Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blog #3

In this blog, I will be covering one of my favorite topics and most relevant tools to be successful in the real world of business: Customer Relationship Management. Although this tool takes many forms, many view it as a simple program, system, or way of recording preferences. In reality, it is more like a comprehensive business strategy if it is implemented correctly and can have immeasurable benefits. CRM has many purposes and methods to reach its goals and helps considerably in building, maintaining, and improving any business. In today’s business world, relationships can be the greatest asset for an organization, although at times they can become a major liability. This makes the importance and real-life application of CRM even more important and can mean the difference between record profits or losses and success or failure.

As cited in our text, Business 2.0 calls relationship capital the most important asset a firm can have (“Relationships Rule,” 2000). In the business environment of today, I could not agree more with this statement more. In this world, the customer is in charge of the market and is now empowered to buy or not to buy, as well as communicate negatively or positively more than ever before. With the importance of feedback so much higher in today’s digital age, all organizations must provide for their customers like never before: it is now love them or lose them, along with the thousands they tell. It is overwhelming how much of a difference customer satisfaction can have for an organization which has made building and harvesting these relationships the single most important part of facilitating and ensuring future business success.

While suppliers used to simply throw out a marketing effort or good and see if some consumers would take the bait, successful marketers and businesses of today must make very calculated attempts at their targeted customer base and focus more than ever on satisfying their needs to the fullest. In the past, CRM used to mean a chalkboard of regular customers and perhaps some index cards with some information jotted down on them. However, technology has made it possible for CRM and data management systems to take a whole new form. There are now advanced software packages available that have transformed the way organizations focus on and capitalize on their greatest asset: their valued and loyal customers. One of the greatest challenges organizations of today face is the ever- changing market, which has required them to focus on what serves the customers of today and the future best, not what served them best in the past. However, as the market does change, it has been crucial to stay focused on their target market, as they are the ones with greatest buying power and brand loyalty.

Successful organizations have also realized that it is more important than ever to maintain and build upon their existing customer base and have finally recognized the value of a lifetime customer. For nearly any company, the majority of their profits come from repeat customers who are loyal to the brand. Although this is a good attribute, it also means the consumer will come to expect more and very consistent experiences each and every time. In order for these moments of success in service to occur, it is crucial to focus on their goal of meeting and exceeding their every expectation in order for them to keep coming back for more. To fulfill this perceived value, this is where the effective CRM strategies come into play.

CRM has been noted to take three primary approaches, each engineered to meet a different goal. These include sales force automation (utilized primarily in B2B efforts), marketing automation, and customer service. One organization that has implemented a truly state of the art customer service oriented CRM database is the Ritz-Carlton hotel company, which they refer to as "Mystique." I was introduced to this system in reading “The New Gold Standard,” written by Dr. Joseph A. Michelli. He introduces the reader to the many processes of CRM that this successful hotel has utilized in their resorts, which includes a variety of individualized personal attributes for the hotel staff to be informed of. By using this system, the company has found that the lifetime value of their customer has increased to over 1 million dollars (Michelli 117). It was very interesting to see the real-life application of this kind of technology, as well as the drastic benefits they have seen.

CRM has many different and lasting benefits but primarily include profitability, revenue, retention, growth, loyalty, goodwill, targeting, and most importantly, wallet share. The most important aspect of CRM is to focus on the customer base you have to get the most sales out of each customer. In this situation, the organization, their marketing efforts, and every employee down the line targets the customer on an individualized, long-term basis. By doing so, the value of that customer is stretched to the fullest and results in a greater level of profitability for the firm. On this same aspect, the customer also gains because they have all of their needs met to the fullest, including their unrequested ones if the CRM is truly working.

Although I have introduced some of the endless benefits of CRM and the ways it exists in today’s business world, the most fundamental and crucial aspect is the relationship. This is the single part of doing business that can determine if that customer base can be tuned into a lifetime customer by refining the opportunities that exist on an individual level. However, the most important and frequently overlooked aspect of CRM is the fact that all alone, the data is only a bunch of information that will not be generated into any value to the company. And if it is used, this resource should be used to allow the organization to leverage their knowledge in turning actual profits from their understanding of the relationship, the individual, and the ways to improve it.

Works Cited
Michelli, J., (2008). The New Gold Standard. New York: McGraw-Hill.
“Relationships Rule” (2000). Business 2.0 (May), pp. 303-319.
Strauss, Judy and Raymond Frost. E-Marketing. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 2008.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blog 2

In this blog I will be addressing the importance of building an effective E-Marketing plan, as well as detailing the seven step plan. This plan acts as a comprehensive guide in formulating the strategy for E-Marketing, as well as the most effective way to implement and control all relevant marketing activities. Making this plan is crucial for any organization in the highly digital business environment of today. Although objectives are often similar with those of more traditional marketing plans, such as driving sales, the internet has posed a much more unique environment. As addressed in the previous blog, the E-World is growing at an endless rate with customers demanding immediate responsiveness. In the internet world, this requires companies to react faster than they have in the past and can single-handedly cause their failure. However, marketers can leverage and utilize their knowledge of technology and the new ways of doing business to reach their objectives and fulfill e-marketing strategies even more effectively and efficiently. The book presents the following steps in the Seven-Step E-Marketing Plan, which is a very comprehensive plan and allows the organization one more opportunity for meeting their objectives.

Situation analysis
This step brings together many different information resources, including all those in the environment inside and outside the organization, including customers, suppliers, business environment, and other variables. This can be done by using the SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to evaluate the changing tastes of consumers, an ever-changing marketplace and business trends amidst technological advancements, changes amongst the competition, and various other steps in environmental scanning. The environment can pose legal, technological, and market-related factors that are relevant to all decision makers in the business world. The company should also look over the current marketing plan and do internal investigation to find more information about their company to give light to strengths to capitalize on or weaknesses to overcome. According to MyClicks LLC, a provider of B2B SEO solutions, “The first step towards preparing a successful e-marketing strategy is conducting a thorough analysis of the current situation and recent industry trends” (MyClicks LLC, Press Release). I cannot agree with this statement more and without the scanning completed and done correctly, all the other parts of the plan are irrelevant and will lead to misguided results. Once this scanning has been completed, the relevant decision makers can look over objectives, strategies, and performance metrics to eventually formulate into quantifiable objectives.

E-Marketing strategic planning
Once the previously completed environmental scanning is done, the organization will complete their strategic plan to establish a clear vision. The fit between their objectives, skills, and resources with the market opportunities will be measured. This will contribute greatly to the creation of e-marketing objectives that can be met by capitalizing on these discovered opportunities. These help to formulate the tier 1 Strategies for the plan and include segmentation, targeting, differentiation, and positioning. Many forms of analysis are completed at this time and include the market opportunity analysis, demand and supply analysis, and segment analysis.

The previously formulated strategies lead to the measurable objectives which are goals that the organization is pursuing. These objectives are based on task, measurable quantity, and time frame. These specifications are crucial in the E-World where results are expected to be instantaneous, extremely effective, and reached as quickly as possible. Most interactive plans incorporate many objectives, but one of the most important parts is that they are measurable. This sets a benchmark that can be used to gauge performance and can be changed from year to year to focus on what is most important or what is their greatest opportunity. The typical e-business focuses on ROI for nearly all their investments and allows it to guide nearly all their decisions in measuring objectives.

E-Marketing strategy
Product, Price, Place, and Promotion are incorporated in this tier of the strategy for E-Marketing. This tier pulls together the customer and partner relationship management strategies to fulfill the previously selected objectives, but leaves the ability to modify them as needed. The strategies for fulfilling the offer, value, distribution, communication, and relationship management are created based on the 4 P’s and the extreme importance of the customer as an end user or partner. One very important resource in this time is to utilize an objective—strategy matrix. These help to link goals and strategies and aid in the implementation of new strategies by discovering what the focus should be placed on, as well as how to reach the goal most effectively.

Implementation plan
This section is where the creative side to marketing really comes into play, as well as the importance of the previous steps in the plan. Without the previous steps being properly created, the implementation part would be a very trivial task. However, if the steps have been done well, especially the fourth, it should be relatively easy to engineer the methods for reaching the objectives. This can be done by leveraging the knowledge of the marketing mix and the relationship management tactics to reach their goals effectively and efficiently.

This portion of the plan can be a bit tricky, but with the right processes in place an appropriate budget can be put into place. This consists of forecasting revenues and evaluating costs to reach goals. As highlighted in our E-Marketing book by Strauss and Frost, as well as our lectures, the cost to reach ratio is much lower than using any other form of media to reach the target market. ROI is introduced yet again to guide the decisions among the whole process of the planning, implementation, and control, and allows the most return from any investment. With advancements that allow companies and decision makers on every level to monitor choices so well, efforts are immediately determined worthwhile or not and the plans can therefore be altered as necessary before it is too late. One tool I was introduced to was the analytics tool for a webpage, which measures many variables and would guide a marketing manager on a wide perspective of how the site and business overall is doing, as well as target efforts more effectively.
Evaluation plan
This may very well be the most important part of the plan, for it measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the plan, as well as determines if it was worth the effort. Thee metrics that were determined earlier are put up against actual performance and continue to be evaluated. This process is seemingly never-ending, and is crucial to the success of the plan for the future. The objectives aid marketers in determining what should be measured and how, but again the ROI is a leading factor. The organization could not reasonably justify having the cost placed into the marketing department if no result is gained.

Works Cited

Overall E-Marketing Concept and Implementation by My Clicks. Carson City, NV, March 13, 2008. Accessed from May 30, 2009 at

Strauss, Judy and Raymond Frost. E-Marketing. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 2008.