Every aspect of a successful spy operation has three key traits. First, there is an amazing amount of intelligence informing every decision. Second, the speed in which decisions are made is near real-time. And third, some decisions have to be made in the field: People sitting behind a desk, not in the trenches, shouldn’t be making tactical decisions.
Apply that to the practice of CRM and more precisely to email marketing, and you can begin to divide planning into a couple of key areas, some done in planning stages, some driven at the point of interaction:
What’s important about these three areas are:
In spy novels, the government agencies (CIA, etc.), tend to leverage contractors for certain type of work -- some of it the “dirty” work, some of it very “specialized,” work -- but most important is the contractors’ “speed.” They can simply operate faster than larger organizations can run.
However, though you may want fast and specialized, that doesn’t necessarily translate to “good.” Outside insight is really important in the execution part, assuming you have the type of operational model to take advantage of it, with the contractor really a part of your team, not simply a hand-off. Outside insight is great for annual planning, to apply a filter to your “internal” views. In this industry, you must guard against the “101 syndrome” (the art of applying marketing 101 to every situation). But where contractors can really pay off is mining insight at the programmed CRM level, where most struggle.
Developing discipline to plan well in advance, using “loads” of data to inform decisions, understanding what information will help you make decision in the field, empowering your “in-market” people to make decisions: These are all part of the formula for marketing optimization. The right mix of internal and external staff will be your key to winning at this marketing game. Think like an intelligence agency: You have to be faster and more flexible than those trying to destroy you.