Posts Tagged ‘CRM’

Social is the “New” Customer Experience

April 1st, 2010

A friend of mine and I have been emailing about the value of “social media”. Like most skeptics, the conversation is that social media is just a marketing channel. From the skeptic’s perspective, social media is about twitter, linkedin, facebook, youtube, etc. If viewed from that perspective, he is right. Social media doesn’t rise to the top of the priority list. Although consumer products’ budgets are migrating to social media, most of those budgets are creative advertising, games, promotions, etc. Directors of Marketing Communications worry about those budgets, CMOs worry about market share, valuation, new product innovation, sales and channels, etc.

Well and good, but there is a “but”…

In my opinion, CMOs need to “get the impact of social on the enterprise” as it is one of the most critical disruptions that we have seen in the last 15 years. We lived through the web disruption, this will be equally as disruptive. My friend is right that CMO’s don’t get fired or hired for “social media”, but they will get fired or hired for performance; which is going to be impacted on their ability to leverage “social” in their customer lifecycles.

Our consulting business is about socially enabling the enterprise, in particular, the end-to-end customer lifecycle. Lead generation over public social networks is only a small part of it. Customer retention rates, churn rates, customer satisfaction, referrals, etc. are all a part of the customer experience. We are seeing a fundamental change in the way customers (B-to-B, B-to-C, Channels) expect to interact. Social CRM is the first step, but it needs to be more strategic, cross-functional and impactful to reach its full potential.

We are seeing the set plays that Marketing used to call FAIL faster because they aren’t fluid enough to react to the dynamic flow of information. By the way, it isn’t only CMOs… CIOs are hungry for how to manage, VPs of HR, VPs of Sales, Channels, etc. Yes, I see CMOs getting churned much faster if they don’t perform, but because they can’t figure out how to leverage social strategy to compete. Social Market Leaders will become Market Share leaders.

As an example, we gone into several large companies recently and recommended  in the initial meeting that they change their sales and marketing strategy based upon the social market research that we then present to them. All outside, public information.

We are not playing “gotcha” with them, we are showing how Social is the “New” Customer Experience. Buyers are approaching the buying research, selection, and validation process is now very different because of social media. Not about the technology or “chatting with friends”, but about business impact.

Not only did they listen to us, but it validated their perceptions in the market as to the challenges they were seeing. By the way, these aren’t leading edge, consumer internet software companies, but  ”Old School” brick and mortar B-to-B companies…

Interestingly enough, we started with a good number of skeptics at the start of the meetings. We were brought in by executive sponsors; who wanted to get the rest of their executive teams around the need for a  “social media” plan, but their teams didn’t realize how strategic this could become.

You know that you are in a disruption when the pace of change feels overwhelming. Information is just pouring over the wall and you are trying to keep up. We were there with the last major disruption with the world wide web in the mid-90′s. Small companies were figuring out how to leverage the web to drive massive growth, much of it at the expense of larger companies that were caught looking at the web with distain or disbelief.

Don’t be THAT person!!!! if you don’t understand, there are many free and/or paid resources to get educated. Doesn’t mean that you throw out your existing business model and “kamikaze” your marketing resources into social media, but at least have a social marketing plan with a roadmap, milestones, budget, and performance measurement.

Enterprise Social Architecture: Need My House Jack?

January 21st, 2010

We spend a lot of time with larger enterprises discussing how to integrate these newer technologies; web 2.0, community, social media, collaboration, etc. into their existing environments.

There are similarities to owning an older home. Learning a lot lately about how older homes were constructed. Our house was built in the 1950′s and they used a center beam and wing construction model. Think of a ship, center beam and wings fanning out from there. Over time, the center beam begins to sag a little, not very flexible so you put in house jacks, bracket the beam, and put in supports, etc. In older homes, you always find that the previous owners have added their improvements; rewired electricity, added a bathroom, added an addition built on a different foundation, etc.

If you think about many of the larger enterprises, they have the same challenges. Centerbeam for support which isn’t very flexible and sags. The center beam is the ERP system and the wings are the other systems that hang off of it; payroll, onboarding, content mgmt, crm, business Intelligence, supply chain, logistics, intranets, portals, various biz apps, email, etc.ERP. Added a lot additions; business intelligence, CRM, content, web apps, intranets, supply chain, etc.

 We spend a lot of time with enterprise organizations and their domain experts talking about how to socially enable the core business systems and processes custom lifecycle management. We hear all the time from CIO’s that they don’t want to make any major system changes as they are still paying for it; with all of the additions and changes, they still have a hefty residual mtg payment or amortization and  would like to get more life out of the systems without having a payment.

 The good news is that the home remodeling busness has advanced with new technologies, techniques, and implementation processes to retrofit an older home with the latest green and or backbone and foundation strengthening and life extending techniques for older homes.

Same thing for larger enterprises looking retrofitting their social backbone for their organization to gain effiencies, competitive advantage, or keep up wth their customer requirements. They can implement a social architecture without requiring them to rip out existing systems or do major infrastructure changes.

 We have begun to develop social program and system implementations with the variuos partner organizations to take advantage of enterprise class social for lead generation, customer lifecycle mgmt, business intelligence, new product development, project collaboration, and emploee engagement as just a sampling of initiatives that we are seeing.

Retrofitting a home is harder than new construction in a lot of ways, but for many homeowners who want to keep the charm of their home intact or who cannot afford to major home repair, it is an attractive option.

Retrofitting older information infrastructures to take advantages of social and collaboration can provide similar life extending and or cost reducing alternatives to upgrading without disruption.

Every Conversation is Social

January 19th, 2010

What does that mean?

You ever wake up and remember a snippet of a dream? We work through problems in our sleep. If you don’t capture it, it is gone. Or at least for me. So, I wake up with this “Build it and they will come” message in my head…. “Every Conversation is Social”.

 It is like my subconscious is trying to punch through to my conscious to get the message through. I am reminded of the 1960’s scifi movie where they shrunk the space ship and floated through someone’s body. If they didn’t get the host to do something, they would be trapped. What message what trying to get through?

 Every Conversation is Social – Possible Meanings

  • Consulting – every conversation that I have had lately has been around how to socially enable the enterprise; customer lifecycles, lead generation, enterprise search and collaboration. I have been feeling guilty about not blogging more, but we have been so busy since the new year with speaking opportunities and client meetings… Maybe…
  • Social Market Audits – we have been doing a lot of social market audits; looking at the market for companies to assess how ready their market is for social marketing and how to leverage social media for lead generation, branding, and thought leadership. Maybe a reflection of our discussions about how to identify networks, influencers, and conversations in social media.
  • Partners – we had a conversation internally about how to better empower our business partners to have the social enablement conversation in their respective domains; business intelligence, CRM, call center, employee engagement.
  • Kids – could be just simply a random phrase. I have been joking with my 4 year old that he “gets older every day”. Maybe it is just a tru-ism…
  • Really Important Epiphany – maybe it is a garbled thought that I can’t remember anything other than the last thought of a great idea – Like the Lassie commercial on TV lately – “Lassie, go… blah,blah, blah… Farmer Brown… blah, blah, blah… help… blah, blah… COOKIE…”  Maybe it is like…“Every…. Blah, blah… Conversation… blah, blah, blah… social.
  • Could be a title – possibly for a great book or seminar on “Social Marketing”.
  • Really Bad Epitaph? – I really hope this isn’t the highlight of my life, though.
  • … Or just maybe I have social on the brain and it is a random thought

Mashable.com's Chart on Social Marketing Benefits

July 9th, 2009

Check out this chart from www.mashable.com below which provides survey results of the benefits companies are seeing in social marketing. I think it provides a great overview of the potential for social marketing. The only thing that I would add is the value of connecting with influencers (call it indirect communications) to reach a broader audience is not captured. I would add that as a category the next time they run this survey. I think they will be surprised how well this category results.

Also, social marketing is not just about social networking, but developing an online community into your existing website, building social profiles into your CRM efforts, and extending your multi-channel communications. Finally, it is about rethinking the customer experience to better orient around the 360 degree referrential buying process this is becoming the norm.

http://mashable.com/2008/12/29/benefits-of-social-media-marketing/

If Content is King, What Does that Make My Writer's Block?

June 24th, 2009

I have been suffering from writer’s block for about a week on my blog. I even had an editorial calendar and the blog titles written. I got busy in meetings and I couldn’t concentrate on writing. Although, I actually have some really cool perspectives on social marketing and CRM that I have been developing, but nothing that was ready for prime time. It was interesting to watch my blog traffic to see how it would hold up without my daily posts.

As I only posted one time last week, my traffic dropped slightly, but actually held for most of the week and spiked on the day that I posted. Now, I was looking for how close the relationship between the activities that I do to promote my blog (and myself) are tied to my traffic. I am doing a guerrilla level marketing program leveraging my blog, my social networks, and a $50/mo email marketing program. Essentially, the tools available to every small business without a budget. I don’t expect to become the next Seth Godin, famous marketing blogger, but I do expect that I can build an audience with very little resources. My results tell me that I have gotten outside of my own direct marketing efforts and I am now getting residual traffic from my prior marketing activities.

In addition to assisting me in finding my next opportunity(s), I am using my blog to provide a tangible case study of what can be done on a very little budget as representation of what the strategy could accomplish with a much larger budget. I am also using the concept of the blog as a repesentation of a corporate website. In my new social marketing model, the website is becoming the focal point of all the marketing activities. Prospective customers do not really care where the interaction is, they just want to get the information they need where and when they want it. I call this post-digital because when everything is digital; then digital doesn’t matter.

To that end, you have heard the phrase “publish or perish?” That describes blogging. Also, is an apt expression for creating fresh, compelling content with strong emotional hooks into your website.

So, back to my writer’s block. If content is king, then there are a few lessons that can be applied for companies looking at building content to help drive interest in their company:

1. Editorial Calendar – You need one for your content. It saved me last week in that it still kept me on pace to do at least one post. It also will help a team of people on track.

2. Be Consistent – I was getting great traffic when I was writing every daily, sometimes twice daily; even to a simple wordpress blog.

3. Be Relevant – I write for my audience, which is my contacts, who are business executives. I try not to write for techo-wonks about the infinite depths of a technical topic. My audience is also whom I partner, work, and sell so I want to be as approachable; to appeal to the “decision maker.” I can get more technical about software and infrastucture when talking with a CTO or CIO, but I save that for particular face-to-face meetings. I find technical specs hard to swallow as “easy reading.”

4. Content by Committee – Realize that it is almost impossible to sustain a huge torrent of content by yourself; let alone make it relevant, compelling, and fresh. That is why communities are so appealing with different voices, perspectives, interaction, and ideas. It doesn’t hurt that it drives SEO through the roof, provides a larger pool of contributors, and allows for different audiences.

5. Get it Viral – Keep in mind that you already have a relationship with your network, but you need to reach a broader group of contacts that don’t know you to drive more business. Sherry Heyl, Atlanta-based social media goddess and friend, talks about building consumble bites of content that can be distributed easily. The key to success is to get your morsels of content, “sound bites”, into circulation and distributed beyond your first and second degree contacts to go viral.

To that end, I am working on creating a social marketing planning framework that I will share over the next few weeks. The social marketing plan will assist companies in building online relationships, leveraging integrated website communities, building compelling calls to action to generate website traffic, managing effective customer experiences, and developing effective measurement systems for the above activities.

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