Tag Archives: engagement

The Digital & Social Era: Unlocking Brand Value in a Nanosecond

 

Monopoly, Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Nerf, Little Pony, Transformers.  These are only a few of the brands we are all growing old with, and are also seeing our children grow up with. They are all household names that have an extensive legacy and franchise around the world. They’re all Hasbro brands.

While many brand managers often think of extending a brand in terms of new product in the physical sense, the digital and social era offers the opportunity to transform brands into new media properties in ways that unlock the brand’s legacy. The age of new media offers up the chance to pull brands literally “out of the vault” and make them fresh again by relaunching them in an entirely new format.

Hasbro is a company that not only manufactures and distributes toys and games; it is an entertainment company that now competes with the likes of Disney. For example, one of the largest and most successful movie franchises is Transformers. Introduced in the mid-1980s, Transformers was a toy line that featured parts that can be shifted to change from a vehicle into a robot action figure and back again. A number of spin-offs followed, including an animated television series.

In 2007, a live-action movie, under sponsorship of Steven Spielberg, was released, with the latest installment to be released this summer. Around the brand is a vast array of media, including video games, a website, online games, TV commercials, a Facebook community, books, gear and all sorts of toys. Yes, there are apps for iPhone – in 3D no less – that include puzzles.

Not only has Hasbro become a force in the movie industry, it also is a direct investor in television having recently launched The Hub channel in the U.S. in partnership with Discovery Channel whereby the Discovery Kids platform was renamed The Hub. In Canada, Corus Entertainment and Hasbro Studios have come together to distribute Hasbro brands across the various Corus kids television platforms, such as Treehouse, the TV home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (with HD episodes available on iTunes).

What makes the discussion even more compelling is how Hasbro has been able to artfully blend instinct with formal management process. I say this because the toy business, like fashion, has for many years been built on having a nose for what’s hot and what’s not. In the age of digital, so much is in the moment that risk and reward take on much shorter cycles, thereby requiring a balance between management discipline and entrepreneurial behaviour. As Michael Hogg, President of Hasbro Canada, says: “The toy business is like packaged goods with your hair on fire,” in that much of the action is in the moment, about today. This makes me think of the phrase Carpe Diem – on steroids.

Underlying this “360 degree” approach to defining the media mix is the foundational belief that there is also a value chain with regard to the media platforms. In Hasbro’s case, TV is the anchor to build brand awareness in key segments, whereby other media take on a supporting promotional role to augment consumer engagement.

In the days of traditional media, there was much talk about unlocking ‘incremental brand value’ by building out line extensions and adding ancillary products. In the era of digital and social media, brand value can be unlocked in an exponential way by developing the optimal media mix and devising the right formats for each brand.

It also means sticking to the fundamental questions: what are the demographics, who are the buyers, what are the right media choices and how do we build the trust factor into everything we do? The latter is most important especially when engaging audiences of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have valuable opinions about product safety, play value and ideas for innovation.

It also requires a change in mindset since metrics are not always conveniently at hand. In fact, it may be advantageous by allowing managers to take risk by investing in more trials, seeing what works through iteration and then building metrics that support additional investments for a calculated payoff.

For Hasbro, one formula that continues to prove itself in effect leads the consumer through the channels. Television is the anchor for certain target segments for brand building; websites are ideal for promotional activity and driving consumers to the retail store.

So let me end with a few more Hasbro brands that you may well recognize: Twister, Battleship, Yahtzee, Risk, Tinker Toy, Play-Doh, Sorry! and Easy Bake. And yes, there are and will be more apps.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

 

Social Media: A “Head in the Sand” Moment

Seeing Your Brand With Eyes Wide Shut

It could not have come at a better or worse time – depending on whether  you are Google or Facebook. Or it may not matter at all given the continued high levels of adoption of “freemium” social media networking platforms. 

The recent survey by ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) conducted by ForeSee Results,  yielded numbers worth considering.

For Facebook, it is basically ranked at the bottom of the deck by users when it comes to delivering on customer satisfaction – ergo, the user/customer exprience. Facebook is rated so low that it stands slightly above airlines and cable companies in general. Not surprising given that Facebook is really an Internet utility. Perhaps the only saving grace it that you don’t get a monthly bill.However, as a brand manager, you might want to ask yourself: “Do I really want to partner with a medium that is seen to deliver, in a measureable way, low customer value?”.  Even worse, some social networks may even dimish the value you are trying to deliver via your brand.

Not to worry, it looks like Facebook will be around for a awhile. Consumers or should I say “users” are as addicted to some forms of social media in a classic love/hate relationship. Things might be different however, if they had to actually pay to use this utility.

Pause for a moment.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

CRM Not Working? Try Brian.

I like to play golf. I also use fairly good equipment. My Taylor Made clubs are fitted. I have had them for over 10 years and I really like them. The other day, my 3-iron (21 degree loft) club head came loose so I needed to have it repaired. I went to Golf Town, a chain of ‘big box’ stores in Canada.

At first, I was skeptical that Golf Town actually had people who could do much beyond chatting me up about the lastest in golf equipment technology. If I want to improve my game I have 2 basic choices: take lessons, play more often. In fact,  the only technology that has really led to the amateur’s game improvement over the years has been the lawn mower rather than golf equipment. Well, maybe the golf ball. As Sam Snead once said, “You can not go into a shop and buy a good game of golf.”

So I went to Golf Town. At the repair counter and was greeted by Brian, an elderly chap replete with apron, all kinds of club heads, shafts, vices and grips. Brian informed me that indeed all he had to do was put the club head back on with epoxy glue and it would be fine. There was no damage to the club itself. Brian also noted the club as a Taylor Made Rescue, a fine utility club in his view, that needed a new grip and he just happened to have the last one for that particular model in stock. I was skeptical – I first thought Brian was trying to upsell me on a new grip that I didn’t really need.

Then Brian said “You’ve had this grip the entire time you owned the club”. He was dead right. I looked at the club again and realized how much the grip had worn down. Brian also explain that because of Taylor’s “bubble shaft” design that was now out of production, so were the replacement grips. It all made sense so I agreed to have the club re-gripped. The only catch was that the club was not going to be ready until Wednesday morning. I then explained to Brian this was fine, in that I could live without my 3-iron for a day as I had a game lined up very early Wednesday, out of town.

Much to my delight, Brian then said to me: “No problem, I’ll move some orders around and have the club ready by 3 pm today”.  Lo and behold, just as I returned to pick up my club, Brian was actually on the phone calling me to let me know everything was ready.

Was this customer service? At it’s most basic level maybe. At the core, this was really textbook relationship management, not of the ‘experience engineering’ sort but a natural and effortless execution of a memorable customer experience. It was building loyalty and forming a bond between a customer and a craftsman. I left the store feeling that I can now trust someone to repair my golf equipment from now on. All it took was someone – Brian – to understand how to treat people. The transaction, the sale, took care of itself.

You cannot go to your technology provider and buy a good game of CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Media is a Croc

There’s an awful lot of chit chat on social media networks about Apple’s latest product – the iPad. This is yet another successful product launch and continued revolution that Apple is leading in bringing new technology appliances to the consumer marketplace. It’s absolutely stunning that Apple doesn’t spend a cent on social media yet has garnered an enormous amount of publicity (admittedly good and bad) from people who just can’t help talking about Apple products on the social web. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Apple doesn’t spend any money advertising on social networks – all of the publicity through Word-of-Mouth from those who desire, own and love to talk about Apple’s products is FREE anyway.

By the way, anyone who purchased Apple shares a few years ago would have made enough money to fund their iApple desires for the next decade…

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

HBR – The Social Media Bubble: Opinion

Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab, recently posted a thought piece in the Harvard Business Review .

In general, Haque hypothesizes that Social Media doesn’t really connect people but instead, creates the semblance of relationships. Haque states, Social Media is ” largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.”  He goes on to say “Today, ‘social’ media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.”  Here are my own observations relating to some of Haque’s supporting points.

Truth: If we take social media at face value, the number of friends in the world has gone up a hundredfold. But have we seen an accompanying rise in trust? I’d argue no.

Agreed. In fact the word ‘friend’ is used very loosely in the social media vernacular. To me, a friend is someone that I know and trust. Most of us have about 5 real friends in our lives whom we trust implicitly. The rest are aquaintances, people that we are tied to loosely via circumstance like work, associations, clubs or…Facebook and Twitter. What we have seen a rise in is conversation amongst relative strangers under the pretense of ‘friending’. Caveat Eggshell.

Disempowerment:  If social tools were creating real economic gains, we’d expect to see a substitution effect. They’d replace — disintermediate — yesterday’s gatekeepers. Yet, increasingly, they are empowering gatekeepers.

It’s been notable that service providers such as PR agencies, advertising agencies and media consultancies have been vying for ownership of social media within the advertiser domain re. client side of business. They advocate the social media imperative, are evangelical in their style of persuasion and purport to offer social media “ROI”. They fall short by ignoring the element of accountability – something ingrained in traditional media. There is however, substitution in the form of reallocating traditional media dollars to digital. In this regard though, the financial equation is incomplete: digital is cheaper but the material business benefits are elusive. Quantified returns, in management accounting terms, are a work in progress.

Value: The ultimate proof’s in the pudding. If the “relationships” created on today’s Internet were valuable, perhaps people (or advertisers) might pay for the opportunity to enjoy them. Yet, few, if any, do — anywhere, ever. .. I can swap bits with pseudo-strangers at any number of sites. “Friends” like that are a commodity — not a valuable, unique good.

This is a tough one. Social Media is increasingly seen as a near free channel or pipe to deliver content, customer service and promotional offers. It’s also cheap in the sense that it has the capacity to diminish the value of fact-based, expert content while simultaneously encouraging the rise of ill-founded, non fact-based crowdsourced opinion. In this context, success is all too often gauged in purely quantitative terms (# of fans or followers) rather than say, degree of loyalty/willingness to recommend. In a similar vein, it is problematic to prove that people are who they say they are in the world of social networks, as many use avatars to represent themselves. If something is a known unknown then how does one ascribe value? 

There also exists an element of social media that is redundant, maybe superfluous, in terms its effect (non-effect?) on consumers. For many brands, the franchise is well entrenched (Tide, McDonald’s, BMW, Wal-Mart and of course, Apple) and the principles of The Discipline of Market Leaders are in place. These same brands already have meaningful relationships and established trust with consumers pre-Internet. Social Media is not about to change this any time soon, though to some, it may appear that way.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at Cloud Ave and reprinted by IBM Business Insight Blog)

Marketing Research is Fun!

Forrester’s Latest on CRM Trends:Opinion

Forrester Research has recently released it’s 2010  perspective on CRM. William Band, the lead analyst, prefaces the report by asking “As the economy recovers, what are the key trends that will drive customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and technology adoption in 2010?”

Here are my own observations on some of Forrester’s 11 key trends:

Trend #1) Companies return to investing in their most important asset — customers: This should never stop but credit to those who realize the importance of this vital asset. By re-orienting the enterprise back to the customer, companies will be able to sense and response to emerging wants and needs in period of tremendous upheaval in the marketplace. Various aspects of the web that affect the way consumers shop for and purchase will translate in to changes across all customer-facing touchpoints of the enterprise and filter back to the supply chain.

Trend #4) Social CRM hype reaches a crescendo, but projects remain in pilot mode: Makes sense as sCRM technology has outpaced the CMO’s ability to absorb and understand the business utility of a wide variety of applications.  For example, FourSquare, while it has intriguing possiblities for retailers, is only at the stage where some (mainly coffee shops) are offering discounts on product. Companies, such as Ford Motor Company, have seen promising results with viral campaigns, notably a significant number of pre-orders in the US market for the soon-to-be-launched Fiesta.  At the other end of the spectrum, few companies have been able to derive clear benefits from Social Networks such as Facebook, other than having a web presence. 

Trend #5) Customer service embraces real-time methods: This is a huge opportunity as it will generate two clear deliverables for the business case – reduce costs of customer service delivery and drive down cycle time to problem resolution. This trend falls in the category of ‘quick hit’ as it takes little effort to set up extension of the customer service function on Twitter and conversation can take place in real time. Additionally, it has the potential to offload contact centre traffic and deliver the added beneft of broadening the customer’s touchpoint options for contacting the enterprise for service/product queries.

Trend #8) Mobile CRM becomes a must-have capability: This may be the jewel in the crown. Not surprisingly, the travel industry has been quick to embrace this technology, as it has been at the forefront of self-serve for some time re. airline check-in kiosk at the airport, via desktop or mobile device. Hilton Hotels, for example, has rolled out mobile apps that enable guests to manage their reservation status remotely, use the GPS function to search for hotels, order special services while en route or check their frequent stay points balance while travelling. I call this “being able to take your brand with you anywhere you go” CRM.

Trend #10) Scrutiny of business cases remains intense: As it should. With some much in front of the CMO these days, the range of possibilities is intensely confusing. I believe that this is one of the main obstacles to adoption, early or otherwise, as too many people advocate one technology solution over another without providing the necessary guidance to client companies. What is needed are clear strategy and process roadmaps with an eye to benefits and outcomes rather than an obsessive (and futile) focus on ROI. Until such time, piloting projects will remain the order of the day rather implementing cross-enterprise processes and technologies that support the business transformation.

Thanks to the Forrester team for prompting this dialogue on CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM