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Q&A: Clive Maclean, CEO, Euro RSCG 4D Discovery

Clive Maclean, CEO of Euro RSCG 4D Discovery, speaks with DMNews senior editor Rose Gordon about where he wants to take the firm and how he advises clients to find greater ROI in the multitude of customer data now available.

Maclean, who has spent his career in direct marketing, was named CEO of the CRM, data and analytics arm of Euro RSCG 4D in June. He previously ran his own consulting firm and was North America president of The Marketing Store. He also led Kestenbaum Consulting, part of WPP’s Wunderman Network, and worked as president of FCB Direct in Chicago.

DMNews: You’ve been in the industry a long time. Today we’re so awash in data and tools for mining more data. How do you counsel clients on where to focus?

Clive Maclean: I think you make a good point that we’re not short of data but we are on insights. I walk into a client meeting and they might have Omniture, but they might as well as have stayed with Google Analytics because many of them aren’t using them to the fullest ability. They also might not have anyone from an analytics background in-house. At the end of the day, you have to ask, “What are you trying to do? What is the business about? There’s so much you can do with data. You need to focus on what are the issues that need to be solved immediately… [whether it’s] acquisition, attrition, targeting.

Then we look at what data is available and who the owners of that data are. We want a cross-function, cross-channel look at the customer from purchase behavior to direct mail data. How do we aggregate it and then start working on it. We work step-by-step.

As to the tools, different horses for different courses. Depending on the client, the speed, the complexity of the need, we try to match tools.

DMNews: What’s an element that you notice is missing from many customer relationship management plans?

Maclean: I think it is a cross-channel view of the customer for virtually every client we talk to. They have windows of information on the client but they’re not approaching it from a cross-channel perspective.

DMNews: Why aren’t companies taking a cross-channel approach to customer data? Is organization structure the barrier? Or cost? What’s the barrier?

Maclean: I think it’s a matrix of things. The access to the data makes it an issue. Secondly, the complexity of building a cross-channel model is another thing and then there’s your ability to act on it. A lot of companies are siloed by departments and it’s hard to get that perspective. The cost is far outweighed by the opportunity and results, so cost should not be a barrier. Additionally, many agencies are employed in silos too and those agencies don’t look at it from a multichannel perspective.

DMNews: The talk in many marketing circles these days is that the consumer, and ultimately, the customer is in control now. Do you agree and if so, how does this inform what you’re doing?

Maclean: I think there’s no doubt that the customer is in control. We used to use advertising and communications to be noticed but now what we want is to be talked about. One of most powerful things we can do for our clients… is to try to get ‘Rose, the customer’ to have a relationship with our brand and then you engage your network whether that is Facebook or wherever. That’s where the power starts to come in.

DMNews: Your firm just purchased Congruent Media, an online and interactive creative shop, in part for its capabilities in mobile marketing such as mobile coupons. Was that your doing and do you have plans for additional acquisitions?

Maclean: I think while it’s my doing, there were a lot of people involved in that. We don’t have an acquisition strategy, but we’re always looking for those that are the right fit, that have the right capabilities, particularly in this economy.

DMNews: Your clients include IBM, Sprint, Hyatt, Chase bank. What are your clients demanding in terms of metrics these days?

Maclean: They’re definitely demanding more, and demanding more upfront. We’re doing more homework related to cause and effect, estimated impact and response. It’s not unusual for them to say, what’s the outcome likely to be? We’re looking at attrition models, for example, that show if you invest X number in this reactivation campaign, here’s a likely result and we’re confident to 90% that will be the outcome. They’re looking for us to be smarter, to build models and predictives. The third thing they’re asking for is data in real-time, so we’re doing a lot in dashboards.

DMNews: What are your plans for the agency. How will you put your stamp on it?

Maclean: I think the focus on targeted brand engagement is something we’ve done a good job on, but I’m hoping to bring a stronger focus on how everything works together and building more of a cohesive focus on this targeted brand engagement. Beyond that, putting processes into place that help us look for more solutions for our clients. I’m definitely looking to move the needle to where we’re the preeminent agency in direct, data, digital and experiential.

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