Archive for the '*David Rogers' Category

6 People Vital for a Smart Digital Strategy

June 4, 2011

Businesses of all kinds are seeing their relationships with customers transformed by new digital technologies and behaviors. Companies that used to sell to end consumers solely via retail channels, suddenly find themselves selling directly via their websites and mobile apps. Businesses that used to communicate only by billboards, direct mail, and radio spots, now find their customers communicating back to them via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

As businesses reorient themselves to interact with customers in our increasingly digital world, the task of developing a digital strategy is often taken up by the marketing department. After all, marketers are used to focusing on customers. They are typically tasked with gathering customer insight and using it to generate customer demand for products and services. Why not let them handle these new digital customer relationships?

The shortcoming of this approach is that customer interactions in the digital realm cut across every aspect of your business. Leaving your digital strategy to the marketing department alone may mean it is aligned with your brand and has a good focus on selling. But your business can use digital media for much more. A truly effective digital strategy requires an interdisciplinary approach, one that actively involves your other departments, even if marketing is in the lead.

Here are 5 other departments you should be sure are joining your marketers in carrying out your digital strategy:

1. Information Technology. It should go without saying that a digital marketing strategy needs to be built in close cooperation with IT. Not only will their help be critical to any in-house development of web services, mobile apps, or social tools. IT will also be needed to integrate any data from your customers (e.g. email addresses captured on Facebook) with your existing customer databases. When Nike built its Nike Plus running platform, it needed I.T. skills from inside and outside the company to integrate its running shoe sensor, website, and its online community of runners.

2. Public Relations / Communications. The P.R. department in most companies is traditionally much more adept at the kind of two-way conversations that happen with customers in digital media than the marketing department (which grew up broadcasting out ad messages, rather than listening and persuading). Communications departments are a great resource in developing strategies and guidelines for interacting with customers in online communities and other social media. Unilever, for example, uses its communications team to manage social media for its major brands, such as its Dove Facebook page.

3. Customer Service. It has been often said that “customer service is the best P.R.” Used properly, digital media can amplify your existing channels for customer service, so as to prevent the kind of negative customer experiences that spread quickly in social media. Comcast found its poor reputation for customer service improved when it allowed members of its customer service team to employ tools like Twitter (with an @comcastcares account) to solve customers’ problems more quickly, responsively, and publicly.

4. Innovation. As companies interact with customers online, they often find many more opportunities to gather insights, ideas, and suggestions from those customers. Capturing these ideas effectively requires more than just a marketing mindset; it requires the involvement of your innovation or R&D team, so that customer input can be funneled into appropriate channels for consideration in new product development. Dell has used the Ideastorm platform from to gather customer ideas that have led to the launch of countless new services and products, such as the Latitude 2100 notebooks for schoolchildren.

5. Human Resources. The hiring process has also been transformed by digital media, as employers screen candidates by their social media profiles, and candidates get the inside scoop on working at your business from online communities like But the relevance of H.R. to digital strategy extends beyond the hiring process. Effective and appropriate use of digital media is becoming an important part of employee training. And many businesses are finding that spotlighting the faces and voices of their own employees is a powerful branding and marketing tool in digital media – from Fedex‘s “I Am Fedex” campaign, to IBM‘s “I’m an IBMer.”

Of course, a strong digital strategy doesn’t belong to any single department. It needs to start at the C-suite, where strategies are made for what products, services, and business models will best serve your business and your customers in a world of constant digital change.

But as you carry out your own digital strategy, remember:  you may want to put your marketers at the head of the table, but just make sure they have plenty of company.


This post originally posted by David on his blog.

NOTE: Image courtesy of flickr user, Beige Alert

The Network Is Your Customer Book Launch Event (Jan 26)

January 11, 2011

The Network Is Your CustomerWe are very excited that the next event in our “SobelBRITE Event series” features a discussion surrounding the launch of David Rogers‘s latest book, The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age (Yale University Press), which was released on January 11, 2011.

The Network Is Your Customer: Book Launch & Panel Discussion

7:30-10:00 am, Weds. January 26, 2011

At the Samsung Experience at Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle)


  • David Rogers: author, The Network Is Your Customer and Executive Director, Center on Global Brand Leadership
  • Lisa Hsia, Senior VP, Bravo Digital Media
  • Frank Eliason, Senior VP, Social Media, Citi
  • Russell Dubner, President, Edelman/New York
  • Carsten Wierwille, General Manager, frog design

Price: $20 admit / $30 with signed book


(limited number of free seats for Columbia B-School students, faculty, & staff)

Plus, download a free sample chapter of The Network Is Your Customer.

The [Woman] Is Your Customer

September 30, 2010

It’s long been a truism that marketers (and business in general) have overlooked the importance of women, both as individual customers, and as key influencers of family purchase decisions. That importance is continuing to grow, due to a number of social and economic trends.

This was the subject of discussion at NBC Universal’s “Power of the Purse” event I had the chance to attend yesterday, thanks to an invite from Maryam Banikarim, a member of our Brand Leaders Forum. The lineup included a panel of speakers from brands, marketing, academia, and media, as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

NBCU’s Lauren Zalaznick pointed out that the US gender gap in wages is the smallest ever during this recession (or “mancession,” due to its greater impact on male employment), and women will soon outnumber men in the workforce. Ten million more women than men voted in the 2008 elections (70 million vs 60 million). And, according to Zalaznick, 96% of women customers surveyed say that: if I like your product, I will “tell everyone.”

Mark Addicks, CMO of General Mills (and lone male panelist) represented a consumer-goods company that has long focused on women as its prime customers. Recognizing the growing voice of customers in digital networks, and the fragmentation of their media experiences, Addicks proclaimed, “We no longer do ‘marketing’… our job now is engagement.”

Kim Brink, from Cadillac, represented an industry that has long underestimated the importance of women in its purchase decisions. She said the auto industry is just now beginning to realize it needs to not only “market to” women, but to incorporate their perspectives from the beginning of the marketing process, in customer insight gathering and new product innovation.

Echoing the shift in consumer values discussed by John Gerzema at BRITE this year, Brink also raised an important challenge for marketing a luxury brand like Cadillac to women. During the current recession, she said, 60% of women feel guilty buying a luxury product in this economy (vs 40% of men). Allaying that guilt needs to be a major focus of some marketers.

The other major focus discussed was connecting with women (and all customers) in a digital age where media are ubiquitous and there is no longer a predictable sequence of brand message + brand message + brand message = customer purchase. MediaVest’s Donna Speciale, said that marketers increasingly need to be “hyperlocal,” finding the right message at the right place and moment. Tina Brown, founder of the Daily Beast, argued that curation and editors have never been more important in media than current environment (as my friend Steve Rosenbaum argues in his forthcoming book).

On the subject of female leaders, the panelists decried the continuing paltry representation of women at the highest level of corporations (comparing it to the “boys club” that the U.S. Congress was when Pelosi first arrived). But Barnard College President Debora Spar offered a note of encouragement in looking at the education of today’s young women. The impact of Title IX (on college sports) is still being observed, but recent research shows that sports participation in younger girls has a strong impact on their future leadership skills, and that adult women in leadership positions today are much more likely than others to have participated in sports in high school. Great tip for parents.


Photo: Nancy Pelosi and Jeff Zucker, by me.

This post originally posted by David on the blog at:

3D Printing: Coming to a Niche Product Near You

September 15, 2010

One of the most exciting digital technologies that is starting to reinvent established business practices is 3D printing.

A wave of new companies like Freedom of Creation and Bespoke Prosthetics are applying this technology to the custom manufacturing of everything from jewelry, to architectural models, to designer body parts. Firms like HP and Google are investing in hardware and software, respectively.

3D printing’s breakthroughs in pricing and digitization mean that designs which used to take months are now brought to life in hours, and at a fraction of the cost.

Newly affordable machines are poised to invent a whole new class of custom manufacturing, where a niche product need not even be made until the customer has ordered it.

As customer networks seek ever more customized content, services, and even physical products, technologies like 3D printing will impact a broad range of industries.

One of the company’s I feature in my book is Brooklyn’s Makerbot Industries, which is bringing 3D printing to a desktop near you, with models starting at just $1,000.

I was lucky to have Makerbot’s founder, Bre Pettis, speak at the BRITE conference this year. In the video below, you can see Bre talk about putting “the factory on your desktop,” including:

  • the most replicated human being in the world
  • why open source innovation spurs iterative design
  • how “the Makerbot prints love”

If video does not appear, click here to watch it on

And if you are near NYC next week…

You can check out the Makerbot, and a lot of other amazing technology and crazy inventive spirit at the Maker Faire, Sept 25-26 at the New York Hall of Science.


This post originally posted by David on the blog at:

Photo of jewelry from Freedom of Creation

Pop Tarts’ Online Fan Base Comes to Life

September 8, 2010

Welcome back for fall. I hope all readers else got some time off to recharge, as I did.

As summer came to its inevitable close, I was interviewed by Reuters TV about the new Pop Tarts World Store that just opened near Times Square in New York. Customer flocked to the opening of this store for an immersive brand experience, complete with Pop Tarts store design and merchandise, a “Varietizer” to create customized boxes, and singular treats like Pop Tarts sushi (hold the wasabi, please).

With the retail sector still suffering through a sluggish economy, what would lead a company like Kellog’s to launch a flagship store for a brand like Pop Tarts?

Kellog’s actually got the idea for its store from its Facebook page, where a network of over two million customers have “liked” the brand, and wall updates generate dozens to hundreds of responses each.

Pop Tarts’ customers are creating their own online content too, including numerous amateur videos and songs dedicated to the sugary treat. In fact, both the brand’s Facebook page, and its YouTube channel (nearly 2 million views) focus almost exclusively on content created by their customer network – rather than recycling advertisements, pumping out corporate communications, or striving to manufacture a “viral” video by their marketing department.

While there has been much discussion of how brands and organizations can best cultivate “online communities,” the truth is that the most active and energizing communities (whether music fans, political supporters, or business partners) tend to be groups that interact with each other both online and in person.

So it behooves a brand like Pop Tarts, with such a large and passionate following online, to generate opportunities for them to meet and engage with the brand offline too – whether at special events, or retail spaces.

Even in a recession, marketers need to be willing to invest in their brands, especially those with loyal followers that make for a valuable long-term relationship.

Click here to watch the video on


This post originally posted by David on the blog at:

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