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

If Marketing is War, I Want Kylberg as My General

04/3/16

It is hard to be a student of history and not be fascinated by leaders.  And as some of you may have picked up by now, I spend a lot of my spare time reading books and listening to courses on American History with a special concentration on Ben Franklin and the American Revolution.  Starting about a week ago, I took a break from the 18th century and jumped into the mid-19th to try to fill a huge knowledge gap on the Civil War.  As told by Professor Gary W. Gallagher, this is a story of leadership and often the lack there of on both sides of an epic confrontation. Ultimately, two leaders rose above the others, Lincoln and his final Commanding General, Ulysses S. Grant.

Now since you probably didn’t come here for a history lesson, let me explain why I’m talking about these two leaders before I introduce you to Rich Kylberg,Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Arrow Electronics.  Well, first Rich and I talk about leadership and the challenges of reinventing and transforming Arrow, a 75 year-old company. Lincoln’s United States was just a decade older (“four score and 7 years”) at the time of his Gettysburg address, when he looked to transform the nation. Second, Rich seems very much a man of action, the very reason Lincoln made Grant his main man in March 1864, a decision that cemented the Northern victory just about a year later. Third and hopefully more to the point, Rich uses warfare as a metaphor in one of his answers paving the way for this grandiose introduction.

Given this history-rich if not historic preface, you may rightfully expect an enlightening interview and indeed you will find one below.  Kylberg, for the record, was awarded the Leadership prize from The CMO Club late last year.

33d554c

Drew: How would you describe your leadership style?  

Optimistic, passionate, and entirely “out of the box.” Offering a teenaged German song contest participant 1,000,000 euros to alter her lyrics from a love song to a ballad about the nobility of engineers raised eyebrows.

Drew: Do you have any role models that you’ve admired over the years and if so, what did you pick up from him/her?  

Mom, Dad, and Walt Disney: altruism, entrepreneurship, and creativity.  I can’t walk through a Disney park without being stunned by the imagination and creativity brought to bear in an effort to create happiness (and, I suppose, cash flow).

Drew: Can you talk about some of the actions you took as a leader in the last couple of years that were particularly challenging? 

Working to try to reinvent and transform a very large and already successful industry comes with a great deal of resistance, reluctance, and (when we get it right) reward.  Over around 75 years Arrow revenue grew to over $20 billion with very few people knowing about the company; we built a brand message, architecture, and platform that resonates across all of our business units, all around the world.

Drew: How important is your peer to peer network to your on-going success?  What are the biggest benefits of having a peer network?  

My peer to peer network has been critical to my journey.  These friends have flattened my steep learning curves, and kept me from going way off the rails.  Participating within the best organizations in my profession (the CMO Club!), our industry (IBM Amplify), and the broader business community (YPO International) is essential to keeping me relevant and connected.

Drew: What’s the best advice you’ve been given to guide personal / career success?

Pick your battles. Win the war.  I’ve had dozens of individual initiatives shut down within Arrow, I’ve seen my team grow from 6 to 70 and back down to 30, and yet our main focus on propagation of the united Arrow brand continues and only grows stronger.

Drew: What is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome? 

I’d like to expand the scale, scope, and impact of the great work that we do to continue to transform our company and make this world a little better place for us all.  Last year to promote our brand we toured a race car that’s driven by a quadriplegic, and we built a computer lab in a shipping container for orphans in Tanzania –I encourage our small team of professionals to dream of what we can do in 2016 and beyond that will make life better for others, while further defining and disseminating the company brand.

[Bloggers Note: For those of you interested in more on Lincoln’s leadership style, I have a spare copy of the timelessly brilliant Lincoln on Leadership at the office OR feel free to borrow my copy of US Grant’s autobiography, a surprisingly fascinating and well-scribed book.]

The Extraordinary Power of Focus Even with CSR

03/27/16

0d115f2

Whenever I meet entrepreneurs, they often pick my brain for marketing wisdom usually asking one or all of the following questions:

  1. How do we get the biggest bang for our marketing bucks?
  2. What are the most effective marketing channels?
  3. Is social media worth the time and effort?
  4. Does guerrilla marketing still work?
  5. Tell me Obi Wan, what is the secret to marketing success?

Avoiding questions 1-4 until I have a better sense of their overall go-to-market strategy, I jump all over #5.  “The secret,” I say, “can be found in one word–focus.”  Somewhat rattled by the simplicity of this seemingly obvious counsel, I wait for the notion to sink in and then offer real world stories of how businesses, large and small, have achieved success through laser-like focus on their product/service offering and target audience.

These stories are not always easy to come by which is why I’m so excited to share with you an interview I had with Diane Scott, Global Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Western Union.  In her responses, you will discover how a deliberate focus on one charitable activity (Education for Better) has helped Western Union impact more than 1 millions lives around the world and gain 75% employee participation. It’s an impressive approach that not surprisingly garnered Scott and Western Union a Social Responsibility Award from The CMO Club.  Prepare to see for yourself the power of focus in action.

Drew: Congratulations on winning the Social Responsibility Award. How do you define Corporate Social Responsibility?

Western Union defines itself as a purpose-driven company. Our business drives social and economic growth by promoting financial inclusion. In 2014, WU moved $185B, more than the GDP of 147 countries. Cross-border remittances provided needed funds for education, housing, health care and more. WU also provides better ways to move money for NGOs, universities and SMEs, which are an economic engine.

At Western Union, we use the term “corporate responsibility,” since responsible companies engage in far more than socially-oriented programs. For us, the term “corporate responsibility” typically refers to a fairly specific focus on responsibility in our core operations – e.g. how we treat our employees and promote diversity, how we focus on governance issues, how we prioritize ethics and compliance in our operations, and more.

Yet I think your question is getting at something broader than responsible operations alone. At Western Union we also seek to coordinate our corporate resources for both business and social impact, and engage our business, consumers and employees in this work. We seek to marshal all our assets – e.g. products and services, cause-related marketing, executive leadership, employee volunteerism, philanthropy and our core operations – for both business and social impact.

For the last three years our focus has been on supporting education through a program we call Education for Better. In fact, Western Union just publicly renewed our company-wide commitment to education through 2020.  As a company whose mission is to help create global economic opportunity and growth for individuals, businesses, communities and economies, education is a natural focus for our citizenship efforts.

Drew: Can you provide a short recap of your CSR initiatives in 2015?

Two achievements that stand out are:

  • The Western Union Foundation surpassed a major milestone, since it’s inception, donating more than US$100 million in support to more than 2,700 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide support to thousands of families and individuals in more than 135 countries and territories.
  • We also marked the three-year milestone with our Education for Better program, and renewed that commitment to help meet global education goals over the next three years. That programs has focused on secondary and vocational education for marginalized populations, including girls/women and migrants/refugees. 

Drew: How do you measure the success of these programs? (Please provide specific results if you can.)

Each corporate initiative has its own metrics for success, and of course the Western Union Foundation has its own metrics to measure the success of its philanthropy. Yet generally we’re looking to measure both social and business impact through our social responsibility work.

To give you an example, we’ve measured the following with Education for Better:

  • Social Impact
    • Moved more than $7 billion in principal for education (WUBS), exceeding our original target of $1 billion.
    • Provided more than $11.6 million in philanthropic funding to support educational programs in 53 countries, impacting more than 1.1 million students, teachers, and administrators.
    • Through the UEFA PASS program, enabled more than one million days of school for disadvantaged students through UNICEF.
    • Provided more than 11,000 hours of employee volunteer support to education.
  • Business Impact
    • Our education products saw double-digit revenue growth in 2014.
    • Education-related cause promotions help assist our growth initiatives. A Mother’s Day promotion between the U.S. and Mexico, promotions in India and China, and a Ramadan promotion in Germany all contribute to our growth. Consumer engagement online soared over 100%_
    • Nearly 75% of Western Union employees have participated in the cause, either through the employee giving campaign or volunteerism, building employee pride and increasing understanding of our cause.
    • We engaged 72 WU agents, deepening our business relationships.

Drew: Building a business case for CSR initiatives can be tricky. What were the keys to gaining management support?

The second key insight was that while Our World, Our Family had been effective, it was largely philanthropic and had not benefited from the full resources of the company. The next strategic initiative would be imagined differently to leverage not just our funds and volunteer hours, but the whole of our business, including marketing and products.

Drew: When it comes to sharing your company’s CSR initiatives is there a fine line between letting the world know about it and overplaying the contribution? Where do you sit on this spectrum from letting the good action speak for itself and broadcasting it from the treetops?

I think one of the first questions is whether the work itself is authentic. Is it just writing a check, or does it tie to the company’s values, operations and brand identity? For WU, our community commitment goes back to the 1800’s, and today is stronger than ever. In some ways, I think that gives us “permission” to communicate about corporate responsibility.

Over the years, studies by Cone, Inc., Nielsen, Edelman and others have consistently shown that up to 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality, and 57% would purchase a product of lesser quality or efficacy if it was more socially or environmentally responsible.

That suggests it’s important for consumers understand our responsibility commitment. It’s probably not possible for companies ever do enough to tell consumers not about what they do, but also why they do what they do. That’s particularly true for WU, since I think our commitment to “moving money for better” is a meaningful brand differentiator. That said, it takes a lot to raise awareness – let alone build deep brand association. That’s another reason why we focus on a single cause company-wide. That focus is critical to enabling us to both track and deepen our impact and speak loudly with one voice that can be heard.

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

Like most thinks in life, our biggest challenge is our biggest opportunity from a marketing perspective – for WU, we have more channels than ever before, and more data than ever before…

200 countries, 500k locations, 100k atms, kiosks, mobile apps, online presence, ability to send from and to accounts to mobile wallets or with cash, 130 currencies. A brand and technology platform built to drive simplicity, security and reliability of cross border money movement – for consumers and businesses alike.

Given the brand’s 160+ years young existence, many times people and businesses think they know this brand and really don’t. 2016 is all about continuing to onboard and innovate around more cross border customer use cases for consumers and businesses than ever before – whether to fuel cross border payments for a small business in Bangladesh, a large bank in London, an NGO in Lagos, a University in New York, an ExPat in Dubai or a recent migrant from Nigeria.

How Anheuser-Busch is Riding a Digital Workhorse

03/21/16

2ebd8c9

If ever there were brands built on the backs of traditional media, it would be Budweiser and Bud Light.  These stalwarts of sports broadcasts, joined us in our living rooms and bars, reminding us years back who this Bud was for and more recently, inciting us to be up for whatever with Bud Light. But just because TV was the big horse they rode in on doesn’t mean that Anheuser Busch isn’t making tracks on the digital frontier.  In fact, Lucas Herscovici, VP of Consumer Connections at Anheuser-Busch, reports that A-B’s investment in digital is growing rapidly and with good results.  Here’s our interview on that and more after Herscovici received the CMO Officer award from the The CMO Club.

Drew: Looking back over the last 12-24 months, what initiative under your leadership really worked well? What were some of the challenges you had to overcome? What were the results?

I’m proud about the work we’ve done to make Anheuser-Busch one of the top CPG companies in digital. In order to do that, we had to shift the way the organization looked at marketing, increase investments and ultimately prove that it helps drive sales. I’m happy to say that it resulted in success. Bud Light and Budweiser are now recognized as CPG leaders in digital by external parties and platforms like Tinder and Snapchat are choosing our brands to be the first brands to advertise on their platforms.

Drew: Effecting change beyond the marketing department is not easy and is often met with resistance from other departments.  How did you make this happen? Looking back, what do you wish you knew a year ago that you learned “the hard way”?

Changing the way we negotiate sports team sponsorships initially met with some resistance due to some historical partnerships between the company and teams. By delivering a few quick wins and demonstrating results, other departments got on board with the strategy. One “key learning” was that we need to involve all the stakeholders early. When everyone is part of the process from the start, it is easier for them to get behind a new way of doing things.

Drew: Did any of your marketing initiatives involve employee activation?  If so, can you describe what you did and how it worked? How did you get employees to care?

At Anheuser-Busch, one of our core beliefs is that everyone should act like an owner. We created the rock star of the month award within our new media agency team to extend that sense of pride to not only our employees but to our marketing partners. The award recognizes great contributors and ultimately drove high engagement within the extended team.

Drew: When advising members of your team on cross-departmental initiatives, what do tell them to do and not do to ensure success?

We’re in the business of bringing people together, and that holds true within our marketing team. I encourage all of our employees to go to the field, meet with people face to face to understand how things work and come with solutions in a collaborative way.

Drew: What is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome?

While we’re pleased with our success in digital marketing for Budweiser and Bud Light, there is still room to improve on how we connect with our consumers. For 2016, we’ll be focused on strengthening all of our brands by further enhancing the way we connect with consumers and shaping the culture for each brand.

It’s Not Digital Marketing–It’s Just Marketing!

03/11/16

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMzAAAAJDBkNzFmYWVhLWRmN2ItNGM4YS1hMTdhLTFmNTYzMWMxZDE3Yw

Over the years, practitioners have been inclined to slice up marketing into increasingly small operational areas. When I started way back when there was “above the line” and “below the line” with advertising being elevated and all other forms of marketing being lumped together into an unglamorous morass of “oh yeah that stuff.”  From that morass emerged direct marketing then CRM then digital marketing then search engine marketing then social media, influencer, content, employee and most recently, account-based marketing. Add to this ever-splintering tableau books like mine which identified 64 discrete elements and you might imagine that there is no such thing as a unified marketing department anymore.

Well, that would be categorically wrong and don’t just take my word for it.  Paul D’Arcy, SVP of Marketing at Indeed, the top site for searching jobs in the world, makes it very clear in our interview below from his opening statement.  To generate over 180 million unique web visitors a month, Paul and his team at Indeed take a holistic approach in their efforts to bring job seekers and employers together.  An approach that includes storytelling of the highest order along with continuous testing of new channels and optimizing existing ones.  And though Indeed remains one of the fastest growing brands in the world, Paul still believes his team can double the impact of their marketing investment leaving little wonder Paul why was presented with the Growth Award by  The CMO Club late last year.

Drew: What new digital initiatives did you try in 2015 and how did these perform?  What were your goals and how did it work out?

We don’t think about digital: we think about marketing. I think the most interesting things we’re doing this year are very traditional. We’re trying to tell our story of helping people get jobs through strong, authentic creative that features real people. We focus on results — and results for us means bringing job seekers and employers together to help people get jobs. We tell this story wherever we can engage people whether that’s TV, social, online video, or on the printed ad engaging someone on their commute.

Drew: Were there any areas of your digital marketing that you were disappointed with? If so, what were some of the issues you encountered?

Yes! I often say that I want the mean return on investment of our investments to be high and for the median to be zero. This means that we try many things and that more than half will fail. But we scale investment on the things that work and see great results. If we’re not trying things that fail than we’re falling behind in a quickly shifting world. We find that we rarely get a creative strategy or new engagement channel right the first time. We always test multiple approaches to deepen our understanding and find the right way to engage our constituents.

Drew: A recent survey of marketers suggested that less than 10% feel they are leveraging data to the fullest extent possible.  Why is this such a challenging area to get right?

We’re at a point where there is really, truly endless data available to us. Analysis (or programmatic use of data) takes skill, time, and work. We need to pick and choose the data we want to understand and commit to do the work to get the insights that make us better. There will always be blind spots, and data that is out there but that no organization has the time to pull it together, organize it, and analyze it. Picking the right data to analyze and understand is a very important capability. We love hiring people who are naturally curious because they always take us a step or two deeper into the data than we would have gone otherwise.

Drew: Marketing, especially data integration, often requires skills sets beyond the typical marketer. How have you been able to corral the resources and skill sets needed to achieve your digital marketing goals?  Did this require new management skills?

We have chosen to build a team that blends, in equal parts, highly technical marketers, highly creative markets, and people with deep functional expertise. A large percentage of our marketers can code. We’ve had marketers move from our team into core product software engineering at Indeed. We have software engineers, data scientists, statisticians, economists, and mathematicians on the team. I think these skills — and the skills to lead and mentor these technical teams — are absolutely essential to building a great marketing function and measuring the impact of marketing investments.

Drew: With the plethora of digital marketing options, channels and content available today and increasing quickly, how do you decide where to “place your bets” in terms of marketing spend and choices?

We test first and scale the things that work. The key is to test as many things as possible. For us, this is complex because we’re in 50+ countries and it’s important to understand not just what works, but where it works and doesn’t work. We focus all of our teams on trying as many things as possible and measuring the impact. We encourage people to fail. But, as more programs do become successfully and scale, it does become hard to start with new programs with big potential but that start small. To help with this, we have a dedicated campaign lab team that reports to me directly and that focuses on testing large quantities of ideas that start small and are likely to fail.

Drew: What is the single biggest marketing challenge that you’d like to overcome?

I think we can still double the impact of every marketing dollar that we spend. As a relatively new brand, there is still so much that we don’t know. We have a long list of documented things that we don’t know and we’re working to create the measurements and experiments to answer these questions. I’m incredibly excited for what we’ll learn as a team in 2016.

Why CSR is Not a Marketing Strategy

03/4/16

38075c6

Over the years, this blog has applauded the efforts of a number of brands endeavoring to “do well by doing good” (i.e. Petco, J&J, Richline, Patron, Omni Hotels and more).  Framing such efforts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in this way, I may have implied that CSR is actually a strategy in itself.  Fortunately for you in our interview below, Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell, clarifies why CSR is not a strategy but rather a “mindset” that can and should permeate an entire organization from product development to customer service, recruiting to marketing.  In one of my favorite quotes of the year, Karen notes, “Ultimately CSR is not a marketing strategy–it’s a tool for building a better business.”

This distinction is important and instructive. “Building a better business” is the ultimate goal of any enterprise which involves finding a sustainable competitive advantage that will create a return on capital invested.  So when Dell found a way to cut materials out of its packaging, they not uncovered $50 million in cost savings but also they avoided creating 30 million pounds of waste which was better for the environment and their customers (who didn’t have to deal with the extra waste.)  This is just one of the meaty examples that Karen shares in our conversation about CSR, one that will make it very easy for you to understand why she was recognized by The CMO Club as a Social Responsibility Award winner.

Drew: Congratulations on winning the Social Responsibility Award. How do you define Corporate Social Responsibility?

At Dell, we look at CSR a bit differently. It’s not a strategy; it’s a mindset that’s part of our culture. It’s about using our processes and products to create value for our customers and communities in a world of growing demand and finite resources – and leaving the world better for the next generation.

Drew: Can you provide a short recap of your CSR initiatives in 2015?

We continue to make terrific progress against our Legacy of Good Plan, which outlines 21 ambitious CSR goals we intend to achieve by 2020. These include environmental and giving goals, but also commitments to workplace diversity and volunteerism. We’re progressing on all fronts, but one in particular that I’d like to highlight is our industry-leading circular economy practices. We are designing out waste and making better use of available and sustainable resources through our closed-loop supply chain. To date, we’ve recycled more than 4.2 million pounds of e-waste plastics and put them back into new Dell products. We recently launched a recycled carbon fiber program that replaces virgin materials in Alienware and Latitude products. It will keep about one million pounds of materials out of landfills this year alone. These programs provide greater efficiency to Dell, but also to our customers who are increasingly looking for help to achieve their own CSR goals.

Drew: How do you measure the success of these programs?

We know we’re successful when our programs deliver both business value and societal benefit. A perfect example is our product packaging. Since 2009, we’ve saved more than $50 million dollars and avoided 30 million pounds of packaging by using sustainable materials and deliberately reducing the amount of packaging used to ship our products. That’s a significant savings. It’s also a great innovation story with real benefit to our planet and our customers, many of whom share our commitment to a cleaner planet.

Drew: Building a business case for CSR initiatives can be tricky. What were the keys to gaining management support? 

Educating and shifting mindsets within management is critical. There’s a perception that these programs involve compromising on cost or quality, but we’re actually seeing the opposite. CSR initiatives are often a source of hidden efficiencies and innovation. But the best approach, in my opinion, is deeply embedding CSR into the corporate culture. At Dell, it is part of how we design, deliver, sell and support our solutions globally.

Drew: There are an unlimited number of options when it comes to CSR. How did you narrow the list down?

Everything we do from a CSR perspective ties back to our core belief that the purpose of technology is to enable people to solve problems, make discoveries, and advance society on a global scale. That starts with universal access to IT and training, which is why our global strategic giving programs focus on bringing Dell technology and 21st Century skills to underserved youth around the world. It also means partnering with others to tackle huge, global challenges. We’re working closely with doctors and researchers to bring the power of high-performance computing to bear in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer patients – and we’ve seen some amazing results. When your CSR strategy is grounded in your company purpose, it becomes a lot more clear what and how you should be engaging with your people, communities and planet.

Drew: When it comes to sharing your company’s CSR initiatives is there a fine line between letting the world know about it and overplaying the contribution?  Where do you sit on this spectrum from letting the good action speak for itself and broadcasting it from the treetops?

There is  absolutely a balance.  We believe it’s important for our customers to know the good we do and, quite frankly, they are asking more and more. As a matter of fact, CSR is a factor in about 60 percent of the RFPs we complete each year. It’s also becoming table stakes for hiring and retaining millennials. We announced a partnership with actor and entrepreneur, Adrian Grenier, this year as our first Social Good Advocate. He is a strong, outside voice for Dell and is helping amplify and guide our responsible business approach. But ultimately CSR is not a marketing strategy. It’s a tool for building a better business.

Drew: What is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome in 2016?

Since finding a couple more hours in the day isn’t an option, I don’t think I could name just one. I’d like to see the world’s biggest problems solved – hunger, poverty, cancer, climate change, energy, etc. I’d also like to see more global support for the world’s entrepreneurs who, as the No. 1 source of innovation and jobs, are key to our future. The good news and a big reason why I love working in this industry is that technology is helping entrepreneurs and bright minds all over the world breakthrough and make important discoveries in these areas every day. Who knows – 2016 could be the year some of these big challenges are solved.

Q+A w Rich Smith, CMO of Ditech Financial (part 2)

02/28/16

32440db

In part one of my interview with Rich Smith, CMO of Ditech Financial, we focused on Ditech’s sponsorship of NASCAR and how that helped build broad awareness for the brand. In part two, we’ll broaden the lens and explore the brand’s overall strategic approach, internal training to improve the customer experience and a program that aimed at improving brand loyalty (offering another great example of the power of “marketing as service” in action).  There’s a lot of meat in here so I’d encourage you to read the interview carefully but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a few highlights:

  • Ditech is gaining customers without being the low cost provider;
  • Increased employee training helped to remove the friction from the buying process;
  • By delivering an unexpected progress report to current customers, Ditech improved loyalty;
  • While CMO’s can’t be expected to control the entire customer experience they can be the “voice of the customer” across the organization.

All of this should leave little doubt why he won the Marketing Innovation Award from The CMO Club late last year.

Drew: Let’s talk about some of the innovative things you initiated in 2015.

I think we’ve done a lot of innovative things with our brand message and how we are reaching consumers.  Most brands in the industry either compete purely on price or they compete purely on a quick and easy transaction. We’re certainly very competitive on price, but we’re not the lowest. We also strive to provide a very convenient transaction process. Taking it one step further, we position ourselves as a partner that can be trusted in the mortgage process, who understands customer needs and won’t put them into the cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all, thirty-year fixed product. Customers are trying to find the best fit for them and we think Ditech offers that. Our Home Loan Specialists are educated to work with customers by asking questions, building rapport and finding solutions.

Drew: How did this translate to into you brand messages?

We have a certification program for our home loan specialists that helps them take a more personalize approach with each customer and we’ve found a way to work that training into our brand message. For example, we mail our current customers a “report card” on their current mortgage that tells them where they are and how they could change their plan by refinancing. These report cards could also tell them about the value of their home and even when there is no opportunity for them to refinance. We call this our Smart Watch Report and it’s a health of your mortgage report. You don’t see that from other providers. We are really transparent with our customers when it comes to what they currently have and what their opportunities are. That’s the theme we strive for throughout our business. We find that transparency with customers generates trust.

Drew: I suspect social media customer service is lot harder in the financial services industry because you have so much sensitive data. How do you use social media as customer service?

We definitely have to be sensitive to that and we have. We are very good at responding to the common issues we hear from customers on social media but if they’re upset, we then try to get them offline as quickly as possible and service them in a way that’s private such as on the phone or e-mail or gather more information and provide a solution to their situation.

Drew: How do you handle privacy on social customer service?

We have a customer care team that handles all the escalations. But certainly any time that somebody posts something like an account number, social security number or any private or secured information we either delete it or advise the customer to do so because you can’t have private information like that out there. And then we also obviously try to get the conversation offline as fast as we can.

Drew: Can you give me a specific example of how customer-centric approach to marketing has translated into some form of out-bound marketing, whether it’s TV or print?

The one I just mentioned was our direct mail campaign with the Smart Watch Report. That is one of our most successful retention marketing programs because people really appreciate getting that information. They call our home loan specialists about their options; it’s very engaging for the customers. And we are in the midst of taking that beyond just one direct mail medium to make it digital in the future which is very interesting.

Drew: Interesting. And so, how important is retention to the acquisition process?

That’s a very interesting question. It’s important in not necessarily a direct way but it’s important perhaps in an indirect way for a couple of reasons. In as much as you do a great job of servicing and retaining customers you have happier customers who then write more positive reviews about you and influence other people to seek you out or consider doing business with you. So that’s a nice indirect benefit. Also, the better job you do at retention the more financially sound your business is and the better base you have from which to grow. Any company that can’t do a good job of keeping its own customers probably is not going to do a good job of acquiring new ones.

Drew: I think that’s a fairly safe bet although I have worked with clients who put all their energy into acquisition and just kept watching the retention numbers decline.

Yes, you can’t fill the bathtub if you have a big hole in it. Just from an ROI perspective on marketing campaigns, the ROI on retention campaigns are many multiples higher than the ROI on acquisition campaign. It’s been true in every business that I’ve worked in my entire career.

Drew: One of things I’ve seen happen to other brands when they start advertising on TV is that their cost per clicks go down on Google Adwords. Increased awareness translates into better SEM performance because people are more familiar and click faster and therefore you can bid lower. Have you seen this?

We are seeing growth but it is a little hard to identify direct impact in SEM. We are definitely seeing more and more organic growth throughout the year, which is a clear indication of rising brand awareness. We did an extensive brand awareness study right before we launched and we repeated it about six months ago and saw major improvements in overall brand awareness and brand favorability. So, we know that it’s having an impact; it’s difficult to parse that out from the other things that we’re doing.

Drew: How much control do you have over the customer experience as CMO? How much influence do you have on this other areas?

I would say that the only person in any organizations that has complete control over the customer experience is the CEO. I can’t say that I control it. One of the most important roles that I play on our leadership team is to be the voice of the customer. I take on the responsibility of bringing the customers insights forward so that they are considered in all of our decision making. As we look to make changes in the future on both the origination side and the servicing side of our business, I definitely have a prime seat at the table to influence and emphasize the importance of the customer experience.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Copyright © 2016 - Drew Neisser