The integration philosophy is born from seven concurrent trends (for more on this, stay tuned), but the challenge is that each "one" tends to function in its own differing ways. In effect, true integration often stalls very quickly because we look for limited bridges between one or two areas in our organization, versus looking for customer-led moments where we can test, prove and broadcast the value of integration across a much wider gamut.

puzzle

Seven drivers of integration:

1. Wastage: Marketing is increasingly under pressure to show ROI. Integration portrays much less of a “waste-oriented mantra” than channel-only or share of voice (driven by awareness activities).

2. C-suite lexographic shift: Increasingly c-suites talk about customer journeys and pathways. These views need a more customer-based lens. Integration offers a logical step towards achieving this by talking about combining elements through the journey.

3. Online makes it much easier to track and act faster: Social and digital allow you to track activities in near real-time. This means it is a touch easier to monitor, or at least correlate with simple regressions. For example, what happens when activity A and activity B happen together or in sequence? It is about measurable baby steps to some (apologies for misquoting Bill Murray in the film What About Bob).

4. Budget shortsightedness: SOX forces a lot of late-in-the-quarter investment models and it rarely gives marketers time to roll out large, complex programs. Integration offers a simple process that feels closed-looped enough to quickly justify a change in short-term available funds by the next quarterly scramble. It feels a little like trench warfare (a few inches at a time), but it is the reality of where we are, especially in U.S.-led organizations.

 

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Why one + one is not proper integrated sales and marketing

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

"Integration" is a hot term driven by a combination of seven environmental factors. I contend that "integration" means creating a consistent experience across the customer's interaction with the brand. The challenge is that it is often siloed into one-on-one situations that aren't tracked. For example, a customer service agent on the phone might not know that a customer has tried to return an item to the store three times.

The true catalyst of integration evolves around understanding and embracing the value of a customer's engagement. Experience and evidence shows us that the fully engaged digital and social B2B and B2C brands are the only ones that can fully deliver the promise of integration. Without embracing this philosophy, organizations appear somewhat doomed to poke around the promise of integration.

Digital and social brands that embrace integration reap far more benefits from customer journey-based integration because they get the double-edged opportunity to react faster to market changes, and gain insights ahead of the competition. This is based on managing the customer's journey and leveraging social and digital as the engagement mechanism.

A Set of POVs to Drive Your Future

In a series of points of views over the next few months we are going to walk through what it takes to be truly integrated, and not just with one or two functions, but across a wide range. We have seen evidence in best practices that the pressure to do social and digital "right" is even greater than before. A limited perspective (one + one) will miss the wider and more effective opportunity.

One + One is Not Really Integration

Integrated online and offline, integrated online and social, integrated sales and channel, integrated media and marketing, integrated communications and brand: These are the marketing (and sometimes sales-based) marriages, especially inside B2B, we increasingly hear about. We call this integration, the integration of one + one. One function plus another bonding together at some point in the customer's journey. This is a start, but it really is an old world way of thinking and taking advantage of integration.

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Originally Published PR Week, June 30, 2011 (subscription access only)

I've noticed that many companies that instinctively know they should be active in social media are moving forward tentatively and would like to move faster.

These organizations have grasped the importance of social media to their communications strategy. But whether it's because they're nervous about diving into the online conversation, or caught up in internal bickering over who "owns" it, or lack confidence in their strategy, their tentative pace is denying them the benefits of a more robust online engagement. They know they should be moving faster, but they're not sure how to do it.

Last week, while I was participating in an excellent Arthur W. Page Society "Future Leaders Experience," the group addressed this problem. Three success factors for accelerating successful online engagement emerged from the discussion:

1. Pique their competitive nature with a "best practices" assessment

Companies are often risk averse and don't like to be too far out front in using new technologies. Reviews of "best practices" often provide a level of comfort that comes from knowing what their peers are doing, learning from the mistakes of others, and benchmarking their own progress against leaders both outside and from within their own industries.

But "best practices" reviews have another motivating effect: they fire up people's competitive instincts. Nothing concentrates management's attention so much, or motivates them to action, as learning that a competitor is stealing the lead on them, and the race to benefit from engagement in social media is no exception.

2. Identify the key digital influencers in your space, and the hidden successes in your company

Sometimes, organizations don't move forward because they don't know where to start. In social media, management may be aware of platforms like Twitter and Facebook as factors in their personal lives, yet have no idea how those two platforms - and the much larger online ecosystem - influences their customers, employees and other stakeholders. Without knowing where to target their attention or their resources, they end up doing nothing.

They may also be relatively unaware of the small, experimental efforts already underway within their organization.

The fix? Do a thorough audit of the "digital ecosystem" in which your company operates, together with a careful look inside the company to see where social media activity already is (or isn't) underway. Find opportunities to create small success stories, and make the people who have achieved them champions (and trainers) who can help bring other, less adventurous, units up to speed.

Don't be surprised if some of your best success stories come from tired, mainstay brands that are willing to take some risks to rejuvenate their image. Think about how P&G stalwart "Old Spice" shook up its category with the "I'm on a horse" video that went viral.

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"A camel is a horse designed by a committee," so the saying goes.

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PulsePoint Group
April 8, 2011

A recap of last week’s POV posts:

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Last week Google launched a new social feature called +1. For searchers with a Google account, they will have the option of clicking the "+1" button, which is similar to the Facebook "like." Then, other searchers who are signed into Google will see "+1" feedback from their connections.

ReadWriteWeb explains Google's reasoning for the new feature,

"But in the long run, Google says +1 will help users find relevant content, and that's good news if, indeed, your site delivers. Google also says that ‘as with any new ranking signal, we'll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.'"

+1 Means More Personalization

Google has been working on breaking into the social space in a big way, but I'm not sure this is it. While social media has proven that people value the references and input of their real-life friends, that may not be true when a user is looking for a specific type of content rather than just browsing. Especially, when your friends might not have experience in the category you are searching for.

Ray Grieselhuber of GinzaMetrics says that search results will keep moving toward increased personalization.

"Despite its growing presence in our daily lives, one of the least talked-about, most important trends in online marketing and media today is the expansion of personalization. Within just a few years, internet users are going to expect highly personalized experiences with their brands, videos, games, websites, shopping, and yes, searches."

Personalization will certainly mean more relevant search results and more relevant marketing strategies overall, but the user-experience of rating search results might be difficult. By the time you realize that a site is helpful for you, you've probably already left the search results.

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March 24, 2011

sxsw-interactive-recap1

SXSW is over ... and I'm not going to lie, I'm enjoying the decrease in downtown traffic and increase in cell signal. Overall though, I had a blast at SXSWi and was impressed with this year's line up.

The five days of Interactive were packed with wall-to-wall sessions and inspiring keynotes. The stand out keynote for me was Felicia Day, the creator and star of The Guild. I learned she is a fellow U.T. alum, math major and class valedictorian! Felicia talked about how she harnesses the power of social media to build her show and how others can do the same. She had a quirky way of getting her points across. I think a crowd favorite was  "your campaign should not be a booty call; it's a long term relationship." I believe her point here is that you should be engaging fans on an ongoing basis, and not just when you need their money or support.

My favorite session I attended was, "The Future of Storytelling: DEXTER Fans Play Killer." The panel was made up of the Dexter ARG "alternate reality game," team. Howard Goldkrand, director of Innovations Modernista!, really honed in on transmedia storytelling, stating "... if done right, creates a sense of community and personal experience." He also urged the audience to think about content in context. Of course having die-hard fans (literally) didn't hurt the success of their campaign either!

As my colleague Austin predicted, location-based services was a major topic. I especially enjoyed Foursquare's Kick Off party at Moltov and all the free swag. A location-based app that generated some buzz was SCVNGR. The app is a real world location-gaming service, which is part game, part new business model for daily deals. The company is hoping to compete with Groupon and Living Social.

Cloud computing was another popular topic, with speakers from VMWare, Salesforce.com and Google all making appearances at sessions. The overall message was that the cloud is an ever-evolving technology, which enables companies in the corporate or start-up phase to gain virtual computing access on the cheap.

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PulsePoint Group
March 14, 2011

A recap of last week's POV posts:

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Originally Published PR Week, March 4, 2011 (subscription access only)

I spent many years on the agency side - at Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, and GCI Group - pitching business and always wondering what it would be like on the other side of the table.

Now I know.

My firm doesn't do a lot of agency search for our clients, but occasionally we're asked to help out. Coincidentally, we've been involved in a few situations just since the beginning of the year.

The process is enlightening. Here are some lessons learned that agencies would be well advised to consider.

Stand for something. During an RFI stage, particularly if the agency's information is being communicated only in writing, be sure you write your information in a concise, crisp manner - and absolutely be sure your firm stands for something. Have a point of view on measurement; articulate a client service model or an approach to audience insights that you believe works exceptionally well for your firm and for your clients.

Pure capabilities are only a starting point; why would having good capabilities mean you should win? Don't you think the client is only talking to firms with the requisite capabilities? And sell yourselves, don't sell against others. Selling against others is usually off-the-mark and is almost always unappealing.

Read the rules. When clients are considering a range of agencies, they're looking for reasons to either include or exclude firms from the next round. Don't give them easy reasons to exclude you. Sounds ridiculous, but in just a few situations, I've already seen firms respond to a request for two or three paragraphs on a subject with eight or nine paragraphs; with a request to provide a three-to-five page narrative on a client situation with a 19-page PowerPoint deck; with a request for certain insights into international market credentials with a link to the company's website. Don't make it so easy to cut your firm.

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