Monday, 18 April 2011

An Undergrad's InterDepartMental Adventure: What is SCRM and is it Worth it?

Apologies for the tardiness of this somewhat less ranty blog, but the pulls of dissertation, coursework and cricket tour could not be resisted until now.  Anyway, to the originally intended topic of this now 2-part entry:  What exactly is SCRM and is it worth it?

Also known as CRM 2.0, this relatively new area is created through the effective merging of Social and CRM areas.  Whilst organisations have typically been satisfied with the mutually exclusive existence of the two departments, the rapidly increasing importance of Social mean it's becoming a vital component for any effective campaign.  That said, only 14% of organisations currently believe Social to be adequately integrated into their marketing strategies.  Therefore,  in order to properly learn and act on the data and meaningful interactions with consumers that Social allows, greater credence must be given to Social, and a proactivity must be undertaken in merging the two disciplines.

Favouring behavioural and social data over that of transactional, SCRM uses consumer "conversations" to formulate better engagement with consumers, in recognising the value of influences and HVCs.
Whilst normally a social presence is placed somewhat cumbersomely via Twitter, Youtube and Facebook pages, SCRM utilises the data gained from social interactions to better place these as part of a wider, full consumer engagement strategy.

This "listening" approach enables marketers to better create individual relationships with consumers.  Whilst any campaign will inevitably miss some targets, properly reactive consumer "listening" can acknowledge the 80 - 20 rule and be used to engage the right consumers .  This has for example been excellently enacted by Gatorade, in transforming their call centre into a live interactive social hub.  Being able to monitor social sites live, and feed back to those that can act, they are able to not only make any campaign more fluid and personal, but are able to have a constantly "switched on" approach.  Whilst an effort and cost, this move from periodic campaigns to a constant 365 day approach has the ability to build better brand reputation through building personal relationships with consumers, better generate buzz from valuable social site "influencers" - those that not only like a page but actively generate to the conversation, and keep the brand front of mind of the brand's target audience.

All this said, it must be borne in mind that results need to be achieved.  Whilst it has been suggested (and maintained) that success of SCRM relies upon a proper interdepartmental integration, with the future of the discipline near certain to become an integral department of any organisation SCRM must still be examined on a business level.
Whilst setting the right metrics on which to measure the success of SCRM are naturally key to it's success, through such measures as:  Analytics, Engagement metrics, Branding metrics and ultimately Business metrics.  Through this, SCRM's effectiveness can be calculated, assessed for improvement, and simply and clearly presented to clients.

Overall, though still in it's infancy, in the rapidly progressing Social environment SCRM is a dramatic improvement from CRM 1.0.  The focus it has on the "conversation" allows businesses to better understand what consumers desire from the brand, and more quickly and accurately deliver those expectations on an individual level. Though an entirely "switched on" approach may possibly be more suitable for clients with fewer budgetary constraints, SCRM can to a reasonable extent be employed by most if not all who wish to take advantage of it.  With Social here to stay, the clear benefits of effective SCRM mean that if your business doesn't look to take advantage of it of soon, your clients will definitely be asking why?

N.B.  The information presented above is predominantly as interpreted from the first lecture of the IDM Seminar "2 + 2 = 5:  The Role Of Social and CRM", presented by Nick Broomfield and Julian Measey of The Customer Framework.  To view the seminar click here.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

An Undergrad's InterDepartMental Adventure: The Future of "Standing Out" (Part 1)

Feeling a recent lack of media in my life, upon stumbling upon this IDM's "2+2=5:  Social and CRM" event clearly not aimed at people in my career position, I thought "what the hell, why not?"  Though tickets being £24 with a train ticket of £13 was slightly unfriendly to my student budget, it was an absolute synch when compared to the gross that similar media events often cost, and a deemed worthwhile investment for my future career in marketing.

Upon booking my ticket I was sent a request asking for a picture, 25 words on what my business was and my website for their directory.  Of these requested items I had only one to offer, and being a Law undergraduate I'm sure you can guess which one. 
As the train gathered speed out of Brighton station, dressed in my as per request "business attire" I started to wonder if my intended career-proactivity was in fact a foolish venture destined to leave me floundering out of my depth?  Whilst I had known that this seminar wasn't intended for media novices such as myself, I don't think I really realised the high likelihood that the content of the seminar would sail far too high over my head for me to even vaguely grasp at it's content.  That said, having read up a bit on the topic, there was nothing more I could do, so as my dad would say (and perhaps act upon a little too often) "the worst that can happen is you'll make a complete **** out of your self in front of strangers you don't care about and are likely to never see again".

Reaching the check-in desk at the Holiday Inn, I picked up my name badge and directory from the standard super-friendly  receptionist, chuckling at the fact that I was in the small minority of people that didn't have the title of "Director" next to their name. 
Taking my seat, complete with fancy clipboard and complementary note paper, I took note of the marketing bigwigs that surrounded me.  In spite of my bambi-esque presence at the IDM event attracting a few sideways glances, actually being in the room I found myself pleasantly unfazed by the situation, and realised that that all my worrying was for nothing. 

The first thing I remembered, is that all these big scary media bosses are just people.  Whilst a seemingly obvious statement and one that's often repeated, it's something that's so easy to forget when stood next to someone with that much more power and influence than you.  Just remember, (most) people aren't rude, and wont bite your head off when you talk to them.  More than that, these people have an enormous wealth of knowledge to share and learn from, else they wouldn't have gained that "Director" title in the first place.
Secondly,  I realised that even if I didn't grasp some of the presentation, so what?  At least I'm giving it a go.  I was trying to learn something new, which can't do anything but help in my aim to be a great marketer, and not just any old Job Bloggs. 

Further to this, considering that any agency employee/career advisor etc now all harp on about "making yourself stand out", anyone serious about acquiring any sort of marketing career is taking that advice and going that extra mile.  Whilst the industry will undoubtedly benefit from an even higher callibre of grads to chose from, it's meaning that you now have to be ever more inventive and creative to show your commitment to the cause, and prove your worth to potential employers. 
As such, it is suggested that seminars and events such as these could well be the next common venture for the undergrad.  Nowadays, unless you've scaled a mountain with three broken legs or built an entire African town from love, Gap years are becoming increasingly unimpressive, and are nothing more than a stock paragraph on the CV.  Indeed barring a committee position, extra-curricular activities too seem standard, and volunteer work is not the coop that it once was.  If anything, the majority of people that this writer has spoken to now undertake voluntary work not out of kindness per se, but in an effort to present themselves as the well rounded individuals employers seek.  

So how do you now make yourself stand out?  Well it looks to this writer as though the answer lies in commitment.  People now likely to change career 4 or 5 times in their life, companies don't want those that are merely trying a job out, they want great people that are in it for the long haul.  They want the ones that don't just see themselves climbing to the top, but the ones that already know the mountain before even starting the journey.  The key to this?  Knowledge.  Most people that attend an interview will have looked at a company, their work and it's clients, but the ones that will get that all elusive job are those that can show they understand it, that they know they "why" and the "how".  That's why it's believed that lectures and seminars such those that I've attended are the future of the undergrad.  This further learning holds the key to being able to show a commitment to the industry, a lust for personal improvement and a drive for success. 

The conclusion of this unplanned rant?  Well it would appear that if you want a career in marketing (or indeed any area), it's no longer about going the extra mile, but going the extra marathon - and not necessarily by the marked route.    
Furthermore, don't be afraid of doing it.  Go to the lectures, ask questions, go for that social drink with the manager, and most importantly; never say "no".  Though perhaps tedious at times, the knowledge and networking skills that comes from these is what will get you that job in today's tough climate.  Whilst this marathon effort may mean that when the race is over you'll be exhausted, but at least you'll have made it over the finish line.

(part 2 to include the content and analysis of the seminar)

Miles Jupp: Fibber in the Heat

                         Miles Jupp in Fibber In The Heat

Whilst a Uni Cricket Team social was prevented by a stereotypically late effort to get tickets, Jeff, MBK, Mo and I happily crowded round a tiny table in an intimate little room never before explored in the bowels of Brighton's Komedia.  Why?  To witness Miles Jupp's most recent solo show, Fibber in the Heat.

Gently embarking upon his whimsical tale, the pompous yet endearing actor/comedian tells of his amusing journey from Balamory's Archie to fraudulent Cricket reporter.  Cashing in on some tenuous contacts, he manages to blag his way onto the England's 2006 tour of India.  Whilst more story than stand-up, Jupp eloquently captures the audience as he smoothly dictates the comical throws involved in his position amidst England's journalistic squad.

Eventually managing to gain the all elusive "press pass", he speaks of both his longing for acceptance amongst the hostile journalistic clique that surround him, and of his constant fear of discovery.  Whilst befriending his childhood heroes-come-commentators leads to a dramatic elevation of social status that ensures his place amongst the pride, he finds that his long sought acceptance isn't as sweet tasting as hoped. Finding the journalistic lifestyle somewhat clinical and solitary, he concludes that his place is amongst the throngs of caterwauling fans, and not in the quite confines of the passion sapping, overly sunny press box.

Overall, Miles Jupp's novel tale is a transfixing affair, and whilst told in a vastly different fashion to his more renowned stand-up, the gentle comedy provides the audience with a fantastic feeling of contentedness that is certain to leave any person with a smile on their face.