Category: General

CMO: Time for Social Programs with Provable Profits

Just Published!  Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI

While there are many books talking about engaging people on social media like Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, LinkedIn and hundreds more, all describe the return you will get in general terms.  Usually, the discussion first informs you social ROI [return on investment] doesn’t exist as a financial calculation but, instead, rests on the influence and intangible benefits you receive from social engagement; however, nothing could be further from the truth.   The key to social success is to stop focusing on specific site strategies and, instead, focus on engaging your highest value markets and build strong, measurable, 1-to-1 relationships with them.  That is the goal of Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI.

How it started

I teach social and mobile marketing at Northwestern University.   About 9 years ago, one of my graduate students who worked at a major retail company said that while she understood the power of social media, she could not justify staff because she could not prove the bottom-line impact of a social strategy.  She asked me the question which plagues many companies…”What is the profit impact of developing a social strategy”.  While I did not have a good answer for her, it started me on a mission to find the social strategies which drive profitable, measurable social programs.  In talking with CEOs and CMOs across the world, I found 3 strategies companies were using and – good news – 2 had proven bottom-line impacts.  In other words, these 2 strategies link your social investment to your sales and marketing systems.  These strategies allow you to grow market share and increase the lifetime value of your high value markets using KPIs, relationship funnels, and the same metrics you use to justify and measure all of your business metrics.  Social IMC shows you how to use social to achieve provable business results.

What’s in the book

Many books focus on the theories behind the use of social media and mobile applications in marketing—but this is not one of them. Social IMC provides strategies based on proven business models that have produced real-world results.  Each strategy has been taught, tested, and developed by the author himself, and all are thoroughly explained in an easy-to-follow format that includes references to exemplary businesses from around the world. By the time you finish reading this book, you will be able to identify which strategy is best to use for each of your company’s high-value markets.  You will know what steps you need to take to successfully design, develop, deploy—and maintain—your business’ social and mobile approach.  A veritable “how-to” guide for using social and mobile technologies to propel business profit and growth, Social IMC is sure to appeal to business leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide. The strategies discussed in the text have been proven effective in a wide variety of models, including both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and companies targeting businesses or consumers on international, national, local, and hyper-local scales.

Special Introductionary Offer

It’s time for you to develop KPI driven, 1-to-1 relationships with your high value customers using proven social strategies.  Learn what IBM, the NorthFace, American Express, and companies throughout the world are learning about developing bottom-line driven social strategies.  Get a copy of the new book Social IMC available on Amazon.  Click here for a special $5 off discount!


Randy Hlavac


Randy Hlavac teaches social and mobile market at Northwestern University in Chicago IL.  He is also CEO of Marketing Synergy, Inc – a consulting company helping companies develop their social and integrated marketing strategies and tactics.  His new book – Social IMC – shows companies how to best design, develop, deploy, justify and measure their social marketing and mobile marketing programs.  It add business metrics and proven strategies to your social marketing programs.  Randy can be found on Twitter @randyhlavac


Executives – Listen to the Electronic Water Cooler in your office

Gossip has always given executives key information to manage their organizations

In the days of “Mad Men”, people would gather around the water cooler each day.  In these “water cooler breaks”, gossip, rumors and other “nasty” information would be traded.  While much of it was probably untrue, the “water cooler network” was often accurate in predicting firings, layoffs and other business problems and challenges.  Often, the “water cooler gossip” was a harbinger of events that would occur in the near future.   Executives would task their assistants and trusted staff to keep them informed about the water cooler gossip because it often yielded key information useful in managing the firm.  While the official events in the office were telling one story, the gossip chain represented by the water cooler might be telling another – more accurate – version.

While the water cooler is long gone in most organizations, it has been replaced by electronic gossip.  In the initial days, many employees used Facebook, bulletin boards and other electronic social networks to exchange gossip.  But there were two problems.  First, these networks tracked the individual contributing the gossip.  While this was not a problem between the people at the electronic water cooler, the second problem was that these systems were – for the most part – open social monitoring systems.  In other words, if an executive was savvy enough to monitor social chatter, they could often identify employees who were making false or damaging claims and take action.  In essence, the electronic water cooler was “bugged” and therefore risky to use on really “hot” gossip.

Marketing Synergy CEO CMO consulting services

The water cooler is now electronic and anonymous…and you need to know how it works!

Gossip will always be with us but electronic gossip on open networks was a real problem.  To address these need, entrepreneurs have created Privacy Apps and, as an executive, you need to learn about them and how they work.  Privacy apps allow users to talk about company gossip anonymously.  This means they can discuss sensitive or “hot” topics without the concern about being monitored by social monitoring systems.  Their conversations cannot be traced to the individual.  While social networking apps are open to anyone, anywhere in the world, many of the privacy apps work only within a geographic area.  This allows people to know the people they are gossiping with are likely within their office or office complex [or their apartment or condo unit for personal gossip].  As an executive, you can monitor them but you cannot source the conversation…unless they say something personal.

My daughter is interning at a major corporation headquartered in Columbus Ohio.  When she first went there, she used one privacy app to “overhear” interesting company gossip about different managers and corporate initiatives.  It helped her learn the “lay of the land” and get more acquainted with the challenges facing the company.  At her apartment complex, she found people were connecting through another privacy app to discuss what was happening at the complex.  It was interesting information and testament to how popular these apps are.  In fact yesterday, I spoke in the morning with journalists in the last quarter of education at Northwestern.  When I mentioned these apps and who was using them, few raised their hands.  Later in the afternoon, I gave the same talk to our Northwestern Cherub group – high school students who are aspiring journalists.  When I asked them the same question, nearly all of the students raised their hands.  

Executives – get ready – privacy apps are here and growing!

You can easily begin monitoring anonymous social gossip in your office.  You just download the top 4 privacy apps [for free!] and see if anyone in your office is using them to discuss company gossip [I’ll bet they are].  I keep these 4 on my phone as I visit client offices and, while I am in the waiting room, like to see if there is chatter and what they are saying.  The four apps to download and test are:








These are the big 4 today.  I have had the most success with Secret for business conversations and Yik Yak for discussions around condos, apartments and in public [like Starbucks].  However, in your area, WUT and Whisper should also be tried.  You should download these free apps to your iPhone or Android phone and see if anything is happening around your office.  Today, private apps are one of the largest growing app categories in the US today.  You need to be aware of them and being using them to find out if the water cooler gossip has moved into the anonymous world of private apps.  Without them, you may be missing out of important news traveling the electronic grapevine.

I’d like to hear about your experiences with the anonymous discussion apps.  Please comment on this article or your experiences [or both].  This is a new application in social and one we need to test to see its importance in our social world.  Also, if you like this blog article, please tell your colleagues.

 Randy Hlavac

Randy Hlavac is a consultant and instructor of Social and Mobile Marketing at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.  He is also the author of a book on social marketing called:  Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI.  This “Hands On” book lets entrepreneurs, business executives and marketers evaluate different social strategies to select the best approach for your high value markets.  The book shows how to use social to engage specific high value markets to create a holistic & 1-to-1 database driven relationship.  It shows you – in detail and with global best-of-breed examples how to make social an integrated part of your marketing mix.  Randy can be reached at


Social Strategy: 3 Paths to Social ROI

IBM CMO Study findingsAccording to eConsultancy, Only 8 percent of companies say they can determine Return on Investment (ROI) from their social media spending (source: Econsultancy).  From their Global CMO study, they find 63% want to measure the ROI of their social investment.  Yet, many social pundits – while giving “lip service” to the concept of ROI, have “surrendered” to the ROI challenge and, have instead, encouraged their followers to simply focus on the “intangible” justifications for a social strategy.  In other words, don’t worry about the lack of social ROI, it is intuitive it benefits your organization and that is justification enough.

While these types of articles imply you don’t need to really consider or develop the ROI from your social investment, nothing could be further from the truth.  If you consider the “opposite side” of the IBM quote, if 63% of all organizations would like to measure their Social ROI, this means 27% of them can.  That is the direction I used when I started researching my new book – “Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI“.

Social Strategy  Social Media  Social ROIThe fact is there are thousands of companies who are using Social as an integrated part of their marketing mix.  Their social strategies develop very specific KPI’s and provide a way to track their social investment from first social contact through to final purchase from the organization.  And these companies are no different than yours.  In developing my book, I looked at B2B and B2C companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100.  I examined for profit and not-for-profit firms, governmental organizations, and organizations across the globe.  From Africa to China, to the Pacific Rim, to Europe to the Americas, companies are designing, developing, deploying, justifying and measuring their social investment with the same precision as their other marketing investments.  The key is not to simply rationalize the fact you don’t have ROI today, the key to success is to look at your social investment through a marketing prism.  Start with your high value markets and you can develop strategies which transform your social programs into revenue producing, market share generating assets to your organization.

While my book goes into the strategies in great detail giving you the metrics, methodology, and best-of-breed examples from across the globe, there are three paths you need to consider in re-thinking your social investments from an ROI perspective.  They are:

  • Start with your High Value Markets – Man pundits advocate specific site strategies.  Whether it is blogging, building your Facebook presence, Tweeting, building your PInterest presence, etc., they focus on content and engagement, not ROI.  The path to an ROI strategy starts NOT with social networks but with your High Value Markets.  The goal of social strategies with bottom-line impact is to develop strategies which build 1-to-1 relationships with your high value markets.  Using social to build relationships rather than followers is one of the paths to social with measurable, provable bottom-line results.
  • Think Multimedia Engagement – If you look at social from a marketing perspective, it is logical that your high value markets are engaging on multiple levels of the social pyramid.  Whether they are consumers or business professionals, they are seeking expertise and information using blogs, websites, social networks, private virtual communities, videos, passion sites and a host of other social options.  For success, you need to understand where your high value markets are congregating, who is at the center of their conversations [the influencers] and where they are congregating.  This will allow you to maximize your impact by engaging them on the levels they “inhabit”.  This is where social monitoring comes in.
  • Build Relationship Funnels & KPIs – The final path is to begin thinking of your social strategy as a journey rather than a networking site.  To build a business relationship, you need to take your prospects through a process [a relationship or performance funnel] from prospect to customer [and beyond].  While many of these relationships will occur exclusively in social, many can use other marketing channels [sales force, conferences, meetings] to close the sale.  When I work with companies through my consultancy, we start by identifying all of the “steps” from suspect to customer.  Each level is quantified, valued, and then we begin by determining the performance required in each step of the process to be profitable.  Comparing every pair of behaviors in the relationship funnel gives us the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] we need to manage the ENTIRE process from social contact through to purchase.

In summary, there are thousands of companies across the globe who are implementing highly effective, highly efficient, and highly profitable social marketing programs with their high value & high opportunity markets.  The key is to understand how best to use social as an integral part of your marketing mix.  Today, Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is a necessity and you need to know how to design, develop, deploy, measure & justify your social programs for your organization to grow and prosper.

Randy Hlavac   Social IMC  Social MarketingRandy Hlavac is a social and integrated marketing expert.  In 1990, he founded Marketing Synergy, Inc [MSI].   MSI helps business and consumer focused companies define, engage & acquire high value communities using social, web, mobile and integrated marketing technologies.  Using value based predictive systems and marketing databases integrating social and integrated marketing channels, MSI’s clients build profitable, long-term relationships with their most valuable market segments.  Marketing Synergy aids its clients in developing and deploying the marketing database, analytical, and marketing systems necessary to achieve their business goals.

In addition to being the CEO of Marketing Synergy, Randy is also a Lecturer at Northwestern.  He teaches courses on digital, social and mobile marketing.  Randy is a social marketing blogger and his first book – Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is available on Amazon.  Randy also writes articles for the Journal of Integrated Marketing, Chicago Association of Direct Marketing and is a frequent guest blogger on social, marketing technologies, and integrated marketing. 

Randy can be reached at  You can also reach Randy on Twitter at @RandyHlavac or on LinkedIn at randyhlavac


The Power of the Red Dot

Recently, I was talking with Jeff Davidoff – the CMO of – about social marketing.  Jeff is a marketing guru of mine and has created some of the best social marketing programs ever invented [check out Agit8 to see his work].  Jeff is a frequent guest of my graduate social marketing classes at Northwestern and I talk with him to keep current on the newest trends in social marketing. 

In a recent conversation, he asked me, “What is it that has made LinkedIn such a powerhouse social networking site?”  Jeff had just talked to Reid Hoffman – the founder of LinkedIn – who told him much of LinkedIn’s success is the Power of the Red Dot.  His story is something every CEO, CMO and marketing manager needs to consider in developing your social strategy.

If you are a member of LinkedIn, you are on the best social networking site.  However, on most days, you are probably not actively on it.  In fact, it is easy to forget you are a LinkedIn member.  So, how does LinkedIn keep you active?  The Power of the Red Dot.  Nearly every day, LinkedIn sends you notifications.  It notifies you if some wants you to join their network.  It notifies you if someone has given you expert recommendations.  It notifies you if a group is posting new topics.  It keeps you in the loop about new things happening on your site.

Red Dot 3


 So what happens when there is a notification?  It generates red dots on your mobile phone and tablets.  The red dots tell you that you have emails and messages which you need to address.  In other words, the red dot PULLS you into the actions LinkedIn needs to keep you active.  Then, when you log into your LinkedIn account, wht happens?  For most, it tells you to update your profile.  Why?  Because LinkedIn gets you to perform the key behaviors – clicking, reviewing, recommending, participating – that it needs for the success of its system.  The Red Dot moves you to actions which are beneficial to you AND to LinkedIn.  Red Dots mean action.  Red Dots tell you there is something you need to see and do.

What does this mean for your company?

While LinkedIn has taken “red dots” to a high level of engagement, the same thing happens when you post something on your social networking site like Facebook.  Your new post generates a “red dot” for each one of the individuals who are following your site.  When they see it on their Facebook icon, they often click on it and, if it is relevant, timely content for them, they appreciate it.  If it is really great, they will tell others and it will go viral.

The key is to understand that social is really a 2-way conversation.  Even though you don’t know your social visitors by name and it is an anonymous relationship, your activities do generate red dots and activity.  The key is to make that content really relevant to your followers.  Not to do so will make them resistant to your “future dots”.

When you consider your social marketing programs, here are three action items to consider:

  1. Social is really a 2-way conversation – Your social program should be considered as a two-way conversation.  When you add content, it prompts your followers [and their friends] to re-engage with your social site through the red dot.  The more relevant content you develop, the better.
  2. Keep active once you start – Your social followers want to engage with you.  Give them new articles, videos, insights, and information they can really use.  Remember, each time you post it, your new content will create new red dots to re-engage them with your organization.  Success is for those who maintain the relationship with new, timely & relevant content!
  3. Keep it Timely and Relevant –Develop a content strategy which really communicates with the people you want to develop in the future!  They are actively looking for experts so give them the insights and information which will improve their professional lives.  Do that and your “Dots” will be relevant to your high value followers.

What Jeff Davidoff and Reid Hoffman taught me is to think of social interaction as a two-way dialog between your company and your prospects.  After these interactions, it is easy for the prospect to quickly forget about you.  It is vital for you to PUSH content to them by either publishing on your social sites or sending them an email.  It produces a Red Dot which moves them to action.  Remember the Power of the Red Dot and use it to the benefit of your organization and your social visitors.  A win-win situation!


Randy HlavacRandy Hlavac is a Professor of Integrated Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program.  His course on Social and Mobile Marketing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and has produced strong social marketers who now work for business and Not-for-Profit companies throughout the world.  In addition to his teaching at Northwestern, Randy is also the founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing consulting company located in Naperville IL.  Randy works with B2B and B2C companies to help them justify, design, develop and deploy their social & mobile programs linked to the company’s bottom-line.  Randy is also finalizing his new book “Social IMC – Social Marketing with Bottom-line ROI” which will be released early in 2014.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.


Make your Blog work Harder for You

This is the first of two blog articles on how to more effectively market your blog.  My students at Northwestern and my clients often create blogs and are publishing on a regular schedule…with little results.  These two blog articles will give you free tools and a template on how to best market your blog to maximize its impact in your readership base.  Enjoy and feel free to leave comments with tips and ideas to help each other improve our blogging results.

As a professor of social marketing in the Northwestern Medill IMC [Integrated Marketing Communications] program, I have my graduate and undergraduate students develop blog articles on topics relevant to a target market they want to attract.  They are on a wide range of marketing and social topics and can be seen by clicking here.  However, the purpose of this blog is not to discuss their work but what they do with these blogs after they are published.

You work hard to create your blog

In working with my students and clients on establishing a blog presence, most create and publish their blog article,  post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and – perhaps – tweet it once on Twitter and then they ……. hope.  They hope someone will see it, read it and comment on it.  But this is the exact wrong way to grow your blog readership.  You have worked hard to create an interesting and timely blog article.  Now you need to make your blog work harder for you to achieve your readership goals.

Meet Maslow

Maslow Hierarchy of NeedsIn 1943, Abraham Maslow published his hierarchy of needs.  Shown at the left, he identified that all individuals are concerned with dealing with five different levels of needs.  His Needs Hierarchy starts with our most basic needs at the bottom and more advanced, higher level needs at the top.  From bottom to top, they are:

  •  Physiological – these are our basic needs and we do not need to consider them for blogging
  • Safety – We want to be safe and healthy
  • Belonging – We want to be “with the crowd” and don’t want to be “left behind”
  • Esteem – Earning the respect of others because of our achievements
  • Self-actualization – Reaching our higher self or becoming all we can be

What does Maslow have to do with Blogging?

Actually, a great deal.  Whether you are blogging to consumers or business professionals, they respond to different types of messages and ignore others.  As a result, you need to test multiple messages to find the best way to connect with your desired readership.  In my Northwestern class, we call it Test & Learn.  If you test different messages in the marketplace, your markets will tell you want works.

Test & Learn is the way to grow!

This is the first of two articles so I am going to take on this Test & Learn methodology in two blogs.  When you write a blog article, you will finish and publish it.  Before you promote it, there are several steps you will need to take.  While we will discuss these steps in the next blog, what you want to focus on is the creation of different messages – based on the Maslow Hierarchy – that you can test to attract your readership.

For example, let’s say you write a blog article on gourmet egg cooking and you wanted to attract chefs interested in this high level of cooking.  If you wanted to attract them to your article using the Maslow levels [except physiological], what message might you test?  Let’s try some:

  • Safety/Security – Gourmet eggs are hot in the marketplace.  Learn how to cook exceptional eggs with my blog.
  • Belonging – Chefs across the country are raving about gourmet egg recipes,  see the best ones at my blog
  • Self-Esteem – When you cook a true gourmet egg, your customers will rave.  Learn how at my blog
  • Self-Actualization – The sign of a truly great chef is their gourmet egg cooking.  Learn how the best do it at my blog

While I’m sure it is apparent I know nothing about gourmet eggs, notice how the same article can be crafted and promoted using the Maslow Hierarchy?

Now you try it

I know for many of my students, it is difficult to get started without some assistance.  So I have some for you.  I have created a spreadsheet which takes you through the entire marketing process.  You can get it by clicking here.  Go to it and then download it to your computer.  You can then use it for every blog you publish.

To get started, take you last [or next] blog, go to the message tab and try to create a couple of messages using the Maslow Hierarchy.  It takes a few to get the hang of it but just try it.  I have given you an example from one of my best students – Megan Paniewski to show how it is done.  Don’t worry about the hash tags [#] or the links.  That is in the next blog.  For now, have some fun and try to make different messages – targeted to your ideal readers – using all 4 of the top Maslow levels.  If you have time, take a look at the results tab as it shows it really works…but more on that in the next blog.

ENJOY and always have fun with blogging!  Let me know your comments and ideas on how you improve your blogging results! 

Randy Thumbnail 1Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL.  Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them.  Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms.  In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years.  His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.




Randy Hlavac
Randy Hlavac is a marketing futurist who – since 1990 – has worked to integrate new technologies into the marketing strategies & tactics of B2B and B2C companies.

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