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Marketing Maven at SES: Forget Viral, Forget ROI, Forget Fear

Marketing Maven at SES: Forget Viral, Forget ROI, Forget Fear

Companies that want to create a valuable social media strategy should forget about trying to score the next great viral video and instead focus on listening to customers and building a community. That was the message of former Kodak CMO Jeffrey W. Hayzlett at the SES Conference and Expo Tuesday. Also: Forget about ROI, and check your fear at the door.

By Richard Adhikari
08/17/10 2:02 PM PT

Community building is the key to successful social media marketing, Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, the former chief marketing officer at Eastman Kodak, told an audience at the SES Conference and Expo in San Francisco on Tuesday.

"You want to build hearts and minds, not eyeballs and ears," he said in the opening keynote speech at the event, which runs through Thursday.

"Social media is not a destination, it's a tool," said Hayzlett, who is also the author of The Mirror Test: Is Your Business Really Breathing?

Tackling the Social Media Conundrum

Forget about the latest techniques such as viral videos, Hayzlett added.

"A lot of people spend millions on a viral video and these never get it done," he pointed out. "What was the No. 1 viral video last year? 'Skating Babies' -- but only a handful of people remember that. It's a waste of time. You should spend time building your community."

The key to community building, and therefore social media marketing, is to listen to customers, Hayzlett said.

"We were the first company to hire a chief listening officer," Hayzlett said. "He acts like an air traffic controller -- he watches the conversations online and sends them to the appropriate people."

How to Listen

Listening to customers involves engaging them, educating them, exciting them and evangelizing.

"I want to engage with people online, I want to engage with communities," Hayzlett said. That involves responding to customer comments whether or not they are favorable.

Education comes next, but it flows from the customers to the enterprise.

"The community will educate you if you start listening," Hayzlett explained. "Someone suggested we add a mic jack to our Zi6 camera. We added it, and now it outsells the competition 10 to one."

The Zi6 is a pocket video camera listed at US$160 on Kodak's site.

"When you start to listen, people start to get excited," Hayzlett said. "And when they get excited they start to evangelize. This is the biggest use of other people's money I've seen in my life."

Listening shouldn't be limited to customer feedback only, Hayzlett pointed out.

"People are tired of dialing a company and pressing buttons, they want to be heard, they want to participate," he explained.

Le ROI est Mort

When companies spend thousands of dollars on social media marketing, how can they calculate the return on investment, or ROI?

Forget about ROI, Hayzlett advised his audience.

"Everybody talks about ROI on engagement," he said. "I don't know; when you tell me what the return on ignoring is, I'll tell you what the ROI is."

Don't Be Afraid

Enterprises should follow through on marketing ideas fearlessly, Hayzlett said.

When he decided to add the mic jack to Kodak's Zi6 camera, his staff asked whether he wanted to test the change before putting a camera equipped with the mic jack on the market.

"I said no; if you want to make a mistake, make a big one," he remarked.

Speed to market is critical, and is another component of fearlessness.

For example, when he decided to come up with a new name for the next generation of Zi pocket video cameras, he decided to hold a contest. Marketing staff suggested offering a week in Las Vegas and a photo of the winner on the new camera's box.

"I said that's fabulous, let's do it, and someone suggested we run it by the lawyers first. I asked, what's the fine?" Hayzlett said. "Let's say it would be $50,000. We pay that to the government, but we get a press release out of it and we're fighting for the people and we didn't have to pay an ad agency to come up with the name. So we tweeted the news out"

The contest drew 2 million entries, and Kodak paid a $300 fine.

"If you're going to do something, do it fast," Hayzlett said.

The final key to marketing is to identify your core competency and go with that.

"You have to tell yourself what it is you do and explain that to people," Hayzlett said.


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