Posts Tagged ‘integrated marketing’

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


Social Marketing and Social Media are not the same!

This is my first of two blog articles.  This one will cover the misconceptions of social media and social marketing.  The next will discuss how to transform your social programs into measurable, testable & more successful marketing programs.

I teach social marketing in the graduate and undergraduate marketing programs in the Medill IMC College at Northwestern.  While there are thousands of pundits who recommend marketing on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, LinkedIn or the thousands of other social sites, we have found this is the wrong way to go.   It’s not successful to focus on these social channels but to focus on marketing using social media.  In other words, it’s focusing on marketing – not media.

Most companies are “lost” in social media

In a 2011 survey by Marketing Sherpa, they surveyed over 3000 B2B and B2C marketing managers and found over 80% of them have no way of measuring the bottom line impact of their social marketing programs.  They can measure growth in friends, re-tweets, thumbs up or whatever, but they cannot show these activities are actually increasing the profits of the company.  They cannot determine if these social visitors are customers they already have, prospects they would like to develop, or just other low potential prospects.  Furthermore, if they are customers, they cannot tell if the social interactions strengthen the relationship and, if they do, by how much.  Social marketing today is primarily done on “faith and hope”…which is not a very good way to run a company.

Better understand what marketing is and you can create an effective social marketing strategy

 When I teach social marketing, I “force” the grad students to discuss – in great detail – the IMC marketing model.  While I will not make you do it, I use the model to establish the following points:

  • The IMC marketing model starts with a high value market –  For success, you must connect by targeting each market with the products, services, messages, and information they find important.  And each market has a different message.  If you don’t start with markets, you will not have success in your social [or any other] program.
  • Messages and Channels must be the ones preferred by the high value target market – These two elements must be selected and built to the desires and preferences of the high value target market.  Don’t offer the right product with the right message: forget it.  Offer it in a channel they don’t use [like direct mail for younger people]: forget it.  They must align.
  • Success occurs in the overlap of the 3 circles – This is where the ‘magic’ happens.  You must have all three synchronized [integrated?] to have a successful program.

In addition to having marketing programs which are built on the IMC marketing model, each of your marketing programs – including your social marketing programs – must meet several other criteria.  They must be:

  • Significant – they must produce significant bottom-line results for senior management to consider and fund them
  • Able to be replicated – our marketing programs must allow marketers to re-use the strategy to further grow market share
  • Testable – we need to be able to test and learn on every aspect of our marketing program
  • Customer-centric – they must acknowledge the customer relationship and grow it from first order to last.

Why is this important?  We must have social programs which meet these marketing essential criteria.  How do we do that?  We must not focus on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and focus on how to make social a marketing weapon for our company.  And, to do that, we need to better understand what social is…and it’s a lot more than Facebook and Twitter.

What makes social unique?

In my new book – Social IMC [to be published soon] – there are three concepts often misunderstood by marketers.  Better understand these three concepts and you can develop a strategy to build a social program with ROI [bottom-line impact]. 

1.      Social Networks are different than social communities

Social networks are sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.  They consist of individuals who are discussing everything “under the sun”.  There are people talking about every topic, every company, and everything else.  Marketers often start with these social networking sites because it is intuitive potential markets are there and it is easy to get started.  You can create a Facebook site in minutes and be attracting followers a few minutes later.  Simple, easy, and wrong.

Social networks are great places to talk to everyone but not for marketing.  Because marketing requires you to give a targeted message it means you must 1] understand who they are, 2] have a way to address their needs, and 3] be able to talk with them in a controlled way.  NONE of these attributes is available on Facebook or other social networking sites.  As you meaningfully talk to one person, others with different interests “go away”.  You cannot make a sale here.  HOWEVER, you can use these social networks to segment and engage key high value markets…provided you take them somewhere where you can talk to them in a controlled conversation.

Social communities are PRIVATE sites [you must register with them] that are discussion specific topics.  These are generally self-formed by community members and are focused on key topics of interest to the community.  If you want to see some social communities, take a look at the American Express Members Project or Ridgid Tool’s plumbing forum.  This type of system – a private community – is a key to using social media successfully.  These types of community systems are places where people discuss their needs and wants and look for experts to help them address them.  If you become a trusted expert in a high value community, you can “be there” when they are ready to buy.

2.     Social Communities exist on many levels

  While many marketers focus their social strategies on Facebook and Twitter, these are very small sites when you look at social media worldwide.   The key is to understand EVERY social community engages on multiple levels.  They do cruise on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn to hook up with others like them.  They use News and Bookmarking sites to get more focused on their passions and needs.  Bloggers are often thought leaders and trusted experts within a community.  While communities to write articles, they also use video [and you should to] to present ideas and responses.  Finally, the biggest place they dwell is in private communities.  As you build a social marketing strategy, you need to engage your high value markets WHEREVER they are in the social “cloud”.

3.     Private Sites dwarf Social Networks

The most common misunderstanding is social networks are the “place to be” in social.  While you do need to be visible on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks, these are to respond to questions and show different markets places where you are addressing their specific needs.  I think of social networks like an inbound telecenter.  The telecenter takes calls in the order they come in and attempts to address the questions of the caller.  The same is true for social networks.

Think marketing strategies not social sites strategies

This lays the foundation of what makes social marketing different from social media strategies.  Before the last ‘installment’ of this two part blog, think about the following questions:

  1. What are your high value markets?
  2. What types of non-social media do they read or consume?
  3. What type of social sites are they likely to use?

We will address the importance of these questions in the last ½ of this social marketing blog.


  Randy 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 his company website.

Mythbusting Social ROI

Considering Social ROIBlogger extraordinaire Mark Schaefer published a timely blog article on metrics and ROI as it relates to social programs.  You can read the article here.  In his article, he discussed some rather passionate discussions of social ROI and similar business metrics.  Mark was at one of the annual Social Media Week conferences held throughout the world earlier this month.  When the conversation came around to social ROI, here is what he reported was said:

I was speaking on a panel for Social Media Week New York when one of my fellow panelists said “This ROI stuff is just a bunch of crap. I’m so tired of it. You can’t measure what you’re doing and people should not even try.”

I began to twitch.

“I agree,” said the second panelist. “Too much focus is placed on measurement.”

My head began to throb.

“As a social media marketer, I can’t measure what I do,” said the moderator. “I just do it.”

Mark goes on to discuss his objections to this line of thinking regarding Social metrics and – in particular – Social ROI.  However, this view has been echoed by many of Social Pundits in the recent past.  As Mark points out in his blog:

Unfortunately, the tone is being set by some of our most beloved social media celebrities such as Gary Vaynerchuk,  David Meerman Scott and other high-profile pundits. When Gary is asked about the ROI of social media his famous reply is usually ‘Well, what’s the ROI of your mother?” Scott’s retort is usually something like “Why have a double standard? You don’t measure the ROI of the company receptionist.”

What is Social ROI?

We have been grappling with the challenge of developing Social ROI at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program and have found that the challenge isn’t in calculating ROI but understanding the many roles social media plays within a company.  If you understand how you are going to use social media from a business perspective, then you can determine which activities can be developed using ROI type measures.

Confused?  Think of Telemarketing

In my past life, I have had to build telecenters for several businesses.  When you design a telecenter, there are several type of telemarketing which occur every day.  There are two types of business activities in telemarketing, which are:

  1. Inbound telemarketing – this is where businesses field questions from prospects and customers.  They call when they have a need [trigger event] or have been stimulated by some company ad or a discussion with a friend.
  2. Outbound telemarketing – this is company driven activites where we initiate the contact for a specific marketing goal. 

If you think about these two types of telemarketing activities, the first is controlled by the market.  They call when they want to do discuss what they want to discuss. In telemarketing – as in social media – many of these interactions are untrackable because we don’t know the individual.  The conversation is 1-to-1 but anonymous.  This type of telemarketing is much like our social conversations on Twitter, Facebook or on forum sites.  These are social sites where people can find us to ask us questions and discuss options. 

Outbound telemarketing is much like blogging, viral programs, and other social media activities which are designed to stimulate a community to action.  It occurs because the company initiates an activity which impacts a target market and delivers them a communication & offer they find appealing [some of the time].  It is heavily tracked and measured … all the way through to the final sale.

How does this apply to Social Media and ROI?

When I cost justified a telecenter, the activities associated with inbound were viewed as either a pass-along cost to a specific marketing program or simply a business expense.  When a person called our center, we asked them if they could give us a code embedded on our advertising message [a keycode].  if they could do it, we would then attribute the call – and its related expense – back to the marketing program which generated the activity.  If it was a customer call for information, we attributed cost to the product.  When we couldn’t get the caller to give us information, it was considered untrackable and became a “cost of doing business”. 

In justifying our telecenter program, we could track customers who did and did not use the telecenter and did generate some ROI activity.  However, unless we could link it to a customer database, we could never generate ROI-type calculations.  This is similar to many social media programs.  Because they are anonymous and not linked to any database, they are simply expenses to a company and can never be measured.

Outbound programs are different.  They started with a market and – at every step in the process – contain tracking codes and links back to the source of the names.  This allows no only ROI tracking within the marketing effort but it allows us to track the impact of telemarketing on the lifetime value of our customers.  With tracking systems and a link of every outbound telemarketing activity to the customer database, we could determine the exact impact of outbound telemarketing on the value of every customer we acquired [and the cost of those we could not sell].

So where is the ROI in Social Media?

At Northwestern and my company – Marketing Synergy – we build social marketing which is designed to achieve two major objectives.  The first is it must “go viral”.  It must be so exceptional in the eye of our target community, it generates talk throughout the social community where our prospects congregate.  The second objective is it must drive the individual to an information exchange where we trade their email for mass customization & total control of the marketing process.  Unless they request information, they will not hear from us.

Why these two objectives?  Because having the email & other personal information lets us:

  • Track the level of involvement on the social site
  • Separate prospects from customers
  • Identify all sales from each individual on our customer database
  • Determine current and potential lifetime value
  • Calculate ROI and other business measures

This allow us the ability to now have ROI from each of our social marketing programs.

Today, ROI is necessary to allow us to talk about our social programs and justify them with metrics used by senior management.  The key is to develop a business model which tailors social marketing to develop the tracking and metrics necessary to “speak” to the CEO.


Triggers & Passions trump Demographics

Trigger EventIn a recent article, Hubspot’s Sarah Goliger published an article called How to Build Better Personas to Drive Killer Content.  While I love to read Hotspot’s blog as they always present tips on how to improve my blogging, this article – while technically correct – presented steps to developing a clearer perspective of your target market which varied from my experiences at Northwestern and at Marketing Synergy – my social consulting company.

In the article, Hubspot recommended you perform a three step process to build your persona.  They were 1] Segment your markets by demographics, 2]Identify each market’s needs, and 3] develop behavior based profiles.  While this is a time proven methodology used by traditional marketers to develop their target markets,  I have found it less than appealing when develop any type of social marketing plan. 

Demographics have always been useful in traditional marketing because it was some of the best data we had to define our markets.  While we knew demographics were always surrogates for actual motivators, we knew that analysis of age, income, household composition, wealth, life style and other data would produce segments with differentiated purchase behaviors.  While this works when we had little other information and were attempting to segment national markets, social networks and social communities have radically changed our ability to target social markets.

Think Communities, Triggers, and Passions

 Social networks are formed by consumers and businesses based on identified needs and desires.  They form regardless of our marketing and social activities and are created to fulfill some type of need.  While these communities have demographic dimensions, as a marketer I don’t care if a SciFi buff is 17 , 37, or 74.  If I am selling SciFi books and memorabilia, I want to target all SciFi buffs.

Rather than start with demographics, we teach our Northwestern students to think in terms of the “forces” which create social communities – triggers and passions.

Trigger Events are a Key

When you are considering social targets, the first question I recommend you answer is “what triggers a person [consumer or business] to action to begin considering your products and services.   It might be a specific life event – having a baby, getting married, graduating from schoolm etc – or a periodic event – tax time, new years, back to school, etc.  When these relevant trigger events occur, your prospects are likely to seek out community sites and begin search activities which predictable.  Identify where they will go and what they will search for and you can build a social marketing strategy to make them your customers. 

Passions are also important

While trigger events identify when a less interested person will trigger into action to consider your products and services, there are also people who are always in the market.  We call these the passion markets at Northwestern.  People who are passionate about a social topic – fashion, sports, politics, etc – are always looking for the new and trendy.  They are the ones who will tell others about your new products if it really excites them.  In creating our social marketing plans, we focus on the passion markets because these are often the people who are instrumental in taking your products viral.  They are heavily networked, aggressive in giving you their opinions, and active in blogging their point of view to your prospects.  These are the people who will likely read your blog aggressively and tell others about it if they like it.

Things you can do

Here are some recommended actions you can take to develop personas to drive your communications:

  1. Identify your trigger and passion markets – There are statistical ways we can do this but your market experience is often a great place to start.  From your experience, what are the events that trigger prospects to action.
  2. Learn what they do when triggered – Where do they go for expertise?  What search terms do they use?  Who are the influentials in their social space?  At Marketing Synergy, we created the Social EKG to quickly and effectively answer these questions.  If you know where they are going, you can intercept them and make them more likely to consider your solutions to their needs.
  3. Develop your social marketing strategy – Finally, develop a social marketing strategy to “be there” when they are actively seeking solutions.  This strategy should include a mix of social and traditional integrated marketing elements to reach out to influencers, social communities, and social news aggregator sites to show the social community your expertise and ability to address their triggered or passion needs.

By better understanding what moves your prospects to market – regardless of their demographics – you can better develop your communication, blog, and social marketing strategies.  To see more on how this is done, visit my social marketing page.  Also, please sign up for my blog to receive future article on social marketing with bottom line ROI, social monitoring, and social media.

Finally, let me know what you think of this blog article.  Always interested in your comments and views. 

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.


SOPA – It’s like Deja Vu all over again

social marketing casey stengel

Casey Stengel "It's like Deja Vu all over again"

 If you have ever had the unfortunate circumstance to look at my photo, you will immediately notice two things.  One is that I am a marketer [because I said so] and that I am old.  This makes me an “old marketer” and allows me to tell brief but important stories from the past.  So, here comes one:

Just after the dinosaurs died out and I got my MBA, I was attracted to a new form of marketing called “Direct Marketing”.  While I was attracted to it because it was measurable, testable, and I could analyze and develop it, my bosses were primarily attracted to it because it was cheap, new to most propsects, effective and – did I mention cheap?  As a result, we mailed A LOT…I mean A LOT.  Like we mained millions evey month.  In fact, at one point we tried to develop a single campaign with 4 million prospects!  As I recall, we didn’t make it but we got close.  And this campaign was in addition to dozens of similar efforts we were excuting at the same time.

And why not?

We felt that everyone in the US would purchase from direct mail…if only we could get them the righ prodct and make an attractive offer.  And, because there were no laws governing it, we pursued our goals of direct mailing everyone we coule because we were oncinved it would work.

As direct marketing grew, consumer [rightly] grew tired of this intrusive form of marketing.  Even though we in the industry sensed this backlash [all you had to do was listen to people calling our call center], we did little to help them.  Further, our major associations also avoided the issue.  They fought any attempt to monitor direct mail and, for the most part, viewed any governmental action as negative.  We fought it for as long as we could … to our detriment.  Consumers began calling it “junk mail” and they were right.

The SAME THING happened with telemarketing and emails.  Each time, the industry paid scant attention to consumer and givernmental interests and failed to lead in addressing key concerns.

This brings us to SOPA

History is repeating itself.  As marketing and business managers, we need to:

  1. Get educated on SOPA and its implications for your business – I posted some great videos and links as have others.  Find out the broad reaching powers it grants to government and its impact on you
    1. Here is a great article from Forbes with several great SOPA options 
    2. Another one from gizmodo
  2. Better understand the issues & [more importantly] the nature of the problem – While I agree copyright & intellectual property rights are important, if most of the problem is overseas, then punishing US citizens is not the solution.  It is just a loss of rights and freedoms.  I encourage you to understand where the problem is and determine if the SOPA solution, no matter how it is re-written, is the right solution.
  3. Get in touch with your representatives in Washington –  The law is currently being re-written.  Tell them your concerns about the current plan and how we should manage the internet to punish those who break existing laws which leaving most of us alone.

Now is the time for action…before someone in Washington does it for you.  Thanks