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October 4, 2012

Key Take-Aways from 2012 Conference Keynote: How to Succeed in Uncertain Times

James Giese UWEBC Communications Director

Erica Gruen, marketer and digital media pioneer, delivered the plenary keynote address and received the UW E-Business Institute 2012 Distinguished Fellow Award at the 14th Annual UWEBC Business Best Practices & Emerging Technologies Conference held Oct. 4 in Madison. WI.

Photo: Dr. Raj Veeramani presents the 2012 UW E-Business Institute 2012 Distinguished Fellow Award to Erica Gruen. (See Gruen bio below.)
 In her presentation “How to Succeed in Uncertain Times: Three Ways to Pioneer and Prosper”, Gruen shared insights that were particularly timely for facing the challenges of today’s turbulent economy in which innovation can provide a key competitive edge.

“A pioneer is someone who sees the a future that others don’t and has a high tolerance for not knowing exactly the path to get to that future,” says Gruen , “A pioneer is someone who is strategic, practical, and results-driven. “

Anyone can be a pioneer and prosper in these uncertain times, according to Gruen, by following three fundamental principles: Watch what matters; inspire loyalty beyond reason; and, finally, be your own media

Watch what Matters: To be successful strategically, individuals need to apply strategy in a constant transforming manner.

“You need to watch what consumers are doing,” says Gruen, “because what consumers are doing today reveals what they will be doing tomorrow. And what consumers are doing tomorrow dictates your company’s course of action.”

Constant observation of consumer likes and dislikes is a key aspect of the successful “pioneer” behavior for companies.

Inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason: “Consumer loyalty and consumer loyalty beyond reason is the key to brand profitability and brand longevity,” says Gruen.

Gruen presentation chartCultivating respect and love among customers is important in establishing loyalty. Gruen demonstrated a chart from Eric Roberts’ book, “Lovemarks” that establishes “love” and “respect” for brands. (See figure to the left from her presentation.)

Brands with low love and low respect are typically commodities that consumers must purchase; brands with low love and high respect include brands that consumers are very aware of but are interchangeable with other brands and often compete on price; brands with high love and low respect brands tend to be fads; and, finally, there are “lovemarks” brand that have both high love and high respect. These brands are the most successful. Examples of these include Apple, Lego, and Nike.

Be Your Own Media: According to Gruen, companies need to take control of their own media channels and by doing so provide the content and stories that create loyalty and respect among their customers.

“High quality content creation was once the province of journalists and media companies,"says Gruen, however, now high-quality content is being provided by companies via their own media channels: web, video, and social media.

Big media markets are giving way to a lot of smaller linked audiences, according to Gruen, and since customers are the audience, this allows companies to both provide content and a forum in which they can create respect and love for their brands. These company branded sites often have large audiences.

In conclusion, Gruen says that we live in a culture with a scarcity of time, scarcity of inspiration and a scarcity of energy, both physical and creative energy. Companies that are not afraid to connect to customer with authentic expression of their humanity, says Guruen, will be the ones that are both profitable and will grow.



Erica Gruen Biography 

gruenErica Gruen, marketer and digital media pioneer, delivered the plenary keynote address and received the UW E-Business Institute 2012 Distinguished Fellow Award 

Erica Gruen is the 2012 recipient of the UW E-Business Institute Distinguished Fellow Award. The award is presented each year during the UWEBC Business Best Practices & Emerging Technologies Conference to a visionary who has led significant achievements and advancements in business innovation through digital channels.

A highly respected media brand-builder, Gruen, is a visionary and pioneer in television, advertising, and digital media. Gruen is the former President/CEO of The Food Network and FoodNetwork.com. Starting at the network in 1996, she staged a complete brand and programming turnaround and created a blockbuster in only two years - introducing the smash hits Emeril Live!, The Two Fat Ladies, and The Iron Chef.
Erica is the 2nd woman to ever hold the CEO title at a cable network. Before joining Food, she was SVP, Strategic Media Resources at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, the world’s largest ad agency at the time. There she created and ran Saatchi’s branded entertainment unit, one of the first of its kind on Madison Avenue, and launched many Emmy-Award winning series.

As Saatchi's chief new-media strategist, she also advised all of Saatchi's Fortune 100 clients in North America on investments in emerging media. Way back in 1995, she started one of Madison Avenue’s first digital advertising agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive, leading the creation of Toyota.com, Tide.com, and YouRuleSchool.com (General Mills kids’ cereals) --These sites were some of the first consumer-advertising web sites ever built. In 1995, she was named to New York Magazine’s “Cyber 60” list.

In 2006, Gruen was named to the prestigious Cable Pioneers Society. She is a Past Chair of the Women in Cable and Telecommunications Foundation and an Honorary Chair of Cable Positive.

Today, as a principal with Quantum Media and president of Erica Gruen Consulting, Erica uses her creative and financial chops to build business for many of the largest entertainment and publishing companies, including the BBC, AMC, the Comcast Networks, Conde Nast, Hearst, Reader’s Digest, and others. Gruen holds an MS in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin and a BA With Honors from the University of Michigan.
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