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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

The New Year’s period is always chocked-full with ‘top ten’ lists and countdowns, and unfortunately, too many blog posts and articles that come out in this period are pretty much news/information you can’t really do anything with.  Inward reflection, but not actionable; sentimental, but not really something you can leverage moving forward.

I’ve been thinking for the last few weeks that for the New Year I wanted to do a post that is action-oriented and that will help you be a better B2B marketer in 2010. 

I also believe strongly in being a catalyst for sharing ideas — which is why I started this blog — and so I thought one of the most-actionable posts I could do would be to point you to resources where you can learn from the best and brightest in the B2B marketing community throughout 2010.  The gift that keeps on giving …

    

What are my criteria for the luminaries I’ve included in this list?

I didn’t start out with a formal set of criteria, but here’s what’s emerged:

  • First, these are all people that prolifically share their insights — cross-medium.  They Tweet, they blog, they speak, they write books, they consult, etc.  And they are generous in this regard.
  • Second, their expertise centers around new strategy, innovation and technology for marketing — particularly B2B marketing — and they are truly advancing the body of Marketing 2.0 knowledge … advancements that will help us cure the ad-centric, interruptive, paternalistic Mad Men hangover that has plagued marketing for decades.
  • Third, these are people whose insights I actually follow.  There is no one on this list whose insight I would not personally recommend and whose own books, blogs posts, Tweets, etc. I do not personally read.
  • Fourth, and in all honesty, all of these folks — except for one — are on Twitter.  Because if you’re not, and you have any insight into Marketing 2.0 … well, get with it!
  • Fifth, I did not look at anyone else’s ‘top influencer’ list in putting my own list together, nor have I feigned reverence to others’ ideas of who is a thought leader … and who is not.

Disclaimer 1: This list may or may not be exhaustive, and it may or may not include people you think should be included on this list.  So don’t be offended if I’ve left someone off.  I probably have, and so I’ll endeavor to add additional people in the comments area below.  And you should too!

    

Who made the list? 

So who has new and innovative insights for ‘propelling’ B2B brands going into 2010?

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Marketing via word-of-mouth, social networks and brand communities is not new.  Effectively leveraging social media technologies both in support of these marketing initiatives and as part of an ongoing, two-way customer-brand dialogue, however, has emerged as a burning issue on marketers’ minds. 

Social media technologies, themselves, certainly have their own learning curve, but the greater learning curve for marketers is contending with the fundamental power shift in the customer-brand relationship that social media technologies are enabling.  Thus, recognizing and responding to the new reality that individual customers and brand communities increasingly define (and have part ownership over) brands requires a fundamental shift in our approach to bringing products and services to market.

IBM Press

Source: IBM Press

IBM executive Sandy Carter is a forward thinker on this issue whose experiences and industry dialogue eventually led her to realize that marketers need a new set of tools if they are going to better contend with this power shift.  Her new book, The New Language of Marketing 2.O:  How to Use ANGELS to  Energize Your Market, delivers just such a ‘tool box’ for marketers — presenting a normative framework, together with numerous case examples from companies in a variety of B2B and B2C industries, to help marketers think through these challenges inside their own businesses.

Few are as well-equipped to tackle such a subject as Carter, who has had an impressive career in the enterprise software arena and who currently is IBM’s Vice President, SOA and WebSphere Marketing, Strategy and Channels.  In this role, she is responsible for IBM’s cross-company, worldwide SOA initiatives and is in charge of one of IBM’s premier brands, IBM WebSphere, which under her leadership has shown strong growth.  She also led her global marketing organization to garner 14 industry marketing awards in 2007.

What is Marketing 2.0, and what are Carter’s thoughts on how marketers can gain leverage in the dizzying world of social-media technologies to energize their marketing programs?

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The last year has brought a groundswell of mainstream marketers integrating social media considerations into their marketing-communication planning.  My last post talked about the potential for achieving marketing ‘co-creation’ as one outcome and as a way to improve marketing personalization.  In fact, venues such as blogs and Twitter have become indispensable tools for PR functionaries, and forums such as Facebook and LinkedIn are presenting new opportunities for ‘micro-targeting’ of advertisements and offers based on social graphs.

The next frontier is leveraging social media to innovate the process of new product/service development (NPSD) — supporting co-creation in this arena.  The fact that social media is interactive, honest, transparent and potentially highly targeted presents tremendous opportunities for garnering incredibly-valuable insights into customers’ wants and needs.  In fact, at a time when marketing researchers are questioning structured surveys and they are pushing for more observational, behavioral and ethnographic research, social media represents a way to evolve the process of insight-based marketing to the next level.

“In the age of social media, I would argue that this is becoming easier, not harder,” commented Liz Moise with Boston-area marketing firm BluePoint Venture Marketing in a recent post on the firm’s blog.  “… [Y]ou can get online and find your customers.  You can listen in on their conversations, or grievances. You can speak to them directly.”

Social media is also an important tool to help brand-companies respond to the fundamental power shift in NPSD — from ‘brand push’ to ‘customer pull.’  Customers are at the center of their universe more than ever.  Brand-companies must contend with a highly-sophisticated customer with many options and choices in the marketplace.  Understanding the nuances of a customer’s needs is critical — especially when it comes to the aspects of a customer’s existence you are not servicing today.

“As a business, you ought to be watching how people — especially your customers — are expressing themselves outside the context of being your customers,” commented social media marketing guru Amber Naslund on her Altitude Branding blog earlier this month.  “They’re multi-dimensional people … .”

But what is the best way to approach social media as a tool for marketing research and for NPSD innovation?  What is a framework we can use to better match social-media platforms with our objectives for garnering customer insights?

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I wrote in a recent piece on this blog, titled “Marketing Personalization 2.0,” about how companies are increasingly applying techniques from mass customization, using ideas such as personas and embracing what Patricia Seybold refers to as ‘customer scenarios’ to improve personalization of marketing efforts.  I also cited a range of technologies that can manage execution of this type of marketing.

Yet, even as this evolution represents an advancement over Marketing Personalization 1.0 (i.e., demographic and lifestyle channel targeting), there is much to be desired.  We are still at a point as marketers where we are guessing at personalization.  It is still possible to make costly mistakes, particularly if we misjudge customer persona or the channels for interacting with a given persona.

Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)

Source: Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)

“If you think backward from the audience you’re trying to reach and the channels and methods you’ve used to try to reach them, it all argues for taking a much more integrated approach to the work of marketing and communications,” argues Jon Iwata, SVP of Marketing and Communications for IBM, quoted in a recent piece by Paul Dunay on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.

Fortunately, waiting in the wings is a new wave of technologies that promise to rapidly leapfrog the current state and to take us to what I believe is a very tenable basis for structuring and ‘propelling’ forward to Marketing Personalization 3.0 (see diagram).  These technologies, which include semantic analysis and social graphs, offer the potential not only to get closer to customers than ever before, but they also approach enabling what I believe is true ‘co-creation‘ of the marketing experience.

What do I mean by this?  Customers, who increasingly have power and leverage over brand-companies, will not only specify what they want but will also shape the boundaries and expectations of their communication with, recommendations regarding and the ultimate delivery of products and services from vendors. 

The entire experience will become a partnership, but why is this important?

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Over the last month or two, I’ve had numerous conversations with marketers in traditional (i.e., non-technology) industries about their Web-based and social-media strategies.  In fact, I talked about the challenges of so-called ‘buzz campaigns’ and Web micro sites in a recent blog post on Internet marketing sustainability.  Let me sum up the challenge that has surfaced in all of those conversations:  Many marketing leaders are excited about new marketing communication channels; however, they are approaching these new mediums with the same advertising/one-way-communication mindset that seems to pervade too much of the marketing communication world.

That’s why I was impressed with a very engaging Opinion-page piece by Silicon Valley marketing executive Tom Hayes and ABC News “Silicon Insider” columnist Michael S. Malone, titled “Marketing in the World of the Web,” in The Wall Street Journal this past Saturday.  Hayes and Malone argue that marketing participation on the modern Web and in social media platforms requires a new marketing mindset.  “A very different set of tools, concepts and practices is needed,” noted the two.  “Call it Marketing 3.0.”

What do they mean by this?

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I was listening to a presentation by marketing leaders at a major consumer packaged goods (CPG) company this past week, and it made me think about the issue of the sustainability of our marketing campaigns and investments online.  One of these marketers was talking about how her team, as part of a major brand marketing initiative, had launched a Web micro site.  The site was well-produced, but it was little more than an online brochure (with some value-added content, to be fair).  It was not bad, but my immediate thought was about the half life of such a site.  Sure it would help drive traffic and subsequent exposure and attention for a period of time, but it was static, with nothing special to keep people coming back once they had gotten tired of it.  It wasn’t serving as an ongoing catalyst for the customer relationship and for longer-term brand community.

I had a similar experience listening to another presentation by marketers at a different CPG about a month ago.  They were talking about how a key piece of a new product launch was a ‘buzz campaign.’  It made me wince, but — yes — they were talking about paying people to go online and create buzz for their new product.  The ethics of such a campaign aside, it also made me think about sustainability.  As long as these ‘buzz agents’ were being paid to talk about the product, there would undoubtedly be dialogue in chat rooms and on blogs, but once the campaign was over, how long would this continue, and what would be the impact on the brand’s reputation if people found out about the paid buzz agents?

Dr. Justine Foo, a scientist and marketing researcher, perhaps said it best in a post, titled “New metrics for sustainable marketing,” on her Brains on Fire blog earlier this year:  “Our current market is driven by short-term forces: get next quarter’s numbers up, what it will cost me now, # of mass impressions, etc. As a result, we create campaigns, not movements … .”

Where is the sustainability in all of this?

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I was doing some research over the past week related to best practices for shaping customer-brand experience, and it made me think more about the state of marketing personalization.  The whole point of marketing is to build a relationship between a customer and a brand through which both the customer and the company behind that brand derive benefit.  It is a direct, one-on-one and mutual commercial exchange; for the customer, the brand is experienced at a very personal level.  In fact, we may aggregate data about brand perceptions for larger populations, but the basic unit of measuring brand experience remains something that occurs at the individual level.

That’s why “[e]xperiences need to be designed for individuals,” advocates Bruce Temkin, Forrester Research‘s principal analyst for customer experience in his blog-published book, The 6 Laws of Customer Experience.  “While it may not be possible to individualize every interaction, focusing on narrow segments (like Personas) is critical.”

Yet so much of marketing practice and technology infrastructure seems to focus on de-personalizing and scaling marketing communication to as large of an un-segmented population as possible – a trend decried by marketing pundit Seth Godin.  We extract the individual and disregard his/her personal experience.  We engage in shotgun marketing.  Why is that?

I’m not saying that as a marketer we shouldn’t attempt to reach a scale audience.  Quite the opposite, we should absolutely shoot for scale, but I’d argue it’s how we build that scale that is critical.  We need to do it one customer at time … which is the point of personalization.

How can we make both scale and personalization co-exist as hallmarks of every marketing program?

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I am impressed with the insights of Valeria Maltoni in a piece published last week on her Conversation Agent blog

She has identified an emerging group of online platforms which she believes represent a uniquely-new breed of ‘organic’ marketing platforms.  (Hint:  This is not an article about eco-friendly marketing.)

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The challenge of any marketing strategy is that as marketing leaders we always face the great ‘leap of faith‘ that you can’t get over.  We try to design marketing programs that coincide with right place, right time and right target audience.  And we have binders full of statistical, demographic and ethnographic insights that we use to justify this triangulation.  But it all remains a guess.

Further, our target customers don’t choose to participate in a given media or social-networking channel saying, “I hope my favorite brand will market to me there!”  They choose these channels out of their own personal and professional interests and needs. 

Finally, their choice of channel constantly changes over time.

Thus the underlying issue is that our brand communities are mobile – not just in the phone sense but in the holistic sense.  And it’s our challenge and opportunity as marketing leaders to figure out how to keep up with them.  Yet many of our legacy approaches, processes and platforms do not enable this; instead, they focus more on the medium, rather than the brand community relevance.

What can we do to help solve the ‘mobility’ problem and better center our marketing on brand communities?

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What does the aggregate US and global economic crisis really mean for digital and new-media initiatives by marketers?  The Wednesday, October 15, edition of The Wall Street Journal carried an hysteria-driven article by reporter Emily Steel, who commented, “Financial woes likely will derail the growth of a slew of advertising technologies that until recently were being hailed as the next big thing.” 

Is this really true?

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