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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Transactions not conversations

I’m a little down after meeting yesterday with a respected chief marketing officer of a large fast food company. But what I learned was a valuable reminder about what it takes for change.

“I don’t care about the concepts of community and conversations and consumer relationships,” the marketing exec told me.

“What matters to me is transactions. Does a marketing tactic connect directly to sales? If it does, it has value. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t be doing it.

“The concept of a having a community for our customers is nice. So are more viral, entertaining ads. But I’m not sure the investment is worth it. For one, it would appeal to a limited number of customers. Secondly, I can’t measure its value in terms of sales.”

The exec pointed to some of Burger King's promotions, like the Subservient Chicken, which got a lot of people talking. But, he added, Burger King's chicken sales didn't budge. So the money was really, to him, a waste.

While so many of us see the value of a shift in marketing from “talk at” promotions to "talk with" conversations, we probably need to remember that decision makers are reluctant to change without measurement metrics.

We need more proof.

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Blogger harryc said...

Don't despair, Lois. Remind your luncheon friend that "concepts of community and conversations and consumer relationships" are all in the nature of public relations and as such take longer to produce results than an ad campaign. In addition, this approach should be less expensive. Any "community conversations" undertaking should be done with the idea of increasing sales and begun with a plan that measures that outcome. Otherwise, what's the point?

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Tom Asacker said...

I agree with the exec. Without articulating a clear reason to choose the product or service, community, conversations, et al are a waste of marketing money. The marketing challenge today is to creatively execute the brand message - the reason to choose. Subserviant Chicken is a glaring example of creativity without reason, which equals waste.

4:15 PM  

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