Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Own the Right Conversation

“If you sell pens, don’t try to own the online conversation around pens – own the conversation around writing.”

That bit of wisdom was one of many shared by Don Roedner, Director of Marketing at Pluck, at Smarter Commerce Global Summit. The event ended over a week ago but the lessons keep coming. While perhaps lacking the technological wow factor of the Watson session I wrote about last week, Roedner’s talk, “The Architecture of an Immersive Social Commerce Experience,” was one of those sessions that I’ve found my thoughts returning to again and again in the days since Tampa.

Roedner began by speaking about the misappropriation of the term “social commerce” by companies who define it as doing nothing more than putting ratings and reviews on their website. He then devoted the rest of his session to drawing out the more ambitious goals and broader benefits of social commerce. Among the benefits: “Social commerce helps you deliver an experience consumers can't get anywhere else.” “Social commerce helps you identify your influencers and leverage their enthusiasm.” “Social commerce helps you own the online conversation about topics that fuel your brand.”

That last one led to the pens example. To know which conversation you want to own, however, you have to understand your customer. You must know what they are interested in, what they are passionate about, what they are already talking about.

Roedner gave another example: A sporting equipment company that targets high school athletes didn’t see the value of community on their ecommerce site because they didn’t believe that elite high school athletes would interact with each other online. They just couldn’t imagine adolescent males engaging in online conversation outside of their own Facebook pages.

It took Roedner mere minutes to find half a dozen heavily trafficked forums dedicated to high school baseball, where the overwhelming majority of participants was high school ballplayers. Most of the users weren’t talking about ball gloves and cleats, though; they were talking about life issues and aspirations.

Not only did Roedner show that elite athletes are as likely as anyone to get emotionally invested in topics that surround the retailer’s business, he also showed the retailer that it could reasonably have aspired to own those conversations by setting up a community site. The company wouldn’t have to try to sell to users on the site. It was enough to bring the community together and be seen as an authority on the topics that interested the customers. The company would reap plenty of benefits from the brand credibility and authenticity that would follow.

Today of course we have plenty of data that can tell us exactly what target audiences and even individuals are passionate about. Companies can tap into this knowledge to have meaningful interactions with their audiences at every point of the customer journey. In the process the companies will earn customers’ trust, their return visits, and ultimately their loyalty. The results will be measurable and profound.

If you’d like to learn more, check out these social commerce blogs from Roedner’s colleague at Pluck, John Mattingly:

from Social Business Insights Blog


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's your "a-ha" moment?

A few weeks ago, I attended IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit’s Super Women’s Group Networking Panel and Luncheon, and had the opportunity to immerse myself in pure #girlpower.

Moderated by IBM Vice President Maria Winans, the lively discussion rang true to the themes of the Super Women’s Group: Connect, Collaborate, and Achieve. The panelists featured distinguished women in technology sharing stories of how they made moments matter in their careers, with lots of impactful advice shared on how to recognize these “a-ha” moments, and turn them into meaningful opportunities. This event embodied what I love most about Super Women’s Group events.


The panelists and moderator all shared very human stories, featuring those “a-ha” career moments. These are the moments that tend to open the door to new opportunities for us – whether you realize that’s happening in the moment or not. It’s what truly defines those “moments that matter……most.”

For example, Sally Hogshead, author of FASCINATE: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, talked about how, when faced with a personal health crisis, she had to pass on a career-defining opportunity while she was still very young. What happened next, she said, was an onslaught of “opened doors” that paved the way for her to launch a very successful career. Sally had spoken earlier that day during the General Session on how to persuade and captivate your audience, and she did just that with this very touching personal story, bringing to light my #1 favorite thing about Super Women’s Group events: It gets real.

Also on the panel was Jo Kendrick, Marketing Director at Homebase. Jo shared with us how her very unconventional background laid the foundation for her “outside the box” approach to innovative marketing that is creating meaningful customer-centric experiences at Homebase. She made history by becoming one of the first women to join Great Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). At that time, the RAF did not allow women to become pilots, so she went into marketing. Jo went on to head up marketing at Homebase, leading the successful campaign “Make Your House Your Home.” Her story of transforming a “life happens” moment into a career opportunity drove home my #2 favorite thing about Super Women’s Group events: How to turn a defining life moment into a career opportunity.

We also heard from Yvonne Genovese, Managing VP at Gartner, who has had an amazing and diverse career that fuses together her engineering background with multi-disciplinary marketing roles. At Gartner, Yvonne and her team focus on sharing insights on digital marketing essentials for CMOs, emphasizing data-driven strategies. She spoke on the importance of seizing any and all opportunities that come your way, even if you don’t immediately see how to connect the dots.

Maria Winans did a fantastic job of moderating this panel discussion, infusing upbeat energy into the room and providing the perfect environment that both engaged and encouraged the audience to share their stories.

Which brings me to my #3 favorite thing about Super Women’s Group events: Never stop “paying it forward.” I left the room so energized to keep the discussion and interaction going with other women that I signed up for the next big Super Women’s Group event: A Roadmap to Leadership: Discussion of How Great Women Lead by Bonnie St. John, hosted by the Women in Finance Community. Bonnie is a former Olympic medalist, White House advisor, and even IBMer, and she’ll be joining us at IBM Yorktown on May 28, 2014 at 2:00PM – 3:00PM EDT, to discuss her latest book and do a 30-minute book signing session.

In the spirit of “paying it forward,” you can sign up here to watch the livestream, or attend in person if you are located in the New York area.

from Social Business Insights Blog


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Procurement Gets Social with Suppliers

Throw away your Conan hammer! That’s the advice Jason Busch of Azul Partners and Spend Matters gave to procurement professionals at the 2014 Smarter Commerce Global Summit. His point: you can’t beat suppliers over the head to get what you want. Not that was ever an effective practice, of course, but that didn’t stop many in procurement from resorting to it.

Today’s business environment calls for a gentler, kinder relationship with suppliers. That’s not because we’re all more in touch with our feelings in this modern era, it’s because we have the social tools to make a new way of working together possible – and not just possible, but necessary.

Procurement workers and suppliers are now able to put social tools to use in order to collaborate earlier and more closely. This gives them the opportunity to reinvent the relationship and discover new information together. Busch gave an example: under the old model, procurement might say, “Our goal is to reduce costs three percent. We can work with you on that but that’s what’s expected of you.” Today, procurement should instead ask, “How can we drive innovation together in new ways, and what systems will enable that?” The cost reductions will follow.

The benefits will accrue throughout the length and breadth of the procurement-supplier relationship, whether when working on design, changing specifications, or adjusting service levels based on business needs. There's no longer any reason to resort to the hammer. Busch said procurement pros shouldn’t even keep the hammer as a backup – just throw it out. Conan might disagree, but then he wasn’t wielding today’s powerful social business tools.

from Social Business Insights Blog