April 08, 2007

Virtual CEO: Marketing Strategy

You are sitting in your Monday morning Executive meeting at a Multichannel Retailer. You review the numbers from the past weekend, and talk about the week ahead. At each meeting, you discuss one strategic issue.

This morning, your strategic issue is the development of a corporate blog. Your executive team has many points of view.

The Marketing Executive wants to use a blog as a way to improve the communication between customers and the leadership team. Maybe more important, the Marketing Executive knows that a key competitor just launched a blog that gives customers an opportunity to evangelize merchandise.

The Merchandising Executive wants to use a blog as a way to communicate new and exciting merchandise to loyal customers, and that communication can only happen if a merchandiser or a copywriter is writing the copy.

The Inventory Executive doesn't want to communicate new and exciting merchandise, because if customers love the new merchandise, the product will sell-out quickly, and customers will be disappointed. The Inventory Executive wants to use the blog to feature merchandise that is not selling well.

The Information Technology Executive will manage and maintain a blog if one additional staff member is hired --- there are simply too many projects to manage with existing staff.

The Operations Executive wants the folks who answer customer questions over the telephone to maintain the blog, because these folks are closest to the customer.

The Finance Executive is opposed to a blog, because confidential corporate information could be released to the public, and suggests bringing legal representation into the room to discuss all of the bad things that could happen.

The Human Resources Executive believes that a blog is a great way for some of the most talented copywriters to get increased exposure, especially in a year when the average employee will only get a 3% cost of living increase.

The Database Marketing Executive loves anything that can potentially be measured.

The Online Marketing Executive doesn't necessarily care about the content of the blog, but thinks the blog should be maintained by the Online Marketing department. These folks thoroughly understand the important link between search results and blogging frequency.

The Catalog Marketing Executive wants to use customer feedback from the blog in upcoming catalogs as ways to market the benefits of the brand.

The Public Relations Director is one-hundred percent opposed to any forum that allows customers the opportunity to bash the brand, and will side with the Finance leader in getting legal involved.

Virtual CEO: How would you navigate these differing points of view? Given the information offered here, what would you decide --- blog, or no blog? If you decided to have a blog, which Executive would you support, and why?


  1. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Easy question!

    As virtual CEO, I hear out the team's opinions and comments, and when they're finished talking (or more likely, because the top of the hour is rapidly approaching, I speak up and tell them to stop talking so we can make a decision about this), I say:

    "What do our CUSTOMERS want? How would THEY want to use our blog if we created one?"

    And then I would sit back, close my eyes, and appreciate the one moment of silence I'm going to get to enjoy for the whole day.

  2. Anonymous7:12 AM

    I think despite some of the opposition, it's pretty clear that a corporate blog has a lot of upside.

    However, the real question then is: who writes and maintains it? Who takes ownership of creating content?

  3. Anonymous7:52 PM

    I took a business management course a long time ago, and for good or bad, my instructor, a CEO himself, said the person who puts forward a great idea has the happy privilege of implementing it. If that is the rule, then I'd say Virtual CEO gets the honors.

    Kind of a lazy answer, I know. Really though, if Virtual CEO wants to do a blog, then Virtual CEO should have an idea of what that blog is for. I'm guessing that he or she (and Ron S., as indicated in his post above) likes the idea of touting the merchandise, which is fine as long as they also allow some negative feedback. So allow the comments, bar the disclosure of sensitive information and moderate the posts. Just don't take too long to answer.

  4. There's truth in what Ron says, in that there's nothing that brings resolution to a topic quicker than another meeting at the top of the hour.

    Given Register Lady's comments, we should delegate responsibility of the blog to our Marketing Executive, as it was his/her idea. Per mgoves, we need to figure out who writes the blog.

    The point in writing this is that there are a lot of points of view, and as the company gets bigger, the number of POVs increases. A good leader listens to all of the comments, and then makes a decision.


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