Archive for the 'Customer Networks' Category

Kate Spade New York: Innovating the 360° Experience

February 12, 2014

The Kate Spade signature experience is as bold and colorful as its brand. Its 2013 strategy proved to be ahead of the curve, offering an amalgamation of consumer interactions across all touchpoints for a unified 360° experience.

Last summer, Kate Spade New York created a unique way to bridge digital with the brick and mortar world, transforming “window shopping” from a figurative expression into a literal action.

For one month in New York City, four of its Kate Spade Saturday store locations turned their window displays into a 24/7 interactive adventure. It enabled shoppers to purchase that “must-have” piece in the window, from the window, via touchscreens. And shoppers could schedule that item to be delivered within one hour anywhere in the City (e.g. a last minute present delivered to a party you have to miss, that anniversary gift you forgot to buy for your wife… again).

Mary Beech, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, and upcoming BRITE ’14 speaker, refers to their decorative windows as “a little piece of theater.” “Our store windows are moments of whimsical storytelling that express our core values in every venue,” she explained at The Hub Live 2013 conference. “[T]here’s a sales goal related to these. But we have fun doing it.”

In true Kate Spade New York innovative style, the luxury retailer ran the first shoppable online video banner during the 2013 holiday season. See an item you like in the digital ad? Simply click and purchase. “The technology provided an immediate, seamless, shoppable element that enhanced the experience, rather than pulling you out of it,” Beech explains in an interview with Design Taxi.

Kate Spade Shoppable Banner Ad

Efforts are paying off. Kate Spade New York reported a 30% increase in comparable store sales for the 2013 fourth quarter, and a surge in last year’s stock price. Further, parent company Fifth & Pacific will be renamed to Kate Spade & Co. to focus singularly on the Kate Spade brand. The company recently trimmed 37 of its 40 brands and is soon to separate from Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand.

Beech notes that they’ve carefully identified complementary experiences to carry through different social media channels. Facebook is for customers seeking sales, product information, store openings, etc. Twitter offers the voice of the Kate Spade woman tweeting about local events and other delightful discoveries. Instagram paints a picture her story and NYC lifestyle through the use of images.

Kate Spade New York is fast becoming a trailblazer in the marketplace, developing unique ways to engage and even entertain its biggest and brightest fans by merging new technology with in-person interactions.

Join Beech at the BRITE ’14 conference (March 3-4, NYC) to learn more about the creative ways in which they’re keeping the brand both fashion and marketing-forward.


Investing in Unconventional Thinking

April 23, 2013

PJA Some of the best brand stories emerge from unconventional thinking, especially in a market environment where pure financial wins are harder and harder to come by. Big blue-chip companies are increasingly turning to less traditional methods for expanding brand awareness and affinity by adding a more “human” touch to their marketing efforts. At the BRITE ’13 conference, PJA Advertising + Marketing’s President Mike O’Toole led a panel of marketers from Intel and PepsiCo who have invested in just this type of thinking. Panel members relayed some unique brand-building tactics and how they’re positioning themselves for stronger relationships with current and future customers.

O’Toole, host of PJA Radio’s “The Unconventionals”, started the conversation by noting some of the common characteristics of outside-the-box approaches. In particular, he highlighted the long-term nature of these initiatives, saying, “There’s a sense that if you create experiences that your customer cares about, the goodness will accrue back to you over time.” He also notes that content-owned platforms, vs. external media sponsors, have become a popular tactic in recent years. Txchnologist, an online magazine created in partnership with and sponsored by GE, is one example. Populated by a network of freelance writers and reporters, Txchnologist articles and op-eds discuss technology and innovation’s impact on modern day society. Through this vehicle, GE is able to drive conversation in the space and strengthen its position as an industry thought leader.

Another approach is to provide an outlet or resource that allows consumers to relate better to, or learn from, a brand. Both Intel and PepsiCo have heavily relied on this strategy, lending to the success they’re now seeing nearly three years after kicking off their respective initiatives. Intel’s Creators Project was developed to support new and emerging artists in music, film and design. Run by Creative Director David Haroldsen, the Project produces videos, releases albums, and builds stages for bands, among other things – all in the hopes of showing younger generations how technology enables them to reach larger audiences and celebrate creative expression.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, dedicates about 10% of its digital media spend working with startups during their nascent stages, believing that early investment in these highly innovative companies will lead to valuable business partnerships down the road. PepsiCo Beverages’ Global Head of Digital Shiv Singh tells Crain’s, “We decided to formalize a relationship, to really think about how to bring infrastructure to supporting startups, helping them help us.” Singh likened the relationship to a venture capital firm, but without the need for a checkbook. Startups benefit primarily from PepsiCo’s guidance on things like monetization strategies and marketing insights. PepsiCo team members co-locate incubator spaces, sponsor key events and broaden media relationships. In turn, these startups help develop PepsiCo’s credibility in the social and digital spaces.

Both Intel and PepsiCo have hit plenty of speed bumps before achieving the results they are seeing today. The panelists were also quick to underscore the importance of ongoing measurement. Data and findings from focus groups, website traffic, and attendance at sponsored events are critical to recalibrating program strategy where needed and helping to secure increased budget, time and credibility.

Watch BRITE ’13’s “Unconventional Marketing Investments” to learn more about how PepsiCo and Intel go beyond traditional marketing tactics to strengthen consumer engagement.

Visit Public Radio Exchange for full episodes of “The Unconventionals,” a PJA Radio Production with academic sponsor The Center for Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.


(Webinar) New Rules for Business in the Social Media Age

November 11, 2011

New Rules for Business webinarWith social media now occupying more time than any other online activity, the question for businesses is no longer, “should I be using social media to communicate?” but “how should I?”

In my webinar “New Rules for Business in the Social Media Age” (for Columbia Business School), I present best practices for planning a social media strategy to match your customers, your business and your objectives.

This 30 minute webinar examines:

  • Best practices from top brands for building customer relationships online
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+: the critical differences for business
  • How much social media is too much? (for your business)
  • New research on when and how to best communicate with customers in social media
  • Why you need to integrate social media with the rest of your communications
  • How to know if your social media is paying off (with real metrics and ROI)

This webinar is based on a lecture from my 3-day executive program “Digital Marketing Strategy, offered by Columbia Business School Executive Education. Click the link to learn more about upcoming sessions (March 12-14, and October 15-17, 2012).


Avoid These 7 Social Media Fiascos

August 2, 2011

The list of scandals, embarrassments, missteps, and P.R. fiascos tied to social media seems to grow every day.  Everyone knows the stories of disgruntled customers whose online complaints go viral, attracting millions of sympathetic viewers. Or the employees who get companies into trouble with an ill-advised post on the company’s social media accounts. Even a carefully planned ad campaign can stir up a storm of protest in the social media world.What is a business to do? While it is tempting to stick one’s head into the pre-digital sand, the fact is that organizations today face little choice but to engage with a network of customers that is empowered, vocal, and ready to share their own opinions in social media. To prepare themselves, businesses should apply lessons learned by the failures of others.Following are 7 lessons that will reduce the risk of social media failures for your own brand:

1. Don’t try to fool anybody. In an age of social media, you can only fool some of the people for a fleeting moment, until one of them exposes your deception and broadcasts it for the world to see. While companies may be tempted to plant fake customer reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or blogs, the likelihood of discovery is too high a risk, especially for larger brands. The imagined benefits of something like Wal-Mart‘s fake customer blog, “Wal-Marting Across America,”pale in comparison to the damage to your reputation from its exposure.

2. Follow decorum. The first rule of social media training is that the old rules for employees still apply. When an employee speaks, tweets, posts, or shares a photo on behalf of their company, it should be with the same discretion that they conduct an interview or draft a press release. The second rule is that many employees will need to have the first rule drummed into them. Their experience using these same media for personal conversations can lead to some sloppy habits. If you hire an outside agency to run your social media accounts, it is critical to establish style guidelines and an understanding of their accountability – like for the digital agency that was fired by Chrysler after a staff member inadvertently tweeted an obscenity about Detroiters on the auto brand’s own Twitter account.

3. Balance oversight with speed. Training and guidelines does not mean you can run every tweet, wall post, and image upload by a committee of legal advisors scattered across your company. An executive at Citi told me that he finally got the company to reduce the 20 legal sign-offs required to post to Twitter when he sent senior leadership a calculation of the cost of each tweet. In a world where customers expect instant replies and interaction, companies need to strike a balance between oversight and speed.

4. Pay attention to tone. Customers expect a more personable voice in social media than on a corporate website or press release. So your social media guidelines need to cover not just what you share, but the tone in which you share it. This should include guidance on how to handle irate or unreasonable customers, as well. Using a condescending or sarcastic tone with customers is always a bad idea, as Nestle learned when a tit-for-tat dispute with a customer on its Facebook wall led to widespread criticism and the departure of fans.

5. Know which tools are not under your control. Some social media channels are controlled more by the account holder, and others are controlled more by the public. It’s important for businesses to understand the differences as they start to engage customers. For example, Twitter hashtags (words anyone can use to join a topical conversation), are extremely public. Starbucks learned this lesson when it launched a print ad campaign to promote twitter conversations around #top3percent and found it hijacked by a labor activist’s criticism of the company.

6. Invest in customer service. In an age of social media, good customer service is often the best p.r. money can buy. The worst social media fiascoes stem from customers telling tales of terrible service – from Jeff Jarvis’s “Dell Hell” blog posts, to the “Sleeping Comcast Technician” video on YouTube, to Dave Carroll’s viral music video “United [Airlines] Breaks Guitars.” Customer service used to be an easy place to cut costs during lean times. But now, businesses should realize that investing in decent quality customer service is a direct defense against the worst risks to their brand.

7. Test launch any big changes to your communications. A number of social media protests have arisen not because of companies’ digital marketing, but because of changes to their traditional marketing. Think of the outcry when The Gap tried to change its logo, or when Tropicana tried to change its packaging, or when Motrin ran an ad about back pain from babies that moms found unfunny. Companies should consider pre-testing any major changes to their brand identity in order to gauge customer response, or else launch them with any understanding that they may need to be yanked quickly if customer complaints spiral out of control.

No Heads in the Sand

In an age of social media, brands no longer live in a 24 hour news cycle. It is more like a 24 minute news cycle.  This demands speed, nimbleness, and thoughtfulness on the part of business.

Opting out of all social media is not the answer. In fact, many of the most flagrant social media “failures” have stemmed from old-fashioned “offline” screw-ups that get talked about much more by customers now that they have a powerful public voice of their own.

So be aware of the hazards to your reputation, and remember these 7 lessons as you bravely navigate the risks and rewards of engaging with customers in a world where everyone now has a virtual megaphone.


This was originally posted by David on his blog.

Note: Image courtesy of flickr user, Chris Daniel

The Value of Great Social Customer Service

February 17, 2011

Frank EliasonCalled “the most famous customer service manager in the U.S., possibly in the world” by, Frank Eliason (a BRITE ’11 speaker) is a social media pioneer. Frank, formerly the well-known voice behind @ComcastCares, is now SVP of Social Media at Citi where he and his team are using social media to humanize the brand and build a dialogue and rapport with customers.  While at Comcast, Frank built an incredible amount of customer loyalty and industry admiration through customer service work using social media.

The changes Frank has found through social customer service go beyond just answering a few complaints via Twitter.  “Many people don’t realize that ‘social’ will really change the dynamics of your whole company,” Frank told cms wire.  He noted, for example, an occasion a few years back where the NHL playoffs blacked-out and customer calls and complaints started coming in.  Through searching Twitter posts, Comcast realized within just a few minutes that the problem was caused by a lightning strike affecting the sports network. Frank estimates that because this allowed Comcast to make a quick adjustment to its automated call center message, the company saved around $1.2 million by avoiding what would have been extended customer service calls.

And just this month at our Sobel-BRITE “The Network Is Your Customer” panel discussion (video below), Frank spoke about the importance of the people behind corporate social media initiatives. “I don’t connect with a logo.  I connect with people.  If you look at the most successful [companies] in social media, you know the people behind it.”

Hear Frank Eliason speak at our BRITE ’11 conference (March 2-3, 2011). Register now!


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