Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, December 27, 2010

Part 2; Top 10 Marketing Challenges for CEO’s in 2011

In our previous blog, we examined the first five marketing "game-changer" challenges that CEOs will face in 2011. Now let’s review the second half of the list.
CEO CHALLENGE #6. Re-design your web site to meet customer expectations.
Per extensive Voice of Customer research, we have learned that most customers and prospects are not satisfied with current websites. They feel that most websites are one-dimensional, corporate, “me”-oriented experiences. Websites must now provide a three-dimensional experience that provides access to, in order of importance, 1) peers, 2) content experts, and 3) the company itself.
WHAT TO DO: Re-think your entire website strategy. Learn how your customers and prospects define value and relevance. Follow their lead by connecting them with easy access to peers, subject matter experts, and your corporation.
CEO CHALLENGE #7. Give Customer Service the respect it deserves.
In 2011, the companies who thrive will be the ones who recognize that Customer Service is not an expense to be trimmed back, but a revenue contributor.
WHAT TO DO: Start an internal revolution. Abandon the view of Customer Service as an Operations expense line-item. Reposition it as a revenue center, and synchronize it with your marketing efforts. Yes, this may mean stepping on some toes. The earlier in 2011 you step on those toes, the sooner the customer-centric revolution will be completed at your company.
Additional insights are contained in Ernan's manifesto “Don't You Want To Do Real Marketing?” published by 800-CEO-Read.
CEO CHALLENGE #8. Don’t let short-term financial objectives destroy your long-term customer focused strategies.
Whether they sell to businesses or to consumers, 2011's most successful enterprises will shift their selling focus away from just “closing deals."
Teams that focus on building customer relationships over time will win market share and competitive advantage. Don’t allow short-term income targets to reinforce the old behaviors of “Spray and Pray” marketing or “churn and burn” customer acquisition.
WHAT TO DO: Use quarterly financial forecasts as…simply forecasts. Don’t become a prisoner of short-term forecasts.
CEO CHALLENGE #9: Model the behavior and the priorities for your employees.
As CEO, you are the single most important role model for your team members. Use that "bully pulpit" to show how you want both internal and external customers to be treated ... and to demonstrate the values your company stands for.
WHAT TO DO: If you haven't already done so, create an Employee Council and:
arrow Meet with its members at least once a quarter.
arrow Hear what is on people's minds.
arrow Listen openly to both criticisms and suggestions.
arrow And remember: The respect you show these people will determine the respect your front-line employees show to your customers!
CEO CHALLENGE #10. Accept that ultimately, the responsibility for moving away from "business as usual" in any and all of these areas is yours.
Adjusting successfully to a customer-driven world won't come naturally to you or your organization. In the year to come, you must be the catalyst for customer-focused change in your organization.
WHAT TO DO: Throughout 2011, champion initiatives that that tap into the Voice of the Customer as an essential source of wisdom and strategic insight.
Acting on this customer-driven wisdom will often mean altering products, procedures, and relationships that your team has grown used to...and that seem to be "working just fine.”
As you advocate for these changes, your leadership ability will inevitably be tested. But being tested is one of the things you love about this job, right?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 10 Marketing Challenges for CEO's in 2011 (PART 1)

CEOs surveying the 2011 landscape will face ten major challenges. In this blog, we examine the first five of these ten "game-changers." We'll look at the second half of the list in our next blog.

CEO CHALLENGE #1. Accept that the balance of power between buyer and seller has changed… forever.

Customers will call more shots and set more agendas in 2011 than ever before.

The poor economy and unprecedented consumer empowerment due to the web and social media have significantly increased customer demands for relevance and value. The “center of power” has forever shifted from the marketer to the customer.

WHAT TO DO: Identify new ways your company can provide clearly defined, competitively differentiating value both at the point of purchase and throughout the customer’s lifecycle.

CEO CHALLENGE #2. Completely re-think how you view your customers.

Abandon the old view of customers as limitless commodities that can easily be replaced. As the level of marketing “clutter” increases, it will become harder and more expensive to replace customers in 2011.

WHAT TO DO: Make Customer Lifetime Value an essential business metric.

Additional insights are contained in Ernan's manifesto “Don't You Want To Do Real Marketing?” published by 800-CEO-Read.

CEO CHALLENGE #3. Stop chasing the “quickie.” Build relationships.

The name of the game in 2011 will be customer Retention, not just customer Acquisition. The long-term relationship is what really matters. That will only happen if you use the initial sale as a paid opportunity to prove your value.

WHAT TO DO: Shift the allocation of budget and resources from the traditional focus on Acquisition to a balance between Acquisition and Retention. Change compensation plans from an Acquisition/new sales focus to reflect Retention and repeat customer purchases.

CEO CHALLENGE #4. Communicate with customers and prospects through multiple channels.

More and more customers in 2011 will demand multichannel communications that are both relevant to the customer and driven by that customer’s opt-in media preferences.

One channel will no longer be enough to ensure engagement. According to Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Direct, they are cultivating “people who shop at Nordstrom in more than one way, since multichannel shoppers spend four times, on average, what a one-source shopper spends”.

WHAT TO DO: Emphasize the value of opting in to a relationship with your company, via all media and channels. Then personalize the communications per individual opt-in preferences, so the value and relevance is obvious.

CEO CHALLENGE #5. Create uniquely powerful Opt-In preference-driven databases.

We are seeing an important new trend: privacy sensitive consumers are recognizing that in order to receive or access increasingly relevant information, they must share increasing amounts of information about their preferences. If they trust the marketer and see a useful value proposition, consumers will Opt-In and self-profile their preferences and expectations. Clients such as Microsoft have achieved significant increases in response and revenue due to Opt-In preference-driven communications and offers.

WHAT TO DO: Re-think your marketing so that it provides unquestionable value from the consumer's point of view. Conduct research to identify the value propositions required to engage customers to Opt-In. You also need to learn what questions are appropriate to ask at different points in the customer lifecycle.

As a result of providing increasingly relevant information and offers, customers will in turn provide you with their increasingly detailed Opt-In preferences. This will result in the creation of a uniquely accurate, detailed database that gives you a powerful competitive advantage.

In our upcoming blog: The next 5 of The Top 10 Marketing Challenges for CEO’s in 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Are You Going for the “Quickie Sale”…or the Relationship?

The Myth: During the holiday season, the goal of retail, online, and mail-order marketers should be to process as many sales as possible. This will help recoup some of the lost revenue due to the poor economy.
The Reality: Marketers are losing millions of dollars by going for the “quickie sale”. It’s hard to get a customer at any time of year, so when they are coming to you, driven by the holiday purchasing wave, you have the opportunity to accomplish much more than just robotically swiping their credit cards and moving on to the next transaction.
This month, millions of customers will be purchasing from an on-line, mail-order or brick-and-mortar marketer. The majority of those customers will not be engaged in any way by the sellers, who are stuck in a manufacturing model, trying to process “ holiday” transactions as quickly as possible. These blunders represent literally millions of dollars in lost opportunities to establish relationships with customers who could make multiple purchases in the future.
In a previous blog, Discounting as Addiction, we discussed the dangers of relying on discounting as the mainstay for driving customer purchases. The end result of this addiction is that the only compelling reason to visit the company’s store or web site is for another discount ”high.” This addiction by the consumer is perpetuated by the seller’s addiction to discounting, and so the cycle deepens.
Relationships based on value identified by the customer, on the other hand, carry significant long-term potential for both seller and buyer... but you can't find out what your customer considers valuable if all you are interested in is a “quickie” transaction.
Try This:
Ask each customer if you can ask a few brief questions to help provide them with ongoing value as defined by their individual needs/interests. The types of questions you should ask are intuitive. For instance:
arrowWould they like to receive information, useful tips, or promotions regarding the product(s) they just bought?
arrowAre there other products in the store/catalog/or web site about which they would like to receive information?
arrowAny other friend or family member they would like to send this information to?
arrowAnd last...as a result of offering value, you have earned the right to request their email address.
Think about it. What better time to prove your value and build a powerful database than at the point of purchase? Most customers are happy to spend the extra few seconds identifying how you can better serve them in the future. And those that don’t want to spend time can choose not to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Megatrend #4; Consumers Demand Three-Dimensional Website Experiences

The Myth: The primary purpose of your web site should be to serve as a combination brochure and on-line ordering portal for customers and prospects.
The Reality: Consumers (both BtoB and BtoC) now expect far more than product information and convenience in ordering from on-line resources.
In recent blogs, I shared three megatrends of 21st century marketing: Megatrend # 1, that customers expect multichannel, preference-driven communications; Megatrend # 2, that they expect us to trust their requirements for deeper engagement; and Megatrend #3, that consumers are willing to share significant amounts of information about their preferences in order to gain valuable information or resources.
Let’s take a look at Megatrend # 4, which is also based on learnings from recent VOC research for companies such as Microsoft, HMS National, NBC Universal and Life Line Screening.
Megatrend # 4; Websites must now provide a three-dimensional experience that engages the customer and abandons the current one-dimensional, corporate, “me”-oriented Web experience.
Per VOC research, the three dimensions of experience, in order of importance, are:
1. Provide access to peers, for the most trusted information and recommendations,
2. Provide access to relevant subject matter experts, and
3. Provide easier and faster access to the corporation before, during, and after purchases.
Examples of companies who do this well:
arrow Amazon.com, now allows shoppers to connect to their Facebook accounts. As a result, Amazon can now display their friends’ favorite books, films, and so on. Amazon also provides access to both expert and amateur reviewers (via its main site) and to a wide range of peers and content experts (via its Omnivoracious interactive blog site).
arrow TunerFish, a start-up owned by Comcast, lets users share TV shows and movies they are watching…creating a real-time "TV guide" of programs for friends.
arrow Loopt, a location-focused social network with over 3.4 million registered users, recently began showing them which of their friends liked a particular restaurant.
Megatrend #4 carries broad marketplace implications likely to play out for decades. According to the New York Times (9/13/10), on-line social networks of friends and colleagues are now a more trusted source of purchase recommendations than traditional search!
arrow “The trust factor of friends' suggestions can make a big difference...Loopt's users are 20 times more likely to click on a place their friends liked...than a place that simply ranked higher in search results."
Sam Altman, Co-founder of Loopt
Try This:

Take a fresh look at your site. Identify how you can provide a three-dimensional experience which provides, in order of importance, better access to:

arrow Peers
arrow Subject Matter Experts
arrow Your Company.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Discounting: A Dangerous Addiction

My wife and daughter no longer shop at certain stores unless there is a major sale. Their reason: it would be foolish to pay regular prices, since huge discounts are offered so frequently.

Clearly, discounting has been around a long time and the rationale is obvious. In poor economic times, it seems all the more imperative. Also, if competitors are discounting heavily, how can a marketer not offer discounts?

All that makes sense. The problem, however, occurs when discounting, like an addiction, becomes a dependency. The end result is that the only compelling reason to visit the company’s store or web site is for another discount ”high.” This addiction by the consumer is perpetuated by the seller’s addiction to discounting, and so the cycle deepens.

Based on over 100 Voice of Customer Relationship Research studies we have conducted for companies such as
NBC Universal, Microsoft, IBM, Life Line Screening, and others, a consistent pattern has emerged:

  • If a company or product is viewed as a commodity, price will always be cited as the #1 variable driving purchases.
  • Conversely, if a company or product is viewed as a source of value, then price is consistently ranked as variable #3 or #4, after product or service quality, customer service, and other factors such as value-added information or access to a community of people with similar interest or needs. This holds true regardless of the price of the purchase, or whether it is a BtoB or BtoC purchase.

So, with discounts, discounts everywhere, what’s a poor marketer to do?

The answer...break the cycle! Do not allow your company or brand to become, or remain, a discount addict.

Yes, you have to offer discounts at times, but this cannot become the main reason customers buy from you. Build value around your company, brand and products. Create a value-added experience for customers so your store and/or site become a destination and worthy experience, not just a place for transactions.

Also consider that many people think about what they buy in terms of what it says about them as people. If discounting is the main draw, it says they are good shoppers, which has a very low switching cost relative to defecting to other brands (part of being a good shopper is being shoppertunistic). If buying from a company says you are smart, hip, responsible, etc., you can create cognitive dissonance by switching to a competitor just because they have cheaper prices, because you could be invalidating the good things you thought about yourself by having bought from the first company. The stronger your engagement with a company, the less likely you are to switch just because of price.

A case in point is Threadless. They have taken the act of selling T-shirts, which could have been a simple, commodity-driven sales experience and transformed into something very special. They are a community-driven online marketer specializing in T-shirts designed by members of the community. This community is made up of 3 groups; purchasers, designers and reviewers. According to the Sloan Management Review, the community and customer experience is so compelling that 95% of those purchasing from Threadless.com have voted and posted comments...before making a purchase.

Yes, Threadless uses discounts and has sales, but these are just an occasional element of a much broader, more compelling customer engagement strategy. And, the results of this strategy go straight to the bottom line:
  • Over 1.4 million members.
  • Over 1.8 million Twitter and Facebook followers.
  • Approximately $30 million in annual sales.

Our advice is not to follow the flock of discount addicts. This diminishes the value of your brand and can only result in ever-shrinking margins and loss of competitive differentiation.

Instead, build value around your product or service. Make the experience of doing business with you exciting and fun. Learn from innovators like Threadless, NikeiD, and Starbucks, who have created powerful customer experiences in product categories that less innovative competitors have marketed as discount-driven commodities.

Author: Ernan Roman, President of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing

Monday, November 29, 2010

Megatrend #3: Consumers Share Detailed Information in Exchange for Value

The Myth: Privacy sensitive consumers are unwilling to share in-depth personal information with marketers.
The Reality: Consumers, (BtoB and BtoC), are quite willing to share information with marketers -- if they believe the information they share will result in receiving relevant and valuable information and offers.
In recent blogs, I shared two megatrends of 21st century marketing: Megatrend # 1; customers expect multichannel, preference-driven communications and Megatrend # 2, that they expect us to trust their requirements for deeper engagement.
Let’s take a look at Megatrend # 3, which is also based on learnings from recent VOC research for companies such as Microsoft, HMS National, NBC Universal and Life Line Screening.
Megatrend # 3; there is a growing recognition among consumers that, in order to receive or access increasingly relevant information, they must share increasing amounts of information about their preferences.
If they trust the marketer and see a useful value proposition, consumers will Opt-In and self-profile their preferences and expectations by providing significant amounts of information. We call this the Reciprocity of Value Equation: Marketers who provide increasingly relevant information and offers will in turn, receive increasingly detailed Opt-In preferences from customers and prospects.
This results in the creation of a uniquely accurate and detailed database. The unprecedented accuracy is because the information is self-profiled, not inferred as with traditional databases.
To take full advantage of the Reciprocity of Value Equation, your initial value exchange must be powerful. Microsoft’s VOC-driven Relationship Marketing (RM) program, delivered through its Business Resource Center, initially poses fourteen detailed business questions in order to deliver targeted and relevant offers and information.
Microsoft's results were unprecedented:
arrow Opt-in rates up to 95%.
arrow Open rates greater than 50%.
arrow Response rates performing in the double-digits.
arrow Volume license renewal rate is 8 points higher than the control group.
arrow Volume license revenue from those in the Opt-In driven relationship program is 2X greater than the control group.
Try This:
Test the increase in response and revenue you can achieve by building an Opt-In driven database.
First, conduct VOC research to understand how different customer segments define the value proposition you must create to motivate them to Opt-In. Also, determine what questions are appropriate to ask, and when, in the course of their relationship with your company.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Megatrend #2: Customers Expect You to Trust Their Requirements for Deeper Engagement 

The Myth: Marketers already know what their customers want and why they do what they do.

The Reality: Simply relying on talking among yourselves in conference rooms, simple surveys, discussions with a few customers, or anecdotal feedback from your sales force, is often a recipe for serious competitive disadvantage. Given the new economic climate and internet empowerment of customers, in-depth discussions with both customers and prospects are now essential.

In our experience, when marketers gain an in-depth understanding of the expectations of customers and re-engineer their marketing per these expectations, double-digit increases in response and revenue are the norm.

This is one of several major findings based on Voice of Customer (VOC) Relationship Research for companies such as Microsoft, NBC Universal, IBM, and Life Line Screening. Other VOC findings identified four critical consumer megatrends to which marketers must rapidly adapt. The first megatrend was discussed in this blog on 11/15. We now turn our attention to...

Megatrend 2: Customers Expect You to Trust Their Requirements for Deeper Engagement.

Life Line Screening is an excellent case in point.
They are the leading provider of community-based preventive health services and deliver affordable, high-quality screenings that are essential to the early detection of risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions.

Management's strategic priority was customer retention. The goal: Double the number of returning customers from 2009 to 2012.

Initially, Life Line's retention campaign was built around the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which identifies metrics connected to consumer responses to the question "How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?" While NPS was a useful tool, Life Line wanted to take its retention initiative to the next level by...
arrow Identifying why not all happy customers became returning customers.
arrow Creating a much deeper relationship with consumers.
In-depth Voice of Customer interviews with key segments of the customer base provided Life Line's management with a clearer understanding of the factors likely to lead a first-time customer to become a repeat customer.

Based on these detailed customer insights, Life Line was able to create strategies and action plans for increasing customer retention, including greater and more personalized multichannel touches at key points in the customer lifecycle.

The Result: 40% increase in returning customers!

Try This: Define the most important factors which would help you increase customer retention and renewal rates.

Use these factors to design Voice of Customer research. This research will address complex customer needs, so plan on in-depth discussions with customers. In our experience, 60 minute interviews are required to adequately discuss these complex issues and gain in-depth guidance from customers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Megatrend #1: Customers Expect Multichannel, PREFERENCE-DRIVEN Communications

The Myth: Many marketers act as if the introduction of social and digital media will suddenly "make it all better" and reverse declining response rates and customer disengagement.
The Reality: Unless we match our media and messages with the customer’s individual preferences regarding what information is relevant, and what channels should deliver those messages, all our social and digital media marketing will accomplish is add one more way to achieve more multimedia irritation!
This is one of several major findings based on Voice of Customer Relationship Research from companies such as Microsoft, NBC Universal, IBM, and MSC Industrial Direct. Other findings include:
arrowThe poor economy and empowerment of the web have significantly increased buyer expectations of relevance and value.
arrowThe “center of power” has forever shifted from the marketer to the consumer.
arrowMarketers who succeed will rely less on “Spray and Pray” blasts and more on engagement and conversation, on the customer's terms.
Recent VOC learnings have identified four critical consumer megatrends to which marketers must rapidly adapt. We will discuss trends 2-4 in upcoming blogs.
Megatrend 1: Consumers, (BtoB and BtoC), are shifting from being passive recipients of marketing messages to creating and managing their own networks of multichannel, value-added sources.
The Challenge: How do you gain entry into their online and off-line worlds?
The answer is based on relevance and preference-based opt-in relationships. Once consumers have opted into a relationship and self-profiled, and once they experience messaging relevance, they often develop surprising levels of interest in receiving or accessing deeper levels of information ... via multiple channels!
Becoming one of those trusted multichannel sources is now a critical priority.
Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Direct, notes that the store is carefully cultivating “people who shop at Nordstrom in more than one way, since multichannel shoppers spend four times, on average, what a one-source shopper spends.”
Try This:
Emphasize the value of opting in to a relationship with your company, via all media and channels.
Then personalize the communications per individual opt-in preferences, so the value and relevance is obvious. This will encourage deeper levels of on-going self-profiling.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Don't You Know About Customer Expectations Between Purchases?

Most marketers don’t know enough about what goes on with their customers during the periods of silence between purchases.
This is because information about customers is often limited to the transactional: Did they buy, and if so what...or, no, they did not buy.
This lack of customer insight becomes even more dangerous when the re-purchase or renewal periods span long periods of time, say one to two years.
How can you provide useful, relevant information during those long intervals of silence between purchases…information that helps you create deeper engagement with customers and achieve competitive differentiation?
The only way is to develop a better understanding of your customer’s true needs. And the only accurate way to do that is to ask them.
The current cover story of Target Marketing magazine features a detailed case study of how HMS National increased renewal rates by over 20%, by implementing “voice of the customer” driven strategies that asked customers directly for greater insight regarding their needs and expectations.
Here are some highlights from the article:
All marketers think they know what their customers want. How many of them are wrong? How many lose sales because they're not hearing the "voice of the customer"? Can you be sure your customers are satisfied with the experience you think they want?
Tasked with raising renewal rates on home warranties, Doug Stein, president of HMS National, was faced with those questions. He turned to a process of in-depth customer interviews, called "voice-of-the-customer" research, for answers. The strategies and tactics HMS drew from that research measurably increased customer satisfaction, lifted renewal rates 20 percent across the board—75 percent in some segments—and helped the company chart a new course with the customer as its "North Star."
To read more click here.
Try This:
Ask yourself how much you could deepen customer engagement and revenue if you had direct “voice of customer” insight into your customer’s needs during those long silences between purchases.
In addition to in-depth voice of customer research, consider building one simple question into every customer or prospect related contact, across all media.
The question should be asked of prospects, purchasers, and customers with product or service issues.
The question might go something like this:
arrowCan you please tell us your primary interests and needs related to our product or service, so we can provide you with relevant and useful information? (If it's not relevant to your needs, we won't send it to you.)
Capture the responses to this question in a contact management system and use the data to drive increasingly relevant and targeted communications which your customers and prospects will perceive as value based, not sales focused.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Close" and "Win" Are Deadly Terms

The terms “Close” or “Win” are age-old Marketing and Sales terms for a new sale. They are also key performance metrics. They are also deadly, because they move our organizations in precisely the wrong direction when it comes to dealing with customers.
We need to move beyond just hunting for “closes," “kills," “scores,” and so on, as these terms perpetuate the traditional Acquisition focus of Marketing and Sales.
What happens as a result of this “hunting” orientation? Per our Voice of Customer research, this is how customers of many Fortune company clients feel:
arrow“The fastest way to be forgotten is to buy from you.”
arrow“Relationship? You guys are about ‘buy and die’!”
arrow“We buy. You disappear without a trace. Oh, except for the monthly bills.”
The combination of a tough economy and Internet-empowered customers requires that companies focus on Retention and create deeper customer engagement. The “Close” should be re-conceived as the beginning of a relationship, where the company has earned a sale and now has the opportunity to provide increasingly greater value as it better understands the needs of that customer.
Recently, I had a conversation with Matthew Schwartz, Editor of ZoomInfo and “Follow the Lead”, about this issue. Here is a snippet of the conversation:
“...the ‘close’ should be looked upon as the beginning of a relationship, not an end …This is as opposed to a life-time value oriented point of view, which says I have earned the right to drill deep into problem-solving, needs-assessment for the customer, which will make me a much more valuable resource and will drive, incrementally, significantly more revenue.”
To read more, click here.
To change our view of customers, to shift from short term “Wins” to long term relationships, we have to recognize that people are “coin operated.” Therefore, unless compensation plans for Marketing and Sales are changed, people’s behavior will not change. As a mentor of mine once said, “Pay them, and the heart will follow!”

I’m conducting an ExecSense webinar on November 4th at 12 EST, titled:
Hope you can attend!

Try This:
What would happen in your company if Marketing and Sales had common metrics?
What if a portion of compensation for both groups was driven by factors such as: customer lifetime value, cross-sales, up-sales, and customer satisfaction?
Wouldn’t that drive deeper engagement and stronger relationships?
FYI, unrelated to the specific story above, but relevant and deeply gratifying, last week NPR.org highlighted an excerpt from our new book, “Voice-of-the-Customer Marketing”, as a blog post by 800 CEO Read. To see the story, click here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today’s Marketing is Unsustainable

Over lunch with a thoughtful client recently, we got into a discussion about unsustainable marketing. The client mentioned how in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, his company was a practitioner of “Spray and Pray” marketing. They blasted out millions of letters and later, turned to millions of emails for customer acquisition.

For some years it seemed to work. Then an analyst carefully did the numbers and discovered a few things:

  The quality of customers they were acquiring via these “spray and pray” blasts were not high quality, long term customers. Many were actually costing money, given the acquisition costs.
  The belief that “markets are huge” turned out to be a myth.
  The high quality, high value customers were in fact, finite. They needed to be carefully targeted, and harvested.

I recently explored the unsustainable nature of much of today’s marketing, and the alternative, which is truly customer-driven marketing, with Ginger Conlon, the editor of 1 to 1 Magazine and 1 to 1 Blog. She wrote a thoughtful piece, which I think you will enjoy: 

Here are some highlights from that blog:

Roman said that the key to marketing success today is connecting with customers. Data modeling is not enough; neither is throwing more technology at the problem or writing more clever copy. "We can only stop the obscenely wasteful practices of our industry by listening to customers and then changing our practices based on their preferences," he said, adding that he's seen companies achieve consistent double-digit response rates by using the voice of the customer (VOC) to guide their marketing strategies.

Try This:
Take a careful look at your target market. Is it as large as you thought, or are the high value/high profit sources of customers finite?

Ask yourself: Can you afford to strip mine just the top layer of these markets through "spray and pray” blasts, or do you need a more effective strategy to carefully acquire and then cultivate these segments to ensure long term yield?

Think of your target markets as finite, precious and perishable resources and you will begin to develop more effective, more sustainable and higher yield marketing strategies. Soon you will be able to achieve consistent double-digit response rates instead of the anemic, traditional, single digit response.

Monday, October 18, 2010

ERDM Launches New Website

I’m pleased to announce that the new erdm.com went live last week. 
The new site is organized to give visitors easier access to the information they need fast, with concise summaries of our process, our solutions and the results we’ve achieved for numerous Fortune and Growth companies. 
The retooled erdm.com also includes a direct link to my new blog and information about my new book: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend and Stay.
As anyone who does business in the 21st century knows, a website is always a work in progress. We’ll be tweaking and adding content to erdm.com on an ongoing basis. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the new site. 
I look forward to a lively exchange of information that will help us all get better at listening to the voice of our customers and prospects and engaging them on a deeper, more meaningful level.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Annual Conference

I’ll be participating in lots of exciting events at this year’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Annual Conference in San Francisco from October 9-12.

I’m looking forward to attending the PepsiCo social media session, Sephora’s Multichannel Marketing Success, the Social Media Face-Off, and many other great sessions.

I’ll be conducting the following sessions at DMA. Hope to see you there:

Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10
2-Day Pre-Conference Workshop, (Back by Popular Demand):
Increase Sales 20% to 30% Using 5 Relationship Marketing Best Practices…Guaranteed
Co-speakers: Lisa Clawson, Senior Marketing Manager, Microsoft, Douglas Stein, President, HMS National, Inc., Eric Greenberg, EVP Marketing, Life Line Screening

Monday, October 11
Presentation for the Danish and Swedish delegations:
Voice of Customer-Driven Marketing Best Practices

Tuesday October 12, 4:15-5:00
Thought Leadership Session:
“Leveraging the ‘Voice of Your Customer’ to Achieve Significantly Greater Engagement and Sales…Across Social and Traditional Media
Co-speaker: Thomas Ryan, CEO, Threadless.com, the crowdsourcing success story.

Finally, thanks to all of you who have been asking me to start this blog. It’s my hope that this forum speaks directly to your needs as marketers and helps us all establish better, deeper relationships with our customers and prospects.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book signing for my newest book: Voice-of-the-Customer Marketing

Please join me for a book signing on Tuesday, October 12 from 1:00-3:00 in the Exhibit Hall at the DMA Resource Center, Booth #1126.

I would like to thank my publisher, McGraw-Hill, and numerous colleagues for their invaluable help during an intense 8-month research and writing process.

If there’s one central theme in Voice of the Customer Marketing, it’s this: Given the whirlwind of new technology and communications options, there is only one constant: the customer. Traditional “Spray and Pray” media blast strategies no longer work. The only strategies which achieve consistent double digit increases in response and revenue have been those which engage the Voice of the Customer and use these insights to develop opt-in driven multi-channel strategies.

Here’s a sample of the advance book reviews:

“Ernan is a leading expert in creating disciplined Voice of Customer–driven marketing processes. If you want to move from just talking about VOC to being a leader in implementing it, you must read this book.”
                                                            --Fred Neil, Global Head of CRM, Dell

 “This is the definitive playbook for this new customer-driven era.”
                                                            --Frank Eliason, Senior Director, National                                                                        Customer Operations, Comcast

“Who can pass up double-digit increases in response and sales? Ernan’s book shows you how to transform your marketing based on his Voice of Customer–driven marketing process.”
                                                            --Joseph J. Incandela, CEO, HMS National

If you want to learn how to make real connections with customers, read this book. Business is no longer about blasting messages to passive consumers; it’s about creating engaging relationships with the fans and evangelists that already love you and finding ways for them to connect with others. Listen to Ernan Roman!”
                                                            --Blake Mycoskie, Founder & Chief Shoe                                                                         Giver, TOMS Shoes

“Having worked with Ernan over the past 12 years, I’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of his VOC-driven multichannel marketing process. His strategies have enabled us to engage our customers and deliver exactly what they want. This has driven double-digit growth for our company.”
                                                            --Guy Berger, President, Palms Trading                                                                             Company

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