Tuesday, February 27, 2007
More and more, you’ve got to drive strategy and growth. Top marketing executives now must juggle demands that include functioning as an internal “change agent,” integrating internal and external communications, forecasting future trends and contributing to overall strategic direction.
As the Post article points out, companies are seeking chief marketing officers (CMOs) who can handle all the tasks while keeping an eye on overarching issues. “They’re not looking for an advertising person anymore,” Jane Stevenson, who heads Heidrick & Struggles’ global search practice for CMOs, told the Post. “They’re looking for a strategist.”
This expansion of CMO duties first appeared in the major consumer brands of the world. However, as with most trends in marketing communications, it’s only a matter of time before it takes over in the BtoB space. And the companies that embrace a more comprehensive approach to marketing will have a decided advantage over competitors who don’t.
Granted, tactical advertising and marketing initiatives still make up the lion’s share of marketers’ efforts, particularly in the BtoB space. But too many BtoB marketing executives are spending all their time and money running the same ads in the same trade publications and attending the same trade shows.
So who’s paying attention to the subtler but equally important strategic and marketing activities—particularly those directed at an internal audience? You should be.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Companies of every stripe can learn from JetBlue about repairing brands when adversity strikes. But executives also can learn what JetBlue should have been listening for from customers before problems arose.
JetBlue’s Customer Bill of Rights, for example, shows forward-thinking, differentiating industry leadership in the mind of this air traveler. Shortly after JetBlue issued what most travelers will view as a victory for those of us who suffer long tarmac delays without explanation or recourse, the headlines began to focus on brand repair efforts rather than disgruntled travelers with stories to tell of missed bar mitzvahs, weddings and birthdays.
Watch and listen to JetBlue CEO David Neeleman speak to customers about the issues. The lesson learned by JetBlue: don’t wait for a crisis to listen and act on what your customers want.
Ultimately, I believe JetBlue’s travelers’ travesty will become a triumphant case study in crisis management and communication. But it could also serve as an opportunity for other executives to place their companies in JetBlue’s cockpit to explore where brand vulnerabilities exist within their own organization.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
What say you?
While you’re mulling this over, consider having some fun with the attached marketing quiz. All credit goes to Copernicus Marketing. Who knows, depending how you do, you may not have to be concerned about the “B” word ever again.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Anna Nicole Smith’s unexpected death serves as a reminder for businesses heavily dependent on a single person. Brand identity closely tied to an individual creates opportunity for chaos. Iacocca and Chrysler. Welch and GE. Kozlowski and Tyco (TYC).
Tyco is a B2B brand most notably tied to former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski. His high-flying largesse with corporate funds and rapid deal making made him synonymous with the Tyco brand. That association led the company to a near-death experience when he was convicted of grand larceny, conspiracy and a spate of other charges.
The TrimSpa-Anna Nicole Smith relationship illustrates the need to plan for brand vulnerabilities, regardless of B2B or B2C designations. The most telling indication of this resonates in the following words of TrimSpa CEO Alex Goen during an interview with MSNBC discussing the future of his company.
“You know from a company perspective you want to be friendly to the media; you want to be treated well by the media, so you want to cooperate whatever you possibly can. So we’ve got, I’ve got an issue, that I have to deal with business-wise. My back is against a wall. I’m certainly concerned about whether or not we can make it. I think the odds are right now possibly against us. I mean we are going to give it all we have,” Goen said.
Sounds like a company unprepared for when celebrities fail, sputter or fall and the intense media scrutiny that affects nearly everyone and every entity associated with them. The bigger the star, the wider the impact. The same holds true for companies run by dominant, highly visible individuals. One misstep without the ability to effectively right the wrong and manage the fall out afterward, and the entire brand can go down with the individual’s reputation.
Companies such as TrimSpa, which led to the ebb in Anna’s yo-yo weight situation, discovered this firsthand. Subsequent media coverage discovered competing product Slimfast in her refrigerator and extended news reports of a Federal Trade Commission settlement of alleged unsubstantiated weight loss claims. Tie this with all the rest of her much publicized exploits, and I’d be curious to know if anyone took the time to think of all the what-ifs of having her as a spokesperson.
Through some quick web research, though, it seems TrimSpa and CEO Alex Goen are making moves indicative of sound scenario planning. But at this point it might only be fancy reactive footwork. The TrimSpa website quickly became a tribute to Anna. News reports indicate the company already was transitioning to find a new spokesperson with Anna’s help. This seems to conflict, however, with other reports citing TrimSpa President Tony Azzizzo, who said brand spokespersons now would focus on “your neighbors, friends, family members.” Does anyone know where the brand is headed?
Regardless of the whether TrimSpa planned for this scenario in advance and emerges from this tragedy in tact, or tap dances a reactionary waltz to obscurity, one thing is certain: brands tied closely to individuals require constant assessment of whether that person represents the appropriate image for a brand. One might argue Anna Nicole Smith did portray an appropriate brand image for TrimSpa. Nonetheless, a thorough assessment of brand vulnerabilities and how to save the brand, should those threats become reality, would have given TrimSpa a fighting chance.
Monday, February 12, 2007
You can find the article here.
While you're at it, visit Industry Week's site to see a sidebar piece I contributed to on (ready for this?) branding. For some reason, the editors saw fit to include my photo in the print edition. Fortunately, reason prevailed on the online side.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
We’ve come a long way, baby, thanks to rapidly expanding bandwidth, vastly improved video compression, easy-to-use editing software (see Apple’s iMovie, for example), video search capability on Google and Yahoo, the proliferation of video sharing sites like YouTube … and whatever else you want to blame for the changing times. Today, just about anybody has the wherewithal to record, edit, upload and explore the wonderful world of web video content
The emergence of all these technological developments at once has quickly ushered in a new era of user-generated content, or UGC. It’s what the folks at Time were talking about when they named “You” their Person of the Year for 2006.
And if Time knows about it, well, it’s surely entered the mainstream. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that the Super Bowl broadcast featured some high-profile UGC endeavors, but I will anyway: Doritos, Alka-Seltzer and Chevrolet.
OK, those are all high-profile consumer brands. So what about UGC in B2B? Based on some recent—and, I believe, unique and effective—video work we did for a client’s website, I’ve been thinking a lot more about that. A fellow b-to-b blogger, Rick Short, recently posted a video ad for the company he works for, and it’s quite funny. On another recent post, Rick also comments on whether UGC makes any sense in the b-to-b realm.
There’s still the typical “our clients aren’t ready for this” attitude in many b-to-b circles. It seems we’re always lagging on these fronts, and I understand the reluctance to spend a lot of resources on *unproven* tactics. (Caveat emptor: Always evaluate your video tactics against the overall company brand, goals and objectives.)
But as fast as the UGC phenomenon is moving, we had better do the “Is this right for us?” soul-searching concurrently with some experimentation. All marketing professionals, consumer and b-to-b alike, should be exploring the possibilities. Easily and affordably created and integrated into existing communications, UGC (as well as related web video content such as vlogs and video press releases, etc.) represents an unprecedented, nearly boundless opportunity for company brands to interact with customers, prospects, employees and recruits.
This isn’t a “now UGC it, now you don’t” situation (ouch!). UGC is here to stay, and it’s time to join the fray.
Friday, February 2, 2007
If a committee I’ve recently joined is successful, here’s something you’ll be hearing a lot more about: Milwaukee’s Well City initiative. For now, I’ll just start with this post.
The Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce have come together to spearhead an initiative that could earn
So why is all this worthwhile? We believe it’s essential not just for the sake of encouraging us all to live healthier lives (although that’s pretty worthy in itself), but for the economic health of the entire
For one thing, I’m sure you’re familiar with
But first, businesses of all sizes have to get on board to make
WELCOA is making it easy. It’s not that expensive. And the ROI can benefit your company, your people and our region as a whole.