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Archive for the ‘branding’ Category

Top tips for safeguarding corporate reputation

Friday, December 5th, 2014 by LRoderick

Safeguarding your brand’s reputation is much easier than damage limitation, says Jennifer Janson, author of The Reputation Playbook. Read her tips for foolproof reputation management

The importance of corporate reputation is not new, but the speed at which information and opinion spreads – good or bad – has increased exponentially with the advent of social media. Companies of any size must look carefully at their actions and take steps to ensure behaviour is completely aligned with the businesses core values as a first step to protecting reputation.

Doing so will inevitably mean breaking down traditional silos that exist between functions in a business. A shared focus on reputation can create the guiding principles within which every single person in a business operates.

While companies of almost any size are likely to have a well defined marketing strategy, it’s vital to identifty the crucial elements in safeguarding corporate reputation at the highest level:

1. Know where you stand today
This is easier said than done. There will inevitably be data in almost every area of the business being used as a benchmark for success. But when it comes to reputation, what matters is what people think of you. Your employees, your customers, your prospects, investors, journalists, and any other stakeholders that matter to your business. Do you have a complete view of what that perception is?

An all-singing, all-dancing perception audit is the ideal starting point, and many businesses today have neither the time nor financial resources to commit to such a project. But don’t let that stop you from doing something. It is very possible that a simple exercise in gathering the most relevant information from each function will give you a representative view. Doing a social media audit is a great idea and it’s worth looking at sites like Glassdoor to see how your company is represented as an employer.

The goal is to create a single page view of where your reputation stands today so that you can clearly see if the actions you take are helping you progress to where you want your reputation to be.

2. Identify potential risks
It’s hard to mitigate reputational risk if you don’t know where it lies. As a starting point, look for the gaps between what your company says is important – your values – and the way it and its employees behave. Get rid of the idea that reputation is a communications issue. It is a business issue that needs to be understood and addressed throughout the company.

Take some time to note the company’s stated core values. If you don’t know what they are then you have another problem.

And now look at each area of the business: start with the impression people get when they enter or call your office. Walk through the recruitment process. Get insight into customer service issues. Look at the payment process and cycles for suppliers. You see where we are going with this. Your company’s reputation is made up of hundreds of little experiences with hundreds of people over time and although you won’t always get everything right, at least aiming to do so will get you far.

Let’s take a fictitious example. Say you are a large multinational selling enterprise products and services to small businesses. Your company values are all based around being a “friend” to small business. Your products are geared up to address every issue a small business might have. Your above-the-line campaigns are beautifully executed. You’ve even publicly signed up to the UK’s Prompt Payment Code supporting the government’s initiative to support small businesses in the country.

But somehow, someone forgot to share all of this information with accounts payable. The team there has always seen its role to extend payments as far as possible to aid cashflow. And the suppliers who have the least clout (the small businesses) get paid late. Sometimes very late. So the very people you are trying to win over on one hand are being let down on the other. This may not have any bearing on your reputation in normal operations, but should larger cracks begin to appear, these unhappy suppliers may add dangerous fuel to a social media fire.

3. Seek to influence, not control
Although a lot of companies spend a lot of time trying to influence the perception of the company externally sometimes it pays dividends to start by looking at the culture internally. Happy, fulfilled employees have the potential to be your greatest ambassadors. Do you know what employees are saying about you online in public forums? Are you acknowledging and supporting those who are active in their positive commentary about the company? And are you seeking out those who are vocal about their dissatisfaction, to have a genuine conversation? Gone are the days when a communications team had the ability to have every tweet, post and image approved by the upper echelons within an organisation. Trust is at the heart of a great reputation – and that trust must start at home.

No one gets it right all of the time. But in laying strong foundations and behaving in line with your company values, when the company hits bumps in the road they will be far easier to deal with if you generally have people on your side.

How to market a negative

Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Guest blogger

Buyers always want to feel good about the choices they make; they want to find products or services that will improve their lives in some way. So marketers often frame communications in a positive light to create those associations. (more…)

The demise of the marketing director?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Guest blogger

It was Shakespeare who posed the question, “What’s in a name?” before handily going on to supply the answer, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Maybe the bosses at Procter & Gamble have been brushing up on their bard as they recently moved to ditch the title of marketing director. From now on, all marketing directors across its global network are to be known as brand directors or associate brand directors.

P&G has history here. The title of marketing director actually only came into being with the household brands giant in 1993. Previously the role was covered by that of “advertising manager”.

The rationale behind the latest name change is that it is part of a global effort to simplify the P&G marketing structure and enable faster decision making. Agility is the latest must-have in marketing services as we all know. In scrapping the title of marketing director and converting them to brand directors, P&G says it will ensure the department has “single point responsibility for brands”.

Indeed, in February this year it announced that the marketing department would be renamed as brand management. Apparently this was done to improve P&G’s ability to deliver marketing efficiency and effectiveness by integrating four disciplines – brand management, consumer & market Knowledge, communications, and design – into one department.

According to a spokesperson for P&G: “These changes will help us unify brand-building resources to focus on delivering better brand and business results.”

The changes mean that P&G’s lauded corporate marketing director, now becomes brand director for Northern Europe.

There can be a bit of a trend for fatuous job title inflation in some sectors, and a bit of grounding never did anybody any harm, but does the title of brand director truly reflect the broad commercial responsibilities the former marketing director holds?

This isn’t just an argument about titles, but about roles and influence within the organisation. At a time when there are fewer and fewer marketing directors or chief marketing officers sitting on executive boards, the move to demote marketing directors – and that is what this feels like – will have a wide impact on the standing of the discipline.

Coming as it does from one of the undisputed colleges of marketing, the move will have an even greater impact. P&G is widely heralded as turning out some of the best FMCG marketers in the industry. So when they act, others generally follow.

In some ways the sentiment of single point responsibility for the commercial performance of “a brand” in FMCG makes sense. As the tools and channels at marketers’ command become ever more complex, and the array of agencies and suppliers used, ever more numerous, there has to be a strong hand on the tiller.

But to those outside of the marketing/brand fraternity it could be seen as a reductionist move. Does this imply that the focus of marketing is limited to advertising, POS and conceptual brand strategy? Coming at a time when marketing as a discipline is anxious to be seen as helping businesses listen to their consumers and therefore direct overall business strategy, this sounds dangerously like putting marketers back in their box.

In this light, P&G’s highly publicised change is somewhat more questionable, short sighted and potentially damaging to the credibility and reputation of marketing directors and CMOs.

Marketing, in a dynamic business, isn’t just about the comms. It requires a much broader understanding of the first principles, practices and science – and a broader commercial sense. Marketers need to be able to understand profit and loss, financial ratios, how to read financial sheets and the bottom line. Failure to use all of these assets is like having a Ferrari but never taking it out of third gear.

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of marketing. The role of the CMO has changed as a result of technology and IT becoming so important – are we seeing the merging of the CMO and CIO title, or can they work together?

Mondelez International recently scrapped its CMO role for a chief growth officer responsible for global marketing, corporate strategy, global categories, global sales and research, development and quality. Tesco has abolished the chief marketing officer role and instead have a chief creative officer and chief customer officer.

Is the role of marketing being enhanced or diminished here? Time will tell. What should be obvious is that marketing is a management discipline that is strategic and commercially accountable. It’s not just about branding and advertising.

 

Real-time marketing: to bite or not to bite

Monday, September 8th, 2014 by John Manning

Brands and the marketers, comms specialists and PRs that marshal, guide and protect them are now living within an “always on” social media ecosystem.

Long gone are 9 to 5 office hours; for social media and marketing teams, if the lights are on but no one is at home, you could be missing a trick. But how do you know what opportunities to take and which to leave alone?

Jumping on the back of an event just for the sake of it isn’t always right for the brand and your hard working attempts could have a negative, rather than positive, impact.

I clearly remember the time when the “always on” approach was cemented into the psyche of marketing teams across the globe. On February 3rd 2013, people all over the world were watching one of the most famous events in the sporting calendar, the Superbowl.

During the third quarter of the game, the lights went out and what happened next hit the social media history books as one of the best reactive social media campaigns to date.

Oreo’s world famous “You Can Sill Dunk in the Dark” Twitter campaign was the brand’s real-time marketing reaction to a widely talked about blip during the event.

And since Oreo succeeded in a number of ways, more and more brands adopted this approach and it was no surprise that many took the opportunity before the World Cup to plan for the unplanned. But while real-time interactions and the speed at which a brand reacts can provide huge rewards and opportunities; it can also create grave dangers.

Using the Luis Suarez biting incident as an example, we used our survey tool to conduct one in a series of surveys that ran during the World Cup to gauge the general public’s perceptions of Suarez and the brands associated with him. The survey results suggest that there are three appropriate courses of action that brands can take should they wish to implement any kind of real-time marketing activity:

Don’t react

It might be tempting to get involved, especially if you are seeing others doing it; but is it really worth clutching at straws and will the outcome be positive? If in doubt, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will your audience gain anything?
  2. Will your audience care?
  3. Is it the right subject to pursue?

I was on the tube home one evening after the Suarez biting incident and saw an advert on the back page of the newspaper. One particular brand had jumped on the story but the product had absolutely no relevance to the incident. As a result, the brand in question immediately went down in my estimation and I was left feeling confused.

React, but don’t follow the lead

As soon as the Suarez biting incident took place, brands had exactly what they needed to work with, a situation and a concept. The situation in question was the incident, and the concept was the action: the bite. Countless brands jumped on the bandwagon and got involved in the slew of jokes on Facebook and Twitter, most creating images of products with a bite taken out of them.

By the time I had seen the tenth image of a product with a bite taken out of it, or read the twentieth tweet from a brand telling Suarez that he should have taken a bite out of their product, I was bored of it. I wanted to see something different, or nothing at all.

React, with purpose

This is where using evidence to make an informed decision can come into play. The Suarez survey data revealed that more than a third (36 per cent) of consumers changed the way they perceive brands associated with Suarez and that 40 per cent would be less likely to buy products or services from brands that continue to sponsor the player.

With this sort of insight, brands are able to make informed decisions as to whether to act and, if so, in which way.

So what can brands learn from this? If nothing else, it is a lesson to determine the ways in which evidence can be used to help make better, more informed decisions.

If a poor decision is made it could have a negative impact on the brand and fail to resonate; on the other hand, it could provide a fantastic opportunity to say something meaningful. Whatever the opportunity, be sure not to miss it.

 

Why B2B needs to target smarter

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by Guest blogger

Inbound marketing and selling to decision makers who have requested a brochure has become the holy grail for business marketers today. (more…)

Multichannel is about persuasion

Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Guest blogger

There is a common misconception in modern post digital marketing, which stems from a view that because it is difficult to track which media and devices a consumer uses, it’s difficult to ensure they’re always getting the same message. (more…)

Time for consumers to switch off?

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by Guest blogger

 

Engagement is always high on the list of marketers’ agendas, and is usually a KPI to measure campaign success. Yet, what does it really mean: to capture consumers’ attention, or gain their interest? And for how long? Is this a two way thing? Is this really what marketers should be striving for as an end in itself? (more…)