CRM Functional Blueprint
Marketing, of all the business disciplines is the one today by far facing the greatest amount of change. Just to keep up, CMOs needs to be nearly full time students to consume and process all the changes occurring in channels, measurement, storytelling, and fundamentally how messages are brought to market. In developing the framework of Customer Relationship Marketing what I’ve hoped to accomplish is to provide the CMO a tool for visualizing the moving organizational parts to bridge the gap between what was, and what will be.
To kick off our conversation, let’s start by abstracting the CRM(arketing) diagram to focus on the marketing processes.
At this level, things should look familiar. Channel, brand, and direct are all common parts of the marketing organization. What may be somewhat unfamiliar, and where we will begin the detailed analysis, is the corporate information factory.
Corporate Information Factory
At its heart, the information factory is a database. This shouldn’t be alien to many marketers, as databases already play critical roles on both sides of the house divided, brand and direct. Albeit the metrics and usage are different between the two, there are often similarities if not overlaps in the data sets. The intent of centralizing the databases is to begin eliminating multiple customer versions and start focusing on one version of the truth.
Switching to a consolidated approach has operational benefits as well. Quality of data is critical to any campaign. Bad data translates to bad lists and flawed approaches. One area very vulnerable to data corruption is the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process that addresses moving and shaping data into useful views. Minimizing the ETL process across disparate systems, therefore, goes a long way toward promoting data hygiene.
For a much more technical description of the corporate information factory visit the site of its father, Bill Inmon.
Once a cleansed, detailed view of a customer is derived from the myriad data inputs, the factory can then supply rich source information to the downstream brand and direct activities.
Historically, the area labeled direct would correspond to the daily activities of a direct response marketer. List development; applying treatments; managing the execution of a digital campaign through an online marketing automation tool; all of these would be typically associated to normal, daily activities.
In context of the CRF, however, things are slightly different. Previously messaging was all about call-to-actions which typically culminated in a purchase. Now, however, the ambition is to use existing relationships to send desirable content via a pipe, as opposed to funnel, to known recipients.
Some marketers, such as the notable Seth Godin, have referred to this as “flipping the funnel.” Conceptually similar, but I find the pipe to be a better analogy. From an organizational standpoint messages are being passed linearly, directly to a customer on the other end. In turn, this advocate (hopefully) will spread the message like a slow leak building into a pool. I think this is an important distinction to make because it more clearly articulates to whom and what a marketer needs to do to create compelling content.
Executing, therefore, in this new channel will require brand and direct marketers to band together to create compelling experiences. For success will require the addressability skills of the direct marketer in combination with the story telling of the brand marketer.
Although not always at the forefront, okay almost never, databases have also played a central role for brand advertising. Unlike with direct, where the technology is a direct part of the marketing execution, however, with brand it is more like a consumed service. In large part this is a function of scope; analyzing the vast quantities of data (e.g., Nielsen, USPS, Census, etc.) involved with macro trending requires specialized analytic tools coupled with deep statistical skills.
In a certain light, these processes of brand marketing will remain unaltered. The core tenets of driving customer insights and creating compelling experiences remain paramount. Given the incursion into the direct space, it could be argued the role has even expanded. This, however, is not the complete story.
As technology has created the possibility of dialogue through addressability, it has also severely undermined the traditional concepts of reach and frequency by enabling consumers with unparalleled ability to opt out of messages.
Change is afoot. The preeminence of the 30 second television spot has come to an end. This is not, however, to say that it is dead. Broadcast as advertising will remain an important element of the marketing plan for is awareness, and even still reach and frequency, abilities. What needs to change, however, is the balance between direct and brand spending.
While I hope this framework brings some clarity, do not be fooled in its simplicity to think it’s a roadmap for change. Each organizations path to CRM(arketing) will be different. The key is to find an incremental approach. Have your direct and brand marketers worked together before? If so, maybe try a viral, episodic story (this one has a tragic ending, but could have been shortened and lengthened…) targeted to your “in” crowd, if not, maybe refine the practice of geotargeting the 15 second spot. Either way, the three principle rules of move incrementally, strive for failure, and always try real, real hard are the keys to being successful at your CRM(arketing) efforts.