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 w Stephanie Anderson, CMO, Time Warner Cable Business Class


Stephanie-Anderson_TWC-Official-150x150As you all know, I never pass up an opportunity to sit down with a marketer and hear which practices worked and which didn’t work for their company. I mean, what better way to learn more about this ever-changing industry than to listen to leaders in the field share their insight, the lessons they’ve learned, and the strategies they stand by. Through these conversations, I’m able to add value to my company and our clients.

On the blog today is former CMO of Time Warner Cable Business Class Stephanie Anderson, a friend of mine, president of The CMO Club New York chapter and a veteran of TheDrewBlog. I spoke to Stephanie in 2012 when she first joined TWCBC, and although much has changed since then, her stance that “knowing your customers and prospects will never go out of style,” still holds true. I’m sure Stephanie would agree that this way of thinking is largely responsible for the success of her team at TWCBC. It was interesting to talk to Stephanie as she wrapped up her time at Time Warner Cable, and to partake in a much different conversation than the one we had in four year ago. Now, we’re talking customer communities, loyalty programs, content marketing,  and the way television has strengthened digital.

Drew: You’ve been in the job about 4 years now. Can you provide an overview of your overall approach to marketing at Time Warner Cable Business Class?

Stephanie: When I arrived at Time Warner Cable, we were many businesses and we were marketing at a very local level- which I believe in- but we were missing an overarching message and communications methodology.. The goal of my team was to find the place where localism mattered, and then compliment that with a consistent campaign across the country. We had to find the best breed of each of those local areas and then pull it up to one common message.

Drew:  How did you decide that the consistent campaign was going to focus on your customers and get to a point where you thought that would be effective?

Stephanie: It started with a focus on what we called an “outside-in approach.”  This meant we could never lose sight of our customers and our competitors. If we weren’t doing that, then we’d be missing the boat.  By always thinking about our clients we knew we had a chance of developing programs the competition would fear.  From there it was an easy step to testimonials, telling customer stories online and on television , which ended up being great for all parties.

Drew:  How did you find the customers to feature?

Stephanie: We initially identified a few companies largely because they were loyal customers of ours. They also had interesting stories to tell and were hugely popular in social media, which demonstrated a lot of energy and engagement.  So we focused on finding those kinds of customers, and then telling their stories on television, print, and digital.

Drew: Did this have an impact on their business?

Stephanie: One of the companies we actually became quite close with is Beekman 1802. They have an online service that they we’re really trying to grow with a very unique product base. Once we put them on TV, their popularity grew significantly. We even did a follow up story with them, which was thrilling for both parties.

Drew: Did your approach to finding customers for the campaign evolve?

Stephanie: Yes.  We’ve been using an online resource we created for customers called PerkZone to help us find more great stories, and then turn those into testimonials.  In this case, the customers nominate themselves by submitting their stories.  The response has been amazing and these small business success stories are truly inspiring.  When we do our long form testimonials, the story “inside the story” is always amazing.

Drew: What’s the story behind PerkZone?

Stephanie: One of our partner agencies is Renegade and they helped us create this retention strategy and loyalty program for small businesses called PerkZone. Accessed through our “MyAccount” portal, which customers use to pay their bills and manage their account, PerkZone has two areas, “Deals and Discounts” and “Ideas and Community.”  In the first area, small business can find discounts from national brands as well as post deals for their local customers.  It is in the other area that we were able to source hundreds of stories, a few of which were featured in our TV campaign.

Drew: Wow, so you could go from the online portal to become a star on TV?

Stephanie:  Yes, like the Voice or something; it still happens. The best talent sometimes comes right to you.

Drew: Has Perk Zone had a material measurable impact on loyalty as far as you can tell?

Stephanie: Absolutely. Like many companies, we’re very focused on Net Promoter Score (NPS) and we’ve seen a really strong correlation between any digital engagement and customer satisfaction.  Customers who use our MyAccount portal are significantly more likely to recommend us than those that don’t.  The numbers get even better with PerkZone users.  My gut told me that this was the right thing to do, and it was nice to see that the data proved me right.  We’re continually trying to think of ways to engage with the customer, and we know we need to continue to invest in these areas.

Drew:  Let’s zoom back to the big picture.  How has all of this customer-centric marketing paid off?

Stephanie: TWCBC been very successful from a B2B standpoint having had 18 quarters of consecutive quarter-to-quarter growth!  That’s remarkable considering TWCBC not a small business–it has over $3 billion in revenue and it gets harder to grow when you’re big. The company is not only acquiring customers, it’s also keeping customers, and some of these tactics that TWCBC has been talking about like establishing this community and getting to know its businesses better has actually helped our results considerably.

Drew: Pundits have been saying, “TV is dead” for years yet here we are in mid-2016 talking about how well TV has worked for your B2B brand?

Stephanie: First, we’re TV people and TV is still very much part of our culture. But more importantly, TV does really work.  It does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It guides the inquiring person to your website, or wherever you want and helps get them engaged in the process. That is what it’s meant to do, just like a print ad or something else. Some of these traditional tactics get people motivated to go see more or engage with you, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Drew:  So TV gets the conversation started and then they go online. How are you making the two work together?

Stephanie: We have a great vendor partner that we use in the digital space that can make real time adjustments based on how much traffic TV is driving online. It’s amazingly sophisticated.  Making sure that our offline and online tactics are coordinated has really profited us.  It’s one thing to be coordinated with campaigns; it’s another thing to be coordinated on the delivery side, making sure that people are going where you want them to go. It saves both parties time.

Drew: I’ve heard you talk about a fifth P beyond Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Can you elaborate on it?

Stephanie: Everyone knows about the 4 Ps, and they are very important in marketing, and I think they fulfill most of everything that’s going on out there. I contend that there is this 5th P that is Proof. This probably comes from my long history of being in sales at different levels in technology. Notoriously, there was always this moment in the demonstration when the tables turned and the customer says, “okay I get it,” or “okay I’ll take it.”  That was the moment we provided the Proof, when we helped people really see how others were using the technology.

Drew: Let’s shift gears here.  TV and digital were not your only tactics.  You also got into content marketing, right?

Stephanie:  Absolutely.  Working with our partner RSL Media, we actually created a publication called Solve that goes to our 160,000 customers and prospects in the mid-market space.  It’s both a 24-page printed magazine and an e-zine, with content that’s relevant to that mid-market space. With highly topical and informative stories, we’re able to keep the conversation going by delivering really useful information that just happens to from Time Warner Cable Business Services. The response has been great – we’ve had customers actually call us to make sure they’re subscribers and to get other employees on the list.

Drew: Why not just create a digital version of Solve? Why go to the expense of printing it?

Stephanie:  Some of it stems from years back when I needed to accumulate a book of testimonials for our sales force and also links back to my early point about Proof.  Sales people need to be able to demonstrate proof of what you’ve done for other companies.  Solve is great for that since many of the stories feature customers.  It gives the sales person something physical that can help start a conversation.  It’s really hard to do that with a digital-only version.  Also, our customers felt more important being featured in a well-produced magazine.  It was prestigious enough that customers started asking how they could be featured!  In this case, the medium was also the message.

Drew: What would you say was the biggest lesson you have learned that you would pass along to future marketers in your industry, or any industry?

Stephanie: I think going back to the customer or competitor focus, and keeping your eyes set on the external. Whether that be your competitors, or your brand or your prospects that are so important. It’s so easy in marketing to get distracted by the stuff or the creative, or the results. Sometimes you need to step back and think wait a minute, who am I trying to talk to? And if I were them, would I listen, or if I were the competition, would I be afraid of what they’re saying?  Those are the things that we are committed to because they work. If you keep that forefront on your mind, you will be successful.

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


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,, 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.

Positive Leadership, Elisabeth Charles, CMO of Athleta



As this is my first blog post of the year, I’d like to focus your attention on the power of positivity.  Don’t gag! Seriously, the first step to getting something big (or little) accomplished is believing that you can.  Conversely, if you harbor negative thoughts about a particular challenge chances are you will outright fail and then fall back on the easy out, “I knew that wasn’t going to work.”  So, let’s be positive people.  Positive about setting a few really big goals and positively committed to achieving them.

Which is a perfect segue into my conversation with Elisabeth Charles, the CMO of Athleta.  I’ve known Elisabeth for at least 4 years having met her at a CMO Club Summit. At that time, she was CMO at Petco and part of cabal of indomitable San Diego-based women CMOs that rivaled any group in the country for smarts and talent but were distinguished more by their gregarious positivity.  Amazingly, within a few months of each other, each of these ladies found themselves looking for their next opportunity, not with a “woe is me, how could this happen?” attitude but instead excited about facing new challenges and stretching their wings.

Since then, all have gotten one step closer to their dream jobs, especially Elisabeth. As CMO of Athleta, which is based in Northern California, Elisabeth can rarely be seen not wearing her new brand.  This is not an affectation.  Elisabeth has always been athletic and committed.  Wearing Athleta serves multiple purposes. It shows she’s proud of her employer.  It helps her experience the brand and be better prepared to talk with the designers especially since she gets a lot of feedback from other women about her attire.  And perhaps most importantly it sets an example for her team–don’t just market the brand, be the brand.  That’s the kind of positive message that made Elisabeth an easy choice for the CMO Club‘s Leadership Award.  (And of course, I’m quite positive you’ll enjoy our interview below.)

Drew: How would you describe / or how have others described your leadership style?

I am a leader who supports and drives change. It’s important to not be afraid to ask tough questions and be willing to challenge the status quo in order to move companies forward.  In order to do this, I try to be extremely diplomatic, collaborative and respectful of the past as I look towards the future.  I have very high standards and am extremely results driven, but also seen as compassionate and fair.

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?  
I admire visionaries who are purpose driven and able to build a vibrant business with strong company culture, while also doing good in the world.  Some of my role models in this regard are Howard Schultz, John Mackey, Kip Tindell and most recently Jessica Alba.

Drew: Can you talk about some of the actions you took as a leader in the last couple of years that were particularly challenging?  
Leading change at brands is always challenging.  You are asking employees to take a hard look at their business and acknowledge that they have to change what they’ve been doing to redefine where they are going.  It’s especially hard to do this with successful companies who may not fully accept the need to change.  But as they say, “change or die.”

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 is invaluable to my on-going success.  I rely on my peers, especially at The CMO Club, to help share best practices as well as challenges they are facing and how they are addressing them.  It’s great to tap into approaches that you would not have thought of on your own, as well as gain confidence that you can solve difficult issues with peer advice.

Drew: What’s the best advice you’ve been given to guide personal / career success?
Do what you love and work where you are rewarded for your natural strengths. Many of us chase the ultimate job or that next promotion or higher salary without really exploring how strong a fit the company’s culture is with our own values.  Don’t stay in a role where you are undervalued or unhappy – life is too short!

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you¹d like to overcome?
The biggest challenge I’d like to overcome is driving greater brand differentiation for Athleta in a very crowded and competitive atleisure space.  But I love challenges, so I am looking forward to an exciting year of change and taking some risks.

Social ROI: Debate Continues w Ted Rubin


Ted ROILike the proverbial dog with a bone, I’m not letting go of my obsessive search for an answer to the question, “is there a formula for measuring the ROI of social media?” This journey led to a dinner last week with a dozen marketing professionals where we debated the topic of Social ROI at length.  For the most the part, the group could be divided into two camps, those who believed that measurement was just a matter of isolating variables AND those who believed there were too many intervening factors to show direct cause and effect.

It was a spirited discussion to say the least. Among those leading the charge for measurability was Ted Rubin, the author of Return on Relationship, a book with the subtitle “Relationships are the new currency: honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR.”  Clearly Ted has a lot to say on this subject and he was kind enough to agree to the interview below during which he identifies what I’d call directional indicators of ROI like Lifetime Value of a Customer and the relative value of connected versus non-connected customers.  More importantly in my mind at least, Ted also offers some excellent advice on how build these relationships, without which there is no hope of ROI or RonR.

Drew Neisser: How is RonR different than a company’s “goodwill” in accounting terms?

Ted Rubin: Good will cannot be measured, but factors of RonR can. Lifetime Value of a Customer, Average Order Value, and Frequency of Purchase.

Drew Neisser: How would a brand use ROI metrics to measure RonR? Are there any data trends that would indicate the brand relationships are taking a positive trajectory?
Ted Rubin:At this time, looking at customer lifetime value is a really attractive way to measure both ROI and ROR when it comes to Social Media.  Syncapse’s recent study shows a significant and positive difference in customer value, when comparing non-followers vs followers in Social Media.  Not only do they purchase more, but their advocacy creates new Word of Mouth value for the brand.  An ongoing measurement comparing average non-connected customers to connected customers will help any brand gain a great understanding into just how valuable those online relationships are.

Drew Neisser: Would you ever advocate for artificial intervention if the response to a campaign is lukewarm, even after a company takes the steps you recommend to build meaningful relationships (listening, making it “the channel of me,” etc.). For example, buying Twitter followers or internally commissioning positive reviews/comments

Ted Rubin: Never, ever buy Twitter followers. They are worthless. Now… paying someone who knows how to properly aggressively grow your Twitter following, that is incredibly worthwhile if they know how to do it properly and add value at the same time. But that cannot happen overnight to jumpstart a campaign.

Drew Neisser: What were some of the brand relationship issues you encountered at the companies you’ve managed, and how did you employ your theory of RonR to ameliorate them?

Ted Rubin: For the most part it has been about the feeling that companies are not listen… so listen, and take actions that make it incredibly obvious you are doing so… then make sure that is easily shared. In addition the very best thing you can do to add RonR is bringing the marketing silo in line with the customer svc silo. Since it is incredibly rare that the CMO has jurisdiction over cust svc, important to reach out to person running it and work closely together. Amazing the RonR that is achieved by simply replacing product, and aligning the two. Also when a CMO actually interacts with with customers via social has an incredible impact in customer relations and with social that word is spread incredibly fast. Be real, authentic, and engaging and the results with affect your bottom line. Actively look for and engage critics. I LOVE critics… first if there is one there are hundreds more. Engage them publicly and you can resolve issues for many at once and show your willingness to do so. Most critics are incredibly easy to turn into Dynamic Advocates… simply BE NICE and replace their product.

Drew Neisser: At what point do you think consumers “break up” with a brand, and, if possible, how do you build up a relationship with consumers who are on the brink of abandoning it?

Ted Rubin: Consumers break up when they are not being heard… simple.  So… LISTEN, HEAR, and let then know you do. I know this seems like common sense, but unfortunately, or fortunately for those brands who DO get it, common sense (and using good Judgement) is not very common. Also the pervading fear of such interactions make them a goldmine for those who recognize the value.

Drew Neisser: If a small company has managed to build a meaningful, loyal customer base but doesn’t have the manpower to adequately handle these relationships at the same level over time, what are some effective steps the brand can take to prevent defection?

Ted Rubin: Simple… empower your employees to do the work.  Allow them to interact and engage… encourage it. Also encourage and empower them all to build their own personal brands and social media influence/connection/following. Especially in a small company, your employees should be your strongest and most valuable advocates.

The Non-Linear ROI of Social


I’ve spent a lot of time recently obsessing about the ROI of Social Media.  Not just because current and prospective clients want to see some kind of a return on the services Renegade provides (although that’s a damn good reason in and of itself) but also because it’s a fabulously complex Kobayashi Maru-like challenge.

Consider for a moment all the roles that social media can perform for a company including customer service, recruitment, research, product development, awareness building, crowd sourcing content, referral/lead generation, and yes, even direct sales in a few cases.  Now try to unbundle those roles and show straight line ROI for any of them with the exception of the last one.  Good luck to you.  (By the way, smarter minds that mine like Lux Narayan of Unmetric have concluded  it’s just not possible.)

Thinking that social media could be my route to the answer, I sent out this tweet:

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 9.23.13 AM



Rob Moore, CEO of Internet Media Labs and a fellow IBM #SmarterCommerce VIP Influencer (which has become an invaluable micro-social network!) was kind enough to respond leading to the conversation below. Rob offered a terrific example of “Non-Linear ROI” which brought us both some comfort that all the social networking stuff we do actually does pay out!  If you have similar tales to share, let me know.

Drew Neisser: First, can you provide a short description of Internet Media Lab?
Rob Moore: Internet Media Labs is a NYC based new media & technology company.  We build technology to help businesses and brands build and manage social relationships more effectively.  We also run a cool co-working space and produce a web show, #InTheLab.

Drew Neisser: Talk to me about how you measure social ROI in terms of your own business?
Rob Moore: Social ROI for us takes many forms, and it is important for businesses to recognize that there are many forms of Social ROI that can be quantified and measured.  Of course, there is the obvious – we make a social connection that becomes a buyer of one of our products or services.  But there is also tangible ROI that comes in different forms: from connectors – people that introduce you to others that ultimately buy – and amplifiers, people that share our message about our products.

It has to be noted, however, that none of this happens without a significant investment in relationship building.  We have amazing social relationships and networks that will have significant impact on our bottom line for years to come.

Drew Neisser: ROI in your case seems like a very non-linear non-direct marketing process. Is that a fair assessment?
Rob Moore: Absolutely.  Up to this point, I would say that most of our ROI would qualify as originating from non-linear connections, i.e. someone that introduced you to someone else, that invited you to speak at a conference, that resulted in a business opportunity.  That is pretty non-linear!

One important thing to recognize as well is that many of those originating relationships happen as the result of seemingly “random” intersections – the serendipity of social.

Drew Neisser: So you met Linda Bernstein (@wordwhacker), who is clearly an influencer and she has been evangelizing on your behalf which lead to various leads which you will close at some point. That sounds like ROI to me. Do you think it’s possible to actually create a model that puts a value on your nurturing of people like Linda?
Rob Moore: First of all, I need to state for the record that it would be impossible for me to put a “value” on my relationship with Linda, she falls into the PRICELESS category!  But that said, you can absolutely model and attribute value to your social relationships, especially when you apply what I call “social forensics” to the analysis: mapping and identifying the true origin of that revenue you just booked.

When you are able to do that, every social relationship can be assigned a potential future value.

I want to be clear that I don’t look every person I meet on Twitter with dollar signs in my eyes.  Rather, I look every new social relationship as an opportunity for mutual discovery, networking and advocacy.  By being authentic and agenda free, trust is formed and friendships are created, the by-product of which is magic!!!

This works both ways for IML, by the way.  We have sponsored many an event, used services, or paid commissions to people and businesses that we have met through social media.  As a matter of fact, our social media ROI balance sheet is a little in the red right now – we need to do something about that!

Drew Neisser: Is this kind of networking / relationship building with influencers scalable?  If so, any thoughts on how?
Rob Moore: It is scalable, but it doesn’t happen without a plan and significant commitment. My friend Angela Maiers (@AngleaMaiers) coined the phrase “Tactical Serendipity”, which I love.  Tactical Serendipity means putting your self in position to take advantage of the random intersections that happen every second in social.  If you can identify where you best social relationships have come from, put yourself in a position to attract more of them – you can scale great relationships if you know where to find them.

Drew Neisser: Also, you’re a seasoned vet with a proven track record which makes it a lot easier for you to network with other influencers like Linda.  Could a junior person at your company have done this? Is this sort of networking something you can teach people?
Rob Moore: Yes I believe this type of networking can be taught to and mastered by almost anyone.  Surely my depth of business experience has been an advantage to me as I have engaged in social, but there was a massive learning curve for me as well.  I think that learning curve can be compressed, though, to accelerate success and positive outcomes.  For junior people, this can be achieved through coaching and mentoring, for senior people new to social it is often just a matter applying existing skills sets and knowledge to well defined social relationship building strategy.

FINAL NOTE: This is just my opening salvo on Social ROI.  Expect a lot more on this subject in the near future.  There are folks out there (like Syncapse) working of formulas to calculate Social ROI and I can’t wait to dig into those…

Nice Companies Finish First: Q+A w Peter Shankman


PeterShankman TVThe proper German pronunciation of my last name is actually “nicer” as is in “nicer than the other guy.”  It is little wonder then that I have a natural predisposition towards nicer people, especially people like Peter Shankman who is championing the cause of being nicer on a global scale.  I was lucky enough to have a video interview with Peter at the IBM Smarter Commerce Summit from which I pulled the Q&A below.

I think Peter makes a really compelling case for why niceness is not a ‘nice to have’ component of your go-to-market strategy but instead could become a ‘must have’ element to gain competitive advantage.  Importantly, Peter says niceness needs to start with the CEO and then permeate the organization.  Let me know if you think there’s a seat in the boardroom of your company for a Mr. Nicer.

Drew Neisser:  Tell me about your new book, Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over.
Peter Shankman: I realized when I sold my last company that the reason the company did so well and was purchased was not because I had an e-mail newsletter, an e-mail mailing list but it was because I was nice and I had a personal relationship with all 250,000 people on this list.  It sounds crazy but I realize that nice was actually the reason the company did so well.

Drew Neisser: Wait, you had a personal relationship with 250,000 thousand people?
Peter Shankman: It sounds crazy but you know when was the last time you were on a newsletter mailing list that came from a person?  You know every corporate mailing newsletter comes from “do not reply”, mine came from from the day I started to the day I sold it.

Drew Neisser: I got some of those [HARO] e-mails. So then what?
And so people would reply to me, “I know this won’t go to the owner but…” and I’d reply, “Oh, actually it did, how can I help you?”  [Seeing the power of being nice] I spent the next two years really studying and interviewing companies from Fortune100s all the way down to mom-and-pop’s. We found out that the companies that focused on nice, focused on treating their employees nice, the customers nice and their clients nice, treating the environment nice, actually wind up doing anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent higher revenue than companies that had that sort of 1980s Gordon Gecko mentality.

Drew Neisser:  When it comes to being nice is this something that companies can systematize or is this more about random acts of kindness?
Peter Shankman: It’s a little bit of both; it has to start from the CEO.  CEO has to understand that being nice for the sake of being nice is the greatest thing in the world, that’s what people want to do, but let’s face it, that doesn’t necessarily generate revenue.  The concept of being nice for a company really comes in two parts.  You want to be thought of as nice, no question about it, you want to do nice things, because this is a good thing to do, good karma and all that.  But what we found in the book is that the more you do nice things the more consumers actually look at it, and say “okay you know what, as a customer I was treated really well by this company, I want to tell my friends to use this company as well.”  And so what we found out is that when you combine being nice for the sake of being nice with being nice because it is profitable, you wind up making your stockholders happy as well as the customers, the [vendors] and the employees.

Drew Neisser:  Who are some of the companies that you found doing nice things?
Peter Shankman: We found a food truck out there where one day a week for an hour, they give away the food to the homeless people, just because it is the right thing to do.  There is a dry cleaner that if you are homeless and you have a job interview, you can bring [your clothes] and they will dry clean it for this job interview for free. My favorite example is when Morton’s steakhouse jokingly met me at the airport because I jokingly tweeted, “I want a steak” and they showed up at the airport and that generated double-digit revenue for them.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. Tell me more about the Morton’s example.
[After seeing my tweet Morton’s social team realized] he comes here a lot, he eats a lot of steak and so let’s do something nice for him.  And I was so blown away [that they showed up at the airport with a free steak dinner that] I told my friends and two days later I’m on the ‘Today’ Show, and they had double-digit revenue, six months after that.  It is incredible –double digit revenue growth, from showing up at the airport because some guy jokingly tweeted about it.

Drew Neisser: So let me play CMO for a moment and ask how do you scale that?
Peter Shankman: You don’t have to scale that, not everyone needs a steak at the airport.  You can do something that when you show up, when you make a reservation, at Morton’s they say hey, it is a special occasion?  And if it yes, it is my mother’s birthday, oh what’s her name?  Nancy.  They walk in, “Happy Birthday Nancy”, on the menu.  It’s this little, tiny things that really make you come back.

Drew Neisser: So we have this logo behind us from the IBM logo, Smarter Commerce Conference, so how does nice and data, and big data come together?
Peter Shankman: That’s my favorite part, we have so many tools now and you can know everything about your customer before they walk in the door.  But it is not enough just to know everything about the customer; you have to learn how to take advantage of that. We’ve worked with hotels to do this.  You can determine when a person’s walking in to check in, are they frazzled?  You know, are they tired?  If they’ve had a long flight, you can see things in their body language. You can look at what they are saying online, look at what they are talking about, what are they posting–Are they angry? Are they happy? Are they sad?  And if they are happy make them happier; if they are upset, make them happy.  The greatest thing in the world is when you go to a hotel that you don’t expect to be treated [royally] and they do something out of the ordinary like they have a hot towel, anything like that, it really is amazing.

Drew Neisser:Now this phenomenon of niceness certainly probably parallels the rise of the service economy, what are you — how does an auto manufacturer — they make hard goods, how do they do nice?
Peter Shankman: When I worked at America Online, that was my first job out of college and it was also my first job in a big company.  At that point I think they had 1800 employees and everyone had to work, in the tech-support or sales & marketing, because you know sales customer service group once for a full week before they start at their job, that’s how they learnt about the customer and things like that.  And my first thought was, “Oh God, I have to work at customer service, this is going to suck.”  You know what they did every Friday night, they backed up a beer truck, to the front door of the building, and they give out beer, and they give out soda and you can have whatever you wanted and the concept of treating the customer nice translated.  You know if you are a big company, if you are an auto-manufacturer, well, are you treating your employees better than GM or Ford? You make [employees] want to take pride in their work because they love what they do.

Drew Neisser: So niceness starts at home.
Peter Shankman: It really doesn’t — it has to start with the CEO, if it doesn’t start with the CEO, there’s no point.

Drew Neisser: Got it.  So I’ve got a group of CMOs here; do I get them to put a new line item on their marketing plan called Being Nice?
Peter Shankman: You’d be amazed; you can drop 30 percent of your marketing budget, simply being nicer. Here’s a perfect example — I was staying at a hotel in Dubai, three months ago.  I get to the hotel at 6:00 pm, I’ve been out at meetings all day, I get back to my room, it’s been cleaned and there’s note, “Mr. Shankman we noticed that your toothpaste is running low, we went to the store and replaced it with the same kind you use, we thought it would make your day easier because we know how busy your schedule is.”

I was floored by that; took a picture of it and then posted on Facebook. I’m leaving two days later, the head of PR for the hotel, comes out to me, ‘Mr. Shankman just want to introduce myself, we were able to trace back in the last three days, three reservations that came in from your photo.’  And I’m thinking to myself, okay, and how much I paid for my room?  Three reservations, freaking average of three days, that 39 cent tube of toothpaste netted them probably $12,000 to $15,000 in reservations.  That is your line item.

Drew Neisser:  Is every hotel in the world now asking you to come visit them?
Peter Shankman: You know what it is, it’s not even about — it’s about treating every employee — every customer not like they are me, but like they are anyone.  The people in the back of the bus on an airline, don’t expect to board first or have their luggage come out first, what if once in a while you do?

Drew Neisser:  So how does a CMO look a CEO in the eye and say, you know what, we are going to stop talking about “Price”, we need to start talking about “Nice.”
Peter Shankman: Well, you don’t have to stop talking about price, but you can start being nice.  At the end of the day, what the CMO has to look at the CEO and say, ‘You know what; we’re going to do this, because it is going to generate more money and is it the right thing to do.’ Maybe you want to hear that as a CEO, maybe you don’t, but I’m telling you it’s is going to generate more money, and I’ve never met a CEO in my life who believes that cool trumps revenue.  So if you come back with the concept of this is going to make more revenue, they’ll listen.

Drew Neisser: And are there tools to measure nice?
Peter Shankman: No question about it, I mean the simplest thing to measure nice — and IBM does this phenomenally is just measuring sentiment. As a customer service society, we expected to be treated like crap.  Treat your customers one level above crap, doesn’t even have to be good, just one level above crap and they’ll talk about it.  Go out of your way to do something amazing, they’ll share it with the world.

Final Note: this isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the power of being nice.  In this blog post from 2008, I reference being nice on a list of 5 characteristics that make for great client / agency relationships.  That post also mentions Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval’s book called The Power of Nice that discusses this topic way back in the pre-social media epoch! 

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