Better CRM begins with education

Euro RSCG Discover’s Raj thinks DM could benefit from more experience in CRM

Q: You’ve been in this industry for more than 20 years — how did you start?

A: I started my career in 1984, in India. The interesting thing about starting there is we actually did not have the fragmented marketing services model there like we do here. What we had was marketing agen­cies, where clients would come and say, “Here is my business problem, how do I solve it?” which is how people here did it in the ’60s and ’70s. My first job in the US was at Wunderman Cato Johnson — now Wunderman — and then I transitioned back to general advertising. I always bounced around between that, consulting and direct/database/digital marketing.

Q: Euro RSCG Discovery is the CRM/loyalty arm of Euro RSCG. Would you say this particular type of direct marketing has become more popular?

A: I think CRM has definitely been something we are talking more to clients about and what clients want to do more of. With the cost of acquiring new cus­tomers continuing to escalate, what most companies and marketers are realizing is they already have people who are buying their product. If they could just get them to do it more, they could actually make their numbers, and it’s easy because they know who their customers are and know what they are doing.

Q: What are some of the challenges in CRM today?

A: The interesting challenge is you don’t have enough marketers with the experience to actually do it right. If you look at all se­nior marketing people today, they’ve been trained by people who grew up in the last marketing paradigm, which was all driven around acquisition. Then, the core objec­tives were to create awareness and change perception. Nobody really taught them the skills you need once you get the customer in. There’s a scarcity of good, trained talent that knows how to do retention and loyalty marketing. They just don’t know what you do to retain those customers and how you do marketing to make the relationship deeper and more relevant.

Q: How can the direct marketing commu­nity change that reality going forward?

A: One thing we’ve done in the Chicago market is we refined the DM program at DePauw University so we not only teach DM as in acquisition through mail and stuff like that, but also how you can use insight and data to build robust retention marketing programs. There’s a need for formal education programs to catch up and teach people that. In addition, com­panies need to find ways of bringing in specialists to coach them. The other thing to do is read. People need to be reading to stay ahead of things.

Q: How much is new technology affecting your business strategy?

A: We view technology as a means to an end. To me, the Web 2.0 part is to leverage our assets as we build CRM programs because customers like to talk to other customers and learn from their experiences versus being dictated to by a marketer. Technology is enabling what we are talking about because in the digital environment every action is something I can see and understand and leverage. That behavior is tracked, and that allows us to help customers have better experi­ences with the brand.

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