Under new (brand) management

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Under new (brand) management
Under new (brand) management

Marketing executives are aware that their brands are no longer entirely under their supervision. Conversations and relationships among consumers are driving forces in determining the long-term health of their brands.

To sustain growth, product and brand managers must uncover what matters most to each consumer. At a recent conference, Unilever CMO Simon Clift has discussed how he will be challenging his marketing organization to communicate about the deeper issues facing their consumers. Marketing managers will also need to expand upon their traditional view of their consumers; they can no longer rely on individual attributes to paint an accurate picture of target customers.

So how can firms enhance their acquisition of customer insight? Marketers who traditionally turn to primary market research or vast customer databases to guide their marketing communications and tactics can now harness innovative ways to uncover fresh customer insight using social data. To enhance their understanding of community marketing, firms can deploy techniques like social media analysis and social network analysis (SNA) to uncover hidden treasures within public and private social marketing data sources.

Social media analysis applies advanced text analytics to public sites like blogs, news, and product review sites, enabling firms to track issues and sentiment related to their corporate image, brand, and product features. Leading marketers, research firms and agencies use these techniques to uncover topics that are important to a targeted consumer group and then focus programs toward refined surveys and consumer outreach programs. For instance, Dell Computer uses its own social community, IdeaStorm, to evaluate new product ideas and to uncover issues that its customers have across a series of categories, including customer service and product options.

With SNA, marketers are able to refine customer segments using intelligence gleaned from transactional data, particularly across wireless communications, online messaging, and social networks. By considering more than just individual attributes like age, income and credit score, analytical marketers may now incorporate relative attributes like social roles and relationship status. The resulting customer segmentation scheme yields “hyper-targets,” ensuring that value propositions, products, and offers are relevant across multiple consumer dimensions, including community affiliation. This sort of contextual marketing, common in online advertising, is now integrated with more direct forms of communication like e-mail marketing and direct mail.

For example, a leading wireless telecommunications firm applied SNA to their database of call detail records - phone calls, text messages and “m-commerce” transactions - for each subscriber. Their analysis identified specific social networks and designated roles that describe a subscriber's influence in the network. The “leader” role has more influence over how other subscribers utilize the network and, thus, has more value to the firm. By monitoring networks over time, telecommunications marketers can predict when “followers” become “leaders” and reveal a more accurate picture of customer lifetime value. They also learn how new products or services get adopted within certain networks, leading to improved marketing and revenue performance.

Today's marketers are faced with an increasingly complex environment in which to communicate their value proposition to consumers. The viral influence of word-of-mouth amidst countless choices among media and marketing tactics dictate that marketers must find new innovative ways to uncover customer insight. With social media and social network analysis, marketers can translate improved targeting into lower cost communications that yield more profitable responses; that is something every CMO can stand behind.


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