by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded
I just recently read an article by David Williams, CEO of Merkle, a company who helps clients leverage their customer data. The article was centered around the concept of what “the agency of the future” will look like. He made several points that are very interesting and I happen to agree with.
• There’s a new question. The question used to be “How do we do great advertising?” Then it was “How do we do great marketing?” Now, it’s “How do we do great customer relationship marketing?” The emphasis is on how to communicate in a way that connects the brand to the relationship with the customer. This applies to everything from the advertising, marketing, and PR to online and social media. Building a great brand involves building a great relationship with meaning with the customer.
• It’s not technology driven. The idea that technology is the key factor is a myth. Creating an authentic relationship is not technology-driven, it’s technology-enabled. Technology allows us to collect customer data and information. This, in turn, gives us insight and keys to what is important to our customers on an emotional level, not if they prefer blue over red (if you’re still focusing in on that kind of information, then you’re already a commodity). Look at it this way, just because you have a thousand friends on facebook and two thousand followers on twitter, that doesn’t mean you’ve got a true relationship with everyone of those people. These media outlets are technology-driven, but they are not a substitute for real customer relationships and emotional insights.
• You don’t manage customers. It used to be you managed customers. Instead, you should be altering behaviors. This is a different emphasis on customer relationships. If you try to manage customers, you’re fighting a losing battle. It’s like herding cats. Also, just by managing them, you don’t create a real connection with them to your brand. By marketing to alter behaviors, you’re trying to show customers how your brand can relate to them and become an integral part of who they are and how you can help make their lives better, more enjoyable. The focus should be on marketing to influence behaviors to optimize customer value.
• There are two dimensions. Customer relationship marketing has two components, brand and customer. The bonding of a strong brand to driving appropriate customer behavior is what most CMO’s want today. The responsibility of the marketing agency is establish a strong brand presence and what it emotionally means to customers so that they can see how the brand can make their lives easier, better, cooler, etc. The key is being able to communicate as if it was a one-on-one in a mass strategy.
Overall, marketing agencies are well positioned and equipped to be a strong communicator in the brand conversation. Our strength lies in understanding how to build emotion into a brand and then communicating that across the board in all mediums and technologies, not just depending on the technology alone to be the difference maker. It is this comprehensive marketing approach that delivers the intimate message on a grand scale.