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Digital Darwinism

Peter Weedfald is senior vice president of strategic marketing and new media for Samsung Electronics America Inc. In his keynote speech at Ad:Tech, he gave a high-level, high-minded look at Samsung’s online strategy. What follows is a partial transcript of his Ad:Tech presentation:

Peter Weedfald is senior vice president of strategic marketing and new media for Samsung Electronics America Inc. In his keynote speech at Ad:Tech, he gave a high-level, high-minded look at Samsung’s online strategy. What follows is a partial transcript of his Ad:Tech presentation:

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I’m in love with the Internet. I have been a believer and a harbinger, and I’ve looked out on the vista of media and technology emerging within our own organization. The concord internally that I’m going to show you today I’m very concerned about. I do not want to be a docent for my competition. But we are now in the information economy. This is the knowledge economy.

We need to decide what is the Internet in terms of its power base juxtaposed against the media. We’re trying to drill down and narrowcast or microcast because that’s the power of the Internet. I don’t want my competition to understand the Internet. I don’t want them to understand that the Internet is Darwin on speed. I want them to think of the Internet as the last stop on building an integrated plan.

It’s funny how we’re drilling into the Internet like it’s really something different. Before we drill into the granular level, there’s much more power than that. There’s much more power than search. The world is shifting. For 25-30 years, we have taught everybody that we want Blackberries by our sides, we want cell phones by our sides, 200 channels. We’re in a time of massive disruption, but the next time you go to one of these seminars, be sure to ask about relevancy.

How do we know it’s a time of disruption? Look at the music industry. What else has been disrupted? Hollywood has been affected. It is a very interesting world. It is a pell-mell economy. From our perspective there are only three businesses left on this planet. One business is the content business. Another business is the pipe business.

I’m in launch mode 24 hours a day. We do flat-panel displays. We launched a new cell phone every two weeks starting last September. I’m in charge of refrigerators and microwaves. That’s the third leg of the stool — the business we’re in. We want to own the first inch through the glass to get to whatever pipe you want to get to.

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The other three-legged stool is also very important. One, my business. You must have the freshest lettuce on the shelf. On the last three feet of the sale, you need to have the most features. People are trading up, not trading down. Second, you need to have a distribution channel. The last of the three-legged stool is that advertising and marketing communications, the demand generation needs to work as hard or as fast as the last three feet of the sale. The prelude to failure is to have a disruptive model without organization and leadership.

We have moved from being a time-to-market company to a time-to-volume business. Our pecuniary opportunities lay in 30-60 days of shelf space. I look at more than 300 business plans a year. It’s a blinding blur. So what do we do? Our key disciplines are very simple. One, our manufacturing prowess. Two, Samsung has been the driver of digital convergence for the last five or six years. We look at three worlds for everybody. You have a business world, a mobile world, and a home world.

My passion is to break through to the possible. Consistency is the refuge of the unsure. What about the brand? Brand is a medal you need to shine every day. Look at our brand ascension. For the second year in a row, Samsung has the fastest growing brand. Four years ago, we weren’t in the top 200. I don’t call it love. On the right is brand infatuation. On the left is brand evaporation.

Buyers do not divide themselves between brand and technology first. Buyers divide themselves based on where they’re going to buy. If they’re going to go to a store, they want to kick the tires. If they buy online, they’ll buy online. No one will compete for your attention on the last three feet of the sale. So we compete for the home.

We’re going to move into the perfect information economy. What do we do when someone goes into Best Buy with Wi-Fi, compares products on Buy.com and Dell.com while they’re there? Thats a disruptive technology. Thank God there’s a lot of people in denial. What are we going to do about? If technology is important, how can we express that our technology is better?

Conventional marketing is so dead it’s frightening. We need to look at it differently. People don’t buy TVs and cell phones, they buy a dream. They buy a consumer or business dream. We need to overhaul our entire Internet strategy. You can’t do that in a vacuum. The only way to drive value on the Internet is through CRM. CRM is not customer relationship management. That’s a software package. CRM stands for “Customers really matter.”

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If I really care about you, the only thing to do is one-to-one marketing. We built an infrastructure that allows us to attract and retain. We’ve identified 25 touch points that matter. If you asked me who my number one target is in a consumer, I’m trying to reach anyone who’s ever bought a Samsung product.

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