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In 2010 Social Media Marketing will Mature or YOU will Fail

The Focus of Marketing

I’m a practitioner.  I live off my marketing skills.  Presently I work in a B2B environment marketing consulting & customized services to healthcare organizations.  I have completely embraced social media for professional networking.  But, I have not done so for marketing purposes, yet.

The main reason is that my target audience is not there.  A secondary reason is that I prioritize other tactics, as I simply do not have an unlimited budget.  Finally, because while there are good case studies on social media, the ROI is still unclear in my field, while the competing priorities are paying off dividends.  So while I’ve dabbled in it, I’ve relegated most of my social media use to professional networking.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love social media as a communication platform.  I do believe it is a disruptive technology.  But as a marketing strategist, I believe that it’s over hyped and that even those classified as “best in class” – in my opinion – are more “entertaining” and experimental (and rapidly becoming me too) than strategically centered marketing.

Take for example the Evian babies.  The most watched YouTube video for 2009.  Many marketers, including reputable marketing publications, point to that as “best in class” in social media.  I’m sure it won many awards.  It generated tons of exposure and impressions.  They are cute.  It’s entertaining.  But did it sell more water? 

It is that type of pseudo-marketing the Zyman killed at Coca-Cola.  Marketing is not about ENTERTAINMENT.  It’s about “selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently.”

The 2009 Financial Hangover

Kotler calls the fall out of the 2008-2009 world crisis the “New Normal,” turbulent market conditions punctuated by unpredictable uncertainty (I’m currently writing this book review for publication which I’ll post here in the next 60 days).  This has caused us to be fiscally paranoid.  2010 will bring continued scrutiny on our marketing budgets.

Data, analytics and results will be critical for any marketer wanting to keep his/her budget or job.  A couple of key questions to consider:

§         Is your segment still accurate?

§         Are you moving your segment along the buying continuum?

§         Are your meeting your reach & frequency requirements?

§         Are you making data-based decisions and trade-offs?

There are entire books on marketing analytics, but these questions are a good start.  Unless your social media plans deliver on your key metrics, you should eliminate them.  The period of experimentation is over.  Your social media needs to produce hard results or you should seek other tactics to meet your objectives. 

There are hundreds of companies doing social media right, I just see more abuse than not.

Social Media will Grow Up

Case study on “how not to”: The over hype reminds me of the year 1999.  The internet was HOT.  Web pages were the “new, new thing.”  While working on a billion dollar brand, we rushed to partner with a company to build semi-custom web sites for our customers.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for 3-year services for a number of websites.  At first the program seemed like a success, with hundreds of highly valued customers signing on and our company seen as progressive and value-add.  After 9 months, maybe a dozen of our sites were maintained, updated or marginally utilized.  We bought the over hype!  We jumped too fast, we did not build a solid strategy, and we failed in this initiative.  But we grew up and so will social media.

As I was writing this blog, I received a great e-mail from Marketing Profs.  It’s right on with their observations and it also illustrates nicely how social media is growing up.  Based on a survey of over 5,000 marketers, here are their top line observations:

1.      Social media strategy is more important than tactics/gimmicks.

2.      It’s not a one size fits all game.

3.      Map your social media plans to your strategy.

4.      All media is becoming social.

I would recommend you look into their blog.  I have added it to my blogroll if you’re interested.

It takes discipline to do social media right.  BUT THAT’S NOT DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE YOU SHOULD BE ALREADY DOING.  2010 will not be a year of experimentation.  Social media will grow up and you should position your company to leverage this incredible marketing tool, if it makes strategic sense.  Just don’t buy the over hype or do so at your own risk.

Good marketing!



3 Marketing Considerations 4 Marketeers


Strategy should be at the heart of every marketeer.  There are many models of strategy, and some maybe more relevant to your offerings, but in the end they are all very similar.  Regardless of the model, what’s relevant for marketeers is the marketing focus. The challenge for marketeers then becomes ensuring that the strategy is well executed, for which I’ll offer some practical considerations. 

 Strategy development

Over the years I’ve had experience in working with $1M strategic models (i.e. McKinsey consultants) as well as $24.99 book models (i.e. Michael Porter’s 5 Forces).  I’ve also had the privilege to work for some of America’s best corporations, who have their “home grown” versions of strategic frameworks.  Quite honestly, the basic frameworks are all very similar.  The basic elements of any strategic model include analysis of the industry, market, product assessment, customer needs, competitors and organizational capabilities. 

 There are libraries full of how to do all of this analysis.  This posting will not attempt to do this justice.  But for the marketeer, I would propose that depending on your offering lifecycle, this function of the job requires different focus.  Pre-market introduction, it may be 100% of your focus.  However, by launch, it should be down to about ~15% of your focus.  As I look back at product launches in my career, the pre-launch strategy can be singled as the most important determinant of success in a product launch. 

The experienced marketeer knows this… but s/he also knows the difficulties of living this in a dynamic corporate environment, especially through a product launch.  A major pitfall I’ve observed over the years is an organization’s failure to distinguish between operational effectiveness & strategic planning. 

The marketing focus

I’m a fan of Sergio Zyman. .  Not necessarily for his contributions to the field of marketing, but for his focus on results – he defines marketing as “selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently”.  I subscribe to the practice of aligning the marketing focus to organizational goals, which are based on a strong strategic foundation.

For the marketeer, every day is a challenge to deliver results.  Activities in this challenge can be broken down in two growth areas; organic & external.  In organic growth, it’s all about identifying the sales cycle (awareness, interest, trial, purchase, re-purchase) and aligning the appropriate marketing strategies in each cycle.  In seeking external growth, marketeers should seek to leverage industry, market, or competitive opportunities to meet customer needs.  In my opinion, external growth is what separates a typical from a superb marketeer.  This is not to diminish the importance of organic growth, I’ve worked on multi-billion dollar brands that focus profitably on executing this successfully. 

A note on caution: as a marketeer you’ll be faced with situations that are not marketing.  These may come in disguise but will truly be sales, training or operational issues.  Do not get trapped attempting to solve for these disciplines, you will come short and ultimately our discipline suffers, not to mention your career. 

 Considerations 4 Marketeers

  1. Adopt a strategic framework that makes sense for your business.
  2. Determine the marketing focus, with a strong orientation on results.
  3. Stay disciplined to your strategy and focus through communication and execution.

 Good marketing!