Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).
In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:
Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
I love September. American and European football are back, allowing me to spend a large (but who’s counting?) amount of time watching uniform-clad fellows run around across expanses of green in front of raucous crowds. Soccer in particular has an unparalleled beauty to it: an exquisite orchestration of movement and ingenuity that, at least to my mind, no other sport can match. The brains behind the on-field talent are the team managers, who understand formations and strategies and how to measure results beyond wins and losses.
Soccer managers have a lot in common with today’s CMOs. Both must understand how to succeed in a global context, deploy a diverse set of skills to greatest effect, and create an experience for fans that sets them apart from the crowd. Luckily for CMOs, today they get their very own playbook! I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the Customer Life Cycle Marketing Playbook (subscription required), designed to help chief marketing officers transform their organizations to become customer-obsessed, a requirement for competitive success in the age of the customer. By changing the game from the marketing funnel to creating and activating a customer-life-cycle-driven marketing strategy, CMOs will deliver value that is visible to the customer and position the brand for long-term success. We've organized the playbook to help CMOs:
I was driving home from work the other day and listening, as usual, to Boston's National Public Radio station, WBUR, when a story came on about the push for doctors and hospitals to go digital by turning patient records into electronic health records (EHRs). There are a lot of tricky challenges that come with digitizing these documents: hundreds of products on the market to help with the effort, a steep upfront cost, lower productivity on day to day tasks while the system is implemented, the cost of accompanying hardware and maintenance, and a learning curve for doctors, nurses, and other staff. But as one of the office managers said for the story, the biggest challenge is actually "having everybody have a positive attitude to do it. If we can all keep positive and get through it and learn it...I think we'll be okay." Supporters of this effort cite improved cost and better, more efficient care - a win for all stakeholders - but in the early stages, it's hard for some to see tangible improvements.
Update: The following post was written prior to today's shocking events at the Boston Marathon. All of Forrester sends out thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes to the runners, spectators, and their families affected by this senseless violence. — Cory
Today is just tax day to most of the US, but here in Boston, it's much more likely to be referred to as marathon Monday. Indeed, thousands of runners and wheelchair athletes are currently moving toward the finish line in the 117th running of one of the world's most famous and popular races: the Boston Marathon. For some, the goal is just to finish, while others are out to set personal records. And all have been training with a regimented, well-planned routine for months in anticipation of the big day. Marketers should take a page out of the marathoner's playbook when it comes to making the switch to the customer life cycle, a customer-driven marketing approach that will help your organization succeed in the age of the customer. CMOs in particular have the responsibility of transitioning marketing to a customer-first philosophy, and my latest report, "Evaluate The Completeness Of Your Marketing Effort," will help you get there (subscription required).
Tell me you’ve had this problem. You wake up and stand in your closet, staring at all the different outfits to choose from and wondering which one is going to make just the right impression for whatever you have going on that day. Maybe you want to look authoritative and put-together for a client, be the cool parent to your kids’ friends, or be sexy to catch the attention of your objective's affection. Whatever the occasion, sometimes the wealth of options can be overwhelming and you end up panicking and trying to do too much or too little. And the next thing you know, that dream combo you had in your mind’s eye is out the window.
The inimitable Ice Cube once sang that you should "check yourself before you wreck yourself." To be honest, I don't know what else was in that song, but that one line is a good one for today's CMOs to heed if you're looking for success in the age of the customer — an era where your only source of competitive advantage comes from relationships with customers. Over the past few months, I've been writing and talking at length about the importance of moving to a customer-obsessed marketing organization: a well-oiled machine that is organized for and around customers' needs. We use the customer life cycle to illustrate how marketers should approach marketing to differentiate the brand or company in a highly complex landscape of products, media, data, and conversation. There's no one-size-fits-all approach for it either. But there are five key areas on which CMOs should focus to facilitate the transition to a customer life-cycle-driven marketing effort:
If you’ve turned on reality television lately (and I’m sorry if you have), you have seen a lot of overconfident folks who think highly of their ability to cook, sing, model, dance -- whatever -- when in actual fact most of them stink. The spectacle of these shows comes from watching to see if these people ever accept the painful gap between their perceived and actual abilities.
From data we have just published today in a new Forrester report, Assess Your Digital Disruption Readiness Now (client access required), it turns out that digital disruption is like reality TV in at least this one way: There is a significant, even painful, gap between how ready some executives think they are to engage in digital disruption and the actual readiness of the enterprise.
This disparity rears its ugly head at a crucial time. As Forrester principal analyst James McQuivey has recently written in his book Digital Disruption, digital disruption is about to completely change how companies do business. Digital tools and digital platforms are driving the cost of innovation down to nearly zero, causing at least 10 times as many innovators to rush into your market while operating at one-tenth the cost that you do. Multiply that together and you face 100 times the innovation power you did just a few years ago under old-fashioned disruption (see figure).
It’s over. We had a good run together, but let’s face it: We’re just not good for each other anymore. And I’ll be honest; it’s you, not me. You’re just too linear, and you don’t prioritize the people that matter to me or care about the activities that I know will make me more efficient and relevant. After decades of good-enough, I’ve found someone who puts people first and recognizes how important it is to get to know them, putting loyalty over one-time encounters. I’ve found my soul mate of the future, and I’m going all in.
I’m sorry, but I’m better than this.
Chief marketing officer
Yep, it’s true folks — the chief marketing officer’s long-running love affair with the marketing funnel has come to an end. But put away your tissues because the CMO’s new love interest is a major upgrade. Meet the customer life cycle, which we reintroduced today in a new report, “Embed The Customer Life Cycle Across Marketing” (subscription required).
I only just recently started watching Mad Men — a shock to many of my marketing peers and to regular folks who now think I’ve been living under a rock for the past five-plus years. I’ll save my thoughts on the show for another time, but what strikes me at least once during each episode is how much everything (tactics) and nothing (strategy) have changed. Similar fundamental challenges weigh on Sterling Cooper’s clients’ minds and on our CMO clients’ minds today: How do we connect with our consumers in a way that differentiates us from the competition? While Don Draper was limited to print and TV, thanks to digital platforms and tools, today’s CMOs have an almost-infinite number of options with which to build relationships with consumers.
2013 is the year that digital takes on a much more significant role in marketing and business strategies at business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations, and CMOs will be responsible for shepherding the change. 2013 is the year that CMOs will leverage digital tools to drive innovation of new compelling brand experiences — not as add-ons or enhancements but as integral elements of the brand’s messages, actions, and products that will differentiate your offering.
B2C CMOs, your 2013 resolutions should be to:
Embrace digital disruption. Digital disruption has remarkable strength. It's able to bulldoze traditional sources of competitive advantage faster, with greater power, at less cost than any force that came before it — and no business is immune. CMOs must make a strategic commitment to innovation and stop thinking about digital as another media channel. Digital is everywhere and should elevate marketing and business priorities for consumer benefit.
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.