I decided to do an experiment.  I emailed 50 business executives that know and respect.  I carefully weighed who to include.  The list took two days to assemble.

The question was purposely broad and came with a little descriptive help so as to allow for some creativity but not to entirely stray off the reservation.

Here is the email:

Sent:         Friday, February 06, 2009  11:00 AM

To:            Undisclosed List

Subject:    RE: Economy is melting.  What   are the TOP FIVE most important metrics for brand health/survival?

Status:    Red


Think engagement vs. awareness.  What increases loyalty generation?  What drives incremental spend?  What do I as a marketer that is ammo for the other C-suite members?

I got a 50% response rate.  Considering who I pinged, I was happy.

Here’s the breakdown:

Brand Strength

Here are the responses, rank ordered:  I tried to keep the responses as close to the original verbatims as possible.  These are points are reflective of all the responses.

1.  Increased direct customer engagement; collaboration with each other and with the brand.  Outcome based activity (less promotion, more utility)

2.  Brand reputation and relevance/Net Promoter Score/Increased Relevance and direct value to the consumer

3.  Reduction of churn/increased focus on ongoing education and peer/customer collaboration/greater focus on UGC/expansion in customer centric/customer focused social media, web 2.0 and community activities

4.  Better integrated CRM activities/integrating customer support with sales and marketing/increase in customer voice within brand

5.  Better measurement to ROI around:  a) Marketshare  b) Margin  c) Net Sales  d) Cost deflection/operating costs  e) product usage  f) loyalty

Interestingly, I got on average a full page response from each person.  Some were short, sure but most were well thought out and provided a fair amount of detail.

I’d love you to weigh in and let me know what you think the top five are!

Here’s the good news.  With the explosion of technology, there are more and more annoying ways to pester customers and prospects, as well as, collect more data on their behaviors.  The freezing of the economy has, well, freaked most executives out thoroughly.

The customer, who was as of Spring last year, looking like they were on the verge of being totally disenfranchised by most brands (hey, they are a nameless, faceless number that in the end can be replaced.  Shut up, we just want your money…right?) Now all of a sudden (and rightly so) has become very, very important.

The customer finally can speak with their voice, not just their wallet…brands are listening.  They have no choice.  They listen and respond or go out of business.


Sort of like the fat guy who has to have a heart attack before he changes his life style.

In the end, this is going to be a good thing for both brands and customers.  They will have a closer relationship.  Technology and advertising for the sake of themselves won’t be the end-all-be-all they have been.

The next question is how many brands will survive this.  I heard from one senior marketer the other day that in 24 months, there will be 15-20% fewer brands than we had 12 months ago.

What do you think?

Steve Hershberger

Steve Hershberger