The Right Strategies For 2013 - Part II

Are you ready for 2013? Now’s the time to work on next year’s CRM strategy. In my previous article, I provided tips on how an organization can more effectively mobilize itself internally. This second piece provides a perspective on how to approach the external planning process differently to set up for success in the next year.

The most important question

It’s natural that as part of the planning process, you’ll need to ask the following:

  • What are my business objectives? 
  • What are the activities that align against our goals and strategies? 
  • How do I commit to goals and define high level KPIs (key performance indicator)? 

But budget considerations and KPIs aside, the most important question for you to focus on is: Have we made the customer central to the entire planning process? And I’m not talking about how your team can leverage segmentation or design personas. I mean this: what are you going to do to get people to care? 

Take a look at Google Creative Labs. While the group’s focus is on marketing’s Google technology, the heart of their work has been to show how Google can provide a truly meaningful impact on a person’s life—why their customers should care, like in the Dear Sophie spot for Google Chrome.

As you plan for 2013, put the focus on making every customer touch point meaningful. Each one should deliver value and garner trust. Each one must deliver on the brand promise. Here are two key pieces to guide your strategy:

Empower your customers

A recently published book, Winning the Story Wars, talks about empowerment marketing: setting brands and campaigns within the context of uplifting stories that inspire customers to adventure, higher values, and citizenship—instead of shrinking consumers back into fear, insecurity, and passive consumption. Empowerment marketing should be at the heart of your CRM strategy. It will give customers a real reason to want to talk to you, and about you. 

Nike’s recent “Find Your Greatness” ad from the Olympics is a good example. Its story—that of an overweight kid working and sweating to pursue his own “greatness”—is something that’s both relatable and empowering to consumers. It’s inspirational to anyone who’s ever had a goal that they’re struggling to meet, as evidenced by the all the supportive comments on YouTube. People didn’t view this kid as an actor; they genuinely cared and stood behind his effort. In fact, following the spot, the child from the commercial is now determined to get in shape—and Nike has pledged to film him again when he does. Whether an ad or a full CRM program, an empowering, inspirational story like this should be central to every marketing effort.

Patagonia is another great example. The company has a consumer base that’s attracted to eco-friendly merchandise, and they’re empowered by the brand’s dedication to the environment, which is evident in everything from Patagonia’s corporate philosophy to its business model. Just last year, the brand launched its Common Threads initiative, a partnership with eBay that helps consumers resell their Patagonia apparel online. The goal was to reduce the environmental cost of clothing by reducing, reusing, and recycling the merchandise. Consumers loved it, because it empowered them through a cause that they were passionate about—something that marketers everywhere could learn from.

Dig deeper in social

Today, social has become a core part of CRM. No other marketing channel gives you the same opportunity to connect, collaborate and create a movement amongst your customers and with your brand. But the tendency is to think about social in terms of the tactics: responding to tweets, targeting on Facebook, moderating a forum or a blog, or linking your database to social accounts. 

Go deeper. Invest in a strategy that goes beyond just the tactics and the channels. The heart of the matter should always be more than just what your consumers are outwardly saying—it’s what they’re looking for at an emotional level, what’s driving the connection. 

You can use the data garnered from social channels to help figure that connection out—things like location, brand engagement, and interests can provide important context, especially when combined with sentiment analysis and purchasing information. No one nugget can give you the complete picture of a person, but when you really dig deep into social data, and combine it with all your other customer information, you can begin to understand the latent drivers of human behavior—what your audience is really looking for, and what they want your brand to say and do.

For instance, in India, eBay worked with an agency to create a social CRM strategy that dove deep and created real connections. They used their data to focus specifically on turning female customers into social evangelists for the brand through themed content (such as promotions surrounding Christmas and Valentine’s Day), customized deals, and extensive customer service. The result was a 4:1 ratio in positive to negative comments on Facebook and a large growth in eBay India’s Facebook community—leading to more traffic from Facebook to All because they dug deep and really engaged their audiences.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the question that I mentioned earlier: what are you going to do to get your customers to care? Be it through empowerment marketing, deeper social CRM, or other strategies, keep the customer central in your 2013 planning and you’ll be able to create the touch points for real success.

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