Tag Archives: WOM

Brand Engagement – The Lee Valley Tools Experience

No doubt you have read countless articles about the importance of brand engagement on social media. To this end many brands have scrambled to check off their to do list with the lattest Twitter or Facebook account so as to make new ‘friends’ or be ‘liked’ through these new channels.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned but true brand engagement happens at the Moments of Truth – those places where customer and brand come together and something gets done (or not). To put it another way, when there is a moment of truth, there is an opportunity to deliver a superior customer service experience that is memorable to the customer in a positive way. In turn, customers will be satisfied, maybe delighted and at best, generate some ‘earned media’ (word-of-mouth) for your brand, the most powerful kind of recommendation and form of advertising.

The grass can be greener on all sides.

In my particular case, I needed a replacement part for my Lee Valley push mower. The part was a bolt that fits into a knob that is used to adjust the height of the roller. When I called Lee Valley with the intent of getting a replacement part, I was served immediately by a gentlemen who volunteered the following:

– 2 replacement bolts, 4 day courier delivery via UPS, free of charge.

Indeed, the parts arrived in two days and I was back in business. Not only was I pleasantly surprised but even happier to own a Lee Valley product. From a customer perspective, this was a superior and most memorable experience worth writing about for others to read especially since Lee Valley knew that I hadn’t even paid for the lawnmower as it was given to me by a neighbour who was discarding it in favour of a power mower.

As a practitioner of CRM and social media strategy, this is a fine example of genuine customer engagement by a brand this is not contrived, driven by a campaign or planted by an influencer. The Lee Valley experience was simply part of their script, as in reflective of their customer service culture and  the way they do business. 

It is clear that Lee Valley Tools own their brand and product way beyond the point that it’s in the customer’s hands as the positive perception of the brand was augmented several steps away from the original point of purchase.

Not only was this was a fine customer experience, it was very engaging.

– Ted Morris 

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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: Where Does It Belong?

As part of a continuing series for the ACA – Association of Canadian Advertisers, the following post offers an ‘enterprise view’ of how to organize for social media. For the most part, advertisers are keely aware that any customer-facing activity does not fall exclusively within the domain of a singular function, department or business discipline. Indeed, the cross-enterprise approach is often the only way to provide a consistent delivery of customer value and in turn get feedback on performance.  This also avoids one of the most dangerous of obstacles that inhibits business  transformation…

To read on, please go to:

http://www.acaweb.ca/en/social-media-where-does-it-belong/

En Francais:

http://www.acaweb.ca/fr/qui-controle-les-medias-sociaux/

– Ted Morris

Toward A New Media Scorecard

Many Cups of Earned Media Value

I recently penned a soon-to-be-published article in a management accounting magazine – or should I say  “paid media”  publication – about valuating  a firm’s social media effort within the accounting framework.

My thinking was triggered by Syncapse, a social media management firm, who released a study in 2010 called the Value of a Facebook Fan: An Empirical Review.  As an example, they determined, using data collected from a survey of 4000 brand users, that a Starbucks (SBUX) fan on Facebook was worth about USD$235.22 on an annualized basis. The comparable figure for a non-fan was USD$110.95. If I read this correctly, Starbucks’ Facebook fans of 17M strong are worth about $4 billion annually in sales. 

Another study, the Fast Food Industry Media Value Report, by General Sentiment, a New York-based firm specializing in sentiment analysis, brings together online WOM, web traffic and online news readership data as the basis to estimate Earned Media exposure value. In this report, aimed primary at the QSR industry, the quarterly Media Value estimate for Starbucks is USD$67M or $268M on an annualized basis. This compares to the roughly $50-60M adspend on paid media, of all forms, by Starbucks.
 
In each of case, the Syncapse and General Sentiment analytics generate some big numbers. When I look at the financials, the numbers actually make relative sense: Starbucks’ market capitalization is $24B, revenues are $10B and EBITDA is $1.9B for the most recent fiscal year. They have 17,000 stores are in 50 countries and have a brand legacy reaching back to 1971.
 
While I’m not suggesting that these numbers are conclusive, they do merit consideration as they attempt to quantify, in financial terms, the outcome of using social media platforms. It’s time to think a little more deeply about some new measures of performance and update the Balanced Scorecard. This might just be the ticket for the CMO and CFO to join forces in moving the New Media agenda forward. 
   
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

The URL: Getting To Know You

The URL. Uniform Resource Locator. A web address that typically includes the type of file, location of web server, path of the file and file name.

It’s easy to take the URL for granted and forget just how important a role the URL plays. Such is the case when monitoring consumer-generated word-of-mouth (WOM) and providing analytics that can be applied to solving complex business problems.  I’m not just referring to locating meaningful content but identifying sources that consumers consistently go to as part of their shopping process. 
  

In an earlier post, I alluded to the importance of the URL in identifying specific online forums, notably those that consumers went to for automotive reviews.   For example www.truckforums.com is a review site for truck enthusiasts. Other sites are specific to certain brands, product categories or applications.

At the analytic level, links can be classified this way: Segment/Mid-Size, Brand/Ford, Nameplate/Taurus, Competition/Toyota Camry, Attribute/Reliability. The key is to know which URLs generate most of the rich content. In effect, what is your “Top Ten” URL inventory? If you are using a monitoring service, have them provide a comprehensive URL list, in descending order of magnitude of brand conversations as classification data.

Some of the analytical applications might include knowing which brands or product categories are discussed the most on line and where; segmentation analysis of consumers who visit certain types of sites e.g. technical vs. lifestyle; comparing sentiment across sites to understand positive or negative drivers of brand perception. On the managerial side, knowing where brands are discussed most often on the web will provide insight into where consumers are exerting material influence.

This high level view just scratches the surface. Like being at the theatre, while we are focused on the stage, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM
                                                                                                                                                               

ESOMAR & Social Media: Brandmatters 2006 revisited

Then...

Although I did not have occasion to attend the recent 2009 ESOMAR conference in Chicago, I was struck by fact that the agenda was essential devoted entirely to social media. By contrast, Brandmatters 2006 had one session on social media, referred to as “Social Networks and Brand Communities”, a subset of the broader Internet ecosystem.

At that time, I was in the fortunate or perhaps unfortunate position of presenting “Listening to the Blogosphere: How Blogging can Impact Your Brand”. Fortunate in that I was probably regarded as part of a small group of pionners or forward thinkers (lunatic fringe?) on the subject of WOM: Word-of-Mouth media; unfortunate in that much of what I presented seemed to be something of an oddity to much of the audience. Here were some observations at the time:

> 10% of US adults created blogs; 32 mil. Americans read blogs;
> 12% of consumers posted content online
> many ‘bloggers’ has formed brand communities, notably in the automotive and entertainment industry verticals
> many bloggers were considered influencial in shaping a brand’s reputation

...and now.

Fast forward as we move into 2010: It’s most gratifying to see that Social Media is dominatingdiscussion within the marketing research industry.  Much of the thinking has expanded beyond mere curiosity toward shaping opportunity and providing increased business value to clients in a forward looking way. It was to the point that awards for building online communities have become the new hallmark for forward thinking marketing research.

It goes without saying that the numbers presented above would appear to be a mere speck of online activity given today’s dominance of applications such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, not to mention the hundreds of millions of blogs and forums that contain brand content.

Glad the world has changed so much. I was feeling a bit ahead of myself.
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia