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Advancing a Marketing Program Through CRM Technology

When a company thinks about marketing, it usually focuses on the plan the marketing department will use to get the company noticed in the marketplace, helping to win new clients and stay ahead of the competition. However, these days, “marketing” is more about actually going to and sustaining a presence in the market rather than just executing tactics that will help a company gain exposure.

There are countless channels by which companies meet their customers, including the Web, a direct sales force and advertising. Effective coordination, with the use of a customer relationship management solution, is essential to creating a cohesive strategy and making sure the entire organization is “pushing” the same message when it relates to all members of the supply chain — and, of course, customers.

In fact, implementation of a comprehensive CRM solution that puts the basics in place and strengthens the entire foundation of the sales and marketing processes is essential to success in today's competitive global marketplace. CRM initiatives provide a company with the ability to maximize the effectiveness and productivity of its sales force while managing costs and increasing market share and return on investment.

Coordination. Many companies have found that to make the most of an effective marketing effort, the marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page as they deal with all channels — customers, partners and resellers. Further, the company at-large must push the same message through non-verbal means, as well. Its Web site should be coordinated with the sales pitch and marketing strategy.

The bottom line is that it will be more effective if all members of the team, including executives — in their discussions with customers and analysts and every other media portal — are talking the same talk when it comes to the marketing message.

CRM systems provide continuity throughout an organization. Phases of the marketing campaign can be assigned to various areas of the organization, including general advertising, initial and repeat sales reps' client visits and press interviews with executives. Such a plan provides for a coordinated attack. Everyone on the team understands the strategy and can participate in getting the word out in a way that sends a strong message to the outside world.

Equally as important as effectively communicating the message is measuring the effectiveness of a company's marketing efforts. Is the information reaching the appropriate people? Are sales being generated? Is the ROI worth the effort? CRM solutions tailored to a company's specific needs can assist in measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. So, in addition to tracking the cohesiveness of the sales and marketing teams' efforts to “get the message out,” the company also is able to measure those efforts in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

Closed-loop marketing. A company can have the greatest marketing strategy in the business, but without a means of measuring the results of the program — all of the effort is for naught. CRM solutions can assist a company in closing the loop on its marketing strategy. In other words, a company must do more than just put the plan in place. It must put just as much effort into measuring results that are coming back through the sales system. By doing this, the company measures exactly which sales rep saw which customer and, moreover, who bought more as a result of the sales teams' efforts.

A client of StayinFront, for example, uses the company's CRM solution to coordinate its sales, marketing and other divisions. StayinFront's sales and marketing software monitors the client's service system, and if one of its customers has more than three service events in a month an alert gets sent to a sales rep. It's a coordination of sales and service. With a system such as this in place, it's customer relationship management in every sense of the word. The customer knows that the company didn't just sell a product and run — there is follow-up that makes the customer feel valued.

Measuring the effective results of an organized sales and marketing strategy ensures top ROI. And, that's great for the finance department. However, providing the sales and marketing divisions with real information about the effectiveness of their campaigns and their efforts is only beneficial if the company is using the right CRM solution to coordinate results and make the most of them.

Making the most of marketing dollars. When a company brings together its sales, marketing and service teams with the aid of a CRM system, it does much more than organize the team internally. It actually can provide the marketing team with the ability to target its dollars much more clearly and effectively to people who actually need the company's product or service and have the intention of making a purchase.

Marketers are challenged to address two major revenue opportunities: bringing in new sales leads and creating up-sell and cross-sell opportunities in the existing client base. The challenge increases further when one considers increased competition and smaller marketing budgets. (Plus, everyone knows that during an economic downturn, marketing is often the first area to get cut.)

Again, the CRM solution is the investment that saves a company from wasting precious marketing dollars by keeping track of which customers have been reached through the marketing campaign. Additionally, it organizes and reports on important information, such as who the customers are and what they are buying. Though the marketing team is busy creating new lead generation programs, the sales team can target prospects and customers, advancing the sales cycle beyond the first call.

Without a company-wide effort, most marketing campaigns fail to reach their intended audience. The integrated approach offered by CRM solutions allows a company to not only craft and pitch a cohesive message, but also to measure the outcome of the multi-tiered effort. Crafting the appropriate marketing campaign and reaching the targeted audience is essential for all growth-oriented companies. After all, if you aren't staying ahead of the competition, you're falling behind.

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