CMO Roundtable: Increasing The Brand's Speed Of Communication, Response, and Growth

"How can marketing help increase the brand's speed of communication, response, and growth?"

Paul M. Macaluso
Chief Marketing Officer
Moe's Southwest Grill

One of the most exciting and satisfying parts of marketing is the ability to unlock and activate on a consumer need. To see business results jump because of a smart and well-designed campaign is truly exhilarating. Innovative and high-functioning marketing departments can not only help, but should lead the brand's speed of communication, response, and growth.

First and foremost, the marketing department should be the champion of the consumer within a brand. Other departments will champion operations or financial results, but it is marketing's role to be constantly thinking of the consumer, of ways to increase the brand's relevance with them and continue to meet their evolving needs.

One of the best ways to increase the brand's speed of response is through social media. Because we emphasize being transparent and responsive, and staff our resources accordingly, we have been able to quickly and meaningfully engage with our customers. One example that immediately comes to mind is Taco Stacks, one of our new product launches.

We launched Taco Stacks in August 2011, as a four-month LTO. Quickly following the end of the promotion, some of our customers started a petition on Facebook to "Bring Back the Stacks." These were real fans who fell in love with Taco Stacks and were trying to get fellow customers' support--and our attention--to bring them back.

Within 48 hours, we connected with our internal and franchisee constituencies and decided to give these fans a target. If they reached 100,000 "likes" on their Facebook petition, we would bring back the Stacks. We ended up relaunching the Taco Stacks in October 2012 as a menu item, and we even gave those fans credit in our messaging.

In terms of being proactive in this area, the marketing department should be deeply connected to insights on its target consumer and competitive set. Our department is constantly sharing industry articles, insight reports, and taking advantage of seminars provided by our larger business partners.

I also take the marketing department out for lunch once a month at a competitor's location. The entire department is required to follow up by answering three questions: 1) What do you think the brand was really great at? 2) What do you think they intentionally decided to be bad at? 3) Are there any lessons, implications, marketing ideas, etc. that we can benefit from?

Overall, through being responsive to real-time feedback from your customers and discussing insights and competitive trends, all in context of your brand's positioning, your marketing department can lead the brand's speed of communication, response, and growth.

Sara Costello
Senior Director, Marketing
Sylvan Learning

In the world of a franchisee, things are always at the speed of light, yet sometimes even the most crucial activities--like following up with customer leads from a website--can fall by the wayside. Or, expectations from the customer standpoint change. Who doesn't expect an almost immediate reply when they send an email or submit a request for more information? With the bar set for high and fast (and getting higher and faster), we have to stop and look around for solutions; not things to slow down our customer, but ways that we can respond quickly and effectively without staying glued to our machines 24/7.

Sara Costello

In our organization, when it comes to outreach to potential customers on our website, we have embraced the "faster is better" mantra. Within appropriate business hours, we partner with a team that receives our leads in real-time and reaches out to them. This systematic solution allows us to "right apply" our resources: resource-constrained franchisees and center teams use the solution to get them in contact with the most interested customers right away, without spending their precious time phoning everyone over and over, or losing track of who they have and have not been able to call or reach.

Another solution that helps our center teams keep in touch with customers in a high-quality, consistent way is the automatic follow-up they can trigger using their CRM which is integrated with an enterprise-wide campaigning solution. Center teams have great conversations with customers, and know that once they enter data in the CRM, their customer is going to quickly get the communication they need to feel informed and connected. Again, people can focus on people, and are supported by smart, technology-enabled solutions.

The net result has been an increase in the conversion of web leads into paying customers and brand advocates. It's enabled learning center teams to do what they do best: serve more students and families in their communities. We've taken the speedy road to the win, using technology, integration, and people for their best purposes.

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