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March 2007

Making CRM Live Up to its Promise: Tips for Marketers

Despite CRM's vision of "Knowing Thy Customer", CRM for most companies has not evolved beyond Sales Force Automation.  As a Marketing VP, I've been on the hook for customer experience, outreach and acquistion, and had little more than stone-age CRM tools to work with.  To help other Marketers avoid the same tool-related injuries, I've been writing a series of articles Lies, Damn Lies and Dashboards for Marketing Profs both to share cautionary tales and to provide action plans for making CRM projects work.

Here are my tips for Marketers to take control of the CRM lead machine:

1.      Get Marketing on the CRM Steering Committee – if it’s not already.  Most CRM deployment projects are driven by the sales team.  Marketers need to be involved up-front to define the systems, project plan and measurement criteria.

2.      Become a CRM Expert – Get Your Hands Dirty!  When your programs are under scrutiny, the last thing you need is another action item -- but understanding how your CRM system works is critical to your success as a marketer.  Take advantage of online training and webcasts.  Make your administrator your IM buddy (I did, and all I had to do was ask).  Focus specifically on the data fields and reports in the campaign management function of the system so you can quickly get your hands on the data you need.  Or deputize an ambitious, tech-savvy member of your team to do the digging for you and keep the whole group informed.

3.      Don’t Expect a Solution Out of the Box -- Allocate Budget for Marketing Automation Tools Most CRM systems are not designed for campaign management (despite what they claim).  To track lead to revenue (which this is about, after all), to consolidate leads from all sources (web leads, search engines, outbound campaigns), and to nurture leads over time, you will need Marketing Automation tools to supplement your CRM system.   I know a few marketing departments that assign a person to import leads from other systems and export data to Excel™ to create custom reports – but it’s not anyone’s favorite job. 

4.      Don’t Stop Learning – Keep Evaluating and Tuning the System. No one gets it right out of the gate.  Be prepared to evaluate your progress monthly – not just when you have a reporting deadline.    Challenge yourself and your team to find new ways to measure your progress – and to find holes in the process that could hinder you moving forward.  Have a working lunch with the sales team (and offer to buy the pizza) to test your reporting metrics and question your assumptions.

5.       Be Proactive -- Set Realistic Expectations for Upper Management. Just because you can access reports instantly, doesn’t mean you’ll instantly impact the revenue line.   If you have a six-month sales cycle, a real-time dashboard won’t close the deals any faster. Expect to proactively walk through the lead nurturing process and the lead-to-sale process with your management team.

Chris Rock, Marketing Strategist

Multi-tasking in front of the TV, I read a book on corporate strategy while watching an Inside the Actor's Studio Interview with Chris Rock.  Chris Rock's business advice was far more useful.  As_episode_chris_rock

It shouldn't surprise us that comedians have serious advice.  Comedy might easily be the toughest creative profession.  Few businesses require the same levels of idea generation, product delivery, stamina and nerve.

Comedic success can be painfully short-lived.  Chris Rock emphasizes that, with the exception of a dozen luminaries in Hollywood (Spielberg, Geffen, et al.), everyone is auditioning.   

He believes that if you accept the fact that you're always auditioning, you see the world differently.  You keep your skills honed.  You constantly evaluate and differentiate your personal brand.  You see each human interaction as a chance to connect with others.  You understand your unique talents and look for different ways to demonstrate your value, so you don't get typecast.

As a comedian, you create original material by drawing upon your own experiences.  And you constantly test your material in the outside world to make sure your product is authentic.

Sounds like relevant business strategy and career strategy for the rest of us.

The Impact of Conspicuous Consumption: Marketers Take Note

Conspicuous Consumption is Conspicuous.   Does it distract us from what's really going on in the market?   In her Marketing Profs article last Tuesday, The Devil May Wear Prada, But Everyone Else Wears Isaac Mizrahi, Marti Barletta cautions marketers to look beyond trend hype to what people really buy.   In a larger context, we may be missing the forest for the ornamental trees.

Booksmall So how do we track Inconspicuous Consumption?   In their book The Influentials, Ed Keller and Jon Berry go where The Tipping Point's Mavens and Connectors leave off.   The book's subtitle is:  "one American in ten tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat, and what to buy".  According to Keller and Berry, Influentials are information-hungry, outgoing, and suprisingly pragmatic.   They don't seek to influence, but others trust their judgement.   What does this mean to marketers?   

We need to seriously consider who our real brand ambassadors are -- but not mistake Word of Mouth Marketing with orchestrating buzz through stealth spokespeople.   

Worth adding to your news feed: the Influence 2.0 blog, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Womnibus Blog.  A Great Primer for Marketers on Social Media: Brand Marketers, Meet Social Networks: Building Communities Without Jeopardizing Your Brand, by Joe Lichtenberg of Marketing Profs.

The Economic Impact of Creativity: Globally and Locally

006075690x_01__bo2204203200_pisitbdp500a In The Rise of the Creative Class, The Flight of the Creative Class, and,  Richard Florida investigates what makes world regions creative, productive and competitive, as a result.  Looking beyond traditional economic productivity indices, he characterizes the “3 T’s of Economic Development”: Technology, Talent and Tolerance.  Creative capital drives growth in an idea-driven economy.     


How do we apply this global premise locally?  This week the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation released a report on state competitiveness, looking at several factors.   My state, Massachusetts, landed on top of the list.  I recently investigated relocating a corporate HQ in Boston for a high-growth software company.  It was challenging to choose a location with proximity to affordable housing, universities, suburban bedroom communities and a vibrant town center. Despite the #1 ranking, we're still far from creating a creative renaissance in Massachusetts–- high housing rates discourage newcomers, management training programs are rare and start-up executives

seldom find the time to mentor young talent. 

We can all have an impact on our region’s economic growth, and could do worse than to apply macro principles to our daily practice of attracting, hiring and developing talent in our organizations.