Kodak’s CMO Reveals Social Media Strategies with RipMedia Group

With the recent release of Kodak’s newest product, the Kodak PlaySport and the brand’s latest feature on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” RipMedia Group’s Maury Rogow wanted to find out more about the company’s latest brand messaging and social media efforts. Jeffrey Hayzlett, chief marketing officer and vice president of Eastman Kodak Company, offered RipMedia some insight into its social media campaigns and advice for burgeoning businesses trying to utilize all that the web has to offer.

This season, Kodak was featured on the “Celebrity Apprentice” for the third year in a row (the first sponsor to become a “three-peater”), reminding people about a popular brand message—the Kodak moment.

“Most people grew up with Kodak moments and knowing it, and there’s a whole new generation that are now doing photography and the capturing of moments digitally, so they don’t know about sharing those moments,” Hayzlett said. “And the key thing about Kodak moments is, they’re not Kodak moments until you share them.”

“Celebrity Apprentice” brought this idea back to the forefront of Kodak with the recent episode giving the celebrity contestants the task of developing an initiative for the brand.

“We’ve had a good experience from the branded entertainment that we’ve conducted with (the show), and it’s increased our sales every time we’ve done it because what it does is it takes the greatest things of the product and the attributes of the product and works that into one of the tasks, and it becomes entertainment which is better than doing advertising,” Hayzlett revealed.

Kodak began this idea of branded entertainment three years ago and will continue advertising, marketing and reaching out to consumers in these ways, and as the chief marketing officer, Hayzlett believes in continuing to create tension within the company.

“What I mean by that is that you continually challenge the status quo,” he explained. “Not that the status quo is a bad thing, because it could very well be a great thing, but what you want to do is question it and look at it through fresh eyes, and that’s indeed what my job has been.”

Hayzlett was brought into the company about a year after Kodak began a marketing and advertising transformation that was staying on track with the growing area of social media and its influence. He refers to himself as the “chief cheerleader” and began exploring which social mediums would help catapult Kodak into another realm of marketing. Twitter is one of the main ones he focuses on still.

“Twitter’s all about sharing, so when you look at it from a brand alignment, it’s very much in line with what Kodak moments is and what Kodak’s about,” he said. “What we do is use emotional technologies to help people make manage and move images and information.”

To help implement these strategies and stay on the cutting edge of all things social media, Kodak has enlisted the help of a chief blogger and a chief listener, both of which interact with customers and continue the personalization of the brand that Kodak wants to be known for.

“For us, thank goodness, a lot of (comments) are mostly positive, but you have some that are negative,” he commented. “You can respond back to that person and get that person over to customer service faster and can take care of that person.”

Though to the consumer, it seems that Kodak is mostly focused on customer-based business, Hayzlett said Kodak’s business-to-business outreach makes up 70 percent of the company’s revenue.

For any businesses that are looking to expand social media reach, Kodak offers a free guide, available on its website at www.Kodak.com. He believes that smaller businesses might actually have an easier time with incorporating these methods as well.

“(Smaller businesses) don’t have the encumbrances and processes and systems that big businesses sometimes have,” he said. “In a big business, everybody wants to run things by the attorneys and HR and is it appropriate or not appropriate, and I’m not saying that’s the wrong thing to do, but you just have to come up with ways to do it  faster or simpler or at least to put policies and procedures.”

Hayzlett recommends some free tools like Tweetdeck or Seismic to monitor these conversations that people could be having about your brand. And he doesn’t believe that the number of complaints or customer service calls has decreased, but customer satisfaction as a whole has increased since beginning these communication methods.

“Quite frankly, I would rather see the numbers go up in terms of the number of complaints we handle, because that means we’re getting back to satisfied customers,” he explained. “I want to hear about those conversations, because they’re going to go on with you or without you.”

Upon hearing his ideas in this regard, he often receives the question about his return on investment, and his response is simple: “Tell me what your return on ignoring it is.”

“If you’re improving customer satisfaction, it’s not one does one thing and then get the other, it’s all of those things combined…and social media and these kinds of things have become necessary tools for you, just like a fax machine, e-mail account or telephone number.”

Social media even has helped Kodak launch products, including this year’s Kodak PlaySport camera, which did not have a catchy name at the start of its campaign. Hayzlett was not thrilled with the idea of naming the invention with numbers and letters like previous products, so the company began a naming contest via Twitter. Tons of ideas came pouring in and the winners were given the product and a trip for the family to Las Vegas, where it was revealed at a convention.

“(It’s a) great example of using the power of social media and the power of the crowd to source something that became very valuable for us,” Hayzlett said.

Looking to the future, Hayzlett’s book, “The Mirror Test,” is debuting in May complete with hints and tips on keeping a business viable—if you’re company is breathing, it’s breath should be seen on a mirror, a la The Mirror Test. One test he revealed is shortening your company’s pitch down to the elevator pitch or the 118. “That is, eight seconds is the average attention span of an adult, and 110 seconds is the average time of an elevator ride, so you have eight seconds to hook me and 110 seconds to sell me and people need to get their messages down to that pitch,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest advice I can give to most businesses is to know exactly who they’re serving, why they’re doing it and what their message is.”

Maury Rogow

Kelly Yee

Written by Mandy Rodgers