The CMO Interview: Jeffrey Hayzlett

Kodak Develops as Modern Brand With Digital Shift

CMO Hayzlett Takes on Active Social-Media Approach to Marketing

By Published on .

YORK, Pa. ( -- Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett has more than 2,500 friends on Facebook and more than 3,200 followers on Twitter. He recently presided over the first-annual Streamy Awards for web TV, sponsored by Kodak, and both blogs and tweets about Kodak's coming involvement in the May 10 episode of "Celebrity Apprentice."

Jeffrey Hayzlett
Jeffrey Hayzlett

Also see why the Kodak CMO loves to tweet.

A new style of CMO has arrived.

While Mr. Hayzlett, 48, is certainly not the only social-media-maven CMO, he is one of the more visible and active. BizTechDay named him a top-20 Twitter All-Star for business, and he's one of the 100 or so executives followed on ExecTweets.

When CEO Antonio Perez went looking for a new CMO in 2006, Kodak was knee-deep in its wrenching transformation from a film-and-print company to a mostly digital one. While the easy money might have been on a turnaround guru, Mr. Perez instead chose Mr. Hayzlett, a South Dakota native and CEO of his own public-relations and business-development firm.

But while Mr. Hayzlett has been untraditional, as critics charge, he's also been effective. Kodak has weathered the transition fairly well, reporting double-digit digital-revenue growth in the second half of 2007 and a 10% jump during the first half of 2008 -- before a recession-spurred 24% drop in worldwide sales in the fourth quarter of 2008.

While job cuts, operational downsizing, additional business-to-business customers and intellectual-property-licensing revenue all have played roles in its successes, so did marketing, particularly digital and new media.

Ad Age: Kodak already has a very active chief blogger. And while most people finally understand the value of that position, what's the value for the CMO?

Mr. Hayzlett: Engaging in conversations with my customers. I have various communities that I engage with. I have a conversation with my employees, so it's a direct, unfiltered link to hundreds of employees who follow me. Then I have other communities, like media and also bloggers, and then I have my high-school class and my family. And I use each of those in different ways. ... I get some people who follow me who say "You put too much personal information up there," and I, quite frankly, I go back to them and say, "Well, then quit following me." It's not just for them; it's for me as well. ... I try to make things simple. I'm very much a process-oriented person. I like to do one thing and then repeat it many times. So my Twitter feeds into my Facebook and other things. That way I only have to do it once and it's repeated many times. One of the themes I have inside of our team is what I call "step and repeating" -- to do one thing and repeat it often. Leverage your activity so you get more with less.

Ad Age: Do you maintain that theme across all Kodak marketing?

Mr. Hayzlett: Absolutely. We're trying to do fewer campaigns but have bigger impact. Where we might have had 700 different projects last year, we'll be slimmed down to a few handfuls this year. It makes it much more meaningful, and we can put more wood behind the arrow in terms of what we're trying to accomplish.

Ad Age: What do you mean by a few handfuls? 20? 30?

Mr. Hayzlett: That depends on the product lines and it depends on what we're trying to accomplish. For us, marketing is about moving sales -- profitable sales. And that -- in the end that's how we're going to measure our brand and measure our company and our ROI.

Ad Age: Is that spurred by the struggling economy or by the way marketing has changed in the past decade?

Mr. Hayzlett: We're spurred by innovation, and what I mean by that is by our transformation from a company that was rooted in our film and imaging heritage into now a more classic digital company. In the last five years we've shifted 75% of our revenues into digital products and services. Half the products we have today didn't exist two years ago. Sixty percent of the people who work for us today weren't with us four years ago. And all 19 product lines we have now are No. 1 or No. 2 in the marketplace.

Ad Age: Was that a tough shift?

Mr. Hayzlett: An extremely tough shift. And at the exact same time we were doing that, marketing moved to a different level. We moved from what was broadcast to more narrowcast market. And to make it even more special, at the same time, a majority of our business shifted from consumer to B-to-B. It required a retooling of the entire marketing strategy, so that's what we've done. We've reduced the population, and we've reduced the budget significantly. Yet we're spending more on advertising percentage-wise this year than we did previous years.

Ad Age: How did you manage that?

Mr. Hayzlett: Because you shift the spend. That's one of our themes -- our priority of spend. Instead of spending money in fees and operational costs, we shifted those dollars into the advertising. We made a very strategic decision that we're going to spend more of our marketing budget in outward-bound activities than in operational or internal programs.

Ad Age: Does that mean marketing is taking a bigger seat at the C-suite table?

Mr. Hayzlett: If a marketer is not at the C-suite table, in a true seat, I don't know how they can do their job. Then you're just a service, not a driver, which marketing should be. Our CEO will tell you that my job is to create tension inside the organization.

Ad Age: How has the change to a more streamlined, forward-thinking company been handled inside the company?

Mr. Hayzlett: They've responded very well. It's a leaner, meaner game, in many ways: Get to the value proposition. Get to promoting the product. Deliver on the promise to the customer is how you build the brand. Find ways to engage in brand-content plays that make us part of the story so that we can use other people's money to get our story across, like "Celebrity Apprentice" and other television shows. Get to best-in-class marketing.

Ad Age: What about traditional marketing? Ad campaigns and direct mail and all of that have been streamlined as well?

Mr. Hayzlett: If you're going to do something, you should be able to, again, step and repeat it, in a way that takes the key assets and redeploys them in a blended campaign. So your website looks similar to your direct mail to your TV piece and so on. When we promote one business, we want to have a halo effect on the other businesses as much as we can.

Ad Age: What skills do you bring to Kodak?

Mr. Hayzlett: I bring a different energy than was here in the past. And that's been one of the great attributes that I have in getting things done -- an entrepreneur's spirit, and also not knowing that I can't do it.

Ad Age: What are you reading right now?

Mr. Hayzlett: I just finished "What Would Google Do?" by Jeff Jarvis, and I also finished last night "Defiance," about the Jews in Belorussia and their opposition to the Nazi regime, which was unbelievably inspiring. ... I read two or three books a week, usually at the same time. I carry them all around and read what I feel like at the time. I read profusely.

Ad Age: I'm starting to think you do everything profusely.

Mr. Hayzlett: There's a story about the first time I met my wife's great-grandmother. My wife is about 105 pounds and about 5'2", and Grandma Agnes was even smaller. I'm 6'3" and 270-some pounds. Grandma Agnes looked at me, she looked back at her, then she looked at me again, and turned to her and said, "Isn't he bigger than necessary?" I think I'm pretty much bigger than necessary in most areas. I wear cowboy boots, and I'm from South Dakota, and I don't necessarily fit the mold of classic marketer.

I'm a CMO, and I Tweet

Why, given everything CMOs have to do in a given day, do I take the time to use social media like Twitter and Facebook? And why do I strongly recommend that other C-level executives do the same? Because there is no better way to engage the various audiences that are important in my professional and personal life.

I first started using social media to keep in touch with family. I soon realized the benefits of updating my fellow employees, our customers, even the media and anyone else who wants to keep updated on what's happening with Kodak marketing.

I am careful to keep my Twitter feeds and Facebook posts balanced; they can't be too commercial. I also weave in personal activities and make sure my personality comes through. There's no need to be serious or selling all the time.

Social media enables C-level executives to become more accessible, and it's important that people hear from the real me. I've had people ask me if I do my own posts (I do -- you can't fake it with social media). I'm just a guy from South Dakota with a really cool job, so I can't help getting excited at some of the great things we do.

There's no better feeling than to get an excited response to a tweet by an employee or customer. But that's not to say I don't also get some negative feedback. One of my followers even complained about my personal tweets (I say stop following me if you don't want to follow me). I also receive comments about Kodak products and services -- the good and the bad. That's also a benefit. I get the unvarnished truth, which sometimes helps me better define real issues but always helps me understand what front-line Kodak employees experience.

We maintain three blogs, two Facebook pages, more than three Twitter accounts, podcasts, YouTube posts and more. The intangible and anecdotal results are in -- it's a valuable way to support and grow the brand, and an invaluable way to maintain a dialogue with our consumers.

But what about definitive ROI? We have seen very tangible returns from our participation in social media, including traditional media coverage, sales leads, increased customer consideration and direct product purchase. Of course, social media is a part of Kodak's integrated-marketing approach and much of it is managed by employees like me with other full-time jobs, so it's hard to precisely quantify ROI. Of course, it's not as hard to compare "before and after" and recognize the difference that social media has made.

Your involvement in social media will grow your brand, strengthen the connection between you and your company's key audiences, and keep you aware of what's really happening with your business. It's well worth the time investment.

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