The third part of my Spotlight on Austin series features Powered, a social marketing firm that is changing the way that businesses integrate social media with online marketing. It's interesting to note that in part one and part two of the Spotlight on Austin series, both interviewees -- Peter Kim of Dachis Group and Tommy Landry of Anue Systems -- named Powered as an Austin-based company they feel is poised for success. The company was launched almost 10 years ago on the premise of combining education and marketing to drive revenue. I asked Aaron Strout, vice president of marketing for Powered, the same questions I asked Kim and Landry.
Q. [Jennifer] What is the main business objective? What are you selling?
A. [Aaron] We sell social marketing programs to smart marketers. What is "social marketing" you ask? The way Powered thinks about it is the combination of expert content and managed online community to generate meaningful and measurable results. Sony's Backstage 101 community is a great example of this.
Q. What are the top three problems that you are solving for your clients / customers?
A. Powered's mission is simple. For our clients, we focus on three areas:
- Building brand advocacy which results in deeper loyalty and a greater willingness to refer
- Helping to increase purchase consideration
- Improving overall customer retention
The nice thing is that we measure all three of these areas and the results are off the charts.
Q. What types of customers do you have?
A. Powered's solutions are best suited for larger companies (think Fortune 500) in the business to consumer space. Some of the industries where we've enjoyed the most success are consumer electronics, mobile, consumer packaged goods and media. At the end of the day, our best customers are those that look at our team as an extension of their marketing team. Because of the deep insights we bring to the table, the more we're in the loop, the more successful the program.
Q. Who are some of your customers and do you have case studies you can show?
A. HP, iVillage, Motorola, Radio Shack and Sony are some of Powered's more prominent customers. We've done a few case studies on these customers ourselves but recent stories by MarketingProfs about how our client, Sony, has benefited from social marketing and 1to1Marketing recently wrote about our client Atkins.
Q. What is your company's primary objective at SXSW?
A. We realize that SXSWi (South by Southwest Interactive) is a place to go for three things:
- Drink from the "social" fire hose -- most of the best minds in the country, including big brands, agencies and independent thought leaders -- come to present at panels, attend social gatherings and do some good old fashioned networking. We intend to be there ready to soak it all in.
- Be seen - at the end of the day, my job as the CMO is to make sure our target audience (marketers) know about us. One great way to do that is to make sure the people that our potential customers are listening to - the Chris Brogans, C.C. Chapmans and Greg Verdinos of the world - know who we are and the value our programs bring.]
- Create content - during the event, I'll be working with one of our advisory board members, Susan Bratton of Dishy Mix podcast fame, to interview a number of luminaries at SXSW. These podcasts will go up on our blog. Our team will also be twittering and taking tons of photos which will of course be uploaded on Flickr and Picasa.
Q. Tell me your perspective on the innovation coming out of Austin.
A. Having moved from the Boston/Cambridge, Mass., area - a place that is no slouch when it comes to innovation - I'm getting a real vibe of excitement and activity when it comes to the start up culture. To me, a place that is fertile ground for startups can't help but breed innovation. Plus, with local organizations like Geek Austin, Bryan Person's Social Media Breakfasts, the AIMA and Social Media Club, we've got tons of places for folks like me to connect with other innovators in the space.
Q. Name one other Austin-based company that you feel has it dialed in and tell me why.
A. I'm really excited about the things going on over at Breaking Point Systems. They are taking social media as a business tool to a whole new level. I think you are familiar with my good friend, Kyle Flaherty and his manager, Pam O'Neal over there.