RENEGADE THINKING from the Founder/CEO of Renegade AND the author of "The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing."

Q&A with Evan Greene, CMO of The Recording Academy

06/26/16

Evan Greene_Recording Academy

The Grammys have brought us some of the best moments in television, and the most spectacular performances in music. From Michael Jackson’s moonwalk across the stage in ’88 to the Elton John and Eminem duet in ’01, and most recently Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie, the Grammys have been the place for historical moments in music. And if you’re like me, you brim with excitement before the show, and are unable to stop rehashing the night’s best moments for days after. One night a year, the telecast captivates people around the world and easily dominates the conversation on social. However, is the show on your mind for other 364 days? Well, I spoke with Evan Greene, a friend of mine and CMO of the Recording Academy, to hear how his team approaches the challenge of marketing a show that airs one night per year. Key words here: social, social, and more social.

Drew: What does your marketing purview include?

Evan: I can tell you that anything that touches the Grammy brand ultimately runs through the marketing area, whether it’s marketing and brand strategy, PR, social media, digital content and yes, partner strategy. We represent the biggest brand in music, and for other brands, there is value in aligning with us. We partnered with other brands to utilize the impact and the marketing reach of brands that are complementary to our own. Also, we are a 501(C) 6, a not-for-profit trade organization, and this affects our marketing strategy.

Drew: How does it affect your marketing partnerships, specifically?

Evan: We put together marketing partnerships so that we can leverage the impact of the Grammys, which is unparalleled in terms of credibility and prestige. On the flipside, the value that partners bring to the table opens up other marketing channels. Now, because of the prestige of our brand, there is a value associated which means there still needs to be an economic model in place.

Drew: Was there partner integration for Lady Gaga’s performance? Did Intel do the projection?

Evan: Yes. This was the first time when we partnered with a company to actually help us enhance the performance. If you notice, there was no Intel visibility or attribution on the telecast because we wanted it to be subtle. We focused on making the performance memorable, something that people would be talking about for a long time. At the end of the day, Intel received a tremendous amount of credit and earned media.

Drew: And with that comes months of hard work and constant communication between Intel and the Grammys.

Evan: Yes, there was a lot of heavy lifting and coordination. We put something together that had never been done before. There were things that happened on the Grammy stage from a technology standpoint that have never been put on television. It really was the next generation of Grammy moments, right before our eyes.

Drew: Every year, you challenge your agency to do some new things. Let’s talk about the new things that you did this year in terms of marketing and social.

Evan: This year we started thinking about the inspirational power of music and the intersection between music and sports. Sports came in because it was SuperBowl 50 and it ran on CBS, eight days prior to the Grammy Awards, which created an extraordinary opportunity to bring the two together. We engaged our agency of record, Chiat/Day, which in my opinion is one of the best shops on the planet.

Drew: How was the concept further developed?

Evan: We started from the standpoint of how do we celebrate sports and music. How do we align the best in music with the best in sports, globally? What came out of that was a powerful tagline, called “Witness Greatness.” We looked at the music that inspires the athletes who in turn inspire the world. “Witness Greatness” really is about the inspirational power of music, and we could apply that in a number of ways.

Drew: So you were able to move beyond just the “Witness Greatness” tagline?

Evan: Yes, it was not only the theme and tagline, but also the visual representation and how we applied it. We then applied the theme to social and made sure that any visual we associated with represented greatness. We made sure to elevate that conversation whenever and wherever possible.

Drew: How did your team focus on the witness portion of “Witness Greatness”?

Evan: We have a companion stream, sort of a shoulder programming experience called “Grammy Live.” It shows different angles and elements, not necessarily the telecast itself, but it shows backstage etc. This year, we inserted a camera inside the base of the Grammy statute so that we could actually witness greatness in a different way-from the position in the POV of the statue itself. We got some great footage and content that had never been captured before. 

Drew: After the Grammy team fully adopts the theme, I’m guessing the next step is for the media to pick it up?

Evan: Yes, and was amazing when the media starts quoting our taglines, and when other members of our social ecosystem started organically using the “Witness Greatness” hashtag. When I think about all the touch points, from those doing social to the persons pitching media stories, to our marketing partners, there is a consistent look and feel across the board.

Drew: Any favorite projects from the “Witness Greatness” theme?

Evan: There were a couple of components that I found particularly exciting. If you go on our YouTube page, youtube.com/thegrammys, there is a video that we did with Kendrick Lamar in his hometown of Compton. We went on the street, and asked people to sing a couple of lines from his song Alright, which has become sort of an anthem over the past year. We created a video of all of these individuals singing particular lines of the song, and at the end, it culminated with an impromptu performance and the tagline was “Greatness Comes From Everywhere.” This served as a drive to the Grammys. 

Drew: I know the Grammys has worked with user-generated content in the past. Can you give an example of how you used UGC in past seasons?

Evan: Several years ago, we had a campaign called “We’re All Fans,” and it underscored the idea that what makes an artist great are the fans. With that in mind, we invited fans to upload videos of themselves and become part of the campaign. That was probably the most organic example that we had. People actually got to see themselves as part of the national Grammy campaigns, creating mosaics of Lady Gaga and other global superstar artists.

Drew: How was UGC executed for this Grammy season?

Evan: The idea really drives the execution. This year, our campaign was about creating the conversation, engaging with fans and having them share what about their favorite artists represents ‘Greatness.’ So in terms of UGC, we didn’t invite video submissions this time around, but we focused on having respectful dialog with our fans and followers about inspiration and greatness.

Drew: The reviews have been very successful on social. Obviously, you’re at the center of the social media conversation during the show, but you’re still very present months after it aired. How is that even possible?

Evan: I think we’ve been very successful and I am happy with the work of our social team and everybody involved in that effort. I think we can get better, I really do. The core reason for this year-round success is respecting fans and speaking with trust and authenticity.

Drew: What are some of the mistakes you are seeing other organizations make with their social media?

Evan: When communication seems gratuitous, and it is focused purely on making a sale or driving behavior, consumers see right through that. We simply want to be a credible part of the music conversation. When you look at the brands that resonate and break through, it’s the ones that earn your trust. If you speak with authenticity, and you respect your audience, then that becomes the cornerstone of trust. Trust is how you build a long-term relationship.

Drew: Being a nonprofit, how do you allocate the money brought in from the Grammys?

Evan: The money that we make doesn’t go to pay dividends, meet a quota or achieve net profit goals. It’s filtered right back into the music industry so we can create more in-school music programs and empower the next generation of music makers. We give back in a variety of different ways to enhance and srengthen the industry platform that the Recording Academy sits on.

Drew: One of the other things that you’ve done over the years is expand the Grammys from Grammy night to Grammy week. I feel like this was Grammy month. Where are you right now in terms of the scale of the Grammys?

Evan: I think we’ve made a considerable amount of progress over the years, but we still have a ways to go. What has struck me is that we’ve built this massive brand with a tremendous amount of impact by virtue of a single television event held for three-and-a-half hours, one night per year. The marketing opportunity that creates is enormous. If we take a proactive brand management approach, how impactful and powerful a brand could we be if we continue to extend throughout the year?

Drew: What a challenge! How do you rate progress? 

Evan: I think we have expanded the impact of the Grammy as a brand, beyond simply one night per year. I do not believe that we are anywhere close to being there yet where people started thinking about the Grammys as a relevant brand they need to interact with in June, July, and August. But like I said, we’re making progress and there are a number of exciting things on the horizon.

Finding the Right Elements for Your Brand

02/15/16

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be interviewed by Dan Raviv, a correspondent for CBS Radio. During our conversation, Dan asked me what “elements” he should mix together to help build an audience for the CBS News Weekend Roundup radio show. I hemmed and hawed a bit, suggesting he start with his target audience. He probed on this suggestion but I remained steadfast in the need to start with your customer, listen to their needs, find an insight and build from there. Of course, in classic writer-like wit, I thought of the perfect response an hour after I hung up with Dan. To redress the vagueness of my real-time suggestions, this post will outline a more precise path for Dan and the show to build a broader audience by applying a few of the “Elements” from my book, The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing, and, at the same time, offer insights on how we can all become the CMO of our personal brands.

Element R = Research
Since CBS Radio most likely already has Nielsen data on the size and demographics of its target audience, Dan can focus his research efforts on these two areas:

  • Superfan qualitative: The goal here is to identify the predilections of his most dedicated listeners.  What do these folk really like about Dan and the show? What do they hate?  What inspires them to tell friends about Dan? Are there particular topics that resonate with this group? Do they just like his radio-perfect voice? This research could be done via small groups or 1:1 interviews, creating the added opportunity to gather recorded testimonials.  Also, after the interviews Dan could meet these folks face-to-face to reinforce their connection to him and perhaps create potentially viral (see element GV: Going Viral) content.
  • Superfan quantitative: Like the qualitative research, quantitative research could serve multiple purposes. First, it could provide further insights into the target. Second, it could generate ideas for future stories and make the fans feel more involved (bringing in another element, Ug: User Generated Content). Finally, this research, if structured correctly, could become a source of news in and of itself.

Element S = Strategy
In reconsidering Dan’s question, it seems to me that there may have been two brand strategies to discuss: the personal brand of Dan Raviv, as well as the radio show, CBS News Weekend Roundup.  And while these brands may be intertwined at the moment, Dan has the long-term interest of building his own brand (see Pb: Personal Branding) but doing so in a way that is also of benefit to his employer.  In both cases, the strategy needs to be boiled down to two-and-a-half questions:

  • What makes Dan unique? What makes CBS News Roundup unique? And where is the overlap?
  • Who is the customer and who isn’t?

I don’t know Dan’s work well enough to determine if he has a unique point-of-view, a unique sound, a unique personality or a signature phrase that would distinguish him from other on-air talent.  What I do know is that many of his predecessors at CBS did become brands in their own right, from Edward R. Murrow to Charles Kuralt. These individuals were distinguished not just by their unique voices but also by bringing a consistently distinctive perspective to their reporting. Pre-meditated thinking about becoming a brand may be heretical to a dedicated, integrity-first newsman, BUT I would argue that taking the time in the early part of one’s career to map out a personal brand strategy would be time well spent.

Element Bc = B2C Content Marketing 
Content-rich brands like CBS Radio have a huge advantage over most in that they already have a steady stream of content to draw upon to engage current customers and attract new ones.  They also have the staff on hand to edit and repurpose this content into everything from podcasts to topical social media posts (see element Sm: Social Media Success and how The Weather Channel did this to great effect).  Of course, it would help Dan and his employer if CBS Radio had an enlightened employee advocacy program to make intriguing content accessible for him to promote via his personal social channels (see Sp: Sharing Passion).  Additionally, CBS Radio and Dan personally could be active listeners for topical conversations on social media channels, creating the opportunity for content sourcing and audience engagement (see Rm: Real-Time Marketing).

For non-media brands, creating content is obviously more difficult but just as essential.  The key here (again) is to start with your target and create content that answers the top 10 questions that they have about your particular product or service.  For Dan, this might mean opening the kimono a bit and sharing how they decide on what to report, how stories get produced and what it is like to be a correspondent.  I could go on here about how to parse out this content, how to optimize it for search engines and social sharing, but we’ll have to leave that for another post.

Element In = Influencer Marketing 
The basic idea behind influencer marketing is that a brand cultivates advocates who, in turn, spread the word about that particular brand. In most cases, there is some exchange of value between the brand and the influencer, whether it’s cash money, goods and services, or social currency.  For example, IBM invited a broad range of influencers to one of its annual customer conferences with the simple promise that these influencers would get unique access to potential news sources. Admittedly, replicating this approach would probably break ethical boundaries for CBS Radio BUT that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for Dan (and perhaps CBS) to cultivate a wide range of influencers in an ethical manner.  For example, the currency in this case could be as simple as a shout-out via social channels, which the recipient would take as an affirmation of their existence!  Here’s proof that it works: this so-called influencer shared the heck out of the tweet below:

Reality Check
For all I know, it is quite possible CBS Radio and Dan are already blending the elements mentioned above, which is why I was reluctant to conjure up a solution while on-air and why agencies like mine have a discovery process to make sure we define the challenge correctly and know what’s been tried already.  But the intent of this post was not to provide a ready-made solution for Dan, CBS Radio or your brand. The point here is that each of us needs to become the CMO of our personal brands, taking charge of everything from strategy to execution, and blending the “elements” of marketing that are just right for your life goals.

And just in case you want to listen to my interview with Dan, here’s your chance to find out why I don’t have my own radio show:

Lost Opportunities to Engage During #Blizzard2016

01/29/16

This past weekend, New York City had one of its biggest snowstorms ever, and, as usual, this presented an opportunity for brands to engage in the social conversation. Not surprisingly, New Yorkers expressed a lot of joy, surprise and down right frustration across social channels. What was surprising is that as the snow and chatter piled up across Gotham, most brands stayed pretty much out of sight. We believe this was a lost opportunity. [Note all of the research for this article was done by our social analyst Andres Monsalve]

NETFLIX: #Netflix&Chill.

Across the social chatter, it was pretty obvious that #Netflix&Chill was going to be present and dominate a huge part of the conversation.

Graph1

 

Did Netflix use this opportunity for their benefit? Not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were their tweets about #blizzard2016:

Could Netflix have taken advantage of this social happening in a more buzz-generating fashion? Most likely yes. For example, Netflix could have rolled out a group of special releases for the #Blizzard, encouraging their users to watch a few and of course, chill. Or bundle a bunch of bad weather related films into a binge-watching marathon.

ALCOHOL BRANDS

For many New Yorkers, spending two days in one’s tiny apartment can feel a bit like a jail term. Some people were worried about suffering cabin fever during this “extremely long” period of confinement. In order to bear with this suffering, many find a bit of alcohol a welcome companion. Note that NYC now has the 5th largest number of craft breweries in America. However, most alcohol brands did not engage in the conversation at all and ignored the opportunity to “come to the rescue.”

Brooklyn Brewery, at least, demonstrated how to use #blizzard2016, enlightening us with this innovative way to take advantage of the snow.

FOOD DELIVERIES

The real unsung heroes in this blizzard were the #FoodDelivery guys as thousands of New Yorkers stayed in and ordered out. As George Herbert Palmer said about the postal workers once, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The men and women who deliver food ‘round the clock truly help make NYC the greatest city in the planet, and New Yorkers recognized this during #blizzard2016. More than 600 mentions were about tipping your delivery guy more than 20%. Unfortunately for their brands, neither @Seamless nor @Grubhub chose this as an opportunity to join this conversation and support the folks that make their service possible. Like empty seats on a plane, this was a lost opportunity.

THE WINNER

The big winner in joining the blizzard conversation was the @NationalZoo who shared a gleeful video of #TIANTIAN, the panda, rolling in the snow. #TIANTIAN garnered more than 13,000 mentions over the weekend and stole our hearts. What can we say? Guess we all have a soft spot for furry animals playing in the white stuff. Here is the video of #TianTian enjoying #Blizzard2016.

Responding to social conversations like the #2016Blizzard in real-time is tricky business, requiring a great deal of preparation and then, lightning fast wit. Clearly most brands rode out this particularly storm but perhaps others will plan ahead for the next big opportunity. We hope so.

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How 100-Year Old Brands Stay Relevant

12/28/15

share a pairLast Saturday I had the pleasure of witnessing Duke’s first bowl victory in 54 years.  By all measures it was a momentous occasion as two basketball powerhouses battled it out on a gridiron carved out of the baseball diamond that is Yankee Stadium!  Indiana University, whose founding dates back to 1820, has a long track record of success both on and off the field and its fans, turned out in red & white droves to cheer on their Hoosiers. Duke University, which traces its roots back to 1838 though it didn’t actually get its current brand name until 1924, also attracted several thousand delirious Blue Devils who were thrilled to learn about an obscure rule in college football — field goal attempts that rise above the goal posts can’t be reviewed after being called fair or foul.  It was upon this rule that Duke’s victory was sealed and history rewritten.

So why perchance am I sharing this scintillating bit of trivia in what is perhaps my last blog post of the year? Of course, there’s the reveling part but fortunately for you there’s more to it than that. As I mentioned both of these institutions are household names, have weathered the test of time and occasionally risen to the top of their competitive set–JUST LIKE KEDS. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming!)  Turning 100 in 2016, Keds is indeed a well-known brand that has played the fashion game effectively, getting hot at times without the usual melting away.  No doubt many have contributed to this success over the years, yet like new players on a college team, big gains often come with the new arrivals, a pattern I expect to see repeated with the arrival of Emily Culp, who was kind enough to spend time with me just before receiving The CMO Club’s Rising Star award.  This is part two of our winning interview (read part 1 here).  In it we cover the gamut from social listening to emerging channels like Snapchat, a marketer’s need for passion and the challenges of global initiatives.  I certainly got a big kick out of talking to Emily and I’m sure you will too.

Drew: I was at a customer service conference recently and one of the things that really struck me was how social listening and social customer service has advanced in the last couple of years to the point that not only are these people listening, obviously for the product issues but they’re also preemptively recommending changes to products based on things they hear. In some cases they even have a seat at the table for new product development because they’re so close to the customer. I’m just curious if social listening has played a part at all in your program or what role it does play?

It absolutely does. We listen to our consumers, engage them & make real-time changes to programs and products. We strongly believe our customers have the most important insights, hence we invite them to participate in Beta releases of new services and seed products early on to get feedback.

Because we have these amazing customers who love us and who are vocal when things go well and equally vocal when they don’t go well it is important to provide them with the level of engagement they desire with our brand. So this could take the form of providing feedback on advertising, testing to price elasticity, to literally just saying, “we’re between these two product names, which one do you like more?” And that way you create a loyalty, a genuine loyalty because you invite your customers into the process and you’re listening to them and asked upon their feedback.

Drew: It sounds like that could also be beginning of an influence service/advocacy program was well?

Yes, you’re right, there is nothing in exchange for it. Meaning, it’s just genuine love. I do this myself for three or four other brands that I’m ridiculously passionate about. I want to give feedback because I love to create products that I need or that would be slightly modified to my taste. In turn, if a company listens or engages me, then I will be a vocal advocate for them forever. I have told one story about Patagonia (100s of times) and their customer service simply because I love the brand and how they treated me.

Drew: You mentioned Snapchat. Every brand wants to figure out how to use it, but a lot have struggled. What’s working for you?

I fundamentally believe in Snapchat. So when I joined within the first 30 days, we officially launched our presence on the platform. For us right now, we are in the test and learn phase. Hence, I don’t think there is any secret sauce to share unfortunately, but we will learn quickly because it is where most of our 18 or 28-year-old woman are spending their time. Snapchat has became her favored platform along with Instagram and she has left Facebook for other uses, so that’s why it’s really, really important to me that we fully embrace this and drive forward with it but we’re still learning.

Drew: When you talked about your passion for other brands and how you get actively involved, how much does that impact how you attack your marketing and your approach to marketing at Keds?

I have loved Keds for decades. So when the opportunity arose to join the team it combined all the key elements that are important to me: a brand with rich heritage, a brand I personally love to wear, a brand that stands for female empowerment & a brand with an amazing senior leadership team. So a large aspect of my job is to tap into other people who feel that way about our brand and how do I give them a megaphone or at least an opportunity to share their feedback with us. Because somebody who’s worn Keds, even if they just switched from another product to ours or just rediscovered them, I love to hear from them. And my job as a marketer is to make sure that I do hear from them and I provide them platforms to share with us whether it’s on social, it’s in e-mail, you know, comment cards in store.

Drew: Lets talk about the challenge of global branding — the desire to be consistent on a global level yet still somehow localize as necessary has to be difficult.

It’s one of the most intriguing Rubik’s cubes you can work on. There is no question about it. As a marketer I think it’s very humbling and important to understand, you can have the perfect strategy, the perfect brand campaign, the perfect messaging and then you need to enter what I affectionately call the double helix matrix which is the global domain. And what I mean by that is all of these things that you’ve been very methodical and strategic about sometimes go out the window because I was not born and raised in X country and I didn’t understand the cultural nuance of a color, symbol or styling choice. So what may resonate visually or from a techy perspective in one market isn’t going to work than another but what’s amazing about this is your global partners who are in different regions teach you about what these things mean and help you think about the brand in a different way and help you think about how do you adapt to their market to have the same kind of same DNA and messaging but in a way that’s culturally relevant to them. So I actually really love it. For me a big reason is I am extremely curious, so global brands and messaging has always kept me on my toes.

CMO Benjamin Karsch on Revlon’s Lovely “Love is On” Campaign

12/9/15

Benjamin KarschAdmittedly, I’m a biased blogger.  I love big ideas.  And I am more than happy to celebrate big ideas even if my agency had no hand in creating them. Think of it as a form of largesse.  Or jealousy.  Either way, Revlon’s “Love is On” campaign meets all of my criteria for a big idea:

      1) It’s emotional.  What’s more emotional than love?

2) It’s relevant.  One can certainly find an inherent connection between being attractive and the pursuit of love.

3) It works on multiple channels. This is perhaps the strongest argument for the beauty of this campaign. Lots of campaign ideas work well in advertising. But few translate equally well into social media. (If you run into me at a cocktail party, be sure to ask me about two national ad campaigns that were disasters on social media!) And fewer still can naturally integrate a charitable component.

So, yes, I love the “Love is On” campaign and it was my great pleasure to catch up with Benjamin Karsch as a result of his winning the Content Marketing Award from The CMO Club and find out the lovely story behind the campaign.

Drew: I’m a big fan of your “Love is On” campaign.  Can you talk about the overall strategic thinking behind this initiative?

Revlon’s CEO Lorenzo Delpani believes that we must have an emotional connection with our consumers and that truly is the DNA of LOVE IS ON:  it grows right out of the name Revlon.

Literally, L-O-V-E – those letters can be found at the heart of the word REVLON.  And O-N, those letters are at the end of the word REVLON.  LOVE IS ON is a mission of inspiring LOVE, the most powerful, positive human emotion and most powerful motivator. From the moment she puts on her makeup, we want our customer to enter the world of LOVE, where emotion, positivity and affection fill her heart.

Drew note: Another admission. I made a music video in the 80’s (very under the radar with friends as actors) to Robert Palmer’s song Addicted to Love which required me to listen to the song over 100 times. The result is Pavlovian now –whenever I hear the song, even if performed by another signer, I remember one of the most fun, truly lovely summers of my life that included meeting my future wife. 

Drew: The “Love is On” microsite is filled with lots of “lovely” content.  Can you talk about some of the elements (horoscopes, dating advice, video series, sweepstakes) and how these are working for the brand?

We have a number of unique and innovative initiatives supporting LOVE IS ON, speaking to women no matter at what stage of love they are – looking for love, falling in love or staying in love. We partnered with Refinery 29 to create Love Horoscopes, leveraging the insight that this type of content is some of the most engaging on their site.   And to speak to women who are looking for love, we created a digital series in partnership with Cosmopolitan and Kristin Cavallari , where dating and beauty advice were provided and engaging stories were shared.   We also created a “Dream Wedding” with Brides magazine, asking consumers to help us plan a special wedding for a very deserving couple.  Most recently, we launched the viral video “Love Test,” which empowers women to leverage a simple daily beauty ritual to choose love and improve their love lives.

Drew: “Love is On” also includes a charitable component the Million Dollar Challenge.  Can you talk about the thinking behind having a charitable component and how that is working thus far?

We were looking for a different, more innovative and modern way of fundraising and felt the new philanthropic platform of an online fundraising challenge to be attractive for two reasons: it allows us to give more directly to charities, and thereby contributing more funds, and it also allows us to expand our charitable reach beyond people located in just NY or LA.  And we did just that: charities from all over the country got involved—in a major way—and it was really exciting watching them embrace the spirit of competition, right down to the last few minutes!  The women’s health charities raised $2.75 million, with Revlon donating an additional $1.425 million over the course of the challenge for a total distribution of $4.18 million.

Drew: And of course, “Love is On” has a social component featuring Instagram pictures of lovers. Can you talk about the role social media plays in your overall strategy and how it is working so far?  Any surprises?

Social media – across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – has played an integral role in engaging our consumers with the LOVE IS ON messaging. We asked consumers to “Show us how you love #loveison” and the surprise has been the overwhelming response. Consumers have engaged with us in droves – we have received over 5MM submissions using the hashtag from consumers around the world. We have been able to push that content back out on our social platforms, as well as onto our billboard in Times Square.

Drew: “Love is On” is also the name of new fragrance. Was that always the plan to have a fragrance with the same name as your marketing campaign?Also I understand that you are targeting travel retail with this product — did that necessitate a new approach to either your marketing or your content?

Yes, naming our first fragrance in over 10 years after our brand mission, LOVE IS ON, was always the plan. You see, LOVE IS ON is not just a marketing campaign – it’s a mission, a movement and it’s in everything we do.  Therefore, it only made sense for us the name to continue the message in our latest fragrance.  Formulated to inspire love and intimacy, LOVE IS ON is the fragrance that is loved by women, and irresistible to men.  And we are excited to offer LOVE IS ON eau de toilette in not only travel retail but across all of our usual channels.

Drilling into Content Marketing with Hu-Friedy CMO Patrick Bernardi

11/29/15

PBHeadShot (1)Hu-Friedy is a mouthful of a brand name which may or may not have been on the mind of Hugo Friedman when he founded his dental instrument company back in 1908. More than a century later, Hu-Friedy is a global leader in its category and yet, quite remarkably still completes 80% of the manufacturing process by hand.  According to their website, “they meticulously mold, treat, and sharpen instruments to perfection, which is why we call them artisans.”  And while their dedication to craftsmanship may be old school, their marketing is anything but.

Led by CMO Patrick Bernardi, Hu-Friedy has been on the cutting edge for some time now especially in the area of content marketing.  That’s why I was so pleased Patrick could join one of my panels at Incite’s Content Marketing Summit AND that The CMO Club recognized him with their Content Engagement Award.  Our interview below is definitely something you can sink your teeth into, helping to flesh out these bite-sized nuggets of content marketing wisdom:

  • Take a campaign approach;
  • Empathize with your target;
  • Measure more than leads & sales generated;
  • Get your employees involved;
  • Keep it simple, smiley!

Drew: What was your overall content strategy in 2015? What role does it play in your marketing mix?  

Hu-Friedy casts a wide net in terms of the functional areas of dentistry we play in, so to support our broad portfolio, we have instituted a content calendar format that we like to call the “Thud Factor.” Our approach here is that during each quarter we focus on a specific area of our business, anchor it with a significant piece of content and execute a series of integrated campaign elements to drive maximum impact.

Hu-Friedy is a world leader in dental products and instrument manufacturing, and while our brand has a tremendous amount of affinity, the fact that we sell through distribution presents certain challenges in terms of developing direct relationships with our customers. We have fantastic distribution partners, and they support us extremely well, but it really is our job to drive demand for our products. So, we have been working on getting closer to our customers over the last few years by improving our web site experience, our social media platforms, and this year we really focused on delivering utility by creating and distributing value-add content. And in terms of the marketing mix, content plays a vital role, as it is a critical part of our overall inbound marketing strategy.

Drew: What motivated you to launch the #ShowUsYourPurple campaign? Has it been successful?

Hu-Friedy has many different product lines and customer segments, but a group that has always been near and dear to our hearts are Dental Hygienists. Think about the experience you have with your own dental hygienist when you go to the dentist. Can you describe that person’s personality? What is so interesting is that these folks are all kind of described the same way. Friendly, gentle, smart, caring, fun, passionate…the list goes on. At Hu-Friedy we feel that the Dental Hygienist is really the heart of the dental practice and should be celebrated for all they do. So, that is why we created the #ShowUsYourPurple campaign – to express our gratitude and to deliver a rallying cry for this special group to celebrate one another. And it has been very successful, as we’ve had more social sharing and engagement tied back to this campaign than anything else we have done this year.

Drew: How do you measure the success of your content efforts? 

We measure success in a number of ways. First, as we are trying develop stronger and more direct relationships with our customers, data collection is very important. It has been gratifying to see how many new emails we have been able to collect this year based on engagement actions like ebook digital asset downloads and email newsletter registrations. The other success metric we look at is new members added to our online dental hygiene community, Friends of Hu-Friedy – www.friendsofhu-friedy.com

We have over 40,000 dental hygienists as members and our content marketing efforts are designed to deliver information to this group so that they can perform at their best clinically, in addition to how they can take care of their overall health to ensure career longevity.

Drew: So many brands have started cranking out content. How do you make sure your content really stands out from the pack? Is there such a thing as too much content?

Not sure if there is such a thing as too much content, but for sure there is such a thing as poor content. Any maybe that is really the issue, because I am a firm believer in quality over quantity as it relates to content. I say that because I know from personal experience that the second a brand “jumps the shark” by delivering content that is not relevant or valuable, then I will be more judicious in my engagement going forward. There is nothing worse than being hooked by a subject line like “the top ten things a marketer should never do,” and the come to realize the content is of limited value. So, at Hu-Friedy we ask a lot of questions to customers which informs our content creation. We also do our homework on industry trends. For example, general practice dentists are doing more and more specialty procedures themselves instead of referring those cases out. To address that trend, we developed an eBook designed specifically to deliver education on this topic.

Drew: On the topic of championing your employees, let’s talk about your Apprenticeship Program – Hu-Friedy University. This idea of taking training back to a fundamental level and creating ‘apprentices’ out of your best employees is a huge internal investment on the part of the company. What have been some of the outcomes of this project so far? With such a long-sided vision of success, how do you project that this will prepare your newest team members for future challenges?

One thing that maybe we should have realized, but didn’t, is the amount of pride this program generated internally – especially when the story got picked-up the Wall Street Journal and leading dental publications. Externally, it has played an important role in our employee recruitment efforts. But more than anything, it is an example of a brand really walking-the-walk to ensure that its’s value proposition continues well into the future. Long term, the art of instrument making is being passed to the next generation, who will then ensure that the craftsmanship of our instruments, and the high-quality reputation that our artisans have made legendary, will continue on for years to come.

Drew: Where does content rank in your marketing priorities and why?

It ranks as a very top priority. The bottom line is this – relationships are the vehicle for brand advocacy and that vehicle requires fuel in the form of value-add content, loyalty experiences and simple ways to engage with our brand.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome? 

Simplifying customer experiences. I am inspired here by the point of view of Margaret Malloy, who is the Global CMO for Siegel+Gale. She has stated that winning brands consistently deliver clear, useful and beautiful experiences for their customers. At the heart of this lies the concept of simplicity. An ambitious goal for sure, but one that is no longer optional for brands who want great relationships with their customers.

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