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."

Star CMO Interview: Terri Funk Graham

03/8/13

If you’ve been in this business awhile, you have seen many an ad campaign launch strong and then fizzle out in just a year or two. Perhaps this is why I was so bowled over when I heard Terri Funk Graham (at last year’s CMO Club Summit) tell the story of the  “Jack” campaign that is now in its 18th year of productive service for Jack in the Box.  As a student of marketing, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does such a campaign come into being? How do those in charge keep it fresh?  What role does the agency play?  What’s the secret sauce here?

I got the chance to ask Ms. Graham these questions and many more earlier this year and it was then that I realized she is truly a rock star in our industry. During Graham’s long tenure as CMO at Jack in the Box which ended at the end of 2012, the Jack campaign consistently drove product sales, introduced new menu items, helped overcome recessions and bonded with a new generation of fast food consumers.  Graham, as you will soon see, has the courage to take risks not just once but year after year, has the wisdom to stick with one “genius” creative partner and has the curiosity to explore emerging communication channels.  Here is part one of our interview:

Neisser: So tell me how initially the Jack campaign came into beginning back in ’95?
Graham: Well, it came out of the E. coli crisis. So the reality was the company needed to do something to revitalize the brand and make the brand relevant again in the marketplace.  And so it came from a crisis.

Neisser: Which must have been a scary and interesting place to start, right?
Graham: I think that when you’re in a situation like this, you’re willing to put a lot more on line.  And I so I think it actually it drove the ability to take more risks.

Neisser: Really interesting.  So you decided to bring Jack back? 
Graham: Yes, but let’s bring him back in a way that’s relevant and different and will catch attention.  So it was 1995 when we launched Bringing Jack Back.

Neisser: So tell me about those initial ads?
Graham: Well, the very first spot had some controversy around it because it showed Jack coming back.  He had had plastic surgery and he blew up the boardroom because the folks from the boardroom are the ones who blew him up in the ’80s.

Neisser:  I see. A little revenge.
Graham: So he blew up the boardroom and basically reintroduced himself in the marketplace as coming back, better than before with plastic surgery and that he was going to be a big advocate for the consumers. The message was Jack was back and he was going to give fast food customers what they wanted.

Neisser:  So did that seem like an idea that could endure 18 years?   
Graham:  Well, that’s where Dick Sittig, the creative mastermind behind the Jack’s Back campaign, comes in. We constantly challenged Dick to keep Jack relevant, and because he used this sense of humor that was a bit unconventional, described often as irreverent, he kept rising to the occasion and the campaign endures to this day.

Neisser:  So why do you think the ads worked so well?
Graham:  I think what drove the campaign to continue to last is that we tapped into the emotional branding side. I think that often that is not given enough emphasis. We tapped into the emotional side that really gave it a personality that people could connect to.

Neisser:  So how did Jack end up having Dick Sittig’s voice?
Graham: That was actually by accident. That wasn’t planned. When he did the initial pitch, it was in his voice and then when we finally went to casting, we had the actor and we’re putting everything together that we’re looking at all kinds of different voices and the problem was everyone liked Dick Sittig’s voice more than anything that was put in front.  So we decided to go with his voice.

Neisser:  What does it take to keep a campaign like this together for so long?
Graham:  I think there are a couple of things to consider. One is I was always willing to take a risk. So we were unapologetic about who we were. Dick Sittig would present things that would make us feel uncomfortable.  But we knew that it was going to grab attention that it wasn’t going to hurt the brand as long as we were true to who we were. And so it was a combination of being unapologetic about who we were. It was about allowing great creative work to be done. I am not a believer in dealing any sort of pretesting of advertising. We never did anything of that nature. I also think that approval by committee is the death of a campaign, you end up with mediocre work. And, I think that, we truly trusted each other in our work and I think that’s also what helped build that campaign. And so we would constantly challenge each other to keep it relevant.

Neisser:  Very few CMO’s are given permission to take risks.  You must have had a lot of management support?
Graham:  Yes, I had full support and I had permission. Linda Lang absolutely let me run with it and she always backed it. And, there would be situations where I would come up and say, “okay, I have got one that’s going to rile up some folks, prompting phone calls, e-mails and potentially, this all will need to be discussed in the board.” And she would say, “okay, is it worth the risk? And I’d say, “yes.” And she’d say, “I’ll back you, but you need to stand tall.”  So I would have to do all the explaining in the boardroom anytime something went a little astray.

Neisser: What do you think were some of your most risky efforts?
Graham:  Running Jack over  – that was a trying moment. We were essentially putting the most — the biggest brand equity that the company had, Jack, and putting him on the line to see if people cared because if they didn’t care that he got hit by a bus, we were going to be in trouble. So that’s when we had Jack Get Hit By a Bus and of course it proved out to be quite a success and that was in 2009.

Neisser: So how did this part of the campaign unfold?
Graham: We only showed the ad one time and it was on the Super Bowl. And then everything went basically digital and social from there. That was our way of stepping into the whole social media area. So all of a sudden it got millions of views on YoutTube and it was talked about all over the place. We had amazing press and impressions on that. And, we had people sending cards and teddy bears and everything that — flowers, everything that you could imagine for Jack’s recovery. And then we created a storyline. We created multiple ads that followed up afterwards that talked about how he was doing and it became a campaign within a campaign.

Neisser:  So what about the hallucinating kid who sees Jack on his dashboard?  That must of stirred things up.
Graham:  Yes it did. We really wanted to focus on selling our 99-cent tacos. And there is a real following to those tacos. And young people, after they’ve gone to the clubs tend to head to Jack’s for their tacos. And so we played off of that, if you will. And so we had, you know, a young guy in a van come up and he wanted to order as many as 30 tacos. And needless to say, that got quite a bit of attention.

Neisser: Did you end up selling a lot of tacos?
Graham: Everything that we did we also did with the premise of generating sales and driving traffic. I mean we didn’t do funny ads just for the sake of doing funny ads. Our goal was always to drive traffic to the brand. And that’s exactly what we start out to do and that’s what we accomplished each and every time. So in that case, we certainly sold a lot of tacos and we got a lot of buzz about tacos.

Neisser:  You know, I think you told the story of how on that one, some protestors were showing up at your corporate headquarters?
Graham: Yeah, and I turned on the sprinklers. Yes, then the true story — we were going to have protestors and media show up and at the time we had grass all around our corporate headquarters. And it was in the afternoon. And so my way of stalling that was we became a water park in the afternoon and we turned on the sprinklers and we didn’t have any protests that showed up at all the rest of the week!

FYI, After a 22-year run at Jack in the Box, Terri Funk Graham recently joined the Board of Directors at Hot Topic Inc., is working with The CMO Club as the Chairman of its President’s Circle and is consulting for HOM Sotheby’s Realty.  Fellow CMOs can meet Terri in person at the upcoming CMO Club Summit in NYC. 

 

Marketing Metrics: Q&A w Dan Marks, CMO, First Tennessee Bank

02/14/12

Dan Marks, CMO of First Tennessee Bank, is a big believer in learning from his peers. Having seen him speak at The CMO Club Summit in NYC last year, I would say Dan gives as much as he gets, if not more. As such, I was delighted to be able to catch up with Dan a couple of weeks for a conversation about marketing metrics. Dan is also responsible for orchestrating one of the most effective marketing metrics program I’ve heard about, a program that can not only look backwards at the impact of 84% of his marketing spend but also has the ability to predict with “reasonable” accuracy what will happen when budgets get cut.  If you are a marketer and don’t have a metrics program in place, you’ll read this and weep.

DN: Please speak to the advantages, to you as the CMO, of having a strong metrics program in place.
The advantage of having strong metrics in place is it helps you understand how good the creativity is and helps in conversations with the rest of the business.  So for instance, when you’re talking about changing resourcing between business lines or overall budgets you’re able to quantify the impact of your actions, maybe not to an ultimate level of precision but good enough that it lets you have a comparable type conversation to other investments the company makes.  At the end of the day, marketing is a huge line item at any company.  And so having the same level of accountability and quantification that you might have in other areas puts you at equal conversation and helps raise the credibility of the conversation.

DN:  Have you been able to move the conversation from where marketing is no longer just a cost center but is rather a revenue driver as a result of having the metrics in place?
We’re on that journey.  I’m not sure we’re completely there yet, but we’re definitely on that journey to more precisely quantify the linkage to revenue and to be able to quantify the revenue impact of different marketing approaches. Marketing is a matter of talking the customer’s language, right?  So when you are talking to sales and you can show a stack ranking of your marketing programs and their benefit, all of a sudden you’re talking their language because they stack rank their salespeople.

DN: One of the terms that you used that I really liked is the notion that creating a metrics program is a journey. Talk to me a little bit about the journey.
The revolution really is in saying, let’s not have a separate set of metrics or let’s, at the very least, connect the marketing metrics to the core bottom line revenue and costs and profit objectives.  And so that’s the journey. The measurement approach varies by type of marketing activity and channel. So the stages of the journey start with direct marketing, where the linkages and the science are the most developed. Even in B2B, if I can quantify that I’m helping create opportunities from introduction or helping move things along the pipeline, all of a sudden now you are speaking the same language that sales is.  One of the most elusive goals and one that’s still not there yet is the overall full media mix impact–what’s the cumulative impact of everything working together?

DN:  If you could measure the impact of the full media mix, what would be the benefit of that?
Other places that spend cash have ability to quantify the impact of that cash.  So in operation, it might be a cost per output or what my cost is to deliver a dollar of revenue.  And so it allows that same sort of conversation around marketing, what is the revenue impact of a dollar spent with me as I make decisions and look to optimize it–is that getting better or worse? And so it’s several layers of precision, of getting to be more precise and being able to forecast the impact of different decisions.  And then track what happens and continue to optimize– that just adds that much more credibility and confidence in making marketing decisions and the organization.

And related to that is giving you the confidence to be able to pursue it scientifically.  So we can creatively think of a few different ideas and then decide based on the risk tolerance or the level of uncertainty we’re willing to approach.  We may try a very uncertain idea at a lower spending level knowing that, okay, we’re going to take a chance on that huge one, but we’re not going to bet the farm on something that’s very unknown.  Yet we’re going to take more incremental experiments around more proven ideas.

DN: I want to make sure that we clarify language.  What’s the difference between an outcome measure and a diagnostic measure and then can you put them in a priority order relative to job security and doing your job well?
Sure.  So when I think of outcome measures, [these have] impact on revenue profits and margins.  These are the key results that the CEO and board ultimately care about.  And so those are the cardinal metrics.  Diagnostic measures are important to understand outcomes.  So for example, we look at awareness.  But my team still cringes when I say, ‘You can’t eat awareness.’   But it’s important to understand that customers do go through this buying process of awareness, consideration, purchase, all this kind of stuff.  But our goal is not to create awareness.  Our goal is to get people to buy stuff and generate revenue.  We have to understand the buying process.  We have to understand if we’re having trouble getting people to buy stuff, is it because the awareness low, do they not know about the product, or are they are trying it but not repeating it therefore the likelihood to recommend the product to others is low or the experience is bad?  When I said diagnostic metrics, these are things that help us understand what the potential actions we should take are, and the prioritization of those actions based on understanding the customer, the customer and the marketplace, and the buying process and the competition.

DN:  Do you use Net Promoter Score?
We look at likelihood to recommend, we look at it in the total likelihood and in net time basis.  But we don’t just rely on that.

DN: Do you look at the various points of contact in the customer experience and measure each of those?
We look at it both overall and after a key experience point.  So after you’ve had an interaction at a branch, after you’ve had an interaction with a business banker, after you’ve interacted with some of our online technology.  So we do — we definitely understand how they are all different.  And we’ve studied it.  So we also know that our experience scores and our recommend scores strongly correlate/predict future changes in retention and revenue.

DN:  So when you see your experience core decline, you can go to the CEO and say, ‘sales are going to be down next quarter?’
Well, maybe not quite that quickly!  We know over time if scores are trending down or scores are trending up, that will translate into a strong probability of having lower or higher revenue in the future.

DN: Give me a sense of how often you’re looking at numbers.
Well, we do have an alert mechanism.  So if poor scores are spiking, we know that pretty fast.  But generally speaking, we look at our customer experience and customer buying metrics on a monthly basis– and that’s where you see trends.

DN:  Is a commitment to a metrics space approach sort of a guarantee incrementalism
Well, that’s something that we talk about a great deal.  And I think misunderstood, it could. But I would say it’s better to spend a little bit of time on testing than to take a huge leap of faith and fail.  And usually your level of urgency is not so great that it doesn’t make sense to spend a little bit of time testing it.  It’s a lot easier to scale something up that is successful than to pull back when it’s not.

DN:  So at some point is it possible to spend too much on analytics?
At the end of the day, it’s some expensive people and some expensive technology but in the grand scheme of things that’s still, in the neighborhood of one or two percent of your budget.  And I have not talked to anybody yet who didn’t say after they started getting better analytics, they weren’t able to reallocate at least 10 percent of budget.  You spend one percent to find out that 10 percent of your budget is not working or not working as well as it could be.  And, that’s a 10 to 1 return.

DN: I’m assuming that there was a budget cut at some point in the last three years?
That’s right because everybody had one.

DN:  So were you able to predict how the marketing budget cut would impact your business?
Oh, yes.  And the level of prediction was pretty close.  I mean, not a hundred percent.  No model is completely perfect, but it’s definitely useful.

DN: What three pieces of advice do you have for CMOs about to start the metrics journey?
First, definitely have the conversation with your key partners, whether it’s your CEO, CFO or sales leaders. Figure out who is going to judge your performance and collaborate with you because most of the time CMOs can’t actually sell stuff themselves. They’re influencing sales activities. Have that conversation early on, and ask what metrics are important to them and what are the outcomes that you should focus on. And number two, I would definitely commit to a program of optimization and continuous improvement of marketing results.

And then thirdly, I would say for sure, connect to and focus on giving back to the community. And there are a number of different ways to do that– The CMO Club is one example. There are also several great CMO type organizations that exist to help CMOs share information. And you’ve got to do that, carefully. You don’t want to give away trade secrets, but there are great resources out there to help talk about common challenges, common best practices. And every CMO has got something to add to the conversation, and what you give, you get back in spades.

You can follow Dan on Twitter @wdanmarks

How to Bring CSR and Social Media Together for Good

12/8/11

I had the pleasure of meeting Elisabeth Charles at The CMO Club Summit in LA this October.  As CMO of Petco she has orchestrated a number of innovative marketing programs to actively engage pet owners.  Learning that Elisabeth was on the board of HABRI, the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative, I thought she would be a great person to discuss how companies can do well be doing good and extended these activities through social media.  Turns out, this time, I was barking up the right tree.

DN: Do you think being recognized as a good corporate citizen is increasingly important to a brand like yours? Why?
Good corporate citizenship is very important to Petco – it’s built into the fabric of our entire business. Everything we do is guided by our vision for Healthier Pets.  Happier People.  Better World.

We established our non-profit organization, the Petco Foundation, in 1999 and have since raised more than $80 million in support of some 7,500 local animal welfare partners across the country. Each year, we also help save the lives of more than 250,000 animals through adoption events in our stores.  Through the Petco Foundation, we also support spay and neuter efforts, animal-assisted therapy programs and humane education. Working hand-in-hand with the Foundation, our Petco and Unleashed by Petco stores serve as the first and largest national pet food bank in the country. Designated collection bins located in each of our stores allow customers to donate pet food that directly benefits pet parents in need in their local community.

As a company, we’re also increasingly adopting more sustainable business practices. We strongly believe that if it’s good for the planet, it’s good for pets and people, too.  Earlier this year, Petco became one of the only non-grocery store retailers to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an Energy Star Leader for reducing our energy consumption by more than 10 percent across our entire business. Additionally, our Planet Petco line of products offers pet parents the ability to choose high-quality, more sustainable products that utilize recycled and reclaimed materials and renewable resources. These are just a few examples of what we do as a company today. It’s an ongoing process and we’re always striving to do more in this important area of corporate social responsibility.

DN: Is there a fine line between “doing good” as a company and talking about it so much that is seems insincere?
You absolutely have to be sincere and authentic in what you are doing and saying, and you must also be fully committed, rather than doing something only half way. A company’s goodwill efforts should be far more than just a marketing campaign. For Petco, all of our “do-gooding” is centered around what we believe is the right thing to do. The programs we create and support reflect our company’s values and the passion our associates have for people and pets.

DN: Is there a particular Petco goodwill/charitable program that you are particularly proud of?
There are many charitable programs that we get involved in, so it is hard to name just one.  A newer program that really took off this year was our National Pet Food Bank program and our National Pet Food Drive. Just in the program’s second year, this year’s drive ran for two weeks (late October-mid November) in all of our Petco and Unleashed by Petco stores. During the national drive, we encourage customers to pick up an extra bag or can of pet food during their shopping trip, or bring unopened food from home, and donate it via the collection bins in our stores. Also for the second year, Hill’s Science Diet supported our efforts by matching 100,000 pounds of donated food during the drive. In just two weeks, we collected nearly 350,000 pounds of pet food – a more than 60 percent increase over last year – to help financially strapped pet parents feed their pets during the holiday season. The Petco Foundation Pet Food Bank is a year-round program, but it’s very exciting to see how generous our customers are during the national drive leading into the holiday season.

DN: I noticed you personally are working with an organization called HABRI.  Can you talk what and why you are doing this?
Petco is excited and proud to be a founding sponsor of HABRI, the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative. Other founding sponsors are the American Pet Products Association and Pfizer Animal Health.  We got involved because we passionately believe that pets enrich our lives and we want to help generate formal, widespread scientific recognition of the positive role pets play in our lives.  HABRI’s mission is to support research, education and other charitable activities that validate the positive impact the human-animal bond can have on the integrated health of families and communities, by consolidating, organizing and sharing existing scientific research into the human-animal bond in partnership with Purdue University.

DN: Goodwill activities seem to translate well into social media.  Have you found this to be case and/or how do you see good will programs evolving next year?
Absolutely.  We actively use social media (especially Facebook) to engage our fan base, which is now nearing 600,000 likes, to support our charitable causes.  In general, we find that goodwill posts and campaigns featuring authentic stories perform very well in social media.  Positive campaigns with an altruistic call to action perform remarkably better (up to 100 percent more feedback) in user interaction on social properties than promotional campaigns or transactional posts. Human interest stories and, of course, anything to do with pets, are the second most shared and clicked upon posts/tweets/videos.

In October, we hosted our first ever National Adoption Reunion Weekend. Fans online were asked to submit stories about how their adopted pets had changed their lives and were given the opportunity to raise funds for the Petco Foundation through Foursquare check-ins. The social portion of the campaign performed very well, driving the most organic Twitter growth and retweets for a campaign we  have seen to date, the most views on a non-commercial video on YouTube, more than 57,000 photos uploaded on Flickr and more than 3,000 likes across three blog posts. Needless to say, we were very pleased with the results.

DN: I’m a big fan of Pedigree’s “dogs rule” campaign and their pet adoption program.  Have you partnered on “good will” programs with any of the brands that you carry and if so, what are the advantages of this approach?
Every month, we host a National Adoption Weekend when adoption events are held in all of our stores across the country. Each monthly weekend event is sponsored by one of our vendor partners.  We’ve also joined forces with several of our vendor partners for in-store fundraisers to support mutual charitable interests, including Blue Buffalo for Pet Cancer Awareness and Natural Balance for National Guide Dog Month.   I think programs like this are a huge win-win when we are able to work together to help improve the lives of pets and pet parents, and when we all know the funds raised are going to important work that we mutually care about.

Webtrends CMO Weighs in on Social Media

05/4/11

After The CMO Club Summit, I caught up with Hope Frank, Chief Marketing Officer of WebTrends to get her take on social media.  As “the global leader in mobile and social analytics,” Hope’s company not only uses social media to market themselves but also  monitors social as a revenue stream making her uniquely qualified to weigh in on this hot topic.

DN: What are Webtrends primary objectives for social media?
We use social media to distribute and facilitate conversations pertaining to WT digital marketing thought leadership, primary research and analysis of buzz and trends online.We also use social media to extend the reach and impact of traditional marketing efforts to grow awareness among key influencers and prospects.

DN: Do you use social media for customer service?
Yes. For monitoring and problem solving as well as for gathering consumer insights.

DN: How important is social media in your overall marketing mix for Webtrends?
It is essential and deeply integrated. Growing our communities, developing and curating compelling content,  experimenting and innovating on social media platforms is part of every effort we execute.

DN: Since the tracking of social media is part of Webtrends’ product/service offering, how important is it that Webtrends be on the forefront of social media practitioners?
Our Digital Marketing team is empowered to lead by example, to solve big marketing challenges, to iterate and to loudly share our stories. We have direct access to the world’s best global tools and experts, it is amazing! We are fortunate indeed to be in this position.

DN: What has worked for you in social and what hasn’t?
We see the largest impact of social media when we execute integrated ideas that launch with compelling content/experiences then leverage our media engine,  then mix social to amplify the message and increase the value. We have also seen great success running self-contained programs in Facebook where we purchase ads that drive to FB apps. We’ve been able to then take FB campaign learnings and apply them to broad based marketing efforts.

It’s cliché, we all know using social media as another “channel” to push out messaging and brand/product news fails. In the early days when we could only support pushing basic messages out and not integrating or engaging deeper, we experienced limited success.

DN: As evidence of WebTrends ability to monitor social media and turn this into social currency (in this case, PR), Hope provided the following links to all the ”brand elevation and buzz analysis” Webtrends achieved during the #RoyalWedding.  The Mashable infographic is quite cool.

 

Insights into CMO’s and Social Media

05/4/11

Probably nobody in the world talks to more CMO’s than Pete Krainik, founder of The CMO Club.  I caught up with Pete last week after The CMO Club Summit in New York City and asked him for the inside scoop on CMO’s and social media.  Here’s our Q&A:

DN: There was a lot of conversation at The CMO Club Summit about social media.  Why do you think this is the case?
CMOs care about customer engagement and having a reason and vehicle for listening, having a conversation, and sharing their Brands.  Social media is simply the best way, for many brands to do this.  Every Brand has different products/services and customers so the conversation’s centered on new and game changing ideas they can build on for their industry, customer base and products.

The other big reason is about marketing mix optimization.  Every dollar and resource focused correctly is worth significantly more than before. More targets, more marketing vehicles results in more interest in getting it right.

DN: Do you expect this conversation to grow over the next 12 months or are CMOs approaching Social Media fatigue?
The conversation will grow but move from social media to social marketing and social branding.   I’ve noticed within The CMO CLUB that more and more 1-1 conversations with CMOs to think through synergies for sharing resources together.  Moving from company specific apps, communities, programs to a community of Brands approach.  Very interesting times ahead.

DN: The CMO’s at the event seemed to be at various stages of the adoption curve when it comes to social media, why do you think that is the case?
A number of reasons.  For larger, more technical B2B Brands, a smaller number of customers are leveraging social media so the call to action and priority is different than for B2C Retailers and CPG companies.  Also some companies focus on innovation leadership while others are fast followers, etc.  Finally global companies have issues of rollout and priority by region, product lines, etc.

DN: What role does social media play in the marketing of the CMO club?
Given the club is an exclusive “heads of marketing only” community with the mission of facilitating the world’s best CMO conversations, Social media has been the single more important vehicle for the growth of membership. Two out of every 3 new members in the club come from referrals and recommendations from heads of marketing in the club.

We not only use social media for communicating new posts and events from members, but the members only site itself is a community site vs. website. Everything from member blog posts, member Q/A, New CMO jobs on the market, vendor rating programs, plus content in the CMO CLUB Thought Leadership Library is contributed from members.  Social media is used to share member insights, build subgroups of interests, and listen to members.

Our weekly poll question of members has gone from 75 to 150 members per week responding, then sharing and discussing results. The value of the club is to help CMOs connect with peers, share insights, and stay sharp and competitive as heads of marketing.  Social media and our social community platform is the catalyst to make it happen.

DN: Pete closed by noting that the October 2011 CMO Club Summit in Los Angeles will have a large section focused on “CMO worthy” innovations in social media.

Pega CMO Sees Growing Role for Social Media

05/3/11

At The CMO Club Summit last week, Grant Johnson, CMO of Pega Systems joined a panel discussion on “new innovations in customer acquisition and retention.”  After the panel, I caught up with Grant and asked him about the role of social media in Pega’s marketing plans.  Here’s the Q&A:

DN: From a marketing perspective, how important is social media to Pega right now in the overall mix of options?
Since our goal is to allow people to more easily engage with and access the Pega brand however they want, social media is becoming increasingly more important to us as a part of an integrated and multichannel marketing mix.  It’s a small spend today, but we’re spending more time and effort focusing on this, and the activity has ramped up fast.  For example, you can find all Pega news items and links to a variety of content on Twitter, where we now have nearly 1,100 followers; you can view Pega videos and educational content on YouTube; you can engage with Pega employees and peers on our Facebook page and in our Pega Forums; and you can also subscribe to our content via RSS feeds.

DN: What needs to happen at your organization for social media to become a larger priority?
The biggest challenge with social media in most organizations, including Pega, is measuring results back to customer interest and loyalty.  There’s a lot to filter through in order to separate the noise from the signal. We listen closely to our customers and have the ability to focus more on this as their needs dictate. We use mechanisms such as “likes,” “downloads” and “views” to understand the impact of social content that is created, but ultimately we’ll need to be able to better drive customer activity and engagement as a result.  Pega has historically been highly customer focused and as with many of our other initiatives, we will always adapt to their needs in order to continue helping them meet their business improvement objectives.

DN: For Pega, does social media play a role in customer service?  If not, do you see that happening any time soon?
Yes, social media also plays an important role as a medium for customer support and feedback at Pega. Our customers are very vocal in our forums about areas that they would like support in or new features they would like to see in our products. We also have an internal community called the Pega Developer Network, which allows our customers to collaborate and get help specifically with regard to their unique implementations, so as to increase their product understanding and the value of our support. We see this activity growing more in the future as social media channels become more and more common.

DN: How do you think social media could impact Pega’s business down the road?
It’s already impacting us in a positive manner, serving as a real-time and dynamic channel to communicate with customers and prospects. Today, Pega provides social media capabilities within our products, allowing developers to use social media tools to collaborate on business processes and case work. Pega also provides social media capabilities in our CRM products, including the ability to monitor social media such as Twitter and bring that feedback into a customer service setting where it can be addressed. We see two emerging trends in customer service that could impact us even more down the road: first, social media is helping us better service our customers across channels, and crowd-sourcing and self-service is becoming a reality; and, second, we believe that the ability to listen, analyze and act via social media – to actually fix broken customer service processes more quickly – will improve service delivery and customer satisfaction in the future.

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