Category Archives: MPlanet

MPlanet Odds & Ends

Cleaning out the notebook while waiting for my flight home:

  • IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano gave the Thursday evening keynote after receiving an award from the AMA for “exceptional leadership.” He talked about the transformation of the global economy and made a call to action to marketers to “step up.”  “This is one of the most extraordinary periods in international business that I’ve experienced in my 34-year career,” he said, later adding: “You have to be willing to reinvent and innovate.” The opportunity to transform your business in this way, he added, “only comes along once in a career. Can you step up and take advantage of it?”  
  • There was one good quote in an otherwise flat opening keynote from AT&T COO Randall Stephenson: “The lesson of the Internet is that no audience is too small.”
  • My last session today was a dud. The content was light and the speaker’s pants were too tight. The only good thing was it ended a half-hour early.
  • Billboard on the way to the airport: “ – It’s easier than you think.”

Measurement and Metrics

The morning presentation I attended at MPlanet included Wharton marketing professor Dave Reibstein, Yahoo CMO Cammie Dunaway and Kraft marketing EVP Paula Sneed. The theme was tying marketing metrics to financial outcomes, and both practitioners provided good examples of how they’re doing that.

Reibstein kicked it off by explaining why marketers need to tie intangibles such as brand and customer values back to the ultimate metric: stock price. He neatly summarized the crux of the challenge for marketers: a rapid return on investment. “If you invest in R&D, it’s amortized over the life of the project. If you invest in a plant, it’s depreciated over the expected life of that plant. But if you invest in marketing, it’s an expense – you’re accountable for that in the year that you spend it.”

There was plenty of practical advice about aligning your programs with the business goals and speaking the same language as the CFO – easy to talk about, but hard to do. “The best way to get credibility for marketing is to sign up for delivering revenue,” Dunaway said.

Both Dunaway and Sneed rely heavily on a comprehensive set of metrics to track their performance, but they both cautioned about getting too hung up on analyzing the data.

“If you’re focusing only on things you can quantify, you will not grow, because all you’re doing is looking backwards,” said Sneed. “We’re trying to get our teams to develop more observational and predictive insights. These sometimes defy quantitative measures.”

Dunaway says the trust that allows you to do that type of hard-to-measure experimentation must be earned over time. “You have to go deep into the numbers initially to build credibility. Over time you gain permission to do more intuitive things.”

Dunaway recently sensed her team was spending too much time analyzing data, which was slowing down their decision-making. So she had a bunch of “trust me” cards printed up and handed them out to the team. They can use them when they have a good idea that’s not easily measurable. “It’s their way of saying, ‘Please don’t make me do 16 more spreadsheets. Just trust me,’” Dunaway explained.

Long Tail

Wired’s Chris Anderson educated MPlanet attendees on the Long Tail (and signed copies of his book afterwards). He’s an entertaining presenter who had everyone’s attention as he made a strong case for the power of bloggers and their potential impact on a brand. “In an era where every customer has a megaphone, word of mouth is everything,” he said. He used the experiences as Sony and Dell as cautionary tales about the peril of ignoring what customers are saying online, and also reflected on his own industry: “We used to compete with other [media] giants; now we compete with an army of minnows. They are different, and they are the new taste makers.”

Anderson was joined by Jason Zajac, general manager of social media at Yahoo, who walked through a campaign that Nikon did on Yahoo’s Flickr site to encourage users to upload photos shot with their Nikon digital cameras. More than 60,000 photos have been uploaded. “When people use tools of technology to talk about their passions, they’re telling you a lot about themselves,” said Zajac. The key for marketers, he added, is tapping into that information without getting in the way.

Web 2.0 and Marketers

Dana VanDen Heuvel, director of business development at Pheedo, gave a nice primer for Web 2.0-challenged marketers. He used some stats to prime the pump:

  • 73% of adults are online (147 million people)
  • 106 million MySpace users
  • 60 million blogs (doubling every six months)
  • 195 million cell phone users
  • 87% of kids aged 12-17 are online
  • 6.98 billion video streams by 100 million Internet users in August
  • 61.4% of Internet users have connected to a social networking site
  • Online research influences 77% of the $25.1 billion in consumer electronics purchases

The full presentation is here.

Customer Engagement

Good session at MPlanet on customer engagement. Speakers included Tom Hernquist from Hershey, Craig Coffey from Nokia, Michael Fasulo from Sony, George Harrison from Nintendo and Paul Woolmington from Naked Communications.

User-generated content was a big topic of discussion. Nintendo’s Harrison talked about attending a launch event in Los Angeles for the Wii gaming console and ending up on YouTube: “It’s a little disconcerting. You have some sleepless nights when you open [your brand] up to UGC. But you have to accept it.”

Coffey talked about how Nokia tapped into the blogging community for the launch of its N95 handset. The marketing team identified five core bloggers – “super influencers” – and invited them into one of its flagship stores before the launch, giving them access to product information and letting them interact with the hardware. Giving them early access to the product “helped them embrace what we were doing,” Coffey said. The positive comments of those super influencers “had a huge ripple effect” on the rest of the blogosphere, he said. A day after the official product launch, there were more than 1 million queries on Google for “N95.”

Asked later about how to deal with bloggers who hate marketers, Coffey said: “We didn’t disrespect the power that these bloggers have. Don’t patronize, don’t condescend.”

Harrison added: “There will always be a large percentage of bloggers who are purists, but others want access and want to engage about new products.”

Other takeaways:

Woolmington described four major transitions taking place in the marketer-customer relationship:

  1. Interruption to engagement, the latter defined as creating the content, tools and experiences to incent people to seek you out.
  2. Control  to empowerment.
  3. Aggregate to integrate. Using all channels to tell your story, but “not painting everything the same color.”
  4. Isolate to affiliate. Mobile third parties to help engage the customers you’re targeting.

Panelists agreed that the 30-second spot is not dead. Fasulo cited a logical reason: Boomers still watch between 14-16 hours of TV a week. Harrison said Nintendo still spends about 70% of its advertising budget on TV (down from 95% a few years ago). “Software launches are a lot like movie launches – we only have 5-6 weeks to build awareness,” he said. “It’s hard to do that without TV.” The difference now, the executives said, is layering in other components to augment the TV spots.

Programming note: Others blogging from MPlanet include Josh Hallett, Garrett French, and Peter Kim.

“Never a Better Time to Be a Marketer”

Those are the words of Dennis Dunlap, CEO of the American Marketing Association, in his opening remarks at the AMA’s inaugural MPlanet conference in Orlando. He quickly added, “Clearly, there has never been a more challenging time.” Dunlap talked about the forces reshaping the marketing landscape, particularly consumer empowerment and new media. “Consumers are serving as the tipping point and the catalyst for mass customization and personalization,” he said, adding that because of these forces, “we’ve blown by the 4P’s,” and many traditional marketing concepts are no longer effective.

Dunlap laid out five “winning strategies” that marketers must follow to be successful:

1. Start a fire, then carry the torch. Marketers must champion growth and innovation, and drive innovation across their company. “Innovation is largely about understanding markets and customers,” Dunlap said, “so it’s logical for marketing to take the lead in driving it.”

2. Wear the customer’s shoes, and create a path for them. Being the customer expert is a great way for marketing leaders to gain credibility and enhance their value inside a company, Dunlap said. Marketers must influence every customer touch point to ensure a consistent customer experience.

3. Measure with precision and prove your mettle. “More than ever, CEOs want proof of marketing’s impact on an organization’s goals and financial performance,” Dunlap said. Marketing dashboards must reflect not only traditional marketing metrics like customer awareness, but also the financial impact of marketing programs.

4. Run a sprint, and a marathon. There’s an inescapable reality of companies focusing on quarterly financial performance. Marketers must strive to balance both short-term results with long-term innovation and investment. “Moving the needle quarter to quarter can open the door for longer-term investment,” he said.

5. Know who you are and create who you want to be. “In marketing, it seems that everything is changing externally, but not much is changing internally,” said Dunlap, emphasizing that today’s marketing organization is not equipped to deal with those external changes. Marketers must lead the charge to rebuild their organizations around the customer, and align the marketing function with key organizational counterparts such as IT and HR.

More later.