The New Currency Of Successful Brands

CMR 2012

Analytics and measurement won’t get the job done. Passion makes a huge difference. Content excellence is the critical secret sauce for winning businesses!

Thursday, January 26th, I will have the privilege of providing the opening address to attendees of the second annual Content Marketing Retreat at the Center for New Media in Langley, Washington.

That’s more than a little ironic because I consider myself to be more of a student than a teacher on the topic. In fact, as critical as I know content excellence to be, I continue to assess and shift the thinking that will ultimately be embodied in the content direction and strategy that our company, PEMCO Insurance, embraces. 

Of the things that I am most certain there is one that stands out – one that I’m most passionate about. The voice of the customer will be at the heart of our success and content excellence, regardless of the source, must be embraced, encouraged, and enabled in order to consistently win in the marketplace.

Russell Sparkman, founder of Fusionspark Media and organizer of next weeks retreat, visited my office where we talked about a variety of topics expected to be addressed during the two day event. One that he asked me to give some thought to centers on executive leadership and support for newly emerging strategies. Here are some of the thoughts that I shared.

When it comes to gaining executive buy-in, what’s your “how to” advice for persuading senior management to embrace strategies involving word of mouth and content marketing?

Before attempting to persuade or convince senior management – and perhaps the most important advice that I could suggest – it is important to answer the following question with all the personal sincerity, honesty, and passion you can muster: “Do you believe that the voice of the customer is the new currency of successful brands? If you do, can you tell me why?” If you don’t or if you can’t, then you aren’t ready to enlist the support of your senior management.

Too many times, executives are approached with requests to support a change in direction by staff members who aren’t fully committed and passionate about the change that they’re requesting. That’s never a good way to start. An executive wants to receive more than the analytics of a recommendation. We want to feel the passion for the program from the leader who’s recommending it.

In my experience, the recommendations that not only come with a strong business case but are also fueled by passion have the greatest likelihood for success.Be aware, though, that even your passion isn’t enough. Be prepared to demonstrate the connection that word of mouth marketing, social engagement, and content excellence have with the company’s business model, vision, and strategic direction. If you’re suggesting a pilot program, be clear on the measures of success. If you’re suggesting a broad-based initiative, be clear about the collaboration that you’ve done and that will be required in order to realize the expected benefits.

Keep in mind that the ultimate success story will be one that’s bigger than marketing. While working on the development and implementation of our companies entry into word of mouth marketing and social engagement. it became clear to me that command and control was not an effective approach. Instead, our work would become the marketing departments “gift to the enterprise.” Success will be realized in your transformation to a socially engaged enterprise, one that listens to customers and is affected by what it hears. One that engages in the conversation, and enables employees, customers, and fans to create and share information on behalf of the company. The better you’re able to elevate the strategic outcome and have a well-thought-out road map for success, the more likely you’ll be to find an executive who’s willing to support your recommendation.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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