The Marketing Bubble

The marketing bubble’s effect on embedded device software developers


Ron Fredericks writes: In yesterday’s marketing webinar: Beyond Monitoring: Managing Social Media Engagement by SocialRep‘s CEO, Chris Kenton, viewers were riveted by his inside knowledge on social media’s word-of-mouth marketing. Chris is well known for his combination of social media marketing knowledge as well as his ability to strip away the facts from the hype.

To set the stage, my own readers have found my marketing FAQ to be a very popular read for the embedded device software industry: Assessing marketing’s critical role in organizational performance. Read on to see if it will blend!

The Marking Bubble Defined

Chris introduced us to the “marketing bubble”, a marketing event in progress now. Chris may be the first to realize and share the underlying problem so clearly. Marketing has always been a word-of-mouth vehicle since the beginning of human conversations – we’re just not old enough to know it!

Check out the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association’s definition of word of mouth marketing. Chris made the case that professional marketers’ tools over the past 130 years have managed to bypass the value of word of mouth by blasting their messages into public and commercial communities to literally overpower the word-of-mouth model using Print, Radio, TV, Mass Markets, and the Internet. Yet the marketing bubble is now bursting as the Internet continues to host an exploding number of social media tools: – tools that extend word of mouth conversation through online social media platforms, popular content management sites, and even a new form of in-person meet up tool that can quickly assemble like-minded individuals into localized events.

Here is a short list of some of the more common word-of-mouth social media platforms that can be leveraged as microsites:

These platforms are also some of the leading causes for the marketing bubble. Check out for further research into tools that specialize by industry and/or region.

These microsites often include application programmable interfaces (API’s), news feeds, user profiles, links to friends, groups, photos/videos, chat, and their own markup languages to build relationships and quickly share short conversations. These features are a little different than the more traditional social media platforms such as blogs, forums, wikis, chat, and idea managers.

Word-of-Mouth Customer Relationship Lifecycle

Chris presents an integrated marketing plan that starts with several forms of monitoring to measure influential conversations followed by use of a wide selection of social media tools.

Monitoring Social Networks: Metrics

Monitoring social media activity is one of the basic requirements to managing social media engagements. A company starting up with a social media marketing program nearly always intends to find and engage with their most influential online customers. But Chris goes on to point out that companies often fail in their use of social media marketing tools. The problem boils down to the fine art of adapting to the trends their team discovers after their initial engagements with social media. I call this the company’s analytics culture. There are thee areas that a company can monitor:

  • Media: The web pages and web sites that customers use or visit [commonly monitored]
  • Technology: The technology behind a company’s products [often ignored], and
  • Finance: The financial goals surrounding a company’s sales activity [often ignored].

The problem stems from a company’s tendency to focus too much on web page tools that monitor media, and in so doing, fails to develop an adaptable action plan that includes the other two key domains of marketing operations: technology and finance. After Chris pointed this out in his webinar, it seems very clear to me that a company needs more than trends in page clicks or page visitors to build the business case for change within a company’s executive team decision-makers. Two solutions that have become popular by social marketers in bridging the gap between initial engagement, and adapting their business activities towards the needs of the community, are in the reuse of these two popular tools already in use by most companies:

  • Integration of the company’s Goggle AdWords data, and the
  • Integration of the company’s CRM – in particular.

Using Monitored Results: Analytics

Chris and others point out that although the use of CRM tools are well intentioned – a large percentage of marketers do not get the needed monitoring data to successfully adapt to changes or to meet the changing needs within the company’s community. Chris describes how a company can use their CRM as part of an integrated analytics strategy:

  • Use reports and analytics stored within the CRM
  • Integration of a word-of-mouth program integrated with the CRM
  • Creation of an advisory board from the most influential customers identified from CRM

Building a Program

Chris then presented a Word-of-Mouth program built around a Customer Relationship Lifecycle. He goes over some details, shows some steps to be taken, and highlights a case study. I summarize his program from a B2C perspective here:

  1. Awareness:
    • Value: Branding
    • Tools: Web ads, Search engine optimization or marketing, Viral video, Targeted community sponsorship
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content
  2. Knowledge:
    • Value: Branding and Marketing
    • Tools: Landing pages, Microsites, and Webinars
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community
  3. Consideration:
    • Value: Branding, Marketing, and Sales
    • Tools: Reviews & comparisons, Hosted chat, and Webinars
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community
  4. Selection (or when a customer takes the desired action like buys the product):
    • Value: Branding, Marketing, and Sales
    • Tools: Online discount offers, and Hosted chat
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community + Customer advisory council
  5. Satisfaction:
    • Value: Branding, Marketing, and Sales
    • Tools: Surveys, Support forum, Support chat, and Customer communities
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community + Customer advisory council
  6. Advocacy:
    • Value: Branding and Marketing
    • Tools: Referral offers, Peer forums, Product networks, and Consumer communities
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community + Customer advisory council
  7. Loyalty:
    • Value: Branding
    • Tools: Discounts, Insider forums, Product networks, and Customer communities
    • Marketing framework: Conversation + Content + Community + Customer advisory council

Some steps along the way in the execution of a word-of-mouth customer relationship lifecycle program:

  • Engage in useful conversations:
    • Targeted monitoring and metrics,
    • Managed engagement,
    • Trend tracking,
    • Media, pundit, and influencer profiling.
  • Create a cross-functional Social Media A-Team:
  • Marketing,
  • PR,
  • Product marketing,
  • Sales,
  • Customer service,
  • Engineering, and
  • Legal.
  • Assign a domain to each member:
    • Where are people talking about your domain,
    • What are people saying, topics, trends,
    • What opportunities are there to get involved,
    • What do we want to spend energy talking about.
  • Create a place were you can profile these domains, aggregate, and share information:
    • Meet weekly
  • Assign at least one “SocialRep” to manage the engagement process
  • Buy a solution only when the process is well defined and in place
  • Test and continually question monitoring metrics
  • Hire a Marketing Engineer, to address data integration

Some Final Thoughts For Embedded Device Software Developers

Most of what I summarize above is focused on B2C relationships and comes out of my review of Chris Kenton’s great webinar: Beyond Monitoring: Managing Social Media Engagement. Of course I added my own knowledge and some additional references to help my readers get a fast overview of the landscape.

Building a social media marketing program would have some differences when it comes to software developers focused on embedded devices including:

  • A smaller volume of activity
  • A scarcity of good marketers and public communicators with a working knowledge of the deeply technical subject matter and its assocated value chain
  • A larger barrier between the engineers who make and use software:
    • Those that build the software tools targeting a wide variety of programmers, engineers, and architects,
    • Those that create the run-time device optimized software platforms targeting embedded software engineers, and
    • Those that build the differentiating applications targeting the end user.
  • A different marketing framework focused on the collective business and not the individual:
  • Look for social media marketing tools that integrate with software developer frameworks, perhaps as plugins
    • Basic collaboration for developers looks like code check-in and check-out for global teams, not like a tweet.
    • Maybe the next tweet will be a twitter plugin that adds another Eclipse perspective, for example.

Yet there can be no doubt that the short word-of-mouth conversations on microsites will burst the marketing bubble. This would be true for any marketer planning there next engagement, for businesses focused on building software for embedded devices, or for the device manufacturer trying to leverage software developers. Chris Kenton’s marketing webinar: Beyond Monitoring: Managing Social Media Engagement is a good place to start building a word-of-mouth marketing plan. His offering demonstrates the most integrated set of tools I’ve seen – to build a substantial word-of-mouth marketing program.

Thanks to Chis for making it very clear that social media word-of-mouth marketing is not a program to be considered independently of other marketing activities. Instead it’s just a mater of time before the bubble bursts in your market sector. The real question is more of when, than if, a company should add word-of-mouth social media tools to their integrated marketing strategy.

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to “The Marketing Bubble”

  1. Daniel Riveong Says:

    Hi Ron,

    Really good blog post on the webinar. Very curious about your experience in talking to B2B clients in such a technical field about social media and how it applies to that. Have you done any blog post on that?



  2. CRM & Social Media: Integrating into the Customer Lifecycle at Emergence Media Says:

    […] a blogger who linked to me, I found this incredible social media/new marketing webinar by the SocialRep CEO […]

  3. Chris Kenton Says:

    Wow! Thank you, Ron, for the in depth notes and analysis on my presentation, as well as the added references. I’m gratified to know you found value in it, and your commentary sparks a lot of new thoughts on how to present these ideas in my next presentation. I appreciated reading your thoughts on how this applies to B2B space. I’ve done a lot of marketing work in B2B, but only recently really digging into it on the social media front, and you’ve reminded me I need to write a post about it. One major trend I see is that while B2C marketers can ride the wave of natural consumer discussion about their brands and products, B2B marketers, in the absence of a large volume of discussions about their products and brands, need to spend more time listening to discussions about needs and challenges that give rise to their products, and to drive discussion through the development of their own content. It’s obviously very different in a B2B vs. B2C environment online, but the value of the social medium is still significant and growing.

    Thanks Ron! Don’t be a stranger.


  4. 22. CRM & Social Media: Integrating into the Customer Lifecycle « Bempowered Says:

    […] webinar , Ron Frederick‚Äôs notes and Chris Kenton, SocialRep […]

  5. David Doolin Says:

    This is a very good article indeed!

    As good as or better than most marketing pieces from marketers!

  6. Ron Fredericks Says:

    Thanks David.

    I do take my marketing seriously. Marketing is supposed to engage the target audience then lower the cost of sales. With tools like this blog, more of the target audience itself can be a company’s marketing channel through content, links, tags, and comments. Market specific social media offers less hype, more feedback, for companies ready to push bureaucracy aside while solving more problems for their target audience.


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