Friday, May 1, 2009

To All Marketing Department Employees...

I just received my copy of Connect! Marketing in the Social Media Era, written by me and 99 others.

Randomly flipping through the book, I found some banal titles like "Engage Customers and Deliver Personalized Experiences," and "Tapping into the Power of the Internet." Not exactly promises of brain candy. Then again, I haven't read them, and my own title isn't exactly scintillating either. But chapters like "Social Media Helps Feed the Poor," and "A Party Girl's 13 Lessons In Social Media" sound like fun reads.

Because I retain the copyright for my submission, I'm allowed to share it with you here. I'll let you know how the rest of the book is.

To All Marketing Department Employees;

Several of you have asked about the company’s forays into so-called “social media.” I’d like to clarify any misconceptions.

Social media may work for certain companies. But it has not yet proven to be consistently effective, and is therefore incompatible with our company’s direction. Personally, I’m not 100% convinced social media is the way to build dynamic consumer relationships. We have put all of our TV commercials on our website, and they are not being viewed as frequently as we had expected.

More to the point, I’m not 100% convinced dynamic consumer relationships are what our company needs. Our chief concern with social media is that it gives undue power to our consumers. Let’s remember, this is our brand. And we are spending our money to promote it. To relinquish complete control, therefore, would be unwise. We have some carefully-researched product benefits that need to be advertised. (Those product benefits, by the way, have been thoroughly researched after months of focus group testing, so in a way, we are going above and beyond to involve consumers.)

My fear is that once we let consumers into the conversation, the consumer has the potential to influence our brand. They may ask more of us. They may ask different things of us. They may steer us in a direction we’re unwilling to go.

This is not the job of the consumer. Consumers need to be led. They are hungry for the information we have. It is, therefore, up to us to us dictate the terms of the conversation.

Furthermore, we cannot let consumer involvement distract us when we have our quarterly earnings statements to answer to. When things slow down a bit, maybe we’ll be able to develop some longer-term strategies that involve some brand-building exercises.

I don’t want us to make waves. I want us to go with what’s been proven to work in the past. To be frank, by most accounts, if I retain my post as CMO for more than 25 months I’ll be an anomaly.

So I’ll tell, you what. If we can just hold down the fort, and I get to month 26, maybe we can talk about this social media thing. Until then, be advised that we are considering putting the account up for review, and we are hoping to afford a Superbowl ad this year!

Your CMO

Submitted by Greg Christensen
Greg spent most of his career in Chicago before joining Young & Rubicam Brands, Geneva as a lead creative. He is also the co-author of, a blog for students hoping to get a job in advertising.

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