(Photo: Kimberly Hossler and Annie Draper who run Carr Workplaces' Tysons Corner office.)
(Photo: Kimberly Hossler and Annie Draper who run Carr Workplaces' Tysons Corner office.)
I have given hundreds of new business presentations in the 15 years since founding Strategic Communications Group (Strategic). Some have gone great…a few have bombed, yet, all in all, I’d say in most instances my delivery was on target.
When I was purveyor of public relations services I had a couple of canned phrases I’d call on to illustrate the value of the awareness and credibility conferred by coverage from the media and analyst communities.
“People do business with companies they know and trust,” I’d say. “Public relations builds that know and trust.”
A fair statement and one that also applies to other brand oriented communications programs, such as advertising and event sponsorships. Yet, the return on investment from these types of expenditures is fuzzy at best.
Yes…there is value. But the financial return on that value is difficult to quantify.
It’s for this reason that Strategic has made such a dramatic pivot to re-position itself as a social media marketing consultancy implementing sales-oriented programs for technology and healthcare organizations.
By aligning our work with success benchmarks related to revenue drivers – lead generation, cultivation of prospect relationships and deal capture – we have proven it is possible for a company to derive a measurable return from its external communications efforts.
Admittedly, Strategic’s brand of sales-oriented social media is very much at the early adopter phase. I have never once received a request for proposal for a package of services consistent with what we do well. For us, sales and marketing remains an education of what’s possible with social.
So, you can imagine how jazzed I was when Forrester Research began touting its new research report that explores the ROI of social media marketing. Finally, this would be much needed validation to my contention to marketers that social can be so much more than setting up a corporate blog or Twitter feed, or merely listening to the online conversation.
Were my hopes in Forrester’s report smashed on the rocks?
Well…no. Senior analyst Augie Ray does discuss how marketers can “draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results.”
However, he affords as much of the discussion to the intangible benefits delivered via social networks – retweets, Facebook fans, site visits, positive ratings, etc.
“They can’t be counted on an income statement, but that doesn’t mean they are valueless,” Ray writes. “Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.”
Ugghh! Forrester’s Ray makes an unfortunate return to the “let’s hope we one day benefit from this” value proposition of most traditional channels of communication.
Marketers should demand a sales-related ROI from their social media budget. Awareness, positioning, credibility and thought leadership should be viewed as merely the unintended outcome of participating in online communities.
There is a well worn phrase in technology circles that you're never wrong...just early.
That's because enterprise adoption of new and emerging applications takes time and there is only so much influence a vendor can have on the natural cycle of customer decision-making. The challenge for purveyors of innovative solutions is to remain viable long enough to benefit once customer buying accelerates.
Enabling Technologies Corporation's Ellie Volerthum lives this challenge. As the marketing lead for a 35 person professional services firm, Ellie has patiently informed and educated mid-market companies and government agencies about the benefits of unified communications.
Rather than focusing on "gee whiz" features and functionality, Enabling Technologies' to-market strategy is to align unified communications with a customer's specific business problem or requirement. It's classic solution selling.
The Washington, DC Convention Center is certainly buzzing with traffic, technology and tweets.
Just arrived at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference after spending a couple of hours with a client discussing social media priorities, strategies and success benchmarks for the second half of the year.
My first impression is that Microsoft certainly has its act together when it comes to putting on such a grand event. Attendance is estimated at nearly 15,000, yet directional signage is clear and there are a myriad of staffers and event personnel there to point you in the right direction.
Plus, there is plenty of access to the infrastructure needed to conduct business and commerce while at the event. Access to a wireless network is a free and there are a host of quiet, spots to sit, plug-in and bang out a blog post.
Good show, Microsoft. I’m off to my first partner interview.
Visit http://www.microsoftpartnernews.com for more blogs, tweets and content from the company's Worldwide Partner Conference.
I suspect the recruitment ad from 435 Digital Services for a “social media guru” caught the eye of many a communications professional in search of a new career opportunity.
Was 435 Digital Services a hot, new start-up? The newly formed interactive division of a large ad agency? Or a spin-off of a public relations firm?
No…no…and no. As it turns out, 435 Digital Services is a recently launched consulting initiative from dusty, old school (and still bankrupt) publisher Tribune Companies.
This stab to provide digital and social media marketing services spawned from the Tribune Companies’ Chicago Now blog network. When sales reps attempted to push ad buys, they found that many of their target advertisers knew little about attracting commerce via online channels or search engine optimization.
435 Digital Services was born as an experiment to help the publisher develop new revenue streams.
“We think creating a special group dedicated to that idea is worth trying,” said Bill Adee, the publisher’s digital department vice president.
In another corner of the publishing world, Jonah Bloom, CEO and editor in chief of Breaking Media, is also hip deep in revenue experimentation. Reader access to content archives, conferences and…yes…even journalists may soon be the sole domain of premium subscribers.
Plus, Bloom predicts the adoption of a direct sales model by publishers. For instance, a reader could purchase a book reviewed by the publication.
Hmmm…I wonder what that sales motivation might do to journalistic integrity and third-party objectivity.
This thrashing about for potential new sources of revenue is a wise move by publishers as its clear the traditional advertising-supported model is no longer viable.
It’s also further validation of my contention of a dramatic and sustained shift in influence from traditional sources of creditability to social networks and online communities.
Comcast Spotlight’s Erin Pinckney faces a challenge common among business-to-business marketers: how do you effectively promote a brand within a brand?
Comcast Spotlight is the advertising division of the global media and entertainment company. They offer national, regional and local businesses the ability to reach customers in the Washington, DC market through cable television, online, On Demand and on-site advertising.
It’s a business driven by the aggregation of eyeballs, coupled with the ability to segment viewers by topical interest and preferred medium.
As Comcast Spotlight’s director of marketing, Erin’s task is to increase awareness of the division’s portfolio of media offerings for advertisers, while not distracting from the corporate parent’s broader positioning geared towards consumers.
The mission of crafting a credible brand within a brand is comparable to the one Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has worked on as part of the Monster Government Solutions team. This case study in BtoB Magazine explains more.
Erin was the most recent featured speaker in Strategic’s professional development series entitled “Creativity in Communications.” And creativity is just what Erin employs to meet the rugged expectations of her job.
She encouraged our staff to consider the following:
1. Think inside the box. It’s critical to leverage an organization’s existing resources and assets when marketing a product or service. For instance, Erin has put in place a number of successful co-marketing campaigns with Comcast Business Class, the cable system’s B2B arm that offers Digital Cable, High-Speed Internet and Digital Voice service to businesses across the Beltway Region.
2. Be fearless when brainstorming. Creative ideas are typically revised and refined as they are worked through the production process. Big ideas tend to produce big results.
3. Don’t shy from “stealing” ideas from successful campaigns in different market segments. When you’re exposed to a great concept, idea or campaign – think about how you can translate and evolve it into an effective promotion for your unique product or service.