A 'Social' Butterfly1 Jun, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
Susan McKenna's career evolution, from brand to direct response, has made her a leader in the E-commerce world. As that evolution continues, she believes social media might really be the next big thing.
I was a brand marketer, but I realized that direct response was a heck of a lot more fun," says Susan McKenna, vice president of E-commerce at Santa Monica, Calif.-based AlternativeHealthJournal.com, one of several new online programs developed by vitamin supplement leader Swiss Labs. "As a person who is creative but analytical and likes to see results, direct response gives me that. If you want to grow your business, and know how you're growing it, which means you can continue to grow it, direct response is the way to do it."
For McKenna, who has spent more than a decade in brand and DR marketing and recently left luxury skincare, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical company Borba for her new position, the future of direct response in this new century can be found digitally — whether its in social networking applications on the Web or via new media, such as mobile marketing. The most successful campaigns in today's climate, according to McKenna, are those that take into account the full array of direct response media, but center around the sales and commerce marvel that is the Internet.
"The Internet seems to be the last frontier for companies. Even though we were pioneering it at Borba, it's still usually an afterthought," she contends. "It seems to not be built into the plan for a company that is built to eventually sell its product into retail. I've seen that in the past at Toyota and WellPoint. Now these companies are starting to think that if they put more money into it and start funding the Web division more appropriately, they could get more out of it."
That certainly seemed to be the case at Borba, which was founded in 2004 by Scott-Vincent Borba, a former Ford model who earned a B.S. in biochemistry and marketing from Santa Clara University in Northern California. Now, in her new role, it seems she's in a similar spot, as she's been tasked with building an "entire E-commerce division" for a suite of products and companies, including alternativehealthjournal.com, ezkash.com and their parent, Swiss Labs.
McKenna's vision helped build a stronger Borba.com site, and she plans on doing the same in her new role. After all, she also owns her own business, Licensed Learning. Under that business' umbrella, she runs an E-commerce continuing education Web site, opentrafficschool.com. From her experience there, she has gained an understanding of the difference between what she calls Internet sales and Internet commerce. And, she says, a key to that commerce in the future is the booming new area of social networking.
McKenna s work at Borba centered aroundefforts to create an E-commerce Web site at Borba that would emulate the success of other outlets.
"A lot of online E-commerce channels in particular are really behind in terms of leveraging Web 2.0," she says. "Social networking isn't about selling. It's about entertainment, communication and information. The minute a person on one of these sites thinks, 'This is a sales pitch,' you're done. Its about leveraging that in a way that gives people the entertainment they are looking for, the interaction they are looking for. It's not easy to do."