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DM Days: Kodak's Hoehn presents case for b-to-b social marketing

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New York—“The worst thing that anyone can say about your company is … nothing,” said Thomas Hoehn, director-interactive marketing and convergence for Eastman Kodak Co., leading a featured conference discussion on social media marketing at the Direct Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Days conference and expo.

“Positive comments certainly reinforce your brand,” Hoehn said, “but negative conversations can provide an opportunity for you to turn it around and also help your brand.”

In the session titled “Your Brand Deserves More Conversation,” Hoehn presented case studies on how the use of social media enhanced the launch of a new Kodak video camera, as well as a b-to-b example of the use of social channels to correct erroneous information and rumors.

Kodak's transformation from a consumer film company to a focus on digital b-to-b products necessitated its embrace of social media marketing, Hoehn said.

“As the film industry went away and we moved to transform the company, we found ourselves in a $1 billion hole; and then the recession hit,” he said. The company's use of social media was necessitated, he said, by the realization that social is where Kodak's customers spend their time, he added.

Hoehn iuntroduced the company's first blog in 2006 and recruited a dozen Kodak thought leaders to contribute.

“You can use both proactive and reactive activities in social media,” Hoehn said, “but only if your tone is genuine, valuable, confident and transparent.”

Social media also led the conversation during the conference session “Gen Y Rising: Preparing for the New B-to-B Buyer.” Pamela Evans, senior marketing manager, Web marketing worldwide, for IBM Corp., stressed the importance of playing in the interactive world to attract the rising generation of buyers.

“Marketers have to stop pushing campaigns to prospects,” Evans said. “They need to start thinking of how they can participate in the conversation, to engage and then to measure.” She said this allows a company to “pull the information into its own marketing plan internally.”

IBM's social outreach has been particularly useful with its Rational line of software for developers, Evans said, largely because of customers' under-30 age demographic. It's tended to pay off well in creating buzz around IBM conferences, she added.

“By doing these things, we can show that registration, attendance, conversions and sales are improving,” she said.

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