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An Interview for Change: Khoros Expert Opinion on proving ROI in marketing

Khoros Staff

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Don’t cut your marketing budgets only to lose ground to your competitors. Khoros Marketing expert Matt Deluca dives into exactly when cost-cutting makes sense

 

Welcome to the Khoros Thought Leadership series on the cost-saving tactics and benefits of using the Khoros platform! This is part 1, an expert interview. 

 

Since the beginning of the marketing and advertising era, it has been notoriously difficult to prove the ROI of any given campaign. Today with the widespread use of various social media, this task is even more challenging. 

We sat down with Matt Deluca, Khoros Director of Strategic Services, to better understand when cost-cutting makes sense, and how to understand the varying  ROI of the marketing world. Matt Deluca comes from a non-traditional marketing background, from the high-stakes world of Washington politics. He has worked on various campaigns for various firms, from New Media Strategies to Edelman to working on the affordable care act over the course of 15 years.



Parker Hicks  

What makes a marketing campaign successful? In more recent times, it’s been challenging to prove that their campaign worked well or if at all.

 

Matt Deluca  

I think a lot of people tend to look at what they want to be able to touch and feel, and you want easily quantifiable metrics. However, I think a good number of campaigns are fundamentally flawed.

If all you're looking for are some metrics, really the success of any brand campaign, whether it be a marketing or direct response campaign, the way they're able to be successful is if they're creating a serious brand presence. 

You have to set the brand positioning within the buyer’s head. The simple truth is that 95% of the folks in the world are not ready to buy your product right now. The darn fact of the matter is that if you're only looking at the metrics, you will see you will reach many people, and maybe you don't get a lot of conversions. Perhaps you do, and that's a successful campaign. You've definitely reached an audience that was ready to buy at the time, but that means you're probably only reaching about 5% of those folks anyway. 

It’s the reason why car companies are always marketing and advertising. They don't just spin it up when they have a brand new product. They are always, always, always making sure you remember their product. So that if you're ready to make that massive car purchase, you're prepared to go ahead and say, okay, I'm a Mazda guy or a Toyota guy, or I'm a Tesla guy.

Tesla famously does not do any advertising. What they do is they produce a great product. They do some stunts, you know, through the Elon Musk circus. No matter the case, this creates the brand positioning and mental presence down the line.

 

 

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Parker Hicks  

Many executives today struggle to see the value and the ROI of sinking time and resources into marketing. Do you think it's fair to say they're looking at the wrong metrics?

 

Matt Deluca  

It's a confluence of a couple of different issues that arise in short sale cycles. A lot of this is an issue that affects both public and private companies with short-term marketing and metrics-driven focus. Business outcomes are generally short-term. It is challenging to be a long-term, long-distance thinker and even more so when you’re someone who's betting on the future when you can't actually guarantee it.

The answer to that is, are you creating a long-term presence? Do you have the internal buy-in to take solid bets and make sure they work out? 

For those who say, oh, well, you know, marketing is a just cost center, and it doesn't actually drive value; I don't think it could be further from the truth. What they're looking at is short-term marketing. There might be a cost, and short-term marketing may not have the return they want right now, but it can down the line. 

Parker Hicks  

What are we here at Khoros doing that some of our competitors or other people have not done well in the past? 

 

Matt Deluca  

I believe it's something that, as a user of nearly every software platform that's been out there, I think what makes Khoros really unique is that it does centralization exceptionally well. [Khoros] Does automation exceptionally well, it's effortless to use, and it's elementary to get people who are not digital experts, social media experts, or even customer care experts to see and understand the value of what's going on. 

At the end of the day, we can provide a much more streamlined approach to getting the job done, rather than creating something new from scratch or having something that always has a little bit of something off. For us, it's something that's far more well-rounded, gets the job done, and is effective at meeting customer needs.

 

Parker Hicks  

What are your best and worst marketing stories? 

 

Matt Deluca  

I've run a lot of really unique campaigns. I've spent 1000s of dollars on bullet train ads in Japan that did not work. That's definitely one of my worst stories. It was for a Software Association that wanted to get some very short-term metrics in the door, and a local agency swore up and down that's the way you do it in Japan. 

We spent heavily on a line from Kyoto to Tokyo, and I don't think we got more than 10 people to go to our website. So it might have been the worst campaign of all time. We eventually had to scrap it, couldn't get our money back on that one, and go to a more old-school campaign that we're running in the United States. 

It worked a lot better, but it set us a little bit behind in reaching our conversion goals. I've often been one of the first people to launch a Twitter timeline trend in the Public Affairs space for an energy client. That was truly unique because we captured all the conversation around the State of the Union in 2010 with what President Obama was speaking about, which set the agenda for the next few days in the energy space. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention I worked on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act from 2013 through 2015 with a focus on the Hispanic young adult population. Some of those people may not be able to get coverage with their parents' insurance if they even had insurance. I worked with the White House on that for two years. That was a lot of time spent a lot of long, late nights trying to get the website not to crash. We got millions of people registered. It was an incredibly successful campaign. 

Facebook was incredibly important for that campaign. Because then we were able to change the conversation and break the record. In a lot of cases, other members would get them to renew or get them to become members themselves. We're able to drive unique goals there. It was all quantifiable in the platform, saying we talked to this person, then they became a member, or we kept them, and we got them a renewal.

 

Parker Hicks  

In your experience, what's a lousy example of just cutting costs to save short-term money?

 

Matt Deluca  

 If you are willing to go dark and not have your brand be front and center and present in people's minds when they're in their purchasing decision, you're basically conceding to your nearest competitor. 

So while it is very tempting to cut advertising costs, sponsorship costs put your agencies all the way down to the bone, you're risking not being up on TV, radio, print, social media, or whatever the platform is. 

You're proving you're not creative enough to make it work. If now is the time where you do need to cut costs, do so, but in a way that makes every dollar work five times harder. However, you can't make zero work five times harder.

Multiplication doesn't work like that. If you go down to zero, you have no ability to do anything. I think if you go into duck and cover mode, you're running the risk of having your competitors outflank you or go over the top, and you're going to come out of it behind. On top of being outflanked, you still have to make up that revenue, and you still have to make a profit. 



Parker Hicks  

What advice would you give people that are just struggling right now to prove their value and make their marketing dollars go further?

 

Matt Deluca  

I always like to ask people, whether a new client or a new campaign we're launching, what is it we want people to remember us by? That question will dictate a lot of the actions, strategies, and tactics that you'll take. 

If you want to be seen as the market leader or a scrappy underdog that makes excellent products, everything that you do from there on for the past or the future, you’ll have to go right back towards that image. If you're struggling to understand your identity and who you are, I think it's about asking yourself, and if you use focus groups, ask others who you are. It's about understanding who you want to be as a company. Who do you want to be as a brand or a product, and everything should work itself out and fall into place about what you should be doing? 

While it’s easy to go into duck and cover mode, tighten the purse strings, and try to ride out the storm as a brand. Matt Deluca’s experiences show that this might be a misstep in a long-term strategy. 

 

 

This interview is the first in a quarter-long series on the cost-saving benefits of Khoros. Subscribe to the Atlas Insights blog, and you'll receive instant updates every time a new interview, article, or podcast episode is released! 

 

Remember that every dollar you cut from marketing budgets could be another in your competitor's pocket. 

 

 To learn more about how Khoros Marketing works smarter and harder for you, explore our case studies and webinars, or connect Matt Deluca directly at the links below. 

 

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