Broken social scene

Broken social scene

Q: We drastically reduced our marketing budget during the economic slowdown, but it’s time to start reinvesting. Where will I get the most bang for my marketing buck?

A:The vehicle depends on your business and marketing objectives. Without those objectives up front, you won’t know where to go in your plan. Focus on the highest priorities that will make the biggest difference, and execute.

If you’re just re-establishing a marketing budget, now is the time to think differently. The day of the generalist is dead. If you’re restaffing, do so at the right level, but also consider whether to make or buy. Do I need to make everything in-house, from a marketing standpoint, or should I buy some of those services – writers, designers, a good digital agency – on the outside?

So much of marketing today is done over the web, so this is an opportunity to rethink your go-to market. It’s going to require that you say no, in many cases. Senior leaders will say, “Hey, we used to do this.” And you’re going to say, “Just because we did this yesterday doesn’t mean we can afford or want to do it tomorrow. Our buyers have changed, and so has the way they look for information. Yesterday’s marketing won’t work tomorrow.”

You’ll also have to say no to a lot of vendors, magazines, newspapers and conferences that you used to do business with – ones that you cut because of the budget reduction. You need to put your money in a new direction. Social media is one arrow in your quiver. Your website and sales support material need to be there. Look at social media two ways. It goes back to who your target audience is. Are you trying to reach buyers of your products or service, or your influencers?

Twitter can do a great job with influencers – those who will write about you and spread your message. If you’re trying to reach consumers directly, Facebook is good, because you can have a one-on-one conversation with them. A lot of companies use LinkedIn. Think of it as electronic direct mail. It can be a very efficient way of getting a message to your target audience.

—Richard S. Hiss , Executive Director, Functions & Industry Marketing at KPMG

Illustrations by Graham Roumieu

Q: I employ lots of young people, and I’m concerned that their activities on social media will reflect badly on my business. How can I set a policy that makes sense – without alienating my staff?


First, companies need to realize that there’s no way to keep social media outside of your doors. But setting a policy and trying to enforce it won’t get you where you want to be. It’s best to do it through engaging your people and through education.

KPMG allows employees to use social media while at work, both personally and professionally, but we try to educate them as well, so they’re aware of the implications of using it. People need to be cognizant of the impact it can have on your brand, as a person or as an organization. Instead of trying to police it, we’ve put out best practices that try to mitigate risk, not only for the organization, but for the individual. For young people, it’s getting them to think about the fact that, once it’s out there, it can go viral and be there forever. So we try to get people thinking early about their personal brand and encourage them to be professional on personal channels.

A lot of organizations implement a social media listening tool to monitor what’s out there – what’s being said about your company. Then you can manage any issues where appropriate. It’s important to listen to what’s being said, because it’s just as much about your organizational brand as it is about an individual’s brand. At KPMG, if someone were to say something damaging, we’d deal with it on a facts-and-circumstances basis. We wouldn’t take the same approach to everything that comes out. If something is just noise, we’ll ignore it.

—Kristen Carscallen, Partner, Audit, Chief HR Officer for KPMG LLP