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Mailrooms are quickly becoming anachronistic features of corporate offices, but in their prime, they featured postage meters and beeping, blinking copy and fax machines bearing the Pitney Bowes logo. The company did very, very well.
But as physical communication methods became more digital, Pitney Bowes’ profits fell. Between 2008 and 2011, revenues slipped to $5.3 billion, a billion-dollar drop as US and European economies, its key markets, softened.
Competitors like Kodak went bust and Xerox nearly filed Chapter 11, but Pitney Bowes sought to evolve with the times by adding a robust suite of digital marketing products for B2B clientele intent on reaching audiences through email, social, and mobile channels.
Yesterday it was confirmed that Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York; the final chapter in a long and painful fall from market dominance in the 1980s.
This humiliating 'Kodak moment' came about largely because the camera brand failed to embrace digital technology.
Still running focus groups? How very 20th century. An increasing number of organizations have moved consumer research online. Major brands including Godiva, ABC Studios, InterContinental Hotels, and Kodak, are conducting both qualitative and quantitative research digitally in private online communities. Sometimes, these initiatives extend offline as well, but the web is the core of the initiative.
We caught up with Joe Stauble who runs corporate strategy and market research for Mercedes-Benz USA to learn more about how the company is leveraging two online communities: Generation Benz, launched in 2008 and comprised of Gen Y consumers; and Mercedes Benz Advisors, a community of 1,795 baby boomers. Both community platforms were built by Passenger.
Thanks to the rapid growth of digital cameras — and camera-equipped smartphones — traditional camera makers have had to make a lot of changes over the past few years.
Eastman Kodak Company, for instance, went from selling $15 billion of film five years ago to less than $2 billion last year. To counter that shift, the company is working hard to transition from the analog to the digital world.
One person who has been at the forefront of that shift is the company's Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Hayzlett. Kodak now does 70% of its business in digital. In addition to marketing the brand, Hayzlett has taken charge of changing the mood of his company. That campaign has taken many formats, including multiple guest appearances on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, where Kodak is a sponsor and participant.
Hayzlett's long been a proponent of social media, and has used the medium to change the way Kodak does business. From crowd sourcing product names and features to various customer service initiatives, Hayzlett has been so bullish on social that he created and hired for the position of Chief Listening Officer to keep track of the brand online.
I've written about Hayzlett before, and the last post I did, about Hayzlett's notion of "emotional technology," sparked a debate in our comment section that questioned the validity of valuing listening above sales. With Hayzlett's book The Mirror Test coming out this week, I decided to track him down and ask a few more questions on the matter.
Jeffrey Hayzlett is a social media evangelist. As Kodak's chief marketing officer, he's led the company into new territory, reaching out to consumers online and changing the company's structure in response. He's hired Kodak's first Chief Blogger and created the position of Chief Listening Officer, a role he thinks will be required at every major company in the near future.
Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak's Chief Marketing Officer, is one of the top ten executives that tweet. You can find him on Twitter solo (@jeffreyhayzlett) or in the river of exectweets, where he holds the title of the "most Twittering CMO."
Speaking at the 140 Character Conference (video here), he evangelized about the medium over two days, railed against "Big Ink" (aka. HP) and coined a new term — "twanker." (He also gave away a few of Kodak's new Zx1 pocket video cameras to audience members while he was at it).
Econsultancy caught up with him to find out how Kodak is using Twitter and what brands are missing out on when they forgo social media as a customer service tool.
Kodak has done the unthinkable by alienating vast swathes of long-term customers by deleting pictures stored in the Kodak Picture Gallery.
The Gallery stores ‘billions of photos’ for it’s 75m members, and the costs associated with running this part of its business forced Kodak to change its terms and conditions
It now requires users make at least one ‘annual nominal purchase’, otherwise their pictures will be deleted - unless an annual fee of either $4.99 (for sub-2GB accounts) or $19.99 (for heavier users) will be charged.
Kodak says it has communicated this via email ‘over a period of months’ (it started to message users almost a year ago), but nevertheless, many users have been shocked by the decision to delete their pictures. Certainly it’s not something that sits well in the Flickr age.