish reason.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under behavior, brand marketing, change management, digital media, economy, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

3 Steps to Fix Marketing Now

97% of marketing endeavors do nothing to move their audience. OK, that is not from a study. It is my own perspective. But consider the abundance of articles you see day in and day out noting marketing’s malignant state. For example …

Joe Marchese compares the state of advertising to the subprime debacle in 2008

• Joseph Jaffe hints to “The End of Advertising.”

90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance, ROI

CMOs are missing the boat on what it means to be a modern CMO

• “While 74% of global businesses have a digital strategy, only 33% believe it’s the right strategy, and beyond that, only 21% – or less than one-fourth – believe they have the right people setting the strategy.”

needed marketing changeI could go on and on with the list above, but hopefully you have a bad enough taste in your mouth already. It would be great to talk about marketing innovation, but marketing innovation is an oxymoron. I’ll give you an example. I am an advisor to a new 1:1 brand/user content distribution company. We are a startup. How many CMOs do you think want a case study before proceeding? First off, every company that delivers case study has some spin to it. (If you want to gain some deeper insights into the flaws of case studies read what @augieray has to say about them.) And secondarily, don’t true innovators do something different rather than being me-too-ers.

According to Wikipedia, “Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs.” And that is exactingly what marketing needs. A better solution to meet the new changing requirements dictated by audience behavior. Audience behavior that is defined by digital, mobile, social, and the ability to validate, refute, or ignore brand advertising and communication. Marketing has done an extremely poor job at keeping up with their audience’s behaviors and usage patterns.

So what are you going to do to fix this? I have three recommendations:

1) Completely change your marketing mentality from being a sales-tangent to focusing on customer relationship building. Marketing needs to lead relationship building and demonstrate brand worthiness in the form of delivering continued value and optimization of the entire user experience. If you build a strong relationship with your customers, they will be loyal buyers and advocates. If you merely concentrate on a sale you open the door for another brand to win over a fickle customer. This change of mentality will actually yield greater success of your sales objective in the long run. Don’t be so short sighted.

2) The CMO must change or the CMO needs to be changed. An overwhelming number of top marketing executives are not active on digital, mobile, and social channels that their audience engages on. How can the emperor understand the common people if he/she does not participate where the audience does and engage with them? How can anyone put together a digital strategy that yields success if they are not a regular user in digital? Far too many CMOs (or Chief Strategy Officers) do not have digital skill sets. Far too many CMOs/CSOs do not understand user digital behavior.

3) Move to a zero-based marketing budget. Just throw out everything you’ve done in the previous year unless you are certain that it has returned positive measureable results. If we agree that marketing needs a major facelift, how can all marketing line items you do year in and year out be correct. Start clean. Your audience behavior has changed so much, it warrants a complete revamp.

I know I have brought up a number of contentious recommendations. Change is tough. No one really likes change. But as the audience behavior has dramatically morphed over the past number of years, too many marketing executives have stayed stagnant. Too many believe they can just hand digital marketing over to a young digitally sharp user and think they have things covered. Well results say this is far from true. So while company marketing leaders’ skill sets have not changed much over the years, a significant void has emerged. And it is going to take some strong willed people to make changes that are required.

Are you ready to step up to what is truly required?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Top 7 Reasons Why Brands Fail at Social Media

“Well, the results are in. Social is doing a pathetic job of turning readers into customers. After all the hype has settled…after all the stock clamoring has died down, the truth is staring us in the face: People don’t want to be customers on social media.” Such was the opening paragraph on Entrepreneur.com’s post, “Here’s the Big Problem With Chasing Customers on Social Media.”

success or failureHow many times do you read articles that state something similar? What really gets me is that so many brands continue to approach social media incorrectly and then reports indicate social media failures as opposed to companies’ failure on social media.
So as a first step, I strongly suggest we all get social media right before we start assessing the success of companies’ social efforts. And here are the top 7 points of failure for brand social screw-ups.

1) The wrong person leads social efforts – “66% of CMOs surveyed said their companies are unprepared to handle social media, where the ‘rate of change seems faster than many can cope with.’” There are two types of people responsible for social efforts at a company. a) A young digital millennial that does not have experience driving company KPI (key performance indicators) results, and b) chief strategy/marketing officers that do not understand nor participate in social platforms. This presents a problem where you either have someone that understands social media user behavior or someone that has experience delivering business results … but not both qualities at the same time. What is needed is a hybrid of both and there are few that can bridge both worlds.

2) Going straight to tactics before having a strategy and integrated plan – how many social efforts start with an objective of building a Facebook and Twitter presence? Far too many. A while ago I wrote an article “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.” It highlights the problem of thinking tactics before strategy. Start by addressing integration of social efforts in overall business strategy. Then build your social strategy followed by a plan, which includes tactics.

3) Measuring the wrong thing – today, most social reporting is done by indicating “reach” and “engagement.” Yes these are important factors. But how many executives can relate reach and engagement to their KPIs? The typical response from an executive is likely to be, “Yeah, but does that increase my sales?” And at the same time, I have often stated that social is poor at direct sales. So what you really need to measure are those areas that tee up sales. Think of the sales marketing funnel where awareness, consideration, and post sales loyalty and advocacy parameters are important functions of sales. For more information, see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”

4) Selling instead of being a valued source – users are immediately turned off by brands that use social presence to sell product. Social should be used to develop long-term relationships and build a reputation as a valued source of information and engagement. This approach will create sustainable loyalty and advocacy. The result is long-term sales, but ironically done so by avoiding a sell mentality.

5) The content is not exceptional – I remember making this point to a boss of mine and he asked, “Does the content really need to be stellar?” Case in point – are you ever wowed by mediocre content? Would you ever share so-so content? There is so much noise in the digital space and you really need to standout. Think like a publisher or a producer who is only successful when they deliver killer content.

6) Talking and not listening – the strongest relationships start by knowing your audience. And the best way to get to know your audience is to listen to them. I love the line – “We have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” As far back as 2009, I raised the issue of a lack of social listening, and the problem is still pervasive.

7) Lack of a social business culture – social success does not come from one person or one group. Ultimate social success will come when sharing, engaging, and commitment to the brand audience comes from every part of the company. I expect to see “social business” be an evolutionary process within companies. This will not just happen overnight and progressing to this culture requires executive leadership.

So as step one, I urge everyone to take their social media efforts seriously and not just wing it. Do the right thing. Then, when we can get enough companies and brands actually delivering a sensible and meaningful social media approach that is compelling to their target audience, let’s evaluate success/failure. Are you ready to…

…Make It Happen?
Social Steve

3 Comments

Filed under brand marketing, brands, change management, company organization, content marketing, leadership, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Why There is Still Social Marketing FUD

Social Marketing FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. Are you one of millions that still suffer from social marketing FUD. It is no wonder. In the past couple of weeks my social practice has led me to meetings with retail store operators, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands, an insurance company, a media company, and a shoe brand. All these meeting proved that so many are still very confused about social media. While this is just a mere sampling, it proves to me there is still a strong problem.

Elmer FUDAnd why is there such a social FUD problem? Let’s start by looking at the people running social endeavors at companies, agencies, and independent practices. How many of them actually do brand, industry, and target market research? How many can produce a creative brief? And how many set a strategy that includes messaging strategy, content strategy, social channel plan, content distribution and earned media plan?

I am not sure if the problem is with the individual leading the social effort or with the person who hired them. It is kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. What came first? The unqualified person or the hiring manager that has little idea what to look for. I really hate to be harsh, but there is an over abundance of social leaders that have no idea how to produce results. This fact was punctuated in Mashable’s article this week (The Reality of Social Media Marketing Crushes Expectations). Even “Mashable’s social makeover” did not yield results. The reason – a focus on a Facebook strategy. There should never be a Facebook strategy. I am not saying Facebook is not part of a social marketing plan, but that is exactly it. It is a part, not the start of a social strategy. If anyone comes to you and starts their discussion with how they will use Facebook or Twitter as part of the social strategy, do know they are starting in the wrong place and will likely produce poor results.

If you are serious about leveraging the power of social media, make sure your social leader or prospect can answer the following:

1) What is the target audience behavior as it relates to digital usage?
2) What are you looking to accomplish via social marketing? How will results be measured? How do social metrics relate to business KPIs (key performance indicators)?
3) What is the messaging strategy? Content strategy? How will content be proliferated, shared, and produce advocacy? How will earned media be provoked?
4) How does social marketing integrate with other corporate strategies to create synergies and measurable results?
5) What does realistic success look like and how long will it take to produce results? What will be done along the way to monitor interim results to make sure desired outcomes will be produced?

Social media has been around for a number of years now and quite frankly it disturbs me how misunderstood it is. I attribute this lack of knowledge to a majority of so called social media experts and gurus who have no idea how to collaborate and integrate social efforts into corporate initiatives. Social marketing is so much deeper than producing sweepstakes to increase likes and followers or coming up with cute posts. And yet this is the limitation of most social efforts. There are way too many people in social roles creating crap.

For those of you who know me and have followed my Social Steve presence, you know I am thrilled to share social marketing best practices and tips. And while I am happy to enlighten my readers, I am troubled by the need to continually clear the smoking mirrors produced by social media fakers.

Demand more. Make sure you understand how your social leader is going to drive results. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it is likely flawed.

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

10 Comments

Filed under change management, company organization, leadership, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

The Plight of a Customer Centric Company

Let’s face it. Brands have lost some degree of their perceived position as a result of social technologies that allow the target audience to strongly affect brand reputation. More than anything else, social media is the motivation for companies to change and truly be customer centric. The true substances of companies are unveiled. People see the difference between what companies say and what they do. And at the same time, there is an abundance of companies claiming to be customer centric while only giving it lip service.

Customer Centric

To start, a customer centric company must have complete empathy for the target audience. This means that you need to understand everything about your audience … what motivates them, interests them, turns them off, and causes them to take action. And once you understand this, you need to determine changes required in your company.

Let me give you a simple example. For a longtime, I worked for various technology companies as a traditional marketing executive. I found that most technology companies suffer from what I call “technology testosterone.” They all would claim, they are bigger, faster, stronger, more secure, and claim other technological superlatives. One company claimed they had the greatest SSL (secure-socket-layer) technology. And they probably did in fact have a great SSL technology. But the main target audience for this SSL offering was financial institutions that look to purchase payment card authorization solutions. You see, too much of the company focus was on “what they did” as opposed to “the solutions they offered their customers.” In a customer centric organization it is all about what you do for your customer as opposed to your offerings. Yes, this is a small variance of go-to-market positioning, but the nuances affect brand perception and success.

While brand positioning is important to becoming a customer centric business, it is only a start. Maybe the strongest example of a customer centric business is Amazon. Jeff Bezos’s declares that Amazon.com is “the most customer-centric company in the world.” Is this lip service? Consider all of the following points:

• Amazon determines their customers needs, and then works backwards to deliver solutions.
• In the beginning at Amazon executive meetings, there was often a chair left empty and unseated. This is symbolic of the ever-present customer. Now specially trained employees represent the customer, called “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” “When they frown, vice ­presidents tremble.”
• Bezos requires that mid-level meetings include one person serving solely as the customer advocate. This person has the power to veto actions that undermine customers’ interests.
• Amazon reorganizes often. The reorgs are always done so with a focus to better serve their customers.
• Bezos requires everyone on staff to be able to work in the call center.
• Bezos states, “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.””
• Bezos vetoes snarky ads that mock customers.
(Sources – How Great Leaders Communicate and Amazon Technology – Jeff Bezos Gets It)

The points above briefly highlight what it takes to be a true customer centric company. Amazon is a great example of a customer centric company. They walk the walk as opposed to talk the talk. The result, the most successful online retailer. I expect Bezos to take The Washington Post and revamp success solely driven by a keen focus on the audience. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. Bezos is willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time only to ultimately change the way business functions in the most successful way.

Social media is the current rationalization for evolution to becoming a customer centric company. I got involved in social media early on because I follow customer behavior to influence my marketing approach. I did not get bullish on social marketing because of hype. I follow the audience actions and act accordingly. Learn to follow your audience and fully act accordingly. Audience behavior is very important in the marketing of your brand, but that is not enough. You must allow customer opportunities, issues, and solutions to drive your company organization and actions. Traditional company organizations must change and inherent silos must be dismantled. True leaders will recognize these fundamental success criteria and change the DNA of their company. Are you ready?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, leadership, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Why Social Marketing Must be a Commitment by Top Leadership at a Company

A few weeks ago I wrote an article aimed at the social media manager suggesting how they can “Drive Social Media Adoption at Their Company.” This article was motivated by the abundance of comments and concerns I’ve heard from social managers. Many have voiced frustration with their companies’ emergence in audience engagement and social marketing. Today, I turn the tables and point my discussion at companies’ executives, CxOs, and leadership.

Straight up, company executives must embrace social marketing.

executive leadershipThis past week, I read an excellent article, “Is Social Media A Career?” where they emphasized that there is a need for a social manager but the activity of producing social content and engagement is “… a cross-departmental, cross-functional set of tools that needs a variety of different people who buy in across a company.” And if we are looking for various people to buy in, it starts with leadership at the top.

The CEO, CMO, CSO, or any CxO has three responsibilities to set the tone for a social culture in the company.

1) They need to make sure subject matter experts in the organization are active on company social channels. There needs to be a diversity of people sharing information and engaging with an audience to reinforce a depth of knowledge, expertise, and care from the company as a whole.

2) Leadership needs to make sure that there is a “playbook” that addresses the companies’ position and set plan for expedited engagement. This playbook dictates that there are people actively searching for relevant information that provides the opportunity for real-time marketing (typically the social manager). But it is not necessarily the responsibility of the social manager to provide information and responses. Organizations need to leverage their experts to address specific information. Yes, it is the social managers responsibility to quarterback the engagement, but the company needs other players to take the quarterback’s signals and execute.

3) Awesome content is the key to social marketing success and you cannot expect the social manager to deliver all content for a brand. The responsibility of content production must be spread around to different experts and departments. Executives need to set a culture where this is not only required participation and support, and where different departmental leaders are enthusiastic to share with the brand’s audience.

As we see social marketing evolve, we will see that the social strategy is not the responsibility of the social or community manager. This must be the job of company leadership. Yes, social managers still play an important role in the organization, but their role is coordination and execution. Social purpose and strategy must be a key element of brand culture. Who is responsible for shaping the culture of a company? It starts at the top.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, company organization, leadership, marketing, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

7 Steps to Keep Up with the Demands of Marketing Evolution

Whether it is the result of digital, interactive, or social media, or simply the heightened knowledge and skepticism of consumers, effective marketing must evolve. Some traditional marketing tactics and channels no longer yield strong awareness, consideration, purchase decision, loyalty and advocacy. And at the same time traditional approaches determining marketing strategy, plan, and execution are still quite relevant.

marketing evolution

In the past I have written about how the changing consumer, new leadership requirements, and complete consumer focus spawned a need for considerable marketing evolution. These three characteristics dictate a need for a changing marketing approach. And while conditions demand change, marketing evolution is far too stagnant.

So what should you do to drive marketing evolution that not only defines survivability, but excellence now and in the coming years? Here is a list for your consideration …

1) Know your audience – Every marketing effort must start on a thorough understanding of your audience. Their wants, needs, motivations, and turn offs.
2) Understand your audience channels of use -You must not only understand your audience’s behavior but also channels where their behaviors are exercised.
3) Determine voice, tone, and brand characterization – Once you understand your audience, then you start to influence your brand’s position and perception. The influence of brand’s position is driven by a set voice, tone of communication, and characteristics that represent what the brand stands for.
4) Define how the brand’s characterization manifests itself in every organizational role – Once the brand’s voice, tone, and characteristics are defined, marketing leaders must define how they manifest with each organization and role in the company. A brand’s character is not just something to be used by the marketing group, but rather the entire extended company and partners.
5) Determine both physical and virtual presence of brand and integrate – Digital marketing and experiential marketing cannot be separated. Your target audience has digital and real physical experiences with your brand. Consider how to bring these often siloed practices together because consumer do not separate different facets of their brand experiences.
6) Integrate brand and direct marketing – Marketing consists of short-term and long-term initiatives. Typically, direct marketing is short-term and brand marketing is long-term. Once again, these marketing functions are far too often siloed. They need to be collaborative in a marketing strategy to maximize results.
7) Integrate owned, earned, paid media – As discussed in the article Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media media types need to work together in a synergistic way. See the referenced article and consider how to get the most out of your media presence that your audience views.

I am quite surprised and at times disenchanted by the slow pace of change in marketing. I am not suggesting that you follow hype, but rather follow your audience. When you follow your audience, this dictates what changes you must make. There are not enough marketing leaders willing to be adaptive. Are you willing to be a continuous student of your craft?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, leadership, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Driving Social Media Adoption at Your Company

Last week I hosted a webinar on getting your company on board with social media marketing and gaining greater acceptance throughout your organization. The motivation for social media is that “marketing must change because the market is changing.” Just look at the target audience behavior to see their adoption and use of social networks to help determine how important social marketing is.

Social Media Adoption at Your Company

So in this post I’ll share with you the highlights of the webinar. Consider the following key elements to getting your organization to strongly embrace social marketing such that it is not just the marketing department’s efforts. In the words of Dave Packard (of HP), “Marketing is far too important to be left solely to the marketing department.” Marketing your brand and company is everyone’s job.

1) Have a clear understanding of your target audience’s wants, needs, and motivations. Capture their digital behavior, practices and social channels of use. Brief your executives.
2) Develop a social strategy that aligns to the company’s business goals and objectives. Make sure you know the company’s KPIs (key performance indicators).
3) Determine the company’s subject matter experts in all organizational disciplines. Work with them to produce content that reinforces your brand as the most knowledgeable in the vertical you serve. Talk to the internal subject matter experts and capture their perspective. Make a draft article conveying their approach and ask them to redline (and then own) the content.
4) Create positive viruses … Find the people in your company that are willing to try some new social endeavors. Work hard to make them successful. Once they deliver success, shine a big light on their success. People copy success and everyone loves to emulate winners.
5) Extend “marketing communications” beyond the marketing department. Develop a corporate policy that states and motivates employees to share company content on their own social channels. Get executives to acknowledge and thank individuals for promoting company content. Develop brand ambassadors within your company.
6) Be a leader. It does not matter where you sit on the organization chart. If you want to drive positive change, you must make it happen. Don’t wait for someone with an executive title to take charge.
7) Show social metrics even if you are not asked for them. We must show the entire company empirical results that justify social practices. (See “Know What Successful Social Media looks Like” for metrics.)

If you want to listen to a rebroadcast of the webinar please go to the recording … the presentation is available in slideshare there as well.

Organizational change is hard, but in the case of social marketing, it is not hype that should be the reason for change, but rather audience behavior. We see different social platforms emerging weekly, but social media as a whole is the most effective way for brands to build strong relations and product/service preference. Do you have what it takes to drive winning organizational change?

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, CEO, change management, company organization, leadership, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve