Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

One of the most frequently voiced complaints I hear about marketing is that it’s “squishy.”  People have trouble drawing a connection between the research, branding, positioning and communications that we do into real-world, value creating action.  One of my favorite illustrations of how a company successfully has translated “theory” into “action” is a recent advertising campaign from Symantec.  

The messaging in the advertising focuses on the customer – what their concerns and fears might be surrounding security.  Then, they created scenarios that illustrate their fears — but not in a frightening way.  Instead, they opted for entertainment value to create memorable scenarios that drive home their key messages without intimidating their viewers.

The TV commercials in the campaign showcase scenarios of cybercrime (watch them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avG0Eh-Uq2g).  For example, in “The Bank of Nikolai” you meet Nikolai, a cyber thief.  He tells you that he has a bank, it’s very safe and if you give him your money, it will be very safe — “right here, in my front pocket.”  The video closes with Symantec’s key message for that commercial — a statistic about cybercrime, “Cybercrime has now surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal moneymaker.” 

Symantec effectively created an entire series of these commercials that showcase their key messages.  They have been very effective in communicating these messages in an entertaining way and on a medium (YouTube) that makes it easy to forward the video to your friends.

Symantec did one thing very well — they focused on translating all that research, positioning and messaging into something tangible that created value for their company.  Bravo!


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I’ve been attending a lot of Webinars and movies lately, which has made me more aware of the power of storytelling.

It’s an aspect of branding that my new book does not go in to.  My new book focuses more on the nuts and bolts, the “equation” if you will, of what and how to communicate your brand clearly.   Yes, it’s important, and if you don’t know those fundamentals, you will not be as effective in building and controlling the perception of your brand.

But storytelling adds an aspect to your brand that is irreplaceable. 

We become used to storytelling from the earliest age, when it was unimaginable to go to bed without a bedtime story.  As we grow older, we study both secular and religious literature, not simply to be well educated, but to till the fertile fields of imagination, socialization, morality and human attachment.

Great communicators understand that a concept or idea is all good and fine, but if we give that idea a context by telling a story, it helps us to remember it.  When we remember it, it’s natural to then discuss it later among peers, friends and family.  It is the context that drives the point home – context which explains and explores the multi-dimensions of any concept or idea.

As a business communicator, I frequently write about or present case studies about how company A bought company B’s product and got XYZ results.  Many of us do this on a regular basis.  But how often do we think, when coming up with one of these case studies, that what we’re doing is actually telling a story?

Would thinking of it that way change the way we wrote?  Would it make it more personal, and therefore, more memorable and maybe (gasp!) even more emotionally engaging?

It makes good business sense to ask these questions, because studies show that the purchase decision is influenced heavily by the way we feel about the purchase.  This means that emotional engagement simply can’t be dismissed when we think about how to communicate with one another about our brand value.

This it could – and should – change the way we tell our stories to one another.  In the age of “virtual” communications, where email, videos, tweets and blogs replace face-to-face communications, it’s the people who can tell stories effectively who emotionally engage their audience and will be the most effective as a result.

So how do you tell a good story?  Humm….sounds like a good question to explore in future blog posts.

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One of the things that strikes me most about true leaders is that they don’t talk much.

They listen.

Listening is a skill.  Firstly, it requires that you put your own thoughts, opinions, and creative ideas on the back burner — to “table” them, to mix my metaphors.  Secondly, it asks you to actually hear — to process, understand, synthesize — what others are saying.

The results can be stunning.

As any good sales person (or person on the dating scene) will tell you, when you listen to someone, hear what they are saying, and let them know you’ve heard what they wanted to communicate, you have a tremendous impact because that person will feel understood.  When a person feels understood, it generates trust and with trust comes a sense of loyalty and the genesis of commitment.

Now, any book on customer satisfaction will tell you this — that listening can actually be a more effective way to build communication and commitment between people and groups than speaking or evangelizing.

So how are leaders translating this listening skill in the Social Media Age?

Many companies, such as IBM, Symantec and Nabisco, are systemitizing their “listening,” by tapping social media streams using tools like PeopleBrowsr.com or putting in place employee groups that are responsible for tracking and responding to posts as well as analyzing posts to look for trends.

But there are also leaders out there that are actually rolling up their sleeves and participating – and by doing so, leading the way.  Leaders like Sandy Carter, VP, Software Business Partners at IBM.  A consistent blogger and tweeter, she engages personally with a virtual community that she has built on her own — by leveraging the power of social media to reach communities of people she never would have connected with before.  (Visit her  blog at: http://socialmediasandy.wordpress.com/ and Twitter – http://twitter.com/sandy_carter). 

I heard Ms. Carter’s keynote at the annual WITI conference in San Jose this week and was impressed with the dialog that she has created with her virtual community.  She not only pays attention to the comments in her network, she responds promptly.  The result of this listening is that she is able to monitor trends, analyze them, and create a vision of social media and next generation marketing strategies that she can then communicate to other business professionals.  Essentially, it’s a feeback loop, but one that is fostered by her own ability to listen coupled with her own thoughts, experience and knowledge.

And because Sandy has created a dialog with her community — she hasn’t just tried to “sell” them — when she goes back to them with this vision, they listen to her.  Avidly.

Who are you listening to?

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Customers don’t buy a bag of parts; they buy a solution to their problem. Companies that go to market around a point product often find they are out maneuvered by competition that offers more complete solutions created through well-orchestrated partner ecosystems.  On June 10, I will conduct a Web seminar in which we will discuss how to develop ecosystem strategies around customer needs, and how to go-to-market effectively with a bigger solution footprint than is possible on your own. This Web seminar will also cover the risks, rewards, and challenges of managing these complex collaborations and — in today’s customer-centric market — how to leverage social media with your partner community.

Join us June 10!

Event Title Date/Time/Format Pricing
Go to Market through Partner Ecosystem

  • Ecosystem Strategies
  • Going to Market
  • Portfolio Mgmt
  • Managing competition within the ecosystem
June 10, 2010 9:00-10:30
More info Register now
Member $25

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Did you miss me?  I’ve been moving my home, so that’s taken me away from my posts!


I am currently working with a core team of authors on an online Social Media Playbook for Alliance Managers, being created for the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP).  I’ve come across some cool resources on Social Media and couldn’t resist sharing some of them with you:

Mashable (www.mashable.com)

10 Killer Tips for Creating a Branded YouTube Channel

10 Do’s and Don’t for Brands on Twitter

WebGuild (www.webguild.org)

Social Media Increases Revenue and Growth 60%

Social Moves into Search Marketing Space

12 Tactics for Integrating Social Media Marketing Across Your Organization


The Social Media Revolution.  Wonderful stats on social media, demographics and the way we communicate.  It was done in 2009, so some of the stats are getting old, but worth a viewing none the less.

Social Networking in Plain English.  Brief description about what social networking is, how to use it, and some of the sites to use to get started.

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In my last post, I presented a tried and true framework for positioning statements.  With this next series of blogs, I’ll break down the positioning statement section by section.

The first part of the positioning statement is about your audience.  In many cases, the audience is your customer or the people for whom you deliver a service.  Surprisingly, this can be an area of disagreement within your organization — not everyone will see the audience the same way.  So, who is your audience?  And if your audience has multiple faces, then how do you break them down into manageable chunks (i.e. how do you segment them)?

Introducing the Target Market

When I create positioning statements with my clients, we spend the majority of our time discussing target markets and their market needs. The needs of target markets directly influence the development of market strategies, market positions, and value propositions. In an ideal world, marketers strive to understand these needs and then create products or services that fill them. More realistically, however, inventive entrepreneurs create products and then go in search of someone to buy them.

Evaluate and Prioritize Target Markets

At their core, markets are places where goods and services are exchanged. Markets themselves can be either undifferentiated or differentiated. In undifferentiated markets, outreach is aimed at a large group of prospects that share a common need. For example, a cable company may state that their undifferentiated market is anyone who watches television. This approach works well if you have a product that has broad appeal and your market has few competitors. But the more specialized the product or the more competitors in the market, the more difficult it will be to sell the product in an undifferentiated market.

Differentiated markets are more efficient because they focus attention on prospects that will see strong value and appeal in your product. To reach differentiated markets we create market segments, which are sets of prospects for the product that are selected based on a defined set of criteria. Market demographics are frequently used criteria, and consist of such elements age, gender, income levels and geography.

Segment Your Market

Let’s create a market segment. In keeping with our previous example, instead of using an undifferentiated market, the cable company may refine their market based on demographics.

For example:

  • Segment 1 – Families in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Segment 2 – Single men and women between the ages of 21 – 40 in metropolitan San Francisco.
  • Segment 3 – Small businesses in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Of these market segments, the cable company may select their “target” market or markets. Then, to more effectively reach those target markets, they would create customized market strategies and positions to appeal to specifically them.

In my next post, I’ll talk about assessing the needs of each target market segment.  This is key to creating, communicating, and aligning value propositions to appeal to the right audiences.

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Every communications program — whether targeted at social media, customers, employees, the press or analysts — needs to be clear on the fundamentals of positioning and messaging.  That’s what my next few posts are covering.


Just as the terms “mission” and “vision” can be confused with one another, the same is true for “market strategy” and “market position.”  Since both are essential parts of the messaging process, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

 What is a Market Strategy?

A market strategy is the approach you take to deliver your product or service to a specific target market.  It consists of what are known as the “Four P’s” of marketing:  Product, Place, Promotion and Price. 

  •  Product is what you are delivering, a product or service, and must appeal to the needs of a target market. 
  • Place is the method of getting that product to market, such as the Web, social media, a retail outlet, network sales, or direct sales. 
  • Promotion is marketing programs aimed at capturing the attention of your target market and encouraging them to make a purchase or participate in your offer. 
  • Price usually refers to how much it will cost to purchase the product or service, but in some cases, the “price” is the time and actions necessary to participate in the offer (such as filling out a form, filing a claim, etc.).

What is a Market Position?

In contrast, a market position is the perception of your company, product, or service in the minds of prospects in a specific target market.  Perception is a combination of facts, beliefs, emotions, and opinions — which means it’s a tricky thing.  If you don’t manage it consciously and purposefully, you will leave the perception either in the hands of the marketplace, or worse, in the control of your competitors.

What is Positioning?

Positioning is the art of managing perception, using tried-and-tested tools and processes.  The outcome of the positioning process is a market position that takes all the elements of a market strategy and integrates them into an easily articulated, defensible, and differentiated position in your target market.  Positioning is a dynamic, living thing, and although the marketer can create a market position for a particular company, product, or service, it will continually need to be revisited and validated as market conditions change.

More about Positioning in my next post.

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