May 02, 2009

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A Twitter Sanity Check Twitter is the new black. Twitter is the answer. Twitter is the cure. Twitter is the Holy Grail. Twitter is everything. Twitter is Oprah, Ashton, Miley, Britney, Tiger and Shaq's favorite. Twitter is da bomb. Twitter brought about revolution in Moldavia. Twitter will solve the economic crisis. Twitter will save us from all that ails us. Twitter is it. Twitter is the one. Can Twitter be the second coming? Am I the only one who occasionally gets up from the keyboard? I suspect I'm not. If you're in the mood for a rant about Twitter check out edition #5 of Jaffe Juice TV. Twitter is the over-hyped flavor of the week; a micro-blogging site that allows anyone to type out 140 characters worth of thought and share it with the world. It has attracted 8 million users quickly and according to eMarketer is on track to jump to 18 million or 10 percent of all US Internet users by 2010. Though some believe that the huge traffic spikes in the wake of Ashton Kutcher's race with CNN and Oprah's televised tweeting will yield 10 million unique users. Soon users won't even have to use the key pad to participate. Greg Verdino reports that Adam Wilson at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has created a brain computer interface that enables hands free tweeting. You telepathically type your 140 characters to share with your following by thinking your post. According to an April 2009 survey of 423 Twitter users who are on the site 2.75 hours per day (per day?)conducted by MarketingSherpa found that people crave learning from their peers and yearn for information in a timely manner. We are a nation of news junkies, gossips and yentas fueled by bandwidth and new mobile techno-toys. The study also indicates that the emotional commitment of users is not much deeper than engagement at a cocktail party were expectations for reciprocal following, close listening, popularity and quick responses are minimal. Its about being where things are happening not about what you get out of the experience or building relationships. Twitter is transactional; quick bits easily digested. And yet inflated claims for Twitter's value as a business-building tool and communications channel seem to be endless in spite of the fact that there is little supporting data and just a few known cases of brands using Twitter to float new ideas or mitigate PR disasters. The Twitter cheering section rivals Ron Popeil's intensity. Twitter -- It dices. It slices. It juliennes. In real life the claims run the gamut from possible to sheer hype. Consider this short list. Twitter ... Enables instant dialogue; questions and responses Builds interactive relationships with customers, prospects and influencers Achieves real-time collaboration and innovation Creates an instantaneous feedback loop between brands and customers Personalizes brand-to-consumer 2-way communication Instills greater customer loyalty and brand preference Facilitates one-to-one and one-to-many messaging Generates buzz and enrolls brand loyalists as viral communicators Sells more products and services faster and cheaper Accelerates the two-way customer service process Becomes a brand's early-warning radar For marketers hearing the rising hue and cry, Twitter is attractive because its free, its easy and its fast. You can create a page and be up in two minutes. You can staff it simply and as Dave Fleet, points out you can engage in customer conversations very quickly and interact in real time. For firms anguished about social networks and seeking a strategy, Twitter is a quick free fix. As Liz Miller at the CMO Council says Twitter gets you into the social networking marketplace right away with minimal risk and no technical resources. A member of the "where there's smoke there's fire school of thought; she reasons that "there's a lot of tweeting doing on; and that has to be good for business." And she argues that brands can use Twitter to cue loyalists to spend money by reminding them of sales, deals and offers, update them on scores, developments and events or answer customer questions or quash rumors and misinformation. Is it any wonder, brands with recession-devastated budgets are grabbing onto to Twitter and testing out the possibilities? Data from Heather Hopkins Hitwise's analytical hottie indicates that post-Twitter traffic to search engines, social networks and free e-mail sites seeks to answer basic buying questions, look for more information on selected topics and share what they saw, read or heard with others. Its about learning and sharing. Heather argues that "Twitter's clickstream profile is much closer to a social network than...
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Measuring Marketing Magic Marketing remains one of the elusive frontiers for performance management. For years marketing performance measurement (MPM) vendors have been working both sides of the aisle -- the CFO and the CMO -- in an attempt to define and measure marketing's magic and graft onto the marketing department the same fiscal discipline imposed throughout the corporate structure. For the last eight years VisionEdge Marketing has been surveying MPM issues and their 2009 report entitled, "Closing the Gap Between Marketing and Business" concludes that Marketing still has a long way to go to align with the business it supports and measure performance Marketing departments still lack the skills to run themselves like a business When the marketing department measures; its not measuring the right customer-centric stuff. You can get a 20% discount on the full report by clicking here. These are sobering conclusions especially in a recession when every dime of marketing spend is under intense scrutiny by corporate and brand bean counters looking to hold back every marginal idea and expense. It also reinforces the stereotype of marketing guys as frisky kids masquerading as grown-ups in charge of the fun factory and accountable to no one. In practical terms, it seems obvious, at least to me, that the 23 month average CMO tenure documents the fact that CMOs are not playing the game as CEOs and CFOs see it. Few have invested in dedicated marketing operations people, essentially a COO for the marketing department, and even fewer have bought MPM packages or vendor services. And while a CMO's ears glaze over with the first mention of so-called "best practices" nobody is really happy with what gets measured or how they figure out how money spent by marketing impacts on the objectives of the business. What has caught on are dashboards. There are lots of them ranging from simple graphs to dramatic colorful eye-candy. But these devices are more show-and-tell than useful gauges of business success. Intended to be a "connection between marketing and business which facilitate fact-based strategic decisions", they are more CYA than FYI. The proof of this is that in spite of the dashboards, few top decision-makers see a clear correlation between money spent on marketing and advertising and sales or profitability goals. Herein lies the challenge -- connect the dots convincingly with enough data and intellectual rigor to withstand questions from the finance folks. What gets counted is political. Marketing guys count inputs. Finance guys want them to count outputs. There is also a bias toward counting the sexy acquisition programs rather than the under-loved and lower key retention programs which have a much more predictable impact on sales and customer satisfaction. Since these are not new issues, I quizzed VisionEdge co-founder Laura Patterson , a serial entrepreneur who learned her marketing and measurement stripes in 14 years of service as a marketing executive at Motorola. Laura believes that CMOs need to build-into their consciousness and their tables of organization "a culture of accountability that's native to marketing." Rather than fear measurement marketers have to think about what they are trying to accomplish and craft measurement methods at the same time they craft big ideas. Laura argues that this orientation starts with looking at the marketing activities that drive business value rather than simply measuring activity. If marketing programs are tasked to find, sell and retain customers, measurement must demonstrate how they did it or didn't do it and take a stab at explaining why. In her experience CFOs are less interested in exactly hitting the numbers than in marketing guys thinking and planning for results using a disciplined process which includes advance planning and post-campaign measurement. Among her clients, Laura reports a huge shift in perception when marketers create a process and set performance targets at the same time that they develop messaging and campaigns. For top management, in Laura's view, measuring performance versus plan is table stakes for efficient operations and control. Marketers have to plan for expected results measured in business terms -- leads, revenues, share or market, margin contribution or repeat customers. Measuring the efficiency of the production process or the cost-per calculations of media efficiency are secondary. Bottom Line: The C Suite yearns for CMOs to tun the marketing department like a business. The 2009 Survey shows we're not even close.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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