July 21, 2011
We live in exciting times if you’re job is in marketing, especially if you are in web marketing. And even more so if you are in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. As I look over our client list and think about opportunities they may have in front of them to produce more effective marketing and build stronger customer relationships, I started to look specifically at the consumer packaged goods segment. It’s a complex world, but one that’s filled with a lot of great opportunities that can haven’t been leveraged yet. I thought I’d take a moment to run through the situation facing CPG companies and discuss the opportunities and solutions that can make a big impact.
Products: Cold, Hard Data vs. Warm, Fuzzy Messaging
I like to start with the basics… the foundation and reason for these companies – the products. Products have many characteristics that must be stored as structured data - ingredients, components, nutrition facts, etc. This data is important to marketing as it’s expected to be available to the consumers. This data doesn’t just belong to marketing though. So, this is typically stored in an ERP or PIM (Product Information Management) solution. But the “cool stuff” about the product does belong to marketing - value, benefits, price, promos, photos and multimedia, etc.
This involves technologies like a CMS (i.e. Sitecore, Elcom, and Umbraco), your ERP or PIM and perhaps video content management (i.e. Brightcove, Vmix).
Having a website content management platform in place that seamlessly integrates your marketing content from a CMS with your product data in an ERP or PIM is an essential starting point. Once this is in place, you have a springboard into doing so much more… which I’ll explain next.
Distribution: Come and Get It!
Tackling the product data/marketing content integration is no small task. But once it’s done, a CPG company needs to focus on the distribution channel – make it easy for consumers to get the products. For some, this may have to be a Retail Locator or Dealer Locator. For some, it may be E-commerce complete with searchable catalog, cart and credit card processing. For others, it may be a combination of both. This in itself is another major project to be handled carefully. Carefully consider the e-commerce user experience.
This involves technologies like e-commerce platforms, payment gateways, map integrations and again your ERP or PIM.
Promotion: Targeted, Relevant, Trackable
As you can see, each of these components builds on the previous one… a sort of maturation process. At this point, a CPG company has the opportunity to develop online advertising and promotions that integrate with the CMS and can be tracked for effectiveness. Not only that, offline campaigns can be integrated and bring the user into an online customer engagement for further tracking.
But even greater than that is the ability to “personalize” the customer engagement by building profiles and intelligence about your customer segments into the CMS. Based on each individual’s behavior in your site, a digital marketing system can present the appropriate, most relevant product information to that consumer.
Incorporating Search Engine Marketing tools (i.e. Google, Bing, etc.), email marketing managment and extending your CMS essentially provides a Customer Engagement Platform at this stage.
Social: Personal Customer Interaction
CPG companies have another opportunity in that some consumers are more likely to be passionate, loyal followers. But on the flipside, they can also be more likely to be passionate in their dislike of a brand. It’s important to realize, as marketers, you want to influence your target audience, but don’t expect to change who they are. And it’s inevitable that most consumers are going toward social media. So, to use a golf analogy, you have to “play it where it lies”. Before you delve into one social media vehicle or another, step back and strategize. Develop a social media strategy, a policy, and guidelines. Then begin integrating the “right” social media and monitor, engage, respond quickly, effectively and consistently.
Some CPG companies have taken this pretty far… take Kraft Foods (www.kraftbrands.com/crex) for example. A link to their Kraft brand actually redirects away from the Kraft website and into a robust Facebook page.
Well, I can’t cover everything about this topic in a blog post. I don’t think you or I have the attention span. Plus, its lunch time. But there’s still more to think about…
Analytics – as my colleague Alisa wrote, “it’s more than just numbers”. Most organizations don’t realize the value of solid and “simple” analytics. You don’t need 50 metrics, maybe just 5. Ron Person, Director of Analytics at Sitecore, does an excellent job of simply explaining good analytic usage in this webinar.
Print Publishing Integration – as the web marketing world continues to evolve, think about how you can more closely tie your web and print efforts into a single engagement platform. Some interesting news in this industry is how Sitecore acquired Pectora – a move that brings together print and Web design teams to deliver more dynamic, personalized, customer-facing print media including brochures, catalogs and magazines.
Clearly Separating Corporate vs. Product Brands – most CPG companies have to deal with the distinction between the corporation and the products themselves… sometimes they go by the same name causing a bit more of a challenge. One such particular challenge was distinguishing Sara Lee Corporation from Sara Lee (the brand). You can visit www.saralee.com to see how we handled that.
Ok, I’ve gone over my personal 1,000 word limit. I would love to hear your thoughts on this complicated topic of consumer packaged goods and web marketing.
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