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 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?
We’ve touched on this topic in the past, including a post on “Changing How You Think About Marketing to Your ‘Mobile’ Brand Community” and another on “Deploying Social Media for New Product/Service Development,” but I think Carter does a particularly good job of tying it all together in an integrated context; thus, we wanted to present her perspectives here.
So here is our Q&A with Carter on Marketing 2.0, ANGELS and her new book.
PB: How would you describe Marketing 2.0 (and its underlying drivers) to someone in 200 words or less?
Carter: Marketing 2.0 is adding social media tactics into your marketing plan for greater market understanding and demand generation. Marketing 1.0 was about using e-mail, and static Web pages to generate new demand and progression; for instance, leveraging your Web site to drive participants to an event. Marketing 2.0 takes the linkage to the next level. It is about using blogging to add another listening channel to your focus group strategy. It is about innovating new product ideas with Twitter or Wikis. It is about using innovative personalization through online chat or Jellyvision to form tighter relationships with your customers. Marketing 2.0 is using the new technology of search optimization, virtual environments, social networks and microblogs. To be most effective, Marketing 2.0 optimizes the mix of social media with traditional marketing methods.
You talk about your ANGELS marketing approach in the book. What does this acronym mean, and how can it help marketers better contend with the realities of Marketing 2.0?
Social media is still relatively new and we are experimenting with all the different outlets and mixes available. This is the fun part – we can actually be instrumental in shaping how best to use social media in any business. In the book, I try to help companies by introducing readers to an ANGELS approach that is really a framework for leveraging techniques and determining the right marketing mix.
- A nalyze and ensure strong market understanding
- N ail the relevant strategy and story
- G o to Market Plan
- E nergize the channel and community
- L eads and revenue
- S cream through technology
The book details the strategies at each step of this framework with a summary section on Putting It All Together.
Do you believe that knowing, understanding and connecting with your target customer is becoming more simple or more complex for marketers over time? And what role is technology playing in this evolution?
Marketing 2.0 is about engaging communities through conversations. In social media, these communities take the form of social networks and the communal groups that develop within them. But joining the conversation isn’t as simple as just jumping in. People are not going to engage with you if you are a passive ‘taker’ of the community. We have to listen, talk, listen again, assess and contribute value – becoming citizens of each respective community we wish to join. As such, the complexity of the market is at a unique place. We have a set of clients that are digital citizens. These digital citizens expect the use of technology to connect with them. But we still have a set of clients that are not comfortable with the digital world. As such, marketers have to segment how they communicate with that audience. For instance, I recently talked to a customer who no longer does e-mail. He will only read Twitter or texts! At the other end, I work with a CEO who also doesn’t like e-mail, but rather prefers in-person seminars. A great marketer needs to understand the clients’ digital preferences!
You discuss the strategy of ‘lightly branding’ in your book. Can you explain what this is and its importance in the current marketing environment?
Lightly branding is about using influence to drive your brand, not a heavy product push! Look what Unilever did with Dove in this space. They created a blog on “What is Real beauty?” Unilever realized that there was juxtaposition in the market. While other companies said they were supporting beauty, they only showed airbrushed, slim models. Dove wanted to truly connect with real women. They wanted to give women confidence in their own beauty and started doing so through a very successful set of forums and blogs, not on their products, but their stance for young girls and women on beauty. While the blogs have increased their sales, their focus is on their corporate values, not their products.
Lightly branding means that marketers know they no longer own their own brand. It implies that marketers must understand the new circle of influence in the Marketing 2.0 world and learn about the power of technology to reach some of those influencers.
Two core points you make in the book are the importance of breaking through the noise and of ‘screaming.’ What do you mean by the latter, and how can marketing organizations be more effective at screaming to break through the noise? What are the tools and technologies they should leverage in doing so?
Today we are overwhelmed with information. There are more text messages sent everyday than there are people in the world. If MySpace was a country, it would have the 11th largest population in the world. As such, in order to scream you must be a great marketer in the basics and more. You can’t forget the basics of having solid value propositions to target your client and show relevant value. That fundamental does not change. And won’t! But, you do have to have add into the marketing mix the right set of social media tactics. To be most effective, you must learn about technologies like Twitter, LinkedIn groups, Jellyvision, podcasting and more. For instance, Twitter has been used by Dell to sell their excess inventory, IBM is using blogs to strengthen our connection to the market, and Meijer, the supercenter pioneer with 185 stores in the Midwest, is using widgets to build customer loyalty and repeat purchases and it’s been a tremendous hit with moms who shop and prepare meals. I would highly recommend that all marketers update their use of technology.
You believe in the importance of leveraging influencer and word-of-mouth channels. As the size and scope of the social-media universe explodes, how can marketers remain focused in their leverage of influencer networks to efficiently meet their goals and objectives (without getting caught in the weeds)?
In the book, I recommend creating a wheel of influence. This wheel of influence is where you look at the world of who has the most powerful voice. For instance, now with all the new technology and social media, all marketers must look at the bloggers that influence their sphere. By way of example, Twitter, a micro blog site, recently influenced Johnson & Johnson to change their advertising based on what Tweets said about their latest Motrin ads.
My advice to marketers to not get caught in the weeds is to do the following:
> First, listen to the marketplace to gather valuable market intelligence about their brand and their competitors. This will allow companies to better understand the awareness of their current market position and to identify key thought leaders and ‘tippers’ in the critical communities.
> Second, leverage that information to shape the Marketing 2.0 strategy in order to:
- Engage with existing (or identify new) subject matter or topical experts to contribute to the online dialogue about your company/industry
- Create and maintain an ongoing presence and active voice in key market conversations
- Create and maintain ongoing relationships with key external bloggers that show a passion and depth of knowledge
You talk in your book about ‘serious gaming’ as an emerging marketing communication channel. What are the opportunities and challenges you believe marketers face when employing this channel?
Serious gaming is a phenomenal opportunity to assist companies in a number of areas like education, on-boarding, collaboration and marketing. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 63% of the US population now plays video games and this number is significantly higher in Asia. Today’s game players are acquiring the skills that companies increasingly value as the gaming generation enters the workforce. Using games to market has a very compelling value proposition. When well-implemented, a game can virally target a sweet spot demographic, where they live, in a medium they love and understand. The games can then be used to gather all kinds of information about the player, and even generate leads. For instance, IBM is using gaming for education and has its game Innov8 in thousands of universities. The biggest challenges are in understanding your goals and selecting the right gaming approach. In the book, I outline the top 5 lessons that I have learned in my gaming experiences to date.
You have some interesting observations about best practices for building marketing dashboards. What are your top few rules for building an effective marketing dashboard? How does this relate to your philosophy of managing marketing in a 2.0 world?
In the end, Marketing 2.0 comes down to effectiveness. Without the right results, none of it matters. In designing a marketing dashboard in the new world, there are a few key areas for focus.
- First, always link to your business strategy. It is really more than just a marketing dashboard. It is what binds marketing to the business and truly reflects the value of the function.
- Second, the dashboard needs to be updated for the new world. In the book, I recommend adding in some new metrics around innovation from listening, engagement from social networks, blogging and Wikis.
- Next, consumability is a key element. To be effective, a marketing system or dashboard must allow management to drill into supporting details in related reports, or conduct multidimensional analysis to determine why a metric is performing a certain way.
- Finally, it is a journey. It requires specific focus on data quality, systems to support campaign management and the movement of data from the Web to sales automation systems, establishing consistent processes for lead management and integrating business intelligence tools to monitor results and plan appropriate actions.
You introduce the concept of the ‘in-process’ metric as a way to better manage the hand-off and carry-through between marketing and sales in customer acquisition and management. Can you explain why this is so important?
A high performance marketing organization is one that ensures that marketing and sales are tightly connected. The premise is that it is not enough for the seller to say, I am responsible for an account. Marketing is not my job. And it is equally unproductive for marketing to say that they have completed their job because they helped create an ad or helped create a lead. So that means that sales and marketing linkage is equally important in your Marketing 2.0 plans.
As such, at IBM, we created something called in-process metrics. They show what happens ‘in-between’ a marketing action and the closing sales. It involves ownership of both marketing and sales to progress the leads between creating the lead and closing it. Whether it is a virtual summit or an in-person event, this ownership and joint teaming is crucial for success. Connecting marketing with sales is about accelerating business transformation and growth overall. In-process metrics are a best practice in the industry to show indicators that Marketing 2.0 is connected in the overall business. Again, back to the dashboard, marketing must be connected to the business! This principle applies regardless of how we identify the opportunity – through social media or traditional methods.