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Posts from October 2009

Social Media: The Dangers of Discovery

By Laura Morris

If Google’s Sidewiki and Seth Godin’s Brands in Public are any indication, companies can no longer afford to ignore social media.  Fortunately, most of the companies we work with have received that message loud and clear – over 80% have made their first forays into the space.

But it’s becoming clear that lingering in the “Discovery” phase of social media also poses real risks; two in particular come to mind:

  • Shiny Object Syndrome: Companies just getting started in social media are prone to hop on the hottest platform before considering if it’s right for their business.  Remember Second Life?
  • “Me Too!” Thinking: Those of us in the Discovery phase are also more likely to copycat competitors (another “Which Product Are You?” Facebook quiz, anyone?) in the rush to catch up to industry leaders. Read More »

We’re Forgetting About Black Swans Already

Posted on  27 October 09  by 


Black swanI sense an eerie (and I think false) sense of security from marketers as they enter 2010 planning, that the worst is behind us, we can forecast 1-2% GDP growth for the next 12 months, and the Fed has the financial crisis under control. 

After meeting with a regional retail bank, a Fortune 500 CPG company, and a host of planning executives last week, I’m almost frightened by the sense of stability I see in 2010 plans.  The picture is not rosy, certainly, but it assumes stability.  We seem to have checked any Black Swan thinking at the door.  How the economy recovers, its precise trajectory, and changes in consumer behavior are far more volatile than the stability many marketers are putting into their plans.  And let’s be honest – too many of us leave those plans on the shelf for 12 months without revision. Read More »

Social Media: Moving from Compulsion to Innovation

By Laura Morrispens

We’ve been really busy the last few days presenting results of the Social Media Opportunity Diagnostic to member companies. Two things strike me about these conversations:

  • An enormous amount of risk aversion to investing in social media: Having a Facebook page doesn’t mean you’re investing in social media. Real investment means not just money, but people, time and political capital. Many marketers veer away from conversations about ROI and default to not thinking about it until they have to. Even a simple test & control experiment would be a great place to start.
  • Low levels of understanding (or acceptance) about the creative power of the medium:  Are you thinking carefully about how social media could be used to move customers through the purchase funnel? Or how to use social media to compress the purchase cycle altogether? One company I spoke with was thinking innovatively about using Twitter as a pre-sales tool, to get a specific segment of customers interested in a new product they were launching before the sales person’s visit. Read More »

Customer Experience Myth: Touchpoints Matter

By Whitney Satin

My last post looked at why the customer experience is the best opportunity for marketers to build greater loyalty with their customers.  But how do we figure out what actually matters in the experience as far as getting customers to actually prefer us?

To answer this, we surveyed over 9,000 customers from 15 member companies representing a range of B2B industries.  We asked customers to rate different aspects of the experience across three categories:

  • Touchpoints—the specific interactions between a customer and the company (e.g., customer service, technical support, online experience).
  • Common Benefits—the qualities every company hopes to deliver across the customer experience (e.g., is easy to do business with, trustworthy).
  • Unique Benefits—qualities specific to each company, or, the sources of value that set one experience apart from another (e.g., simplifies my supply chain, provides great ‘out-out-of-the-box’ experience).

Using regression analysis, we looked at how each category contributes to customer preference and repurchase intentions.  The results were surprising.  The perceptions customers have of touchpoint performance have virtually no impact on preference. Read More »

What Are Consumers Really Loyal To?

Posted on  23 October 09  by 

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broken ropeAs the economy faltered late last year, a lot of the marketers we work with started rethinking how important their brands were to consumers. With less money to spend, less access to credit, and less confidence in the U.S. economy, consumers were rethinking when and where they spent every dollar. The question marketers asked us in response was simple: “how do I become a brand consumers can’t do without?”

After a year or so of digging, we learned a very simple but compelling thing about consumer loyalty: it’s probably not you they’re loyal to in the end. While most marketers think their brands have loyal consumers, what they really have are habit-driven consumers—and when a shock occurs to a consumer’s economic reality, it probably doesn’t take much to break their “habit” with your brand. Read More »

Paranormal Marketing: How Social Media Created an Indie Hit

paranormal-activity-posterI don’t know how many of you follow box office results, but I’d like to point your attention to Paranormal Activity, a horror movie getting a slow rollout from Paramount that just this past weekend grossed $19.6 million from just 760 screens.  That’s a per screen average of $25,813—a number more common for a summer blockbuster than a small, independent, genre film with a budget of $11,000.   So how did this small movie get so big?  Marketing, and more specifically a very smart use of social media. Read More »

Be a Better Listener: Three Things You Should Be Paying Attention to Online

By Laura Morris

Regardless of your company’s level of investment – or interest – in social media, someone on your team should be monitoring your brand online.   Depending on which you have more of – time or money – there’s a social media listening system that’s right for you.

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 We see marketers taking three different approaches to social media monitoring: Read More »

With Social Experience, Be Different…in a Way That Few Can Follow

Posted on  19 October 09  by 


tc 2Last week, I wrote about marketers putting social experience at the center of their integrated communications.  I referred to Best Buy and Twelpforce.  Just this weekend, I caught a flurry of Honda TV spots promoting a particular Honda Facebook experience.

One of the open questions for marketers: How should one go about identifying the right social experience?

Answer: Identify an imprinting experience that best highlights your brand’s differentiating attributes or benefits. Read More »

Are We There Yet? Or, Is the Recession Over?

Posted on  15 October 09  by 


Recession BillboardDriving down the New Jersey Turnpike to visit a Council member, a billboard caught my eye (please, no jokes about the Turnpike and billboards).  It read as follows – “Recession 101: Interesting fact about recessions . . . they end.”  Pithy and humorous, I thought.  When I reached my hotel, I did some searching and the Recession 101 campaign is nationwide, paid for by members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and designed by an unnamed private donor.

Seeing the billboard and scrolling through Recession 101’s Twitter feed (sidebar: good social media integration with ‘traditional’ media), it did prompt me to realize that our members are asking one question with increasing frequency – does MLC think that the economy has turned the corner? Read More »

Nothing to Lose But Your Chains: Touchpoint Planning in the Social (Media) Revolution

Posted on  12 October 09  by 


playIntriguingly, Best Buy is putting Twelpforce at the center of its big communications initiative for the holiday season.  Looking at data from the 125 companies that have taken the Council’s social media maturity diagnostic, we know that only 11% of marketers have built social media into their integrated communications planning processes.  That got me to thinking…

Most B2C marketers take the “tonnage” approach to touchpoint planning.  They work back from growth goals and volume targets to plan their touchpoint mix—their mix models tell them how much money they need to dump into broadcast, out-of-home, print, promotions and the like, to hit those volume targets.  Social and experiential touchpoints play second fiddle, at best.  Read More »