Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Unfortunately, Marketing Execution is Hard Work

A Big Difference Between Ideas and Execution

Bruce Henderson, now a healthcare consultant with PriceWaterhouse Coopers, and a longtime friend, is one of those really deep thinkers. I asked him once why he's so willing to give talks on his solutions for the major issues facing healthcare CEOs. In his talks he freely shares his experience. His answer was that knowing the solution and knowing how to execute the solution were miles apart.

In a speech, Kevin Rollins, COO at Dell Inc., was asked a similar question. He's also a willing sharer about the wildly successful Dell business model. Like Bruce, he has learned that knowing the model and executing it are miles apart. His answer was a bit different than Bruce's but equally insightful: "It's very difficult to change an entire culture to a new business model and become good at doing the necessary things to be successful with that model."

It might be the same with contextual marketing. Despite years of openly sharing the model for doing contextual marketing, few companies have done it well. Equally few companies have made CRM work, either -- after nearly a decade of rhetoric and installation of some frighteningly complex technology, real customer management is virtually non-existent at most companies.

Contextual marketing is complex and requires hard work to execute. It is not rocket science, but it is not easy. We worked it through at companies with the commitment to process that it takes (P&G, Toshiba, for example) and had highly rewarding results everytime. It's beginning to take foot now at Cincom, and it is one of the processes that is propelling this software company into a steady, strong and profitable growth pattern.

No company is short of managers with great ideas. What's missing is the commitment to execution. Doing the right things, building the right customer data, using that data to manage outbound campaigns and inbound channels, using the promotion history to learn more and more about individual customers, clustering of similar customers into tightly defined segments, sending increasingly relevant offers and messages to these customers, taking each customer one step at a time toward purchase and re-purchase.

I will be sharing more in future posts on how to execute contextual marketing. Stay tuned.

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