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?

  • Customer centricity really is easy to say and hard to do.  Pete gave the analogy of recycling and emphasized the importance of culture, metrics, and technology in moving toward customer centricity.
  • Marketers need to work through the paradox. Sylvia Reynolds of Wells Fargo shared her company's paradox: what do you do if the company is doing well and you need to convince people that they need to make changes to become more customer centric.  The solution?  In simplistic terms, speak first to customers and then connect the products.  Wells Fargo's commercials that connect customer desires (a bigger house, a vacation, retirement) to Wells Fargo products (mortgages, home equity, savings plans).
  • Your employees are your secret weapon.  There are many great examples to draw on.  Gary Skidmore of Harte Hanks reminded us that Google is the number one company as rated by its employees and the 8th most admired.  15% of USAA employees have served in the military - important because that's their customer base.  At Four Seasons every employee, regardless of their role in the company gets to spend a night at the hotel. Starbucks gives each employee a green book for training, which describes how to make customers feel welcome. Wells Fargo has its 11 best practices for engaging with customers.
  • Get the fundamentals right first.  Eric Kintz of HP told the audience that customer support is the most important investment to make first.  You have to get the fundamentals right; otherwise, customers won't give you permission to get to the next level. Skidmore pulled an example from Seth Godin's blog of a woman who didn't receive a power cord when she purchased a new cell phone.
  • There will always be silos. Companies struggle with all sorts of silos, but there's no quick fix to eliminating them.  In fact, HP tried to reorganize by customer segment and it didn’t work for them because it created new silos.  Instead, marketers need to understand breakdowns and put the right processes and collaboration tools in place to work across them.  Wells Fargo uses its "Marketing Council" to convene marketing leaders from across the organization to identify and work through finite problems.
  • Develop your message from the customers’ POV.  Many speakers shared video examples: Wells Fargo showed the family dog’s yearning for a yard as a reason customers might seek a mortgage; Sony understands that memorable moments (like a baby's bath) can't be recreated later in life as an incentive for people to purchase video cameras.
  • Marketing should not be the “make it pretty” department. This realization by Sylvia Reynolds means that marketing needs to abandon their current role as corporate bullhorn and channel the voice of the customer as ambassadors across the enterprise.

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