The emergence of digital photography and high-quality home printers had threatened to put a major dent in Kodak’s business by the time Jeffrey Hayzlett was named CMO in 2006. Over the next four years, Hayzlett burnished the iconic brand’s reputation—a turnaround that incorporated vigorous use of social media to engage the company’s customers and employees.
Hayzlett left Kodak in May 2010, not long after the release of his best-selling book, The Mirror Test. These days, he is a leading marketing consultant his next book, Running the Gauntlet, is now available for pre-sale. He shared some thoughts on how social media helped the turnaround at Kodak and how it can work for a variety of other organizations, too.
Q: What was the trigger or set of circumstances that made it obvious to you that it was time for the adoption of social media at Kodak?
We needed to makes changes and there’s no better tool for quick change than social media. To turnaround a company that’s all about people and experiences, you must engage the people creating those experiences, listen to them, hear them and learn from them to improve. Doing what had been done wasn’t going to get things done, so we knew there was nothing to lose and everything to gain from putting ourselves out there.
Q: Organizations often put up barriers to innovation. What have you experienced and what advice do you have for peers on how to “remove” those barriers?
It’s usually a fear of what’s new or unknown that leads people to build up walls against ideas that can transform, grow and lead to success for companies. What worked in the past doesn’t mean it will be the answer next year, next week or even later the same day. At Kodak, I came in knowing people who put up those barriers would not fit our team. You have to surround yourself with people who want to take on the challenges and the change.
Q: What are 1-2 examples of online innovation that you can share with us?
Social media may seem obvious, but it’s an innovation that’s changed our communication style, tools and audience. I also believe mobile technology, if it’s advertising or apps, is changing how we talk to our consumers and gives us the ability to target them with even more effectiveness.
Q: How have you used social media in non-traditional ways (e.g. for recruiting of employees or to crowd-source ideas internally)?
Without question, I’ve been doing it since it began. I used social media when we launched products at Kodak. We used social media to look for enhancements or renaming for products. I’ve also used it to recruit a Chief Listening Officer at Kodak. It’s how you find people and go to them. The comedian Sam Kinison used to say food doesn’t grow in the desert, go where the food is. In this case, go where the people are and utilize social media.
Jeffrey, thank you, great to hear from you.
All the best, Bob