Marketing to Marketers (guest post)

From time to time, my man, Bill Fanning, in our BizDev group gets fired up and throws a post together. You hear from him semi-regularly as he shares his wisdom on the Weekly Social Marketing Links posts I put up. You may also remember him from the Would you Join a Toothpaste Community post we co-penned several months back. Anyway, check out his latest as he talks about "marketing to marketers."




I read an interesting blog post this morning about cold calling.  It got me thinking, how do Marketers wish to be marketed to?…a topic I’ve been interested in since joining the business development team at Powered a couple years ago.


The truth is, I don’t cold call prospects…there, I said it.  When I say cold call, I mean calling someone I don’t know, who doesn’t know me and probably is not familiar with my company.  I know traditional VP’s of Sales and Business Development are shaking their heads at me in disgust as they read this post but let’s be honest, the odds of getting someone to respond to a true cold call are very slim…even more so today than several years ago.  If you do get a response, you’ve effectively started your relationship by saying “Hey, I want to sell you something…”  Not the best way to kick off a trusted relationship.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t react well to people trying to sell me something.  Actually, I don’t react at all.  I simply tune them out. 

The recent increase in options for us, as consumers, to ignore traditional interruptive marketing tactics has changed how we are willing to interact with vendors / brands in our day to day lives both personally and professionally. 

  • Caller ID allows me to screen my calls so I can decide which call to answer…I haven’t answered a telemarketer’s call in years.
  • Tivo and DVR allow me to record shows I like and fast forward past the advertisements (I do watch the and E*Trades commercials though…very funny).
  • I have XM in my truck and use Pandora or iTunes at home…no commercials there.
  • I generally discover interesting brands and vendors from trusted sources through social networks, my Google Reader and off-line word of mouth from friends and associates.

The point is, traditional interruptive marketing tactics are becoming less affective and not a good way to develop relationships with consumers.  True cold calling is about as interruptive as it gets.

We try to apply the same philosophy to our prospecting efforts as we do when building strategy with our customers to engage their consumers. 

  • Provide valuable information/resources to consumers.  In our case that means providing information on our website about Social Marketing in general in a variety of formats (articles, blog posts, podcasts, etc.)  Not just information about our offerings.  Share valuable, thought provoking information to prospects via e-mail and Twitter.
  • Give consumers a means to interact with the company.  Anyone can add comments to our blog posts, share and rate content.  We have a Facebook fan page and company Twitter feed in addition to many of our employees active on Twitter (Aaron Strout, Doug Wick, Kathy Warren, Natanya Anderson, Ryan Joy, Jay Macintosh, me…just to name a few).  As appropriate for our consumers, we will add additional means of interaction on our website in the future.
  •  Intelligently merchandise products and services in a non-interruptive manner.  We learn as much as possible about our prospects before engaging in conversation and certainly before making any recommendations.  We try to engage folks in a natural non-interruptive manner through our website, twitter, e-mail, leveraging existing relationships, etc.
  •  Measure activity to understand what’s working and what’s not.  We measure all behavior on our website, webinar registration vs. participation, pipeline and forecast etc. and evolve the process as needed.     

Simply put, we want to be a valuable resource to consumers interested in Social Marketing.  If we do our jobs right, it should naturally drive more interaction with our prospects and industry experts. 

Back to my original question, how do you wish to be marketed to?  How can we improve?



Photo courtesy:


We’ve Moved!

Don’t worry, Powered Inc. isn’t going anywhere. But our blog is. Yup, we just re-launched our site and as a result, we decided to move The Engaged Consumer blog — formerly hosted on WordPress — over to our own platform. Let’s just say it made us feel like we were doing a better job at “eating our own dog food.”

If you’re someone that doesn’t like change, the good news is that the old blog posts won’t disappear from this site any time soon. However, if you want to read more of the regular goodness from the likes of Doug Wick, Kathy Warren, Natanya Anderson or yours truly, you’ll need to do it here: Oh, and if you’ve been kind enough to pull our blogs into your handy, dandy reader, the new RSS feed is:

One last housekeeping note. We are planning on disabling new comments on this blog (we’ve ported most of the old posts and comments over to the new platform). If that’s problematic for you, just let us know. We’re pretty reasonable people. 😉


Aaron Strout
CMO, Powered Inc

Selling Social Marketing: It’s not all about ROI

GearsIf you talk to anyone at Powered as a potential client, we will be very happy to give you a guided tour of the ROI our clients enjoy (to the extent that we can without violating confidentiality). The numbers are compelling, and we measure the heck out of everything – not stopping with just the level of community activity, but working toward business impact. Purchase, loyalty, advocacy, brand affinity, consumer insight – we’ve launched communities that focus in all of those areas.

The investment models are very important – they tell us what we can expect, how to contruct the unique business case for every potential project, what to measure, and how to adjust to optimize results. But it’s not really why marketers buy social. Let me explain.

Most of the time, the marketer who ends up talking to Powered is  someone in their 20’s or 30’s (or is young at heart!). This person is usually bright, innovative, and is a social marketing expert or consultant brought into a brand, corporate, or product marketing team (or agency) to enlighten the broader team on the world of social marketing. They speak the same language as Powered folks, and understand why a branded community could be a powerful tool for their company. They Twitter, they blog, they’re on FriendFeed, and you might even find them on Posterous or FourSquare.

Pretty quickly, the second stage of the conversation starts – the effort by the social media expert to sell our ideas internally at their company. This is certainly not reserved to Powered’s offerings. Selling social media/marketing broadly is a central part of this internal expert’s job, whether it’s why the company should open a corporate Twitter account, fill out a Facebook page, or invest in social media monitoring tools.

This is where the conversation often stalls. For some reason, the sales pitch based on ROI numbers doesn’t resonate with senior management. Certain parts of the case don’t hold up because they don’t agree with the statistical approach, or they don’t think the case study applies to them because of the unique market characteristics of their company or brand. These are often very valid objections, but sometimes they aren’t the real, underlying issue.

Good marketers are analytical, and they use analytics to compare channels and campaigns – eliminating the poor performers and putting more budget toward the high performers. But great marketers are also incredibly intuitive. They have a keen sense for what provokes an emotional response, what produces a feeling of influence, what modifies behavior. This intuition is based on personal experience. At some point every marketing exec saw a 30-second TV spot that made them love a brand more, or received a really interesting piece of direct mail, or visited a really well-designed corporate website. They also know the marketing efforts that left them cold in those mediums, and why.

When senior marketers with keen intuition step into an unfamiliar marketing environment (like a social network), they can suddenly feel like the internal compass that has served them so well for so long is broken. Without a feel for the medium, they aren’t going to be very inclined to put budget toward it, even if the numbers seem good on paper. This is exacerbated by the fact that their peers don’t have a good feel for it either and as a result have little trust trust in it. Social media is risky enough without feeling the rest of your management looking over your shoulder. As an old colleague used to say, “no one gets fired for buying more TV.”

So while putting together a compelling business case is important, the other and more fundamental side of selling social media is to help a senior marketer build a sense of value and intuition for the medium. I call this the “intuitive sell,” and it’s what for a marketer connects the marketing action to the results in a meaningful, believable way.

The best way to accomplish the intuitive sell is to encourage the unfamiliar marketer to use social media personally – not necessarily to become a power user, but to demystify the tools and the value people are getting out of them. The objective is to get them to understand the mechanics, and to feel the tug of why people spend so much time on social websites (compared to non-social) in a personal way – if just for a minute. Instead of showing them case studies, take them to the actual sites in the case studies and help them observe interactions at a granular level. Get them participating. Let them experiment with their own identity before they involve the identity of their company.

Feeding a senior marketer’s intuition is as important as feeding them a good business case. When both are served well, it may feel like less of a risk and more like an opportunity. Then the budget will start to flow.

Podcast: Driving Awareness & Engagement with Social

Author & Blogger, John Cass

John Cass

David Armano

David Armano

One of the things I love about my job is that I get a chance to meet and interview tons of interesting people. Some are execs at big companies? Others are authors of thought provoking books. And some are just plain smart individuals who are teaching companies how to embrace the power of social networking and online communities with an eye toward improving customer service, product innovation and tradional sales and marketing efforts.

Last week, I had yet another opportunity to interview a couple of the aforementioned individuals. The two gentlemen I speak of are none other than David Armano, a senior partner at the Dachis Group, well-known blogger and former VP of interactive agency, Critical Mass and John Cass, author of Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging, blogger and former community manager at Forrester Research. Our topic was that of tapping into “social” to drive awareness and engagement.”

As usual, David helped me think outside the box by sending me a blog post he had written back in 2007 titled The Marketing Spiral.

Armano's Marketing Spiral

Armano's Marketing Spiral

So with that as a backdrop, here are some of the questions I asked during our podcast:

  • Do you have best practices to recommend in terms of driving awareness and engagment using social?
  • Do you have examples of companies who do it right? Do it wrong?
  • How do you create excitement for a product that doesn’t seem exciting (you know, like toothpaste—and you know that’s a trick question)
  • What are your predictions for social marketing as it relates specifically to Engagement and Awareness?

To download this podcast, right-mouse click here.

  • Do you have best practices to recommend?
  • Do you have examples of companies who do it right? Do it wrong?
  • How do you create excitement for a product that doesn’t seem exciting (you know, like toothpaste—and you know that’s a trick question)
  • What are your predictions for social marketing as it relates specifically to Engagement and Awareness?

Live Notes from TEDx Boston

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a unique event called TEDx Boston.  If you’ve heard of thesean_danielle_tedx original TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment and Design), this is a variation on that theme. Essentially it’s an independently organized version with a focus on local talent.

Having never attended a TED event, I know about the content only through the numerous videos I’ve watched from the event. From what I can imagine, however, this inaugural version in Boston, MA probably felt pretty similar (minus the celebrity sitings). With that as a backdrop, below are some high level notes and pictures I took at the event. If you have additional thoughts or questions, feel free to leave ’em in the comments section below.

Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a giant shout out to Sean Belka and Danielle Dublin of Fidelity Investments for organizing the event. Let’s just say that they did an amazing job with both the logisitics, the speaking talent, and the quality of the attendees. Hopefully this public display of affection will be enough to get me on the list for next year’s event.

David Edwards, Culture Lab, Catalyzing Innovation through ArtScience

David is a fascinating character — one whose mind obviously never shuts off. He talked a bit about the art of innovation. Highlights from his talk:

  • We are very curious when the page is blank (so we learn)
  • One of the things that David created was “inhaled chocolate” called “WHIFF” (more on this at the end of the post)
  • Ideation funnel: Conceive, Translate & Realize
  • Spend a lot of time focused on art and not-for-profit projects
  • Have a shop that gives public access to experiments that didn’t work
  • Changing cultures makes you pay attention
  • – making a bet on Boston school kids

Patricia Maes (head of MIT Media Lab)

In her video below (a must watch), Patrica or “Pattie” Maes shows off an amazing new device that combines camera, projector and mirror with banded colors on your fingers. Allows users to do real time research, take pictures, project anywhere, call, and create personal tag clouds for people. Key here is REAL TIME INTERACTION WITH OBJECTS AND INFORMATION

Alexa Scordato – Reverse Mentorship

alexa_tedxIt was a proud momen for me to see Alexa up on stage. I don’t mean that in a “Father Knows Best” kind of way but rather it was a pleasure seeing such a poised, smart, woman up on stage in such a public venue. I had the pleasure of hiring Alexa at my old company, Mzinga in a fairly public way (link to CS Monitor article).

Based on her year plus experience at Mzinga working as a social mediast and assistant to CEO/founder, Barry Libert, Alexa learned a thing or two about reverse mentorship. To kick things off, she started with one of Barry’s favorite quotes:

Easier to change the people than to change the people.

Alexa also stressed the importance of Millennials in the future workforce — something I think many companies still aren’t paying enough attention to (read more about the coming Age Wave if you need a little convincing) LINK

Ryan Chin – PhD Candidate at MIT Media Lab, Smart Cities Group
This was perhaps one of the most thought provoking sessions as it demonstrated some true outside the box thinking.foldablebike_tedxFor one, Ryan and his team are rebuilding cars, scooters and bikes from the ground up — not just making minor incremenatl improvements to the existing product. The focus of Ryan’s talk was on on foldable, stackable cars and how they might help with a more holistic plan to revolutionize the “last mile” of public transportation. A few highlights:

  • Most existing automobiles take up 200 square feet of space and spend 80% of their time parked
  • No surprise here but most cars are still petroleum-based and major polluters — this is important because 50% of world’s population lives in cities (and growing)
  • Transoportaion and building operations typically account for at least 60% of urban energy use — 40% of gas is wasted circling looking for parking during peak times [AMAZING!]
  • Public transportation helps solve some of these problems but “first mile/last mile” issue (or need to carry something) still exists
  • “Sharable” cars/bikes have started to solve these problems (like Zipcar)

MIT is focusing on foldable “Roboscooter,” “Car” and “GreenWheel” electric bicycle. On a nice day, you could ride an electric bicycle to the grocery store and then take a car home. Each vehicle starts with “recreating the wheel.” Vehicles rely on “in-wheel” motors which allows for less weight and better foldability.

One of the trickiest issues to solve is the economics of mobility (avoiding bottle necks for drop off, pick up, parking, etc. Trying to solve through appropriate economics i.e. expensive to drop off in places where many people want to park/drop off.

With bike – can recharge motor by: 1) plugging in, 2) pedaling, or 3) going downhill

Chris Middleton – Fidelity Future Stage (Boston Latin)

Chris Middleton is part of a program called Future Stage. According to the site, Future Stage “prepares students for future stages in life through a unique music and theater education program — enabling them to learn firsthand from renowned actors, directors and musician.” If Chris is any indication of the success of this program, Future Stage has hit a home run because Chris possessed an unbelievable voice, uncanny knack for song writing and great poise in front of a large audience. Pay attention to him because he’s going places.

Hugo Van Vuuren: Following our Passion – Lighting London < Lighting Africa

Hugo’s demonstration showed that sometimes the best solutions to big problems are the easiest ones. A few highlights from his talk about bringing light/electricity to many of the developing areas of Africa:

  • Africa has a distribution problem. It should be capable of providing everything it needs.
  • The team that was working on solving this problem realized that they could collect enough energy from dirt based on the act of biodegradation (more moisture is better). To that end, they created a battery using energy from a bag full of dirt. [Yup, a bag of dirt]
  • They key to this proram succeeding was going grass roots – that way if the government goes caput, the technology continues on.
  • In order to do this, they needed to empower people locally – this helps alleviate some of the issues of distribution
  • Massive opportunity in Africa – 900 million people, many with a disposable income

[started to run out of steam a little here…]

George Whitesides – Diagnostics for All

  • Medical care — particularly diagnostic — is much too expensive. Is there a way to make it cheaper?
  • One solution is to use paper vs. a needle. Use urine vs. blood. = less expensive and less dangerous (no risk of pricking someone with an infected needle)
  • Medical worker of the future – unemployed 18 year old with a back pack full of medical test kits and an AK 47

Tom Hadfield – Le Whiff

Tom Hadfield Whiffing chocolate

Tom Hadfield "Whiffing" chocolate

  • Over the centuries, we’ve eaten smaller and smaller quantities at shorter and more frequent intervals
  • With a mix of culinary art and aerosol science, they are able to deliver the particles to the mouth without getting it into the lungs (chocolate without the calories).
  • Will be available for mainstream consumption later this year.
  • Even cooler – we got to “whiff” – first mass whiffing ever

Weekly Social Marketing Links: August 11, 2009

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. I’ve been a little behind in my updates recently so you’re getting a few weeks worth in one fell swoop.

Links are below:

Beth Lopez (Marketing)
I enjoyed reading the article, Desperately Seeking Personal Brand, which talks about how you can tell if a social marketing “expert” is really a true guru or pretender.

Marketers Like Twitter More Than Consumers Do
Interesting stats between the different views of marketers and consumers re: Twitter. While marketers see Twitter as a platform that is here to stay, consumers either don’t have an opinion or think it’s somewhat useful or dead. Both marketers and consumers feel it’s not a good platform for advertising or promoting products, which is interesting considering we get a lot of questions about using Twitter for just this purpose.

I do agree with the article that Twitter can be useful for awareness efforts, but I don’t think that by promoting your business you will generate leads or new business from Twitter. Twitter is about relationships. It’s about connecting with people that you find interesting. It’s about people…not about businesses. And if consumers don’t know or don’t care about Twitter, then it begs the question – Are marketers wasting time and energy in trying to figure out how to use it to propel their business?

DP Rabalais (Marketing)
In doing competitive intelligence this week I cam across an interesting story about Passenger and how they’re helping Mercedes Benz tap into 20-somethings (some current, but mostly future customers) help shape their future product offerings. Definitely worth the read if you get a chance.

Fortune 100 CEOs & Companies: Social Media Use & Statistics

Good article on how CEO’s at top companies use social media, and also how companies are using tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I liked this post by blogger, Mack Collier titled Why Many Marketers Struggle with Social Media because it does a good job of succinctly calling out where traditional marketing and advertising is relevant vs. where SM is beneficial to companies. My favorite quote:

If you’re Burger King and you’re looking to influence whether I go there or not, use plain old marketing. It’s just fine. It’s the right tool for the job. So is advertising. You don’t HAVE to use social media for that.

But, if you’re Burger King and you want to understand me, to get what’s really going on inside my head, and know what we have in common, then THAT is where social media can be useful. Talk to me. Get to know me. Ask me about me and the things that aren’t about you.

Doug Wick (BizDev)
The danger of being an innovative start-up that is a little resource-challenged is that your innovations can be easily imitated. Facebook has been slowly learning from Twitter and incorporating their features while Twitter struggles with problems like infrastructure that Facebook solved long ago. This article does a nice job of showing where the endgame for Twitter might be, now that Facebook has acquired another sophisticated Twitter-imitator, Friendfeed.

My article this week is Virtual Worlds are Getting a Second Life. Some interesting stats about the rebounding explosive growth of virtual worlds (especially among youngsters), and how they have been faster to develop revenue models than their 2-dimensional social counterparts like Facebook and Twitter. I would guess that is related to the fact that Facebook and Twitter ultimately deliver stickiness through the exchange of content (an activity that is complementary to our real lives), where 3D simulations can expand the possibilities for other social behaviors – such as commerce – more naturally since they do not complement, but instead emulate, our own reality.

Jay MacIntosh (BizDev)
Women are more relational and nurturing while men are more transactional…at least that’s the theory from a study by RapLeaf. I’ve always been fascinated by how women and men think and behave differently. To see it in action, pay attention to the dynamics the next time you’re in a group setting (children or adults). You’ll likely see female energy more focused on understanding others and connecting with them by validating their experiences and feelings. On the other hand, male energy is usually more focused on being understood by others especially in terms of what we know and our past success. How do these differences show up in social media environments? Though I don’t have the data to support this…yet, I’ll bet women use “friending” features more than men, while men participate more in things like reputation management. Anyhow, something to consider when talking strategy with clients.

Bill Fanning (BizDev)

Bill’s been out doing some major sales stuff but time to get him back on the “article” wagon. 😉

Don Sedota (Product)
This is a good list from Jay Baer on 11 Timely Social Media Takeaways. It’s basically a short-list of 11 recent social initiatives or planned initiatives by companies/brands and a key takeaway from each. My favorite is the one on Lane Bryant and their recent announcement of a “Plus-Sized Community” for women. It’s a great example of striking an emotional chord with the customer for a brand that on the surface may not seem to be a great social candidate. Lane Bryant is also hoping to leverage member questions/comments for the purposes of product innovation which seems to be an increasing trend.

In the spirit of interesting stats and prospective customers potentially finding Facebook Connect as an attractive demand generator, here’s a post from Brian Solis on up to date Facebook stats . Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention the source of his information but he says that the statistics will be used in his next book so take that for what it’s worth. Anyways, some highlights that could be used to sell prospective clients on the attractiveness of Facebook/FBC as a demand generation source include:

  • More than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
  • The average social graph equates to 120 friends
  • 120 million users log onto Facebook at least once a day
  • 15,000 and counting websites, devices and applications have implemented Facebook Connect since its launch in December 2008

I found this article pretty interesting, Please Don’t Follow or Friend Me, posted by Steven Hodson on the Shooting at Bubbles blog. It talks about how the concept of “friends” is different across different social networks and whether being someone’s “friend” on one social network is an obligation to accept that person as a “friend” on all social networks. A good quote from the article that sums it up (and I tend to agree) is “The richness and value of the Friending Economy comes from the quality and closeness of your ‘friends’, not the number of them. By blindly reciprocating we dilute the value of our ‘Friending’ not just for ourselves but also for those people who do decide to follow or friend us.”

There’s also an excerpt to another thoughtful post in the article’s sidebar (near the end) called “What Have You Done for Me Lately – Keeping Score in Social Media” which is similar in spirit but speaks to the viewpoint that just because you’ve followed someone, re-tweeted their comment, linked to their blog post, etc. doesn’t mean you should hold them in debt until they return the favor. The payback will be eventual and long-term, and in the end everything evens out.

Audio from 1st Social Marketing Help Desk Webinar

A few weeks ago, we launched a new flavor of webinars called the Social Marketing Help Desk. You can read more of the details here in colleague, Doug Wick’s excellent post. The goal is to focus more on the questions vs. the content since we always get way more questions than we can answer during some of the recent thought leader webinars we’ve done like:

Our special guest for this webinar was Adam Cohen, a good friend and a partner at agency, Rosetta.

If you missed the first webinar, we’ve provided the audio portion as a podcast below. If you’d like any of the slides (more just links to our bios/blogs/etc., let me know and I’ll e-mail it to you. My address is aaron DOT strout AT powered DOT com.