I continue to be amazed at the speed at which the marketing landscape is changing. We all see and read about new, cool technologies and capabilities being introduced on a daily basis. New buzzwords and digital capabilities dominate conversations and hype at retail conferences. As marketers, we all try to keep up with this pace and sound smart when our day-to-day jobs and marketing practices are being outpaced by industry innovation. I am impressed, more often than not, with how smart and knowledgeable our retail clients and prospects sound, and in contrast, how frankly "behind the times" their internal CRM capabilities really are. Why such a huge gap?
Merkle is recognized as a thought leader in providing clear and concise frameworks for how to think about CRM. One of my favorite corporate discussion slides addresses the need to balance operational and organizational maturity and capability maturity as a company progresses on its CRM journey. Essentially, as a company advances from lower levels of CRM maturity to what we call Level 5, where customer value is optimized through personalized, integrated programs, and campaigns, significant investments must be made correctly.
The technology investments required to enable increasing levels of personalization and marketing capability are obvious. Equally important is the transformation to organize, motivate, measure, and compensate the business strategy around the customer — true customer centricity. Overspending in capabilities — without the operational model and skills to fully leverage the technology — is an obvious waste of money. Similarly, overinvesting in people and organizational structure — without the technical capabilities to execute — is equally wasteful. In this model, companies are paying too much for talented resources who will likely get frustrated and leave and go to a company who can challenge them and allow them to develop.
I feel that most retail companies are out of balance, with the majority falling in the yellow highlighted oval in the picture above. Today’s marketers are ready to advance their companies along the CRM journey, but the company’s existing systems are holding them back.
There doesn’t need to be a gap
As the image above implies, each company may be at a different point along their CRM maturity journey. There are a ton of marketing-driven companies sitting at Levels 1 & 2, which is OK if "OK" is your company’s goal. I also realize Levels 4 & 5 are really hard to reach and may not even make sense for all companies.
Call to Action
Closing the gap between CRM capabilities and the skills and motivation of marketing resources within retail companies is the proverbial win/win/win. The customers win as they receive move value from the brands with which they engage (which is something customers are expecting more and more); the employees win in terms of improved job satisfaction and motivation; and the company wins from realizing the financial benefits of the positive ROI from the extended capability set.