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Kathy Button Bell

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Title: VP-CMO
Company: Emerson
Years in current job: 11
Quote: “Some of the richest, most interesting things with social media are going on not at the corporate level but within communities, such as discussions around network power or oil refineries. That is where I think the greatest value comes from.”

Kathy Button Bell, who has served as CMO at engineering company Emerson for 11 years, said her biggest marketing challenge this year was dedicating resources to digital marketing due to the explosion in new services and platforms such as social media.

“Digital comes with a labyrinth of challenges,” Bell said. “You have to prioritize what to spend on from an IT standpoint, from an external development and internal resource standpoint, and how many people you can throw against these digital projects. It is very demanding on the marketing organization.”

At Emerson, some of Bell's top digital projects this year were the continuation of its global website consolidation, moving from more than 680 different sites three years ago to fewer than half that number today; translating websites and marketing campaigns into local languages around the globe; and building out social media platforms.

To guide these projects, Bell helped establish a steering committee with about 30 people from IT and marketing, as well as its agency partners, to define priorities and processes for digital work. “We want to make sure everyone is on the same page, so IT understands our marketing strategy and we understand the bandwidth issues,” Bell said.

“We are at an inflection point. The demands from three years ago are incredibly different from the demands we have today, because of coping with additional pressures from new social opportunities.”

Emerson has set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites for its different businesses, such as network power and process management, and it is also using RSS feeds, blogs and online videos to reach its different target audiences.

In addition to expanding its digital offerings this year, Emerson has continued to roll out traditional ads as part of its campaign “It's Never Been Done Before,” which was developed by DDB Chicago and launched last year.

This year, Emerson used TV, print, online and out-of-home as part of the campaign, which shows how the company is developing innovative solutions in heating, power and energy efficiency. For example, a print ad running in The Wall Street Journal this fall features a case study of how Emerson helped the city of Bay Village, Ohio, improve its drinking water system.

Emerson is also running the campaign in major airports around the world, and on online sites including Forbes.com, LinkedIn and wsj.com.

Another priority for Bell has been improving Emerson's industrial design process through a program called Human Centered Design Institute, which helps make products more cost-effective and easier to use. The Design Institute, launched last September, is based on customer-focused research and process engineering.

“This is an enterprisewide initiative that has really taken off in the last eight months,” Bell said. “This is a concerted marketing effort to make sure our products are much more user-friendly.”

—K.M.

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