Marketing’s Strait of Gibraltar

There are 200 straits around the world, but only a few are known as major choke points for world trade. A choke point is strategic because it can be closed or blocked to stop sea traffic. At the Strait of Gibraltar, where Spain reaches for Morocco, only eight miles separate Africa from Europe. It’s a strategic location that links the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. When the world’s economy depended on merchant ships, command of Gibraltar meant influence over future revenue and profitability by controlling the flow of goods to customers throughout Europe and Asia.

Is your enterprise a marketing-ready Strait of Gibraltar? Can your organization choke off competition and satisfy customers while generating profits that are the envy of Wall Street? Recent surveys suggest today’s CEOs expect that of their chief marketing officers. Gibraltar is a unique gift of nature, and its control required superior strategy and strength.

A marketing-ready enterprise (MRE) is focused on its marketing strategy, and execution of that strategy, to create a sustainable competitive advantage. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as: “An organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

The MRE delivers on this definition through technology that lets it profitably align the right customer with the right product and the right message at the right time. It creates the desired customer experience through deep understanding of the customer. And it delivers this customer-centric experience in a way that creates value for both the customer and the organization.

To enable profitable customer-centricity, the MRE creates a holistic approach to the marketing discipline by focusing on the development and evolution of four areas: planning, targeting, acting and learning.

Planning. This starts with a sound marketing infrastructure having a technology and analytics platform that runs throughout the organization, tying every silo of information together to form a complete picture of the customer. Customer transactional data from back-office accounting systems and front-office CRM systems must be linked with financial data so calculating individual customer profitability reflects the total value of the relationship. These efforts should align your marketing strategy with your corporate strategy to ensure that you support your corporate mission and goals.

Targeting. Targeting starts with knowing your customer. Marketers are realizing that their target markets are not stationary. They become moving targets as needs and preferences change during the customer life cycle. Customers seek information from a broader range of sources than ever before, and in the process they filter out messages that don’t resonate or speak to their specific needs and values. Targeting provides resonance by consistently identifying and developing the right offer for the right customer at the right time.

Acting. The MRE can create the path from marketing initiative to net profit. It does this by understanding the relationship between marketing and sales. Acting starts with campaign execution and optimization. It involves the ability to provide the desired customer experience consistently.

Learning. Learning encompasses the processes and technology for gathering, tracking and reviewing performance metrics. For all aspects of these efforts, measuring, monitoring performance, reporting and learning from the results are critical to achieving and maintaining success.

As difficult as they are to build, marketing-ready enterprises can offer a sustainable competitive advantage and choke-point-like payoff. The results of an American Marketing Association, SAS and Aberdeen study found that two-thirds of companies categorized as best in class for marketing readiness enjoy greater than 15 percent annual improvement in return on marketing investment as well as increases in gross annual revenue and customer retention rates.

In addition, marketing-ready companies are three times more likely to report a 50 percent return on marketing investment than their counterparts. Best-in-class companies understand the relationships their best customers want, so they can choke off competition through greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

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