Recent Fortune 100 RFP’s Search For A New Breed of People2People Agency


In recent weeks, a number of Fortune 100 companies have issued agency RFP’s that share a common purpose. They are all looking for a unique agency organization that can truly deliver what they refer to as “Integrated Customer Relationship Marketing”. Some common parameters across all of the documents can be summarized as follows:

  • Preferably an agency that was not built out of a historical specialty (like advertising or direct marketing etc), but rather one that has been built from the ground up with the vision of being a truly integrated shop.
  • The key disciplines required are digital, direct, CRM/eCRM, data analytics, integrated marketing planning and true channel neutrality.

A key question asked by most of them is: “What is your vision for the future of Integrated Customer Relationship Marketing?” I thought I would take a shot at answering it, and sharing my perspectives with all of you.

Here is my response:

As we move deeper into this new “conversation economy,” true brand engagement and customer relationships are becoming more and more important. Marketers must strive to create ongoing and relevant dialogs with consumers, if they are to have any hope whatsoever of remaining part of the consideration set going forward.

We know it’s been said many times before that, traditional marketing and advertising thinking is no longer effective as consumer media habits continue to evolve at an ever quickening pace. Branding as we know it is for all intents and purposes dead, as most consumers’ first impressions of a brand are what they find in search results or what they read from other people in reviews.

As consumers continue to circumvent traditional media approaches, they are gravitating towards those media/channels that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations, plus allow them to socialize and be entertained at the same time. In the process, these consumers are building and refining their own trusted personal networks.

If marketers want to be positioned to take advantage of this evolving opportunity, the first step is to forget about continuing to structure your organization in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. If you can seamlessly integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to develop a true brand relationship, you may be able to persuade them to share their personal networks with you. In doing so you will have created a powerful channel and relationship for your brand in the marketplace.

Traditional direct and database marketers will be disappointed to hear that targeting is dying too. As consumers change to pulling information as they want or need it, push marketing becomes less and less relevant, no matter how “targeted” the marketer thinks it is. No longer can you just drop an email to your house file or run a banner campaign with the simple objective to sell more products or generate more leads. You have to become part of the conversation, where they are and when they want to have it. Also, keep in mind that conversations cannot be bought either, and if they are, the community often quickly finds out and retaliates.

The new age of People2People marketers have to be experts in understanding consumer habits and expectations in this new media environment. They need to be the unbiased filter that prioritizes the media/channels and indentifies the ones that will yield the greatest ROI.

This new breed of marketer will avoid the temptation to shout messages at consumers disrespectfully or target thousands of people multiple times with generic messages and offers of little or no relevance. Instead, they will embrace techniques that cultivate genuine and open dialogue with customers, where brands quietly listen and learn, and then respond with relevant content and new features and product innovations that better match the needs of the consumer.

Marketers who embrace this new reality of People2People marketing will be rewarded by clients who not only out perform their competitors, but also deliver industry leading financial results. You may be interested to know that in July 2009, a report by social platform provider Wetpaint and analyst firm Altimeter found that:

Companies deeply engaged in seven or more social channels (blogs, branded social websites, Facebook, Wikis, ratings and reviews etc.) significantly surpassed their peers in terms of both revenue and performance”.

You may think that this is a tall order, but I know that it’s not impossible. That’s because the solution can be found in the motivations of the conversationalists themselves. After all, conversation is mankind’s natural search engine.

The above being said, the question then becomes – how do you keep the conversation going? You’ll constantly be competing with other conversations for your customer’s time and attention. You spark and fuel conversations with surveys, forums and invitations for contributions that pertain to the incremental value that your brand/product can bring to their lives. Keeping ongoing conversations fresh is where contextual research and newsletters, blogs, websites, videos and social media shine.

The remaining question is how do you monitor results and measure success? According to Susan Scrupski of ITSinsider, seeing results depends heavily on how you organize your business and equip the people who are part of it.

As you enable the conversation between you and your customers, you enter into collaborative design. Picking up information and passing it into an organization that knows what to do with it is the inflection point between an integrated marketing relationship strategy and actual business success. Taking the time to measure it in the fundamental currency of business is the final step in putting all pieces in place to win in the marketplace”.


2 Responses to Recent Fortune 100 RFP’s Search For A New Breed of People2People Agency

  1. clivemaclean says:

    Hi there. Thanks for the email. I am led to believe that you did. The quote came from an article by I read written by Dave Evans of Click Z. See below.

    Hope this helps and sorry if you were misquoted. Let me know either way

    Social Business and Customer Relationship Management
    By Dave Evans, ClickZ, Sep 30, 2009
    Columns  |  Contact Dave  |  Biography

    Last time, I discussed social business strategy and the practice of building a business around a set of experiences rather than a set of messages. More than ever, actual experiences now drive the conversations you want.
    Building a business that drives positive conversations, that works with the flow of social content rather than against it, requires an organizational model and business intelligence process that connects “inside” with “outside.” Outside the organization are touch points, places where customers (both business-to-business and business-to-consumer) come in contact with the brand, product, or service. This may be a direct product experience, a message on a billboard, an online rating or review, or an interaction with a customer service representative. Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang stressed the shift toward recognizing the new role of actual experiences in his continuing work supporting social CRM (define) when he said, “Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation — support IS marketing.”
    Consider the role of the customer service rep. This employee, who is part of the reception committee (versus nightclub bouncer), must follow basic best practices of tracking current and past customers; studying their conversations, purchase histories, warranty claims, and rebate redemptions; and then should make this knowledge available and actionable across all points of customer/business intersection. Yes, support is marketing.
    On the social Web, support starts with actively listening to what customers are saying outside of the formal CRM channels. The trick isn’t so much gathering the data: Nathan Gilliatt reviews 30-plus tools, all of which do a respectable job of bringing back snippets of conversations in an embedded business context.
    The newest listening tools and applications go beyond basic listening and step into what’s now called social CRM. In early 2008, Brent Leary wrote a short post about social CRM: “[It] means creating a customer profile that helps us identify key pieces of information, helping to determine good customers from bad ones.” My 2005 white paper, “The Art of Consideration,” connects influence and the measurement of profitability to basic business objectives, laying in place another brick of what has evolved as social business strategy. Focus on CRM and the affordable tools that can inform your business. With a bit of hard work you can actually get the insight you need. Hey, no one said being a pioneer was easy! customers will find there’s work underway to improve integration of the customer service relationship management software with other applications, such as Radian6, a social media monitoring tool Lithium, an enterprise social CRM solutions provider, has a similar integration. Expect to see more of these solutions as snap-together knowledge modules proliferate. Have you found a result that contains an interesting conversational element? With the newest tools, you can push the available contact information about the person who said it into your Salesforce contacts database.
    Then there’s Techrigy’s SM2 platform. With its CSV (define) export capability, Techrigy is one of the relatively few companies offering both a robust API (define) and the ability to easily take results out of the core listening tool for extended analysis. For example, you can use the result set to create a list of influencers specific to the topic you are interested in. Use this to build a more effective, organically grown blogger outreach program. This roll-your-own option is perfect if you’ve got an in-house CRM system that you want to upgrade.
    Take a look at BuzzStream, too. BuzzStream is to social CRM what Posterous is to blogging: simple, fast, and low cost (starting at free). And it works. Running on the Amazon cloud services platform, it has smartly integrated listening with a contacts database. When you spot interesting results, you can quickly find all the places that are likely related to the source of that result, traversing the social graph and going beyond the basic social data and search rankings, crawling an extended set of pages. Given a blog post, BuzzStream will find all of the Twitter mentions, for example, for that post along with the relevant contact information for the person who posted it. That contact information can be pushed right into the BuzzStream database. It’s a great starting point for your exploration of social CRM.
    Regardless of the tool you choose, once the contact information is in your database, your next step is to do something with it. You’ll have some manual work to do, but the result is worth it, especially for smaller businesses that are often overlooked by the larger enterprise platforms.
    Here’s a suggestion: Using these tools, you can easily track all fall future conversations from this same source as they relate to your specific interest. You can add information that you have about specific contacts that you find. This means that if you know your customers are talking about you, create a database of those social Web conversations. Now you’ve got your influencers in one place, by topic, and the ability to keep track of your ongoing relationship development program.
    This matters now more than ever because journalists and domain experts are no longer the only influencer voices expressing themselves through a broad-reaching medium. Customers, especially evangelists and enthusiasts, are now very influential within your customer base. This is forcing a convergence between PR (external influencers) and CRM (customers) that makes tracking who is saying what and developing an ability to respond directly a must-have skill. By efficiently organizing and strategizing your responses, you can use this information to guide your social Web programs and the evolution of your business itself. That’s powerful.
    Of course, this goes beyond marketing. Seeing results depends heavily on how you organize your business and equip the people who are part of it. Susan Scrupski spends a lot time in this area and shares her thinking. It’s spot on, especially the part about measuring all of this in dollars. As you enable the conversation between you and your customers, you enter into collaborative design. Picking up information and passing it into an organization that knows what to do with it is the inflection point between social business strategy and actual business success. Taking the time to measure it in the fundamental currency of business — which as Susan says is “currency” — is the final step in putting all pieces in place to win in the marketplace.
    Social CRM is on the horizon. Start looking at it and build your skills. The business benefit is rooted in a better way to bring products and services to market and, more important, to encourage the conversations that will drive sales. Social CRM is a practice that will fit well into any business, including yours.

  2. CoolAmp says:

    im really liking your blog and your writing style. we share a lot of the same interest. im @ home of the Hi Tech Gadget Reviews,Software, Tutorials, Music, Wallpapers, Celebrity Gossip, Videos,and More.

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