All will be highlights of Thursday’s BrandSmart 2010 thought-provoking sessions and discussions. Click here for the full agenda.
Word of mouth (WOM) marketing, and the control brand marketers gained over it, will garner attention through Dave Kissel, partner at Zocalo Group, and his presentation “Word of Mouth Marketing: The Most Powerful Form of Influence Is Now The Newest Way to Build Brands.” Sharon Feigon, CEO of I-GO Car Sharing will spotlight how her company was able to build awareness and grow a diverse membership base with a relatively small budget – a topic all marketers can take something away from, given organizations’ general budget tightening over the last 18-24 months.
Following lunch, FedEx Services Vice President Len Hostette will deliver the afternoon keynote. Len will draw on his experience at FedEx to demonstrate how the company has remained relevant by focusing on the future – more specifically, focusing on what is important to the company’s next generation of customers and employees.
And Lady Gaga? She will be discussed by Jon Pollock, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Polaroid. Earlier this year, Polaroid announced a partnership with Lady Gaga for the entertainer to serve as creative director for a specialty line of the company’s imaging products. How is the partnership between a 70-year-old brand and a 20-something British pop superstar going? Join us at BrandSmart to find out more.
The day will also feature even more relevant topics in the areas of innovation, engagement strategies, and social media.
See you there!
(These topics are great, but don’t forget about the awards – brand marketer’s version of the red carpet! During lunch, peers will be honored in the categories of consumer, business-to-business, non-profit, new product launch, small budget, and pure digital.)
The global brand is set to introduce some new menu items such as Angus Snack Wraps, McCafé Real Fruit Smoothies, and McCafé Frappés (which have been rolling out nationally for the past few months). At an exclusive product-tasting event in NYC in early June, McDonald's executives and representatives “made it loudly known that they care about the quality of their ingredients, they are constantly innovating and they base many of their actions on customer feedback.”
Small business owners of all ages are embracing social media networks and using them to empower their organization in today’s highly competitive marketplace. One in five small business owners is incorporating social media into their marketing plans according to a study done by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Small Business Success Index (SBSI). All types of small businesses doubled their adoption rate of social media usage from 12% to 24% in 2009. Naturally, this helped to spur on an increase in time spent on social media, +82% more time, or 5.5 hours per month in 2009.
Who are these small business owners? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,“More Americans Start Own Business” by Laura Petrecca, USA Today, the fastest growing sector of small businesses, +29% growth rate, is among those aged 65+ years old (10% of the total). That translates to some 213,000 senior citizens, or baby boomers, spurring on our economy with their ingenuity and experience. The next largest sector of growth is among those aged 20-24 years old, at 16% growth (3% of the total). However, the largest sector of small business owners, 26% of the total, is still the 45-54 year old boomers who experienced soft trends of -2% vs. 2008. It’s interesting that the very young professional or new graduate and the mid-career professional and the senior citizen professional are all playing a vital role in keeping the US small business sector healthy.
No matter how old you are, if you are a small business owner, you may want to know how other small businesses are utilizing social media, why others are using it and does it pay off? The Small Business Success Index™ (SBSI) reports the major social media trends:
- 75% have a company page on a social networking site
- 69% post updates/articles on LinkedIn and/or Facebook
- 58% feel that it met expectations, 12% feel it exceeded expectations and 25% feel it fell short of expectations
- 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
- 54% monitor positive/negative feedback on social network sites
- 50% say it takes more time than expected
- 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months
- 39% have a blog on an area of expertise
- 36% Tweet about an area of expertise
- 17% express that social media give people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet, yet only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than it helped
- 15% us Twitter as a customer service channel.
Here are the most common reasons for using social media for small business owners:
- 73% claim that social media identifies and attracts new customers
- 56% say it develops a higher awareness of your organization within your target market
- 46% use it to stay engaged with their current customers
- 34% claim it allows them to collaborate more effectively externally, with suppliers, partners and colleagues
- 25% claim it allows them to collaborate more effectively internally.
One of the big issues today is whether or not social media efforts are worth it. Here is an article that speaks to the success of Twitter and blogging in effectively increasing lead generation from Hubspot in eMarketer’s online publication. Businesses are just now figuring out how to measure and calculate the effectiveness of social media, so watch out for more studies examining the ROI of social media in the future. In the meantime, the Small Business Index report indicates that 22% of small businesses have made a profit already while 53% feel that they will make a profit in the next 12 months and only 9% say they will lose money. With these preliminary numbers in mind, it is safe to say that social media networks do in fact work and empower a small business in staying competitive.
If you are not using social media networks or have no clear plan, here are just a few articles that may assist you in how to approach them and some simple steps on what to do.
The nuances of the unspoken etiquette and on participating with integrity from MarketingProfs.
- How and why you should use the top three social medial networks, e.g. Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, from MarketingProfs.
- Tips, tools and trends for mastering social media from Small Business Trends.
- Social media marketing tips by type of social media from Mashable/Business.
For some examples of companies that are using social media networks, see below. You can learn from representative of these companies at the Brandsmart Conference 2010 in Chicago on June 24th.
I-Go Car blog
Is your small business or company using social media more these days? Tell us how social media has changed the marketing landscape for your company or business.
Perhaps the future of brands is best summed up in this statement from Interbrand's The Future of Brands: "The future of brands is inextricably linked to the future of business. In fact, the future of brands is the future of business if it is to be about sustainable wealth creation. Further, because of the interaction of brands with society, and since so many socially influential brands are in the not-for-profit sector, the future of brands is also inextricably linked to the future of society."
If the future of brands is linked directly to the future (and success) of business and society, it's difficult to completely identify indicators about what is next with certainty. That said, there are recent trends that have been adopted by various brands that may give us clues.
- Engage your audience.
Successful brands can no longer deliver a one-way message. Competition is fierce in the market place. As a result, it has become more important for a brand to engage and relate directly to its consumers. Car makers have really stepped up to this trend. Think about Ford's "Swap Your Ride" and Toyota's Sienna minivan advertisements. Toyota makes driving a minivan cool. Ford reminds us why more people choose their cars over the competition.
- Participate in partnerships and collaborations.
Brands need to think above and beyond their bottom line and many are doing so by giving back to the community. This community kickback drives profits for the brand, but it also engages consumers beyond the scope of the product's use. Consumers feel good about giving back to the community and as a result feel good about the brand. Take a look at Dawn and its most recent campaign. For every bottle of Dawn soap purchased (up to $500,000) $1 will be donated to help save wildlife in the oil spill. Yoplait in its "Save Lids to Save Lives" is another brand that has partnered with a non-profit organization to raise money for breast cancer. How can your brand make a difference and still leave a lasting impression?
- Provide a social experience. Create a community.
What better way to develop a deeper connection with your consumers than to develop an online community for them to share, discuss and socialize with other consumers within the context of your brand. It is also a great way to learn more about your consumers. This has been an increasingly popular trend and many organizations are either developing their own platforms, such as Harley-Davidson with HarleyLot and Pepsi with their Pepsi Refresh Project. The future will certainly include many new online platforms. How will your brand stay relevant and ahead of the curve with its online outreach?
FutureBrand's Ten Trends for 2009+ gives great insight to the future of brands. Specifically with its #10 Trend: Fear of the Unknown. As stated, "The point of this trend is to push home the point that the future is ultimately unknowable. Yes you can see general patterns and make well-educated speculations about next week or next year based partly on past events and human behaviour. But if history teaches us anything, it is surely that totally unexpected ideas, inventions and events ... have a habit of ruining logical and well laid-out plans."
With 9.7% unemployment rate in the US, how do you land the right job offer, or any job offer? The average length of time someone is unemployed is 34.4 weeks or 8.5 months. What if it takes you longer? How long can you go without replacing your leaky roof? Frankly, the TV ad for The Ladders portrays the situation perfectly. You are one of a large pack of job hunters running frantically all over the tennis court after the same, dinky little tennis ball. People all around you are pushing and maneuvering around the same target. Deep down inside, you know you need a personal strategy to not only keep you in the game, but to differentiate yourself from the rest of the tennis pack. What choices should you make? Do you spend money and time perfecting your resume? Should you start your own website? Should you beef up your social media efforts? How do you juggle the myriad of choices at your fingertips?
The answer is easy but difficult to execute well. One must build and nurture a strong personal brand in order to stay in the game and win the match. Overtime, a personal brand that is honest, unique and relevant, will edge out your competitors and get you the job you need to survive, and the position you deserve.
To help you effectively manage your time and communicate your personal brand, listen to the inside recommendations from two marketing recruiters, Geri Kleeman from The Kleeman Group, Marilyn Vojta from Vojta & Associates and marketing consultant David Kissel, Partner at Zocalo Group and AMA Brandsmart Conference speaker, June 24th. Here’s how they collectively rated and evaluated the following key components most often used in building a strong personal brand. (Scores from 1-10, 1 Low Importance to 10 Most Important).
(Personal Brand Activity with respective rating and evaluation in order of priority)
1. Job Interview 10+
Of course, an interview is the most important factor in landing a job. There were three simple things our experts wanted to share:
- Be consistent and portray your personal brand with 5-7 prepared stories that exemplify who you are, what you stand for and what your promise is.
- Kleeman suggests you should avoid the trend of “panel interviews because they are a huge injustice to the person being interviewed.” Companies are justifying panel interviews because it saves time for the panel members. Regardless, it’s not an effective means to get to know the candidate.
- Use behavioral techniques, like the STAR technique, to quantify and describe your main points. Make sure you provide clear examples of what you’ve done that can lead to how you can deliver results for this potential employer and be as specific as possible.
2. Resume 9.3
This vehicle, to no surprise, is not going away. Kissel says “it is the common currency that documents oneself in the marketplace in a condensed format.” However, it’s vital that you have a well-written resume because recruiters see plenty poorly written resumes (believe it or not). This is the first opportunity for you to communicate and solidify your personal brand. “Make sure you take a stand and speak to who you are, what you stand for, and what your promise is” says Kissel. In order to uncover your personal branding qualities, he recommends that you “think about if people were talking about you, what would you want them to be saying? Somewhere in or around those words is where you should start in defining your personal brand.” Are you known to be passionate, a master with numbers, or someone who knows how to get things done?
3. Phone Interview/Conversation 9.3
Both recruiters felt that the phone was key and pivotal throughout the entire process. Do not underestimate the fundamental power of a two-way, personal conversation. This vehicle can sway someone into either making you a job offer or even convincing them not to hire you. Here are a couple of ideas to help:
- Whenever you can, get a conversation going and be persuasive about selling your personal brand.
- Align your conversations or stories around your personal branding qualities and what the truth of your promise is. Always remember that your written key messages should be consistent with your verbal key messages.
4. Linkedin.com 8.7
Eight-percent of employers seek new employees using Linkedin and recruiters rely heavily on this social media channel to seek out new candidates. Therefore, in order to be competitive, you must have a healthy presence on Linkedin. Here are some tips:
- Quality of links are more believable and important than quantity, 50+ is OK
- Make sure your personal brand shines through and matches your resume.
- Take advantage of this channel because it is more dynamic than a resume, says Kissel. All three sources believed that you should join pertinent organizations and engage in conversations for the purposes of widening your network and building trusting relationships with individuals you don’t ever meet face to face.
- Kissel also explains how Linkedin can be a short cut for trust when used well. For instance, enough of the right recommendations can portray trust. One way to get recommendations is to give them out to others unsolicited and you will automatically get them back in return. However, don’t forget that quality is more important than quantity, where thirty is definitely too many. Lastly, ensure that your recommendations align with your key personal brand messages.
5. Verbal References 8.0
Recruiters use references in two very important ways, one way you may be aware of and the other may be a surprise.
- Recruiters rely heavily on casual references. Unbeknownst to you, they are calling your former supervisor or someone else in their network that knows you for a quick chat. This is part of their regular due diligence so it’s in your best interest to never burn any bridges, even under the most trying of circumstances like a firing or a lay-off.
- Once a company is ready to give out an offer, a recruiter calls your “official” references for a longer 15-20 minutes chat. Ensure that your references are aligned with your personal brand messaging because the recruiters are looking for continuity and fit. So, if you claim that you are passionate about your work and none of your references bring this quality up, this weakens your claim.
6. Professional Extracurricular Activities 7.0
Do not be lazy or so busy that you fail to participate in professional associations. . Basically, involvement in organizations is evidence that you are still learning, well connected and on top of your game. These are qualities that are more desirable than someone who is stuck inside their own cocoon.
- Vojta feels that “being a part of a professional organization shows that you are a global thinker”.
- Kissel adds some good spin by suggesting you should take these activities and extend them, publicize them into the social media channels in order to extend the reach of your personal brand
- Don’t become involved in so many organizations that it’s impossible for you to stay involved and keep up.
7. Organic Name Search on Yourself 7.0
There is some variation on how much recruiters and employers search your name organically. Regardless, you should search yourself in case you need to correct anything misleading, differentiate yourself from someone with the same name or improve a lack of meaningful listings. Our sources share that:
* It is more appropriate to search a name for senior level positions.
* You may never get the phone interview if someone is not impressed with your listings or even a little curious.
8. Blogging for yourself or for your company 5.3
According to our two recruiters, blogging for the purpose of expressing your personal brand is not monitored by those who are vetting you for a position. So, they do not advise blogging in order to to get found. However, there are other venerable reasons for blogging such as expressing your opinions as an expert on some subject, for the purpose of being heard, helping others, garnering advertisers and earning an income as a blogger and more . Here’s what the experts had to say:
- According to Vojta, it’s possible that your opinions could be misconstrued or considered too strong and it could actually work against you.
- Kissel had a pertinent warning that “if you can’t think and express a unique, meaningful point of view, don’t blog. It’s all about what makes you special, your point of view.”
- Kleeman would not bother investigating anyone’s blog unless it was a part of the position they were applying for.
9. Facebook 4.0
Presently, the majority of recruiters and most employers don’t seem to be checking Facebook profiles, walls or photos according to our three experts. Facebook has a strong personal social aspect to it and is not as professionally oriented as Linkedin. However, look out!
- Although Kissel recognized Facebook’s personal utility, he realized that it could negatively impact your professional life. More than half of employers surveyed by Harris Interactive recently reported they did not hire candidates based on provocative photos or references to drugs or alcohol. Needless to say, that is not considered good personal branding.
- One recruiter predicted that more and more companies may start reviewing Facebook for younger, new hires in order to discover things they cannot ask legally, e.g. gender, race etc. In addition, a company could also use a Facebook presence to judge your integrity and character. Regardless of age, it’s wise not to put anything on Facebook that could malign your professional character or negatively sway a potential employer.
10. Twitter 3.7
Every one of the sources claimed that Twitter is not highly relevant in the job search today. Only one out of three sources Twitters diligently despite the fact that there are 110MM Twitterers. Overall, this new social media channel is still immature and crowded with noise, but, if executed regularly, efficiently and wisely, I believe there may be some opportunities waiting to happen. Some companies recruit directly on Twitter. What successes have you heard about? In the meantime, here are some comments from our sources.
- Aptly stated by Kissel, “Twitter is a lot of talk and not a lot of meaning.”
- Kleeman uses it as another channel to stay in touch with candidates and gets the word out with tips, advice and announcements of job openings for her followers. This alone may be good reason for a job hunter to follow recruiters and their Tweets.
11. Personal Branded Website 1.0
All three of our experts saw no value in developing a personal website. It may be a big waste of time and is not the most effective means to communicate your personal brand, especially since there are so many other vehicles that can do the same thing.
Take a deep look inside of yourself to uncover the truest attributes that make you special, differentiated and competitive in the workforce. Take time and effort to consistently communicate these qualities across all methods, verbal and written, and throughout numerous social media channels, in order to extend your brand into new territory.
Like Marilyn Vojta wisely reminded us, “if you can brand and market a widget, you can brand and market yourself”. What successes have you had in some of these channels?
But this $104 billion doesn’t represent a particular company’s revenues; it equals the difference between Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) market capitalization ($150 billion) and its book value ($46.6 billion). According to P&G’s 2009 annual report, “The difference is the value P&G shareholders place on the Company’s brands, the earnings and cash these brands generate today, and the confidence that these leading brands will continue to grow in the future.”
$89 billion is another impressive number. It represents the value of net goodwill and other intangible assets on P&G’s balance sheet. These facts raise questions for brand marketers: Why are there tens of billions of valued intangible assets on the balance sheet, and what does this mean?
London-based consulting firm Brand Finance teaches us that brand valuation and other “intangible assets” began to figure more prominently on balance sheets over 20 years ago when, “the corporate raiders and asset strippers of the 1980s who targeted brand rich companies and paid significantly more than their net asset value. This resulted in huge ‘goodwill’ values that had to be recognized.” All of a sudden, companies realized that they needed legitimate means to account for brands so that the true value of a company was recognized on the balance sheet.
CoreBrand is another company specializing in brand valuation; others include Interbrand and Millward Brown. CoreBrand defines an intangible asset representing, “the reputational portion of goodwill.” (CoreBrand published the CoreBrand 800 that tracks top brands. P&G ranked 50 in the Q4 2009 rankings. CocaCola ranked first. According to its 2009 annual report, CocaCola’s combined goodwill and intangible asset value was $6.6 billion.)
For P&G, its $89 billion net goodwill and other intangible asset value has been built over decades of investing in research to deliver innovative products, and well-executed, highly strategic marketing and branding initiatives. The company puts it pretty simply, “P&G’s billion-dollar brands are platforms for innovation. They are global leaders. Consumers want them in their homes. Retailers want them in their stores. They enable us to bring innovation to consumers around the world effectively, efficiently and profitably. They make consumers’ lives a little better, every day.”
Numbers like these clearly have the attention of company CEOs and CFOs, as evidenced by their appearance on balance sheets. However, brand values have further financial implications for annual reports. First, brand valuation plays a critical role when a parent company moves to sell or divest a brand. The purchase of Pabst Blue Ribbon at $250 million is a good example of brand valuation driving a sale. Second, brand strength is a key factor in stock price. We’ve already discussed the $104 billion gap between P&G’s market capitalization and its book value, but also take a look at this interesting story about company stock performance following appearances on this spring’s successful Undercover Boss. Each public company’s stock was higher since the episode aired.
$104 billion and $89 billion – these numbers are more than just a feeling, they are real numbers vital to a company’s financial health. How does your branding strategy fit into your company’s financial strategy? We welcome your thoughts.
- Premium pricing: Consumers pay more for branded items that they believe have higher value and lower risk than lesser-known alternatives. This preference is based largely on the trust that a given brand engenders. Think Grey Goose vs. Smirnoff or Tumi vs. American Tourister.
- Lower cost of sales: Consumers of valued brands make more frequent and repeat purchases, which spread customer-acquisition costs over a long-term client relationship.
- Lower cost of promotion: Consumers of valued brands become ambassadors who spread positive word-of-mouth at no cost to the brand.
- Higher market share: Valued brands acquire loyal customers who recruit more customers to the brand, increasing the brand’s share of market while reducing customer-development costs and building immunity to competitive attacks.
- Lower employee turnover: Great brands attract passionate employees who pass their enthusiasm to satisfied consumers, who in turn make employees’ jobs more enjoyable, reducing employee turnover as a result. The trust factor is significant among employees as well.
- Higher stature: Valued brands enjoy a high level of awareness and esteem in the minds of consumers, industry leaders, community leaders, news editors, financial analysts and investors, which leads to yet higher brand preference and marketplace prominence.