MAD Perspectives Blog

Is Your Brand Strategy Aligned With Your Business Strategy

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This week we continue our Brand and Social Media series, with our colleagues at Taylor O'Brien, with a disucssuion about aligning your social efforts with your brand.

by Christina Brusendorff

Brands have become an integral part of business from both and external and internal business perspectives. We discussed how consistently delivered, relatable brands have an intrinsic link to business performance. Accessing this value is dependent on brand strategy being aligned with business strategy.

In broad terms this fundamental aspect of branding ensures that the brand promise is grounded in the strengths of a business, reflects the vision and the direction of it and supports business objectives.

A clear and aligned brand strategy clarifies, communicates and enforces the vision, key messages and identity externally as well as internally.  From a corporate branding perspective a truly aligned brand allows a business to more easily create a competitive employer brand, attracting not only the best talent but also the best suited candidates.  These brand strengths also allow a business to more easily engage its work force, build commitment and create brand advocates.  This in turn helps create a more consistent service and fell throughout the business that will help improve its performance and drive revenue.

The marketing mix through which a brand chooses to communicate and engage with their target audiences is diverse and continually fragmenting.  In such an environment brand strategy becomes increasingly important with brands needing to take an integrated approach to communication.  This involves employing diverse channels well aligned to the message, the audience and the brand.

From TV advertising to social media, serious thought needs to be given to the combination of platforms used, how these suite and complement each other, what is communicated, how consumers are engaged through these and, most importantly, what is the ROI (whether financial or attributed to some other value).

This applies to external B2B and B2C communication; Facebook deals, billboards, Twitter and to internal communications; emails, intranets, blogs, posters, events, induction programmes.  But all of them, whether online or offline communication, need to be integrated; cross-promoting and reiterating the core brand.

We believe that success is created by aligning brand business and communications strategy.

What is your perspective?

Christina is an Account Executive at Taylor O’Brien, a creative consultancy based in Manchester.  With a Masters in marketing and a passion for branding and business, Christina builds and inspires brands across a wide variety of industry sectors.



Are You Using Online Video?

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you or your company use an Online Video Platform?  Video is a pervasive part of our lives from the content we watch on TV to the content we watch online.  Whether for business or for pleasure we consume a LOT of video content. According to Forrester Research, 71% of today's online audience watches video.  All of the Fortune 500 use video for both internal and external communications.   For business, video provides a forum to:

     - Simplify complex topics with words and actions rather than lengthy whitepapers
     - Demonstrate the use of a product or service
     - Share your company’s personality and culture
     - Increase customer trust

Strategy Analytics estimates that the Online Video Platform industry will be worth more than $1 billion by 2015, up from $200 million in 2010.   An online video platform (OVP) includes the basic components to put video on your website (and elsewhere on the web), in a professional manner.  It includes content hosting, a content management system, delivery to multiple players, customization, management tools to track and analyze consumption and the ability to monetize the content.  OVPs provide small, medium and large businesses with the opportunity to easily integrate video into their communication strategies.


Leading OVP vendor, targeting the enterprise market, include (but are not limited to):

  •  - BrightCove
  •  - DigitalSmiths
  •  - EdgeCast
  •  - Fliqz
  •  - Kaltura
  •  - Kontiki
  • Limelight
  •  - Move Networks
  •  - Oooyala
  •  - Sorensen Media
  •  - thePlatform
  •  - Twistage
  •  - VMix
  • If this is overwhelming, the site Vid Compare, can help you narrow down your options based your functional requirements.  However, it is more important to think about how and why you are going to use video.  Like every other communication strategy, video usage must be thoughtful and requires planning.   What are your tangible goals for using video?  Who is your target audience?  What kind of information are they interested in? Do you have a budget?  Do you have executive support?  These are just of few of the questions that should be driving your overall video strategy. 
  • Assuming your strategy is defined, Mark Brodie, at MIB MediaWorks, suggests the following when considering using online video for your communication efforts:

    Believability --- Make sure what you say is credible and that the visuals support and enhance that message.  Above all, demonstrate that you believe in your product or service.

    Visually Striking --- Images are the key to delivering a positive message.  Your vido must look professional and provide the view with a clear picture and understanding of your product or service.

    Look Professional --- Whoever you choose to produce your video, ensure that they know how to put your message and product or service in the best light.

    Words are Important --- The script needs to attract the ear as well as the eye.

    Personality counts --- Whoever is featured in should be able to project a positive, thoughtful image of your company.

    Where you shoot the video is important --- make sure the location reflects your product or service.

  • Additional thoughts, from Mark, related to planning your video production:

  •    - Video production can be complicated and expensive or simple and straightforward. The only way to keep it the time and money you spend reasonable is to take the time to answer the questions outlined below and give those answers to the professional producer or production company.
  •    - What is the specific purpose of the video?
  •    - Who is the audience?
  •    - What are the objectives of the video?
  •    - Where is the video to be shot?

   - Who is writing the script?

  •    - Who is making the final decision on the video?
  •    - Who is performing on camera, actors or staff?
  •    - What possible titles and graphics will be needed?
  •    - What is the deadline?
  •  
  •    - What type of distribution?
  •  
  •    - How will the video program be used or shown?
  •  
  •    - Are DVD’s or tape duplications required?
Is your company thinking about using video to connect more intimately with your customers or business partners?  These tips from a video production expert should help in the planning process.  My thanks to Mark Brodie for sharing his insights!

 

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at North Plains - a Case Study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MAD Perspectives is releasing its first B2B social media case study today.  As we've talked to and worked with clients, we've realized that there is a a lot of confusion and concern at B2B companies about how to integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy.  While social media can be leveraged for more than marketing, this is often the starting point for most companies.  Given the growth of social media consumer centric origins, the concerns of B2B companies are valid.

We have reached out to colleagues in different industries to understand how they have pursued their social media strategies.  The companies reflected in the case studies are not necessarily MAD Perspective clients.  They are companies are who experimenting with social tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and wikis.  My thanks to the subject of our first case study, North Plains Systems.

Some key learnings at North Plains include:

- "committment and intention" are critical to social media success

- promoting webinars across social platforms, particularly LinkedIn Groups, will increase webinar attendance

- a small marketing team can benefit from a cross platform tool to manage posting simultaneously to multiple social sites

To request the entire case study, please click here: http://www.madperspectives.com/contact to fill out the form and a copy of the case study will be emailed to you.

What's your perspective?



Does B2B need a new app?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Many years ago a technology industry CEO distributed a poster throughout its various corporate, sales and manufacturing offices stating something like “Technology is always changing, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change then you are in the wrong industry.”  This was before Unix, before the internet and long before social media was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  The technology industry IS constantly changing and at pace unimagined more than 20 years ago.

So, how do we keep up?  Social media has changed the face of communication forever and who knows what’s next.  While it is possible to imagine that IT hardware will continue to see improvements related to performance, price, environmental impact and size, it is more difficult to forsee how applications will evolve.  An articled on Wired.com recently debated the death of the web while the internet lives on.  Regardless of your point of view, the commentary regarding the implication of an app based future is intriguing

Thanks to Apple and its ubiquitous devices, there seems to be an app for everything from reading our favorite publications to comparison shopping to bouncing penguins off the wall.  Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Groupon have led or leveraged the growing social mentality to share, communicate, and interact based on interests and now location.  Whereas 20 years ago we spoke of Big Brother’ and our fear of anyone having any visibility of comings and goings, now we have left “1984” behind and voluntarily share our likes, dislikes, and destinations.

Do we need to adopt all forms of social media and start developing apps for fear of being considered a ‘neo-luddite’? The term “social media” is becoming all encompassing.  Any application that creates some sort of community experience is considered social.  A community could be moms against peanut butter or customers interested in new storage technologies or individual investors trying to navigate the financial markets.  The challenge is in how any of these tools can provide solutions that are aligned with strategic business goals.

B2B Companies are using or experimenting with social networks to:

  • - understand customer opinion -> to increase customer satisfaction, customer retention, modify product features/functionality, maintain customer loyalty
  • - invite customers to events or webinars -> to  increase customer knowledge, increase customer touch points, qualify customer interest, increase quantity of leads
  • - provide product updates ->to  increase customer knowledge, invite customer input, increase customer loyalty
  • - share industry insight -> to show thought leadership, educate customers,  improve competitive differentiation
  • - offer special discounts or deals -> to drive short term revenue, create awareness,  reward community members
  • - create communities -> to understand trends, drive discussions on select topics, recruit new employees, crowdsource to solutions to simple and/or complex challenges

As long as these activities support higher level goals for sales, innovation, operational efficiency or other needs, the investment in social media is beneficial.

With the increased focus on apps, should companies be developing apps as well as using social networks?  Perhaps apps can help companies address these same goals.  If an app can be distributed on multiple devices, does that make it social?  Personally, I don’t think so.  Being social is about interaction and community.  So, if that app enables customers to easily interact with each other in some kind of semi-private walled garden, then perhaps it is social. 

I can envision B2B apps focused on addressing frequently asked customer questions.  As a long time HP employee in my past life, I can image HP apps to troubleshoot printing problems, a SMB focused app to configure servers, or an app to easily locate your nearest value added reseller (VAR). Other companies could leverage the data associated with calls coming into their 800 numbers to develop apps that easily and quickly address frequently asked customer questions.  By using social networks to inform their constituents that these apps exist and are available for download to defined devices, these companies leverage the two hottest trends (other than cloud computing), apps and social media to enrich their customer’s experiences.

Perhaps we need an app to help us keep up with all the new technologies that are emerging.  Ooops, perhaps that is the new Mashable app!

What’s your perspective?



The 4 Ps of Social Media Governance

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Social Media Governance.  What was your immediate reaction?  Yay, Awesome!?  Or, argh! - something else I have to be doing?  Governance is the "method or system of government or management". The good news is that your business has decided to use social media for some purpose.  Presumably you have some measurable goals in place and your use of social media is aligned with your overall communication plan.  How are you going to know if your use of social media is successful?  This is where governance comes into play.        

Governance is the business process to support your vision with relevant targets, skills, metrics and guidelines. Governance provides a framework to prove social media value.  Governance can be summarized as the 4 Ps.  Planning, Policy, Preparation & Protocol.

1.  Planning -   This is the hard part.  This is figuring out HOW you want to leverage social media.  Ideally, your company will have identified areas where social media can help your business achieve existing goals.  The impacted business groups will be aligned in how they will use social media to communicate and interact with customers, vendors or employees.  Planning is agreeing who takes the lead in your social media initiative and understanding the roles of impacted business groups.  Planning is setting a timeline for how you will move forward with your social media strategy.

2.  Policy - This is the critical part.  This is setting the company guidelines for what can or cannot be said via social media.  Policy is working across different business units, including legal and HR, to understand concerns about social communication and defining the parameters within which employees can be 'social'.  This is taking into account your corporate culture and expanding upon existing employee code of conduct guidelines - or not.

3.  Preparation - This is the nitty gritty part.  This is determining what kinds of social media platforms your company will use and determining if your company has sufficient resources to manage a social media initiative.  This is establishing your presence on the relevant social platforms (i.e., blogs, wikis, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.).  This is educating your employees on your policy and how your company will leverage social media and the various platforms.  Perhaps this is enabled via interactive training, an online handbook or a webinar.  This is making sure your employees know where to go if they have questions. Preparation is confirming how you will measure success and selecting the tools needed to capture necessary metrics.

4. Protocol - This is ongoing, every day part.  Protocol incorporates bits of planning, policy and preparation to ensure that guidelines are followed and that employees are engaging for the purpose intended.  Protocol will look at the ongoing measures of success and used the data collected to determine if plans need to be adjusted.  Protocol is how your social media team will communicate and address progress, hurdles or problems.

If you can keep these 4 Ps in mind as you initiate and implement your social media initiative(s) you will have the foundation for a successful venture.  Many forays into social media have mixed results, but often this is do to lack of planning and management of the effort.  While an ad hoc approach is great for gaining familiarity with the communication style and platforms, it does not enable you to set goals and prove that you have achieved them.

Your company uses some form of governance for its exsiting marketing, sales, product development or R&D projects, shouldn't social media be held to the same standards?  

What's your perspective? 



What's Your Social Identity?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I met with some potential business partners today.  Given my focus on helping clients figure out their strategy for using digital media solutions to tell their story online, I recognize the value brought by business partners who can develop custom applications, provide graphic design, tweak SEO or create video content.  We all agree that B2B companies face a different set of challenges in aligning and deploying digital media than their B2C bretheren. 

One question that often arises is about which social platforms they should be using.  My most common response is "it depends on where your customers are".  Interestingly, as I was talking to business partners today, the topic of knowing what platforms a company's customers may be using came up several times.  Then I stumbled on a blog by Jay Baer from May 14, 2010 referencing two platforms, Flowtown and RapLeaf that can help clients figure out what social platforms their customers and their employees are using.  I've read Jay's review of other social platforms and always appreciate his honest insights.  I'll be checking out these platforms out myself to better understand how to best leverage them.

Shortly after reading the Jay's blog on The Social Media Examiner, I stumbled on another blog about social identity.  NetProspex accessed corporate email contact lists to assess corporate social activity.  Check out the NetProspex Social Index, it may help you to see where the leading "social" companies are spending their time.  Does your company have a social identity?

Understanding your customer's social behavior while figuring out your own social identify can be daunting.  However, the value in knowing where and how to listen to your customers is measurable and meaningful.  Fortunately, there are platforms emerging that can help companies figure out where your customers are!  What methods or platforms are you using?  Let me know! 

What's your perspective?



Key Learnings from Marketing Profs B2B Forum 2010

Peggy Dau - Thursday, May 06, 2010

IMG_2522 by MarketingProfs Live.


I attended Marketing Profs B2B Forum 2010 in Boston this week.  For anyone seeking new ideas, validation, case studies, real life examples on how B2B companies are integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy - this is the event to attend!  (note:  I am not paid or in any way compensated by Marketing Profs).  While the event focuses on all aspects of B2B marketing (lead management/generation, SEO, Pipeline management, conversion rates, social media), I was most interested in the social media and content publishing topics.

The sessions were all led & hosted by B2B marketeers sharing their real life experiences.  Some key takeaways:

    - Align your social media strategy with your overall marketing strategy.  You've likely invested in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and defined keywords.  Incorporate those keywords into your social communication.  Align your overall editorial calendar.

    - Think about who your customers are and how they consume content. Do they want to read a detailed whitepaper or do they want a high level overview?   What part of the buying process are they in as they seek, access and consume content?

    - How do you track success of your marketing programs?  Do you invite feedback from your sales team and customers about the value of the content you  provide?

    - Think about how you can repurpose existing content into social media channels (i.e., blogs, tweets, slideshare, video).

    - Gain some insight into your company's social reputation as you define your strategy.  Who is mentioning your company or products online?  What and where are the sharing their thoughts?  Who are the key influencers in your industry and do they mention your company?

Humans are social.  Your employees are human. Ergo, your employees are social at least at a personal level.  They may enjoy being social, within company defined guidelines, on behalf of the company.  As a result you may learn more about external perceptions of your company that may help you refine your marketing strategy, communicate more effectively and positively influence the buying process.

The bottom line is that business buyers are investigating solutions to their business problems online, before they engage in active discussion with your sales team.   Your company has the opportunity to influence buyers via a wide variety of distribution channels.  Know your customer.  Know what content they need, when & where.  Adopt the right tools for the right conversation.

What's your perspective? 

 



Enterprise Video

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video has been utilized by Fortune 500 companies for many years.  The benefits it provides are numerouse and number of vendor, providing video centric solutions to small, medium & large companies, continues to grow.  That said, many companies don't necessarily use video to its best advantage and/or don't measure the ROI or don't align their use of video with key goals. 

I'm a big fan of enterprise use of video as there is no other medium that provides the same value as video.  Video is far more memorable than text.  Studies show that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words.   People remember 50% of what they see and hear vs. 10% of what they read. With that said, there are still many companies that don't have a strategy that incorporates video.

The Aberdeen Group recently released a complimentary report, "Business Class Video", that provides some excellent insights on how video is being utilized, what Best in Class companies are doing that differentiates them from the rest and recommendations for incorporating streaming video and/or video conferencing into your business strategy.  You can download the report on their website, but here are a few tidbits:

- 100% of Best-in-Class companies can measure the ROI for their video solutions vs. only 36% of Industry Laggards being able to measure ROI

- Learning & Development departments lead the way in the use of video solutions

- Lack of organized strategy is the top challenge for companies considring business video

This aligns with MAD Perspectives goals to help clients align their strategy for digital media with their business goals.  (And, in case you are wondering, there is no paid relationship between MAD Perspectives and The Aberdeen Group).  Defining relevant metrics (i.e., cost savings, reduced carbon footprint, qualified leads) based on the goal  (i.e., reduce travel, going green, increase sales) will enable companies to easily justify the investment in in-house, hosted or Saas video solutions.

Check out my FAQ section for more information on different types of video solutions and vendors.

Do you use video?  How do you incorporate video into your business?  Can you measure your ROI? 

What's your perspective? 



Self Knowledge in Defining Company Strategy

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 05, 2010

I attended Sobel Media's special event last Wednesday, "An Evening with Maria Bartiromo: "Ten Laws for Enduring Success".  As could be anticipated by the title of the event, Ms. Bartiromo was promoting her new book.  I'm reading the book now and see some parallels between Ms. Bartiromo's comments on how we as individuals can achieve success and how companies set strategies.  The first of her ten laws is Self Knowledge.  She defines self knowledge as "the ability to define for yourself what shape your life will take, and how you will pursue success...It is tangible, but not necessarily monetary."

Companies who are defining their digital media strategy also need to who they are and how they define success, before creating a strategy that leverages the plethora of digital media solutions available today.  They may be a technology, manufacturing, services, healthcare or media company.  Some industries adopt evolving technology solutions such as digital media, more rapidly than others.  They may be unsure as to the benefits associated with these solutions.  They have an image of their company and the industry in which they participate.  However, successful companies are constantly assessing their goals, product and/or service offerings, go-to-market models and assessing their measures of success.

In thinking about self knowledge as it relates to your business, consider what success means.  Yes, your business must drive revenue to stay in business.  But, what else do you want it to do?  Is it about innovation, customer service, philanthropy, education, saving the planet, feeding the world?  Once you've re-affirmed your goals, consider how you measure success.  Is it solely about revenue?  Or are their other metrics that will help you determine the success of your business.  Perhaps it's about patents filed, new products introduced, leverage of green technology, increased crop yield or reduced customer support resolution time.  It is hard work continuously validating, affirming and defining your goals, strategies and measures of success.  However, it provides you with the opportunity to listen and adapt.

This is a key tenant of self knowledge.  It is also a core mantra for evolving social media strategies.  Listen to yourself.  Listen to what others say about you.  Consider how your messages are being delivered, received and perceived.  You can adapt your strategy depending on your business, your industry, your product or solution, your distribution method, and your customer and the platforms or devices upon which they receive content.  What is your level of company self knowledge?  Do your executives and employees have a consistent understanding of company goals, strategies and measures of success?

What's your perspective?



What is Digital Media? You use it Every Day!

Peggy Dau - Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAD Perspectives' charter is to help companies define and plan their digital media strategy.  But, I often am greeted with quizzical looks.  These looks are that individual's request for further definition about my business.  Their primary question is, what is digital media?!  Interestingly, this is a term that has been around for quite some time, but with new buzz words emerging every day, it is no wonder that this term has been lost in the shuffle.  Let me take a few minutes to share my opinion on what digital media is and how it can help you and your business (btw, you use digital media every day!).

Digital Media is an amalgamation of tools that allow us to communicate, electronically, using text, images, audio and video.  These tools include software, hardware and hosted platforms to create, edit, store, manage, deliver, protect and distribute digital content.  These tools allow individuals and companies to connect, collaborate and communicate for fun or for business.  Let's explore a bit more.

The term digital media is the result of the marriage of technology and creative arts.  It is the digitization of compelling content (i.e., pictures, graphics, audio or video) for distribution across a network.   It is assumed that these are not analog radio or tv networks, but IP (or some evolution there of) networks.  As the internet became commonplace and networks became more sophisticated, businesses and consumers alike, eagerly consumed online content.  We looked forward to the old AOL message "You've Got Mail".  We took email a step further and started attaching files, pictures and video.  Digital media made the world seem a little bit smaller.

Websites evolved from static, brochure-like pages of information to interactive destinations that enabled consumers to post opinions, share recommendations and download information.  Depending on the site, we could watch video.  I remember watching clips from the 2003 World Series between my NY Yankees and the Florida Marlins (yeah, the Yankees lost, sigh!) on a PC while I was traveling in Europe.  Performance was sketchy at best, but it was awesome to be able to see at least a little bit of the game.

Technology has advanced.  Forget the arguments over formats, codecs, bitrates, bandwidth, editing suites, platforms, etc. They can all be sorted out.  Now, we take online video for granted.  In some cases we still have high expectations for video quality, but YouTube has taught us that quality may not always be the primary concern.  Many business websites incorporate video, flash or animation to augment their story.  User-generated content is de-rigueur for consumer sites and broadcast television.  Our perspectives, our thoughts and our images are all part of the story, regardless of whether it is entertainment, news, B2B or consumer oriented.  We do this via online video, social media, web conferencing, video conferencing or interactive marketing.  This is digital media.

Digital Media is our ability to share information, images, pictures, presentations, videos, animations about our companies, our products, ourselves while we are online, regardless of network or device.  What's your strategy for using digital media to tell your story?

What's your perspective?