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I have just spent the best part of a train journey into London, catching up on my industry magazines which have been piling up.
I have to tell you I am seriously pissed off. The dreaded CRM again. Unfortunately, the magazines seem to be obsessed with it. It's all over the place. The lunatics are running the asylum.
But, I can't help thinking it's our own fault …and I'm as much to blame as anyone.
For the last 20 years, I have been suggesting, to all that might have been kind enough to listen, that building a relationship with your customer, is a mentality that is absolutely vital to the long term success of your company's marketing activity.
Sorry, but it's all bollocks…
All those thousands of hours in client meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops in far flung corners of the world and, of course, endless presentations and discussions and, it appears, I have been wasting my time˘
It is a classic case, of course, of that was then, this is now. It was completely correct to go down the relationship road many years ago. A lot of us old direct marketing liggers have been preaching the gospel for many years before the dm bandwagon got rolling.
However, things have changed significantly in the last few years. In all areas of marketing. In relationship and loyalty marketing, that change has been dramatic and things have turned on their head, especially in the last 24 months or so˘
There's a very simple reason why:
The customer is now very firmly in control. What more, the customer is fully aware of this fact. And, that customer does not want to have a relationship with you and your company. Not now, not ever˘
It's ironic really. It's been the devil's own job in the last two decades to get blinkered marketers to accept that it is infinitely more profitable to service an existing customer than it is to find a new one and have this marketing commandment underpin their strategy.
Now , ten years later, when customers are getting promiscuous, marketers want to go steady. The dreaded CRM is all over us like a rash.
Well, it is my humble opinion that it will all end up with tears before bedtime.
Relationships within marketing circles are fine. Makes the world go round. But relationships between companies and individuals are now pie in the sky.
They will not happen today. Not a chance. And here's some very simple reasons why˘
They haven't got a snowball's chance in hell of embracing CRM in its purest form. All they will do is spend a lot of money going nowhere fast. What has to happen now, is to get back to basics. Recognise what the customer wants. And give it to them.
Not give them what you think they need, because they'll sling it back in your face.
Customers out there are now very smart. They are fully aware of their power. They realise that a relationship will benefit the company first and them second. And, they are, quite rightly, having none of it.
They, like all of us, like to buy , they do not like to be sold
As all enlightened marketers will know, people buy benefits not features. They are not the slightest bit interested in your history, your mission statement, your products and all the rest of the crap that you feel are important. They are only interested in what your products can do for them.
This is now a massive point, but one that seems to be forgotten or ignored by most marketers. That's why there is so much mind-numbing garbage about, especially on TV.
It would pay some of these misguided souls to first realise the basics of the selling process:
People only buy for 2 reasons. Only 2…
1. Solutions To Problems 2. Good Feelings
Give your customers either of the above as a reason to purchase from you and you will do well. They will place business with you and continue to do so. To find out what they want is easy. Ask them. If you talk to them in the right way, reward them for the information, they will give you masses of it.
These days, it is becoming very clear that a return to the basic principles of marketing is the correct approach to commercial success. Here is a simplistic approach that will deliver much more business to your company than CRM programmes ever will and keep you valued customers happy into the bargain.
Simplistic? Sure. But proven over the years. This formula works and will continue to work. Mess with it at your peril.
Forget about trying to develop a relationship. Your customer does not want one with you. And probably never will.
An affair on the other hand, might have its attractions- as long as both parties are discreet and respect each other.
However, whether you like it or not, you will have to face the fact that the affair will strictly be on their terms, not yours.