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Are you asking the wrong questions?

What smart CEOs have learned about getting the best from digital media

At least once a day, the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company will call the CMO into their office and ask this question: “How do we know our media investment is delivering the top-line growth we need? It’s a fair question, and up until a few years ago, it was the only question that really mattered. Media had only one real purpose, to drive sales.

Things began to change a few years ago. The explosion of new media – including social, mobile, gaming, and user-generated-content – has upended the apple cart. Now companies who think of digital media solely as a new marketing channel are missing out on the biggest new opportunity to build long-lasting customer relationships. Instead, they need to start thinking of digital media as an essential and completely integrated part of their product offering. It may sound like a nuanced difference, but it has huge implications for brands.

If you ask consumers, 65% will tell you the online experience has changed their opinion about a brand, and 97% will tell you the online experience has influenced whether or not they’ve purchased a product of service.* In other words, the virtual brand experience is becoming as important as the physical brand experience.

Despite that reality, the vast majority of digital marketing programs are planned, executed, and measured in the exact same manner as advertising has been planned, executed, and measured for the past fifty years. Most marketing groups think of these new forms of media as just another way to communicate with customers, albeit in a far more interactive and immersive way.

There are, however, a handful of visionary brands using this insight to completely transform the way people think about, experience, and interact with their brand. One of the best is Vail Resorts (see sidebar). Their EpicMix program has become as much a part of the Vail experience as the mountains, the snow, the scenery, the lifts, and the resorts.

Is it up to the CEO to make sure the company is fully exploiting this new opportunity? Unfortunately, in most cases, it is. Take the Vail example. The EpicMix program required carefully integrated planning between marketing, operations, and IT. It wouldn’t have happened if the CEO hadn’t led the charge.

So how do you get these kind of game-changing ideas developed and implemented in your organization? It starts by asking two simple questions of your leadership team. The first: What is it that our customers need from us that they’re not getting? The second: Can we use digital tools to give them what they need?

Two simple questions. The answers may transform your business.

* FEED: The Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report/2009

Supporting Article : Building Customer Loyalty, 85-pixels at a time

About Clark Kokich