When Renegade started doing social media audits several years ago, it was unclear exactly what we’d find. What we soon discovered is that many companies seem to be making the same mistakes, regardless of company size, B2B vs. B2C or the department leading the charge. Here is a quick overview of the five most common mistakes we’re seeing, along with some initial thoughts on how to correct these self-defeating faux pas.
Measuring the Wrong Things
The most common metric mistake is emphasizing the number of fans you have over other markers, an approach that is symptomatic of a larger problem: viewing social as another mass medium through which branded content can be pushed. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how large your social footprint is if fans aren’t talking about your content on Facebook (PTAT) and sharing your videos, tweets and or LinkedIn posts. Enlightened brands use and monitor several more illuminating metrics, including brand sentiment, speed and quality of customer service resolution and engagement (comments, shares, CTRs, etc.).
Too Many Channels and/or Sub-branded Pages
Once the social media bug began to spread across companies, every line extension of a line extension wanted its own Facebook page or Twitter account and/or Pinterest board. IBM, for example, discovered through an audit that it had hundreds of branded handles on Twitter, and ultimately, they decided to reduce that list to only a few handfuls. Similarly, many brands are stretched too thin, jumping onto new platforms without the resources to keep their content fresh and their fans engaged. It is better to just do a few channels really well than to be everywhere inconsistently.
Boring Non-Conversational Content
In social settings, brands, like people, get really boring if they only talk about themselves. Of course, you want to sell more products, but unless you have genuine news or product offers, brands should focus on being interesting and interested in their social channels. Creating content that is interesting requires knowing your target really well—something that is increasingly easier with Facebook analytics platforms. Being interested starts by responding to comments and continues by asking questions.
Social is Isolated in One Department
Since marketers want to market, customer service wants to help and HR wants to recruit, isolating social in one department often limits the multi-functional role that it can play for an organization. This need not be the case. We recently participated in a client’s brand integration workshop and concluded that social media touched the work of seven other agencies, including advertising, media buying, web development, SEO, PR and customer experience, which speaks to the necessity of sharing the social love across your company.
No Social Media Road Map
As the old saying goes, any road looks good if you don’t know where you’re going. And so it goes with social, which sprouted haphazardly within most companies. Establishing a clear road map for your company is imperative, and an effective road map should assign a purpose to each channel, set up an editorial calendar, create an escalation process for customer complaints and determine staffing needs. Lastly, the road map should define the paid or earned media that will ultimately be required to achieve any kind of scale.
Final note: If you aren’t making mistakes in social, then chances are you aren’t trying anything new. The trick is to turn these mistakes into learning opportunities that will ultimately put you one step ahead of your more cautious competitors. Please let me know if you have any great success stories that started from so-called mistakes–I’d love to make that the follow up story. (A version of this article ran on SocialMediaToday.com)
If Truman Capote was right that “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor,” then you’re in for a feast as I contrast the typical shortcomings of your average CMO with the amazing success of Terri Funk Graham. As CMO of Jack in the Box, Graham cooked up the outrageously successful “Jack” campaign that began its 18-year run of driving sales and building loyalty. And like the recipes of many world-class chefs, Graham’s 13-step approach is easy-to-digest but hard-to-replicate. (By the way, if this article looks familiar its because you saw it first on FastCompany.com)
1. Wisk in the Risk
Having the courage to take a risk is table stakes for CMOs. In Graham’s case, Jack in the Box “needed to do something to revitalize the brand and make it relevant again” after enduring a food poisoning crisis. So in 1995, Graham helped initiate the Bringing Jack Back campaign, which launched with spokesperson Jack undergoing plastic surgery and taking merciless revenge on the board of directors. This initial risk born of necessity was a mere taste of the Graham’s on-going willingness to “put a lot more on the line.”
2. Have a Heart
Despite evidence that consumer preference is emotionally driven, many CMOs focus entirely on the rational side of their brand. In contrast, Graham credits the longevity of the Jack campaign to the fact that “we tapped into the emotional branding side that really gave it a personality that people could connect to.” Adds Graham, “We were unapologetic about using humor, since it wasn’t going to hurt the brand as long as we were true to who we were.”
3. Don’t Cook by Committee
Though strong agency partners are often behind the initial big idea, it takes masterminds on both sides to keep the other potential cooks out of the proverbial kitchen over the long run. Graham credits Secret Weapon Creative Director Dick Sittig’s irreverent sense of humor for “rising to the challenge of keeping Jack relevant.” Graham held up her end of the bargain, proclaiming, “Approval by committee is the death of a campaign—you end up with mediocre work.”
4. A Tablespoon of Trust
No CMO can succeed without the trust of their CEO. Explains Graham, “Linda Lang [CEO of Jack in the Box] absolutely let me run with it [the Jack campaign] and she always backed it.” However, while Graham “had full support and permission to take risks,” her CEO expected her to “stand tall” if a crisis arose. This meant that Graham “would have to do all the explaining in the boardroom any time something went a little astray”—a reasonable quid pro quo for this kind of freedom.
5. Nothing Taste Better Than Sales
Some marketers make a distinction between brand-driving and sales-driving ads, only holding the latter accountable. Graham considers such an approach a luxury Jack in the Box can’t afford, since they are constantly outspent 10:1 by McDonalds. “Everything that we did we also did with the premise of generating sales and driving traffic,” explains Graham. “We didn’t do funny ads just for the sake of doing funny ads: our goal was always to drive traffic and that’s what we accomplished each and every time,” she adds.
6. Make the Menu
Like the world-class chef who goes to the market to hand pick her ingredients, a master CMO like Graham would not want to be handcuffed by a product controlled by others. So for the last five years, “Menu” reported to Graham because, as she puts it, “we were able to have the true insight as to what the product was delivering to the customer.” The added value of having Product report to Marketing is that “everybody is in sync and it is all tied to an overall strategy,” concludes Graham.
7. Spread the Word Inside
Sometimes the internal audience can be as important as the customer to the CMO, especially when a product problem needs to be addressed. For Graham, the problem turned out to be their signature taco, Jack’s best-selling product that had been “marginalized and optimized over time,” losing both taste and fans along the way. To fix this, Graham launched the “Respect the Taco” initiative, which renewed internal focus on product quality and gave it the sales driving “attention it deserved.”
8. Flavor It with Fresh
Most established brands walk the knife’s edge between being a reliable staple and yesterday’s leftovers. To combat this, Graham recognized early on that “in the quick-serve restaurant business, news is what drives traffic,” and, consequently, she used advertising to promote new products, line extensions and product bundles. The need for CMOs to deliver news via all their communications goes well beyond the QSR world. Graham remarks, “We all like to try new things—it’s human nature.”
9. Pander to Your Patrons
The relentless search for incremental sales can lead any adventurous CMO astray. In the pursuit of innovation, Graham cautions, “There comes a point when you’re starting to put products out there that are so far afield that your core customer starts to question your brand.” Graham cited Jack’s Southwest Bowl as a line extension that was too far off-track, while products like the Sour Dough Ultimate Cheeseburger “was more in the sweet spot and more aligned with the focus of our biggest fans.”
10. Stir the Pot
Typically, even the best campaigns lose steam over time. Aware that after 14 years, Jack’s time might be up, Graham put “the biggest brand equity that the company had on the line to see if people still cared:” In a Super Bowl spot, Jack got hit by a bus. And rather than a typical media schedule, the commercial ran just the one time at which point digital and social media took over. Customers responded famously: “[They] sent cards, teddy bears, flowers and everything you could imagine for Jack’s recovery,” gushes Graham.
11. Avoid Just Chasing the Course d’ Jour
When it comes to media selection, newish CMOs may be inclined to dismiss television as a dinosaur. Having witnessed the power of TV year after year, Graham knows better, warning, “The notion that traditional media is dead is quite false.” That said, Graham also evangelizes about the synergistic power of digital and social, two channels that gave Jack’s bus accident recovery a life of its own after the YouTube video went viral and hatched a campaign within a campaign.
12. Read the Tea Leaves
With the advent of so-called “Big Data,” no CMO can afford to rely entirely on his or her gut. And though Graham abhors copy testing as a means of selecting creative, her annual plan included “a number of studies (both quantitative and qualitative) that would give us indicators on how we were doing.” Not stopping here, Graham knew that since “the message was always tied around a product, it was pretty straightforward for us to tell that the campaign was driving those product sales.”
13. Another Cup of Chutzpah, Please
Inevitably, most CMOs will find themselves in a crisis but few will have the courage to diffuse the situation quite like Graham. After airing a TV spot that featured a hallucinating young man who ordered 30 tacos (an experience that resonated with Jack’s core target), Graham got wind that “protesters and media were planning to show up on the grass all around our corporate headquarters.” Her solution? “We became a water park in the afternoon and turned on the sprinklers,” dowsing the protest before it started. Now that’s chutzpah!
Final Note: After a 22-year run at Jack in the Box, Terri Funk Graham recently joined the Board of Directors at Hot Topic Inc., is working with The CMO Club as the Chairman of its President’s Circle and is consulting for HOM Sotheby’s Realty. Fellow CMOs can meet Terri in person at the upcoming CMO Club Summit in NYC and read my interview with her right here on TheDrewBlog. As always, if you like what you’re reading, feel free to subscribe and/or share it with friends.
If you’ve been in this business awhile, you have seen many an ad campaign launch strong and then fizzle out in just a year or two. Perhaps this is why I was so bowled over when I heard Terri Funk Graham (at last year’s CMO Club Summit) tell the story of the “Jack” campaign that is now in its 18th year of productive service for Jack in the Box. As a student of marketing, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does such a campaign come into being? How do those in charge keep it fresh? What role does the agency play? What’s the secret sauce here?
I got the chance to ask Ms. Graham these questions and many more earlier this year and it was then that I realized she is truly a rock star in our industry. During Graham’s long tenure as CMO at Jack in the Box which ended at the end of 2012, the Jack campaign consistently drove product sales, introduced new menu items, helped overcome recessions and bonded with a new generation of fast food consumers. Graham, as you will soon see, has the courage to take risks not just once but year after year, has the wisdom to stick with one “genius” creative partner and has the curiosity to explore emerging communication channels. Here is part one of our interview:
Neisser: So tell me how initially the Jack campaign came into beginning back in ’95?
Graham: Well, it came out of the E. coli crisis. So the reality was the company needed to do something to revitalize the brand and make the brand relevant again in the marketplace. And so it came from a crisis.
Neisser: Which must have been a scary and interesting place to start, right?
Graham: I think that when you’re in a situation like this, you’re willing to put a lot more on line. And I so I think it actually it drove the ability to take more risks.
Neisser: Really interesting. So you decided to bring Jack back?
Graham: Yes, but let’s bring him back in a way that’s relevant and different and will catch attention. So it was 1995 when we launched Bringing Jack Back.
Neisser: So tell me about those initial ads?
Graham: Well, the very first spot had some controversy around it because it showed Jack coming back. He had had plastic surgery and he blew up the boardroom because the folks from the boardroom are the ones who blew him up in the ’80s.
Neisser: I see. A little revenge.
Graham: So he blew up the boardroom and basically reintroduced himself in the marketplace as coming back, better than before with plastic surgery and that he was going to be a big advocate for the consumers. The message was Jack was back and he was going to give fast food customers what they wanted.
Neisser: So did that seem like an idea that could endure 18 years?
Graham:Well, that’s where Dick Sittig, the creative mastermind behind the Jack’s Back campaign, comes in. We constantly challenged Dick to keep Jack relevant, and because he used this sense of humor that was a bit unconventional, described often as irreverent, he kept rising to the occasion and the campaign endures to this day.
Neisser: So why do you think the ads worked so well?
Graham:I think what drove the campaign to continue to last is that we tapped into the emotional branding side. I think that often that is not given enough emphasis. We tapped into the emotional side that really gave it a personality that people could connect to.
Neisser: So how did Jack end up having Dick Sittig’s voice?
Graham:That was actually by accident. That wasn’t planned. When he did the initial pitch, it was in his voice and then when we finally went to casting, we had the actor and we’re putting everything together that we’re looking at all kinds of different voices and the problem was everyone liked Dick Sittig’s voice more than anything that was put in front. So we decided to go with his voice.
Neisser: What does it take to keep a campaign like this together for so long?
Graham:I think there are a couple of things to consider. One is I was always willing to take a risk. So we were unapologetic about who we were. Dick Sittig would present things that would make us feel uncomfortable. But we knew that it was going to grab attention that it wasn’t going to hurt the brand as long as we were true to who we were. And so it was a combination of being unapologetic about who we were. It was about allowing great creative work to be done. I am not a believer in dealing any sort of pretesting of advertising. We never did anything of that nature. I also think that approval by committee is the death of a campaign, you end up with mediocre work. And, I think that, we truly trusted each other in our work and I think that’s also what helped build that campaign. And so we would constantly challenge each other to keep it relevant.
Neisser: Very few CMO’s are given permission to take risks. You must have had a lot of management support?
Graham:Yes, I had full support and I had permission. Linda Lang absolutely let me run with it and she always backed it. And, there would be situations where I would come up and say, “okay, I have got one that’s going to rile up some folks, prompting phone calls, e-mails and potentially, this all will need to be discussed in the board.” And she would say, “okay, is it worth the risk? And I’d say, “yes.” And she’d say, “I’ll back you, but you need to stand tall.” So I would have to do all the explaining in the boardroom anytime something went a little astray.
Neisser: What do you think were some of your most risky efforts?
Graham:Running Jack over – that was a trying moment. We were essentially putting the most — the biggest brand equity that the company had, Jack, and putting him on the line to see if people cared because if they didn’t care that he got hit by a bus, we were going to be in trouble. So that’s when we had Jack Get Hit By a Bus and of course it proved out to be quite a success and that was in 2009.
Neisser: So how did this part of the campaign unfold?
Graham: We only showed the ad one time and it was on the Super Bowl. And then everything went basically digital and social from there. That was our way of stepping into the whole social media area. So all of a sudden it got millions of views on YoutTube and it was talked about all over the place. We had amazing press and impressions on that. And, we had people sending cards and teddy bears and everything that — flowers, everything that you could imagine for Jack’s recovery. And then we created a storyline. We created multiple ads that followed up afterwards that talked about how he was doing and it became a campaign within a campaign.
Neisser: So what about the hallucinating kid who sees Jack on his dashboard? That must of stirred things up.
Graham:Yes it did. We really wanted to focus on selling our 99-cent tacos. And there is a real following to those tacos. And young people, after they’ve gone to the clubs tend to head to Jack’s for their tacos. And so we played off of that, if you will. And so we had, you know, a young guy in a van come up and he wanted to order as many as 30 tacos. And needless to say, that got quite a bit of attention.
Neisser: Did you end up selling a lot of tacos?
Graham: Everything that we did we also did with the premise of generating sales and driving traffic. I mean we didn’t do funny ads just for the sake of doing funny ads. Our goal was always to drive traffic to the brand. And that’s exactly what we start out to do and that’s what we accomplished each and every time. So in that case, we certainly sold a lot of tacos and we got a lot of buzz about tacos.
Neisser: You know, I think you told the story of how on that one, some protestors were showing up at your corporate headquarters?
Graham: Yeah, and I turned on the sprinklers. Yes, then the true story — we were going to have protestors and media show up and at the time we had grass all around our corporate headquarters. And it was in the afternoon. And so my way of stalling that was we became a water park in the afternoon and we turned on the sprinklers and we didn’t have any protests that showed up at all the rest of the week!
FYI, After a 22-year run at Jack in the Box, Terri Funk Graham recently joined the Board of Directors at Hot Topic Inc., is working with The CMO Club as the Chairman of its President’s Circle and is consulting for HOM Sotheby’s Realty. Fellow CMOs can meet Terri in person at the upcoming CMO Club Summit in NYC.
The term “Big Data” has quickly become the buzzword du jour garnering its own Wikipedia page and showing up in 21 million search results. But frankly, every time I hear the phrase, it is lumped into a string of buzzwords that makes my head spin, making me wonder, could any self-respecting forward-thinking technology company present their transparent vision without paying homage to the game-changing paradigm-shifting potential of Big Data?
Fortunately for me, I got a chance to hear professor and author David Rogers speak about the genuine potential of “Big Data” (without a single cliche) at the recent Columbia Business School Brite Conference. Rogers explained how IBM’s Watson (artificial intelligence computer system) has been fed exabytes of medical information that it can sift through in seconds to help doctor’s more accurately diagnose and treat patients. Another example Roger’s mentioned is Waze, a mobile map app with 30 million users, that gets real world traffic information from users and then processes that information to re-route other users in real time. Wanting to know more, I caught up with Rogers after the event yielding this informative interview:
Neisser: Leaders have always been challenged to get the right information to make good decisions.How do modern leaders take advantage of the excess of data available to find the truth they need?
Rogers: There is actually no excess of data. That’s a myth attached to the term “big data.” Digital data has been growing exponentially since the birth of the computer era. Before that, recorded data grew exponentially since the invention of human writing. I don’t think Napoleon complained that there was “too much data” as he pored over reports of historic battles to conceive his next campaign strategy. What he needed was insight, and the right questions to ask of the data available.
The amazing challenges and opportunities of the Big Data era really don’t stem from the sheer quantity of data. They come from the new kinds of data that we are getting, and our new tools for analyzing them – especially for analyzing unstructured data like video, images, and social media conversations.
My first advice for business leaders is: don’t meet with anyone who wants to sell you some great juicy set of data they’ve got. Don’t be that sucker. Only work with people who want to help you solve a genuine problem, or capitalize on an exciting opportunity, using data.
Neisser: I think it was Einstein who said, “information is not knowledge.” Can you provide a real world example (or two) of how this data/info is being harnessed by marketers right now?
Rogers: Sure, data is now being used to answer many of the most critical questions that marketers face. Who should I market to? When and where should I spend my budget? Which are my most valuable customers? How should I personalize my offer? What impact did I get from my marketing?
Many of these answers are coming from the domain of predictive analytics. When a customer makes their very first purchase on an ecommerce site, it is now often possible to predict, with decent accuracy, how many more purchases she will make this year, her total spend, and if she fits in the top 5% of your customer base in terms of lifetime profit to the firm. You might be wrong on a given customer, but on average over the entire behavioral segment, you’re quite accurate. That’s extremely powerful.
Neisser: Are these Big Data technologies going to be used just by big companies? Will they pose a competitive disadvantage for small and mid-sized businesses?
Rogers: Not necessarily. One of the key drivers of the big data revolution is cloud computing and the SaaS (software as a service) model. That means that hospitals around the world will be able to start accessing IBM’s Watson, the most powerful natural language processing algorithm in the world, to assist in their cancer diagnostics. Watson is an incredible supercomputer, but your local oncologist will just access it over the web via an app of their tablet.
In the marketing space, the startup Optimizely is providing incredibly cheap entry points for small business to start using its web-based tools to test and gather data on the effectiveness of direct response marketing. You don’t have to be the big boys to start reaping the benefits of the Big Data era.
Neisser: Bringing it back to the C-suite, what do you see as the challenges for leaders adapting their skills, and their teams, to the “Big Data” era?
Rogers: Firstly, formulating the right questions to ask of data will be a key leadership skill for the future. That also means knowing when and how to balance intuition and judgement versus data-driven decision-making.
CMO’s in particular will need to hire some new talent – data scientists who can apply these emerging data tools to unlock value for the enterprise. There will be a lot more math PhDs in the marketing divisions of firms, and not just where you used to find them, in the market research companies. But CMOs also need to train the rest of their team – the creative copyrighters, the ethnographic insight hipsters – to be facile with the world of big data, so they know what questions they should be posing to the data geeks in the next room. It’s really going to be a cultural change as much as skill training.
Neisser: What about the CEO and strategy? You said at the BRITE ’13 conference that leaders need to see data as a strategic asset. Can you explain?
Rogers: Yes, truly successful leaders will see data not just as a tool to assist decision-making, but as a core strategic asset.
Think about e-tailers like Amazon or media companies like Netflix. They have spent the last few years building amazing data sets about the behaviors and preferences of consumers. These are incredibly valuable assets, just as much as their hardware, their software, and their licensing and partnership deals. Amazon is using its data assets to not only improve its core retail business, but to offer incredible targeting to marketers. Netflix has used its immense data on what stories, actors, and creative teams its viewers have preferred, to plan and commission entire new TV series, like “House of Cards,” without having to go through the normal process of paying for a bunch of pilot shows and options with no clear idea which one will resonate in the market place. That’s a huge market advantage and risk reducer. The best leaders in every industry will be those with a strategy for building powerful datasets around their markets and customers – and then leveraging these assets to drive innovation and value creation for customers.
David Rogers is founder of Columbia Business School’s BRITE conference on brands, innovation, and technology, and author of “The Network Is Your Customer: 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age.” His next book will show why businesses that use big data effectively will survive in an era of disruptive change. You can find him at www.davidrogers.biz.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a sleigh somewhere, chances are you’ve noticed the annual gathering of sloppy Saint Nicks otherwise known as SantaCon. At first glance, it’s simply a raucous day of naughty carols, random gifting and extreme silliness. But dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find this highly social event is a near-perfect metaphor for the state of social media.
A Global (and Subversive) Phenomenon Possibly started by subversive artists in Copenhagen way back in 1974, SantaCon has since expanded to 37 countries and 270 locations. Social media is even more ubiquitous, touching just about every country around the globe and, perhaps just as subversive, playing a part in protests in at least 5 countries via Twitter.
Emphasis on Crowd Size
Often referred to as a bawdy flash mob, SantaCon is all about getting together with thousands of your so-called “friends” as per the credo “the more, the merrier.” Similarly, there is an emphasis among some ambitious social marketers to grow their social footprints without regard for the quality of the fans or levels of engagement.
All About the Pictures
A quick search for the hashtag #SantaCon on Instagram reveals over 43,000 photos from last Saturday’s gathering. With social media, pictures are playing an even more prominent role, increasing engagement on Facebook and Twitter and, of course, driving the success of newer platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.
No One is in Charge
SantaCon is a totally grassroots affair, taking different forms in different cities on different dates and even having alternate names like Santapalooza and Santarchy. Social media at its best is equally free-form, with consumers driving content development, platform choice and desired interaction with brands.
SantaCon revelers rarely stay in one place on the big day, making for an ever-morphing, highly mobile parade. And so it is with social media, as smart phones and tablets become the dominant means of consuming and contributing social content. Recognizing this shift, jolly marketers will want to jump on the mobile bandwagon.
A Whole Lot of Fun
At its best, SantaCon is a day of harmless fun in which red-suited revelers share good cheer with strangers and friends alike. Similarly, social media is an opportunity for marketers to have fun, engage with their fans, align with their passions and remind us all that people ultimately choose to do business with people they like.
It Can Get Sloppy
At its worst, SantaCon is a day of out-of-control drunks that get banned from bars and end up being anything but nice. Social media shares this potential for sloppiness, as consumers feel free to rant about brands on Twitter and Facebook, write nasty reviews on TripAdvisor and even produce negative videos for YouTube.
Not Going Away
Despite cries from Gothamist to end SantaCon in NYC, this mistletoe-rich movement is clearly unstoppable. The gift is out of the bag, so to speak. For marketers, the “gift” of social media is potentially one that keeps on giving, creating the opportunity to turn detractors into proponents and fans into true advocates. And you don’t even have to don a red suit!
Today marks the 3rd annual Small Business Saturday, a day in which the nation is encouraged to “shop small” and, in fact, does just that. Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SBS is a powerful example of “Marketing as Service” from American Express, a company that has been taking this approach successfully for the past 25 years.
But look carefully at Small Business Saturday, and you will also see a work week full of marketing myths busted, one day at a time, before you can tweet, “#MarketerMonday.”
Monday’s Child: Big Ideas Take Time
Most marketers are nothing if not deliberate, taking months to conceive, strategize and ultimately execute their ideas, big or small. And given the audacity and complexity of establishing SBS as a new holiday, it is reasonable to assume a lengthy planning cycle, right? Wrong. According to Scott Krugman, Director of Communications at American Express, SBS went from idea to execution “in a matter of a few weeks.”
Tuesday’s Child: It’s About My Brand
Naturally, marketers want to put their brand at the center of their communications, expecting it will be the shortest route to an effective program. With SBS, American Express asserted the counterintuitive brand position: “It’s more than just about us.” By putting their customers at the center of an entire program, AmEx “created a solution to help spur more business for small businesses, and small business owners really took to it,” Krugman reported.
Wednesday’s Child: Social Media Just Happens
In some naïve marketing circles, there is a wishful notion that social media success (like its cousin “viral success”) just happens organically. A careful look at SBS, which became huge on social media by any measure, including reach and engagement, reveals that AmEx kickstarted every social channel with paid media, along with a carefully orchestrated PR effort that generated a surge of earned media. Facebook even threw in free ads for small businesses on their network to encourage even more social promotion.
Thursday’s Child: Partnerships Must Be Controlled
Some marketers spend as much time trying to control partnerships as they do setting them up. AmEx took the opposite approach, allowing anyone and everyone to participate in SBS. Explained Krugman, “For small businesses to participate, they don’t have to accept the American Express card.” Seventy five other companies, including FedEx, Facebook and Delta, ended up joining the “shop small” movement in its second year and many more will be doing so in 2012.
Friday’s Child: Doing Good Doesn’t Pay Out
Mention a “do good” program and most marketers will discourage discussing its ROI, as if ROI is a bad thing that could somehow diminish their altruistic intentions. Even AmEx’s Krugman tried to convince me that as long as small businesses felt good about SBS, that was good enough for AmEx. He let slip, however, that “card transactions were up 23 percent for merchants that accepted the [American Express] card” on SBS 2011. Sounds like ROI to me.
Bonus Myth: Congress Can’t Agree on Anything
It isn’t news that the U.S. Congress is more divided politically now than at any other time since the Civil War, which makes their unanimous resolution to support Small Business Saturday all the more remarkable. In fact, officials in all 50 states embraced SBS, and President Obama’s personal effort to “shop small” on SBS in 2011 also made the evening news.
Final Note: In addition to talking to American Express’ Krugman, I also caught up with Denise Yunkun, FedEx’s Director of Alliance Marketing, who helped me get a sense of the program’s scale. Yunkun reported that in 2011, “More than 500,000 small business owners leveraged an online tool or promotional materials for SBS.” You can find my enlightening interviews with Krugman (part 1 & part 2) and Yunkun right here on TheDrewBlog. (If this article seems familiar, you must have seen it on MediaPost.com).