Are You Ready for 2013? Here's How to Start Planning

We’re midway through the summer, and planning for 2013 has already gotten started. Now’s the time to reconsider budgets and assess new investments to figure out how your brand can amplify its consumer relationships. With that in mind, I’ve put together a two-part series on what every CRM executive should focus on as they plan for the new year: 1) your internal organization and 2) your external vision.

Let’s kick things off with part one below: your internal organization. At the end of the day, behind every great brand is a great organization. And the best way to execute great CRM strategy is to apply those same customer relationship principles to your own company.

Ask the right questions

In a recent piece for The New York Times, David Carr writes that one of Yahoo’s problems is that, historically, even its own CEOs have had trouble answering one simple question: what is Yahoo

As it turns out, that identity problem is hardly unique. A survey from Deloitte showed that while 83% of executives believe that senior leadership regularly communicates their company’s core values and beliefs to staff, only 67% of employees agree. The simplest questions of “what are we?” and “what do we stand for?” go unanswered.

Before you allocate deeper budgets into an external CRM strategy, it’s important to sit down and survey your own staff. Find out how they perceive the company, and their place in it. Ask them the following:

  • What value does our brand have in the marketplace? 
  • Why should consumers choose our brand over the competition?
  • What goals are you working towards for our brand?
  • Do you feel like your department is aligned with the others? Are you all working towards a common goal?

Communicate your brand internally

Consumers won’t purchase something if they don’t really understand it. Likewise, employees won’t work at their full potential if they don’t know what their contribution is going towards. If you’re not getting the answers you desire for the questions listed above, then you need to think about how to apply the basic principles of CRM with your own employees.

Here’s what you should invest in:

  • Regular and candid communications: your people want to hear from you. They want to be kept in the loop. And not only should you be reaching out to them regularly, you should use those communications as an opportunity to reinforce key messages about the company.  Keep your people informed about what the brand really stands for—what it means in the marketplace.
  • A multi-channel approach: you wouldn’t keep your CRM strategy limited to just one channel. Likewise, email alone isn’t a winning strategy for your employees. From all-staff meetings to social channels, find different ways of reaching out to your people to keep them engaged and informed. 
  • Regularly gather data: the more quality data, the better. Look for ways to regularly gather information about how your employees feel about the company, and how they view the brand. It will help you verify how well your internal communications are working.

Break down the silos 

We talk a lot – and rightfully so - about breaking down the silos in marketing campaigns: linking different sets of data together, creating a consistent creative theme across channels, and so forth. Here are how those same principle needs to be applied to the structure of your organization. 

  • Collaborate from the start:  as you start planning your CRM programs for 2013, bring all of your crucial departments in from the start.It’s better to have marketing, sales, research, IT, and operations collaborating immediately on strategy and budget, versus just bringing in marketing first and then consulting with the others.
  • Make the priorities known to everyone: give every department goals that align with each other’s. While everyone knows that they’re ultimately working for the good of the brand, they may not understand how each team is working to get there. Give each of your departments a common vision to work towards, and explain how their collaboration is key to that.
  • If necessary, make adjustments to your physical space: one study from Steelcase showed that 70% of workers wasted up to 15 minutes just looking for a space to conduct a meeting. And 24% wasted up to half an hour. Make sure that the different departments working on your CRM strategy have the physical space they need to collaborate. After all, you can’t link different data sets together if the marketers behind them can’t meet in the same room.

Once you’ve figured out how to manage the internal communications and relationships of those who are working on your CRM strategy, you can move onto the external vision. Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll dive into the external guiding principles of what you should plan for in 2013.

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