value

Why the C-Suite Needs to Understand Social Media

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This quarter’s C-Suite Survey measured the advance of social media among Canadian businesses. The survey interviewed 129 executives between June 4 and June 24, 2014.

The survey is absolutely worth the read, but here are the highlights and my opinion upon reflecting on these results.

Key Takeaways:

  1. There has been an increase in engagement from half of Canada’s top companies who are now tweeting.
  2. Executives are more likely to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, than Facebook. That may be a comment on personalities: Facebook is about community, whereas Twitter is more of a megaphone.
  3. Relatively few see social media as a transformational force. Only a minority of companies has shifted resources from traditional, paid media or communications. Those that have done so have reassigned only 20 per cent of their media budgets.
  4. Nearly half of executives said they do not know how online media can help them, and almost half of those engaged in social media doubt that it helps their company’s bottom line.
  5. Executives agreed that social media opens up companies to reputational concerns. They are more likely to be put off by the downside of social media than they are to embrace the opportunities.

Take a look through the entire C-Suite Survey as it also highlights how beneficial social media are and the main value of using social media vs. traditional forms of communication.

My Advice:

It’s true that social media does not perfectly align with all business models, but it was surprising to me that the survey found so many companies and smaller firms avoiding using this inexpensive media. As a marketing advisor with almost 20 years in the business, I know corporate reputation is just too important to ignore and social media can play a pivotal role in building supporters, quick reaction and interaction as well as branding and offers a huge opportunity to take part in online conversations. Social media does produce results, but like any tactic, it needs to begin with a strategy. If, for example, you want to increase brand, then a social media strategy needs to be created with this objective in mind. The strategy will indicate frequency, and use of which networks, measurement, types of campaigns, etc.

I don’t want C-level executives to be disenchanted and discouraged by the power of social media. It can have an impact on your bottom line, but to see impact will take time, commitment, and a solid strategy.   You may want to enlist the help of a marketing advisor or agency. Plan your social media no differently than you would any other media spend and give it time to grow and see the ROI.

NOTE: The quarterly C-Suite Survey was conducted for Report on Business News Network by Gandalf Group, and sponsored by KPMG.

What do you think about the survey? Do you think it reflects the sentiment at your company? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

How Marketing can “Show you the Money”

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Following  my recent posts about sales and marketing, I think most business owners would agree that one of the main goals of marketing is to add value to your company.

Marketing promotes your brand, lets consumers know what benefit your company’s service or product will give them and also aims to present the value these products or services can add to a consumer’s life or client’s business.

Marketing is:

  • The science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation,
  • Understanding consumer/client buying behavior and providing superior customer value
  • Understanding the value of customer’s perception of relative price (the cost to own and use) and performance (quality) of a product
  • Creating a “total market offering” including an company’s reputation, staff representation, product/service benefits, and technological characteristics as compared to competitors.
  • Understanding the relationship of a company’s market offerings to those of its competitors and identifying the unique value offering
  • Adaptable to consumers/clients changing perceptions and beliefs in order to have optimal value creation

Although strategic marketing can include some short-term results that could have an impact on your bottom line, generally marketing is directed at gaining market strength and recognition over the long haul.  The idea behind marketing is staying power!

Build a brand, build a reputation for its benefit and offerings, promote the value to a targeted audience and repeat and keep repeating.  Strong brands like Coke or Nike do not change and it is this consistent messaging that has helped consumers define who they are, their unique value offering and making them a household name.

So what does all this mean to a business looking for short-term gains?  It means when creating your strategic marketing plan ensure you are clear about your wants, needs and expectations.  Make sure your plan includes short-term sales-type strategies as well as long term branding strategies whose goal is not to increase revenue, but increase your value.

Are you willing to invest in marketing even without immediate results?  Do you expect immediate results from your marketing?

Why Your Brand Matters

brand-loyaltyMany businesses feel that “branding” is just a marketing term and that it really does not matter what your brand is as long as you can offer clients what they want.

I find this view ironic, as branding is exactly that: making sure you offer the client what they want. Branding is the step before you make an offer to a client.  It establishes an identity, stirs feelings and makes a connection between those feelings and that identity.  Whether B2B or B2C, your brand resides in the hearts and minds of customers and prospects.

As I’ve mentioned many times in the blog, your brand is much more than a trademark or slogan.

Making customers feel good about your product or service is the key to breaking through the cluttered marketplace of products and messages.

Branding helps customers build loyalty to your company and its offerings.

I have listed below what I feel are the top tips you’ll need to establish a strong brand:

  1. Cut through your own clutter and everyone else’s
  2. Improve the perception of “worth”
  3. Position YOU as the preferred solution to a perceived need
  4. Attract and retain customers to YOU

You might want to enlist the help of a third party, marketing expert to help you get a perspective on your brand’s worth, but if followed, once you know who you are, and what your value is to your customers, so too will they and that is when you can realize your brand’s true worth.

Do you feel branding is a bunch of bunk?  How do you communicate your company’s value to your customers without a brand?  Please share with me your thoughts on branding.  I look forward to igniting an interesting discussion.