Integrated is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of
the most fundamental change in marketing over the past 10 years. We
are no longer living in a world driven by a mass of unknown
customers. As the
Economist says, we are living the era of mass customisation.
The driving force behind this is that we know more about customers
than at any time before. But that's not all.
Compared with previous decades, this information is available
immediately and on a massive scale. In the past, marketers used to
gather external customer perception data from market research and
internal customer relationship data from CRM systems. These are no
longer the only sources. With growing adoption of social media
customers are leaving a massive online digital footprint that can
be linked directly with CRM data.
Social media like Facebook and Linkedin are changing
centuries-old ways of how business approach clients and how clients
approach businesses. Customer interaction is no longer a walled
garden controlled by internal procedures and systems. Sentiment
towards brands and services may be at risk – without
warning – on Twitter, Facebook or simply through a shared
picture on Instagram or Pinterest. Companies are no longer demand
creators. Customers today have the power to endorse or damage brand
and product equity.
Listening is therefore more important than ever, as Gary
Vaynerchuck explains in his book,
'The Thank You Economy'. The credibility and
likeability of brands stands and falls on how they listen to
customers. Customers expect to be valued and treated as
individuals. It is no longer the world of the Cheshire Cat
We are talking about a real knowledge of the customer. Don't
get me wrong, those principles are as old as marketing itself -
there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Marcus T. Cicero knew
2,000 years ago that remembering names is essential for building
relationships. Customers are not anonymous records inside a large
database. They want to be treated as valued individuals.
The modern concept of CRM - Social CRM - understands that people
have lives outside the database. This life creates opportunities
for brands if the people are treated well, and challenges if they
are not. In a world with extensive use of social media and mobile
devices enabling immediate sharing of information – both
good and bad – we have no excuse but to think of
customers as individuals. Everyone has the power to do things we
cannot forecast or find with a focus group. We just can listen,
learn and adapt to the ever changing world around us.
Technology is just an enabler. What matters is how we approach
this enablement. It is not just a technical task. What makes a real
difference is how we put all these things together. Integrated
marketing is not an empty phrase. It is a real concept that varies
for every company and industry, just as customer behaviour and
needs vary. The challenge is to deliver solutions that are fully
integrated and it is this that makes a real difference between zero
and hero to businesses and their customers.
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