RENEGADE THINKING from the CEO of Renegade, the social media & marketing agency that helps clients make more out of less by transforming communications into "Marketing as Service."

The Realities of Real-Time Marketing w Adam Naide, Cox TV


This is my fourth and final post on Real-Time Marketing this week!  Here’s the good news–I saved a really meaty one for last as Adam Naide, Executive Director of Social Media for Cox Communications provides a pithy and honest look at what’s worked and not worked in the world of RTM.

Drew: What’s been working for Cox TV in the area of RTM?

First, the Breaking Bad Final Season.  Our objective was to drive fan growth and increase engagement on @CoxTV during the final season of Breaking Bad.  Seeing the volume of social conversation, specifically on Twitter, around the final season of Breaking Bad, our team developed a real-time campaign to cover each episode of the final season with live coverage, engaging custom content, Vine videos, and a RT to win contest. As a result, the campaign attracted 3,145 new followers, nearly doubling the follower base on Twitter. It also led to 5,757 retweets.

National Donut DaySecond, National Donut Day.  Our objective in this case was to capitalize on real-time opportunities as they presented themselves.  In summary, custom creative was produced for Cox’s Facebook page tying The Simpsons to National Donut Day. The post saw immediate lift on Facebook and was promoted to amplify impact. Seeing that #NationalDonutDay was trending on Twitter, the team quickly posted and promoted the creative on Twitter as well.  As a result, the tweet saw 87% higher engagement than average tweets posted to @CoxTV and 67% greater cost efficiency than average promoted posts on the handle.

Drew: Can you give an example of a real-time program that didn’t work as well as you hoped?
Sure.  We had hoped to capitalize on social buzz around the MTV video music awards to engage music fans on Twitter while growing the fan base.  So @CoxTV live-tweeted the awards through an existing brand influencer “Sara” who had previously covered TV and entertainment for the brand. Unfortunately, Sara entered the live- tweeting event with a preexisting personality that didn’t jive with the VMA audience. She wasn’t a fan of the artists being featured and didn’t participate in the conversion in a relatable way.  In this case, the live-tweeting event garnered just 80 new followers and 1,024 retweets,

Drew: Can you gives some examples of brand RTM #fails?

Hashtag hijacking [is the most common #fail.]  Consumers “hijack” brand led hashtags to share negative brand sentiment, to the point that the hashtag is overtaken by the abusers and the original meaning is lost.  Here are three examples of #fails that the press pounced on: #McDStories#IloveWalgreens  and JPMorgan Live Chat.

Drew: Why do think brands fail so often to get RTM right?

Brands assume that the public perceives the brand in the same way that the brand perceives itself.

Drew: How do you avoid this?

Start with the current behavior of consumers and find ways to mimic, play off of, or join that activity. Don’t force an unwanted idea or perception on consumers. Monitor what organically bubbles to the surface in your industry or trending hastags that are relevant to the brand. As you would with a new acquaintance or friend in real life, find a common interest between you and the consumer and talk about that.

Drew: Let’s review some of the logistical issues when dealing with RTM.

DN: Staffing?  AN: Leveraging real-time opportunities requires full-time monitoring. Listening to social activity is the best way to find opportunities that bubble to the surface.

DN: Client Approval Process? AN: To take advantage of real-time opportunities, a level of trust must exist between agency partners and the client. Planned opportunities are created by the agency and approved by the client, but many real-time opportunities must be created and promoted based on shared goals and strategies for the year, without client approval.

DN: Brands Should Avoid? AN: Brands should avoid forcing real-time content. Steer clear of touchy subjects and irrelevant holidays. For example a baking brand should talk about Thanksgiving, but should not talk about Veteran’s Day.

DN: Barriers to Success? AN: Time and resources. Joining in on trending conversations requires the ability to identify the opportunity, ideate on a response, create content, gain approval and post. This process can be complicated on weekends or after business hours.

DN: The Right Metrics? AN:  Real-time marketing is really about exposure and sentiment. Metrics like reach, impressions, retweets, and earned positive buzz are all metrics that should be assessed.

Drew: How do you see customer care evolving in the age of social as real time marketing?

In our category, our competitors employee dedicated sales reps that mine the social chatter for customer complaints on Twitter… then will reach out to these customers with offers to switch. Many times, they will get to these vulnerable customers before the brand does. It’s become a new front in the competitive battle for market share, one tweet at a time.

Drew: Can you summarize with 3 key factors to getting RTM right?

  1. Relevancy: Do what makes sense for your brand, don’t force it.
  2. Creativity: Stand out, in a good way.
  3. Process: Have a plan for the unexpected. Be ready to take on ad hoc opportunities.

RTM: Being In the Moment with Marshall Wright, T3


Marshall WrightUnless you’re new to TheDrewBlog, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m moderating a panel this week on real-time marketing down in warmish Florida. Marshall Wright, Director of Social Media at T3, is another illustrious member of our panel and brings lots of insights and experience to the conversation.  I particularly enjoyed learning about how the team at T3 has worked the Windows Phone into numerous real-time conversations.

Drew: Define real time marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

Real-time is being in-the-moment without looking like you’re trying to be in-the-moment.

Drew: What does it take organizationally to run a successful real-time program?

It takes knowing who you are as a brand, what your voice is, what your business objectives are and what your customers want from you. It takes buy-in from the C-suite down to the day-to-day client level, and having all the right people ready to take action. It takes technology and creativity. And it takes a shit ton of planning.

Drew: Tell me about T3′s real-time efforts on behalf of Windows Phones?

Over the course of over 50 brand and competitor device launches, we’ve learned that most device conversation happens within 48 hours of a launch so we wanted to take advantage of that while still staying true to who the brand is. So for the launch of a competitor device, we prepped by doing a ton of social listening and research to find what people were saying about key features likely to be announced – tone, sentiment, etc. and developed a messaging strategy and content to insert our brand at the right moments in the lead up, during, and after the announce. This allowed us to find the key brand–relevant moments for us to join the conversation, resulting in one of the most retweeted posts of the (launch) day.

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that T3 had a hand in and why?

Honestly, one of the most simple moments came a few years ago when the turtles escaped on the JetBlue runway at JFK resulting in a ton of delayed flights. This was shortly after the Bronx Zoo Cobra Twitter stunt, so someone created a JFKTurtles Twitter and started tweeting the journey of the turtles. It was great and caught on immediately. We were managing Windows Phone social and caught on to what was happening and started following along. Angry Birds had just launched that day on the phone and the turtles tweeted they were going to play a game of Mario Bros. It was a perfect moment for the brand to participate in the conversation without looking like they were just trying to be part of a “thing” and we had a great 4-5 tweet conversation with them in real-time that wound up on a list of the best brand responses to the turtles.

Drew: Why do real-time programs seem to fall flat so often?

Because there’s a perception that newsjacking – inserting your brand into every pop culture, trending moment — is real-time. And it’s not. Yes, it can be a part of that, but it really takes knowing who you are as a brand and where you fit. If your not authentic or relevant to the moment it shows immediately. As a brand, you need to pick and choose your moments.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

It’s smart strategy. At T3, we actually refer to it as “always-on” rather than real-time because it IS smart strategy. As a brand, if you’re going to be in social media, if you’re going to put yourself out there you should be ready to engage whenever your customers are ready to engage. Not just during key cultural moments but all the time. Have a social listening program set up and know what you’re listening for. Then engage when it makes sense all the time. Doing that sets up the foundation for you to be able to take advantage of those cultural moments in ways that makes sense for you and that give your customers a way to celebrate for you and with you, like in the JFKTurtles example.

Drew: Will we still be talking about real-time next year and if so why?

I guess it depends on what happens during the Super Bowl this year.

Real-Time Marketing Unmasked with Teresa Caro, Engauge


With the Superbowl just a week away, leading edge marketers are, in the fabled words of Tim Curry, “breathless with anticipation” of the potential Real-Time Marketing opportunities awaiting them. These folks have been scenario planning for weeks if not months with the hope that they can steal the show away from the ads, football players AND reigning RTM champ, Oreo. So its little wonder that RTM will be a hot topic this coming Thursday at the Social Media Insider Summit AND lucky for you, I’ll be moderating a panel on that very subject. Among my savvy panelists will be Teresa Caro, SVP of Social and Content Marketing at Engauge, who was kind enough to once again share her insights on this here blog.  Thanks Teresa.

Drew: Define Real-Time Marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

Done right: Timely, on-brand content that is relevant to an event or trend, created to elicit an emotional response and/or drive action.

Done wrong: A shiny marketing object, fueled by a knee-jerk reaction, that once posted, makes you the subject of ridicule by your peers.

Drew: What does it take to launch a successful real-time program?

  1. Be realistic about your organization. Every company is different — has different types of legal regulations, different approval processes, different levels of trust in their agencies and employees, etc. The amount of preplanning required is ultimately determined by what it takes to ensure a brand feels comfortable navigating the real-time space.
  2. Recognize real-time marketing is more than a well-timed Tweet. You need to think of it more broadly as timely, on-brand content that is relevant to an event or trend, created to elicit an emotional response and/or drive action. Real-time can be how you handle a physical event in the social space. How you handle a crisis. It’s how you address consumer needs or consumer love or express of frustration. Take it into the offline world and it is the use of data and mobility to share messages with people performing certain actions or in a certain location.
  3. Have a strategy. What are your goals and objectives? What are you looking to achieve? What is your brand voice and tone? You need to have this first so when an event or meme presents itself than you have a filter to determine if the opportunity even makes sense.
  4. Have a plan. The extent of this plan depends on #1, #2 and #3.
  5. Promote it. I don’t need to remind you that the “build it and they will come” does not work here. It needs to be promoted somehow, someway to the right audience through the right platform.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t expect to hit it out of the park the first time around – and if you do, You Go Girl. This is something that requires practice, a theme, relationship building with your fans so they are ready to receive it and promote it, etc.

Drew: Tell me about your RTM work with Chick-fil-a?  

7.3 million fans on Facebook, 333k followers on Twitter and 36.8k followers on Instagram doesn’t happen overnight. It requires daily care and feeding to grow and ensure there are engaged audiences to receive the content and have an emotional response… Without the ongoing piece, there would never be anyone to create a big bang. As a result, we take an integrated approach of great planned content, real-time fan engagement and opportunistic content. Examples of real-time include:

  • Unplanned and reactive –
  • Planned and reactive -
    • We spend a lot of time working on our monthly content calendars, getting them approved and getting them scheduled, yet sometimes you need to pivot when you have an opportunity such as acknowledging how cold it is through out the U.S.
  • Planned and proactive
    • And sometimes you just need to be prepared for what’s coming and be timely, relevant and unique. How many did something relevant to New Years vs. heading back to work?

Drew: Why is real-time so hard to get right? 

  1. No objectives
  2. No brand definition
  3. No talent
  4. No process
  5. Too much process

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that your agency didn’t have a hand in?

Mini (see link.) This isn’t the first time BMW Mini did a campaign like this. They did a campaign several years ago and coupled it with social listening. They found the share of voice they received for the campaign back then, generated sales three months later.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

Part of a smart social strategy. Goes back to why it’s so hard to get it right… it’s currently a shiny object, fueled by a knee jerk reaction… it’s rare you’ll get this right.

Drew: Will we still be talking about real-time next year? If yes, why? 

Smart marketing and really bad marketing will always be talked about. Take a smart piece of content that was turned around in amazing time and it will always be talked about… Well, that is if it’s promoted the right way.

Drew: Okay.  Lightning round.  Let’s bang through the logistical issues…

  • DN: What does it take from a staffing standpoint?  TC: Depends on how much you want to do, what types, how frequently (special events vs. continuous)
  • DN: Client approval processes? TC: Some brands can’t manage to pull this together because there is such need for multiple approvals of one post
  • DN: What brands should avoid altogether? TC: Topics that don’t align with their brand. Emotionally charged topics.
  • DN: Other barriers to success? TC: Lack of planning. Lack of understanding their own brand. Lack of understanding what they are looking to achieve.
  • DN: What are the right metrics? TC: Depends on your objectives.

Insights on Real-Time Marketing from Anne-Marie Kline, Digitas


Anne Marie KlineThanks to those clever folks at Oreo who stole last year’s Superbowl spotlight, real-time marketing  was among the hottest topics of 2013. (It even warranted its own abbreviation: RTM!)  Agencies and clients scrambled to set up “newsrooms” in the hopes of thrusting brands into “the conversation” at just the right moment.  Similarly, marketing swat teams were poised to pounce just in case opportunity knocked again during live events. Not surprisingly, few matched Oreo’s success at catching lightning in a bottle.  As the year progressed, “newsjacking” became both commonplace and an opportunity for epic fails (see top 16 from Econsultancy.)

As with all such trendy / newish / emerging  marketing approaches, once the excitement wears off, the professionals move in and help bring some discipline to the party. One such pro is Anne-Marie Kline, SVP/Account Management at DigitasLBI, whose agency has helped P&G and Buick among others ride the RTM wave.  I was delighted to catch up with Anne-Marie prior to our panel discussion next week at MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit.  As you will see, being a RTM practitioner is neither easy nor for the faint of heart.

Drew: Define real time marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

RTM happens when a brand expresses humanity.

Drew: Can you provide some brief examples?

Tide: The Onion published a story about a Tide Brand Manager talking about a viral video – it was poking fun at Tide [and] the entire marketing community’s obsession with viral videos.  Tide responded in the only way possible – they made the video and posted it.  The Onion responded and the video took off in social media.  [For Tide examples see these Adweek stories--Sharkweek and Halloween]

Buick: During in Buick’s daily monitoring they noticed the trend of putting the phone down and enjoying life.  #putthephonedown  was trending off and on and Buick started making suggestions of what to do when you put the phone down in full support of Buick’s discovery platform.  Then they hooked up with Rhett and Link of Youtube and created a video all about putting the phone down and created a bigger effort to get people to enjoy #inthemoment. They supported it on their tumblr feed, asked the audience to make a pledge for being in the moment, and finally taking Christmas day off – from social media. [See Adweek story]

Drew: What does it take to pull programs like this off?  

  1. Dedicated resources on both sides on a daily basis.  This is about not only being ready to respond, but to build the muscle memory.   Listen, Create and Distribute.
  2. Present to the approver, next step legal if you have to.  Gone are the days of having multiple rounds of approval.  Relevance has a deadline and you will miss it if you are stuck in a conference room presenting ideas.  The client is much more in the creation, which helps to get ideas into market more quickly.
  3. Senior brand leadership to help clear the hurdles.
  4. Knowledge that you can’t do this for free with a skeleton staff.  It’s not free.  Budget must be earmarked for media and content creation.  Content shouldn’t be created unless a distribution strategy has been thought through.  Earned media has such power, more than is being realized just yet.

Drew: What are the three reasons why real-time programs fall flat? 

  1. When a brand forces entry into a conversation that they have no business being in.
  2. They approach real time in isolation — as a stunt– with no anchor in the broader brand messaging.
  3. Has nothing to do with what people care about.  You have to find the intersection between what is interesting to the audience and the brand purpose.

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that you or your agency didn’t have a hand in?

Mini Cooper does a great job on a regular basis.  One of my favorites was what they did around the horse in beef scandal in the UK.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

I know its called the Social Media Insider Summit, but Real-Time is a core / foundational piece to a sound marketing strategy.  What brand doesn’t want to engage with their audience on an everyday basis in a relevant manner while providing value?  This is what Real-Time can do for a brand.  It is always on and should be an integral part whether you are talking about expressing the idea in social channels or traditional.

Turning Marketing into Service w John Hayes, CMO, AmEx


john-hayes (1)A common phrase in the service industry is “the customer knows best.” While waiters and retail associates will roll their eyes at this, especially when it’s delivered by a manager following an unpleasant customer interaction, there’s definitely some credence to it. American Express is one company that takes “customer knows best” to heart, and has used the adage to help inform its marketing strategy for decades.

AmEx CMO John Hayes and I caught up around the time of the CMO Club Awards, and he gave me a glimpse into the intensely service-focused world that runs American Express from the inside out. From creating an Open Forum that lets small businesses help each other out, to starting a publishing arm way before “content marketing” was a buzzword in—wait for it—1971, to offering live streamed concerts to its music fans, Hayes and his team are are not just believers in “marketing as service,” they are the poster children for this approach. 

Drew: One of the big issues that big companies have is how to keep their marketing fresh and nimble and not get stuck in a rut. Over the years, you have been incredibly innovative in terms of your marketing. Have you been able to institutionalize this innovation?

There are a couple of answers to that question. The most fundamental is that you have to continue to focus on the customer. If you become focused on the issues that present themselves inside the company instead of looking outside at the customers, you’re sacrificing innovation. If we’re going to be a great service company, we need to be serving them, we need to be communicating with them, we need to be marketing in the places where our customers or our prospects spend their time.

Being customer-focused is the first part of innovating because what you’re trying to do is anticipate the needs that those customers have and looking for an advantage over your competition, which usually comes from serving your customers in a unique way. The second part is to generate a level of curiosity about what’s happening in the world, both in terms of the talent you bring into the company as well as the culture that you build and maintain over time. We have been able to build a culture of curiosity where people are curious about how to make things work better.

Drew: You’re a great service company, yet one might argue that you also sell a lot of products. Has a service mentality always been front-and-center at American Express? How does being a great service company affect your marketing?

American Express has been around since 1850, and when we first started, we were a freight forwarding company, not a payment company. Then we slowly moved into the traveler business and the travelers check business. The company was 108 years old before the first American Express card appeared. Since the beginning, there has been a focus on being a great service company, whether that service was freight forwarding, opening up markets for people to travel and experience, offering people a safer way to carry their money with travelers checks or offering them something like the American Express card to simplify their lives and make it more rewarding. All of those things come from a service culture, a company focused on service.

This brand has been about 3 things from its very origin: Trust, security, service. So the iteration we experience today happens to be mostly in the form of plastic payments, whether that’s corporate, small business, consumer or for our merchants, but that’s just the way we’ve taken service to market today. It starts with understanding what business you are in and understanding that this is a company that believes it’s noble to serve. From that comes the way we go to market.

Drew: I saw the case history on Small Business Saturday, and there’s a lot of evidence that it drove a tremendous amount of traffic. That was probably among your more measurably effective initiatives, at least from a small business standpoint. But my understanding of Open Forum is that you can’t find a direct link to revenue, yet you’ve been investing in Open programs for years.

I think there are some general trends that are very positive but you’re right. When you get to a granular level, it’s difficult to say this program generated this many cards and this much spending for American Express.

We have a belief that if you serve people well, they will become your customers, because people find it rare to be served extremely well. We don’t require people to be a cardholder to use Open Forum. We created the site because we knew that part of enabling the success of small businesses was helping them understand what other small businesses had already learned to help them be successful. That’s why we created it, and that’s why we made it an “open” network – so people could find the people that would be of most value to them.

When you’ve contributed in a meaningful way to a small business’ success and then say, “Hey, I’ve got some other services for you. I’ve got a card that could help you manage inventory better,” they are quite open to it because they’ll say, “Well, you guys have already been enabling my business, enabling my success,” and that’s the philosophy. Some programs we can measure on a granular level, and some we can’t, but we’re careful not to overvalue the things we can measure or undervalue the things we can’t. 

Drew: You’ve been developing content, one way or another, for small businesses for years. Given that everybody is creating content, and other companies are targeting small businesses like you are, what are you doing to stay ahead?

What’s really important is that we don’t do things just because they’re a trend; we do things because we think it’s the right thing to do for our customer. In 1971, we started a publishing group called American Express publishing. Wow, what a concept. Who was talking about content in 1971? But this company has the foresight to understand that if you’re going to be a lifestyle services company, you’re going to serve businesses and people. You need to talk to them about their life, not what they’re going to use to pay for something.

The philosophy that got this company to create a publishing group in 1971 is no different than the way we think about our company today. If you’re in the service business, every interaction with a prospect or a customer should be a service interaction. We provide those magazines as a service to those customers. If you look at what we do on stage – bringing music to so many people on a live-stream basis – the philosophy is the same. That is our way of serving customers who we know have a passion for music because of the things they do, because of the way they spend their money. We should be helping our customers experience what it is they want to experience, and many of these experiences are open architecture because we want prospects to know that’s what it feels like to be a member.

Drew: Have you seen your role, in the last 10 years, evolve as a CMO? 

My role has evolved a lot. First, it’s evolved from the standpoint of understanding what is happening in the world related to media. How are people consuming media? How are they absorbing new messages? Those things have changed fairly remarkably in the last decade. Part of my job is to make sure I understand how the world works today from a media standpoint, whether that’s social media, digital, or traditional, and how it’s changing. How are brands being established in the landscape today?

My role is also about identifying which elements of American Express will not change from 1850, and which elements absolutely will in terms of how we go to market. Trust, security, and service will not change. This company has existed for 163 years because it’s reinvented itself, but always around the ideas of trust, security, and service.

Drew: What role is Big Data playing in your job today?

Data is a fundamental part of what we do today, and it’s a great opportunity, because data can allow us to optimize on a much shorter cycle. We also see it as an opportunity to serve customers better. I can anticipate your needs, I can help you with the things you want, I can begin to understand what you might need in the future based on data and that data can be very useful in service and marketing standpoint. I won’t talk about marketing without mentioning service because I think there’s a lot of marketing out there that is of no service to anyone and frankly doesn’t have much impact. The things that are sustainable are the marketing elements that serve people well. So data becomes an enormous opportunity not only to find prospects, but to also understand them and to offer things that are a real service to them, so that you can begin the relationship on a service level and not just a sales level.

Drew: If you had to justify the creation of Open Forum today based on data that you didn’t have because you hadn’t yet introduced it, how would you do it? I believe there’s a risk today that marketers might not take the giant leaps of faith in an untested program because its’ impact is not going to be linear.

I think your assumption is entirely correct which is that the data allows you to find the opportunity, execute the opportunity, and prove that it was a success; all on shorter cycles than ever before. You’re not waiting 6 months to say ‘did it work?’; you’re saying ‘let me show you the week after Small Business Saturday’. Let’s take a look at the behavioral shifts we saw. You’re able, because data is as robust today, to see insights to what might have cause and affected certain positive outcomes.

You cannot be a great marketer without experimentation. Experimentation requires great accountability. You have to be experimenting with a purpose and you have to have the data and the metrics that will allow you to demonstrate what worked and what didn’t. It’s okay to fail as long as you don’t fail twice on the same thing. That’s the way we try to operate here, we experiment a lot we have some things that work phenomenally well which the world gets to see on a broad scale basis and we have some things that don’t work at all and we say that didn’t work fold it up let’s not do that again, let’s try some other things. That to me is a big part of how the job has changed because 20 years ago, it was not as experimental as it is today because the data wasn’t as robust, the metrics weren’t easy to access, the cycles took longer and there weren’t as many new permutations to try.

Drew: Let’s talk about the Link Like Love and Card Sync programs. Are they both social? They have transactional elements, which is very different than some of the other things you’ve done. How would you evaluate those two programs, and do they have futures?

They definitely have futures. They come from a very clear observation of many digital channels, which are unlike many traditional media channels, which tend to be really focused on communications. These new channels are distribution channels, they’re service channels; they operate on so many different dimensions that it allows you to create products specifically for these platforms.

I believe iIt’s a missed opportunity if you’re working in the digital space and all you’re trying to do is create a communication. You’re going to disappoint people, because people who consume these channels don’t see them as just communications channels.

If you start to build products and services that exist within these very robust platforms then you start to create more interesting things that people can spend time with on the platform. You’re building something that mirrors the behaviors you’ve already seen customers take in those categories and on those platforms. Our philosophy has always been to build things that compliment the platforms that we’re building them on.  We are able to distribute products, services, and communicate with our customers because the channel is so robust it allows us to do that.

Drew: Let’s take Facebook Link, Like, Love, how does that work?

We have a lot of card members who spend time on Facebook so this program now gives them a way of further utilizing their Facebook presence. We then offer them things based on their social graph, their friends, their behavior, and their traditional spending behaviors. We’re then able to see how well we’ve done because some things have an enormous uptake. We’ve offered other opportunities to customers to sync their cards that have not gotten enormous uptake.

When we launched Tweet Divide, it was basically a similar product on a different platform. We communicated with people who were going to South by Southwest before they went on their route. We also reached them in a variety of ways en route to South by Southwest. There was a special show that we were doing, which we were live streaming with Jay-Z. If they wanted to attend the show all they had to do was sync their card on Twitter, tweet the show, and they would get tickets to the show. The viral effect was unbelievable. It was an incredible show. The headline the next day was something along the lines of “The most innovative new startup was American Express.”

We don’t like to just put everything on autopilot, particularly with something like South by Southwest. If you’re going to do something, we believe it should live up to very high standard of innovation and newness so we didn’t repeat it this year. We are taking the things that worked from it and applying it all over the place.

Drew: As the CMO, how much influence do you have on the entire customer experience?

At any company, that grows with time. I do believe there is a benefit of having been in this position for so many years. You have earned the right to influence many things that ultimately build your brand by doing things, demonstrating the value, measuring the value over time. I feel for CMOs who are just coming into a complex organization and trying to manage all of the elements that they believe are impacting both their brand and their business. It’s very difficult in a short amount of time to get your arms around it. I don’t know of a company structured in such a way that the CMO has control over all of the touch points.

For me, what’s really been tremendous is having the steady support of a CEO who has said “This is important,” and being able to demonstrate to my colleagues: “Here’s the value that we can bring,” and how, if we work to together and bring something that has synergy to the market, we all benefit. We’ve seen the impact that service has on the American Express brand, our customers and their behavior following a positive experience. It’s really been about picking things off and demonstrating the value of each over time.

It took me a few years before I was really able to get people on board and see how we can be more successful with greater synergy. It’s really a plea to consistency. Some people think consistency means boring and tired, and I don’t. We’re demonstrating that we have a consistent level of talent. Our organizational structure has allowed us to build relationships internally, and some things that were difficult 12, 15 years ago are second nature today.

Q+A w CMO Award Winner Julie Garlikov, CMO, Torani



Following the year of “content marketing” that was 2013, we can only hope that 2014 is destined to be as rewarding a year for consumers on social media. Many brands are figuring out that earning customer loyalty via great content is on par with nurturing a real, face-to-face relationship, in that being a supportive, useful and interesting friend will almost always earn you an invite to the birthday party.

Some, like Torani, are well ahead of this curve. For a product like Torani, which relies on retailers to establish the first relationship with customers, it pays to keep tabs on the rolodex by not just touching base over social media, but also adding to their daily lives in a fun, relevant way. CMO Julie Garlikov, who won a President’s Circle Award at the recent CMO Club Awards, explains the ways Torani grows and manages its loyal fan base on a modest budget.

Drew: A CMO has a lot of choices in terms of where they invest their time.  What have been your top priorities in the last 12 months?

Our business continues to grow like crazy.   I am most focused on growing our consumer business and improving household penetration.  This includes some significant product innovation, as well as educating and engaging our consumer in new ways.

Drew: Have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s worked really well and what hasn’t?

We’ve launched a lot of new products this year.  What’s surprising is how long it has taken to get some of them off the ground, especially when you’re educating a market on a new behavior.  The other big surprise to me this year is the explosive growth in mobile, which now accounts for almost 30% of our online traffic.  We’re rapidly adapting our ecommerce platform to be better optimized for mobile.

Drew:  Has the fact that Torani does not have a huge multi-million budget forced you to be more innovative?  

We have to find the right partners to work with us who believe in our brand and who want to work with a great, local, family-owned business.  And, we need to focus more on things like PR and creating social buzz to get the word out.  We can’t do a lot of mass tactics, so we look to build really high loyalty with our business and consumer users, turning them into uber fans.

Drew: Have you been able to link your innovative marketing activities to the kinds of business metrics favored by CEOs?

I use a lot of test/invest methodology, trying things out small scale, proving that they deliver and then expanding.  It’s the only way to make ensure the best ROI on limited budgets.

Drew: Marketing seems to be getting increasingly complex in terms of ways to spend and ways to monitor. Has it gotten more complex for you and if so, how are you dealing with that complexity?

Julie: For such simple products, we have a very complex business with many channels and differing needs.  When you add all the new ways to market, it is complicated, and that’s what makes it interesting.  We’ve really focused the team on specific channels and segments and that helps them market the most successfully.

Drew: How do you stay close to your end users when the relationship with these folks is mainly owned by your retailer partners?  

Julie:  We get a great sense from social media and listening of what’s important to our user.  We’ve also been doing a lot of event marketing and mobile tours the past two years so we can hear more directly what our users like.  Between our retail partners and our foodservice distributors, we can be one step removed.  So, we have to create opportunities to engage regularly and we do a lot of research like ethnographies to really understand what our consumer wants and needs.

Drew: Has social media played much of a role in the driving your brand?  If so, how has it helped or how do you see it helping in the future?  

Julie:   We have a very active, loyal fan base that we engage with daily on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.  We also have done a lot of blogger outreach and engage with various bloggers on a regular basis, sending them new products, etc.  This helps get the word out on a small brand and is a big part of our acquistion strategies.

Drew: Content marketing is hot topic at the moment.  Are you increasing your investment in this area?

Julie:  Yes, this is a huge area for us.  We’ve developed videos and will be producing even more as the year wraps up.  Everything from how-to videos to funny content.  We also continue to create enticing inspirational photos and editorial, almost like what you see in a food magazine.  We’ve found that inspiring people with seasonal recipes and super on-trend ideas generates significant sales lift, so content is key for us.

Drew: Do you agree with that notion that marketing is everything and everything is marketing and if so how have you extended the boundaries of your job beyond the normal purview of the CMO?    

Julie:   This is so true.  We’ve actually created a social media/buzz marketer position within our department and moved consumer service into marketing.  That way, if someone engages on Facebook or Twitter or the old school phone, we’re able to have one seamless approach to dealing with their experience.  And, we’ve got a team who does the same thing for our commercial user too.


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