Marketing Without Barriers

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Some of the best ideas involve mashing together unrelated things: a bell and a clock (the alarm clock), infotainment, salt and chocolate…the list goes on and on. In his new book, The Fusion Marketing Bible, social media strategist Lon Safko challenges marketers to increase the value of their social, digital, and traditional media campaigns by fusing them in innovative ways. Associate Editor Judith Aquino caught up with Safko to find out what it takes to create a marketing mashup.

CRM: What is fusion marketing and how can companies best use it?

Lon Safko: What fusion marketing does is combine three types of media: traditional, social, and digital. There's a wheel diagram in my book to help you figure out how to do that. You can start with a wheel that contains different types of traditional media, like business cards, radio, television, and coupons, then add a wheel for digital media and another wheel for social media. Take business cards for, example. I wondered if there was a connection between business cards and other media. I looked across the wheel and the first thing I saw was coupons.

What if I put a QR code on the back of my business card that tells people who scan it they'll get a free half-hour of consulting if they call or provides a list of all my products and their prices on the person's smartphone, right after we met each other? Next I reversed those connections and went from coupons to business cards. Companies can put their contact information on a coupon for customers who are thinking of buying a product but have questions about it.

That's how fusion marketing came about. You look at [the media you have], figure out [which are] effective, then look for ways to start combining them. By connecting different forms of media, you're increasing their effectiveness.

CRM: What mistakes are companies prone to making when trying to broaden their audience through fusion marketing?

Safko: One of the biggest mistakes is pulling out just because you're not seeing immediate results. It takes some effort to get it right. The second thing is, are you fully leveraging your ads? When you run a TV commercial, for example, are you including your Twitter handle to encourage people to follow you on Twitter? When customers go to Twitter, are you tweeting out your Web page? And on your Web page, do you ask people for their email addresses? When you send out an email blast, are you driving people to Facebook? And on Facebook, are you asking people to connect with you on LinkedIn? It's all fusion, an interconnection. There are so many opportunities to connect that just sit on the table.

CRM: What are some organizations that have effectively blended all three (social, digital, and traditional) types of marketing?

Safko: Sheetz, the chain of gas stations and convenience stores, gets it. They're in Morgan Spurlock's documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which was about Spurlock asking companies to sponsor his documentary in exchange for product placements. Sheetz agreed and promoted the movie with give-aways and things like coffee cups that tied back to their Twitter and Facebook feeds [which also promoted the movie]. They're ahead of the curve.

The New Zealand government also used fusion marketing to promote the Rugby World Cup without calling it fusion marketing. They did things like erect fan zones that doubled as refreshment areas, security zones, and information centers. They also mounted giant LCD screens in the largest fan zone so fans could watch matches stadium style. Walking trails to the stadium were lined with electronic kiosks with city information and match scores in real time. There aren't many companies, though, that are doing fusion marketing.

CRM: What do you want readers to come away with from reading your book, and do you have any tips that they can start using today?

  The most important thing you should get from reading the book is ideas. If you don't want to use the wheel, just try the exercise: Write down 20 traditional media [tools], then make 20 for social media. Pick out the ones that make sense for your company, put them together, and start brainstorming. Have a meeting and ask, how can we use this to leverage that and how can we do it in reverse? Then try it again. I promise that if you look at it [from] a fusion perspective, you will get exponential returns out of what you're currently doing.

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