Notes from the Desert: 5 Key Take Aways from ANA’s Masters of Marketing

Prior to last week, I had not had the pleasure of attending the ANA’s Masters of Marketing Conference. That was a mistake as this is obviously where the creme de la creme of the marketing/advertising world comes together for four and a half days to learn, network and golf (not necessarily in that order). In case there is any doubt, this is the list of speakers from the event:

  • Mark Addicks, SVP, CMO, General Mills
  • Frances Allen, Brand Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Brands
  • Cynthia Ashworth, VP, Consumer Engagement, Dunkin’ Brands
  • Diane Brink, VP, Marketing, Global Technology Services, IBM
  • Brad Casper, President and CEO, The Dial Corporation
  • Joan Chow, EVP and CMO, ConAgra
  • Andy England, CMO, MillerCoors
  • Neil Golden, SVP, CMO, McDonald’s USA
  • Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO and VP, Eastman Kodak
  • David Jones, Global CEO, Euro RSCG Worldwide
  • Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy
  • Michael Keller, Chief Brand Officer, Dairy Queen
  • Richard McDonald, SVP, Global Marketing, Fender Musical Instrument Corp.
  • Stephen Quinn, EVP and CMO, Walmart U.S., Walmart Stores
  • Eric Ryan, Chief Brand Architect, Co-Founder, Method
  • Jonah Bloom, Editor, AdAge

Over the course of the three days that I was there, I had the opportunity to find out what was on the minds of the chief marketing officers (CMOs) and CEOs at some of the world’s preeminent brands. I captured these learnings via video (using my newly purchased Zi8), Twitter and hand written notes. Obviously it’s not easy distilling all the pearls of wisdom from such a smart group of people into one readable blog post so I’m breaking these learnings into three sections:

  • Ten Twenty of my favorite quotes as captured via my (and others’) Twitter streams
  • Video and audio interviews with several industry luminaries.
  • My five key take aways from the event

There were literally hundreds of tweets from the event so picking just ten is not an easy task. Fortunately, you can look back in the stream yourself at all the updates that were tagged with the #ANAMarketers hashtag from the event. I also went in and "favorited" about 50 of the best tweets so you can see that longer list of good tweets here. If there are tweets that you liked that I missed, feel free to add them in the comments below:

  1. dwied 2.5% of shoppers make up 80% of most CPG volume. Note the 80/20 rule… no longer rules. #anamarketers (quoting Jeff Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak)
  2. irinaskaya RT @ANAmarketers: DQ has built an online consumer following with its Blizzard Fan Club, Facebook page, Twitter & DQ blog #ANAmarketers
  3. Hillary_Ashton @Fidelity CMO James Speros: set aside a portion of budget to experiment: [i say: this is just so key to innovation] #ANA #ANAmarketers
  4. AaronStrout @BestBuyCMO says that employees are the differentiator. Products/prices are relatively equal. It’s why they use ’em in ads. #ANAMarketers
  5. nancyleibig #Fidelity’s Speros-economic tsunami has fundamentally changed way that mktrs need to execute-fast & insight-driven #anamarketers
  6. evantlevy Forget the 4 or 5Ps. I like this better: RT @melindabluett Kodak 4E’s: Engage. Educate. Excite. Evangelize. #anamarketers
  7. nancyleibig 1/2 of #kodak biggest products are new in the last 2 yrs. All are top 3 in their category. Biggest business turnaround. #anamarketers
  8. AaronStrout Love it. Eric Ryan @MethodTweets jokes that the way businesses can manage "Twitter Effect" ala movie Bruno is "to make a better product" #ANAMarketers
  9. dwied Competitors spent $15MM on toilet paper. Method spends $5.1MM on advertising. Brilliant assessment. #anamarketers
  10. AaronStrout Schwab is sitting w/ SEC to figure out how to ease themselves into social media (still great hesitancy based on regulation) #ANAMarketers
  11. MarthaAYoung David Jones, CEO of Havas Worldwide: The new world of marketing is open source. #ANAmarketers
  12. MWellsatForbes #ANAMarketers Miss the ANA conference? Read about today’s discussions here on Forbes.com. http://tiny.cc/Evr1Q
  13. maadman123 Wow! From Google: 5 exabytes is the amount of ALL info we produced from pre-history to 2003. Today, we produce this in 2 days. #ANAmarketers
  14. Hillary_Ashton Google CEO Eric Schmidt realtime feedback / openness creates a constant battle AND an opportunity #ANAmarketers
  15. prnaylor @JonahBloom from advertising age says crowdsourcing displays that brands are owned by consumers. #anamarketers
  16. Hillary_Ashton @JonahBloom, Advertising Age editor says trend in marketing – radical transparency see social media #anamarketers
  17. AaronStrout Andy England, CMO of Miller Coors talks RE what sells beer. It’s not sex but 1) segmentation 2) positioning 3) Execution #ANAMarketers
  18. melindabluett RT @bwiener: Mc’D’s guiding principle "Market what we serve rather than execute what we market".. authenticity is big theme #ANAmarketers
  19. bwiener Verizon CMO "Brand marketing needs to reflect fundamental truth about brand"….can’t hide behind advertising anymore #ANAmarketers
  20. AaronStrout Walmart CMO’s parting thought: Marketer’s job is to get our company focused on creating true value for customers. #ana

Now for the multimedia portion of this blog post. Below you’ll find interviews with AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, Kodak CMO, Jeff Hayzlett and Method co-founder, Eric Ryan. VIDEO Tim Armstrong, CEO and chairman, AOL

VIDEO Jeff
Hayzlett, CMO, Eastman Kodak Company

SIDEBAR: As promised, I mentioned to a few of the folks following my tweets from the event that I would share the Zi8/video tips that Jeff offered up prior to our interview. He uses his Zi8 quite a bit so I trust that he knows of which he speaks.

  • Get an external mic (one of the best features of this camera). He said that you can get a wired boom mic, a wired lav or wireless lav. I think I’m leaning toward the last as it will be the least intrusive.
  • If you do get a wired mic, that you get one with batteries so that it doesn’t drain the rechargeable battery on the camera.
  • Definitely use a tripod if shooting interviews. Although the Zi8 has an anti-jitter feature, it can pick up hand/arm movement, especially if the interview is longer than just a few minutes.

AUDIO Eric Ryan, co-founder and chief brand architect, Method (from a guest interview I did with Eric on Susan Bratton’s Dishy Mix podcast show) Last but not least, here are my five key take aways:

  1. While the social web appears to be gaining in importance, it’s still not one of the top three things that most CMOs are focusing on.
  2. In spite of many pundits (myself included) declaring that the world of advertising is dying a slow but painful death, the heads of marketing from the companies represented at this conference all show no signs of slowing down their ad spending. In fact, many mentioned that they plan to spend more next year.
  3. Segmentation and a "back to basics" approach to marketing ruled the day. I heard several CMO’s mention that their advice to other companies was to "simplify" and and "focus on what they did well."
  4. I heard a lot less about measurement and ROI than I anticipated.
  5. The speakers that did mention "social" spent more time focused things like Youtube videos, Facebook Fan pages and more campaign-oriented approaches than longer lasting, programmatic approaches (a mistake in this marketer’s humble opinion).
All in all, I was encouraged by the positive tone of the conference and heartened that at least some of the marketers at the event (Kodak, BestBuy, Fidelity, Method, Dunkin Brands and Schwab to name a few), have "social" on their radar. I do predict that next year’s conference will be much more "socially aware" and fortunately I plan to be there — hopefully with Powered Inc. as a sponsor.
 
Have you been to a "marketing" conference recently? If so, what were some of your key learnings? 

 

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Who Started the Selfishness?

The recently published FEED study – The Digital Brand Experience Report (by Razorfish) presents an analysis of the brand experience within the digital world and focuses much of its attention on social media. One of the central findings is that consumers "friend" brands on social networks because of deals and customer service, mostly egocentric motivations:

"Dell has earned kudos from social media mavens for generating $3 million in sales from its Dell Outlet through Twitter. Starbucks has soared to the top of Facebook brand pages, with nearly 4 million friends, by offering fans coupons for free pastries and ice cream. And Whole Foods tops Twitter with 1.5 million followers by broadcasting weekly specials and shopping tips."

 While it’s difficult to disagree with these data, I think there is more to learn behind the numbers. It would be easy for a marketer to point at these examples and shrug, saying "well, consumers are selfish, I guess. This is the only way to get them to have a relationship with us." Enter a deluge of ads, giveaways, and coupons into social media.

But are marketers responding to consumers, or is it the other way around? Going deeper – if we asked consumers if marketers are selfish, what would they say?

The great thing about digital and social media is that it offers new tools that enable a brand to be less selfish, where more traditional means of marketing have the selfishness baked in and as a marketer you have no choice. But make no mistake, just because you CAN be less selfish within social media doesn’t mean you will be.

Measuring yourself on revenue driven, fans, or followers alone (which incidentally, I don’t believe Dell, Whole Foods, or Starbucks are doing in reality) is an indicator that you might be focusing on the wrong thing and leaving much of potential that social media has to change the nature of your relationship with consumers on the table. These metrics are intrinsically selfish, whereas other metrics like like net promoter score, brand affinity, and plain-old customer satisfaction are a little more consumer-centric.

Beyond these measures, it’s important to focus on how your marketing trains consumers. What is the nature of your relationship?

Is your relationship the same transactional one that TV spots and Flash-laden websites got you?

Did you get all those fans because you gave them free stuff and novelties?

Or is it something different, where that commercial relationship has become more personal? Did you instead get those fans because of what you represent, and because those fans recruited themselves and others?

selfishsayingEverything you do to your current and potential customers helps them understand how you want to be treated by them, and what to expect from you in the future. If they are treating you selfishly, it’s probably because you (or someone like you – a competitor?) did it first. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

 

Photo via the Melle Music blog

Social media success: 3 absolute musts

This post originally ran on IMediaConnection’s "Connecting the Marketing Community" section on 10/16/09.

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For any business that’s thinking about delving into the world of social, there are a few key words that you’ll likely see pop up again and again, namely "transparency, authenticity, and credibility." While these terms aren’t new and their relevance is certainly not limited to the world of social, understanding how they apply and their true value is crucial in the success of your efforts. In this article, I’ll discuss why each is important and then provide some examples of companies that are doing a good job employing them.

Transparency
Getting comfortable with the level of openness — both good, and bad — that the social web brings to bear can be a difficult thing for companies at first. For many, it goes against the grain of "controlling the message" and "maintaining control of the brand." Being transparent means owning up to mistakes publicly, responding to negative or unflattering comments, and, most importantly, providing a level of access to your culture that was previously not possible. Understand that, contrary to popular belief, this does not mean completely opening up your corporate kimono to the public but rather adding a layer of "human" to your brand that may not have previously existed.

Authenticity
This is probably the most important of the three concepts — at least in this social marketer’s mind, mainly because it speaks to the level of trust a company wishes to elicit from customers. Authenticity is about creating good content that speaks to lifestyle vs. product, or essentially putting customers first (and really meaning it). It’s about standing behind guarantees and being sincere when apologizing. Authenticity is also about not using social channels to push your marketing, PR, or brand agenda down customers’ throats but rather engaging them in real dialog — good, bad, or indifferent.

Credibility
This is really a byproduct of demonstrating a level of transparency and authenticity and continually delivering on that promise. Most importantly, it governs to what degree you can engage with customers on the social web. For instance, diving head first into Twitter and holding a Twitter press conference a day after you’ve opened up your account probably isn’t going to fly. The same goes for launching a corporate blog and creating only one or two posts in the beginning to tout a new product. This doesn’t mean that a company has to wait six months to a year before deriving benefit from your social endeavors, but rather that it must establish a level of credibility before looking for the "quo" part of the quid pro quo.

Who is doing it right? 
Let’s start with Zappos, the online shoe store that recently hit $1 billion in annual sales (which was likely one of the things its acquirer, Amazon, found particularly attractive about the company). Transparency starts at the top with Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh. Not only is Tony the company’s lead voice on Twitter — his handle is @zappos — but Tony regularly speaks about corporate culture, best practices, training, and every other aspect of the business on a daily basis. I’ve actually seen him hand out his company’s 500 plus page training manual (which was written by the employees) at conferences, almost as if he’s daring competitors to try and be more transparent and open then Zappos. While a majority of businesses will never want to achieve this level of transparency, Hsieh and Zappos have backed up what they do in the public domain, with great results.

Moving onto authenticity, Best Buy has embraced it in a way that few have ever attempted. Best Buy put itself on the social map with the launch of its Blue Shirt Nation community — a place for Best Buy employees to come together to share ideas and best practices inside the corporate firewall. The success of this venture led to the company’s chief marketing officer, Barry Judge, not only signing up for Twitter and blog accounts but publicly discussing things like new ad campaigns, company layoffs, and the overall evolution of marketing within the company’s four walls. If you’re wondering why I’m using Judge and Best Buy as an example of "authenticity" versus "transparency," it’s because Judge has done a nice job at not opening the kimono too wide and thus exposing himself or the company to too much scrutiny. Judge has found that nice balance of establishing Best Buy as authentic and approachable without some of the risk that Hsieh has assumed with Zappos.

Last up, we have credibility. Certainly both Zappos and Best Buy have earned a sense of credibility in the field based on their behavior, but I’ll provide a third example of a company that embodies that trait and that is JetBlue. While this "darling" of the airline industry has done almost everything right over the past several years, it had a fairly major snafu about three years back when it stranded thousands of customers for hours on the tarmac at dozens of airports across the U.S. The public outcry from the millions of JetBlue customers that had come to love and trust the airline was well documented on the news and in the press. When former JetBlue CEO David Neelman posted an apology on YouTube (below) with the comments turned on, one of the reasons this tactic worked is because of JetBlue’s credibility in the social space and that it was known as a company that cared about its customers. It took a while for customers to forgive JetBlue, but eventually they did. And Neelman’s public apology was a major part of the healing process.

There are of course dozens of other examples of companies embracing transparency, authenticity, and credibility, but these three companies should provide some hope that the social web can be truly embraced with positive outcomes. And of course, not every company is going to be ready to fully commit to these concepts. But the more you can think about incorporating these into your social efforts, the greater chance of success you’ll have down the road.

What about you? Is your company (or other companies you work with) doing a good job at embracing transparency, authenticity and credibility?