A brand by any other name… is not a brand!

brandsjarWe all love Shakespeare’s romantic lament, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Yes, true, but a brand by any other name, not so much! But I digress and will return to this metaphor later. So what better way to discuss branding than to see what some of the world’s greatest brands’ creators/owners/managers have to say about the subject? As a business school graduate (Columbia Business School, Class of 1991), I would like to begin with a trip down memory lane and pay obeisance to Kellogg Professor Philip Kotler, whose Marketing Management 101 branding principle still resonates:

“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”

It should come as no surprise then that the name behind the world famous Trump brand, which everyone knows is far from a low-cost one, is often credited for saying, “If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity.” That adaptation of Kotler’s quote just seemed to fit “the Donald” better – he plays it like his “Trump card,” if you will?

Foremost among The Marketing Id’s lessons in communications… “the medium is the message” stands out! Wikipedia has this to say about the subject, “‘The medium is the message’ is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” Kotler’s message somehow seemed to embed itself in Donald Trump and it is now generally perceived as his. Such is the power of the brand.

Jeff Bezos, creator of that monster Internet brand, Amazon is quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Again, true, but your brand is also what some people don’t say about you – because of any or all of the fear, power, monopoly, etc. associated with your brand. Just maybe, Amazon is turning into a “bully brand” as its recent clashes with eBook publishers seem to indicate? Per a recent CNet report, “The back and forth with Hachette may have damaged Amazon’s public image, said BCG analyst Colin Gillis. ‘People associate with authors,’ he said. ‘It’s good that it was resolved, but we’ll see if hardcore readers see Amazon in a different light.’”   Amazon must realize that when your supply chain issues start adversely impacting your customer, your brand starts getting impacted as well.

Mark Cuban, my favorite entrepreneur on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” provides this wise counsel, “Focus on building the best possible business. If you are great, people will notice and opportunities will appear.” This is especially true when it comes to brand building, which is an adjunct to building the business; it is a labor of love that accumulates over time. There are simply no short cuts to building a good and sustainable brand name – it takes a lot of time and effort, no matter what.

Then there are brands that get cultivated over time due to a business enterprise’s performance and growth, but are subsequently sustained more on the business owner’s personality and reputation. The aforementioned Trump brand is a classic example. However, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of both, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, is a better example of a personality-driven brand in this regard. It used to be almost impossible to find any news item for the old News Corporation that was not preceded by Mr. Murdoch’s name, as in, “Murdoch’s News Corp.” So much so, that Mr. Rupert Murdoch himself has said, “For better or for worse, our company is a reflection of my thinking, my character, my values.” The caveat, of course, is will the brand endure once the personality is no longer associated with the business?

The answer to that question might lie in Starbucks, the company that made premium priced coffee a ubiquitous brand. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld often joked about its “Four Bucks” brand of coffee that was pioneered by Chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, a strong personality but one who professed a simple philosophy, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” Mr. Schultz sure got that right because there are no fiercely loyal customers that are more faithful than Starbucks customers, of which yours truly happens to be one. As that wise old sage, Warren Buffett, remarked, “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” Starbucks has been getting my business almost exclusively for over fifteen years, as it clearly does from millions of other loyal customers.

For The Marketing Id’s final thoughts on brand, I would like to quote British fashion designer, Ozwald Boateng, who had the best take on what really makes a brand, “You can’t have style if you don’t have substance.” That says it all, but I must return to how I began this dissertation on branding. My article is titled, “A brand by any other name… is not a brand!” for a good reason. It harks back to The Coca-Cola Company’s infamous, albeit, short-lived 1985 effort to rebrand its signature “Coke” as a “new Coke” that included a change (yes, in substance and style) in its 99-year old formula. The new Coke brand failed miserably, even though “A Coke by any other name, New Coke, tasted even sweeter!” The company learned very quickly (79 days, to be precise) that its established Coke brand just did not translate to another brand name – old, in this case, was truly gold – and Coca-Cola classic has since endured. Purists might argue that Coca Cola classic was a rebranding as well, but in the customer’s mind it was a return to the old brand (and its proven 99-year old formula), which is what really mattered. This goes back to Mr. Boateng’s point about substance – Coca Cola went back to the substance that had made the Coke brand so stylish.

All that said many iconic brand names have disappeared over the years as Fortune magazine reminds us in this recent article. At the end of the day, a business may die but its associated brand name can live on in our memories forever – such is the power of a brand!

About these ads

The War on Cyber Terror—the Future of Business Depends on the Business of the Future!

Back in December 2013, Steve Durbin, global vice-president of the Information Security Forum (ISF), outlined the top security threats for 2014, which The Marketing Id has paraphrased below:

 

  1. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trends in the workplace – As BYOD mobile devices proliferate in the workplace, businesses of all sizes will see further information security risks being exploited.
  2. Data privacy in the cloud – All organizations transferring information on individuals into the cloud must know whether it is personally identifiable information (PII) and therefore needs adequate protection.
  3. Reputational damage – Since attackers have become more organized, attacks have become more sophisticated, and all threats are more dangerous, an organization’s reputation is at more risk.
  4. Privacy and regulation – Organizations need to treat privacy as both a compliance and business risk issue to reduce regulatory sanctions and commercial impacts, such as reputational damage and loss of customers due to privacy breaches.
  5. Cyber crime – Cyber space is an increasingly attractive hunting ground for criminals, activists and terrorists motivated to make money, get noticed, cause disruption or even bring down corporations and governments through online attacks.
  6. The Internet of things (IoT) – The rise of objects that connect themselves to the Internet is causing a surge of new opportunities for data gathering, predictive analytics and IT automation. As IoT escalates, companies must continue to build security through communication and interoperability.

 

While threats 1 and 6 have not yet had a major visible or publicized impact in the commercial B2B or B2C space, threats 2 through 5 in part or combined together have already caused the CEO of Target to be fired. Breaches to cybersecurity, one of the key components in The Marketing Id’s definition of the E=MC5 social enterprise, are turning out to be a serious and potentially catastrophic threat to the global Internet-based business ecosystem.

 

In fact in its May 2014 announcement, the Justice Department said it had indicted “five Chinese military hackers for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries” thus affirming that state-sponsored cybersecurity breaches had crossed a critical threshold in our nation’s economic and technological landscape.

 

In his May 28, 2014 interview with NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams, America’s most famous fugitive, Edward Snowden, said, “The definition of a security state is one that prioritizes security over all other considerations.” It was ironical coming from a man, who as a contractor to the NSA – arguably the world’s premier security organization – caused it to appear instead like a very “Non Secure Agency” when he stole and took off with millions of its classified documents in May 2013.

 

So it’s only fair to ask, “If our nation’s top security agency can have its network breached by an insider, who can then access and download millions of classified documents without raising any undue alarms, then what expectations should private companies have about cybersecurity as they conduct their daily business over a very public Internet?”

 

It’s no wonder that Ted Schlein, a general partner with the venture capitalist firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, made a Rumsfeld-like observation in his May 31, 2014 article, “The Five Tough Truths Of Cybersecurity Software,” about the state of cybersecurity in the business world today. It was former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who gave us the concept of “known knowns” and “known unknowns” – and Mr. Schlein noted accordingly in his article that there are “two types of companies: those that know they’ve been breached, and those that haven’t figured it out yet.”

 

So Mr. Schlein seemed to suggest that every business enterprise is more or less dealing with that most sensitive of C’s – cybersecurity – either as a known known or as a known unknown? In his article, Mr. Schlein offered this humbling fact, “The game is no longer about prevention; it’s about detection. The average length of time it takes for an advanced persistent threat to be detected on a corporate network is now an alarming 229 days.”  Mr. Schlein went on to lament:

 

“Rather than simply erecting thicker walls to fend off intruders, which becomes increasingly impractical in highly distributed cloud-based architectures, we need to encrypt the data that attackers want. You need to encrypt data all the way to the browser, and the browser itself has to be 100 percent authenticated. But you have to hide the complexity. The whole thing needs to be seamless.”

 

Google, which has been at the forefront of technological innovation, announced on June 3, 2014, it would start providing end-to-end encryption for its Gmail service via an extension to its Chrome browser. This is just a small step at the start of a long and winding road towards cybersecurity nirvana as BYOD, HTML5, IoT and PII issues have not really begun to make a significant dent into the E=MC5 enterprise.   Nonetheless, a cloud-based network is only as secure as its weakest link, which today randomly pops up largely at its fuzzy edge – where unknown devices constantly attempt to gain access to a targeted network.

 

If an unknown edge device (a.k.a. an advanced persistent threat or APT) can be rapidly detected – Mr. Schlein says “We need to get that down to 24 hours — or one hour” – the cybersecurity battle is half won. The challenge is then going to be in winning the other half of the battle, which is to rapidly contain potential damage caused by an unknown edge device or APT that might have compromised an E=MC5 enterprise’s network. Meanwhile, cybersecurity efforts in the B2X space continue largely as individual, asynchronous and reactionary efforts. The corporate world needs to come together (yes, through collaboration and communication) and institute preemptive measures akin to a “war on cyber terror” — as the future of business depends on how securely we conduct the business of the future!

Market the Cloud; Don’t Cloud the Market!

“The Cloud” is one of the principal Cs of The Marketing Id’s E=MC5 theory of connectivity, which states that a social Enterprise must support Mobility, Cloud-based Communications, Cyber-security, Collaboration & Content.  While the other Cs seem to be more easily understood, there appears to be some confusion regarding “the Cloud?”  The Marketing Id believes that as a branding reference, “the Cloud” probably suffers from varying perceptions of mood (gloomy) and color (gray).  Most people eventually want weather clouds to clear and sunlight to stream in.  So we thought it might help to let some sunlight in to what we know as “the Cloud” in the business world!

To be objective and thorough, The Marketing Id will analyze this perception problem from both, the provider and user (i.e., customer) viewpoints of “the Cloud.”

From a provider perspective, The Marketing Id was intrigued by a November 2012 publication, “BVP Top 10 Laws of Cloud Computing 2012,” in which, Bessemer Venture Partners posits that cloud computing providers must adhere to the following ten laws in order to succeed:

  1. Drink Your Own Champagne
  2. Build for the Doer, Build Employee Software
  3. Death of the suite; long live best-of-breed and even best-of-feature
  4. Grow or Die
  5. Play moneyball in the cloud, and check the scoreboard with the 5 Cs of Cloud Finance
  6. Build the Revenue Engine, and only invest aggressively if you have a short CAC Payback Period
  7. Make online sales and marketing a core competency
  8. The most important part of Software-as-a-Service isn’t “Software” it’s “Service”
  9. Culture is key as you build your dream team
  10. Cash is (still) king – Cloudonomics requires that you focus on cash flow above operating profits, and plan your fuel stops very carefully

While each one of their Top 10 laws is compelling and elaborated upon in the BVP paper, The Marketing Id would like to focus on a couple of the laws.  Law #5 suggests that a provider needs to “play moneyball in the cloud” by focusing on five specific financial Cs.  The relevant paragraph from BVP’s Law #5 states:

“After surveying hundreds of leading public and private Cloud Computing companies, 5 key “C” metrics now rise above the others as essential top level performance indicators: CMRR, Cash Flow, CAC, CLTV, and Churn.”

Thus, a successful cloud services provider must be concerned with Committed Monthly Recurring Revenue (which is MRR minus the churn) as opposed to Total Contract Value or Annual Contract Value, both of which are often manipulated by sales to their advantage.  BVP also provides a detailed discussion on their other 4Cs, which makes for a worthy read.

BVP’s Law#7 is a natural for The Marketing Id to highlight as it simply suggests, “make online sales and marketing a core competency.”  We couldn’t agree more.  In fact, their opening statement seals the deal as far as The Marketing Id is concerned:

“You’re a cloud business, so by definition, your sales prospects are all online. Savvy online sales and marketing is a core competency (sometimes the only one) of every successful cloud business.”

BVP then goes on to criticize some of the B2B leaders in the cloud business:

“The most innovative B2C companies are lead generation machines, leveraging social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), viral marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and other technically-advanced methods. Yet many B2B companies don’t have a clue. The incumbent technology leaders like IBM, Oracle, and SAP have done very little in online marketing, and thus have given their smaller challengers a huge opportunity.”

So while B2B cloud services providers have some work to do, cloud services users (i.e., customers) also seem to have a “cloudy” vision when it comes to their understanding of how best to match their needs with the benefits and value offered by these services.  Accordingly, from a user/customer perspective, The Marketing Id found a June 2013 Forbes magazine article, “The Top 10 Myths About Cloud Computing,” by Bob Evans, Senior Vice President, Communications at Oracle, pertinent and useful.  Mr. Evans disavows the top ten myths (listed below) that dog cloud computing:

  • Myth #1: Public cloud is the only true cloud.
  • Myth #2: You’re either in the cloud or not.
  • Myth #3: Clouds are one-size-fits-all.
  • Myth #4: There’s no difference between virtualization and the cloud.
  • Myth #5: Clouds only run on commodity components.
  • Myth #6: Cloud will lock you in.
  • Myth #7: Cloud is about pay-per-use.
  • Myth #8: Public clouds are still not secure.
  • Myth #9: I need multiple clouds to run my business.
  • Myth #10: The biggest benefit of cloud computing is lower costs.

Again, while each one of these myths is certainly worthy of discussion, The Marketing Id will focus on a couple while encouraging our patrons to read the original article.  Myth #3: Clouds are one-size-fits-all is apparently a prevailing myth that probably has its roots in the B2C user base.  Most B2C users avail of online services from Amazon to Zynga without knowing or caring that they are, in fact, cloud services.  The average Joe simply sees these as a part of his regular online activities and because his experience doesn’t differ much from one cloud client to another, would probably think of any one of them as a “one-size-fits-all” service?

However, in the B2B world, a one-size-fits-all cloud services offering is a non-starter.  Because, as Mr. Evans explains, B2B users/customers require and have a wide range of options available to them.  First, they can choose from different deployment models, namely, public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.  Then they have a choice of basic service models, such as, Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  Wikipedia (see their diagrams below) notes that these have been further expanded in recent years to include:

“Other key components in anything as a service (XaaS) are described in a comprehensive taxonomy model published in 2009, such as Strategy-as-a-Service, Collaboration-as-a-Service, Business Process-as-a-Service, Database-as-a-Service, etc.  In 2012, network as a service (NaaS) and communication as a service (CaaS) were officially included by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) as part of the basic cloud computing models, recognized service categories of a telecommunication-centric cloud ecosystem.”

Cloud_computing_layers

Cloud_computing_types

Diagrams – courtesy of Wikipedia’s “Cloud computing” article

Mr. Evans also suggests different operating models for a cloud solution, wherein the:

  • customer owns and operates it;
  • cloud provider owns and operates it; or,
  • customer owns the solution but the provider operates it.

Thus, it is pretty clear that in the B2B world one size does not fit all and there is a cloud computing solution that fits the varying needs of every business from a startups to a SMB to a large enterprise.

Finally, The Marketing Id would like to briefly mention Myth #8: Public clouds are still not secure.  Since Cyber-security is another principal C of the social Enterprise, we would like to cover it in a separate post in the future.  However, it is important to dispel this myth surrounding public clouds not being secure.  Nothing can be further from the truth on the B2B side of the public cloud infrastructure.  As Mr. Evans points out that public security providers have at least the following:

  • a dedicated team of cloud security experts,
  • processes that ensure full compliance with regulatory, and industry standards,
  • regularly scheduled third-party security audits, and,
  • automatic updates for their hardware and software.

We would like to end this lengthy post by putting the ball in the B2B cloud services marketing court.  There are too many misconceptions and misrepresentations out there of what is broadly known as “the cloud.”  Moving to the cloud might not be simple, but it should be as structured, staged and seamless as possible.  In order for providers to get there, they should be factually marketing the cloud, not further clouding the market with myths!

Goldilocks and the Social Media Bear!

Juggling social media options is a bear!

Juggling social media options is a bear!

Every business – whether it’s small, medium or large and regardless it’s a B2B, B2C or B2G – either has or must have a stake in its brand to thrive.  In a recent post, “5 Mistakes You Might Be Making on Social Media,” SocialMouths seemed to indicate that brands are suffering from what The Marketing Id prefers to call an “anti-Goldilocks” problem, which is one that is likely to affect all manner of businesses, if they don’t get their social media act together.  In a nutshell, SocialMouths posits that every business should try to figure out if its social media marketing suffers from any of the following traits:

 

  • Ignoring social media completely
  • Thinking “Likes” = Sales
  • Talking More Than Listening
  • Being Inconsistent
  • Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

 

If your business is not guilty of violating any of these attributes, then it is more likely to follow the Goldilocks standard of social media activity – i.e., messaging/content that is neither too hot, nor too cold; target audience/frequency that is neither too big, nor too small; and a medium/platform that is neither too hard, nor too soft – one that happens to be all just right!

 

From a marketing communications perspective, social media is a collection of new, digital channels that still need to conform to time-tested marketing rules.  In our December 2011 post titled, “Six Counts That Make For a Successful CEO,” The Marketing Id had alluded to this very notion:

 

“As in politics, so too in the business world, public relations and marketing communications professionals can string the right words together into the right message to the right audience at the right time and tailored for the right medium!

 

Thus, any purposeful use of social media in the B2B, B2C and B2G worlds needs to subscribe to proven marketing principles.  In fact, in a recent Social Media Explorer post titled “5 Steps to Determine the Perfect Social Media Strategy,” these marketing rules were outlined in five simple steps as follows:

 

  • Define Your Goals
  • Identify Your Target Audience
  • Target the Appropriate Social Media Platforms
  • Define Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Core Topics
  • Create an Editorial Calendar

 

A non-purposeful, helter-skelter approach to social media use in the business world can do more harm than good and not just to the brand. So whether a business is promoting a webinar, or soliciting feedback on a product/service, or making an important announcement, or doing any one of the myriad activities impacting its revenue cycle – it needs to have a comprehensive social media plan that includes contingencies for ad hoc events.  Achieving the Goldilocks standard of social media activity might be the ideal, but the more a business plan adheres to it, the greater its rewards and the less of a bear social media becomes!

If the headline doesn’t tick, people won’t click!

Jeff Bullas, a social media marketing guru, recently wrote a wonderful blog titled “How A Great Title Got Me A Link From The New York Times.”  The Marketing Id subsequently tweeted about it and as is customary included a link to Jeff’s post at the end of our tweet, which read as follows:

“If the headline doesn’t tick, people won’t click–as the saying goes, ‘well begun is half done!’”

In our February 2012 post, “Five i-Factors That Can Ensure Every Business Tweet Counts,” The Marketing Id had posited the following:

“In the B2B world, Twitter has the potential of becoming the launching pad of choice for all sorts of business communications beyond traditional PR and marketing to include sales, financial, engineering, operations, customer relationship management, et al.  Given the fact that a tweet can be used to initiate several different types of business communications, never has a tweet’s 140 characters seemed more valuable to the enterprise.”

However, in then going on to elaborate a tweet’s business purpose, in the wake of its, what we called, an “‘I’ journey from Interrupt to Inquire,” The Marketing Id failed to emphasize the significance of the “headline” aspects of a tweet in that blog post.  We highlighted the importance of classical AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) principles in constructing a tweet by saying:

“It is vitally important to remember that the very first purpose of a tweet is to interrupt a follower’s thought processes.”

Nonetheless, we had neglected to mention the role of a catchy headline in capturing attention and the afore-mentioned Bullas post reminded us how critical this can be to cause a click-through as well as earn a favorable link in a prestigious publication just like Bullas did.

So as an experiential exercise, The Marketing Id went back and checked its tweets (@MahaTweeter) from the past couple of months to see if they offered more attention-grabbing “headline” material than the titles of the original articles that each of our tweets were actually promoting or linking to.  While The Marketing Id recognizes that mainstream business publications tend to be conservative with their story/article headlines, we nonetheless believe that these stories/articles should be promoted via Twitter with more “i-catching,” i.e., clickable, headlines.  This is becoming an imperative for traditional and online content providers, who want to gain/maintain readership within the new digital media content publishing/distribution paradigm.

So below we offer five examples of actual unedited tweets that The Marketing Id recently sent out to promote marketing items of interest:

  1. On September 3rd, Forbes published an article titled “Winners And Losers In The Microsoft Nokia Deal.”  The Marketing Id tweeted about this story and included an embedded link to their full article as follows:
  2. $MSFT MyPhone strategy–buys $NOK to replicate $AAPL $GOOG success–too much, too little, too late? http://onforb.es/19fk196

  3. On August 12th, The Wall Street Journal headlined an article with BlackBerry Puts Itself Up for Sale.” Here’s how The Marketing Id promoted this revelation and included an embedded link to WSJ’s complete story:
  4. $BBRY tried a name change, but brand had already been tarnished–lesson for marketers, you snooze, you lose! http://on.wsj.com/14GWv7e

  5. On July 24th, Forbes published an article titled “Mark Zuckerberg Says Teenagers Aren’t Leaving Facebook.” The next day we tweeted about this disclosure and included an embedded link to their full story as follows:
  6. Teenagers Aren’t Leaving Facebook… $FB is leaving teenagers!  Rents & rentals (ad space) are turning kids off! http://onforb.es/12k0uFw

  7. On July 4th, Bloomberg headlined “Yahoo to Buy Software Firm Xobni for About $70 Million.”  The Marketing Id’s tweet of the story highlighted Yahoo CEO’s buying binge as follows:
  8. In #socmed era a video is worth a 1000 pictures, so $YHOO makes a Qwiki acquisition–15th since CEO Mayer leaned in!  http://bloom.bg/13pLTYw

  9. On June 12th, Forbes announced “With Waze, Google Signals Arrival Of New Business Model.”  Here’s how we tweeted the story:

$GOOG realizes it takes a village–wades into #crowdsourcing space with WAZE acquisition–for real time Google Maps? http://onforb.es/11fh5ED

The moral of our lesson here is that even if an original article does not “nail the headline,” make sure your social media message does.  Whether it originates from Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, the message that subsequently plugs an article to your followers/readers must entice them to click-through and actually read it?  Because, quite simply, if the headline doesn’t tick, people won’t click!

Top 12 Reasons Why “A Comment is worth a thousand Likes.”

In the B2C world, social media marketers are constantly trying to calculate their true “Cost per Like.”  Back in November 2011 an EdgeRank Checker post titled “Comments 4x More Valuable Than Likes” stated the following:

“For every Like a Post gets, it received on average 3.1 Clicks. For every Comment a Post receives, it results on average 14.678 Clicks. This ultimately means that the more engagement your update receives, the more Clicks it will receive. What is interesting about this data is that a Comment results in roughly 4 times the amount of Clicks.”

More significantly, in October 2012 a DaylanDoes post titled “All About Facebook ‘Like’ Scam Posts” complained about how Likes were being abused:

“The Facebook Like algorithm is Facebook’s way of dictating if content is of any value to users. The more likes/shares/comments it gets, the more exposure to certain people it, and the profile it belongs to, will get both short term and long term.

 

All these metrics contribute to a users ‘EdgeRank’ – the score your profile is given that dictates how your page interacts with other profiles on Facebook.  The greater a page/profiles edge rank is, the more it will be exposed in people’s newsfeed. EdgeRank is the reason you see a lot of rubbish in your Facebook newsfeed these days. Certain people and pages have EdgeRank factors that Facebook have decided are relevant to you.”

More recently, in May 2013, a Yahoo News post titled “Facebook Scam Alert – What Really Happens When You ‘Like’” warned about a phenomenon called “Like Farming,” in which “Scammers Are Making Money Off Your Likes.”

These are probably some of the reasons why, in the B2B world, Likes do not hold much value.  In fact, long sales cycle B2Bs that provide high dollar value products/services hardly derive any tangible benefits from Likes.  To them, Likes are at best an endorsement of their B2B brand.   These B2Bs are far better served by Comments.  And, they have good reason to be – because Comments in the B2B world usually mark the start of a critical awareness phase of the revenue cycle that is associated with their integrated sales and marketing funnel (see Figure 1 below).  For more on this revenue cycle read The Marketing Id’s post titled “Revenue Performance Management: Viva La Drucker!”  If the awareness phase is handled well and supplemented through use of a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), a Comment’s owner could be authentically entered into the B2B’s sales funnel.

REVENUE CYCLE ACROSS INTEGRATED SALES & MARKETING FUNNEL

REVENUE CYCLE ACROSS INTEGRATED SALES & MARKETING FUNNEL

FIGURE 1: REVENUE CYCLE ACROSS INTEGRATED SALES & MARKETING FUNNEL

In the old media world (i.e., the analog and pre-Internet era), the saying used to be “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  In the new media world (i.e., the digital and post-WWW age), YouTube quickly established that “A video is worth a thousand pictures.”  So in measuring the worthiness of inbound marketing impulses that are critical to the social media world and MAP metrics, The Marketing Id would like (no pun intended) to suggest, metaphorically, “A Comment is worth a thousand Likes.”  And, here are the Top 12 reasons why:

  1. Likes are primarily a B2C driver, Comments are more of a B2B feeder;
  2. Likes are typically anonymous, Comments are usually from a known entity;
  3. Likes actually reflect a passive sentiment, Comments suggest an active response;
  4. Likes originate with one lazy click, Comments are developed through a group of considered ones;
  5. Likes are often impulsive, Comments are mostly deliberate;
  6. Likes are quite unreliable, Comments are reasonably certain;
  7. Likes are simply akin to a thumbs up, Comments are more like all hands on deck;
  8. Likes are useful to just 1P (promotion) in the marketing mix, Comments are pertinent to all 4Ps in the marketing mix;
  9. Likes are basically a brand builder, Comments are more of a lead generator;
  10. Likes are associated with subject matter novices, Comments are related to subject matter experts/sleuths;
  11. Likes are invariably dubious suspects, Comments are targetable as likely prospects;
  12. Likes come at a variable cost; Comments are a probable revenue source!

While it might appear that The Marketing Id is not a fan of Likes, the truth is in the B2B domain even an unfavorable Comment is likely to provide more business value than a thousand Likes can?  So don’t hesitate to comment on this post!

Social Media in the B2B World – A “Social Enterprise” Requires E=MC5 Connectivity!

Jeff Bullas, a Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer on Forbes.com, recently wondered whether social media had reached a digital tipping point.  Jeff believes that social media, smartphones and search engine evolution are causing a paradigm shift in our digital landscape.  While Jeff’s prognostication might be true as far as smartphones and search engine evolution are concerned, I would posit that social media has some ways to go in this regard.

There is a simple reason that the recent Facebook IPO bombed–a billion, largely non-revenue generating subscribers do not make for a very attractive business model.  More importantly, most of the so-called successful social media companies such as Facebook, Groupon, Zynga, etc. have been operating pre-dominantly in the B2C (business-to-consumer) services domain.  The Internet consumer services segment is dominated by a largely young demographic, which has become used to a “free-is-good” culture.  Without advertising to generate revenues, most B2C social media services companies will find it hard to survive in the long term, which is barely a couple of years in Internet time.

Thus social media needs to make rapid inroads into the B2B (business-to-business) world, where businesses actually pay for services rendered.  In this regard, companies such as Salesforce.com have been pioneers in quickly integrating social media into the business environment, both B2B and B2C.  In fact, at last year’s Dreamforce 2011 conference, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, introduced the concept of the social enterprise.  In his keynote address, Marc very relevantly pondered, “Customers and employees are social.  Are enterprises social?”  He went on suggest that they were not social and wondered if there was a way to bridge this social divide between the enterprise and its employees and customers.

All that bridging Benioff’s social media divide required was the establishing of a value proposition that would be compelling to the enterprise. And, Mr. Benioff did so quite convincingly in his Dreamforce 2011 keynote.  He asserted that for an enterprise, delighting customers is knowing who they are and what they like–Facebook tells us what they like, Twitter tells us what they are saying and LinkedIn tells us who they are connected to?  So in order to become a “social enterprise,” a B2B needs to follow three steps–begin creating customer social profiles in its database, establish an employee social network and finally integrate these into customer and product social networks with the appropriate security and access provisions as required.

From a marketing standpoint, the social enterprise could become the Holy Grail for B2B marketers when it comes to sales enablement, demand generation and a truly integrated sales and marketing funnel– what revenue managers refer to as “one vision of the truth.”   With a customer relationship management (CRM)-integrated marketing automation platform, marketing to the social enterprise then becomes a collaborative, real-time exercise that ought to make it a delightful experience to customers, employees, partners, et al.

Finally, infrastructure is key for a social enterprise to function effectively in the world of social media. I have therefore previously proposed my own E=MC5 theory of connectivity, which states that a social Enterprise must provide Mobility, Cloud-based Communications, Cyber-security, Collaboration & Content.  Thus, for social media to make a successful foray into the B2B world, a business must necessarily meet this E=MC5 threshold and it does not have to be a business Einstein to make this connectivity happen!