The parting of the procurement ways

IMG_0032There is, slowly but surely, a growing awareness in the B2B marketplace that, (thanks to the web-driven commoditisation of pretty much everything), it’s not your product, your service or your price that makes the difference, it’s your relationship.

It’s getting to be all about the people.
Paradoxically however the organisations intended to deliver value to the people, paid for by the people, staffed by an enormous number of the people, our central and local government services, our public sector bodies all persist in the practice of building or buying teams of expensive resource to produce pointless questionnaires, RFP’s and ITT’s to verify  that the likes of IBM, BT, Oracle and Thales are not fly-by-night cowboys operating out of a railway arch in Clapham.
Why does the public sector persist in mandating a procurement culture which inevitably delivers the apparently cheapest but actually, invariably, over time, priciest solution with, thanks to penny-pinching procurement the highest likelihood of catastrophic and expensive failure?
Why do all the suppliers have to invest in expensive teams of expensive people jumping collectively through an ever-changing series of procedural hoops which just endorse what (if they are any good at all) the buyers must already know?
Why does the public sector spend a fortune (our taxes by the way) excluding the human element from all procurement when the commercial world is recognising, rewarding, investing and coaching on things like trust, integrity, longevity and respect?
I’d like to think that those who ‘serve the public good’ recognise the value of those things too.
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What hope is there for us when even Amazon gets it so very wrong?

You’d think that a business such as Amazon, huge marketing spend, highly skilled, totally focused on driving out all the return it can  from it’s customers (and crucially, their data) would be pretty slick.

IMG_0514Which is why I was surprised to see them making some of the fundamental errors that can move any organisation, instantly, from the customer aware, tailored, informed, targeted, trusted-advisor role and out into the marketing Death Valley of badly constructed, poorly managed, blitzkrieg mailing.

They know a lot about me do Amazon, they know that I buy and read a lot of books! they know which ones! which authors! which genres, which formats I prefer! they know how often I buy stuff! and they’re pretty good at predicting what I might want to buy next! often they’re right.

They also know my name, my address my credit card details, my friends, (the ones I buy stuff for and the ones I recommend stuff to) they know my email. So how is it that they send a generic mail  to my email, but address me as “Dear Amazon.co.uk customer”, and deliver the exciting news that I like “books“.

Really? no kidding! what insight, what a personalised approach.

There’s a lesson for all of us here, I allow them to use my data because I get value from that, if they fail to treat it with intelligence and respect, they’re failing to live up to the deal.

And that’s a relationship killer when we, the customers, have choices, and voices…

 

“Too difficult” is not an option for Leadgen …

When asked why his company kept on sending out vanilla, generic e-mails that didn’t get much response a CEO of our acquaintance replied, (with a commendably straight face), “yes, I know we would benefit from a targeted, focused approach but the internal changes required to make that happen are just too much, it stays in the ‘too difficult’ box”.

His situation is not unique!

There are both real and pretend difficulties in changing the way a business does stuff, usually an all too human reluctance to change creates the nebulous excuses but the real obstacles might stem from practical issues of infrastructure, process and resources.

Infrastructure and technology can be real showstoppers; if your data is spread over several systems and can’t be segmented your brilliant ideas for targeted campaigns won’t get off the drawing board.

Like it or not, we’re competing in a noisy, vocal, opinionated and discerning marketplace, increasingly intolerant of below-par marketing initiatives. It’s critically important to manage, as one, all the threads of an initiative whether they be social media, web landing pages, mobile solutions, in-app pointers, direct mail or any of the wonderful range of communication available to you.

This is where the problems start, initiatives spread across different systems become difficult and time-consuming to manage. Integrating an external e-mail service with telemarketing call-tracking using spreadsheets is bad enough, then add in website activity and links to the sales team on a clunky CRM. Multiply this by the many flavours of initiative to finely target specific groups of prospects and it’s not surprising that ‘just turning the handle’ is easier.We’ve seen three approaches taken to overcome these obstacles, with varying degrees of success

  • The “Enterprise class” route – If the investment is there to support it an advanced marketing application that’s already integrated with a CRM (such as SalesForce and Eloqua) certainly provides a solution. Unfortunately,it costs, especially when setup and the experience required to manage the inevitable complexity are taken into account.
  • The “Girl Friday” approach – By mapping out a well-defined process for your initiatives and taking some pragmatic decisions on the systems used and the level of integration it is possible to execute initiatives that work. But it’s labour intensive.
  • “DIY”– If the expertise exists in the organisation it’s amazing what can be done to tie relatively basic systems together to implement rifleshot marketing affordably. This level of expertise, however, is rare and as with any specialist skill there’s always the risk of it disappearing.

There is a better way, especially for small and medium size companies that need to manage quite sophisticated lead generation initiatives but have tight budgets. In conjunction with our customers, we’ve developed an affordable platform for Rifleshot marketing, based on the proven Adara Pipeliner. It’s used “out of the box”, takes minimal setup, and addresses all the difficulties commonly experienced:

  • It’s one fully integrated system, a CRM and mailer, with landing pages easily integrated with web sites and social networking.
  • It uses a simple “initiative Planner” to ensure campaigns are thought through and incorporate best practise.
  • It uses advanced workflow automation and templates to make it easy to define and then run, many different initiatives.
  • It’s easy to find out exactly what’s going on so action can be taken in real time to manage and optimise initiatives.

Take a look at this short video of our approach to lead generation using the Adara Pipeliner, even if it’s not for you, you might gain some good ideas, just click here to view it.