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New Research on Why CRM Fails…Also Lessons for Marketing Automation

MIT Sloan Management Review (Spring 2011) published new research on CRM in an article titled, “Why CRM Fails and How to Fix It.”  This is fantastic reading; truly an energizing piece pointing to down-to-earth advice.  The four key insights that the authors drew from their research are equally applicable to marketing automation.  They are (verbatim):

  1. “If the appropriate marketing capabilities are not developed, little or no return will be generated from investments made in CRM.”
  2. “The rate of organizational learning, rather than the size of the company’s CRM budget, determines how rapidly companies can change the way they relate to a consumer, which, in turn, is linked to the length of the consumer purchasing cycle.”
  3. “Top management can provide the money, software and authority to create a CRM program, but such investment must be informed by cycles of learning from consumer insight….an organizational culture that tolerates experimentation will be more successful at building new CRM capabilities.”
  4. “Hard work and commitment are what it takes to develop marketing capabilities…far from being a black box (marketing capabilities) can be developed through conscious, goal-directed learning by those responsible for CRM.”

While some scoff at my contention that today’s marketing is harder than ever before, these insights from the research support that view. Enough of the left brain/right brain argument.  Enough of the data/experience fuss.  Enough of the processs/technology discussion.  It takes them all…along with leadership and courage.  I’ll say that again:  leadership and courage.

Back to the article.  The authors display a matrix with four marketing activities (demand management, creating marketing knowledge, building brands, customer relationship management) on the left and three marketing relationships across the top.  The marketing relationships between companies and consumers are:  transactional (from the 1970’s), one-to-one (based on the long-term relationship focus of the 1980s ) and networked (flowing from online networks, the company supply chain and consumers).”

The latter (networked relationships) is characterized by “co-creating value with a network of consumers,” marketing knowledge coming from “key network participants and shapers,” consumers encouraged to “access a networks capabilities,” and consumer self service.  How different is this from where your marketing is today?  How does this vision apply to your marketing? How will you go about building the capabilities to succeed in this networked relationship between company and consumer?

Don’t be stuck in in the 1990s.  Please read the article and let me know whether it made you want to cheer also…

(Back to marketing automation:  Today’s ClickZ piece on Marketing Automation…Far from Automatic opened once again the discussion of why so many marketing automation implementations fail to deliver expected results.  It makes good points but doesn’t go far enough into a meaty topic that I’ve covered frequently.

The Role of Context in Curation: B2B Marketers Take Note

Every B2B marketer should read Arnold Waldstein’s thoughtful post entitled, “Context, not content, is king.”  The context he describes is exactly what B2B marketers need to provide in their content curation.  He points out that, “Few of the curation platform players seem to understand that content without dynamic context is really neither interesting nor that valuable.”

Waldstein talks about, “finding groupings around information needs” and the tremendous opportunity for business to invigorate new groupings relevent to its products/services.  This is the challenge for the B2B marketer:  pick the topics/issues that keenly interest a particular audience and provide a point of view that keeps bringing them back.  The point of view adds the value.

Marketers who use curation to establish a thought leadership position can’t stand on the sidelines, just aggregating and selecting relevant content.  That’s like saying, “I know what’s going on.”  By contrast, being a thought leader means you are saying, “I know what’s going on, what’s coming down the road, and here’s what it means to you.”

A lot of Waldstein’s post refers to the role social voting is having on curation:  if a lot of people like something, some consider it more valuable.  He doesn’t.  Neither do I.  Social (i.e., friendships) can’t provide the context that adds value.

B2B battleground for content curation

Vendors providing content curation solutions for publishing (Loud3r, Daylife, PublishThis, OneSpot, Atex to name a few) are moving to provide B2B marketing solutions…in droves.  And new (e.g., HiveFireCIThread) or re-branded (e.g., Aggregage) vendors are coming on the market with B2B as their primary focus.  What will it take to succeed? 

The B2B marketer, like, publishers, need search and filtering that yields a quality collection of items (blog posts, articles, tweets) from which the curator can work efficiently.  This focus on quality of content presented to the curator is critical in publishing, where the productivity of editors is a major justification for content curation.  Quality is also critical in B2B applications…but other factors also play a significant role in how well suited a product is to B2B:

  • How easy it is for the curator to prepare thoughtful collections of relevant content.  In business, it isn’t just about breaking news it is about sides of an argument and points of view.  These need curation too.  Unfortunately many platforms don’t retain material for future reference.
  • How full-functioned the distribution mechanisms are. Publishing to a website or to social media platforms are fairly standard.  The nuances come in being able to route social media content internally so the right person can comment or in enabling information consumers to personalize their browsing experience…and using that data to engage them better.
  • How completely marketers can avoid involving IT resources in implementation.  Marketers often don’t have access to IT resources whereas publishers mostly do.

What else is crucial for marketers?

Two more use cases: content curation in marketing

If you read my post on 10 use cases for content curation in marketing and missed the comments, you would have missed two additional use cases that Pawan Deshpande of HiveFire identified:

  • Improving SEO to support lead generation efforts. 
  • Educating and staying in touch with prospects.

I had been thinking of these as benefits of the thought leadership use case rather than use cases themselves.  On reflection, though, it is clear to me that marketers do indeed use content curation for these purposes and may do so without any intention of becoming a thought leader in a topical area.  You’ll see that I’ve updated my report on content curation for Patricia Seybold Group to include these use cases as well:  http://www.mckittrickassociates.com/b2bmarketingresources/contentcurationreports.html