Columbia Business School | Center on Global Brand Leadership
In This Issue:
• Relevance Over Reach (read)
• Research: The Cost of a Queue (read)
• "To Thine Own Self be True" (read)
• Read More (read)
• For Your Amusement (read)
Relevance Over Reach

Linda Boff, GEMany marketers are singularly focused on collecting impressions. Not so for Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Digital Marketing at GE. In an interview with Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA she explained that brand building is not about getting the most number of eyeballs, but about talking "to people in the most relevant way possible."

Boff, named BtoB magazine's "Top Digital Marketer of the Year" for 2011, looks beyond pageviews to measure campaign success. In a co-authored blog post on Harvard Business Review, Boff writes that a more useful metric "would be actively engaging" with a specific subset of relevant potential customers. She explains, "[digital tools] have enabled focusing on smaller, more meaningful segments," a practice GE calls "micro-relevancy"—content that is delivered to the right audience, not just the biggest.

Boff acknowledges that GE "think[s] really hard about who [they] want to talk to." This careful consideration of the target, in combination with digital technology, has allowed GE to reach "the right audience with the right offer at exactly the right time." Something that has far more impact on business results than solely accumulating impressions. 

See Linda Boff speak about building relationships with customers at our BRITE '12 Conference (March 5-6, NYC).


Research: The Cost of a Queue

queue (Dominic Alves)It may surprise some frustrated shoppers waiting on a long line that much thought has been put into the design of a store to manage such waits. "Queueing theory" has been a topic of study for over a century, however most research has focused on balancing operating costs against the level of service offered to the customers. Until now, there has been little work done to identify how the length of a line affects a customer's purchasing behavior.

Columbia professor Marcelo Olivares and Columbia doctoral candidate Yina Lu, along with Duke professor Andres Musalem and Scopix Solutions' Ariel Schilkrut, examined how the length of a line impacts purchase decisions. Combining novel digital imaging technology and customer transaction data, they created models that quantify the effects of queues on purchase incidence, switching behavior and sales.  For a queue length of 15 customers or more, purchase incidence reduces from 30% to 27%, corresponding to a 10% drop in sales.

The researchers also found that it is the queue length and not the anticipated waiting time that affects customer behavior. In addition, they discovered that waiting is negatively correlated with price sensitivity. 

Read more from Columbia's Ideas at Work research summary, which includes a link to the full paper.

"To Thine Own Self be True"

Bob Garfield, Ad AgeNot just a famous Shakespearian quote, "To thine own self be true," according to Ad Age editor, Bob Garfield, is a maxim to which marketers should adhere.
Garfield, host of NPR's On The Media and author of the forthcoming The Human Element, explains that in this new "Relationship Era," it's critical to "look inward" rather than mold your business to the public's "often fickle, shortsighted tastes.

In a recent Ad Age article, Ignore the Human Element of Marketing at Your Own Peril, Garfield claims that marketers in the "Consumer Era" strove to get into the heads and hearts of consumers by asking them what they wanted, attempting to deliver it, and seducing the target audience to buy it through advertising. However, in today's world, companies need to continually communicate their "essential self" or brand purpose via relationships with all stakeholders.

Garfield calls these relationships the "human element." In this new era, customers (as well as vendors, stockholders, and employees) are not "conquests" but rather members of a community, looking to a company's inner reason to decide if it merits adoration (or, potentially, hatred). The digital revolution has ushered in an age in which consumers are evaluating companies all the time across numerous conversations that go well beyond the latest advertising slogan. According to Garfield, these conversations "are about your brand's essential self—which behooves you to think very hard about your essential self."

See Bob Garfield speak about the Relationship Era and the Human Element at our BRITE '12 Conference (March 5-6, NYC).


Read More
P&G to Slash $10 Billion in Costs Over Five Years (Ad Age)
Fear of the Idea (BrandTwist - BRITE '12 speaker)
The Stadium Curse, or Branding Harvard's Bathrooms (Marketplace - w/ David Rogers)
Five Big Trends in Business Innovation (Forbes - w/ Prof. Rita McGrath)
Obama, Facebook and the Power of Friendship: the 2012 data election (Guardian)
For Your Amusement
Monty Burns's "Oscillating Finger Steeple of Evil Contemplation" (The Straight Dope)
APP: Clik brings smarts and convergence to multiple screens (GigaOm)
VIDEO: BRITE '09 Jazz Interlude (David Rogers)
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