On Friday, June 1, 2012, the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at Haigazian University organized a half day symposium on “Customer Communication”.
The question addressed was, How do marketers communicate with their customers nowadays? To provide answers to this question, select group of marketing communications practitioners from leading organizations were invited to share their experiences in communicating with their customers. Awide array of topics covered various issues, such as the transition from traditional (e.g., advertising) to less-traditional (e.g., social media) communication channels, the integration among all types of communication techniques throughout the promotional process including the creation and execution of concepts and the development and usage of the elements of branding and marketing in order to ensure consistency of message delivery, to the role of marketing communications in the transition from customer service to customer relations, the creation of customer solutions and leveraging the diffusion of social media.
Dr. Fadi Asrawi, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at Haigazian University, opened the program with welcoming remarks, stressing on the importance of “Communication” in today’s businesses.This was followed by the greeting and thanking remarks of UniversityPresident, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, who reflected on the topics of communication and conflict, style of communication and content, highlighting the importance of sharing some ‘good news’ through the communication process, whether in the marketplace or beyond.
Leading advertising agency, H & C Leo Burnett’s team, presented their company’s organizational culture and their particular approach to customers, which aims toreach them emotionally first and intellectually second. Rather than focus on what they were selling, they emphasized why they were selling it.
They expressed the agency’s goal as “creating ideas that truly move people”, and provided as example one prestigious campaign of theirs, Johnny Walker’s “Celebrating Progress”, which includes the stories of successful Lebanese such as architect Bernard Khoury and movie director Nadine Labaki.
The following speakers were representatives of INDEVCO Group, an international group of manufacturing companies. Dr. Ellen KussmanFeghali, Maya KhalifehMerhej and SolangeTaoukjianAjouz took turns presenting their company’s distinct method of reaching customers. They highlighted their new and very successful ACE Program, an email-based system that is able to target specific groups of potential customers.
They expanded on the objectives of the program and went into detail on its flourishing implementation. They concluded with a few best practices, such as listening to your customers, and ended with the words “communication is a path, not a destination.”
After a short coffee break, the symposium resumed with Dr. TarekNawas, Chair of the Faculty Senate at LAU, adding the perspective of communication in the university environment. Focusing on the “basic triangle” of parents, students and the university, Nawas discussed recent developments in communication, particularly the use of social media such as Facebook.
In addition, Nawas found websites to be “a powerful recruitment tool” and he provided statistics on which social media sites students and universities preferred. He concluded his presentation with some advice: “we should work on our own interpersonal communication skills to improve organizational communication.”
Ms. Monica Karam was then invited to share her experience as a manager of social media strategies in Lebanese and Arab markets with “Social4ce”, a part of the group Agency 90:10. In a presentation that included a short animated video, Karam gave the audience a good idea of the percentage of people in Lebanon and the Middle East that use various social media and its rapid increase in recent years.
“People trust peer recommendations much more than ads,” Karam argued, explaining the importance of social media in marketing.However, she added, constant engagement and the ability to handle negative feedback are also a major part of the role of a community manager.
One such community manager and a client of Social4ce, Maria Etre from Silkor, shared her experience with using social media to develop campaigns and promote the brand in innovative ways, including the creation of 3D animated characters.
The symposium then concluded with a luncheon in the Mugar garden.