I remember being impressed with the brilliance this obvious yet often neglected idea represented. It was only after I repeated the line several times that I was finally informed the quote was originally attributed to “The Great One” himself: Wayne Gretzky.
Good thing I never told a client it was my line.
Fast-forward a number of years and that quote I fell in love with back then still holds true today. Even more so for the marketing niche called “CRM.” Whether you define CRM as Customer Relationship Marketing, Customer Relationship Management or even call it something entirely different (like CLM — Customer Lifecycle Management), the acronyms all mean the same thing.
At the end of the day, everything comes down to delivering the right message to the right person, in the right place, at the right time. The direct mail and email channels alone have made trillions of dollars for companies in the past based on these fundamental practices.
Now place those practices within the context of the social media explosion. Facebook has over 600 million users (although, with duplicate Facebook accounts relatively common now, I wonder what number are actual “unique” users). Twitter is expanding its influence by exploring ways to inject ads and turn profits. Even Google and Microsoft are working towards “a more social experience.” Yet I’m surprised so many of these social media efforts are seemingly missing the point.
It’s not about creating the perfect social program or platform. It’s about using those programs or platforms to deepen customer relationships and build the perfect CRM program.
CRM is channel-agnostic and customer-focused. It drives revenue that’s easily attributable. It also needs social media just as much as social media needs it.
Let me back up and define my theory. Earlier I mentioned the “trillions” of dollars generated by direct mail and email. The brilliance of both channels is the direct line of customer communication they represent; a mailing or email address serves as a pipeline into the customer.
Marketers could do more than hope a customer saw a 30-second TV spot, scanned an FSI or drove by a billboard. You were guaranteed the customer would see a subject line or read the outside envelope of whatever communication you sent them. That was powerful and it still is today.
But incorporating social media advances CRM to levels only dreamed about years earlier. Now we’ve evolved from a generic household or email address towards a more holistic customer profile. This profile represents “metadata” and, for a CRM guy like me, gets me excited because I realize the future of our industry is being written right now.
Metadata is the engine that makes marketing work harder. Now we can know what a person “tweets” about, who they follow online, how often they post or retweet. We know who they like, how many friends they have and what they talk about on Facebook. In other words, those generic addresses can now represent real people who laugh, love, complain, explore and dream.
That’s not just metadata. That’s solid marketing gold.
Now the message, the timing, even the method of communication can be crafted to be more relevant and personal. Not only does this make the marketing more appealing for the consumer but it makes marketing more profitable for our clients.
So if you look ahead, you’ll see the puck is headed towards the intersection of CRM and social media. Will you be there or be skating to catch up?