It may begin with the brand, but it certainly doesn’t end there.

In a recent survey of marketing decision-makers at more than 700 global firms, Accenture identified five factors which it calls crucial to developing and maintaining

customer loyalty. These include: creating and delivering a branded experience so that customers form an emotional attachment to the brand; creating and shaping demand; harnessing talent and technology; translating foresight and insight into marketing productivity by using research data; and driving marketing to meet performance objectives. 

Pipeline spoke with Accenture partner Augustin Manchon, head of CRM in Canada and global leader for customer strategy and pricing, to get more detail on the five factors. 

 

Pipeline: A lot of marketers would say they already do a good job of establishing a brand presence. What are they overlooking?

Augustin Manchon: I think you’re right, there’s a lot of literature already recognizing that a brand is not just a logo, that it’s more of an implementation. What we do find, though, is that a lot of the action, a lot of the budgets, are still dedicated to understanding the health of the brand, the effectiveness, the presence, the relevance, the hipness of the brand. But the level of quantification goes far beyond just that. Not just in the content and media support for a brand, but very much in all the aspects of the brand experience. And for that, we are constantly amazed about how many things impact customer experience.

Pipeline: In terms of creating and shaping demand, are there any techniques you uncovered that can accomplish that successfully?

AM: Absolutely. First of all, there are different techniques for different things, the first one being able to understand the needs at what we call the foresight level. In other words, if you apply tools like a conjoint analysis — which is used more and more, for example, in the marketing arena – we really like to apply it to higher levels of needs of customers as opposed to the current features, the current elements of the value proposition. It goes beyond the next quarter, the next month or the next release of a product. We try to tap into unmet needs, into emerging trends, sometimes combining them, sometimes going outside of the responsibility area of a company or something else in their own industry. That foresight element is critical, and basically the same tool is applied to a broader and a higher level of needs.

Another one is going back in the past and analyzing the data through analytics. The techniques and technology have evolved, and right now it’s one of our highest-growth areas, tripling every year. What we are fascinated by is how many insights can actually be generated, but not just in a general marketing report but something that’s actionable from week to week, sometimes even in real-time. In other words, you reshape segmentation, you reshape campaigns, positioning. That’s extremely powerful.

Pipeline: When you talk about the need to harness technology, do you mean using things like permission-based e-mail and SMS or personal productivity tools for the marketers themselves?

AM: Actually both, but with a bias towards the second part. I think there has not been enough emphasis put on empowering people who are interfacing with the customers. I think everyone is already aware of the major tools that are out there, but I think the first round of them were more about productivity, as you said — you know, managing the time and effectiveness and sometimes increasing the control on the front line. It hasn’t always been well-received, because it was really driven by the drive towards cost-containment. I think there’s a new wave now of adding to technology when it’s not there to really empower people. There’s call centres, of course, but also the sales forces, which have probably been the least well-served, are getting tools to help them negotiate, tools to help them simulate different scenarios, which are on the premises, just on their own PC or on a distributed mobile computing model. That is really new, because all of the sudden there is a rejuvenation of the sales force. The trend until recently was that if you could control them better, you manage their effectiveness, and you can be less demanding on their time. Now all of a sudden you realize that with all that power and intelligence, you still have to make decisions, determine your means of negotiation. So now you get a lot of requests for training, education, a lot of in-depth transformation.

Pipeline: That sounds like it dovetails into the next point, about translating foresight and insight into marketing productivity.

AM: Well, now we go more internally. I think the user data is more strategic now. Think of things like segmentation. Historically, as you know, that data has resided in two camps that didn’t really communicate with each other. One is the data-driven camp – data analysis, data mining, things you can use to derive measurement around usage, cost, revenue and all that. Those are more techie people. In the other camp you have the market research people, who say that you don’t just want to know what people do, but why. You wan to get at the attitude, the passion, the need for why they buy. The people who work in those two areas are very different, and building a bridge between those two areas is a big challenge. But there’s an even greater challenge to integrate it into one common view. The leading-edge marketers really understand those two worlds and keep a balance between the two.

Pipeline: The final point is about driving performance objectives. How does the marketer go about that?

AM: Frankly, the issue is to reorganize the organization not so much by channels, as had been the case, but more and more by customer segments. At the end of the day, all the other areas can be translated into a means to an end. It sounds very trivial, but in an engineering company or technology firm, good luck trying to tell the CEO or the founder that they’re focused on the second stage of acquiring the customers they want.  What happens is not losing the product focus, but putting it at the service of a need. Your No. 1 responsibility is to understand those needs and stay on top of them, and the product is a secondary requirement. Having that mindset change is critical.

Comment: pipeline@itbusiness.ca

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