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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Brite '08 - Univision & Maryam Banikarim

Columbia Business School's Brite '08 conference included fascinating roundtable discussions. Each one started out with formal comments - i.e., conversational backdrop - and then we were let loose to discuss within our smaller table group.

Maryam Banikarim, CMO, Univision, provided the backdrop for a discussion titled "The New Marketing Department – Challenges, Opportunities, and Skill Sets" which David Rogers, Director, Center on Global Brand Leadership facilitated.

For anyone remotely interested in connecting with the Hispanic market, Univision is a must. Maryam explained why.

Univision has 80% market share [can you imagine that level of visibility and awareness with this increasingly important consumer market?] and has been around over 40 years. Univision considers itself the champion of the Hispanic consumer.

[To put the hispanic market into perspective, consider reading the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Development report on The multicultural economy 2006 - BTW, 2007 buying power increased 6% over 2006 to reach $863 billion - and Synovate's Hispanic/Latino Market Profile which lists the metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic populations.]

Maryam joined in 2002 during troubled economic times when the network first experienced single digit growth [a shock compared to double digit growth]. She observed that selling was more about impersonal bar charts rather than focusing on bringing solutions to customers. A big problem.

So, she brought in a more consultative and strategic approach. She hired account planners to talk about consumer insights and connect emotionally and MBAs to analyze. She decided that marketing would run programming and sell emotion, using a new format for its 2007 Upfront Event for selling programming to advertisers titled "I heart Univision." The format included consumer generated media with testimonials and user-generated content.

Banikarim conducted an online promotion inviting viewers to send in videoclips of why they loved Univision. She and her team weren't sure what to expect - or even whether they would receive submissions. They were surprised that the first submission came from an older woman who said "A day without Univision is like a day without sunshine." Powerful!

[Although, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Hispanics are a lot less likely to use the internet, lower education levels and limited English ability largely explain the gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in the U.S., as you realize from Banikarim's success with user generated content, Hispanics use the Internet!]

Twelve viewers participated in the event - a first. They swooned when Don Francisco came on stage and quickly got into the RBD group groove. Essentially the audience focused not on the programming – as in the past – but on the reactions that the twelve viewers onstage had to the programming. Very powerful.

Given that backdrop, our roundtable was eager to discuss the new marketing department. To put things into perspective, we had the BEST table in the room with the most diverse, creative and well spoken participants: a non-profit CFO, a soon-to-be-author, a branding expert and business school professor, a P&G visionary, a telecom CMO, a non-profit founder, an agency executive with online and social media expertise, a marketing PhD candidate, and a blogger.

First we identified potential challenges to pursuing new marketing strategies:
+ Concerns over how to measure
+ Company culture; traditional ways of doing things get in the way
+ Figuring out how to overcome legacy strategies and plan for change despite leadership turnover
+ Encouraging risk taking despite budgets and fear of failure [both institutional and individual]. Can compensation tied into new models help?
+ Assessing risks and prioritizing strategies while balancing longterm and short term growth imperitives
+ Having the financial fluency to build strong cases and sell projects internally
+ Developing a willingnes to invest in small things/new media to experiment first

Next, we examined Opportunities in implementing new marketing strategies:
+ Using customer insight and evaluating indirect competitors for a strong strategy
+ Developing a brand that is meaningful and relevant to customers, thereby justifying internal brand advocacy and disruptive product innovation [i.e., it's not about the company; it's about being relevant to the customer].
+ Creating and managing a brand community.
+ Leveraging technology new to the industry and creating the means for evangelizing the brand.
+ Implementing value creation from the customer's perspective
+ There may be opportunities to collaborate with complimentary companies [eco system approach; network of organizations]

And then we detailed the Skills most needed:
+ Need to hire cooperative distruptors, communicators, reasearch/insights; content aggregators
+ Develop partnership hr/finance/marketing/sales.
+ Encourage collaboration amongst workers.
+ Have strategic thinking --> marketplace assessment, understand brand, competition...,
+ It's about problem solving
+ Use creative briefs to translate idea/concept to a wider audience;
+ Have consumer empathy
+ Must have an idea person.

NOTE: I came across this article titled Ford Of Canada Lets Customers Stand For The Brand about letting Ford customers act as brand ambassadors. Whereas Univision, in changing the Upfront Event format, unleashed the Univision viewership passion onto the advertiser selling process, Ford Canada seems to be similarly unleashing the Ford customer passion internally via the "Powered By You" campaign. They have created a platform for conversation and then are stepping aside to let that Power take over.

Previous Flooring The Consumer posts on Brite '08:
+ BRITE '08: Nickelodeon's Pamela Kaufman on Brand ...
+ The BRITE '08 Conference

Also, visit the Brite '08 Blog.

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