Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Tale of Two CMO's: Awareness (Part I)

Last week, I kicked off a blog series titled, A Tale of Two CMO's: A Study in Contrasts. The goal of the series is to contrast the styles of an old school and new school CMO whose personas I've fleshed out in my original post. Over the next five weeks, the series will focus on a different aspect of the marketing funnel (awareness, interest, desire and action) in order to get a perspective from each CMO.

Before I start asking our two CMOs questions about this week's topic, I am going to take a question from Steve Poppe who was kind enough to ask a simple yet profound question in the comments' section of last week's post.

Here goes:


Who owns the brand?

James: I know that the answer that everyone wants me to give is, the customer. And believe it or not, I do believe that our customers share in the ownership of our company's brand. However, at the end of the day, our management team is responsible to our shareholders. Occasionally, what our stakeholders (customers, prospects, employees and partners) want and what we are financially required to do on behalf of our shareholders are mutually exclusive. Whenever possible though, we do everything in our power to steer the brand in the direction that all of our stakeholders desire.

Tessa: Based on what you read in today's press and in the blogosphere, companies have little to no ownership of their brands. To me, that is a load of horse crap because without our products, employees, website, press relations, advertising and yes, social presence, brands wouldn't exist. With that said, I am a firm believer in the fact that the old "command and control" style aka "we'll tell you what our brand is and you'll like it" days are over. Smart companies -- I'd like to put ours in that bucket -- are realizing that we live in a world of customer co-creation and that customers are sharing what they think of "us" every day. We may not like what our customers are saying about us, but shame on any CMO that isn't paying attention to their customers' feedback.


If you could only spend money on facet of marketing to generate brand awareness, what would it be and why?

James: I've never been a fan of answering questions like this because it forces me to respond in a way that makes me sound like the stereotypical brand marketer. In the spirit of being a cooperative interviewee, I'll indulge you. Despite the fragmented nature of television, it's still the best vehicle (for us anyway) for creating brand awareness. With that said, there a dozen other ways to generate awareness that complement what we do on television and believe it or not, I'm vying to do less television advertising than more these days. As you know, tv is expensive as hell and getting harder and harder to get in front of live audiences.

Tessa: A couple of years ago, I would have answered print or tv advertising. That has obviously shifted over the last few years with interactive playing a much greater roll and now social -- Facebook in particular -- having a bigger impact. I guess if you held a gun to my head and forced me to answer this question, the biggest driver of awareness for us these days are online ads on the major networks. The key, however, is driving them to our social presences like our branded online community and our Facebook Fanpage (from ads on Facebook). The nice thing is that it serves two goals -- we create awareness with our customers and then allow the 99%+ that are not in the buy cycle to more deeply engage with us and other customers in a less obtrusive way.


How is earned media contributing to brand awareness?

James: We've been very pleased with the some of the press our new PR firm has landed for us over the last six months. Our green initiatives are getting some much deserved attention -- so much so that our CEO is being interview on 60 Minutes next month. We've also gotten great press (Business section above the fold) in the Journal and AdAge did a feature on our new website last month. You'll be surprised to hear me say this but I'd like to think that our biggest win to date is a five part series in USA Today about ways that our products are changing the way consumers think about our space. Talk about a great driver of awareness!

Tessa: Over the last year or so, we've been working hard to find a balance between our traditional PR efforts and our social initiatives which include a heavy dose of influencer outreach. While any company is a fool to ignore traditional PR in spite of the fact that traditional media readership continues to decline at alarming rates, we've seen a groundswell of activity coming from our grass roots blogger relations and our newly formed ambassador program. In both cases, we've spent a lot of time identifying who are net promoters and detractors are (especially the ones with big megaphones) and have invited them to special events to talk to myself, our CEO, our product leads and even some of the folks in our research department. The biggest challenge is scaling these efforts but what we're starting to see is that after about six months, the momentum behind some of these word of mouth efforts really starts to kick in.


What roll will "social" play in your future brand awareness efforts?

James: I know they say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks but I have been keeping a close eye on social tools like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. While I don't have the time to personally participate in these channels, a few of the younger folks in our marketing department along with a few folks in our agency have been pushing me to get our brand more involved in social. For right now, I feel like it's all just too new and very few companies have figured out how to monetize these emerging channels. It seems like if anything, Twitter and corporate blogs will likely just end up being another customer service vehicle. I don't ever see social being a driver of brand awareness save maybe the occasional viral Youtube video.

Tessa: While I personally love social networks like Twitter and Facebook, I don't necessarily see them as something that will help with our overall brand awareness. Yes, our brand has a presence on both and we will continue to invest in both, but I see the roll of social being much better at creating customer engagement and customer retention than I do for awareness. As I mentioned in my answer to the last question, I think earned media probably has the best shot from a social perspective of creating awareness.


So there you have it. Thank you to our two fictional CMOs for taking the time to answer questions about brand and brand awareness this week. Next week, we'll have them tackle another question or two from the comments section as well as fielding some queries on preference and consideration. interest.

The big question is, were you surprised by the answers that either of our two CMOs gave? Any advice for either of them? Your comments and recommendations will drive the direction of this series so please don't be shy about weighing in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick'n'Dirty Episode 41: Big Brand Style

Unfortunately, my weekly co-host, Jennifer Leggio, couldn't join me on the Quick'n'Dirty podcast this week. As bummed out as I was, our guests benefited when they not only got to hear from the head of social at One big brand (Citi) but also got the perspective of my guest host, Bert DuMars, who is the VP of social/digital at Newell Rubbermaid. As a former guest of the Q'n'D, Bert already knew the ropes so we were able to zip right through our regularly scheduled programming.

Kicking off the program, we covered the site Unvarnished (think of it as Yelp for people). So far, I've reviewed a couple of friends but have yet to be reviewed myself. I mention that because Bert and Deb Robison (one of our regular listeners) brought up the issue of legal liability i.e. if you had no control over the people that reviewed you, it could raise all sorts of problems. I vowed to get set up so that I could be reviewed in order to validate that:

  1. reviews couldn't be anonymous
  2. if you get a review you don't like, do you have a recourse?

Following our social network of the week, we introduced special guest, Jaime Punishill of Citi. Jaime's official title is director of digital channel strategy & social media. What I can tell you having heard his story a few times now is that he and his five person team are on a tour de force -- single handedly "operationalizing" social media at financial services behemoth, Citi. As you can imagine is no small task. During the show, Jaime talked about the process, the little wins and the brute force it took (continues to take) to turn the ship around. For any company that is new to social, this is an episode -- along with our show two weeks ago featuring GM's Christopher Barger -- to pay close attention to.

The featured Twitterer of the week was friend and start up rock star, Jeremy Tanner. If you haven't met Jeremy in person, make an effort to do so. Not only is he uber knowledgeable about the startup space (especially in Boulder, CO) but he's also funny, politically savvy and an all around nice guy. If you don't get to meet him -- duh -- do the second best thing and follow him on Twitter. To that end, Jeremy just made it into Jennifer's latest wrap up of EVERY featured Twitterer we've had on the show since we started last June.

Last up was a point / counterpoint that Bert and I did regarding Facebook's recent announcement that it would be expanding it's influence beyond the four walls of Facebook. Of course this wasn't a new approach by Facebook -- hello Facebook Connect -- but the latest announcement did speak to privacy concerns given the length of time that Facebook will now keep third party data. Bert argued that this is not good for individuals. I couldn't disagree but took the side of corporations that could now better target customers with offers and ads.

A few house keeping items:
  1. Remember that our show will air at its new time this week -- noon PT / 3 PM ET. It will only be 30 minutes as well.
  2. We have FOUND a producer. We will announce her/him this Thursday during our show.
  3. Past episodes of the show can be found here as well as write ups each week on Jennifer's and my blogs.
Thanks again to Bert DuMars for being such a good sport. We look forward to seeing you this Thursday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I See You

Seeing that today is yesterday was the day that the movie, Avatar, became available on DVD, I couldn't help *borrow* one of the more critical lines from the movie. The phrase, "I see you" is an obvious nod to the indigenous people of North America who used the phrase to communicate a deeper acknowledgement of one another versus a throw away, "hi" or "how are ya" like we might use today. The bigger question one might ask is, where the hell is this post going?

Okay, I'm getting to that part...

I've been spending a lot of time recently with my colleague, Joseph Jaffe, presenting to clients and prospects about the power of social. Part of the presentation talks about what our company, Powered, can do to help companies get the most out of their social initiatives. The balance focuses on the premise of Joe's most recent book, Flip the Funnel, where he talks about tapping into existing customers to gain new ones. In the book, Joe gives dozens of examples of companies and organizations using the new customer service which relies heavily on social media to operationalize and scale these activities.

The reason I bring this all up is that I've had the good fortune of interacting with several companies recently that have "surprised and delighted" me. According to chapter six of Joe's book, It's Time to Flip the Funnel, these "surprise and delight" moments align with the stages of the "flipped" funnel  -- A.D.I.A. For those not yet familiar with Jaffe-nese, A.D.I.A. stands for:
  • Acknowledgement
  • Dialogue
  • Incentivization
  • Activation

While I'm not 100% where each of these experiences fall in the four phases of the "flipped funnel," (maybe Joe will head on over and help me out on this one), I can tell you that I feel a deeper connection with each brand AND I have gone out of my way to evangelize on their behalf. What's important to note is that I'm evangelizing not because they gave me something but because they did something good and unexpected. In each case, I've been completely transparent about what I've received and if there was any monetary value associated.


Several weeks ago, I needed to do 5 minute clip for my friends at AdVerve. The audio had to be clean and crisp so wasn't a 100% convinced I could accomplish this goal through my computer or using my normal phone recording device. When I turned to Twitter (thank you Bryan Person, a friend and fellow podcaster), a few folks validated that iPadio was a good solution. Between my tweets about them, a mention on my weekly Quick'n'Dirty podcast show and several podcasts on their platform, they opted to make me their "featured guest of the week." Needless to say, I was ecstatic. And guess what, no money changed hands.

This is an interesting story. A few months ago, my sister-in-law and her husband gave us a Sonos (a wireless multi-room music system) as a house warming gift. Ironically, you actually need to have a wired connection with the first "box" you buy to be able to create an ethernet in your house/apartment. Not knowing this and having the disadvantage of a cable modem that was not near my stereo/speakers kind of ruined my excitement around my new Sonos device. I shared this disappointment with my friend, Jim Storer, who has a Sonos system himself and helped me deduce that I could remedy the problem with a $99 hardware solution.

Without saying a word publicly, I got this public tweet from Thomas Meyer -- the man who runs social at Sonos. Within minutes, we had connected via e-mail and Thomas let me know that he would be sending me the $99 piece of hardware after noting, I'm bummed we weren't able to educate you properly on the need for the first wire. Wow! I told Thomas that I would be happy to tweet/blog about his kind gesture and his response via e-mail was, I never ask or expect anything.  I'm simply in the business of trying to make people happy - either with music - or by solving problems they are having listening to their music.  What happens from there is up to you the consumer.  Let's first work on making you a happy Sonos customer. I'm happy to let you know Thomas that this is definitely a case of mission accomplished!

I've already tweeted about this and I wrote an e-mail that sums up the story so I'm going to share that e-mail below. Last I heard, this e-mail had been forwarded to the head of Starbucks in the southeast and southwest regions of the US. So pleased I was able to return the favor the smart/kind gesture on the part of Tasha, the manager at the Starbucks where this took place...

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Aaron Strout and I have been a loyal Starbucks customer for the last 10+ years. The reason I'm writing to you is to share some exciting activity that happened yesterday as a result of your smart, friendly and innovative staff led by Tasha at your Bee Cave location:

12400 West Highway 71
Bee Cave, TX 78738-6517

My job is focused on all things social media (my company helps big brands like HP, H&R Block and Kodak think about how to incorporate "social" into their marketing plans). As a result, I spend a lot of time using social media sites/tools, one of which is location-based service, FourSquare. The reason I mention this is that my lovely wife, Melanie, has worked hard to try and understand what I do on a day-to-day basis at my job so she's started using some of the same social media sites/tools that I have.

Recently, Melanie started using FourSquare which allows people to checkin to venues like Starbucks (or a restaurant, business or park). For users that regularly check into locations, there is a "mayor" title that can be awarded to them on the site which is more for bragging rights than anything else. Well, Melanie just won the title of "mayor" at the 12400 West Highway location and shared this excitement with your staff (I had been the previous mayor so Melanie alerted Tasha and the staff that she was working hard to wrest the title from me). Well, your staff took Melanie's excitement about her mayorship (a demonstration of her loyalty to this particular Starbucks) and decided to award her the "customer of the month" (see the picture below). This of course THRILLED Melanie so when she told me, I couldn't help but share this with my "networks" which happen to be about 15,000 people strong.

The reason Tasha, Melanie and I thought that you might care is that you received A LOT of positive feedback from some leading bloggers, Twitterers and Facebook users. I've added a couple of links to the blogs/FB updates and the Tweets below. Of particular note, one of the leading marketing Bloggers in the world, Lee Odden, and director of social media at Ernst & Young, Ken Burbary, weighed in on this activity. I also had a request from the person that leads social at a large retailer with a request to include the picture of Melanie's "customer of the month" sign in a presentation she's giving next month.



Twitter activity captured as an image bellow, if you want to see live links, you can go here


So, this was a long-winded way of saying, congratulations and thank you and your team for doing the right thing. As I mentioned, I spend a lot of time in this space so seeing smart companies like Starbucks empower their stores to do things like this are very exciting to say the least.


A much shorter story here but equally rewarding. A few weeks ago, I heard some folks talking about the latest Roku player -- an inexpensive device that lets one stream Netflix, Pandora, Flickr and most importantly, As an avid Red Sox fan living outside of New England, I simply can't live without watching and listening to my hometown heroes during the summer. Last year, I used the kludge approach of plugging my laptop into my tv using a cable. It worked but the quality wasn't great and it was a pain anytime we wanted to watch. This year, I was determined to make it simple enough so that at the click of a button, I could stream MLB games into my living room with ease [as a side note, using Roku and, one can not only stream games to one's tv but can also watch games from the beginning, starting with a certain inning or even archives of past games].

My story here is the fact that after talking up Roku once I decided to buy the player, I found out that their interface wouldn't actually be ready until mid-April. Granted, this isn't a problem for an ordinary person but as an avid fan, I couldn't bear the idea of being without the Sox for 10+ days. So, I tweeted to @RokuPlayer on Twitter and let them know that I was a little disappointed with the fact that I couldn't use my player yet for the very reason that I purchased it for. The solution? An invite into their private beta so that I could start enjoying through Roku sooner than the general public. Yes, one might argue that Roku should have just made sure that their interface was ready for everyone out of the gate but at least they were willing to help out someone that demonstrated that they cared. This is a case of no money changing hands but the simple invite into a beta program returned me to "avid fan" status.

Cirque du Soleil
Last October at Blog World Expo, I met Jess Berlin, the head of social for Cirque du Soleil. While I didn't get a chance to spend a ton of time talking with her, I was pleased and impressed when she showed up for a panel I moderated with Reem Abeidoh, Lucretia Pruitt, Micah Baldwin and Jesse Stay (and trust me, I know she was there for them, not me, but I was impressed none-the-less). Following that event, Jess and I stayed in touch via Twitter and before she could say, "Bob's your uncle," I had her signed up as a guest on the Quick'n'dirty podcast show.

Jess of course was a fantastic guest and interestingly, one of the things we talked about on the show was how she -- on behalf of Cirque -- reaches out to influencers to get them to experience their shows. Chris Brogan did a nice write up on this post Blog World Expo 2008 which I think epitomizes the approach. Fast forward a couple of months and Jess is telling both Jennifer and I that she would like to give us tickets to Cirque in SF (for Jennifer) and Austin (for me). Needless to say, the offer was with no strings attached but I can happily say, I loved the show (Alegria). It was exciting, breathtaking, visually stimulating and no animals were harmed!


So what's the moral of the story? Companies need to do a better job "seeing" their customers. This doesn't need to include money. However, it does mean taking a little more time to get to know, acknowledge, interact with and incentivize their customers. When done correctly, this results in activation which equals referrals, evangelism and great word of mouth in general.

Are you "seeing" your customers?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Tale of Two CMO's: A Study in Contrasts

As someone that's spent the last 16 years of his life doing some form of advertising or marketing, I've been thinking a lot about what an exciting, yet anxious time this must be for most chief marketing officers (CMOs). To that end, there are still a number of CMOs and marketers that have chosen to ignore or hide from recent trends like social media and its ability to help brands -- big and small -- retain, engage and ultimately grow their current customer base.

While there is nothing to say that the strategies and tools that marketers have used for decades can't still be effective, there are also a number of new tools that could greatly benefit their efforts. To help illustrate this point, I've decided to create a five part blog series titled, A Tale of Two CMO's. The series will juxtapose the approaches of two marketing leaders with different backgrounds and viewpoints by asking them to answer questions -- some that I will ask, others that I hope the readers of this blog will contribute. Each post will focus on a different marketing goal such as:
  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action
post script: I've updated items 2-4 based on my colleague, Joe Jaffe's, AIDA version of the marketing funnel in his new book, Flip the Funnel.

To help bring the series to life, I've fleshed out the personas for Mr. "old school" CMO and Ms. "I'm okay with change" CMO. My goal is to post a new installment every week for the next five weeks -- in a perfect world, this will be every Wednesday morning -- but please know that I live in a far from perfect world.

Meet Our Two CMOs

Who: James Hossenpfeifer, CMO of a large consumer package goods company
Age: 61
Education: BA from Notre Dame, MBA from University of Michigan
Likes: Single malt scotch, World War II movies, Frank Sinatra and weekends at the country house
Favorite publications: The Financial Times, AdAge, Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal
Tools of choice: Direct mail, inserts, primetime television ads, print ads, the occasional outdoor ad to mix things up and recently, takeover ads on some of the larger networks like Yahoo.
Experience: During his first 12 years, James worked as an account exec on Madison Avenue for two well-known ad agencies. Feeling stuck in his career, he took two years off for B-school and then jumped to the client side at age 36. Since then, he's held senior level marketing positions at three Fortune500 companies, the latest being the title of chief marketing officer at his current company (current tenure, 14 years).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adverve: My Recent Guest Appearance

Last week, social media smarties, Bill Green and Angela Natividad, were kind enough to have me on their weekly podcast, Adverve. I have listened to the show a few times before and love Bill and Angela's wit and insight. This show was no different as we talked about:
  • agencies of the future
  • privacy
  • how a particular well-known church might use social media
I have to say, the topic about church and social media was one of the most interesting / thought provoking I've ever discussed. Kudos to Angela for pushing me to really think that one through. If you have a chance, please give the show a listen. You can weigh in on my blog or the Adverve blog (or both if you are REALLY feeling motivated).


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick'n'Dirty Episode 37: Plancast Anyone?

A pattern is starting to emerge with my podcast partner, Jennifer Leggio, and me... With some of stronger featured a social networks and/or Twitterers of the week, we like them so much that we end up inviting them onto the show as our guest. This week was no different when we showcased the CEO of Plancast, Mark Hendrickson.

We kicked things off by reviewing Entrustnet -- a new breed of social/digital sites that take into consideration the fact that we are not immortal and that eventually, we have to consider what happens to our social and digital assets once we die. While I haven't had a chance to try Entrustnet yet (I don't believe Jennifer has either), we liked the concept of what these guys bring to the table (interesting back story on how they got started can be found on their site). Jennifer's one caveat which is worth considering and that is the potential security risk of putting one's user names and passwords online.

Next up was our aforementioned guest, Mark Hendrickson, CEO of Plancast. You can see our earlier recap of Plancast here or see what Mark's former boss, Michael Arrington, had to say about this social network that many dub "FourSquare for future events." Two things I will say about Mark:
  1. He is smart and a true gentlemen. Jennifer and I peppered him with questions and he answered all of them directly and graciously.
  2. I love his transparency regarding Plancast's product roadmap, something we discussed at length during the show. If you want real proof of what I'm talking about, see Mark's comment on our friend (and next week's guest show host), Kyle Flaherty's, post regarding Plancast.
We followed our segment with Mark Hendrickson with a very quick recap of our featured Twitterer of the week, Stephen L. Rose. Stephen is the worldwide community manager for Windows 7. He's also a big Chicago Blackhawks fan which may have had a little something to do with his being selected. Stephen was kind enough to join us in the chat room which always makes the show a little more exciting -- thanks for doing that Stephen!

Last up was our point / counterpoint of whether or not "first to market" (something that tech blogger, Robert Scoble has said is one of the keys to winning) was in fact important. Jennifer used the example of  location-based services, FourSquare and Gowalla. In this particular case, FourSquare was first by a longshot coming out in 2007 -- originally launching as "Dodgeball," purchased by Google and then spun off as FourSquare. Gowalla, a relative newcomer, has caught up to FourSquare in terms of number of users and seems to be geting an equal amount of press these days. This point / counterpoint ended up being more of a discussion than a debate but hopefully we brought some interesting points to the table.

As a reminder, you can find past Quick'n'Dirty recaps on Jennifer ZDNet blog or here on You can also listen to past episodes on iTunes or over on the show site here.

Finally, remember that starting on April 29, our show is moving to it's new time (noon PT / 2 PM CT) and new format (30 minutes vs. 45 minutes).  Please also note that we are looking for an intern/producer to help with the show 1 hour or so a week. This role will help with show scheduling, site updates, guest coordination and occasional appearances on the show. If interested, e-mail or DM Jennifer or me.