Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us How To Speak To Customers During A Crisis (Or Not)

Major events — political, natural, or economic — create a lot of eyeballs on a select set of media and stories. But as friends chimed in on Facebook, Twitter, and texts, they shared stories of who stood by them during the crisis. My colleague Christine Overby and I were discussing what marketers did and should do during a crisis. Do your customers need to hear from you during Hurricane Sandy? We’ve seen a few best practices from companies that are handling communications in a helpful and dignified way. We hope they are useful to our readers in charge of customer communications, both this week and in general.

  • USAA's mobile app reduces angst. The USAA Mobile App allows customers to report a property or auto claim, submit photos, and view claims status. Storm-related tweets featured a link to the app so that customers knew how to find it and submit a claim. One friend of mine was able to submit a claim, including photos, in about 2 minutes, allowing him to focus on cleaning up the debris. Its relative ubiquity — available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — means that any USAA customer with a smartphone can take advantage of these game-changing and life-managing services.
  • Citi Cards and American Express send emails to offer personal assistance. In a service message to customers today, Citi Card anticipates their needs and offers relevant services like access to cash, fee waivers, and general instructions for getting help. Similarly, American Express offered affected customers help with emergency financial, travel, or medical services. The message from both is targeted, helpful, and intentionally brief — creating the right tone and value in the middle of a crisis.
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What it Means That Apple's iPad Crossed The 100 Million Mark

In just a few hours I will be on stage keynoting Forrester's eBusiness and Channel Strategy Forum: Seizing Opportunity From Digital Disruption. This is an exciting event because it was one year ago at this same forum that I debuted our research on Digital Disruption, to overwhelmingly positive response. 

It's now a year later and a lot has happened. Digital Disruption will soon be available as a hardback book (also as an eBook, natch). You can pre-order a copy now at Forr.com/DDbook. To complete the book I had to get far outside of my comfort zone -- I work with media companies and consumer product companies primarily, but to prove that digital disruption is a fundamental change in the way we all do business, I had to interview people in the pharmaceutical industry, the military camouflage industry, and I even recently spoke to the CIO of a cement manufacturer! And to my pleasant surprise, they were every bit as digitally disruptive as their counterparts in the consumer-facing enterprises that we think of when we imagine digital disruption.

One of the main reasons every company can be and eventually must be a digital disruptor is the rise of digital platforms. These platforms are founded on a set of devices, wrapped together with software experiences that identify each customer individually, and are open to app contributions from thousands of partners. The platform owners that matter today are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

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Dealing With The “People Part” Of Your Lead-To-Revenue Management Transformation

Demonstrating the revenue return on marketing investment is the No. 1 issue for B2B marketing executives. In Forrester’s Q4 2011 B2B Marketing Organizations And Investments Survey, when we asked marketing execs to identify the most important metrics for their marketing organization, 56% identified a revenue-related metric — compared with 44% for customer satisfaction and 40% for brand awareness. So, it’s no wonder that marketing automation solution vendors vociferously tout the ability of their solutions to track the revenue performance of marketing campaigns and programs.

But, looking at marketing automation solutions solely through the value lens of revenue performance management masks a more fundamental benefit. Marketing automation can transform a company’s marketing operations. These solutions deliver scalability, root out excess cost, improve marketing execution, and provide the basis for continuous incremental process improvement.

Still many marketing execs hold back on investing in marketing automation. They fear the concurrent assimilation of new tactics, processes, and automation will unduly stress their marketing organization. But the transformation is necessary, and the stress unavoidable. Marketing execs need to proactively address the “people part” of their lead-to-revenue transformation.

I addressed these challenges in this recent webinar, which is available on-demand.

In summary, here is what I suggest to clients in inquires about how to lead the overall transition to L2RM:

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New Analyst With A Passion For Shopper Marketing

For the past couple of years, I’ve been serving CMO and marketing leadership professionals here at Forrester in a supporting role and, in particular, researching shopper marketing and the path to purchase (P2P). I'm excited to share that, going forward, I will be an analyst on the CMO and marketing leadership team. As an analyst, I will have the opportunity to focus my time and research agenda on helping marketers better understand the true potential and business implications of shopper marketing and P2P initiatives, and I am fired up to get started!

Over the next few months, look for reports about:

  • What the future of shopper marketing looks like.
  • The impact of digital on customers’ path to purchase.
  • How to organize and hire for engagement-based marketing.
  • Key criteria to self-assess and benchmark performance.
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How Do You Transform Marketing From A Cost To A Profit Driver?

These days, the CMO’s job is more challenging than ever. With the explosion of marketing channels and the rise of the empowered consumers, marketers are under more pressure than ever to spend their budgets optimally and track ROI across the entire marketing mix. The wealth of data available for digital media has also raised accountability expectations for all marketing channels to a point where CEOs and CFOs now expect all marketing investments (not just in digital) to be measurable and accountable.

How can senior marketers navigate this complex landscape and embrace a data-driven approach to investment decision-making and measurement? 

Powerful tools — like marketing mix modeling — are now available to help marketers harness the power of data to concretely tie marketing to business outcomes. The field of marketing mix modeling vendors is rapidly maturing to help give marketers powerful tools to protect their budgets and reestablish the credibility and power that marketing has on the bottom line.

But how do marketers successfully build and implement a mix model? It’s not enough to merely hire a vendor; marketing mix modeling requires a dramatic internal shift in decision-making processes, measurement frameworks, and cross-functional collaboration. How should marketers engage their IT, finance, and analytics teams to make them partners in the success marketing mix modeling can unlock, as opposed to detractors and obstacles?

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