Thursday, October 28, 2010

My CRM is Anti-Social

Oh, how I loved my Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software program 5+ years ago. As our marketing efforts expanded, contacts were added and our lead management processes were smooth.  The majority of our inquiries came from traditional marketing like print advertising, direct mail, and tradeshows.  Then these contacts made their way back on to a targeted direct mail or email list, so we could tell our prospects about our products and hopefully earn their trust and turn them into customers. It was pretty simple.

Today, my CRM (an outdated version of
Goldmine) needs a drastic makeover. Our needs are nothing like they were five years ago. It reminds me of a similar feeling I had when I finally let go of my old PDA.  Yes, I thought I was so tech-savvy for that short time.  But soon I realized I still was carrying around a cell phone, camera, video camera, and my PDA.  Today it is all integrated into our phones!

Like my PDA of yesterday, my CRM software may soon be dead if it does not evolve. I need a way to integrate our conversations with customers who are on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin into our CRM. I need a CRM that doesn't  just have a one-way "talk" to our customers via direct mail and email, but also helps us to listen to and understand our customers via the many venues of social networking. In a sense, Facebook has become a second CRM for me, limited in some ways, and more flexible in other ways. How powerful it would be to actually be able to integrate our Facebook fans/connections as contacts in our CRM, where we could build a contact's history of touches they made on our Fan page, such as wall posts, photos, and "Likes" along with the traditional lead qualifying information.

In my research to replace or upgrade our CRM, I ran across
Nimble.  Nimble, which is in private beta stage, is being designed with social marketers in mind by Jon Ferrara, who also developed Goldmine over twenty years ago.  I talked with Jon about Nimble and even got to beta-test it.  Although it is just the foundation for a great Social CRM right now, it has the potential to be awesome.  It may be a while before the Nimble capabilities match my current needs, but for marketing companies who do most of their prospecting via web and social networking, it will be a great match.

I also ran across a few other CRM companies who are trying to be more social, such as
Microsoft Dynamics CRM with the Social Media Accelerator (which currently only integrates Twitter) and SalesForce's Chatter. Sales Force has some integration with Facebook and Twitter but seems to be mostly focused on collaboration between colleagues.  It is also interesting to note that Facebook recently chose Sales Cloud 2 by SalesForce as their CRM. It will be exciting to see how this relationship could turn into more collaboration between Facebook and SalesForce in the future.

I don't think the CRM software that I am looking for exists - yet, but I am hopeful there are other software companies out there working on it. We need to discover a strategy for managing the contacts made via both traditional marketing and social marketing to harness the value of our customer relationships.

How do you manage your prospects and customers? Have you found a CRM that works for your social networking and/or traditional marketing needs?  How do you manage the relationships that are made with your brand thru your corporate Facebook Page or Twitter account?

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals. You can reach her via Twitter @jkaufenberg.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Three proven ways to manage chaos in your work life

Some people love roller coasters; others don’t.  If you work in marketing, these days may feel just like a roller coaster – fast turns, someone screaming next to you, preparing yourself for the next set of twists and turns even as you hang on through the current one, and somewhere in the back of your mind wondering if it will ever get back to normal.  The one difference is that roller coasters are on a defined track; the life of a marketing professional is not!  

MNAMA’s annual conference this year is all about Conquering the Chaos that surrounds our professional work. 

What chaos you say?

How about the combined impact of new technology, the economy, demographics, and legislative rules that impact what we can and can’t do? And by the way, your budget just got cut again.  Basically everything is moving all at once.  As one of my colleagues says, “Only 100% of our clients struggle with driving the amount of change that is needed!” 

Three things are happening simultaneously in the field of marketing:
1.     It is expanding.  More technologies to consider, more global initiatives colliding with local ones, new entrants into the market, and an increasing diversity of people who work in this space.  You need to do more; if you are in a corporate job that usually means, “Do more with less.”
2.     It is evolving.  Just when you thought you were on top of one technology or trend, a new approach is fast on its heels. 
3.     It is accelerating.  The pace at which ideas, technology and opportunities expand and evolve is also accelerating.  Version 2.0 and 3.0 of just about everything is coming, and sooner than it might have just a few years ago.

Doesn’t it make you want to just stay in bed and pull the covers over your head? 

There is an alternative:

1.     Attend the conference.   Come for the day on November 8th at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.
2.     Network, inquire how others are experiencing chaos, discover that you are not alone and others have ideas that you can use.  There will never be a better forum for these types of conversations or to hear others talk candidly about how they handle the chaos around us.
3.     Commit to learn one new idea, one practice, one technique that you can apply quickly.  Your office will survive if you are gone for one day; they will be better off for it when you return.  You might even say that you owe it to them to attend this conference!

The conference includes speakers in both B2B and B2C domains.  See how others are successfully integrating old with new media; discover what ROI measures and research analytics really make a difference; see what the new marketing climate means for you. 

If you are going to conquer chaos in your profession and in your company, you need to have a good grasp of how the future is likely to unfold.   Keynote speakers will guide you along the way.

So don’t just keep reading, sign up already!

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy. 

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Turbo Charge Your Profits

When times get tough, Marketers often find themselves in a quandary: management insists that they target everyone -- to leave no stone unturned in seeking out the very last customer that might be willing to patronize their business.  “Drive traffic” is a frequent refrain from executives such as these.  They want volume, volume, and more volume regardless of the quality of the customers who are brought in as a result of those activities.

What’s wrong with this approach?  After all, more prospects means more revenue and more customers, doesn’t it?

The answer is yes, if all you measure is short-term revenue and traffic.  You can spend and spend, and drive in lots of customers in a short time.  But will those customers make profitable purchases when they come do in, not to mention their value over the long term?  Our work over the last ten years says clearly not. 

The problem is that all customers are not equal, and neither are all prospects.  What do I mean by that?  It is true that we are all special to our mothers, but that does not apply when valuing customers to a business. 

As consumers, we all have different relationships with different companies.  Some of us shop every month at Best Buy, some of us only once per year and some of us not at all.  That does not make us better or worse people; rather, we just have different needs that are met at different businesses.  The revenue from my Best Buy purchases might be $1800 this year, made up of a laptop and a television; my friend’s might be $20 from two DVDs.  So should Best Buy market to us the same?  Probably not. 

How much is it worth to bring in a customer like me?  If the margin on my $1800 purchases is 20%, then customers like me are worth $360 for one year’s purchase.  If I continue to purchase from Best Buy for three years, then I am worth about $1080.  If my friend purchases two DVDs then, at the same marginal profit rate, he might be worth $4 per year, or $12 over three years.

So if the value of customers like me is almost 90 times more than customers like my friend, should you market to both of us the same?  No way.

If you spend more on customers and prospects who are worth more, and spend less on customers and prospects who are likely to spend less, you will attract more of the high profit customer and less of the less profitable.  Net result – more profit for you and a promotion soon to come!

So when your executives come asking for more, give them more – more profit, more high-value customers and more ROI from your marketing programs.

Mark Price is the Managing Partner at M Squared Group, an Eden Prairie-based data driven marketing consultancy.  He also writes the blog, Cultivating Your Customers, and is  a frequent contributor to RetailWire, an online marketing think tank focused on the challenges facing retailers and e-commerce.

Mark Price is a featured speaker of the "Managing it All" B2B breakout session at this year's MN AMA Annual Conference "Conquering Chaos".

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

MN AMA Wins Chapter of Excellence Award in Leadership

The AMA Chapter Excellence Award (CEA) results are in and I couldn’t be more pleased.  When I was contacted about the MN AMA getting a special merit award for leadership, I just remember thinking, what a great honor to be recognized with this achievement among 76 other chapters throughout North America.  

Although the award itself is pretty impressive, what stands out more for me is the support over the past year of my fellow board of directors, members, sponsors and volunteers – and for that, I humbly thank you.  It has truly been amazing to work with so many outstanding people and towards such great goals, and this is only the beginning. 

We have big plans for the future, as this recognition only intensifies the responsibility we feel, not only to the nearly 600 MN AMA members, but to the marketing community as a whole in Minnesota. We’re working to provide even better programming and networking opportunities for members and guests to elevate the prestige and credibility of the marketing profession in this area.
Again, thank you so much for all your support that allowed us to showcase the great work and the amazing year we had in 2009-2010 that will enable the team to have another great year this year. And for anyone who is looking to volunteer their time and talents with our chapter, please see all the volunteer opportunities we have available at . 

Thanks again!

Kim Verros, MN AMA Immediate Past President 2010-2011

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Considering Company Culture

We’ve all been there before.  After answering interview questions that are designed to assess your ability to complete the job functions, the hiring manager asks something like, “What kind of management style do you prefer?” or “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?”  These questions are usually asked after the hiring manager has determined that you can do the job but is now trying to assess if you are the right person to do the job.
Every company has a culture.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines culture as: “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. During the interview process, hiring managers try to assess a candidate’s fit with their company’s culture.  They want to know how you will get along with others, how you will express your emotions, and if your personal beliefs align with those of the company.  Some companies rely on situational questions to assess fit, while others require candidates to take various assessments (paper/pencil or online) to help gauge how their style and personality will fit within their company.   
But “fit” is a two-way street, isn’t it?  As you complete the interview process, you are making observations of your own.  Whether or not you consciously look for signs of a company’s culture, you pick up on things and get a sense of what it would be like to work there.  For example:  Is the atmosphere hectic or relaxed?  What is the dress code?  Does there seem to be lots of social interaction or is everyone working quietly?  Is the office area open or closed off?  Is the gender distribution skewed toward men, women, or is it equal?  How culturally diverse are the employees?  Does the average age of the employees seem to be younger or older?  What are the hours of operation?
Sometimes it is hard to articulate exactly what we are looking for in regards to company culture.  Often times, we leave an interview either loving the company or feeling that something just wasn’t right.  Some say that if we are to spend 40+ hours per week at work, it's important to feel like you fit in with your company’s culture.  Others say that with the economy as it is, considering company culture isn’t an option and we just have to be thankful that we received an offer in the first place.
What do you think?
·    How important is a company’s culture to you in your job search?  Does the condition of the economy affect your likelihood of considering company culture when contemplating accepting a job offer?
·    Which aspects of a company’s culture are most important to you?  Least important?
·    What do you look for during the interview process that might be good indicators of a company’s culture?

Barrie Berquist is a Retail Analyst on the ConAgra Foods Team at Acosta Sales and Marketing.  She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager.  She can be reached at  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST.  

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How To Get The Most From Your Professional Association Membership

Like many people in marketing, you may belong to one or more professional associations. These groups strive to provide benefits through a variety of initiatives and can be great resources for keeping up in your industry and gaining a competitive edge. But are you getting the most possible value from your membership dues? Here are some simple tips for taking advantage of all your association has to offer.

1) Join an association that’s appropriate for your needs
If you’re shopping around, start by choosing an association that’s best suited to your interests and professional development goals. Think about your industry, marketing specialty, and what you’d like to gain from your membership. Are you looking for broad knowledge or a narrow focus? The wealth of local organizations includes associations covering all aspects of marketing and communications, those focused on advertising, interactive marketing, direct marketing, or public relations, and even associations dedicated to specific industries like health care or law.

2) Attend events
Most local associations offer a full calendar of programs on a range of topics sure to appeal to any interest—from branding to research to social media. Many events are included in the cost of membership and offer a mix of networking and education. Events are held in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening at locations through the Twin Cities, accommodating almost any schedule. As Ben Wallace, MIMA Membership Director notes, “The mix of face-to-face discussions, program content, food and the live event dynamics are worth trying to slot the time into your schedule.” Can’t make it to an event? Not to worry, many events feature Twitter posts and live video or post-event materials such as slide decks, photo galleries, Podcasts, and videos.

3) Connect on social media
In addition to face-to-face opportunities for engagement, many professional marketing associations also have a presence on a variety of social media channels. Join your association’s LinkedIn Group, Like them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and start following them on Twitter. Contribute to insightful discussions, check out upcoming events, and get advice from chapter leaders. Or browse around to see who else is a member and reach out to those who might have something to share.

4) Volunteer
Current volunteers will tell you that this is one of the best ways to get extra value from your chapter membership. Meet talented professionals, grow your networking connections, build your skill-set, or even land a new job. MN AMA volunteer Laura Kalies shares, “Volunteering provided new opportunities to build relationships with more marketing professionals. I met a partner at Sight Marketing through my SIG Healthcare & Market Research Committee—a connection that eventually led to the opportunity to accept a position!” Plus, some organizations offer discounted event passes and other perks to their most dedicated volunteers.

5) Utilize member resources
Sign up for complimentary e-newsletters, print publications, Webcasts, and Podcasts to keep up on industry trends and happenings, look over job postings and career tips, and learn about upcoming events. Some associations also offer free online resources like articles and white papers, or member directories searchable by company, speciality, or industry. Amanda Broman, MWMC Marketing Chair, offers this suggestion: “Take advantage of the member perks like the MWMC member directory and Member-to-Member newsletter, where you can learn more about other members and who would be a great person to connect with at events.”

These are just a few ideas and examples to get you started. Reach out to your association’s membership team to learn how you can maximize your involvement!

How have you found value in your professional memberships? Share your thoughts and success stories here.

Jen Hanson works in Marketing Communications at a medical device company. She also volunteers with MN AMA as a Communications Manager and Online Community Manager on the Membership and Social Media committees. Jen can be reached at

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