Frost & Sullivan Breakout: Online Marketing

In an era in which overall marketing spend is projected to be flat, this Peer Counseling breakout session moderated by Kevin Hoffberg gave us a chance to share ideas on how online marketing will claim an increasing share of that slowly growing pie.

Here are my notes from the session. I’d welcome others who participated in the conversation to jump in with additional clarifications or comments.

Rick Short mentioned CIC Data as a way to monitor and measure word-of-mouth in China.

Intuit uses Bazaar Voice to see what customers are out there saying about their products, and incorporating that user-generated content into the Intuit site.

Cara Shockley from says linking to support groups (supporting the support groups) has been an important strategy. User communities can be a huge marketing advantage. Jim from Eloqua calls it a source of strength. You’re not just buying a product, you’re joining a community. This is Wikinomics…letting people who are your users add value.

Financial services company have had a fear of transparency because they are worried about getting flamed. There’s a big difference between an official corporate blog and understanding what people are already saying about you. The conversation is happening, so you need to at least monitor. The representative from Union Bank says they are informally getting into commenting on some other blogs, but not ready to jump in yet. Advanta, another financial services company, has started a social site called ideablob.

For a software company, half the revenue is from support. So having communities could cut revenue. They don’t want to aid these non-paying communities. Why not create an on-line knowledge base by subscription? If you don’t support customers with an online community, those communities will spring up, and your support team will lose. This is a lack of vision that could lead to a Wikipedia-esque alternative replacing the software company’s World Book.

Check out Quicken online , and their Facebook page.

One of the keys in blogging and liability for companies is that if you don’t moderate comments, you don’t bear the responsibility for what’s posted. is a QuickBooks product, and now they went with a free version of their entry level QuickBooks product. They developed a Just Start contest for would-be entrepreneurs encouraging people to quit their jobs and start small businesses. This could have tie-ins for financial services companies, so making some of those connections could build.

Peter from Intuit mentioned Genesis measurement services as a possible integrated service.

Please do add your comments, and continue the great conversation we had this morning. Feel free to add links to helpful resources in your comments, and particularly any case studies of things your organization is doing.

Change in Plans

“Wait a sec… I think I just… Yeah, I just had an idea.”

Lloyd Christmas, Dumb & Dumber

A funny thing happened on the way to Phoenix. As I was sitting in the airport in Rochester, Minn. I had finished a post previewing a series on using Facebook for qualitative market research, and promised that my next few posts would flesh out this concept step-by-step. But some First Class brainstorming on the flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix has caused me to think more expansively. I have some more details to work out, but as I do I will return to that concept of Facebook Focus groups as part of the the broader framework.

So here’s a review of my Sunday travel experience, and a look ahead to the Frost & Sullivan conference, from which I plan to be blogging.

  • Goofy TSA moment: It might not be exactly a TSA responsibility as much as a general transportation regulation issue. As I disembarked from the tiny plane that had made the puddle jump from Rochester to Minneapolis, most of the passengers were gathered around the door where the luggage that had been checked planeside (mine included) was about to be delivered. The area was packed, and I didn’t want to block the doorway, so I set my laptop bag in one of the chairs just inside the waiting area near the gate. The gate attendant noted that I had broken the plane of the doorway (as Marion Barber, III just did to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead over the Giants), so as I popped back in she said, “Sir, since you left the gate I’m going to need to have you show me your boarding pass.” Me: “You’ve got to be kidding.” Answer: “I’m NOT kidding. Regulations say that when passengers leave the gate area, they need to show their boarding pass.” This wasn’t a big deal. I pulled it right out of my coat pocket and it was quickly resolved. But to the extent that devotion to regulation enforcement has trumped common sense (she knew I had been on the plane, and watched me walk up the ramp and set my laptop bag 18 inches outside the gate and step back in), it’s a sign that Mark Steyn is right. If we’re entrusting our security to aggressive enforcement of the gate regulations instead of, say, the porous borders through which the next 9/11-type terrorists could enter, that’s a losing proposition.
  • Upgraded Seating. What led to my first-class brainstorming was being in, well… First Class. I had just gotten notification that I had achieved Silver Elite status with Northwest Airlines based on my travel for 2007. Our Carlson Travel group assistant had noticed that I had been booked in a middle seat, and sent my assistant a note saying that with Silver Elite I could book premium seats at no charge through anytime before the flight, and had changed me to aisle seats. I’m still not sure exactly how I ended up in First Class. If anyone can fill me in on how this Silver Elite thing works and what I need to do to have the best chance of getting upgrades, I’d welcome the explanation, because I’m really new at it, and it was nice to not be crowded, and to get an omelette instead of Pringle’s.
  • Spiritual Social Media. Because my first flight was at 7:15 and I didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 11:20, I didn’t get to go to church. I watched a John Piper sermon on my video iPod. I’ve written previously about how I appreciated what Dr. Piper and the Desiring God Ministries team have done with podcasts through their radio without radio initiative. Now R.C. Sproul, another of my favorites, also offers his daily radio program as a podcast.

After Dr. Piper’s sermon (and finishing another good book I’ll be reviewing soon), I was in a great frame of mind for heavy-duty brainstorming. I look forward to sharing those ideas as I refine them further. Meanwhile, the Frost & Sullivan conference is about to begin, in an hour or so, so it’s time to hit the showers after having gone for a run here at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa. It’s a really nice place, and the weather is fantastic.

My next few posts will be about what I’m learning here. I attended another of these Frost & Sullivan events last July and blogged about it. I expect this one will give me lots of material, too.

Facebook Focus Groups: Prologue

I’ve written previously about how Facebook can be used disruptively to provide souped-up pictorial directories for churches and other organizations, how it can serve as an on-line booster club (complete with video and photo highlights and links to newspaper coverage) for high school and youth sports teams, and other “off label” uses of Facebook and Twitter.  It doesn’t take a lot of thought to see how it also could challenge sites like or, particularly as people of the Stayin’ Alive generation (who have stayed alive) move into Facebook.

facebook focus groups

Facebook has some market research features that are part of its paid offerings, but there’s another way companies or organizations could conduct qualitative research among current or potential customers or members. These could be either short-term focus groups, or ongoing customer panels.

In my next few posts I’ll take a step-by-step approach to creating these groups in Facebook. I’m attending the Frost & Sullivan Sales & Marketing conference in Litchfield Park, Ariz. over the next few days. I’ll be part of a panel on blogging, and blogging about what I learn there, but I think these qualitative research methods using Facebook that I’ll be describing could be an immensely practical and cost-effective way to interact with current or prospective customers or members.