Marketing to customers based on their purchase history data was what we did with CRM, and it worked for what we were trying to do—sell more of what we wanted to sell. But marketing based on the transaction database alone is not enough for CMR, where we are trying to serve the consumers or businesses by getting them to show us the solutions that will serve their needs.
This chapter’s title comes from a Warren Buffett letter to shareholders in which he said, “One girl in a convertible is worth five in the phone book.” He was explaining why he avoided the allure of the dot-com stock boom and kept his investments in companies with proven performance. For marketers it might be changed to: One customer who will communicate personal needs to us is worth five names in our database.
The world changed after September 11, 2001, challenging marketers to reflect—as human beings, not just as marketers—on what their customer messages should be going forward. The United States was already mired in a recession, unemployment levels had risen, retail sales were flat, consumer debt remained high, and now the country was at war.
In times like these it would be presumptuous and foolish to believe that a transactional database could still provide the correct guidance for reaching our very confused and frightened customers. Never before in our history has the need been greater for establishing, nurturing, and creating strong relationships—and this holds true for both business-to-consumer relationships and business-to-business relationships. Customers want a sense of security; that can’t be achieved solely through targeted offers.
At the start of a chapter in his excellent book, All-to-One (McGraw-Hill, 2002), Steve Luengo-Jones quotes John McKean of the Center for Information Based Competition in Ohio. The quote captures our challenge: “Some 70 percent of delivering customer value is about making the customer feel like a human being. This is the most profoundly simple idea that everyone in the customer arena seems to miss.” Steve goes on in that chapter to reinforce the point: “You have to get close to your customers, as close as possible, understand them, direct at each one of them all the good and appropriate benefits your company has to offer, communicate with each one of them in all the ways open to you, find out what each one wants or needs or both, then provide it for them.”
That’s what CMR requires; getting as close to your customers as possible and using customer intelligence, not just collecting customer data, but connecting. And connecting means more than being available on the Web.
Steve Luengo-Jones, All to One—The Winning Model for Marketing in the Post Internet Economy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002), Chapter 5.