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Friday, 09 May 2014 08:36

Romance Your Customers

Romance Your Customers

Imagine that you decide that it is time to get married soon. You go out and buy a new outfit, new shoes, and expensive after-shave. You select a demographically-correct singles bar because this, you decide, is the place where the woman* of your dreams will probably hang out.


You sit on the deck, watching the beautiful sun slowly dip down into the horizon, and suddenly you spot a beautiful young lady that seems equally delighted by this magnificent sunset. You march up to her and say: “Hi, I’m Stan the Man, and I am the most successful and well-dressed rep in my company. That sunset that you were so admiring is caused by all the little particles of pollution that cause the deep red colour, and the light particles travelled more than 150 million kilometres to get here. That took only eight minutes, but without those rays there would be no photosynthesis for plants, and we would all die of oxygen deprivation and starvation in the next few months. By the way, will you marry me?”


You see the crazy look on her face, and decide maybe it would be better to move on to someone else. So you try another lady, and when you are rejected, you repeat the strategy for every other woman in the room. When that fails, you think that since you invested so much in the outfit, the shoes and the after-shave, perhaps you better start asking some of the men too. As you walk away, beaten and disappointed, you blame the suit, the shoes, and the after- shave.

But you never question the strategy.


Yet this is what I see most companies doing in their marketing strategy. “Let’s create some beautiful ads,” they say, “And then we’ll broadcast them as widely as possible, and see what happens.” And when it all fails, they blame the ads, and the sales reps. But they never question the strategy!


Imagine the same scenario at the singles bar, but this time you gently walk up to the beautiful young lady and say, “Isn’t this just breathtaking?” And as she looks at you, you follow-up by saying, “It’s so tranquil and beautiful I try to come here and enjoy it as often as I can. How come I’ve never seen you here before?” Better chance of success, right? And it improves as you put in more effort to get to know her better, to truly listen to her, to pay her lots of compliments, to do the things she wants to do, and to overlook the little idiosyncrasies.

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Published in Customer Service
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:09

Business growth requires smart marketing

Business growth requires smart marketing

Marketing is confronted with a stark choice. To avoid losing its place on the business ladder, it must either step up and become an integrated hub of insight and innovation or fall down to the rung of catchy tunes and pretty pictures. Marketing risks being replaced at executive level by disciplines with a real ability to move the business needle – those departments with measurable intelligence and predictable or tangible business case delivery. Today customers are informed, connected and powerful. They will not accept irrelevant messaging or mediocre products; they will not be hoodwinked by vague or veiled promises. People generate data wherever they go, through their purchasing behaviour, online search history and their conversations – and they expect that business will use the information they give knowingly to provide products and services that they want, when they want them. Marketing is faced with a world of opportunity and its next move will decide whether it climbs or slips on the ladder of influence.


Marketing now, more than ever, is about real intelligence. It is about making smart choices in the moment, investing in the right places to understand your customers better, structuring your departments to facilitate the free flow of insight and directing innovation across the organisation through embedded process and intelligence gathering. Ensuring your marketing people have the analytical skills and are therefore asking the right questions is the first step to successful marketing strategy. Questions like ‘why do customers feel this way?’ or ‘what kind of experiences do they love?’ or ‘how can this brand innovate to make their lives easier?’ It’s the difference between information and insight – which is ultimately the difference between stagnation and growth.

There are five key things that marketing needs to get right this year:

  1. Relevance. Marketing’s core function is to be the customer insight champion. Businesses that understand their customers will flourish. And we mean real understanding – from needs and desires to passions, hobbies and political points of view. Marketers that ‘really get their customers’ build brands that resonate, connect emotionally and generate growth.

Practical tip: If you’re still using a segmentation model based purely on demographics then try and create a more multi-layered view using overlays like behaviour, attitude, needs, previous buying patterns and others.


  1. Purpose. The crises across our economy, political arena and environment have left consumers disillusioned and untrusting. It’s time for business to re-think its role in society and formulate strategies that are built on shared value. Well-defined strategic platforms that tightly knit into the core purpose of a business, help align marketing with people behaviour and at the same time deliver tangible societal value or improvement, will win consumer trust.

Practical tip: Try and re-write your business Purpose, Vision and Values (PVV) as simple, tangible, easy to deliver constructs that simultaneously deliver profit and social good.


  1. Intelligence. Yes, this is the age of Big Data, but we need humans to make sense of it all. We need marketers that are as empathetic, insightful and compassionate as they are comfortable with vast quantities of real-time unstructured data.

Practical tip: If you don’t have a planning meeting set up with the CIO to discuss the integration of marketing and IT initiatives then make one tomorrow.


  1. Relationships. Successful marketers realise that the power of real relationships change business fortunes. To increase advocacy and word of mouth, businesses must ensure increased relevant participation with their customers and must ensure that every interaction with their consumers meets or exceeds their expectations.

Practical tip: Undertake a simple qualitative internal audit to check the extent to which the business builds real relationships at every customer touch-point. The results will tell you what to do next.


  1. Innovation. Emerging markets used to play the ‘first to follow’ strategy really well but all of that has now changed. With markets changing faster than ever before, no one can afford to rest on their laurels. Disrupt or be disrupted: there are enormous business opportunities for those who innovate in emerging markets for emerging markets. But innovation for innovation sake will fail – be guided by real insight into your market and a clear business case on how to fulfil their unmet needs.

Practical tip: Review your brand or product / service portfolio and question whether there is any opportunity to extend to create new propositions that deliver against unmet category needs.


The stakes are high and the pressure is on. Now is the time for marketers to focus their energy and cut through the complexity by building real human relationships with consumers. Those who invest their time, resources and skills into getting these five key things right will add enormous incremental and tangible value to their businesses. They will prove that marketing effectiveness and powerful brands can grow revenue in existing markets, create new ones and perhaps even define a new industry. With smarter consumers the world needs smarter marketers.

Published in Media & Marketing
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 11:11

The Benefits of a CRM Programme

The Benefits of a CRM Programme

In the face of shrinking pipelines and declines in profitability, the uptake of customer care tools is consistently increasing.  Managing multiple channels of communication such as Email, faxes, SMSs and voice recognition software could however be tricky.  “If you add the unstructured world into the mix, such as the internet, twitter and linked-in, you are lumped with a vast amount of information related to what people are saying about you,” says Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa, Softline Accpac and Sage MMD Africa.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suite is primarily designed to aid users to accurately interpret any and all information circulating on the internet in such a way that it will add value to the business.

Customer interaction channels, such as face to face communication, phone, Email the web and social media, are the mediums that connect you to your customers.  “A sound CRM strategy reaches out to target customers through multiple channels.  It will ultimately aid you to understand your customer better, streamline communication and update client information across your entire business operation without the customer having to repeat themselves ten times over.  That is what makes CRM so essential,” explains Fenner.

The proliferation of CRM in the last decade and the increasing demand for the cloud goes hand in hand.  “Reduced connectivity costs and continued growth in the quality of broadband and wireless offerings are driving users into the unstructured world.  As a result, the upswing of Cloud customers across our product lines has significantly improved.  It speaks volumes about the demand for cloud offerings and clearly underpins the necessity of having a comprehensive CRM solution,” says Fenner.

The feature sets that a CRM suite offers include:

  • Account Management Features: Contact records – demographic information as well as account history.
  • Activity Management Features: Calendars, task assignments and Outlook integration, among others.
  • Call Centre Features: Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) and call management.
  • Collaboration: employee-to-employee and customer collaboration.
  • Customer Service Features: Case/ticket management, agent workflow tools and service resolution tools such as decision trees.
  • Knowledge Management: A knowledge base for customer service in addition to external content indexing
  • Marketing Management Features: e-mail and other channel campaign and project management.
  • Mobile Support: including dedicated apps.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Real-time dashboards for sales, marketing and service.
  • Sales Management Features: Lead generation, qualification and pipeline management.
  • Social Media Features: Social listening, keyword or sentiment analysis and content creation.

There is however a prevailing misconception that CRM is only meant for contact reporting when it is in fact capable of providing your business with a strategic advantage.  “A CRM suite adds a whole new level of automation to the business that enables you to complete the loop in terms of capturing relevant information in addition to incorporating the social media explosion into your customer relationship strategy.  A comprehensive CRM solution will ultimately allow you to offer superior customer service, which is vital in a tough economy,” concludes Fenner.

Published in CRM & Direct Marketing

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