Why are some CMOs better than others at adapting to the digital era? Last week, I provided some answers when I unveiled the five habits of highly adaptive marketers at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago.
After spending the past three months with more than 20 of the most successful marketing executives and thought leaders from around the world, here is what it boils down to. Marketing leaders who are successfully evolving into adaptive digital-era marketers are willing to part ways with outdated practices. That doesn’t mean they have abandoned the fundamentals of traditional marketing. Rather, they have retained its best parts, while shedding its five bad habits:
Complacency. Marketers who are complacent leave their brand exposed and vulnerable to the competition. Blockbuster ignored the road signs pointing to consumers’ desires to bypass the video store in favor of more convenient formats. Meanwhile, Netflix and Redbox seized the opportunity to create new channels of distribution.
Conformity. Marketers who play follow-the-leader lose their ability to differentiate themselves. While major airlines like Delta, United, and American have flirted with bankruptcy by providing the lowest common denominator of service, others like Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America are having success by straying from the norm and offering more leg room, checking luggage without charging extra fees, and providing in-flight Wi-Fi.
The cold weather in New England is giving me the skiing itch . . . and making me think that if I get some new high-performance skis, I might finally get beyond the "advanced-intermediate" level I've been stuck at for 20 years. But the realist in me knows that the skis alone won't make me a better skier, I need to spend more time on the slopes working on my technique.
The same goes for how B2B marketers use automation. Investing in marketing automation doesn't automatically make your company better at marketing. In the research for my recent report on B2B marketing automation, I found that too many companies have invested in marketing automation platforms, only to use them as expensive email blasters. Despite the best intentions, B2B marketers fall into several traps along the way:
The process trap. They don't get buy-in and support from the sales organization, so they generate more leads without changes to how sales works those leads.
The content trap. They don't anticipate that effective, targeted lead nurturing greatly increases the content requirements.
The skills trap. They don't have people with the skill sets to define their customer buying cycles and information needs at each stage.
Oracle announced today that it will be acquiring ATG for US$6.00 a share, or about $1B. This has been long rumored, as many in the industry saw this as a highly likely pairing. Not only are the solution sets very complementary, but this also allows each to address gaps in their solution portfolios. Oracle has had a significant hole in terms of eCommerce capability needed by its ERP, CRM, and supply chain clients. ATG has lacked enterprise order management and CRM capabilities required by its more sophisticated clients. Together these offerings will make a compelling pairing, though productization and packaging of the offering may remain a challenge for the near future.
Some additional thoughts:
Commerce is converging and client needs will span channels and capability. The trend of “dropping the e from eCommerce” is something we have been talking about for some time, as eCommerce solutions are leveraged not only on the Web but also in the call center, to drive mobile commerce, and increasingly in the store or branch. This is now becoming something our clients at Forrester are looking for in their next generation of commerce solutions. For Oracle this trend was beginning to present a threat as it lacked a capable B2C-oriented eCommerce platform. For ATG this represents a response to the moves IBM and GSI have made to develop cross-channel enterprise commerce solutions.
Don't worry that ATG will get buried in a bone yard. I expect ATG’s products to gain additional wind at their back while also focusing on their core differentiators of merchandising tools, commerce content capability, and driving relevance at the customer touchpoints. Oracle's acquisition can also clarify the answers to ATG's questions related to order management and supply chain requirements.
I was delighted to see that Alan Partridge, one of my favourite comedy creations, is back. Steve Coogan’s cringeworthy Norfolk-based DJ hasn’t been on TV for eight years but will be starring in a series of Web-only shows sponsored by Fosters. They look like being the flagship content for a comedy-themed branded online channel, www.fostersfunny.co.uk. Aficionados will be interested to know that Alan is now plying his trade as a mid-morning DJ on “North Norfolk Digital.”
Webisodes were all the rage a couple of years back when the social network Bebo, among others, commissioned series such as Kate Modern, with funding from sponsors like Ford and P&G. But even though budgets were a fraction of TV budgets, the sums didn’t add up, and the nascent trend was all but killed off by the economic downturn. So, it’s intriguing to see that major talents such as Coogan (who recently co-starred opposite Will Ferrell in The Other Guys) and co-creator Armando Iannucci (a BAFTA winner for the fabulous The Thick Of It) have turned to the Web to revive perhaps their best-loved creation for 12 11-minute episodes. Presumably, there was a decent — if entirely justified — financial incentive to do so. Set against the cost of TV airtime, though, Fosters may have nabbed itself a bargain.
My last blog post generated more heated comments than I anticipated, and ironically, they had nothing to do with the primary theme of the article. Writing about how Facebook is intended for "real" relationships and not as a means to collect virtual ones, I mentioned that Auto Direct Messages (Auto DMs) on Twitter are unwelcome. Some agreed that these pre-programmed messages sent to all new followers are annoying, but others vehemently disagreed. So, this topic seemed worthy of further exploration.
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In customer service, we talk about “delighting” customers, providing an experience that is personalized to an individual's preferences and needs. The quest to delight goal is the goal of CRM and one-to-one marketing strategies. It is not easy to achieve and can have compelling results for a business.
But it makes me wonder — do your customers want to be delighted in customer service, or do they just want a hassle-free resolution?
Recently, my suitcase handle broke. I pride myself on my Ryan Bingham-like airport efficiency. Struggling with the broken handle forced me to slow every queue from security to boarding in a recurring tug-of-war with an uncooperative roller bag.
I contacted the company on the telephone and had a strikingly unmemorable conversation with the only meaningful takeaway being that I needed to go to the Web site to complete a warranty form. The form did not offer me the option to print before submitting nor send an acknowledgement email, raising my suspicions that this could require following up.
I was mistaken. A mere eight days later, a new suitcase arrived at my door.
It would have been nice if there was a note accompanying the new roller bag: something to acknowledge my inconvenience, to express regret that the product didn’t perform, to at least address me by name. I didn’t receive any of these — just an anonymous box containing a new suitcase. And I was delighted.
Last week I was at Forrester's Consumer Forum in Chicago, where I gave a presentation with the title “If The Company Only Knew What The Company Knows: Introduction Of A Knowledge Center Can Empower Market Research Professionals.” For this presentation I did quite a lot of research and talked to many market researchers who have implemented some kind of knowledge management system. Knowledge management systems come in all kinds of flavors and with varying degrees of success, but the market researchers who managed to build a successful, engaging, and widely used system all agreed that it had changed their role.
In fact, the companies we spoke to all saw their knowledge management as a competitive advantage. Although we found a number of market researchers willing to participate in our research, none of them wanted to share all the ins and outs. In keeping with the theme, they said, "We don’t want others to know what we know."
But how can market researchers introduce knowledge management to their organizations? Based on our research, we see three different levels:
Build a research center of excellence within the department.
Implement a system for sharing and distributing (research) information with the organization.
Develop a companywide knowledge management system.