Saturday, January 29, 2005

Customer Love is Good Business

The eMail messages in response to my thoughts on corporate love keep rolling in. There are two general themes expressed so far.


First , that it is too idealistic to execute in the real world, but we should at least keep trying because it is the right thing to do. As you might guess, I believe it is the right and moral thing to do. It is also good business. My premise is that if we care deeply about our customers as individual people, we will be more effective at serving their needs, at delivering value that they want and will pay a premium price to get. That is the promise of contextual marketing. Because it is good marketing, we should be guiding our companies in this direction.


Second, several of you are saying: “Good idea, Dale. But marketing cannot get that personal until it reaches the individual sales rep who is talking with an individual customer.” What this tells me is that you have not yet seen how one-to-one marketing communications is becoming a reality. Mass marketing has great difficulty in delivering “corporate love” in anything but high-level corporate ad and pr messages. But mass marketing is not where the future is headed. Personalized, one-to-one contextually relevant messaging is where it is all headed.


Let me share a hypothetical example for how you can use marketing communications to get down to the individual level where you can demonstrate to customers that you care about them. This is an example of using your website to listen to individual customers and respond to them in a more contextually relevant manner … one that shows your love.


1. You conduct an online survey in your customer eNewsletter and on your website to discover the major kinds of pains your customers are dealing with.

2. Then post a promotion with multiple offers that address or reveal each of the major pains that your customers might be experiencing … offer a series of whitepapers or checklists that help them in achieving these primary objectives. Each offer is on a different pain. When they select an offer they are telling you which pain is most pressing to them at that time.

3. Be helpful before you try to convince them that your product is the best thing since sliced bread.

4. Capture which offers they select and record this information in the customer profile.

5. Eventually this profile reveals their needs or interests and you can focus additional marketing resources that are contextually relevant to helping the customer, on building trust and mutual respect and eventually on winning the customer … all because you cared enough to go the extra mile in helping (in loving) the customer.


Compare this contextual marketing with traditional marketing. A lead gen mailer is sent out, the prospect replies and your sales rep calls for an appointment to tell them how wonderful your company is. No listening. No customizing. Because the attitude is the customer is there to serve the company.


Big difference.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Love is the Killer App

David Forstrom, Manager of ConnectPR's Washington DC office responded about corporate love by telling me about a book I was not familiar with ... maybe you are not familiar with it either, so I am posting his comment...

"Dale, have you read Tim Sanders’ Love is the Killer App? The basic premise is that as technology and information have changed the business landscape, to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace, you need a killer application. What is that application? It’s love. He puts forth the idea of being lovecats. Gone are the days of swimming with sharks, and enter the days of nice, smart people. Lovecats practice love business–intelligently sharing their intangibles with their bizpartners. These intangibles are our knowledge, our network, and our compassion. It’s co-opetition or the abundance mentality at its best. Think about how blogging helps drive the lovecat way. One of the base traits of “love” is listening. Sanders talks about how the act of listening is absolutely critical to the act of connecting. In this new era of transparency, we’re beginning to see glimpses of the lovecat way. They’re out there. C’mon, show me the love. Enough of the sappiness, but the book is an infectious must-read. Visit www.timsanders.com."

Does PR Work for Non-Profits?

Communicating for non-profits is tough, indeed – every bit as hard as selling a refrigerator or an enterprise software application. United Way in every community is the citizen-led means of distributing our collective donations to people who need it most.

I was the volunteer chairman for communications for the Cincinnati Area of United Way for over a decade. I loved the challenge of working with local business leaders and assisting people who needed a helping hand to get up and on their feet.

My main observation might surprise you – PR generated name recognition but did not connect the brand name to a consistent value proposition.

When asked in surveys what United Way was, a common response was that United Way was a division of the National Football League … this because the NFL for years donated TV commercials to show how their players worked with United Way in their local communities to help the needy.

Since UW had no budget authority for advertising, it relied entirely upon publicity and special events. And the PR professionals on staff were (and are) excellent. They produced reams and reams and reams of publicity across all news media. This successfully placed the words “United Way” into a high level of unaided awareness across the city. But, very few “ordinary people” could tell you what United Way did.

My conclusion. Unproven, but one that I think is right. All the reams of stories were about positive news and readers were looking for negative news. They skimmed the UW articles without reading what UW actually did. The name registered, but not the deeds.


Without advertising to supplement this terrific years-long publicity performance, it was difficult to get a repetitive value message into the public eye. Repetition is essential in driving value proposition messaging. If publicity is the only tool to work with, then a strategy must be put in place to drive frequency of a value prop.

This is not easy when editors, reporters and announcers are in charge of delivering our messages … but we must become very good at guiding such messaging through the media strategically.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

PeopleSoft. Where is the Outrage?

I don’t know how many of you follow the high tech industry, or are aware of the recent + $10 Billion takeover of PeopleSoft by one of its competitors – Oracle. But it’s a done deal, and a sad one.

Now keep in mind, PeopleSoft and its 11,000 employees were doing just fine on their own, and they served a loyal customer base. They really didn’t need Oracle to come in and tell them how to run their business.

One way to view this hostile takeover is that Oracle could no longer grow organically at a pace fast enough to keep its CEO Larry Ellison happy. So they chose to add PeopleSoft’s revenue to Oracle’s bottom line. This could be seen as an admission by Ellison that his business strategy at Oracle had hit the skids. He decided to buy PeopleSoft’s revenue instead of growing his own.

But the sad thing about it all is that Ellison did not pay to get this revenue. He is firing 5,000 to 6,000 PeopleSoft employees and they are the ones who out of their own pockets are paying PeopleSoft shareholders for selling them out to Oracle. Now Oracle is bigger. But is bigger better?

Where’s the Love?

My whole point in getting here is to follow-up on a previous posting about company-centric vs. customer-centric business management. I can picture the vision statement hanging on the Oracle Boardroom – we value customers and are here to serve them. When companies begin walking the walk instead of throwing around empty promises, then we as customers will begin trusting them.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Is Love at the Bottom of Better Marketing?

Questions We Should Be Asking Ourselves

I’ve been tumbling around for the past year or so one of the problems with customer-centric communications. Most of our companies now have the words “customer-centric” in our mission statements. It’s a lofty trend to be connected to customers, to care about customers. But, for most, it apparently stays there. Frozen in typed words, hanging in a frame in the Boardroom. It doesn’t happen because it was just lip service to begin with.

Now, keep in mind that most people who know me would call me an eternal optimist. I don’t dwell long on negatives. But I am more than a bit skeptical about companies claiming to be customer-centric, when they really mean “let’s optimize the profit from every potential customer encounter.” And again, I am not against maximizing profit but I think there's more than one way to achieve our profit objectives.

Contextual marketing (in my opinion, the pinnacle of efficient and effective marketing) has a tough time taking root where this attitude exists. Instead of making the shift from corporate-centric, the messages stay stuck in time. Locked on features and benefits. Geared around “how wonderful we are” copy that has little value for the customer.

This dilemma came roaring back to me Friday evening and Saturday morning when Dr. Tony Campolo spoke at our 2005 Men’s Conference at Montgomery Community Church. He talked, joked and inspired … but mostly he challenged us. Did we reflect love to others in all that we did? If so, we’d probably act a whole lot different than we do. Can we care enough to share our love, prayers and support with a third-world boy or girl who lives in poverty. Dr. Campolo has started many organizations to help us share our love ... you can link to one of them at www.compassion.org.

Could it be that love is at the heart
of doing contextual marketing correctly?


If we really loved our customers, cared about their issues and pains, their desires and wants, the expectations that they hold out for us … would we act a whole lot different that we do today? Could caring love change the corporate scene and produce more valuable marketing communications?

If we loved your customers as much as we love our companies, how would the content on our websites change? How would our service offerings get better? Is it possible that customers would love us back?

Friday, January 21, 2005

RFID -- Could be the
Next Big Thing in Contextual Marketing

Take note, marketers!

Radio Frequency Identification Tags are coming.

RFID technology converts UPC codes into tags that store information and can be identified by a radio receiver/reader device. Already, such technology is enjoyed by motorists, who zip through toll booths using pass systems. Now manufacturers, distributors and retailers are pushing to greatly expand the use of RFID. With RFID tags, manufacturers will be able to track goods, reduce theft, speed up product recalls and help distributors improve the shipping and receiving process. It will eventually be possible to use this information in a way that provides customers with added value.

For example:

Email offers would magically include deals on products about which the consumer was interested in when shopping in the store last week. Direct mail would be targeted with products that a large number of people in a particular zip code had shown interest in.

In-home readers could track our pantry inventory and notify us when key ingredients are running low. This could trigger an eMail message with a highly targeted incentive to replenish items needed to prepare a recipe that the customer was downloading from the retailer’s website.

Get the picture? RFID could be the next huge technology in personalized marketing that actually adds value to the customer.

Now of course this is a bit Orwellian, and it could be a huge invasion of privacy if done badly. We all need to stay on top of this discussion as RFID becomes a manageable marketing tool, and if we abuse it and run afoul of our privacy rights, we will kill a very powerful tool to do meaningful contextual marketing.

Contextual Marketing Growing at P&G

Targeted and contextual marketing communications are becoming more important, even to the largest mass advertiser in the world.

Jim Stengel, global marketing officer at P&G: "The trend that I see is that the consumers expectations are increasing, the consumer is becoming busier with more priorities, the quality standards continue to go up in all markets, and we need to be the company that provides the brands they like to choose. You know, in the old world, five or ten years ago, it was a bit simpler. We put messages on mass media about our brands, and we have a large percentage of spending in mass television. Mass television is still important, we still spend a fair amount of money there, but we're trying to do is to be much more focused, and we want to communicate with consumers on their terms. We want our messages to be more creative, more entertaining and persuasive, to set our brands apart."

The question is no longer should we go contextual, but it is how do we go contextual in the most cost effective manner possible. My goal with this blog is to be one of the resources you can look to for how to do effective and efficient contextual marketing ... and to be a place where the dialogue between us marketers can occur on the role of context in marketing and public relations.

Monday, January 17, 2005

eMail is a Waste of Time
Until it Tells Your Story

Build Your Business ... or Build a Marketing Bomb

The potential for eMail to build business has been missed by most companies because they are using the medium wrong. A recent study by the Direct Marketing Association concludes that most eMail campaigns are bombs – response rates average less than 1%, most eMail is not even opened.

This trend will continue until marketers shift their eMail from feature-benefit messages that are appropriate only in ads and collateral. The eMail medium is an opt-in medium; anything else is spam that seldom gets more than a 1% response.

People will opt-in to receive your eMail only if it is engaging and useful. Our task as marketers then is to communicate the facts about our company and our products by painting them within a story.

The Role of eMail is to Present Your Story So Your Customers Can See Why You Are Relevant to their Needs

Everyone has more facts than they can process. What they need is help in understanding the facts. The stories you tell will help them figure out what the facts mean. Provide a CONTEXT that slides the facts into new slots to change the way people internalize what the facts mean to them.

3-Pronged eMail Methodology to Grow Your Business

Most eMail is so self-serving that it is simply not worth opening, let alone reading.

1. Tell your story in lots of different ways, with inspirational and factual stories that your customers will want to read because the stories help make them more successful.

2. Recruit a network of respected experts who tell your story with objectivity that is unparalleled in the business world. These experts provide unique stories that your readers will not find anywhere else.

3. Measure the performance of every content element and use this information to make continuous improvement and to segment the audience into clusters that respond to specific kinds of content. Contextual Marketing -- The Right Message and the Right Offer at the Right Time

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Where Are the Writers?

It is a predicament that plagues the marketing world. Good writers who understand business are a rare breed. See comments at http://www.excessvoice.com/issue42.htm for insight on this vexing problem.

A Beginners Blog on the Four Gospels

This evening I happened upon Brian Bailey's blog because he was chosen as a contributor to a book called 100 Bloggers -- a hundred authors will each write a chapter about their passion. Brian can be viewed at http://www.leaveitbehind.com/home/. He has focused his writing on blogging for a mega-church.

As I toured his site, I came face-to-face with something I have been struggling over for quite some time. A few years ago, I wrote a 10-week class on the Four Gospels for people who have not studied the Bible before. Kind of a Faith 101 Class. I've been wondering how to broaden the reach of this class material.

Brian has shown me the path. If I can write about contextual marketing with passion, surely I can turn the Gospels class into a blog where it can reach out across the Internet. I have no idea how this will shape up, but I am eager to begin.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Future of Context
If Google and Amazon Were to Merge

Like I said in my last posting, this process has taken me into the Internet with a fresh set of eyes. One of the places I landed was on Jonathan Schwartz's blog at Sun Microsystems
< http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan >
where he had the following posting called "Nothing Like a Good Conspiracy." Click below on what Jonathan found to be an "interesting piece" to see what the future of contextual marketing might look like. Absolutely fascinating fictional representation of the world with a merger of Amazon and Google.

Nothing Like a Good Conspiracy
Interesting thought piece.

Blogging about Context -- What's the Point?

I’ve been at this blogging thing for a few weeks now, and I admit I am still searching for my voice. Slowly the engines are picking it up. People around me tell me they see I have joined the blogging ranks. But I still don’t seem to have much traffic. Am I writing for myself? A colleague at work says it’s the perfect medium for me – I can write about marketing and no one has to listen. Ouch!

But in a larger sense, this blog is accomplishing one of my goals. It has me digging at the Internet with fresh eyes, seeing things I was missing before. That’s exciting, even if it only impacts me.

While I search for my voice, I am busy writing articles about fundamental concepts that drive what I call contextual marketing. This has been a concept near and dear to my heart for at least 15 years, but its been hard getting clients to see the power that I see. Where it has been used, it has made deep and fundamental improvement in marketing because it becomes a sort of glue that holds all the pieces together and makes them relevant to individual customers.

So I will continue writing and archiving about context. What would you expect from someone whose car sports a license plate: CONTEXT.

Friday, January 14, 2005

One Way to Get More Customer References

Integrate Customer References into
Contextually Relevant Marketing and Sales Process


The company with the best customer references is likely to be more successful at winning new business. But getting that reference is not easy.
Many customers are unwilling to give references because they know this means a live phone call from other managers who are considering purchasing your products. The problem here is one of overexposing the reference customer. Burnout follows overexposure.

One way to get around this problem is by recording a one-time interview with a reference customer and then making an edited version available on a password-protected Web site. Such content is highly contextual, because it is accessed by specific prospects with specific problems and each reference is delivered within this context.

Recording and posting reference interviews helps a vendor move a sales process along in several ways. Since the references are recorded, the number of uses does not matter, so a vendor can relax the qualification restrictions on reference use. That means introducing references earlier in a sales cycle, especially when later adopter prospects really want to hear from a reference customer before entering into serious discussions.

As with any website data, you can track and analyze usage of this password protected content. For example, you can be notified when a prospect accesses an interview and then make a timely follow up call. When a prospect does not access an interview after a reasonable time, you can check to determine if there is a problem or if interest has waned. In either case the sales process can be adjusted accordingly and the forecast can reflect the reality of the situation rather than the initial assumptions.




Contextual Content Via Cell Phones

The newest trend identified by Trendwatching.com is mobile access of contextually relevant information using “ready-to-know” technologies.

Amazon.com Japan's new 'Scan Search' enables consumers in any real-world store to point their cell phones at a product's barcode and then be instantly directed to
Amazon.com.jp on their phone screen, where they can view the -- no doubt lower priced -- item, and have it sent to them straight away. The future? Nokia is already working on a phone that can 'read' RFID tags, the latter being the new bar codes.

Dutch
www.SMSeenHuis.nl ("text a house") works with real estate agents to enrich 'for sale' or 'for rent' signs with a unique text code, allowing passers-by interested in a certain property to text, instantly receive and store detailed information on their cell phone. Details include asking price, address, number of rooms, square footage, seller, etc.

Consumers who hear an unknown song while hanging out in the pub, listening to the radio or sitting in a restaurant, only need call 2580, point their phone to the music source, and London-based Shazam will then send a text message (SMS) reply with the name of the artist and the track. In the US, a similar technology has been developed by Gracenote, in conjunction with Philips Research. The service is called Mobile MusicID, and comes with an impressive database of over 7 million 'waveform fingerprints', growing by 25,000+ each week. The MusicID technology is used by MusicPhone in the US (available on AT&T Wireless, now Cingular).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Six Steps to Triple Response Rates

Open Me Now!
  1. Analyze the customer's interests -- Yes, the transactional records are king of the hill, but they are also the easy part. More importantly, watch the type of articles that individuals open and read. Categorize each article against a "topic tree" and score clicks against these topics.
  2. Give prospects more of what they want -- The topic categories should be chosen to identify kinds of information a prospect wants to know more about. Eventually this click pattern of topics will reveal a profile persona that you can use to target future content and offers to improve results.
  3. Serve their eyeballs -- The most important stuff should be above the fold for a website or a newsletter. Heads often get ignored because writers get clever so readers skip them and go to the subheads and bullets because that's where they tend to find the good stuff.
  4. Build trust before you sell -- Everyone is looking for useful information and advice from experts. Surround your pitch with content about the issues and pains they are trying to resolve. Keep this content relatively free of promotion. Show them you understand their needs and can be trusted. People buy from people they trust.
  5. Mind the filters -- Most spam filters are on the look out for some keywords that result in blocked content: Free, Special Discount, Special Offer. These can block your marketing before the prospect has a chance to see it.
  6. Follow Up Every Outbound Initiative -- Not just those who purchase. That's the 2% low hanging fruit. You can get 3 to 5 times more performance out of a campaign with effective followup. Use a blend of different media. Drop a catalog and follow with email. Drop a mailer and follow with a phone call. Drop a dimensional mailer and follow with a business letter.

Well, that's six proven techniques to pump up results. Do you have any other methods so we can round the list out to the Top Ten Tips?


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bulldog Solutions Offers Web Eye Tracking Study

Take a quick visit to www.bulldogsolutions.com where they have made it possible to download a free copy of a 340-page Eyetrack III study released by the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media and Eyetools provides some fascinating insights into web page design and strategy. This study will make you think about your web site and possibly change your opinion of currently accepted “wisdom.”

Kudos for Human Factors International

These people know customer usability!

True confessions. I've been the lead strategist for more enterprise website projects than I want to admit, but I have never focused in a formal way on customer usability -- until now. We're in the process of a total globalization of our website and wanted to make sure that our visitors would have a great experience when they land on this site. We decided that it was time to add expertise in usability to our web team and eventually chose Human Factors International to help us with the testing.

We just spent most of the past two days with two of their consultants in a kickoff session that was as good as they get. They complemented the talents already working on the site. They had all the right questions to challenge our strategy and move us to a higher level -- both in terms of addressing the business needs and the customer experience. There's still a lot of work to go. I'll keep you advised on our progress as we move along so you can learn from our own experience in working with usability consultants.

If you have similar experience with usability consultants, I'd sure like to hear from you.

Healthcare Marketing
The Present and Future State

Healthcare Marketers Face Tough Challenges

One of the industries I've been involved in over the past 20 years is healthcare -- the providers, the payers and the life science producers. Never have marketers in these three categories been so challenged with issues so complex they defy solution. Here's how I see it.

Providers Getting Squeezed from All Sides -- Payors, Government & Consumers

Margins will be squeezed and closures and consolidation will be felt in every city. Providers must demonstrate higher levels of clinical quality, improved service and convenience at reasonable cost. They will need to get better at segmenting the market and designing clinical programs focused on the needs of specific customers.

Demand for chronic, post acute and long-term care will increase and providers will respond with newly designed facilities that reflect the needs of an aging population and with specialties that address, for example, gerontology and rheumatology.

In the face of such consumer power, it is more important than ever that providers learn how to communicate value propositions that create and maintain consumer loyalty. To meet consumer expectations, providers must be able to use electronic channels to acquire and interact with patients.

Life Sciences Industry Must Keep Everyone Happy

Pharmaceutical firms, medical equipment manufacturers, medical researchers will all feel more economic and political pressure to reduce the cost of healthcare. It is Catch 22 on a massive scale. Consumers, providers and payors expect constant improvement in the quality, reliability and durability of drugs, procedures, medical devices. They will demand access to life style drugs and innovative drugs and devices that payors may not want to cover.

Companies will have to focus on consumer satisfaction and buying behavior to innovate new products and services that address real needs. Direct marketing to consumers will increase, but the rules will continue to be undefined and inconsistent.

Health Insurance Industry Caught in the Middle

Payors will reduce costs by shifting to more member self-service and to find new ways of leveraging wellness or care management programs with local healthcare delivery networks. Insurers must be faster at designing and selling enhanced or tailored services targeted to unique customer segments in an attempt to demonstrate value to consumers, employers and other purchasers. Consumers are likely to consolidate to gain even more leverage.

Solutions that focus on delivering value to customers will transform the purchase of health insurance. The entire sales channel of sales reps, brokers and agents will be disrupted as consumers purchase more online. Insurance portability will be essential. How to pay for the “aging problem” will provide opportunity, along with early detection and wellness.


How do you see these problems? Got any ideas to share on how to overcome them?

Story Telling Drives Contextual Communications

There are 2 objectives for story telling:

First, to reveal the kind of company you are by communicating the vision behind your products -- to show how your company is relevant to the customer's needs, wants and expectations; to show that you can be entrusted with their needs because of who you are, what you believe and what you want out of the relationship and how you return value to the customer.

Second, to identify segments who respond to specific types of stories ... to learn their stories ... and to identify those that are actively moving into a decision-making mode so you can get them into your sales pipeline and sell them more effectively.

There are 4 Rules for Contextual Story Telling:

1. Tell a good story ... engage, inform, inspire, motivate, reward

2. Persuade ... facts, emotions and testimonies

3. Be relevant ... contextual, customer-centric

4. Be catalytic ... surveys, interactive offers, interactive community dialogue

Marketing is not short of good strategies; it is short of good execution of the fundamentals.

We all fail when fundamental blocking and tackling are ignored. Marketing components should be interwoven into the total marketing and sales process. It will bring you a consistent presence in front of prospective and current customers who will experience first-hand how you are helping make them more successful. This demands a persistent effort to continuously build the subscriber database, your partner network and the sales opportunities that arise from the program, and coordination with all your other promotional programs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Waste Not, Want Not ... Mid-Market Context

The Question: Can Context Help Us Penetrate the Mid-Market?

Hi there! Interesting blog:-) Gosh, I hear you about the waste of marketing budget. We spend so much on lead generation programs and most of the time it is a waste of our money. Being a small company, we're limited with how much we spend, so it's critical that we spend wisely. We have found a few channels that consistently perform well, but a lot of them are trial and error.

Any advice on targeting the mid-market segment? We do a lot of targeted marketing, but I have found that finding channels that specifically target the mid-market ($50M - $250M revenue) and advice about how to target the mid-market is difficult. We're rocking with enterprises, but would like to get our message out to the mid-market segment more than we have in the past.

My Response

With list selection being the most critical aspect of most lead generation campaigns, getting this right is imperative. But after the list comes developing the list with a well planned longitudinal promotion process that addresses both responders and non-responders.

Most campaigns ignore non-responders, but that means ignoring 98% of the potential. Capture information about each prospect in a profile database, and use this knowledge to fine tune campaigns over time so that eventually you are being more valuable to the prospect while also improving your ability to sell more effectively. Contextual marketing requires patience and persistence, but it pays off big time.

The real success of context is in learning more information about each prospect so that you can tighten your message to address the needs of each individual or each small cluster of similar individuals who have similar needs or interests. This is where we have been successful in taking the initial 2 percent response levels and building up to 15 to 50 percent levels.

A mid-market focus simply means understanding better their needs as opposed to the needs of the enterprise market, and then talking with the mid-market prospects about things that are important to them. But the mid-market is still too broad a swipe through the marketplace. A longitudinal process that profiles information about individuals allows you to find the sub-segments with similar needs or interests. That is where understanding how to use context starts paying off in increased marketing performance.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

New Definition of Marketing
Supports Contextual Marketing

The American Marketing Association has rewritten its official definition of marketing. The old one was focused on the 4P’s and it left a lot to be desired. "Marketing," the AMA once said, "was the process of planning and executing conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of goods, ideas and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals."

The new definition of marketing was announced at the AMA's Educator's Conference this past August: "Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders."

The 4P’s was a useful toolset, but as a definition for marketing, it was far short of being useful. The new definition shifts marketing from a departmental function to a corporate function. This makes everyone in the company responsible for creating and retaining customer relationships … everyone in the company works for marketing. At most companies, there are miles to go before this becomes reality. Adopting contextual communications is at the heart of the transition.


Learning from the Toyota Production System


From Lean Manufacturing to Lean Marketing

The first upheaval introduced by the Toyota Production System came more out of Japanese culture than from the world of process control. It is a philosophical sense of unity with reality that forms the foundation for Lean Manufacturing -- a methodoloyg that has revolutionized assembly lines around the world. This runs counter to the command and control mentality of American assembly line production. It is a “giving in” to a reality that is larger than life. Without this, there can be no big change in existing systems.


Genjitsu, Gembutsu and Gemba are a reflection of Asian culture. They are not tasks to complete. Instead they are a mindset to be absorbed. Like Nature, the 3 Reals cannot be manipulated. They are what they are and those of us in marketing must learn how to flow up alongside them and to be absorbed into them. If you miss these simple truths, you will miss Lean Contextual Marketing.


It reminds me of learning algebra as a kid. The first set of theorems sounded so simple that they were just common sense. So I never mastered them. And for the next year, I never understood algebra. In the summer, I went back to the beginning and built a stronger understanding of things like “if a=b and b=c, then a=c.” Suddenly, the rest of the book made sense and I could do algebra.

The 3 Reals are just like algebra. They need to be absorbed and practiced before the Lean Marketing can be delivered effectively. Skip Reality and you will still be practicing Traditional Marketing and placing a heavy burden on your company.

The 3 Reals in Lean Manufacturing are quite different than The 3 Reals of Lean Marketing. But nonetheless critical. They are the whack along side the head needed to stop doing traditional marketing where the marketer is in charge and pushes products and promotions at customers.

The New CEO Mandate


Marketing that Delivers Value to Customers and Shareholders

With 98% waste in the marketing budget and 87% in the sales budget, can we continue to treat our marketing and sales activities as an expense item buried in SG&A on our balance sheet? How much more money is your CEO prepared to burn on such inefficiency? Is there any wonder why marketing budgets are the first to be slashed when a company is having difficult times? Clearly, we need to manage our investments in marketing and sales more efficiently.

The mandate issued to CEO’s from one Board of Directors to the next is the same: Increase value for customers and shareholders. For companies that have already downsized several times, the only path left for value creation is to grow revenue. As a consultant to many Fortune 1000 companies and as an observer of the business economy, it is clear that many CEOs fail to optimize their revenue-generating potential. But not for lack of opportunity. In fact, quite the opposite is true. There are so many opportunistic directions that focus is lost. It is a curse of too many options. Yogi Berra was only half right when he coached “if you find a fork in the road, take it.”

The fork to take and take as quickly as possible is the fork that leads to Customers. Aim your systems to focus on a single, consistent image of who each Customer is and whether or not that Customer fits the profile for greatest profitable revenue. If so, then do everything possible to make that Customer successful. Then, and only then, that Customer will reward you with something supremely valuable – his or her loyalty.

AMA Bringing Sales and Marketing Together

The American Marketing Association has been working hard at resolving one of the problems that most vex us as marketers -- the disconnect between sales and marketing.

AMA's began attacking this problem in 2002 with their Customer Message Management Forum where they brought together a group of sales and marketing experts and thought leaders to discuss this issue and begin building best practices that focused on how both groups could better facilitate the customer buying process .

Improving the "customer conversation" emerged as the key missing link, where Marketing and Sales could come together to increase a company's selling effectiveness."In today's highly competitive and perceived parity markets, it's not what you sell, but how you sell that matters," says Dennis Dunlap, the AMA's chief executive. "Salespeople will tell me: 'It's not about where I show up; it's about what I say when I get there that really counts.' The customer conversation has become the last bastion of competitive differentiation."

The AMA is doing us all a huge favor by bringing this discussion to the frontline.

There is nothing more destructive to a business than sales and marketing not being glued together and working at the same objective. Imagine the terrific cost to us all when sales reps don't support a marketing campaign in the field ... when they fail to followup on sales leads that cost us so much time and money to generate.

Only when sales and marketing are bonded can we hope to achieve such critical tasks as:
  1. Deliver the company's value propositions
  2. Elevate from product to solution-oriented marketing and sales
  3. Deliver more useful and accessible sales-ready support tools
  4. Establish consistent, high-quality "single voice" across multiple touch-points"

Visit the AMA's website for their Customer Message Management Forum initiative (www.marketingpower.com/cmm) to see the full program of activities they have planned for 2005.


THE ROOTS FOR CONTEXTUAL MARKETING

Where do Good Ideas Come From?

Before I go too far with my new blog on contextual marketing, I need to go back and recognize the roots. Good ideas come together when people think things can be done better. Three guys thought promotional marketing could be done better and together we opened a marketing agency in 1979 – founding partners Richard Blumberg, Barron Krody and myself.

Part of that transformation was a result of Richard Blumberg’s fascination with technology. When we opened our doors for business the PC was not yet invented but we were all equipped with hand-built computers for word processing, with memory running on cassette tape recorders. We had an intuitive understanding for how this technology could enable us to do more things faster and with less effort. Later Ross Johnson -- a genius at using database to manage customer profiling joined the agency and further fueled our commitment to marketing technology.

The American Red Cross International Committee

Another genesis for change came from my volunteer work with The American Red Cross. I had the fortune to chair the International Committee, and as a result came into contact with the Japanese business community in Cincinnati. One of my first projects was to take the wives of Japanese businessmen on tours of the area hospitals to acclimate them to our healthcare system. Along the way, I watched with fascination the dogged commitment of these Japanese working far from home to maintain their language and culture while also fitting into the American way of life.

Where we as marketers would shoot point blank, the Japanese were gentler in their approach. They looked across a longer horizon than we did, and they took the time to make continuous, often small changes that improved how they ran factories. The secret of Japan’s success was this cultural look at reality and then a slow, purposeful process of change that in the end produced enormous leaps in factory productivity. The seed was planted in my head: how could we do the same thing to marketing?

By 1999, our promotional marketing agency was one of the 50 largest of its type in America and served some of the most successful companies in the country. The strategists working for our promotional marketing agency began experimenting with new approaches to give our clients a dramatically improved return on their marketing investment.

The First Shift: Contextual Marketing

The direct marketing world accepted 2% response rates as the norm, but we saw it only as a 98% failure, and this was not acceptable. If we could target prospects ready to buy and if we could send messages and offers that were relevant to their situation, then results should improve. We had to stop looking at marketing as a series of isolated initiatives. We began to see our task as a longitudinal process where we identified prospects and helped them move step-by-step toward purchase. We called it “contextual marketing.”

By way of example, let me describe briefly the Pillsbury Recipe Book program. Pillsbury was getting the typical under 2% rate of coupon redemption from its free-standing advertising inserts in Sunday newspapers. We turned that on its head by mailing recipe books to two million households. Each book had six “smart coupons” bound in at the back. Each coupon was individually coded to each household and we tracked the coupons back through the redemption process and databased the results. If a recipient bought a product at ten cents off, then next time the coupon would be for eight cents. If she did not buy at ten cents off, then next time the coupon would be for 15 cents. In essence, we allowed each household to determine the price they were willing to pay for value received.


Additionally, we analyzed the database results to identify what we called “Persona” – for example, families with children or families that were health conscious. We then directed coupons for related products to each Persona. The contextual situation and definition of value for each Persona drove the remaining promotional offers. Results dramatically exceeded the traditional free-standing inserts and unit sales per household increased from 1.2 to 2.6.


The FARM System

A similarly innovative process was developed to create better collaboration between marketing and sales teams. We came to realize that the discontinuity between sales and marketing was a major contributor to wasted marketing resources. We created The FARM System, a process that brought sales reps into the marketing process and marketers into the sales process. It was a recognition that marketing and sales are not distinct, but were actually similar disciplines applied along a continuum called the customer’s buying cycle.

The 9-Box Grid

We developed “The 9-Box Grid” as a means of describing the matrix nature of marketing solutions. In the lower left corner was the simplest and least expensive set of activities and at the upper right was the most comprehensive solution. The other boxes progressively filled in other variations, from simple to comprehensive. This enabled everyone on the marketing team to select the most appropriate solution, given restrictions of various resources.

It Worked!

Little by little, our processes began changing how our clients went to market, with results that were several hundred percent more effective than most marketers were achieving. This worked for some of America’s most effective marketers: Procter & Gamble, Toshiba Electronics, Compaq Computer (now HP), 3M’s spin-off Imation, Wisconsin Paper and Florida Power & Light.


Internal Change: Taking the Beachhead


Moving from Push Marketing to Contextual Marketing

Inserting a new marketing and sales process like contextual marketing will cause fundamental change in how work gets done. Normally such change cannot happen unless the CEO, the CMO and the CSO want it to happen, but sometimes even they cannot seem to make fundamental change happen. The need for change must be sufficiently threatening or the opportunity so great that there is no other choice than to change how things get done. Even then, some will fear for their jobs or at the very least be reluctant to change and some will truly believe the new process is flawed.

Organize for the change.

The change champion has the task of setting the new vision and assembles three teams to get the vision moving. The teams should have representation from senior management, sales, marketing and operations so that there begins a top-down and eventually a bottom-up approach to the process that leads to ownership by everyone involved. There tends to be a fair amount of finger pointing and “you can’t do that here” at this stage, but by assembling all the business concerns and then shedding blame, positive movement forward can begin.

Identify the web of leaders and followers who will take the organization on the journey toward a new organization.

The Organizational Meeting

The change champion convenes an Organizational Meeting of all who will be involved on the various teams. Lay out the entire change process and how each team works with the others and how members of each team work with one another. Establish work rules for handling conflict. Set up internal communications procedures so everyone is aware of what he or she needs to know to get the work done.

The Commitment Workshop

A facilitator leads the first set of meetings of the Leadership Team. There are typically many agendas going on in a team of power brokers. These agendas must be parked at the door for the good of the whole. This is not an easy task for aggressive managers each looking for the leverage to move ahead on the corporate ladder. The facilitator can take the heat for pushing for consensus and for disarming dissenters by assuming liability for creating the tension. In my experience as a facilitator of such meetings, this is hard work. The facilitator cannot allow team members to appear to have agreed to change, only to leave the room and subvert it. Each person’s point of view must be managed as the group moves toward consensus.

The facilitator leads this team into an overall vision statement … here’s where we are headed. What does the end state look like? What are the precise measurable objectives, the milestone events, the perceived barriers, the resources?

Now the really hard work begins.


Look for small victories and promote them. Look for barriers and knock them down.

Fast Company Magazine Honors STEVE KAYSER


Shoot the Donkey: One Man's Mission

One of my great pleasures in life is to stop in at Friday’s to have a beer with Steve Kayser. Steve is the PR Director at Cincom Systems in Cincinnati where, of course, he does a spectacular job at getting the Cincom story out to the software world.


Now he is nominated as one of Fast Company Magazine’s “Fast 50 People for 2005” – with good reason. Not because of his creativity (which leaps out of his finger tips like lightning bolts), not because he is physically powerful (his arm muscles are bigger than my chest), perhaps not surprisingly because he is the author of the hugely popular “Shoot the Donkey” series. But because he is the most compassionate man I have ever worked with. He never, ever says “no” to someone in need.

His writing inspires and exudes a connection to people that is so genuine that you can feel his spirit, making you want to be a better person yourself.

Seth Godin spotted him early and has written about Steve’s work.
Now Fast Company Magazine is doing the same. Read his full story at
http://www.fastcompany.com/fast50_05/profile/index.html?kayser757.

Since you likely don't have the opportunity to talk with Steve over a beer at Friday's, one way to get to know him is to subscribe to his newsletter, Expert Access. It’s one of the best in the industry. You can get Expert Access at the Cincom website: www.cincom.com/corporate. Your life will be better for inviting Steve into it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Lowest Common Denominator Messages

By Dale Wolf

Re-evaluate Branding in a Divided Society

In the 50’s and 60’s we were a more homogenous society just when television consisted of three major network options for the “Leave it to Beaver” nuclear family. Companies spent vast fortunes instilling brand messages into our minds. They did it with such effectiveness that four decades later we still remember the slogans of brands no longer on the market.

Today, such brand efforts need to land on infinite family structure types all moving in a blur through their lives and all accessing an infinite number of media that fragment delivery of marketing messages. Today, creating a single brand message, while important, is more difficult and less sustainable. A single message watered down to its lowest common denominator (what we call an LCD Message) is too often true for all customers; but not true for any one particular customer. In the fragmented society, that one particular customer is unique. It is that one customer who buys.

In the future, marketers will add context to their product branding to create brand propositions that are more relevant to what each individual is doing. This is particularly true in e-commerce where new technologies are emerging to enable reaching individual customers, wherever and whenever they are ready to buy.

Changing the Rules of Sales and Marketing

By Dale Wolf

The 2% Situation

A century ago, John Wannamaker became rich as a retailer in Philadelphia through his expert use of mass advertising. He is attributed with the quote: ”I know I am wasting 50% of my marketing budget … my trouble is that I don’t know which 50%.”

If John was getting performance from 50% of his budget, he was doing well, indeed. Statistics compiled by many national associations over the past 20 years would say that John was doing well because most marketing programs are lucky to achieve 2% response rates.


Despite notable exceptions for specific campaigns, this has been true for a long time, across all media – free standing inserts, direct mail, broadcast and print advertising, telemarketing, in-store promotion, banner ads, etc

Compounding the Problem

Further, it takes on average eight sales leads to close one sale. 87% of the leads are fruitless.

We Can and Must Do Better

With 98% waste in the marketing budget and 87% in the sales budget, can we continue to treat our marketing and sales activities as an expense item buried in SG&A on our balance sheet?


How much more money is your CEO prepared to burn on such inefficiency? Is there any wonder why marketing budgets are the first to be slashed when a company is having difficult times? Clearly, we need to manage our investments in marketing and sales more efficiently.

As direct marketers, we felt this waste of our clients’ budgets was intolerable. We began experimenting with different ways to achieve success and arrived at what today we call Contextual Marketing.

We made three changes:

  1. We shifted our clients from isolated marketing events that were based on periodic schedules or reactions to episodic situations and put our clients on a consistent, persistent direct marketing process. Every initiative became an element in a larger flow chart. Every customer action was measured and evaluated. Results were databased and used to alter communications in subsequent initiatives.
  2. We began personalizing messages and offers to smaller and smaller clusters, down to the individual company or household. Today with the Internet, we can deliver differentiated messages to individual customers. We shift our clients from copy focused on brand positioning, bragging about their product features to copy that delivers solutions for their customers.
  3. We timed delivery of our messages to when the customer was most likely to make a purchase decision.



The Neighborhood Grocer Mentality

By Dale Wolf

The Role of Content in Customer-Relationship Marketing

Customer-facing technologies are about content and transactions. Most have focused on the transaction part and ignored what in the end will be more important. Content is the part that creates relationships. CRM is all about re-creating or re-inventing relationships – the neighborhood grocer on a bigger scale.


The clear and present danger is in not locking on basic principles that drive success.

Each CEO’s field of dreams is loaded with options that did not align with what customers were looking for. Concentrate on meeting the customer face-to-face. Companies selling through indirect channels are especially susceptible to neglecting end-customers, often never having real conversations with the people who buy and use our products.

How can you change customer behavior if you don’t know what they need, want and expect?

What Matters Most in an Inernet Economy?

By Dale Wolf

Leadership matters.

The ability to command people to do something based on line authority still exists, but it does not matter. What matters is the ability to build a cohesive team where the skills of each member are leveraged to produce a solution that is better than any preceding model. Can you imagine any credible CEO now claiming proudly his business is insular, patient and departmentalized because that is the way they have achieved success for the past 30 years?

Internet technology enables a vast restructuring of human resources. Those who learn how technology can capture knowledge and deliver process will have a greater impact on marketing resources. The managers who succeed will be those who learn to lead in this new world of the Internet, where everything is simultaneously explosive and implosive. Those who keep based in truth, values and loyalty will rise above all others.

Strategy matters.


Business strategy is made more important by the Internet because it reaches out further and faster than any other communications tool that leaders have ever had. The Internet already is causing a fusion of business strategy and company operations. On the Internet, in fact, these are becoming one seamless entity. The Internet is the CEO’s strategic power tool. Strategy today must anticipate the impact of Internet technologies internally, in the marketplace and on competition.

Selling matters.


Here, only two metrics matter – return on investment from your marketplace and lifetime value of each of your customers. Somebody wants to buy something and there are barriers to getting it. Conversations must occur to clear these barriers. We call this “sales.” Value creation, simply stated, is selling something at a price greater than the cost of producing it. Profits or a clear path to profitability is required of every business venture – even for so-called “non-profits.”

In the end, economics demands that products, services and ideas need to be sold to someone who finds value in them. While the dotcoms might have failed, the Internet will survive to become the most pervasive sales communications environment ever created – one to be ignored at your own peril.

Context matters. T


he most dramatic effect of Internet technology is connectivity. Everyone is part of a network, and now all of the networks are interconnected. The Internet is global. The economy is global. Our business and personal worlds become a network where everything we do is in context with what we are trying to accomplish – on our own and with others.

Understanding the influence of peer-to-peer and one-to-one contextual relationships will soon become a management obsession. Real-time, one-to-one Internet conversations will allow big companies to behave like small companies, and small companies to behave like big ones. Only companies that harness the power of this contextual edge will thrive.

A sense of possibility matters.


We’re just beginning to glimpse where the Internet will take us. And it makes feasible a world of possibility. That is where ultimate value creation will happen. The Internet is the trajectory to the future. For some analysts to claim that the standards and the leaders have been immutably decided do not understand the power of innovation. The contextual Internet will enable us all to make better decisions – faster, easier and more simply.

Where will it take your company?

Contextual Marketing Definitions

By Dale Wolf

What is Context?

Context is the interrelated conditions in which information or activity exists with other situational events that impact decision making and the final outcome. All consumption occurs within a context. The more you understand my context, the less information you have to give me while serving me more efficiently and effectively. All significant decisions occur within a context. Every action occurs within a context.

What is Contextual Marketing?


Marketing is contextual when it is made relevant to each individual prospect’s situation (the prospect’s fine-grained profile of demographics and informational interests, location, timing, needs and decision process) while also addressing the needs of the sponsoring enterprise (awareness, positioning, qualification, barrier identification, trust, closure). Contextual marketing brings customer and seller together so that customers can make better decisions, faster and easier.

  • Mass Customization – (Dell Computers, Levi Jeans, Reflect.com) – contextual applications increasing the personalization of production based on individual end-user requirements. Increased customer satisfaction while lowering production inventory and manufacturing cost and eliminating need for clearance sales.
  • Personalized Services – (UPS, Delta Airlines, Charles Schwab) – contextual applications increasing the flexible delivery of logistics based on individual end-user requirements. Improved customer service at a lower cost.

What is the Contextual Internet?

Marketing where both content and functionality address the prospect’s individual context – who the user is, where the user is located, what environment surrounds the user, where the user is coming from, what the user is trying to do today. Understanding the context and developing campaigns that serve context is where the Internet is headed. Align information and functionality with the end user’s situation (the decision environment) and end user’s requirements (workflow, points of leverage, decision flow, decision triggers).

  1. Technology tracks content selected by each visitor
  2. Builds profile of each site visitor
  3. Uses this knowledge to present content that is in context with who the visitor is and what she wants and what our client wants to talk about
  4. Determines which products the customer is most interested in exploring
  5. Evaluates the customer’s “readiness to buy” level for each product
  6. Presents catalysts to move the customer step-by-step toward a purchase decision

What are Contextual Profiling Methodologies?

There are a variety of means to determine customer requirements that then help achieve relevance and improved marketing productivity:

  • Site Traversal History. Watch instead of ask. Present various contents and build customer profile based on implicit interests.
  • Registration. Complete a short enrollment form requiring some explicit information about the customer.
  • User Configuration. Customer accesses configuration tools to help simplify navigation, personalize screen layout, design product specifications.
  • Audience Segmentation. Navigation options that allow customers to self-allocate themselves into market clusters.
  • Collaborative Filtering. Group similar kinds of customers who are more likely to select the same kinds of content offerings; when someone selects a particular kind of content that person is sent additional content that other similar customers found useful.
  • Satisfaction Surveys. Complaints, compliments, questions and suggestions reveal individual needs, wants and expectations.











Friday, January 07, 2005

THE FIRST FIVE SECONDS

Getting Better at the Start of the Sales Cycle

As promotional marketers, we all want fatter pipelines. What happens, however, when telemarketing qualifies a lead and turns it over to a sales team not ready to open the dialogue using contextual relevance? The lead gets off the hook and the rep reports back that the lead was not qualified. Now, it might well be that the lead was not qualified. But it could also be that the rep was not prepared to take the qualified lead forward.

We can all imagine the scene on the other end of the phone. The prospect accidentally takes the phone call instead of dumping us into voicemail. It’s not that they are rude, but just that the people we want to talk to are rather popular with all vendors. They get 25 calls a day from vendors and that could be a waste of their time. When we get them on the phone, they are immediately doing their best to get us off the phone. It is a gargantuan struggle of wits.

What we say in the first few seconds will determine if we can take a warm sales lead from telemarketing or a cold call that we are making into the pipeline.

There are two immediate paths – a product path or a solution path. Either way, should go through a relevant reference that proves we can address the customer’s situation and earn the right to get the first face-to-face meeting.

“Hello, my name is (Charles Dickens). Thanks for taking my call. I’ve been looking into the comments your CEO has made about improving distribution productivity being a high priority for the coming year. Do I have that information correct?

“Yes, distribution is one of our major initiatives.”

“We have done a lot of research in this area ourselves, including some interviews with agents who sell your services. We helped XYZ Company with solutions that improved their processes by 15%. I’d like to share some of this information with you. I will be in town next week. Would Wednesday or Thursday be best for you?”

“What company are you with?”

“I’m glad you asked. I am with Technology Systems. We have been bringing process improvement solutions to hundreds of clients around the world for the past 15 years. We are just coming off a record profit year. We’re doing great because we have clients who value the solutions we offer.”


What happened there?

We thanked the prospect because we genuinely appreciate it these days when a busy person takes time to pick up the phone. We did not start off with our company or our product, but instead tried to establish empathy and dialogue. We established a key metric along with an example of how we fixed a similar problem. Get them to tip off what their pain really is. Get the appointment.

This calls for doing the right research before the call. Get the story right. Get the approach right. Get the call objective right. Know your value proposition. Stay contextually relevant from beginning to close.

Let the Customer's Decision Path Be Your Guide

Building a Contextually Relevant Website

The way decision makers make purchasing decisions depends on the complexity of the problem they are trying to solve and the complexity and risk involved in each step in the decision process. This will affect how we manage website communications.

If their needs and the decision-making processes are simple, all we need to do is make our website visitors aware of us, build confidence, differentiate ourselves, demonstrate value and guide them through a very simple shopping and buying process.

This is the process a prospect makes when considering accessing a white paper, a Webinar registration, a free software download. In fact, we place such offers on the website precisely because they are low risk decisions that can lead toward an eventual purchase … hence we call these offers catalysts (they speed up the buying process the same way some reagents speed up a chemical reaction).

If the decision-making process is leading toward the potential purchase of an expensive product, this process becomes highly complex. Then we need to make visitors (usually many different individuals or teams within the same organization) aware of us, build relationships and educate them. We need to show sensitivity to the different decision-makers, influencers and groups so we can move each decision maker along in their buying process.

Wherever possible, we insert catalysts to help us understand their stage in the buying process, triggers that can move them further and catalysts to incentivize them to tell us who they are so Telemarketing can make an initial qualifying contact.

The content architecture of a website should address the key steps of the buying decision process. Content is structured around a linear path. It begins with general information about the visitor pains and at this stage we help the visitor gain a better understanding of what is causing the pain. It then progresses to strategies to resolve the pain and then to best practices and tactical ideas that enable better execution of the strategies. Each step feeds and leads to the others. Although the process initially is linear, there are feedback loops within the content as visitors reevaluate information.

To successfully get visitors to take action, the website must see the world from their "buying" point of view. Address their myriad of needs. Motivate them to identify themselves and to interact with us.

Our Job, It is a Changin'

So, I've been sitting back watching this blog phenomena going on for the past two years while I've been researching to write a book. I decided the best way to go about the book was to begin writing regularly. What better way than a blog?

I tend to write long (cause I need an editor) so blogging will hopefully teach me how to write shorter. If I don't, then pretty good odds you won't be reading. Books are books, and blogs are blogs.

I do have a point of view that I want to share cause I think it's important and it's being overlooked by marketers -- the content we put in front of customers must be made more relevant or we are doomed to keep repeating misearble marketing that across all media gets about a 2% response rate. What a waste of money!

(1) A recent ANA survey indicates that 52% of CEOs expect marketing to deliver top line revenue growth ... we can no longer be measured on improvements in awareness, we must learn how to increase profitable revenue.

(2) The consumer is changing faster than marketers can keep up with, so that traditional marketing tools are not only weaker, but also contextually irrelevant.

(3) The drive for accountability is reaching a crescendo on the demand side (from the CEO and CFO) before the CMO has the tools or analytics in place to be able to respond.

(4) Marketing departments have not grasped technology as a resource to do marketing and it is becoming imperative that they do so.

So that's it. If this blog helps us all get to a different place, then the time will be well spent.

At this point, maybe I should break a bottle of champagne across the bow of my laptop. Bon voyage.

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