Transforming employees into brand advocates

Using employees to make your brand more customer centric emerged as a key theme in our Marketing Forum.  Cindy Commander, an analyst for Forrester's CMO Group, recently conducted some research in this area.  She Cindy noted that Bain found that 80% of companies believe that they're delivering a superior experiences to their customers, but only 8% of customers agree!  Employees are central to delivering a strong, consistent customer experience.  But only 26% of customer experience professionals think that employees share a vision of the customer.  So, there's a huge incentive to bringing employees into the brand.

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Making the best use of mobile

Mobile marketing.  It's new.  Some marketers are happy to experiment while others look on with skepticism until the channel matures.  Christine Overby and Charlie Golvin helped Forum participants navigate this new channel:  they're like peanut butter and jelly - Christine comes at mobile from the marketing side and Charlie approaches marketing from the mobile side.  Both believe that mobile is a viable marketing channel, but marketers need to embrace the warts in the mobile experience as features not shortcomings.

The crowd at the Forum, not surprisingly, is ahead of the curve in their use of mobile:  texting, mobile Internet, and applications.  But, Forrester data shows that only a third of mobile phone owners send or receive a text message, and only 11% use the mobile Internet.  What do early adopters look like? No surprise:  they're younger (almost 80% of 18-24 year olds use any form of messaging). Surprisingly and related to what I wrote earlier that the US was behind in their use of QR codes, use of the mobile Internet in the US and Europe is equivalent. 

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Kia Motors shows the heart of B2B marketing

Ian Bevis explained Kia's incredible growth in the auto industry and shared some humorous ads, but the more interesting story is the way they treat their relationship with dealers.  Kia needs to understand their dealers in addition to understanding their end customers because if the dealers don't sell their products, neither the Kia nor the dealers make money.  How do they build their relationships with dealers?  First, they understand dealers' primary motivation:  they're smart business people who want to make money.  Second, they leverage Kia's Web site:  e-leads are up, total traffic is up, and no surprise, sales are up, too.  Third, they shift employees around between the sales and marketing groups.  B2B marketing, like B2C marketing, needs to be an emotional proposition and needs grounding in knowledge of the customer.

Key themes from day one

Last night after the Acxiom party, we (Elana, Harley, Cliff, Ross, and I) met to debrief all of yesterday's keynotes.  I had strong objections against including the "beer-a-mid," a reference to Pete's speech and the town of Wellesley's recycling program, in this morning's remarks, but after I went to bed, it appeared in the talk. Beeramid_2

So what should you remember?

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B2B marketers focus on customers, too

Eric Kintz shared how HP has transformed its organization to be more customer centric by focusing on three things:

  1. Integrating the customer to drive the business.
  2. Measuring and managing what matters to the customer.
  3. Inspiring employees to drive customer centricity.

These themes weave their way through all of today's presentations, but HP's added challenge of executing them in a B2B context shows that customer centricity is possible for all types of marketing organizations. They recognized a relationship between customer loyalty and business results, measured how they evolved over time, and focused investments on what mattered to customers. In addition to the relationship between customer loyalty and business results, HP also found a relationship with their sales partners and loyalty, so they established a closed-loop process to deal with customer feedback.  And they inspired employees by training all of them and building programs that allowed them to more easily share the customer feedback they received.

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Socializing the customer database

By Julie Katz - Researcher, Marketing, Forrester

Database marketing is officially sexy.  Once heavily technical and used only to support direct marketing programs, database marketing now helps brand marketers learn more about their target customers and build loyalty.  Aaron Cano of 1-800-Flowers and Elva Lewis of P&G joined Dave Frankland to discuss how their organizations make use of database marketing to further their business goals and deepen customer relationships.

P&G's 86 brands have traditionally operated independently through mass media to reach theoretical customers.  Now they're experimenting using "sticky" brands like Pampers and Iams to build community and attract loyal users to other relevant brands.  Lewis credits many sources for their success with data and change in mindset:  millennial marketers joining P&G, marketing partners like Merkle and Targetbase, and retail partners like CVS.

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Measuring Success: Where to Start?

By Julie Katz - Researcher, Marketing, Forrester

Saying that measurement is important to marketers is an understatement.  Business decisions, even compensation, rely on the data marketers collect about customers.  Megan Burns and Christine Overby presented on what data marketers should collect, how to collect it, and how to make the best use of the data available.  Megan emphasized how important it is to measure what actually matters to customers rather than what marketers think customers care about.  As Pete Kim said in his keynote address, "easy to say, hard to do."  Megan outlined some initial steps:

First lay out the steps in your customer's lifecycle (and use personas you may have created since different customers have different needs).  Then use primary research to identify touch points and key attributes. Measure both from a customer and a business perspective.  But don't stop looking at that data once the design phase is complete:  keep using it to close the loop and measure how well you deliver on your goals.  And, use that data to improve your programs.

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Forrester's CEO Hip With Mobile Marketing

In his welcome to the crowd of 600 marketers, sponsors, and guests at the Marketing Forum, Forrester CEO George Colony showed that he understands the power of technology for marketing.  "The last frontier," George said, "is the connection of the physical world to the digital world."  He illustrated with the use of QR codes in JapanWikiqr has put marketing in the palm of consumers' hands.  The US isn't as advanced in its use of mobile bar codes or mobile marketing in general -- mobile marketing is the wild East, so to speak.  Mobile marketing presents a challenge both on the technology integration front and on the customer-centricity front because of the incredibly personal nature of the device.  Christine Overby

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The Customer Rules

Gary Skidmore, Corporate Officer and Executive Vice President at Harte-Hanks shared some tangible examples of companies that embody customer centricity.  Skidmore emphasized that companies should make their customers "fanatical" about their brands.  Whose customers are fanatical?  Starbucks:  customers, who are treated as individuals with the ability to customize their drink orders, were in a tizzy over the company's Make It Your Drink promotion where they could get their drink order printed on a custome T-shirt.  Apple:  iTunes users also thrive on customization.  Like custom-designed snowflakes, no two playlists are the same, and Skidmore treasures the playlist his daughters created for him.  But customization isn't the only way to put customers in the driver's seat.  How else then?  Skidmore showed that focusing on employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction.  Companies like Goog

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Making Customer Centric Marketing Real: Questions

After his brilliant speech, Pete took questions from the audience.  Maybe they're the same questions you're struggling with.  If not, ask your own in the comments.

Are customer centric metrics inconsistent with business metrics?  No.  Focusing on the customer is the best indicator of future purchase intent.

How does social marketing and UGC fit?  Marketers always had to be good to customers, and now they have new channels to work with.  Building relationships is always key.

What about customer centric P&Ls?  Organizational structure often hinders customer centricity.  Some organizations have created phantom P&Ls.

Who should we partner with to execute our customer centric strategy?  HR, IT, Finance, and the CEO!

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