Sandy Carter is the IBM Vice President of Service-Oriented Architecture, Business Process Management, and WebSphere Strategy, Channels, and Marketing. (That’s a title that might need to be continued on the next business card.) For nearly 18 years, her practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. Currently she is leading innovative social media tactics in areas like serious gaming, Twitter, and viral video. Her concept of P2P marketing–people-to-people marketing—drives all her actions in marketing as relationship-building. She’s just published her latest book, writes her own blog, and was kind enough to give me an e-mail interview that I think you’ll like.
Me: What is your job like at IBM? What in your career has led up to the role you play today?
SC: I love my job at IBM. It is exciting and challenging. I spend a lot of time traveling to see customers; in fact, I have been to over 59 countries helping small, medium and large customers and partners on our technology around Service-Oriented Architecture. IBM encourages its leaders to take risks and to experiment in new areas. As such, I have done marketing, sales, services, and development at IBM. This current role gives me a perspective on running the go-to- market (GTM) plans across IBM businesses. I added in social media to our current GTM plans and have seen great results in our ROI, and growth especially in today’s economic environment.
Me: How do you see IBM clients adjusting to the changes that the Internet has ushered in? What role can you and others at IBM play to help them?
SC: In the 10 years that the Internet has been in play for businesses, IBM has ushered its clients through e-business to today’s use of social media. For instance, Unilever’s Dove brand has leveraged the Web culturally, exploring how to send out their message in Europe and Russia in different fashions, by analyzing what was effective in both marketplaces. Johnson & Johnson was very attuned to the “mommy bloggers” in listening to the marketplace around a new ad for moms, and as the feedback on Twitter and in other social media made it clear that a large number of mothers were not happy about it, the ad was immediately pulled and replaced with a new one. And, there are a ton of other examples, from the Coca-Cola Company leveraging Second Life, to Moosejaw adding social media to their commerce site! Part of my job is to educate customers on the value of using technology in their marketing and to do so I use fun and efficient tools like YouTube video seminars. Check out the playlist for all the videos related to the Marketing 2.0 book.
IBM has a major focus on helping companies to work smarter in this economic climate, supported by flexible and dynamic processes modeled for the new way people buy, live and work. I have helped many customers reach their customers with personalization, collaboration and co-creation. This includes providing a rich user experience to customers, suppliers, employees and partners.
Me: What caused you to write your book?
SC: The book is about my passion. I love the elements of go-to-market planning for both marketing and sales. Once we had won over 19 industry awards in the combination of social media plus the traditional marketing strategies, I was asked to share those secrets with a broader audience. I felt like I could help out other businesses because we had experimented in so many areas and learned from them.
Me: The subtitle of your book is “How to use ANGELS to energize your market”–what does that mean?
SC: The New Language of Marketing 2.0, leverages my ANGELS methodology ANGELS stands for Analyze the Market, Nail the Strategy, Go-to-Market socially, Energize the Channel & Market, Leads and Revenue, and Scream with Technology. The framework drives a hybrid approach to marketing – driving social media elements into marketing plans. There are over 54 case studies of companies using these hybrid combinations today.
Me: What message do you think is the most important one that readers walk away with from your book?
SC: In this difficult economy, companies are cutting operating expenses, postponing long-term projects in favor of near-term ROI, and seeking productivity increases in their existing infrastructure. My book helps business leaders and marketers learn how to add social media into their marketing mix for a better ROI and to develop closer and more direct relationships with customers. Whether it is using Twitter, as Dell does to increase its revenue, or blogging as Midwest Airlines did to grow its relationships, or serious gaming employed by IBM to optimize its educational costs, social media is here to stay.
Me: Is there one compelling anecdote that you think sums up what’s happening on the Internet today?
SC: One of my favorite quotes is: “Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” To me this sums up the Internet today. In the past, people connected with each other through stories and social interactions. I think the Internet takes us back to our roots of gathering together in the town center, sharing information, and co-creating solutions to the town’s issues. The Internet has progressed to Web 2.0 and is going back to what humans are known for – being social creatures!
Me: Not everyone thinks widgets are a subject that large corporations should care about. How do you change their minds?
SC: Widgets are a great way to share information and to generate energy and demand for your product portfolio. They are cool, hip, and provide a consumable way to disseminate relevant information in CNN-like chunks for an audience. Widgets can be personalized and that adds to their appeal in the marketplace. They allow information to be brought to you, not the other way around.
Based on the tracking mechanisms that you use, you can build a strong demand generation engine on the backend that can become ‘smarter’ based on who is downloading what information. In the future, we will see more and more widgets enter the marketplace, and a “Super Widget” to manage all our widgets may be on its way. Check out my own personal widget.
Me: Some have criticized the investment without much return on investment for Second Life and other virtual world projects. Do you find that companies are getting what they pay for?
SC: Sometimes we as marketers get carried away with the “coolness” factor and then find it hard to measure the results. I find that the best are adding social media into their tactics and therefore showing the ability to drive results. For instance, the Coca-Cola Company leverages its Second Life small Coke dispensers. They can measure the impact of that investment in their business just as IBM measures its impact at hosting Wimbledon in Second Life and in real-life. The point to me is that marketers take the mystery out of social media and treat it as another vessel. If you use social media to dial up and dial down your go-to-market plans, then you can see an incredible value.
Me: What’s the most important piece of advice you give marketers about Marketing 2.0?
SC: For starters, you can read my book! Marketing 2.0 is about a people-to-people brand of marketing. It is not B2B nor B2C anymore. Businesses no longer hold absolute sway over the decisions and behavior of their clients. The longer companies refuse to accept the influence of consumer-to-consumer communication and perpetuate old ways of doing business, the more they will alienate and drive away their customers. To succeed in a world where consumers now control the conversation, companies must achieve credibility on every front including the Internet.