Q&A: David Hohman, SVP and New York analytics practice lead, MRM Worldwide
David Hohman, SVP and New York analytics practice lead at marketing agency MRM Worldwide, discusses the recent McCann and MRM US Army account win and the future of social CRM. Hohman has held senior-level positions at Wunderman, Medco Health Solutions, Prudential Financial and PNC Bank.
Direct Marketing News (DMN): McCann with MRM recently retained the US Army account. Can you tell me a little bit about the work you'll be doing with them?
David Hohman (MRM): We're helping with recruiting. Their target, 17- to 23-year-olds, these people live online. What we've tried to do is intercept and engage these prospects where they are. One of the first things that is a barrier to enlistment is a fear of deployment. We started a program allowing prospects to write letters to soldiers in Iraq and receive video responses to those questions. First time prospects were permitted unfettered access to the soldiers. It was effective, because it was unfiltered and genuine. That's the prospect expectation and 17- to 24-year-olds are good at sniffing out spin.
DMN: Since we're talking about teenagers and their use of the internet, it seems appropriate to talk about social CRM. Where is this industry headed and do marketers have a solid understanding of the current landscape?
Hohman: Social CRM is not a new thing, it's just the evolution of traditional CRM. CRM was used by marketing, sales and service to push messaging. Social CRM has put the consumer at the center of the model. They're in charge. They decide when, where and who to engage with. What's important is that companies...figure out what they want to achieve. So many organizations don't have a vision or goal for what they want to achieve. They get in because it's cool. Unless they have specific objectives, they won't succeed.
DMN: Do you believe it can be used as a marketing tool or will social CRM be forever relegated to customer service and listening?
Hohman: I don't think you have to sit back. Creating a fan page may not be as effective as creating content that fans can share with their friends. There's a way to engage in social without actually being on that platform. The way a lot of consumers look at social is not as a marketing channel. It's just another channel to engage. It's just the newest advent of a communications channel.
DMN: How are marketers integrating digital customer data into their marketing efforts?
Hohman: There's nothing new about the use of customer data. The database market was founded on using customer data. What's changing is that marketers today have to be much more open with why they're collecting information and how they'll use it. People are not completely aware of this. The important part is providing them with a clear understanding of why and how you're collecting data. Once customers provide it willingly there's a lot you can do. You can measure performance and strategic accountability. You can measure search information, trends, research, and understand what consumers are looking at, where they're looking and how customers view your brand.
DMN: Will privacy legislation get in the way of data collection?
Hohman: If marketing organizations don't get ahead of privacy it can explode in our faces. Unless we are much more open in why we're collecting data and what we intend to do with it there will be huge consumer backlash. What we're doing at MRM is working on best practices and creating a value exchange and being transparent.