My Lone New Year's Resolution

'Tis the season for 2009 predictions. Given concerns about the market, nearly every list of predictions I have come across lately focuses on shifts in marketing spending. While these predictions are of interest, one theme emerged that will influence the way I think about marketing in the coming year.

The theme is simple: marketing is all about relationships! Hardly a new concept, but before you bail out, let me explain.

I am not talking about using clichés like "relationship marketing" that make me feel good about loyalty programs that continue treating consumers like a name on a list. Microsoft's depiction of this irony in "The Break Up"  continues to win awards for capturing what we all know to be true if we are honest with ourselves: There really isn't a relationship -- at least not one that we should feel good about.

So, this year, my lone resolution is to invest in relationships with people that I believe will tell me the truth I need to know as an email marketer -- relationships that will provide the type of insights needed to help build brands that stand out among the competition. Here are three groups of people I will spend more time with in 2009:



1)    Call Center / Customer Service Representatives: In nearly every organization I have ever been associated with, these employees represent an untapped source of valuable information. They understand the customer, they know the frustrations, and they know what gets customers excited. Yet too often, they are left unattended and unappreciated. Companies hoping to prosper this year need to understand their strengths and weaknesses from the customers' point of view, in order to address concerns proactively and highlight the things that delight consumers.

2)    Social Media Gurus: Email professionals and social media professionals together never made more sense. In 2008, social media folks were the cool kids, while email marketers spent the year crying for attention; but as Chris Brogan   recently pointed out in "Social Media Predictions 2009," "Doors are going to close all over the social web. Why? Because the money didn't come the way people thought it would. Why? Because there really wasn't a business model beyond 'if we get enough people, we'll figure it out.'" Social media folks understand authentic interactions with customers, they get customer relationships, they just haven't figured out how to make money! Contrarily, email marketers know how to make money, but too many of us consider a deliverable email address a "relationship." Let's face it, we are socially retarded.

3)    Unsubscribers: Customers who don't want our email anymore are a great source of information. They also represent lost revenue. I recently conducted an analysis of the prior year's revenue attributed to customers who had unsubscribed from a company's email program. When we realized that some of those unsubscribers were among the firm's most profitable customers in the prior year, the message hit home. Pay attention and follow up! At last year's MarketingProfs event, Gary Varnerchuk of the Wine Library TV site said that if someone unsubscribes from his company's email program, Gary or another staffer will personally call them to determine the reason and make sure that they are aware of their monthly and more segmented email subscription options.

As we enter the new year, competition for customers and competition in the inbox will increase significantly. I am equally confident that this year will be filled with innovative new techniques and insights on how to connect with customers. To innovate, we need to foster more and better relationships with those around us that will tell us the truth about our programs and help us see the future.

These three top my list. Who are you planning to spend more time with this year to get new perspectives?

3 comments about "My Lone New Year's Resolution".
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  1. Peter Marino from, January 7, 2009 at 11:06 a.m.

    Great article! I thought I coined the phrase socially retarded but I guess great minds think alike. :)
    Anyhow, I totally agree with you that there has been no real business model to follow with social media. It's like a roll of the dice for us so called social media marketers. I think we all need to take a step back and figure this social media marketing thing out. I do think Facebook can be an integral part of social media marketing, especially with the introduction of video. The marketing must come natural though and start with real friends and then follow with friend/clients. We can make these clients feel like they are a part of our lives by accepting them into our lives, and this is where Facebook has the edge. The "wall" on Facebook makes everyone feel like they know you personally and let's them really be a part of our lives by commenting. Ofcourse there will be nuts posting stuff but that's why we have the option of ignoring or banning them from our Facebook lives.
    Well, that's my thought anyhow!

  2. david Baker from RedPill, January 7, 2009 at 3:48 p.m.

    Oh... you can't leave it at that Morgan.... What about BI Specialists? What about Web Analytics Gurus" What about Rich Media Application Specialists? What about some international flare to bring things in perspective.. you shoudl see what we do in Asis and AUstralia.. pretty cool, innovative stuff...

    But I get your message and it's on target.. keep up the good writing pal,


  3. Andrew Knight from Nokia, January 8, 2009 at 6:41 a.m.

    I agree with all your points and the core resolution. I am a strong believer and driver of point 1. Part 2 is also good but misses the point that emailers can also be as sensitive to consumers as social media gurus if the people setting their targets did so properly!
    At the moment targets are so largly volume based that in this coming year of panic and cutbacks I cannot see many having the the mangement who understand the often crying need to manage the relationship better and invest accordingly.
    That then impacts on point 3 which is an obvious thing to do but how many will do it without recognising and adressing the spam mentality that still permeates and creates the problem in the first place.

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