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How [poorly] integrated marketing impacts experience October 23, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Experience, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing.
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I recently treated myself to a new laptop. A Sony Vaio – it’s chic, sleek, and tiny. After I got rid of all of the marketing crud – you know, the start up gobbledygook and free trial software, I fell in love with it. I love it so much that I also fell for the “Register and save 20% on accessories” offer that came in the slick little catalog insert in the box.

Sony Discount
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I went to the Sony registration site, fully expecting that after I provide a few nuggets of personal information I would be launched directly into a shopping experience worthy of Sony Style. Unfortunately, that was not my destiny…

First off, the entry form breaks all kinds of standards. For example, the birthday field isn’t marked as required but must be because, after several failed attempts with no error messages, I finally entered it and my registration was accepted. Whew! Now I’m ready for my Sony Style shopping experience…. Sadly, I was disappointed again…

Sony Confirmation

Now what? How do I get my discount? After three days, my hunger for the cool accessories had not abated so I called the 800 number provided on the catalog. The polite individual I spoke to informed me that I should receive an email with a discount code. “No ma’am, you can’t order the accessories now and get the discount. If you ordered online, you should receive the email in a few days. If you don’t get it, give us a call back.” Sigh…

Finally, after 11 days (!!) I got the long awaited, “Thank you for registering” email. Here’s what it had to say:

Thank you for registering your Sony product on our web site. This email confirms you have successfully registered the following Sony product on our web site: VGNTZ150N

Name: Elana Anderson
Issue Date: 9/25/2007
Model: VGNTZ150N
Serial Number: N/A

A Special Offer from Sony Card:
1500 Reward Points after your first purchase*
http://www.firstusa.com/cgi-bin/webcgi/webserve.cgi?partner_dir_name=sony_1500&page=cont&mkid=6RS3v

No, I don’t want a credit card! I want my 20% discount! Refusing to relent, I called the 800 number again. This time I explained my situation and the service representative agreed to take my order and give me the discount. Mission accomplished – FINALLY! What should have been a simple seamless process took two weeks.

Lessons learned

What does the Sony brand engender for you? If you are like most then great design, high quality, stalwart brand probably top the list. But my experience gives me a view into the inside: big organization, internal silos, and politics. The campaign I described here doesn’t have that many components — it shouldn’t be THAT hard to get right. But, this kind of campaign does touch different parts of the marketing department (people who probably don’t know each other and sit in different offices) and the broader business.

My advice? If you can’t get a simple integrated program like this right then don’t do it at all. Why? It damages your brand when you mess it up.

If you are running campaigns with multiple components that cross organizational silos then you need to organize the stakeholders and nail the process down. Understand the steps, define the handoff points, map the time between them. In the end, it’s all about the process. Ideally, a campaign like this is automated. But, sufficient testing is required up front to make sure it works. And, don’t forget to put some process checkpoints in place so that if something breaks along the way you get an alarm bell. You can have great creative (Sony does) but if the process is disjointed you lose business and look foolish.

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Comments»

1. eric schmitt - October 28, 2007

Absolutely great example – thanks for sharing!

It is breathtaking that it is 2007, and major companies like Sony can’t get something this simple right.

The sad thing is, way too many companies can’t pull something like this off. If they do any Left Brain online-offline marketing integration at all, it is usually a one-off agency-style program.

At least a few firms are starting to wake up though – I see real interest (finally!) in this in the marketplace. Typical requirements are multi-channel campaign measurement, performance reporting, and response/order attribution.

The eMarketing and traditional direct organizational silos are finally starting to come together – I think we will see this accelerate in the next 36 months.

2. Elana Anderson - November 8, 2007

Eric – Thanks for your comment and also thanks for using the example in your speech! As for the organizations coming together, I think we agree that the integration probably should have happened years ago and I hope you are right that integration is accelerating. I’ve been jaded by some of my prior overly aggressive predictions about this… Overall, I believe it will happen in some industries much more quickly than others — the walls of those organizational silos are very think in some firms and it will take a truly strong leader (CMO) to break down the barriers.

3. Phil Darby - December 11, 2007

I too think this is a great example of integration in action … or not. And its reassuring for me personally to read what you say, becase it makes me feel as though I’m not alone in how I see it. I’m getting rather concerned about the absense among marketing “advisors”, of any real grasp of what “integration” means.

It seems all to common for clients and marketing services firms alike to belive that “integration” means getting all your marketing services from one place (which to me is the antiquated baloney of the one-stop shop). Surely its simple. Integration is about the synergy achieved when the brand experience is the same at all touch-points – that’s what you say and what you do. One problem I am seeing is that orgaisations really don’t know where their touch-points are. In your Sony scenario you highlighted the expectations that you had of the brand as a result of your exposure to their “promise” via one set of touch-points (marcoms) and contrasted that with a dual-personality encountered at the point of “delivery” (experience).

Most organisations focus their time and money on making the promise and fail when it comes to delivery, which is inefficient to say the least. Just one reason why – It may cost ten tmes as much to sell to a customer for the first time as it does to sell again to an existing customer, but once you have dissappointed a customer by failing to deliver your promise it will probably cost you a hundred times as much to entice them back to your brand community.

Ultimately, there’s only one difference between a successful organisation and an unsuccessful one and that’s efficiency, (http://thefullblog.typepad.com) and this is a perfect example of inefficiency caused by brand inconsistency. A strong brand is consistent and therefore drives efficiency

Big subject, nice example. May I use it in my workshops and seminars too?

4. Elana Anderson - December 11, 2007

Hi Phil – Thanks for tuning in and thanks for your comments. Your observation about focusing n the promise and failing on the delivery is right on. Please feel free to use the example in your workshops and acknowledge the source. Anything to drive more readership and conversation!

5. Marketing Productivity Blog » Blog Archive » Push, then Pull - April 24, 2008

[…] For those of you with Brand as your current primary focus, it should be easy to make the argument about why this integration matters and why you should be in charge of it.   If you don’t do something about really integrating all the customer facing disciplines, examples abound of the Brand damage that can occur.  […]


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