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Technological Takeover

Oct 1, 2013 12:01 AM   By Lara Ewen
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A former Fortune 100 C-suite executive, Jeffrey Hayzlett is the chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of The Hayzlett Group, a strategic marketing and business consultancy with offices in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and New York City. Hayzlett is the author of The Mirror Test and Running the Gauntlet, and a contributing editor and guest host on Bloomberg Television. He has also appeared as a guest on MSNBC’s “Your Business” and “Fox Business News.” Rapaport Magazine sat down with Hayzlett recently to discuss how business owners can better understand today’s marketing tools and determine how to best prepare for tomorrow’s marketing challenges. 


Rapaport Magazine: How has marketing changed in the past decade?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I think the days of the chief advertising officer are dead. In most companies, it used to be okay to know a little bit about a few things, but now you need to know a lot about a lot of things. And you have to be much more technical in your knowledge than you used to have to be. Google CEO Eric Schmidt once said that the last bastion of unaccounted spend in America was in marketing, but that’s gone by the wayside. Now every company is driving for return on investment, so you have to be very good at what you’re doing.
   And the knowledge base is just so much greater. We’re now in the industrial age of advertising and marketing, where we need a whole different level of technical expertise and theory and practicality — and all of this is a perfect storm. You have to be really good at what you do. You can’t just be a people person and be great at marketing.

RM: What is the single most important marketing innovation in the past ten years?
JH: It has to be the use of digital, and the overall move and migration of most commerce to the web. So the way you approach marketing is totally different. It used to be, if I bought a television commercial and an ad in The Wall Street Journal and one in The New York Times, I was king. But now, if I buy those things and don’t do anything online, then I’m dead. And in the next five years, mobile will be it. Because you know where your mobile phone is more than you know where your children are. And this is the device that we’ve chosen to be the key master to our wallets and to our souls. We use our phones to communicate with our loved ones and to communicate with our business. And there is still lots of potential for growth. It’s like we’re in the 1995 internet stage with mobile right now.

RM: What is the best way to use social media as a marketing tool?
JH: I think the best use of social media is still the primary use, which is listening. I hear businesses saying that now they’re listening, and I say, “What were you doing before? You should have been listening before.” But now, exponentially, we can listen to more customers, and to communities of our customers, internally and everywhere, and we get more information to find out how to impact sales and product development. I think listening is the biggest and best use of social media. Then, beyond listening, we just need to act on what we’ve learned.

RM: What is the most common mistake you see in marketing?
JH: The failure to implement and see things all the way through. We start so many initiatives, and there’s really a lack of focus. If you do one or two or three things really well, you’re going to be just fine. And a lot of deciding what to focus on is deciding what you want to drive. It gets back to your brand. What promise do you want to deliver, and what are the key things that will help you deliver on your brand promise?

RM: What are some marketing campaigns you think have been particularly effective, and why?
JH: There are so many I like right now. I am amazed by the Progressive campaign and I’m amazed by the Geico campaign. Each one is effective for different reasons. One is a comparison approach, the other is more into humor, and I can’t tell you which one is the greatest. Marketers are involved from the conception of the idea all the way to customer satisfaction. But in the end, if you really want to get to the crux of what we do, we help sell things. So typically, a marketer can be measured by the same things all the time: increasing sales, increasing market share, increasing customer satisfaction and increasing overall brand value. Those are the four factors that all marketers are measured by, and a good campaign should hit those four points.

RM: What are some marketing campaigns you think have failed, and why?
JH: The most recent bad campaign I saw was the health-related campaign by McDonald’s. Which is unfortunate, because McDonald’s was one of the first companies to put calories on their menus. And they had healthy snacks in kids’ meals even before they were forced to put them there. So I think they’ve done the right thing, but the problem is, they haven’t gotten credit for it. And when they did their campaign and said, “Here’s our healthy food,” it just backfired. They’re a burger joint, not a tofu joint. So they’re only going to be health-conscious to a point. And my belief is, they should just step into that and be a burger joint.

RM: How important is it to spend a lot of money on marketing?
JH: I don’t think it’s very important to spend a lot of money on any one function. But you have to spend the right amount of money. You need to be a good businessperson. When I was at Fortune 100 companies, I didn’t increase the budget. I actually took the overall spend down, but I did increase the allocation in certain areas. What you want to do is spend the right amount of money to get the right results. You have to balance. Don’t just throw money at marketing. You test it and you get good at it. And have an understanding of what your competitor is spending in this area and what your industry spends in this area.
   And there are some things you can do yourself. But whether you can do them well is another thing. I can change the muffler on my car, and I can mow my own lawn, but should I? Small business owners should look at that. If I can get someone to help me with social media, and it’s a better use of my time, and it will only cost me this much to outsource this, then I’ll get a better return on investment and I’ll get someone who knows more than I do. I can perform open-heart surgery on you, but you will die. I have no expertise in open-heart surgery. And I will go to jail for malpractice. And a lot of people are falling in that same exact bucket, and they’re just hurting themselves.

RM: With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your own website and everything else, how do you know what marketing outlets to focus on?
JH: Well, that’s why you need to be really good at marketing. You have to have done it before, and have some past history and a reasonable expectation about what works and what doesn’t. Or you’re going to have to test things and see what works. But it always comes back to your priorities. In business, and in marketing, it’s always about priorities and making choices. You’ll never be able to do it all. You’ll never have enough time, or money, or people to do it all. So that’s what being a leader is. Making choices. You can apply that to being a great marketer or just a great businessperson.
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