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Volume 21 No. 1
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Alex Craddock, head of North America marketing, Visa

Why biggest isn’t necessarily best in social media, what we are all increasingly doing with our down time, and why building brand equity is more important than ever.


very aspect of our marketing now has a social element by design.
Certainly, that landscape is evolving as we sit here. So the most important thing is to be out there experimenting.

I wouldn’t say that we or anyone are experts yet, but one of the big learnings is that integrating it with content that is developed with social media in mind can be really powerful. That could be a TV spot or whatever, but if you are entertaining or telling consumers something they don’t know, it will be successful across social media. It’s all about engaging people, like any good communication.

Photo by: VISA
It used to be all about having the biggest social media community, but we have learned that the ultimate metric that matters in this space is earned reach. You are looking to extend something beyond a video on Facebook or a single tweet.

Everything is measurable online, so you can zero in on what works. For our NFL campaign this season, we generated in excess of 17 million earned impressions through our social media activities.

Mobile devices or the utility offered by them will become our product very soon, so harnessing them for marketing is absolutely one of our key priorities.

I’ve seen statistics saying that we spend 12 percent of our time looking at our mobile devices, but just 1 percent of ad dollars are going there. So I’ve told my team and agencies that we have to figure out what will be an engaging experience for a consumer on a mobile device and I’m not convinced it’s a tiny banner at the bottom of a small screen.

Like social, you’ve got to experiment, so we have some budget for that and I am forcing some people to test, learn and take some risk there. When you consider what can be done with mobile devices, stuff like streaming video that’s location-enabled, there has got to be 101 great ideas.

So often, your mobile device is something you turn to when you have down time. So if we can create something that fills that down time … it should be a great tool for any marketer.

As the product transitions to virtual, the real estate where consumers see the brand every day is going to get smaller. So it may be more about building brand equity than ever. But it means we have to figure out how to market and service consumers through mobile devices — that becomes paramount.

Visa has had very long-standing relationships with some large properties, so we understand how consumers engage with them and how to leverage that. The continuity we have built through those relationships is something we wouldn’t want to give up. Building properties means you have to start from scratch and it can be difficult.

We have billions of cardholders, and there are very few things that give you that kind of scale, outside of sports. That’s why we have Olympics, FIFA World Cup and NFL in the U.S. You get scale, reach and relevance with sports, and that’s why I don’t see us changing [to big-time entertainment properties] for the foreseeable future.

I like structure and agenda in meetings, but I also see my role as being the person who ensures that everyone speaks and shares their point of view. That convergence of ideas is where something spectacular comes from. If it’s just the usual suspects speaking, you’re probably missing out on something magical.

The best business advice I ever received is to take your time, which is more difficult than ever. Everyone and everything these days is a mad rush. The best thing you can do today is to think about continuity, as opposed to making one sprint after the next.

Technology is pervasive, but it shouldn’t force its way into things like sport. The role it should have is getting fans closer to the game.

It is also allowing us to engage directly with those involved — you can tweet directly to your favorite football star. As a fan, that’s golden.