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Paul Dunay

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Title: Global managing director-services and social marketing
Company: Avaya Inc.
Years in current job:
Quote: “Engaging with folks who are having an issue is a good strategy any day of the week. There is no exceptional brilliance to it, except that keeping customers happy should be the prime concern of marketers.”

Paul Dunay picked the perfect time to join telecom company Avaya Inc. as its new social media guru. He joined the company early last year from BearingPoint at a time when social media marketing was an intriguing but relatively minor blip on the horizon.

As social media marketing has gained traction, Dunay has leveraged the channel into a full-fledged customer listening and retention mechanism. In the meantime he found time to follow up on the book he co-authored (with Richard Krueger) and released last year, “Facebook Marketing for Dummies,” with two more books on social media marketing being readied for release this fall: “Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies” and “Facebook Advertising for Dummies.”

“There has been an enormous explosion about the social perspective at every company,” Dunay said. “A lot of it has been brought on by the economic cycle we found ourselves in and trying to do something for less. Our approach, which has been very successful, has been to use social in support of existing customers.”

Dunay noted that social may lend itself well to b-to-b companies because of their relatively small number of customers compared with consumer-oriented businesses. “Thus, we need to focus on those customers with high lifetime value and keep them happy. My programs have been keeping them happy, and supporting them when they have problems.”

Dunay deployed a social media monitoring system, listening for any negative mention of Avaya that needed to be addressed quickly by his department. Those responses included solving customer complaints as well as helping those having trouble configure their products. It's also been a boon to Avaya's channel partners, he said, as the company reaches out directly to resellers seeking help via social networks.

“Retention is the best place to build a case for social, for sure,” Dunay said. “Existing customers tend to buy more when receiving good experiences and, when they pass that experience on via a social network, that's perceived as a referral. Happy customers also tend to stick with us longer and are more profitable.”

As a gauge of how avid marketers are for information, Dunay said his “Facebook Marketing for Dummies” has already sold about 22,000 copies and has gone through four printings this year alone. He's in the middle of writing a second edition.

For the future, Dunay plans to cultivate more internal thought leaders to develop social media content and do more live and virtual events on products.

“I had to train outsiders [to recognize] that Avaya had thought leaders,” he said. “So we did a monthly push in different topics this year with a small cadre of thought leaders. We received notice that was leaps and bounds above last year, with half-a-million media impressions in print and online.”

With customer retention, demand generation and thought leadership initiatives well in place, Dunay said, Avaya's social marketing programs are on a good footing.

“Now, we want to make it so well-aligned that there's no distinction between products and services,” he said.

—C. H.

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