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Crystal Ball

We asked CMOs of 15 top consumer brands to predict how digital media and technology will impact brand marketing in 2012. The feedback we received ranges from proving that mobile and social are no longer just hype to confirming that content can still be King. Regardless of their point of view on which electronic medium is preferred, the consensus from each CMO is that digital is critical to the survival and success of their brand. In this second series, marketing chiefs from Dell, Diageo, Saks and Tory Burch explain why they’re doubling down on social media.

Social media is far more than a trend in marketing. It’s become a cornerstone of how marketers connect with their customers and build loyalty for their brands. 2012 holds incredible potential for companies to take digital to a more personal level—to engage with people where, when and how they want—through conversations and with solutions that help meet their needs. Social media has been a great igniter for these relationships.

Karen Quintos of Dell

A proving example is Dell TechCenter—a community where very tech-savvy business users go to get advice about areas like virtualization, cloud computing and security. Dell CMO, Karen Quintos, explains that consumers not only build relationships with Dell experts, but also amongst themselves. “Imagine if a community like this was completely integrated into a company’s product development, marketing initiatives, sales funnel and customer support channels…a continuous social lifecycle driven 100 percent by customer insights.” Dell is giving consumers the direct ability to influence how they’re marketed and serviced; their customers appreciate the given power and it’s resulting in profits on top of good will.

Peter McDonough, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer at Diageo North America, predicts that in 2012, the divide between advertising and content, offline and online, will cease to exist. “Brand engagement with consumers will be built through winning experiences available anytime, anywhere, for any device. Consumers no longer differentiate between phones, tablets, computers or even television and the winning brands in 2012 will be those that succeed in integrating their message in relevant content across all media. ”

Peter McDonough of Diageo

McDonough goes on to suggest that digital and social media will have far greater leverage in this year’s Presidential election than the last one. “Being an election year, 2012 is the perfect storm. In addition to content demands and consumers adopting even more new technologies, this year’s Presidential campaign will result in unprecedented digital innovation. Not only will we see candidates directly connecting with voters on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, but digitally led advocacy, in all forms, will undoubtedly decide our next President. Brands that use digital to become relevant in this dialogue will elevate themselves from their category and competitors to win bigger in the marketplace.”

The emergence of the “networked society” in which social media is transforming the power of the customer is revolutionizing marketing…especially in the retail sector. According to Amber Cacali, marketing head at Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, customers have become increasingly more powerful, more informed, more skeptical, and much harder to influence. As a result, marketers have to come to grips with a whole new set of issues in the area of communication management. “The key imperative to navigate the 24/7 environment is for marketers to build their capability to understand not only how each channel works, but also how they interact.”

This means that it’s not just having a handle on your Facebook and Twitter initiatives. Marketers need to grasp their entire digital ecosystem. Every digital platform allows for social interaction that can lead to positive or negative experiences. Tory Burch’s CMO, Miki Berardelli, anticipates a continued shift among brands which focus heavily on their competition versus those that focus on their customer while maintaining and strengthening their brand identity.

Miki Berardelli of Tory Burch

Berardelli explains that social media is a key factor in the shift to consumer centric marketing. “We are extremely fortunate as Tory maintains a direct, ongoing personal dialogue with our customers through Twitter, and our team is highly engaged in the conversation through our Facebook page. We continue to learn what is important to our customer and how to anticipate and strive to exceed their expectations.” If a brand isn’t already doubling down on social media, they need to at least enter the game…NOW. Forget about beating the competition. The key victory is winning over your consumer. And that can simply come down to just being in the social conversation.

Follow Brandon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brandongutman

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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