Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Digital Mornings: General Mills, Technology and Associations Food giant is redoing cereal boxes to bring them into tech age

So how are you adapting technology for your association or nonprofit? Are there ways you can turn a traditional/stodgy product or service into a digital morning?

This USA Today story about what is happening at General Mills and its cereal boxes might provide some guidance. Remember, people who experience technology on their cereal boxes will soon expect similar technology from their association’s products and services.

Some key quotes from General Mills (Mark Addicks, chief marketing officer) and the story:
  •  "You point to a logo and things start to appear," he says. "Maybe some functional content will pop up on a cake-mix box, or you might see entertainment and games coming from a cereal box. What I'm hoping for is pure entertainment."
  •  The cereal box itself, Addicks says, is one of the most widely read mediums, with the average consumer checking out his or her cereal box 12 times.
  •  Kevin Lane Keller, a professor of marketing at Dartmouth College, says established companies need to adapt to social media and digital technology but "can't lose sight of the main purpose" -- selling products.
  •  Catherine Roe, head of consumer packaged goods for Google, who has had meetings with General Mills, wants the company to view itself as a publisher, not an advertiser. "We see them as a Food Network or Epicurious," she says. "They have really strong content that they produce. They are really progressive in this space."
So, what can associations and nonprofits learn from General Mills?

     Identify existing communications channels that can be upgraded to digital.  
  • If you have a website built in the “electronic brochure” style, what can you do to upgrade it to help meet member/customer expectations? See the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America website .... Note how they have added video in the form of GCSAA-TV ... including “My Story” interviews with members. 
     Look for ways to inform and engage your members and your prospects. 
  • Most produce a newsletter or magazine. How can you add a digital element to enhance the value to many of your members? See how the North American Equipment Dealers Association has created links to their magazine and newsletter. You might be able to use QR codes on your conference promotional brochures that take members to a website landing page to register. The USA Today about General Mills includes a link to a video interview with the General Mills CMO.
       See if an entertainment strategy can add value
  • When it launched a marketing campaign to get more consumers to purchase farm-grown Christmas trees, the National Christmas Tree Association produced and distributed an interactive advergame called The Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Tree. In addition to reaching 3+ million targeted consumers, the advergame added value to members and generated attention of news media.
In light of the changing environment, look at the news story and these questions and use them to guide your internal audit to determine what changes you might make to engage your members and attract potential new members.

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