Growth without change? Not likely.

Photo credit: JabezPosters.com

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 weeks since I made the decision to leave GM and come to MRM Worldwide.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  I can honestly say I’ve learned a ton in my time here so far and I know that more is yet to be learned.  I know I wouldn’t have come to this realization unless I made the move.  I think most would agree that a certain level of comfort sets in when you’ve been somewhere for a long time.  Being at GM for 13 years provided me with that sense of comfort, but was I growing professionally or personally?  No.  I knew how things ran inside the Renaissance Center.  I knew what my expectations were of the people I reported to.  I just didn’t feel a sense of excitement about the day that was ahead of me.  Kind of like that image of the hamster on the wheel.

Enter MRM Worldwide.  Much of the work I do now focuses on finding new and innovative ways to get consumers to interact with the GM brands (I still find this part of it amusing…GM is my client!).  Consumers don’t know what they don’t know!  That part of my job is really cool.  The other interesting part of my job centers on this new “agency” culture I spend my days in.  I need to learn how things run in this building.  There were a couple of other examples this week where I felt I needed to work on presenting to clients as well as my interactions with suppliers supporting our business needs.  These are things I never would have thought about before.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

We’ve all heard that life doesn’t stand still.  Well, neither should we.  It hit me last night before I went to bed…life without change does not encourage growth.

I’m not saying to look for change through a job.  I am merely suggesting to always look for ways to challenge yourself and try things you never thought you could do.  You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish and what you can learn.

Old Spice: Instant Case Study on Social Web Success

Absolutely hilarious.  That was my first thought as I started seeing the Old Spice guy make it’s way through my twitter stream yesterday.  Old Spice has taken it to the next level by having Isaiah Mustafa, also known as Old Spice Guy, respond by video to comments on its YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  What started out with a commercial has quickly turned into an instant case study on how to integrate the social web into a traditional campaign.

I’m always looking for ways to get the ideas and concepts behind the social web accepted.  Case studies certainly help.  The thing I find most interesting, however, is that these concepts really aren’t new.  If you are trying to “sell” a brand to a consumer, the best way to do it is by building relationships with the people you want to buy your products.  This typically means thinking about your consumer first and what their needs are.

If you think about traditional marketing methods, it generally begins with launch planning, big media spending to air a 30 second commercial, billboards, magazine ads, etc.  How can “we” (insert brand here) get our message out to the most people in the quickest way possible?  Oh by the way, we have our website, facebook page and twitter account that we can also use to blast our messages to everyone.

I do believe these still have merit but what I do think is that brands (my company included) need to go back to thinking about what our customers want and not what we want.  I was fortunate enough to sit in a presentation from Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer) today.  One of his final points was for marketers (today’s talk was geared towards GM and its divisions) to think beyond the web.  To me, this meant thinking about coming up with marketing and promotions that integrate all aspects of consumer touch points which includes the social web.

  1. What can we do to help people connect?
  2. What can we do to enhance their online or offline experience?
  3. What can we do to facilitate and encourage sharing?
  4. What can we do to drive them to the showroom?

These were great questions that I hope encourages all of us to go back to the basics of what (I believe) marketing is all about…the consumer.

Technology has given consumers the means to ignore traditional marketing methods today.  Think about the DVR and how many commercials you watch.  What are you Mr. Marketer going to do to not be ignored and get to know the people you want to buy your products?

For another great case study, check out Dave Murray‘s post “Case Study: ‘Salty’ Is My New Hero“.

It’s not a bull horn…

I really needed to think about the point I wanted to make with this one.  In a previous post, I encouraged you to think that Social Media was all about building relationships.  I think what got my head thinking on this was a conversation I had with Christopher Barger, director of social media at General Motors.  The discussion we had, albeit brief, was eye opening and got my mind thinking about how you change the  use of social media from a bull horn (just pushing out content) to a tool that builds relationships and engages with your consumers, fans, followers, etc.

What are you / we doing as a brand in the consumer market place that encourages discussion?  The playing field has changed for GM on this.  With a second chance (and I realize it’s not widely accepted that we were loaned money to survive) we now have an opportunity to radically change perceptions and leverage new technology and tools to get first hand feedback on what consumers are saying about us.

I guess we also need to prove that the investment in our company was worth it…which by the way, I believe it was.

So how do you do this?  One example that I’m interested to see play out is the Pepsi Refresh Project.  If you aren’t aware, Pepsi decided to forgo a Super Bowl commercial for the first time in 23 years.  Instead, Pepsi will be spending $20 million on a social media campaign and allow consumers to submit ideas to Pepsi for ways to “refresh their communities,” making the world a better place.  Consumers are participating and talking with Pepsi on their ideas.  Will it work?  I don’t know, but at least it’s something new.  It’s something with a purpose.  I like it.

What does this mean for me?  Well…I’ve tried to connect and build relationships with people that can influence decisions at GM and provide ideas to them for consideration.  I’ve learned on my own time how companies successfully use social media to positively impact their brands and I do this because this communication medium is a passion of mine.  I also believe that everyone can play a role on how a brand communicates to its consumers…just be educated, transparent and honest.  Listen.  Learn.  Relate.

I contend this is pretty simple strategy to making social media work for you.  What do you think?

Social Media and Social Causes

Everyone knows about the Red Cross effort to raise money for the earthquake in Haiti.  If you don’t, then you are not paying attention!  I first heard about it on Twitter and it continues to be a trending topic there.  It got me thinking again (dangerous) that social media as a communication tool is so powerful.  More importantly, when it supports a social cause like Haiti, it can be impactful enough to raise over $5 million in relief by merely texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As I’ve thought about ways to get more involved in social causes and philanthropy, I’ve met some great people that do it for a living.  For example, I met Daniel Herndon through Twitter.  His organization, Forkout, uses creative philanthropy and experiential marketing to “forkout” cash for worthy organizations.  One of his recent projects, Community First Initiative, was featured in the USA Today.  In an effort to raise money for Community First, Daniel and Darren Heil (director of Community First) lived underneath a billboard in a cargo van while providing updates via webcam and Twitter.  The goal was to raise $25,000 for CFI.  To date, they raised $18,000.  Click here to read the story.

So this week, the Washington D.C. Auto Show is going on.  Our sister brand, Chevrolet, has a display in which they are collecting donations in a Chevrolet Colorado for the Red Cross and Haiti.  In order to get the word out, many of us at GM are using Twitter and Facebook to generate the awareness and hopefully raise some significant money for the efforts by the Red Cross in Haiti.  A lot of money has been raised but the devastation to an already destitute country is unimaginable.  So if you happen to read this and are in the Washington D.C. area, please stop by and donate whatever you can spare, and while there you might as well check out the great products from  Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac!

Thanks for reading!