Kevin Doohan has over 10 years of internet specific marketing experience at leading companies including Cendant Corporation, Homestore.com, Digital Insight and ConAgra Foods. Doohan is currently employed as director, web marketing at ConAgra Foods. In this role, he develops and manages internet strategy for the organization, including corporate efforts and all consumer brand websites. Doohan also is responsible for all email marketing and for management of ConAgra Foods' consumer database. Specific consumer marketing responsibilities include increasing size and productivity of the database, segmenting the database into brand-relevant target groups and directing marketing activities that engage consumers and drive sales.
iMedia: What's your current greatest challenge when it comes to marketing in general, and interactive marketing specifically? How are you tackling it/them?
Kevin Doohan: The greatest challenge in marketing continues to be closing the loop and making the direct connection between an individual marketing activity and a product sale. However, it's my greatest joy too because every day we come up with new ideas, implement them, generate learnings and improve our understanding of how our direct conversations with consumers drive sales.
iMedia: With which online marketing tools (email, behavioral targeting, display advertising, et cetera) has your company experienced marketing success in recent months?
Doohan: Our company has experienced success across the board with online marketing tools. What tool will be successful is determined by what our objectives are. Sometimes email is the best, sometimes targeted display ads rule and other times it might be consumer acquisition oriented activities.
iMedia: With regard to this success, what are some lessons learned that you can share with our audience? What worked? What were some challenges and how did you overcome them?
Doohan: It is fundamental but always, always, always start with a brief for any initiative. Almost without exception, every time we fail (believe it or not we occasionally do) I can trace it back to inadequate definition of "what is success?" for a given initiative and lack of detail for specifically how we are going to achieve success.
Another lesson learned is share early and often. Make sure that the stakeholders in your initiatives have appropriate opportunities for review and feedback throughout the marketing development process. It just makes for smoother, more successful initiatives and more cooperative partners.
iMedia: Think about your company's favorite online marketing tool or mix of tools. What advice would you give to marketers interested in trying these out for the first time?
Doohan: Know your desired destination when you start, then choose the appropriate tools and designs to get there. Find peers who know online marketing and learn from their experience. People are usually willing to share best practices if you're not a direct competitor.
iMedia: Online video is coming of age. Has it impacted your marketing yet? Do you plan to do more of it soon?
Doohan: We consider video along with our other options. No specific plans to share.
iMedia: Consumer-generated content is scary for many brands because of their inability to control it. How do you view the topic? Have you had much experience dealing with it yet? Any advice for other marketers?
Doohan: I believe consumer-generated content is best when it is authentic, unfiltered and about a subject that inspires passion and participation. We're in the middle of an inexorable shift toward consumer control. I have experience with consumer-generated content. My opinion is that the value created by active consumer participation is greater than the downside reduced control creates. My advice is just do it.
iMedia: What are you most proud of from the past year? Why, and what should other marketers learn from that?
Doohan: ConAgra Foods has integrated web marketing into our process in a far better way during the past year. Collaboration and simplicity are two keys to making that happen in any organization. An open attitude, a bias toward collaboration and a focus on keeping it simple will pay off in my experience.
iMedia: Anything else you'd like to add?
Doohan: Sure. If you haven't yet, read Brand Hijack by Alex Wipperfurth. The folks at IMC2 sent it to me. It's not life changing but it's damn good and I enjoyed it.
Dawn Anfuso is senior editor for iMedia Connection.