Perot had it right, “find a snake kill a snake”… 

 

The full quote, as I recall,ended, “don’t convene a committee on snakes”.

There’s a refrain I hear, almost every time there’s an internal delay or glitch in any piece of work my team do with pretty much any corporate customer.

It goes like this…

“It’s not worth trying to get this changed, we all know it’s wrong, but, it’s just too hard to fix”.

If you’re in a business and you are apologising to me as a customer, (or a supplier), for some evidently awful internal process that impacts on your business (and mine) you’re not just part of the problem, you are, for me at least, the problem.

La Fontaine's Fables

Vintage engraving from La Fontaine’s Fables, Illustraed by Gustave Dore. The Countryman and the Serpent

 

Sure it’s tough standing up for what you know is right, sure it’s tough being the one bold person who says what everyone is thinking, sure it’s tough to take on the pedestrian procurement process, the accounting anachronisms, the resourcing rubbish, the shibboleths of sales, the malaise of mediocre marketeers. It does take courage and integrity to challenge the corporate inertia, to take a risk, to fix the big stuff but hey, every other bugger is playing it safe, going with the flow, making no waves, keeping below the parapet.

You know it’s corporate bollocks, you know it needs fixing, if you don’t do it, it won’t ever get done.

Make a difference, make a mark, make a stand. Kill that snake

NB: No real snakes were harmed in the writing of this post.

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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…

 

What’s in a name

Bond
Names are special, our ancestors were very careful who they shared their names with, possession of someone’s name carried power. Names, thanks to history, culture and the way we are wired conjure up all manner of associations and meanings; they are a fundamental part of our identity.

In business it’s the same, a name may represent all the hard work that’s been put in to build a presence, a brand, a reputation, and as anyone who tries to start a business called Mcdonalds will tell you, it’s often jealously guarded.  But now we live in an online world we have to make our business visible, identifiable and accessible, in practise that’s through a search engine, which adds a new dimension.

We chose the company name years ago, “Adara Associates”,it meant nothing to anyone other than a crusty old sea dog who could remember celestial navigation; it gave us the freedom to do what we like. Over the years we’ve linked it with our tagline ‘the sales pipeline engineers” which succinctly and clearly describes to our target market what we do; there may have been the odd confused oilman but in general it’s worked remarkably well.

So when we first developed an alternative to the CRM’s that our clients disliked so much we thought carefully and in a moment of inspiration called it ‘The Adara Pipeliner’. “That’s great” we thought ”we’re cleverly communicating the manifestation of what we do, all packaged up in a hosted system.”

It turned out that although existing clients related to the name it didn’t work for people that didn’t know us,   nobody Googles “Pipeliner” if they need a better CRM, they type in “CRM”.

Obvious in hindsight!

We’d been reluctant to take on the CRM companies head to head as the whole sector is so (deservedly) unpopular but after a massive wave of development over the past year so many people told us that we had a real alternative, we realised we had to become more proactive and the name “Pipeliner” just wasn’t going to hack it.

We did some research on competitor positioning as well as use of search terms and were quite amazed by what we found, or rather the lack of it. Frequently the basics of SEO had been ignored and positioning was a variation of  “just another crm”

So, another round of drinks and deep thought and in a moment of inspiration came up with the name “AdaraCRM”. People who work with us say good things about Adara and we believe in our CRM, so it made sense to reflect that ownership and pride. Once bitten, twice shy, this time we did some market testing, Uh oh, folk liked the CRM tag and it made sense from an SEO perspective but it didn’t differentiate our offering clearly.

So, another round of drinks, and a serious discussion around the fundamentals. We’d developed a clean, coherent and powerful CRM that supported sales conversations. It worked the way that good sales people do. It supported a dialogue, pulled together the key content in the myriad of different ways of communicating that are available, and increasingly relevant, in today’s socially networked world.

What should we call a CRM that works conversationally?

Time for the “exactly what it says on the tin” moment.

Welcome to ConversationalCRM. We’ve built a new web site, tried to get a balance between being search-engine friendly and delivering a positive experience to visitors. If you look at  ConversationalCRM.com  you can be the judge of whether we’ve succeeded or not (either way we’d genuinely love to hear what you think!)

So what’s the moral of this rambling confession? Well, we think that in an online world it’s not what you’d like prospects to search for that’s important; it’s what they actually do that matters.

What they actually do can be readily understood using the plethora of tools out there; and you don’t have to be an SEO expert to use them.

Names and their associations matter and they have to relate to the terms people actually use, this is one instance (maybe the only one) where the customer really is always right.

Why do we put up with CRM’s that don’t deliver what we need?

dv495045What do you hear whenever you speak with, well to be honest, pretty much everyone in sales or marketing, about their CRM systems?

Typically we hear of out-of-date information and the best sales folk proving to be the very worst at keeping records, (they just don’t get enough value from it to put in the effort).

We hear of marketing departments investing loads of effort, time and money in keeping databases maintained, polishing masses of data, which never gets used.

We hear of weak opportunity management.

We hear story after story of shelf-ware, well-intentioned businesses investing in software or services, which worship the data (and the poorly automated process) at the expense of the people.

We’re pushed to find companies that are really happy with their systems and getting value, but if you’re the exception we’d be keen to hear from you. If you’re still looking for an answer and think you should be able to get enterprise quality CRM at an SME-friendly price maybe we can help. Take a couple of minutes and have a look at this … A quick, but informative, video!

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”     Charlie Mingus

“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.