Getting Marketing Resource Management Right: Advice For Marketers, From Marketers

As a whole, marketers have been making steady progress toward reinventing our methods to support  the hyper-connected digital universe in which our customers live and breathe.  However,  as marketers, a lot of us are still planning marketing efforts using sneaker patrol and the spreadsheet network.  Tell me, aren’t you tired of it?  Why does getting a marketing program out there take more effort than it should?  It should be easy – or at least easier, no?

Late last year, my Allstate client, Erik Didriksen (@erik_d) and I set out to figure out how an organization can get Marketing Resource Management (MRM) right.  We wanted to ask questions from people who had been there.  We wanted to review the secondary research.  We wanted to paint a better picture of success.  We also wrote about what we found that contributed to successful MRM launches.

To do so, we talked to 8 companies who had already implemented some flavor of MRM, spent time with Forrester and Gartner reports, used our own experience in half a dozen or more installs and dealt with our own demons as we lived through the process together.

In the paper, we offer 7 imperatives to get right.  The ones marked with stars are the ones I think are mission critical.

  • The Business Imperative ***
  • The People Imperative
  • The Adoption Imperative ***
  • The Support Imperative ***
  • The Time Imperative
  • The In House Imperative
  • The Initiation Imperative
It is available on the Covalent Marketing website in both eBook and PDF.    Erik and I extend our thanks to our companies for their support.  We also acknowledge our editor (you know who you are) and our designer, Eric Peiracci of  -c-

Retail perspective – IBM IBV Retail and IBV CRM, April 20, 2010

I was recently invited by Jim Kowalski and  Matt Vigneri of Oracle to speak at a small dinner gathering on the current state of the market.  While most of our conversation took place under the cone of silence so we could have a really honest dialogue, I did want to share them (link to slides for those interested).  Here are the key points before you make that download decision

The current situation can be summed up across three forces
The conversation leads the relationship: It can be exclusive or inclusive. But it must be real, active and personal
The device as complete multi-channel navigation system: a store locator, price arbitrageur, communications device,  record keeper, budget tracker and opinion obtainer.  In the palm of your hand.
The moment is the experience: The thrill of perfect fitting pants or a 3/8” wrench that fits just as well.  The coupon perfectly timed.  The delight of a surprise bonus.  What people want right now.

There is also a link to the retail study on page 3. I would be most interested in people’s reaction to viewing the shopping experience across the two dimensions of content and function, as in this slide:
Please leave feedback, start a dialogue, say you hate it all – something that lets me know how you’re thinking about it.  Thanks -c-
CJGW, Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz

Strategic service – its for everyone, not just customer service

Digitally savvy customers are increasingly using the Internet not only to seek information, but also to interact with companies, create solutions and make decisions. Smarter companies are using an emerging concept we call Strategic Service Delivery to enable customers to use data and resources more
effectively to drive better customer engagement and experiences.

Creating a seamless, engaging and successful customer experience is not an easy task, given the number of places a customer can choose to find information or express his or her opinion. The overarching priority for service professionals is to design the customer experience based on what the customer
wants to do, achieve, find or solve. Nearly half of our survey respondents indicate they are challenged in this regard. On most occasions, the needs of
customers can be anticipated and flawlessly delivered. However when the processes break down, the customer experience is compromised. Respondents identified the Web as the channel most in need of change (34 percent), followed by field sales and service (29 percent). Less than 20 percent identified retail stores, branches or contact centers as needing substantial change.

Thus, the challenge is to explore new ground that will enable a better customer experience design. To do so will require understanding what defines the customer experience and, subsequently, building mechanisms for enhancement.

The paper is chock full of examples – my favorite, Chase Banking (yes!  A Bank!  I really said that!) was released too late the make the paper, but is still worth checking out.  However, we also discuss – in the spirit of the season – Turbo Tax, who does a really fabulous job with what could be an awfully boring product.  And Best Buy is always pushing the bundaries.

We also add a section on IVR design (they made me, I swear, but it worked out really well thanks to Dan Fulwiler, fellow IBMer’s great work).  So please have a read.  The link is on the left – as are all the path forward studies, but you can also get it by clicking here.

Enjoy, and please leave me some feedback.  It’s not fun to do this without you and your great opinions.  -c-

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz



Top 50 Websites in the world – wordle and snapshot October 18 2009

In keeping with our series of posts and visuals on the top 50 websites (see prior versions for August and June), here is the October picture, created this afternoon in Korea while I work from an ugly tiny hotel room in Suwon.  So, there are only a few change-ups in the top 50.  Facebook and Yahoo swapped places.  As did Baidu and Yahoo Japan.  Same for Twitter and Google Germany. breaks into the top 50, and the BBC remains the only true news outlet in the top 50 – way to go BBC! exits the 50 (it fell one spot – ah the agony of it!)  and one adult site swaps in for another near the bottom of the 50 – still and all, it goes to show that our priorities as an internet user population are thankfully elsewhere.  As always, the data comes from, which they compile daily.

also available at
also available at

And the round up for companies I think are interesting and where they finished this month:

Apple, Adobe and ESPN are 58, 60 and 59.  CNET was 70.  Mashable – 443 (I think I will start the campaign to move mashable up – it needs more love for the fantastic info it provides).  Google Russia – 76 – that is an AMAZING number.  Zynga, which is social gaming, was 61.  This is interesting because we obviously prefer social gaming to news – where the New York Times came in at 98, the Guardian UK at 248.  At least they both beat Reuters – at 250.  The weather from was 112.

Samsung was 735, Sony at 1243, Nokia at 2398 and Panasonic at 3029…

And on the social side, J-date was 6,947 th, against at 406 and Plenty of Fish at 339.  The people of massive profiles, eHarmony, found themselves at 1,236.

The Banks…with the exception of behemoth Bank of America – at 198, most were into the 1000’s except  ICICI Bank of India was squarely in 610.  But Deutschebank 1066, Commonwealth Bank (Australia) 1405 and Isbank at 2558.  Rabobank was 2019.   (As a B-of-A customer, there is nothing about their online approach that makes them unique different or engaging…it’s volumetrics there.  It would be nice if they did offer more, God only knows they could. )

So, net net – even with a global financial crisis still going on, what do we see:  people want to connect to people and finding stuff  (as in Googling) is more important than the news.  Details on things like the latest big screen TV are more important than the real-world news, which is more important than dating.   Finally, after having a date, you want to check your bank balance…

…the next time we do this, it will be the holidays…and we will be focused on retailers…

take care.  share the love with your comments.

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz


Extract from the upcoming whitepaper: The Path Forward

So, I received printed versions of the first of the five whitepapers in our 2009 CRM Leadership Study, The Path Forward:  New Models for Customer Focused Leadership.  I am really excited about it.

The first paper is what we have termed the Umbrella – the one that introduces you to all the concepts so that we can deep dive on respective topics in the subsequent four, which all launch on November 11, God willing.  At least now that we have the approach settled upon and the tenor and demeanour, things can move more quickly.

I left you with a flavor for what was in the study last time.  So let me pick up there.

As businesses take the first tentative steps forward after the recent global economic pressures, it is time for marketing, sales and service executives to confront the undeniable market forces exposed by the downturn. Consumers are fundamentally changed, the world is increasingly digital and business models are challenged to be viable. As CRM professionals seek to develop new paths forward, they must quickly focus on developing customer insight and digital channels leadership that will allow them to transform customer experience, open new markets and reduce organizational complexity.

As we said when I started this dialogue a few weeks ago, The Path Forward reveals that 80 percent of global CRM leaders believe they are prepared to handle the demands of the current economic environment.  And while there is a lingering doubt about the economy, most expect recovery to begin no later than mid-to-late 2010.  However, this desire to continue our worries about the economy will likely to impact business decisions and results for the foreseeable future.
The depth of the recession and the likely-to-linger residual effects leave behind significant questions about the viability of old ways of doing business. For example, are the tried and true business models – those that created the economic boom of the early part of this decade – still valid? If you read the last post, you know the answer is No, the old business approaches will not resolve the problems of today and tomorrow.  They do not reflect the way consumers want to engage with businesses.  Businesses also find themselves challenged to have the data when and in the format they need to create strategic insights that drive real growth.

Our observation across multiple industries and geographies shows new market forces that are emerging will likely drive a major transformation of business models and customer engagement functions over the next few years. Customer interactions will have to be reshaped to address the changing dynamics of how people make purchasing decisions and engage with companies.  They won’t be buying products – they will be selecting among solutions that work, which CONTAIN a product.  If you are still selling products, you may just find your revenue growth constrained.

At the forefront of change is the digital information explosion.  Consider, for example, that more data will be created in 2009 than in the past 5,000 years combined.  This lovely blog post from Andreas Weigend former chief scientist from Amazon makes the point eloquently.  It’s not about just search – it’s about context.  And with the world’s four billion cell phones, two billion Internet users, thirty-three billion RFID tags and many billions of transistors adding data
to the stream minute by minute, the information clutter is not going to abate anytime soon.  It’s going to get worse.  And companies are trapped in the middle of that – mostly without a differentiator in sight (or on site for that matter.)

It’s not just the consumer who is faced with too many options – companies are inundated with so much information that making sound decisions becomes exponentially more difficult.  The challenge becomes effectively mining the large mountains of data to find those bits of information and enable actions that add real customer value. Closing this gap – from insight to action across any and all channels – is the foundation of new paths to leadership. Today’s Marketing, Sales and Service leaders, regardless of industry, business model or geography must:
• Listen across a wide array of connected people and things
• Learn by collecting, connecting and reducing data into insight made faster by technology
• Engage the customer simply and directly, moving seamlessly from decision to action in the business processes that drive relevant experiences
• Harvest these interactions to continuously improve customer engagement through all channels, devices and people.

That sounds simple, right?  My colleague Steve Lavalle, in a new piece of research he is completing actually notes that organizations must take the data they collect and use it to challenge the status quo to create new opportunities, predict and prepare for the future by evaluating trade offs effectively and proactively and do something bold:  empowering employees to act.

Companies need to rapidly get good with big dirty noisy disparate data generated everywhere and by everybody.  They need to develop a greater ability to mine data, leverage analytics and create an effective communications platform.  Doing that opens the door for three categories of leaders to emerge by 2012:
• Customer Insight Leaders, who optimize myriad data, transform it into something useful and create measurable value;
• Digital Channel Leaders, who harness new methods of creating value through customer interactions and new products, services and business models in an always-on digital world;
• New Era Leaders, who incorporate the best practices of each.

Dimensions of Leaderhsip
Dimensions of Leaderhsip

Further, these three segments will be able to choose – based on the business conditions they face and the market positions they want to occupy – from among three distinct levers to increase their potential for differentiation:

Radical Cost and Complexity Reduction

Innovative Market Making

Strategic Service Delivery

Depending on the specific needs of the company, it may choose just one lever or combine elements from all three to craft a unique path forward.
Cost and Complexity Reduction entails taking costs out of business to make operations leaner, more flexible and more accessible to customers.

Innovative Market Making focuses on social business design to engage customers, partners and suppliers in creating value. It provides the opportunity – or
imperative – to cocreate solutions and products alongside customers, partners and vendors – even competitors.

Strategic Service Delivery uses all available channels to improve the customer experience. Whether the customer chooses to call the contact center, visit a retail outlet or branch, find the answer via the Web or engage through social tools such as microblogging, strategic service considers the customer’s goals
and enables customer success. It optimizes every channel to be responsive and engaging – however, whenever, wherever and why-ever the customer chooses. It also allows the customer to move seamlessly from channel to channel – for instance, moving from the Web to the contact center or to a retailer to purchase what he or she has found.

In the data-intensive, customer-friendly, digital age, leaders will be defined by how they develop and leverage insight to respond to ever-changing consumer demands. They will do this while embracing new digital communications for sales, service and marketing. Whether they focus on differentiating
themselves through Customer Insight, Digital Channels or both, they will recognize the benefits by taking quick, decisive action to pursue their path forward.

Why would you want to make the investment in doing this?  Because Leadership has its advantages according to the nearly 500 participants that we surveyed through the Economist Intelligence Unit:

The Lift of Leadership - up to 5x better performance
The Lift of Leadership - up to 5x better performance

We will dive more into this next time, as this post has gone on way too long already.  However, we hope to convince you not only that leadership has its privileges, but that you can get there…looking forward to it.


Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz


Getting over it: the economy is no longer an excuse

So, based on the 2009 IBM Institute for Business Value CRM Research, 80% of us are thinking we will survive and nearly that amount expect recovery by mid 2010.

What that means is that you cannot go into your 2010 plan still saying the market will be bad.  For one, it will mean you won’t get your fair share of the money to engage and manage customer relationships.  For another, you’ll still be accountable for results, so there’s not a win strategy in continuing to blame the bad market.  In the US, 93% of us said we could survive – so guess what?  Senior management is not going to let you off the hook, whether you are in sales, service or marketing.  And those who a CxO title were more bullish than everyone else.  No getting around it.

who isn't as important as where

Next year, as well as for the next three years, you told us you are likely to still view the economy as a concern (57%), and that capital pressures (27%) will continue.   I don’t disagree in theory.  However, where I think that leads us is fundamentally different.   Three areas take the stage for me:

1.  There are a lot of business models pushed to the breaking point.  Newspapers specifically, but media overall, travel, financial services, healthcare.

2.  Consumers have fundamentally moved on – and are now way out ahead of most of the companies they do business with in terms of sophistication and smartness

3.  Digital channels have changed the game and will continue to change the game even more, and some companies are still stuck on the “go” square of the monopoly board.

So, as you’re planning, here are some facts and thoughts for you to turn over.

No part of the organization has undergone greater change in how they work or what they do than those in charge of managing customers.  From interactions, to experiences and even products used, the rise of smarter customers has changed the work of CRM.  Smarter customers are using a myriad of technologies, almost none of which existed 10 years ago.  More than 50% didn’t even exist just five years ago.

The social universe - big bang...
The social universe - big bang...

Yet adoption of these types of technologies is accelerating faster than at any point in history.  While it took almost 10 years for the internet to cross the 100 million users threshold, Facebook crossed the 200 million users in less than 3 yearsApple reports in its first year of operating the App Store, users have downloaded one of its 65,000 offerings over 1.5 billion times.  While it takes a company 3 years  to deploy SAP, whole new business models and engaged customers can change the world in less time and with greater impact.  (Okay, so I might get in trouble for saying that, but it’s true! Remember folks, I work for IBM but this is my opinion)

Business Models in Crisis

So let’s look at those business models for a second…in the actual whitepaper we spell out 9 at risk, but for space reasons, I’ll only go for 3 here.

Airlines are grounded: Business travel declines, the rise of even greater deal hunting and the awful “stay-cation” place incredible burdens on a capital intensive industry.  Even profitable airlines like United are experiencing declines, and others have it even worse.  My employer claims to have saved $320,000 on one meeting hosted in Secondlife.

Financial Services, the New Cable Companies? Sentiment for banks continues to erode.  Only 35% of bank customers remain highly committed to their bank this year, down from37% in 2008 and 41% in 2007 according to J.D. Powers.  Given the private/public partnership that banks are operating under, and the growing dissatisfaction, banks face extreme challenges.  However, this NYT quote just seems to say it all for me: 

“…banks never seem to tire of dipping a little deeper into your wallet…they are keeping most fees at record highs, and eking out slight increases on others like overdraft charges”
Can making money by penalizing your customers really be a viable model?

Newspapers:  The Fourth Estate Sale, With nearly a 30% drop in 2008 on top of 16.5% drop in 2007, newspapers aren’t just at risk, they are asking for government bailouts.  At the end of January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy approved a 600mm Euro package of measures to save the beleaguered French press

But the best case for Business Model Innovation I saw came courtesy of with this on Nichepapers, describing potential new models.

So, my friends, it’s everywhere.  And while it was exacerbated by the crisis, some of this was prevalent before.

The Smarter Consumer

Aside from my colleague Susan Duncan’s simply fabulous work as to what is going on in the mind of financial services consumers, my favorite sources over at Pew Research gave us some interesting datapoints as well.  Making the case that the Luxury Goods market is way off (which you could do just as well by checking out,,, etc) or the fabulous  We actually created a study graphic to support this:

And then there is the Economist offering this:   there are good reasons to think that what promises to be the worst downturn since the Depression will spark a profound shift in shoppers’ psychology.

Digital Channels:  The New Game

So, you’ve gotten this far, and I know you believe in Digital Channels, I will keep this part of the program brief.

A few things that I have seen that change the game:  Best Buy offering Twelpforce – this is Amazing. I know some people are concerned, but the model is a perfect response.

The Royal Opera House in London tries to create an opera through Twitter I sent in my thoughts…wonder if they made the final version.

Kia brings us Go Hamster Go on Facebook.  New tech, engaging approach and the customer doesn’t even see herself gaining brand affinity

Evian rewrites the rulebooks – and their website with Skating Babies

Air New Zealand creates a campaign so different they decide to redo their safety video to echo it – and 4mm people drop into watch it.

Reviews, and comedic talent make an item the number one seller in its category on Amazon.

Progressive does what seems near impossible, makes Auto Insurance somewhat less painful to purchase.  They also include what was out of range.

Cadbury designs an advert so weird, Brit TV host Lily Allen pokes fun at it.

So, it’s time to move on – and get ourselves on the path forward.  Don’t be afraid to check the review mirror, it’s okay.  But, as one of my favorite videos puts it, the only way is up

Let me know what you think.   -c-

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz


Don’t Yield on Customer Trust – a new case-study and whitepaper

Link to whitepaper

Link to Wall Street Journal Article

Hi all, after working on a number of things all at once, apparently they are starting to all bubble up at once.  To whit, a whitepaper produced earlier this year on creating a Customer Focused Enterprise –  in Healthcare of all places – is finally coming available.   Obviously the public debate is significant around what will happen in Healthcare.  Regardless of its outcomes, all participants in delivering healthcare will need to get more customer – or even patient focused.    The whole notion of little to bad care will change in a system where the customer has more input.  This will mean companies will need to change.

And while the paper chronicles the journey of one company – CIGNA – it contains direct and interesting examples any company can use today.  Whether creating a customer manifesto or a customer experience war-room that CSRs create and walkthrough, we all can learn from their foundational work.  Steve LaValle, Brian Morris and team worked with CIGNA’s Customer Customer Experience Officer to help create a platform for change and then begin engaging people in believing it was necessary, but also possible.   From their Customer Pledge to their new enrollment kit, you can see change made real.  The have begun a journey.  Many others will follow.


For some, the new economic environment raises questions of survival. For others, it will be an opportunity.  The economic downturn requires rational, fact-based approaches that balance near-term economics with long-term competitive positioning in order to enable customer focus for the road ahead.

The interactions between a customer and a company have lasting effects on both revenue and profitability. They also represent operational costs in the current fiscal period. Ultimately, companies that preserve their customer focus during tough times are likely to advance beyond their competitors as the markets recover. The best strategies are win-win relationships that result in value and satisfaction for customers, and profits for the company.

In this 2009 view, we update the principles we introduced in our 2006 “Customer Focused Enterprise” perspective.  We still believe that leading companies need to build strong bases of loyal, profitable
customers who are also advocates for the companies.  Customer focused organizations apply three strategic prescriptions to every customer interaction:
1. Delight customers when it makes sense (and cents) … is it a moment of truth?
2. Fix where the company fails on its promise … is it a point of pain?
3. Right size delivery when the interaction isn’t important to the customer … is it relevant?

Today, customer reference points have shifted because of the stress and uncertainty of the current economic climate. Smart organizations are not simply reapplying prevailing views of what is important to customers, but also are understanding the current customer mindset.

Through the paper we focus on how to use customer insight to define challenges, target opportunities and pursue meaningful, embraceable change. We use a case study to illustrate how one company undertook steps to become more customer focused – and continues on its journey today in among the most challenging industries out there right now:  Healthcare.  We look forward to discussing it with you. -c-

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz