Does Fast Adoption Give Your Company A Competitive Edge?

Posted by: on May 21, 2013 | No Comments

We’ve seen how early Social Media adopters took the spotlight for being first on the scene, but we’ve also witnessed big brands buying those early adopters back into obscurity. After the dust has settled, the Social environment has finally come to rest with a slew of major platforms and tertiary tools to manage them or enhance them.

If your company is large enough to micro-target its audiences, you can engage on every channel, as recommended in the Forbes article “How To Be A Great CMO” featuring highlights from Salesforce Marketing Cloud CMO Michael Lazerow at ad:tech. Unfortunately, not every company can afford to allocate their marketing budget to every Social channel, where spreading funds too thin would undermine the brand’s position in traditional media channels. By investing in the customer segmentation personas and continuously evaluating where those customers are, whether in geography or virtual behaviors, we can target the channels that best lead to leads and conversions for our company. For example, a Pinterest audience may be far more interested in purchasing or planning purchases of household items, décor or fashion, whereas a YouTube audience may be seeking ‘how to’ information or entertainment. While brand recognition and retention can be built in either channel, one or more may prove more relevant for your Social Media investment. Lazerow points out those customer response mechanisms have to be built into the culture of the company, and that those response mechanisms have to be scalable.

When taking into consideration the operational and research needs necessary to justify early adoption of emerging media, does it make sense to capitalize on trends for even a temporary competitive advantage? Look back to your core brand values – if ‘innovation’ is part of your mantra then your answer is clearly ‘yes’.

As a brand marketing executive, I’ve often been responsible for defining the roles, responsibilities and resources necessary to simultaneously develop brand and sales leads while providing the infrastructure necessary to deliver consistent messaging and meaningful reporting. Marketers have become so specialized that it’s important to consider the specifics and details needed to integrate people as well as technology. I relate to this quote by Denise Incandela, CMO Saks Fifth Avenue on CMO.com, “As CMO, my responsibilities are to oversee everything from promotions to targeting marketing, to advertising our loyalty program to social media, to our catalogs, public relations, analytics, and insights—everything marketing-related.” In short, the brand!

Laying out the strategy based on the customer, defining the tactics and how those reinforce the brand values and then implementing the continuous workflow is simply the first part of a marketer’s job. We then identify which components will be variable, and how annual campaigns will layer creativity that is disruptive enough to get attention but still in keeping with the brand values.

By continuously identifying gaps in metrics or even overlaps in revenue attribution, I’ve found that early adoption of new tools can add clarity and shorten the sales cycle. It’s important to weight the cost of disruption to normal process vs. the potential ROI.

However, some online tools are simplistic enough to add value without disruption. Affordable ‘ad-hoc’ tools like WPO that crowd source what your competition is doing and help you measure your web presence vs. key competitors, CrazyEgg provide website user heat maps to identify customer behaviors, Optimizely allows for rapid A/B testing without IT involvement or permanent rewriting of code or content, and Viewbix looks promising for actionable conversion where conversion was previously lacking. These types of innovations add intelligence insights to the data set with potential for improvement in conversions, and early adoption is justifiable to ROI.

With much discussion surrounding the value of big data, and an ongoing lack of marketing leaders’ access and adoption as demonstrated in this recent MarketingProfs post, “Four Foundational Elements of Marketing Analytics Success”, focus once again is directed towards the relationship between CIO and CMO (again, thankful for my CPA background!). The new age of marketing leadership is one that can rapidly assimilate technology and leverage the changes offered by its use while maintaining deep understanding of essential marketing principles and strategy. Technology without strategy is akin to a car ride without destination, directions or fuel. While thoroughly enjoyable for those who like to drive, the results will be devastating if the purpose was to deliver the goods.