Verizon Plans No-Holds-Barred Blog To Engage Consumers

Verizon Communications will launch a blog by the end of the year to create a no-holds barred "all issues on the table" dialogue with consumers--and will support it with a round-the-clock response team.

The plan to expand blogging beyond the telecom company's existing effort devoted to government relations was described by Jerri DeVard, senior vice president of marketing and brand management for Verizon, during a panel on engaging the in-control consumer at the MIXX Conference in New York. She said the only remaining issue is making sure the proper infrastructure exists to respond promptly.

"It's one of the biggest things we'll be launching this year," said DeVard, who acknowledged that Verizon is playing catch-up in the fields of online and social networking. "We were asleep at the wheel a bit," she said. Verizon will spend 15 percent of its marketing budget online this year, and she said that may not be enough.

DeVard said it is critical to allocate a percentage of the marketing budget to experiment with innovative tactics so you can understand how they work for your brand.



"When we did podcasting" on's ESPN, "there was no metric of success. But we knew we had to be there," said DeVard. "Understand who your customer is and where they are."

Metrics are the department's livelihood because they give evidence to defend budgets when the ax wielders come around, said DeVard. But metrics should really be used to find strengths because every year marketers across the board are getting less money to do more.

Personalization will be a continued driver at Verizon, DeVard said, defining it as informed messaging that relates to the products a consumer does or doesn't have. Verizon gets a 125 to 400 percent lift on product awareness banner ads served to prospects when they are followed up with an acquisition e-mail.

Tom Lynch, vice president, head of marketing integration for financial services marketer ING US, said marketing integration has to start with an understanding of the consumer and an idea. This idea can then be leveraged across the appropriate platforms.

A major stumbling block, Lynch said, is that there is no common currency to do a valid comparison of media choices. ING, he said, is tackling this by picking an internal metric and applying it across the board. "It can't be any worse than people writing down in a journal what they said they are watching and then buying ads on it six months later," he said, in a barb directed at Nielsen television ratings.

When it comes to engagement, said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer for b-to-b marketer Cymfony, the question "is not 'Are you ready to engage?' It's 'Are you ready when that consumer comes to you?'" When consumers show up at your Web site, do you have the information there that meets their needs? asked Nail.

Cymfony, Nail said, has identified eight stages of the buying cycle and has structured its Web site to offer relevant presentations, case studies and information to move them to the next point no matter which stage they are entering at.

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