This post is part of our continued live blogging coverage of the SES New York conference.

Coke .. The Battle for Positioning and Mindshare

One of the really interesting aspects to search, is its potential. It seems virtually limitless. At the current time however, companies seems to be very tentative when considering investing in search marketing strategies.

Consider for example that while 80% of web browsing starts with Search, and consumers are spending up to 50% of their media time online … then why are many major brand companies spending on average only 2.5% of their media budgets online? Isn’t search a prime opportunity in the battle for mindshare?

In todays’ session, we’ll hear from a big brand company, and its search agency, about some of their thoughts, ideas, and strategies.

Carol Kruse, Vice President of Global Interactive Marketing, The Coca Cola Company.

How many people remember Coke C2? It was launched with a tremendous campaigns both online and offline, but was not supported in search. The result … obscurity for C2!

Fast forward to today … My Coke Rewards includes a largely digital promotion plan, and is very heavily invested in search. Coke has learned!

Searchers are now more engaged by search. Most people now search using two or more keywords in the search phrase. People are also using search more frequently.

So, how do you turn awareness into business value or sales?
Coke has found that search drives more teens (Coke’s target market) to purchase the product than does word of mouth. Very interesting.

Industry Data + Coca Cola Data = Proof of Business Value
2 techniques used by Coca Cola to justify online value:
a. Coke engages dynamic studies … to measure the brand health increase for online vs offlines. It also measures purchase intent.
b. The other technique to cost justify increased online marketing budgets is incremental sales volumes. Employ a study group.
Both were shown to generate dramatic improvements, and corporate buy-in for further online ad budgets.

How is Coke using search? They’re using it to bridge the gap. TV is still prime media. But TV (and other media) drive search queries, so search is used to support all other marketing efforts. Once there, they’ll try to get them to experience the product.

So, where does Coke have to be?
67% on organic … so they need to be in organic for relevant keywords!
33% on paid … to control their ‘digital self’ and respond quickly when needed

Barriers to using search?
a. it isn’t sexy
b. how much can you do with 95 characters? This isn’t creative!
c. isn’t it for direct marketing only?
d. insufficient capabilities to handle search internally
e. brand risk
making it a tough sell realistically.

Reasons to include search in your marketing mix:
a. cooking with gas – start to control messaging/dialogue with consumers using paid search, especially when the company makes the news
b. search is the bridge – tv, radio, newspapers all drive searches online. Ensure listing are secured in search to support the offline effort.
c. engaging the hand raisers – users self-qualify themselves as being interested … they’re serious!

This is how Carol brought search into Coke, justified its value, sold it to management, and is using it to strengthen both the brand and product sales. Congrats Carol!

Eduardo Llach, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-Founder, SearchRev

SearchRev increased MyCoke Rewards results by 5 times. Some of this was due to offline efforts such as promoting it in every other form of advertising … online and offline.

How did they do it?
a. control the traffic
b. mirror online and offline campaigns
c. search for short term campagins
d. optimize branded keywords

Control the Traffic:
– ensure site appears in the organic results … and use landing pages when possible. This alone tripled Coke’s MyCoke Rewards results

Mirror Online and Offline Campaigns
– whatever they promoted offline, related keywords were purchased online, and optimized for using seo.

Short Term Campaigns:
– used paid search to support the messages and primary keywords from short term campaigns

Optimized Branded Keywords:
– when they took over campaign … 86% of traffic was coming from branded keywords
– they implemented Multi-variable optimization
– resulted in a 52% increase in efficiencies

a. targeted and tracked by geography
– different bid rates for each region
– different descriptions and titles for each region
b. targeted and tracked by day or week
c. target and tracked by network distribution (eg. AOL and other networks)
This led to a 5 time increase in results. This data then shows things like best time of day for Coke is Saturday am’s at 7 am (eg. only), second best is …. all in all, this can be fed back into the marketing group to help them
further define when they should run television campaigns in various cities, what phrases do various cities best respond to, and the like.

Jeff Quipp is President of Search Engine People Inc. a Toronto SEO, SEM, SMM firm.

  • The Baldchemist

    If I may leave my contribution to getting the minds right.
    Written by The Baldchemist
    Thursday, 19 March 2008

    Standing out amid a massive chorus of competitors is the challenge for any brand. The number of sales pitches one receives on a daily basis is staggering and increasingly ineffective.
    Emotional Association

    To create a positive emotional association with your product or service.The mere mention of your brand, product or service can stir up wants and desires. Needless to say, that’s powerful.
    To create a brand promise that creates such emotional connections it should be:

    * Grounded in the brands core values
    * Clearly relevant and engaging to your target market
    * Able to create some sort of positive emotional attachment beyond just being “good”
    * Repeated internally and externally within your organisation
    * Adaptable to the business climate
    * Continually reinforced
    * Consistent across advertising and marketing media
    * Known and echoed by business partners and stakeholders

    Delivered Promises

    When these promises are delivered and compared to the brands competitors then the punters begin to position your brand in their minds.

    What is required in the modern sense of positioning is in depth research of your target audience; to glean a more precis understanding of positioning.

    That gives companies a much better understanding of the punter perception of the brand.
    Brand Position (as opposed to positioning) is:

    The entire collection of thoughts a punter has in their mind about the professional services firm, service or product on offer from you.

    Positioning is hard work. It is not entirely the domain of a branding, ad agency or media company even though some believe it is.

    It is the domain of the CEO and the executive team to align the corporate mission, core values and structure to one that supports punters, connects with them and creates client evangelists.
    Open Wallets

    Positioning is not what you do to a product; positioning is what you do to the mind of the punter. Win your punters hearts and minds and you will find open wallets.