The Marketing Hot Seat: Rachel Happe

hotseatIf you don’t know Rachel Happe yet, you are missing out.  I’ve had the sincere pleasure of getting to know Rachel in the local Boston social media scene, and it was clear from my first conversation with her that she knows social media and the power of community unlike most.  With a background that includes working as a research manager at IDC and a senior director of social media products at Mzinga, Rachel brings a refreshing, thought-provoking view to what challenges large enterprises are facing with Web 2.0.  Before reading her point of view on the Marketing Hot Seat, I’d recommend subscribing to her blog, the Social Organization and taking time to learn more about the business she is building with friend Jim Storer.  The Community Roundtable is a tremendous wealth of value-add resources for social media practioners. (My agency, Rosetta, is a big proponent and partner, and I’ve been referred to as a CR Cheesehead – read on and you’ll see Rachel lives what she preaches).  I’m grateful that Rachel has offered to weigh in this week on the challenge – please let her know what you think in the comments.

  • You’re the CMO.  You have a marketing budget of $1M.  Your company is a consumer product company, relatively unknown / early stage.  Customers who know the product like it. CEO wants ROI within 12 months.  What do you do?

Rachel Happe and Gradon TrippAdam has graciously pulled out his marketing wizard wand and given me the role of CMO at an upstart consumer products company – not a likely scenario but fun to play with none-the-less!  I’m lucky because I don’t have to deal with a lot of organizational complexity, legacy systems, or legacy structures set up for a vastly different information environment than the one that exists today. And luckily, I understand a bit about what’s changed.  The cost of content creation has dropped, the cost of distribution has dropped, and the cost of customer discovery has dropped – all dramatically. That means that my investment will pay off relatively quickly.

My marketing focus is split between two key constituent groups.  My first important constituent group is the channel partners who actually sell my product to the end customer. The second key constituent group is the consumers themselves – driving demand from consumers will help me negotiate more and better contracts with my retail partners.   My goals for the year are to execute 1 exclusive large partner deal (think Target), 5 mid-size partner deals (regional chains, Zappos.com, etc), and 50 niche retailer contracts. Our channel manager will use our website including a blog, an email newsletter, and trade shows as the primary means of outreach to this audience.  All of those touch points will be richly supported with online media from our customers and secondarily supported through our Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube outreach done with our end customers.

On the consumer end, we’ll start with research and capturing user interaction with our product.  We’ll give our small team of young enthusiastic media makers the gear to video tape, podcast, and take pictures as they talk to users about their reaction to the product and how they use it.  We’ll use that content for regular posting to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter but we’ll also solicit content generated by the users themselves and post that. We’ll also use the research to design two online games – one individual and one team-based – that integrate with Twitter and Facebook. We will use a vendor like Bunchball that makes these games personalized, competitive, and branded. We’ll build a cheap-to-execute but unique version of our product to reward contributors for completing different tasks.  Our team of media makers will also be charged with engagement – proactively and reactively interacting with people who are in our target audience and packaging the best of the resulting interactions and media for re-use. We will identify our cheeseheads and promote them.

Roughly, our marketing spend will look like this:
HappeChart

I’m expecting the following unit flow from each type of retailer:
Large = 60,000 units
Medium = 12,000 units
Small = 600 units
The profit from each unit is $9 and if I hit my planned goals, we’ll have $1,350,000 in profit by the end of the year. Covering my marketing costs by a bit but building a great foundation going into the following year.

What an awesome year!

…And what an awesome post, thanks again Rachel.  What do you think of her approach?

Photo credit: Jim Storer via Flickr

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The Social Media Landing Page Phenomenon

northernlightsAs social media channels become outposts for companies, their websites need to keep up.  The big challenge: the two concepts are diametrically opposed.  Build a compelling, optimized website to bring customers (and potential customers) to you, versus establish social media outposts to go where your customers are.  Enter the new art and technique of the Social Media Landing Page (SMLP for short).  The SMLP is a bridge between the two, both to add legitimacy to social channels like a Twitter account but also risking pulling customers away from your website.  Companies who establish these pages are trying to give the subtle hint of “Nah, doesn’t bother me if you leave our domain” with “We want to hear from you.”  Here are three examples of big companies who have integrated their social media presence into their websites.  How do you think they do?

AT&T

Tagline: “Continue the Conversation”

AT&T is in the midst of more press than you can quantify lately for many reasons. Many might not understand the breadth of which AT&T is reaching out to connect with customers via social channels.  Enter the AT&T SMLP.  AT&T is using Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Blogs and even Posterous to build a footprint.  Intregrated into the “About AT&T” page on their domain, it’s easy to find as “Social Media” in the 2nd level navigation.

AT&T Social Media Landing Page

Best Buy

Tagline: “Everyone’s talking”

Best Buy took a slightly different approach.  Their recently launched (still says “new!”) SMLP is called “Community” and can be found at the bottom of their home page.  They showcase how they are leveraging forums, ratings & reviews, Twitter (also via their Twelpforce), blogs and other social media channels throughout.  I like that BestBuy is showcasing their IdeaX community where customers can collaborate on ideas for the company.

bestbuy

Microsoft

Tagline: “What people are saying about Windows 7”

For the recent Windows 7 launch, Microsoft built in conversations directly into the Windows home page on their domain.  Their clicking through to “See what everyone’s saying” brings you to an innovative SMLP that not only shows links to follow the brand’s presence elsewhere but actually aggregates the conversations on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and other social networks.  A customer has to leave the site to participate, just like the others, but right on the page loading in relative real time are actual comments.  This is a great technique but requires a lot of confidence in the product, to say the least.  I’m curious if Microsoft has any automated filtering on the feeds it brings in.  They aren’t filtering for negative comments – one in the screenshot I took was a comment on how “Windows 7 killed my laptop.”

Windows 7 Social Media Landing Page

Of the three here, I like Microsoft’s approach the best – it’s more innovative and interactive to bring conversations and topics directly into the site.  It’s also very easy to find and has a simple URL.  What other SMLPs have you come across?  Are these signs that social media is here to stay?  So many other questions open up for me, including how companies will optimize the pages – to drive followers? To engage in more conversations?  At least they are embracing social media channels head on in their web strategy.

Photo credit: studiolit via Flickr

Gargi also expressed, reluctantly, a lack of

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The Second Coming of Twitter

PeopleTwitter is all the rage.  CNN talks about it at every opportunity.  Famous people from Shaquille O’Neal to MCHammer to Demi Moore are using it to share snippets of their daily lives.  Legions of new joiners are popping up each day.  Books are being published left and right about Twitter for business and monetizing Twitter accounts (some questionable, others focusing on the community in microsharing – the most anticipated one I’m looking forward to is Laura Fitton‘s (aka Pistachio) Twitter for Dummies).  Blog posts about Twitter are profilic.  Yep, I’m full of irony by adding to the mix – and there are some that would probably say what is happening now is a third or even fourth coming of Twitter.

Observations

I’ve been on Twitter for a year and a half and here are some observations about what has changed, for better or worse:

  • Spammers have become more advanced, using bots, auto-follow/un-follows, and other nefarious ways to collect followers.
  • Gone are the days of “Twitter Karma” where we all try to maintain equilibrium of follower to following ratios.  Now it’s more focused on how we can be useful or interesting to each other.
  • People are very caught up in numbers – of followers, of retweets, of conversations.  New tools continue to crop up to grade your twitter participation, experience and influence.
  • The more followers you have, the more reliant you become on solid third party tools like Tweetdeck and Tweetworks to manage groups and connections that are most important. Tags and search capability are key functions in day to day use.
  • Twitter is no longer solely for the early adopter tech crowd or the social media consulting/services crowd. It’s clearly a useful platform for lawyers, real estate agents, graphic artists, moms, dads, sports fans, you name it.
  • The coverage of Twitter use in traditional media, like the evening news on TV, to me seems like hunting and pecking for needles in a haystack.  It can be devoid of metrics or real analysis, using it more like finding a funny tweet and showing it to the audience.  It reminds me of the Chris Farley show on SNL.  (“Do you remember that?…That was AWESOME.”)
  • The echo chamber of people on Twitter talking about Twitter has grown louder, stronger and more frequent, which can be good and bad.  It’s good for educating folks on what tweetups are, how to use hashtags to help track conversations, which 3rd party apps are great for desktop and iPhone use.  It’s also good when businesses are leveraging the platform to connect with customers and resolve or acknowledge challenges.  It’s bad when people presume to know about someone’s intentions or preach too strongly about how to use Twitter.

Back to the Basics

With all of the hype, there are many who forget or neglect what I would describe as some basic guidelines on Twitter.  I am by no means an authority but am sharing my thoughts as a long time (in technology terms, anyway) user, and I would welcome your suggestions and input.

  • Twitter is for conversations.  Find people who like to talk about topics you’re interested in, connect and participate.
  • It’s a great tool for sharing useful or fun information.
  • Sure, Twitter can be a promotion vehicle, but spend less than 10% of your time on Twitter promoting your own wares (hat tip to Chris Brogan who mentions this approach often).  Would you go into a large networking event and start shouting?  How successful would it be?
  • I try to look at all of the numbers and measurements of grading one’s Twitter use with a grain of salt – they can be indicators of intent, suggestions and guides on what to do differently, and in some cases show influence, but in the same regard do you keep measure of offline conversations with friends, families and coworkers?  I don’t, especially not to decimal points.  I like to check out the tools but I don’t get too caught up in them.
  • Twitter enables meaningful connections, but they are not a given.  Building relationships, just like meeting new people at a conference, party or event, takes time, patience and sincere interest in connecting with other people.
  • Twitter represents a way to build relationships, find useful information, gain access to expertise and connect.  Here is a representation (definitely a subset) of many folks who I have met through Twitter and others who I hope to meet but follow because they share something useful and meaningful – they are real people.  (Twitter Mosaic courtesy of sxoop.com, get your own here).

Have you been on Twitter for a long time?  If so, how have you seen the community and use evolve?  If you’re new to Twitter, what brought you to the platform and what do you think so far?

Photo credit: left-hand via Flickr

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How has Social Media Helped You?

This morning while doing a demo of Twitter I asked the question, “How has social media helped you in an unexpected way?”  Industry knowledge? Building relationships? Free hat? Catching an unreal bacon recipe?  Thanks much to a responsive group of followers, I received many responses – some deep, some funny, some insightful, all valuable to once again show the immediate response and community value of Twitter.  Thanks to everyone who replied – as promised, here are their insights and Twitter IDs.  (I’m at @adamcohen).

mattceni@mattceni @adamcohen – user validated data has helped me cut through the noise to find whats relevant and good.

aapjerockdt@aapjerockdt @adamcohen boost downloads of an open source app we made to 1000 downloads in 48 hours: [url removed – love the twitter feedback but not trying to promote biz]

patrick_grady@Patrick_Grady @adamcohen Wow. Lots of ways. 1 – exposure to info I wouldn’t have seen. 2 – met peeps with great synergy and things to share / learn.
@Patrick_Grady @adamcohen tech support… idea bouncing… more.

starrgazr@StarrGazr @adamcohen How has SocNets Helped? It’s all about the people you meet which is even better to meet F2F. I can’t even begin to list the ways.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen How about the loan of a camera when mine died days before covering Obama’s camp NH Primary night from someone who …
@StarrGazr @adamcohen …I had never met before in person.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Of the offer of a power generator from another person during the ice storm and an offer to help pick it up from CT?
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or perhaps being published all over the world through exposure in SocNets?
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or perhaps just being able to have an amazing year covering the primaries and being able to attend the inauguration.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or being a guest in a church and the home of a minister in the United Kingdom while traveling out there.

4spoken@4Spoken@adamcohen It has allowed me to take a fairly small niche, and connect with people I would have never been able to connect with otherwise

jordansalvit@jordansalvit @adamcohen SM has taught me a lot about businesses and fields I am not involved in. It also keeps me better connected with those that I am.

tippyz@tippyz @adamcohen Social media/net has increased my knowledge of people I already knew, well beyond what I expected –> stronger relationships.  [Great one Dan]

rsomers@rsomers @adamcohen for me benefit is creation of new & expansion of existing offline relationships. Twitter esp b/c time cost of interaction is low

barbarakb@BarbaraKB @adamcohen Social sites forcing OpenID transparency thus easier to make & trust online friends. W/this trust, grow business. 🙂

boggles@boggles @adamcohen the biggest surprise for me was how Facebook has grown into a free version of long-lost friend-finder. High school memories!

marc_meyer@Marc_Meyer @adamcohen I now have an instant knowledge base that I can tap via SM which opens up sometimes a better way to do what I do-  [I agree – much to learn from these folks]

stuartcfoster@Stuartcfoster @adamcohen I got a sweet hook up on a hat at the TD Banknorth garden courtesy of the tag team of @mbrinkerhoff and @michele_moore 🙂

hereitcomes@HereItComes @adamcohen How about the loan of a camera when mine died days before covering Obama’s camp NH Primary night from… [URL removed]

barndance@barndance @adamcohen My own involvement helped me help Lindblad Expeditions jump-start on Twitter. And that’s great for eco-minded tweeps & them!

nhscooch@nhscooch @adamcohen All I can say is that is where I found the Bacon Explosion – TY twitter and @adamcohen [just don’t come after me for cholesterol medication]

chadnorthrup@ChadNorthrup @adamcohen I love having an extended network to banter with during sporting events. It made last year’s Sox playoff games even more fun.  [Couldn’t agree more, especially with Red Sox games.]

shonali@Shonali @adamcohen Making unanticipated connections that have helped me personally and professionally. And give me courage.

beverlycornell@beverlycornell @adamcohen got to meet you. Actually, I have a few interesting stories. 😉

For me, much of my surprise in social media is the general willingness of people to help – this demo is no exception.   How has social media helped you in an unexpected way?

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