If you didn't know this already, "classic" CRM (the one without the cocaine or Splenda) had three pillars - sales, marketing and customer service. These were (and are) the three most "customer-facing" of functions that a company did so they were the natural elements of CRM back in the early days of this millennium. Also, in what is actually an ironic turn, when CRM courses were included at universities they tended to be taught by marketing professors or were part of the marketing department.
So, clearly, marketing and CRM were tied inextricably at the hip in multiple ways. Plus of course, marketing is the way that the corporate message was sent out etc.
Yet, if you look at the traditional CRM offerings for either standalone marketing applications or marketing solutions that are included as parts of suites, the only thing I think at least is "eh." Nothing special. Typically, in fact, when CRM is discussed, the two areas that are given respect are sales and customer service. Marketing is the CRM operational afterthought.
But think about this. Remember what The Cluetrain Manifesto said when it came out in 2001 (You don't? What is WRONG with you?)? To wit:
- Markets are conversations.
- Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch....are no longer speaking to anyone
- Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company
- Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady but the breakup is inevitable --and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed
- Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in conversations going on behind the corporate firewall
- We want access to your corporate plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the four color brochure, for websites chock-a-block with eye candy, lacking any substance
In other words, marketing itself is perhaps the most affected segment of any given company because the marketing models have changed so dramatically as the customers have seized control of the high ground. Marketing is undergoing a transformation that changes it from an organization that is responsible for first, generating leads, and second, positioning the company accordingly, to an organization whose model is to be the first line of engagement and conversation with the customer and to be able to provide the company with what they need for deeper customer insights that will in turn provide better engagement and conversation models.
Yet, when it comes to CRM, which is most often associated with the more traditional marketing models, even the classic operational tools that the marketing pieces of CRM provide are either non-existent or inadequate. For example, if I ask you do tell me what are the things you associate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, what is it? Sales and support, correct? Salesforce.com? Sales primarily. Oracle/Siebel - support a.k.a. call center. You get the picture. They all have marketing components but that marketing piece is hardly top of mind.
If you go out into the marketplace and look at the standalones, there is only one "demand generation" package that I think is truly good. That would be Eloqua. As a marketing (EMM) solution, I think Quaero.
Beyond that, nothing that I think is all that good. (If there are vendors who think me wrong....bring it on and prove it).
Think about this.
The major tool that is always boasted about when it comes to marketing is what?
But, if you think that The Cluetrain Manifesto has any legs - and there is lots of evidence to say it does - why would campaign management become top of mind as the key marketing application when customer engagement and first line for conversation is the new marketing mission? It shouldn't be.
What's A Vendor Talking To A CMO To Do?
Tell you what. Here's what I think that needs to be done, CRM vendors. Given the incredibly powerful connection that CRM and marketing have - including loyalty, advocacy, feedback and given the new models that are now necessary with the customer in control, it behooves you to BELIEVE (AMEN, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!) that the new models are for real - and that marketing should engage customers on the front line in conversation and spend serious time figuring out what these customers, prospects, leads, whathaveyou, are actually thinking. Then vendors and buddies of mine, either build or buy the tools that you need for your CRM suite that are conversational and collaborative, not operational. That means incorporate tools that allow your customers and prospects to participate in the company's plans and discussions and provide them with the information they need to make intelligent decisions.
Those tools are the enterprise level social networks, the blogs, wikis, podcasting tools that they would need and you would need. The tools that can analyze feedback from the social networks and user communities, the tools that allow for user generated content in multiple ways.
Then, vendors, emphasize that you're providing the customers (and suppliers, vendors and partners) with what they need to participate in conversation with the company - not just the tools to manage the campaigns that the customers no longer believe. Don't get rid of campaign management capabilities. Just don't make them any sort of differentiator. They aren't and in fact, might even be a negative for you.
Do you all get this? Yes? No? Not sure?
Engage me in a conversation and we can work it out. I'm sure we can.