Archive for March, 2007

Gartner CRM Summit and the IDM Annual Lecture

Monday, March 19th, 2007

A quick entry to mention a couple of recent events: the closing keynote at the Gartner CRM Summit, featuring Patrick Barwise from the London Business School and the IDM Annual Lecture delivered by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi. Patrick Barwise’ basic premise revolved around his assertion of the twin myths that achieving uniqueness must be the ultimate objective for every company and that getting the basics right is simply a go-to-market “table stake”. Volvo, for instance, is a highly differentiated brand – everyone know what it stands for – but is in fact worth one tenth that of Toyota. Equally, Tesco and Proctor and Gamble demonstrate a focus on customer and insight basics, to great effect. Service quality, then, is not a commodity but drives brand value. How does this relate to insight? Companies need to understand their customers and give them what they value (which is usually simplicity and follow-through). We should search for customer insight that matters and learn about customers from as many sources as possible, including analysis, research, operations and partners. However, insight that doesn’t lead to improvement, says Barwise, achieves nothing.

At the IDM Lecture, Roberts’ “The Lovemarks Effect” address suggested that brands’ future success depends on the emotional connections made with customers. Winning attention, we were told, is not enough; brands need to attract consumers, creating an “Attraction Economy” in which the consumer is in control. The question is whether you can be successful without having to juggle many other balls as well. Enter “Lovemarks”, where your offering is loved rather than liked and irresistible is better than irreplaceable – loyalty beyond reason being the objective. Although a highly amusing and impactful presentation from a larger than life character, I was left wondering exactly how I should be achieving this utopia (along with Roberts’ exhortation to the industry to exorcise the term “junk mail”)? The presentation was also packed with 60 second ad spots – again, very amusing, but aren’t these the interruption marketing from which we’re supposed to be getting away?! I suppose all the answers would be offered in exchange for a hansom Saatchi & Saatchi fee! Nonetheless, his notions of relevance, engagement and interaction are key concepts for direct marketing, in which an integrated marketing insight approach plays a key role.

If you’d rather the force were not with you

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Given all the coverage of software-as-a-service sales force automation solution Salesforce.com it’s easy to forget that there are other solutions. One in particular was highlighted to me this week, at the launch of the latest version of SalesPoint, from marketing services outfit MarketPoint. Taking place at the Sunseeker dealership in Mayfair, we were treated to an introduction from Merlin Stone followed by a demo of the newly unveiled software, including a fully revised interface, all washed down with champaign and canapés!

Although nothing like as feature rich as Salesforce.com, SalesPoint is a nice simple solution and benefits from integration into MarketPoints’ campaign execution and fulfilment services, so direct mail despatch and literature requests can be handled with no further intervention or data management. Well worth a look.

Institute of Direct Marketing Data Council Summit

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

This week saw the first Institute of Direct Marketing Data Council Summit, a day of presentations from such luminaries as Sean Kelly, Steve Wills and Huw Davis along with practitioners from BP, the AA and others. Themed “Data Management Strategies that Create Competitive Advantage”, the conference was intended to address issues such as building competitive advantage through customer intelligence and insight, using data to improve the customer experience and demonstrating the value of data to the board.

Chair for the day Ian Lovett, of data consultancy Blue Sheep, opened with a stern warning to the direct marketing profession that the growing consumer impression of environmental damage and intrusion through wasteful direct mail was creating a political will to introduce ever greater restrictions on privacy and data use, such as requiring opt-in for all marketing. Better targeting and management of data quality was needed to demonstrate that direct marketing is a responsible and considerate discipline that can be trusted with personal data. “Love you data,” said Ian: “Clean it, use it and don’t abuse it!”.

Other themes running through the day were the idea that marketing has failed to keep up with the technology available to it, the growing recognition of the strategic value of data and a topic close to my heart, the creation of central insight departments in marketing organisations. Presenting a retail segmentation case study, Sean Kelly suggested that the failure to create marketing intelligence capability based on the latest technology prior to operational capability is the single greatest reason for CRM failure. He likened it to having the ability to talk but without a brain to control what to say! Peter Mouncey from the Cranfield University School of Management echoed this, saying that organisations’ data strategy lags behind their CRM strategies, adding that they must be aligned to be effective.

Rosemary Albinson from BP and Steve Willis (yep, the guy I quote my my homepage) both commented that marketers must become comfortable with the hard data of marketing results and spend time in working in insight in order to progress to the boardroom. At the same time the scale of the task should be acknowledged; explaining marketing analytics to an accomplished scientist, Rosemary Albinson was told that is seemed more complicated than his field of climatology! Based on experience from the his Customer Insight Forum, Steve Willis also outlined his thinking regarding the management of insight and his vision for a dedicated function lead by an Insight Director, a position he says that is becoming increasingly common. Christine Bailey, from Cranfield University School of Management also commented that it helps to put a central insight team in place.

There were a few different offers on a definition of insight, from Steve Willis’ “embedded knowledge” to Christine Bailey’s multiple sources of actionable customer data. And although he couldn’t be there himself, former GE CEO Jack Welch was quoted as saying (and here I paraphrase) that competitive advantage is derived from the ability to learn faster and act faster than the competition.

The day was closed out by Huw Davis, always entertaining and worth listening to. He talked about the opportunities and challenges regarding international data strategies, particularly in the developing markets of China, India and elsewhere. Clearly the data infrastructure in those countries isn’t quite what we’re used to, but the opportunities for direct marketing are immense. Huw is also about to launch a new analytics business utilising lower cost analyst resource in Asia with a UK account team – you read it here first!

All told, quite an interesting day that reinforced some of my thoughts in this area and provided some interesting tips on data quality programmes and data warehouse projects. I’d better get back to immersing myself in marketing insight – next stop the boardroom!