Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

The Right Hand Needs To Talk To The Left Hand

In corporate culture we have dozens if not hundreds of “sayings” that are supposed to demonstrate to employees how simple business is. For example, the left hand needs to be talking to the right hand. Makes sense, right?

Ok, well I love when we see great examples of the right hand clearly not talking to the left hand. Ever since I was working at ConAgra Foods I’ve had my eye on Del Monte. Recently, they’ve been in the news quite a lot. On May 18th, Doug Chavez, the Senior Manager for Digital Media at Del Monte participated in a simulated contest at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Social Media Conference. The simulation enabled “sellers” like John Battelle to pitch a “buyer” like Chavez with ideas that leveraged Social Media.

As you all know, I’m not a digital evangelist. In fact I’m more of a realist. I’m the guy who tells people, “hey it’s great that you like twitter, but it doesn’t fit for this project.” But, I’ve also been around long enough to be forward looking. I was amazed at Chavez’s response to the proposals and social media in general. Specifically, here’s what he said:

“How we pulse (social) media though the year and how we track that is a challenge for us, because at the end of the day, what did you do for market share — what did you do for sales volume?”

I could go on and on about how you can’t PULSE social media, but that’s a conversation for a different day.

Look, I’m all for ROI. When you’re client side you hear a lot about ROI and in digital you hear about it every day.  Thankfully, I was fortunate enough work for Joan Chow at ConAgra Foods. She introduced the concept of ROMO, the return on marketing objective. Sometimes things are about the marketing objective. For example brand awareness is a marketing objective not a sales one. In theory higher awareness leads to sales, but not always.

Perhaps my favorite example of a company starting out with a ROMO plan that ultimately become a huge ROI story was Nike’s Live Strong brand. The goal of live strong was not to make a profit it was to raise awareness about cancer and Lance Armstrong’s support for cancer research. Suffice it to say, Live Strong evolved into a massive worldwide movement.

If all you care about are immediate sales, just drop a bunch of FSIs. Companies have been doing this for years.  But, that’s not the answer either.  According to Chavez, he doesn’t really care for the coupon. He stated, “How do you go from someone just getting a coupon to go beyond that and becoming a brand loyalist?”

Great question. We all want loyalty. It’s the holy grail of marketing. Oddly enough, Del Monte is leveraging social media to make this happen. At the very same conference, but at a different event, Josh Bernoff, of Forrester and author of Groundswell shared how Del Monte tapped into social media to drive the development of a new product. Check out the 3 minute video here.

Del Monte, crowd sourced the development of a new product.  Brilliant.  They created a community for dog lovers. The community become a great real time focus group.  Through that community they were able to source feedback and give the people what they want.  That’s how you get from social media investment, to awareness, to sales, to loyalty.

This is also a case of the  left hand not talking to the right hand. We have one person at Del Monte seemingly opposed to social media, while we have another group fired up and getting involved.

I point this out, not to make fun, chastise, or to be mean. Quite the contrary. This situation is exactly the type of disconnect taking place at companies (client side and agencies) across the world. With one hand we’re demanding results from a concept that’s less than 18 months old. And with the other hand we’re investing, because we see potential and realize if we don’t invest now, it’ll be too costly to play catch up later.

Buying into social media is as much a cultural shift for companies as it is a marketing shift. These two examples from the same conference highlight we still have a long way to go.

Please note, I did not attend the IAB’s conference in person. The quotes from Doug Chavez come directly from MediaPost’s coverage of the event here.