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BtoB's Best Marketers: Kathy Button Bell, Emerson Electric Co.

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Kathy Button Bell, who has served as CMO at Emerson Electric Co. for 14 years, is overseeing a digital transformation at the 123-year-old manufacturing company. “It is not a social transformation—it is a digital one,” said Button Bell, who is also serving as chairman of the Business Marketing Association for the 2013-14 term. “The thing we are coping with is the digital customer experience; it is 360 degrees. People have to be able to find you so many ways, whether you are pushing [content] out on LinkedIn or people are coming to you.” This year, Emerson formed a partnership with Dell Inc. to create a social marketing program. The effort includes a cross-functional team made up of people from virtually every discipline within Emerson, including legal, IT and marketing. A global team from Dell is helping Emerson create social platforms across desktops, laptops and mobile devices, Button Bell said. “The second biggest thing is getting our digital ducks in a row,” she said. “About 25% of our marketing budget now goes to digital activities.” Emerson is in the process of overhauling its global website, and it's also rolling out much more digital content, including online videos, dynamic online ads and social media ads. “We have launched a very aggressive drive at creating a lot more content and reuse of content,” Button Bell said. “When we flesh out a "Never Been Done Before' story [in its ongoing ad campaign], we use infographics. We've done Fortune cover wraps; we have videos with business leaders; and we feed video through dynamic ads online.” She said that in the age of social media, transparency is more important than ever. “When we interview execs, we don't give them scripts,” she said. “The thing corporations have a hard time with is transparency. We try to find better and better ways to be more transparent when we post [content] online.”
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