Kickstarting your Social CRM Initiative: 5 Fundamentals and 5 Immediate Opportunities

Let’s “do” this Social CRM thing. Ready…. Go!!!!!

You’re right. It’s not that easy. It’s not a panacea, and like all of it’s predecessors (Contact Management, SFA, CRM, etc.), there will be absolutely no benefit unless you understand what you are doing, why, and how you’ll measure success.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse. But, for the purpose of this conversation, please allow me to briefly frame the rest of this post.

Social CRM is about aligning the organization’s value chain around the helping the customer perform their jobs. It’s a response to the emergent Social Customer. It’s a response to a fundamental shift in communication norms in society, and therefore the business landscape as well.

If you want more depth, explanation, debate, guides, case studies, and other references, please take a look at The Ultimate Social CRM Resource Guide

The purpose of this post is not to add 3 more weeks of commentary, case studies, and research onto your already full plate. It’s to help provide a succinct set of helpful guidelines to assist you as you move to actually implement change in your organization. You’ve got what you need (and if you don’t, I can help you get up to speed quickly). It’s time to get started.

We’re now a couple of years into the conversation and the term Social CRM in now firmly embedded into the mind and vocabulary of the Marketing, PR, and Customer Service illuminati.

But, how to actually start “implementing Social CRM” (if there is such a thing) still appears elusive. And it should be.

Done right, Social CRM forces organizations to align traditionally alien groups: Marketing and Sales, PR and Customer Service, Customers and C-Suite Execs. Messaging and branding have to be more closely aligned with reality, or the marketplace congregation can shout B.S. in the “Global Town Square”. It forces companies to play by new rules where the balance of informational leverage has shifted to the customer.

Most debates, discussions, and rants have most people falling into one of two camps regarding Social CRM:

(1) The fundamentals of business and CRM haven’t changed – OR -
(2) The emergence of Social CRM offer fantastic new opportunities for profitable arbitrage

My contention is that both are right. Success lies at the intersection of the two, appropriately weighted according to the landscape of your organizational culture and goals.

The purpose of any business is and will continue to be to maximize value creation and dissemination for its stakeholders. Social technologies have enabled the age old requirements of listening, analyzing, and responding to customer signals and communications to be more fluid and dynamic. The fundamental principals of value creation aren’t new – however several of the methods are.

As you begin your journey towards embracing and responding to the social customer, you’ll be well served by keeping the following fundamentals in mind:

Social CRM: The 5 Fundamentals

(1) Understand who your customers are, what they value, who they interact with. Segmentation plays a key role here.
(2) Find and engage with them in the context of their preferred communication channel(s)
(3) Communicate with them in a way that is relevant and helpful in assisting them to achieve their goals
(4) Present and/or create / co-create products or services that help them accomplish (or do better) the jobs they are trying to do
(5) And finally, deepen the relationship over time by doing the same thing over and over again

These are the fundamentals of business and the core of a customer focused strategy. Nothing with the term Social in front of it changes any of this.

However, here are 5 ways your organization can leverage social technologies to accomplish the 5 fundamentals:

Social CRM: 5 Opportunities to capitalize on now

(1) Use Social Analytics and Social Network Analysis to better understand your customers and prospects (aggregate Demographic, Psychographic, and Socialgraphic data)
(2) Use Listening and Monitoring Tools to extend reach beyond where and how you’ve been able to listen and engage before (Add social as an additional interaction channel)
(3) Capitalize on first mover advantage by communicating in new and/or more relevant ways with your customers (align your business with emergent social technology and culture, and beat your competitors to the party)
(4) Utilize Internal Collaboration (Enterprise 2.0) and/or Community Platforms to streamline communications and/or product and service development functions
(5) Increase engagement with existing customers on new channels in a way for the world to watch and observe (Be everywhere your customers are – and enable them to share what they love (or don’t love) about you to their network(s)

Now, let’s “do” this Social CRM thing. Ready…. Go!!!!!

The Evolution of Customer Acquisition at CRM Evolution #CRMe10

Last week, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the CRM Evolution Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis. It was a great couple of days. Big hats off to Paul Greenberg, David Myron, the rest of the team at Information Today, and the unsung heroes that race around behind the scenes to pull off an event such as this.

Instead of providing my own analysis, check out the fantastic write ups from Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky, Chris Bucholtz, Andrew Boyd, Denis Pombriant, and Marcio Saito for more coverage of the event and mark your calendars to attend next years event which promises to be even better.

The Accidental Community was well represented by Mike Fauscette, Brent Leary, Jesus Hoyos, Prem Kumar Aparanji, Mitch Lieberman, Esteban Kolsky, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, and Michael Krigsman.

On Tuesday morning, I spoke on “Evolving Customer Acquisition for the Social Business”. By show of hands in the room, probably 2/3 of the attendees stated that they were marketing folks, followed by some sales people, senior execs, and a couple of customer service people.

I started off telling the story of Hazel Bishop, and how because of the ability of her company’s ad firm, they were able to harness the rapid widespread adoption of the television to transform a struggling $50,000 a year company to a high flying $10,000,000 a year company in less than 3 years. That triggered a surprising response from one unnamed woman from the lively crowd which set a great tone for rest of the presentation. There was some compelling question and answer after the presentation related to trust and privacy and what it meant to be social in this era. It was a fascinating and unexpected conversation which elicited some strong and insightful opinions from the audience.

During the presentation, I highlighted four examples of companies that are doing innovative and interesting things in attracting new customers, and are being rewarded for their efforts.

The Old Spice Man
The Pepsi Refresh Project
Eloqua
HubSpot

There are too many people to thank for making it a great event for me personally and professionally. A very heartfelt thank you to those of you who attended my session, and especially to those who live tweeted. To those I was able to meet and talk with throughout the conference, I look forward to continuing the dialogue. Please feel free to view and download my presentation below. Just please attribute the work if you publish and use it according to the Creative Commons license attached.

Social Business: May I try and simplify this?

Business is about creating value, and reaping a return from that creation.

People (and/or groups of people) are responsible for:

(1) Evaluating value offerings
(2) Making decisions to exchange value with other people (and/or groups of people) for equal or greater value

Social media is a digital representation of people; their thoughts, their likes, their opinions, their emotions, their friends, their location.

Social networks are where digital expressions of people interact.

The kaleidescope of digital human interaction (people) has simply become richer.

Applying business thought and practice fundamentals to the emerging landscape of interaction and data just makes sense.

Thanks. I just needed to get that off my chest. Now we can get back to sorting out all the details.

The Ultimate Social CRM Resource Guide – 1st Edition

Yesterday morning at Gartner’s CRM conference, it was said that Social CRM will be a $1 Billion market by 2011. (That’s right around the corner folks).

All of a sudden, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace about Social CRM. In a sure sign that Social CRM is racing towards the mainstream, Chris Brogan even recently named Social CRM as one of the three hottest trends to look for in 2010.

Below are the best resources to get you up to speed on Social CRM as quickly as possible, and capture first mover advantage in your market niche.

Number One:
Start Here: The Author of the “CRM Bible”, Paul Greenberg, recently authored what will soon be known as the “Social CRM Bible” in his 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. Spending $20 and a bit of time in this treasure will go a long way towards helping your organization embrace the opportunities emerging now and in the future.


CRM at the Speed of Light - 4th Edition

Want to know who Paul reads and listens to? Check out his recent blog post on “Social CRM: The Conversation” on ZDNet – “Following on More than Friday: The Ones who teach me”

Number Two:
This one is a must read and there is plenty to chew on and ponder how these changes will effect your business. Graham Hill’s – A Manifesto for Social Business outlines 15 key mega-themes of changes happening to the corporate landscape and how businesses must evolve. Take note. This is almost too much insight for just one blog post and triggered some great back channel discussion between many of us several months ago.

Number Three:
A great list of conversations and posts from the Social CRM Accidental Community who have been actively participating in the seminal discussions of Social CRM “industry” for the past 18+ months. This list has been largely curated by Prem Kumar Apraranji. This is a great resource list in and of itself.

Number Four:
Mitch Lieberman, Jacob Morgan, and Connie Chan did a nice job on their recent white paper, Chess Media Group’s “Guide to Understanding Social CRM”, which speaks about the evolution of CRM to Social CRM, and how corporations should look to adjust their business model(s) to engage with the Social Customer.

Guide to Understanding Social CRM

Number Five:
Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang of the Altimeter Group did a fantastic job bringing structure to a fragmented conversation and laying the framework for assessing where the market opportunities are now, and where they’ll be as we journey forward. Use this document to frame your conversations about leveraging Social CRM tools in your organization. Where will you start, and what are the greatest opportunities for your organization now and in the future?

Number Six:
Ready to start looking at vendors? Jim Berkowitz has assembled a comprehensive list of Social CRM vendors broken down by their specialty. Start your vendor research here.

Best Damn Social CRM List Ever

I have a thought or two, too!

If you are interested in reading some of my musings, click here for some of my articles on the topic of Social CRM

Join the Social CRM conversation


Want to join the real time conversation as it happens?

Here are a few ways to participate:

1. On Twitter

Follow the #scrm hashtag.

Looking for a list of people to follow on Twitter? Here are a few places to look.

2. Social CRM Pioneers Group
Get involved in the Social CRM Pioneers discussion group

3. Share your thoughts below or send me a private note

Have some other suggestions for the list? Please feel free to add them below.

Oh, and if you found value in this post, don’t forget to tell your friends!

Circles: The Real Driver behind Social Business

We were all born into a circle. At one time in human history, our circle never extended beyond our family. The circles then extended to our tribe, and then our village. Circles then extended outward. They were drawn around common languages, common religious beliefs, and then nation states. Advances in technology have helped enable the extension of these circles. Our circles now have the capability to nearly encompass the whole earth.

It’s too much.

So, we begin to draw narrower circles that are more manageable. We apply filters that help us to find those people and things that are most interesting to us, those that will help us accomplish our need. We have the ability to include other people in the circles we have created or joined.

This process is innate. We did it in school growing up. We do it in our neighborhoods. We do it professionally.

We join or create a circle called an organization. Within that circle are many other circles. The one around your physical location. The one around your department. The one around those that you call work friends.

Advances in technology enable us to draw more circles, more often. Circles that transcend traditional boundaries. The ability to draw more creative circles has evolved with the mass adoption of phone, email, and the internet.

Social technologies have allowed us unmatched freedom to create these circles. The biggest circle now encompasses the whole planet. We know increasingly more about existing circles (communities, groups, customers, organizations, and the individuals within those circles).

It is becoming easier to build a circle around a single purpose.

There has been increasing debate and discussion about Social Business, Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 and the definitions of each.

The truth is that the change happening around us is simply about rapidly creating circles around a need.

There is someone out there right now that is trying to do something. They need your help. Social technologies have afforded us the ability to find, listen, and engage with them. You have the ability to quickly create a circle of folks who can work together to help them solve their problem. If that person with a need is “outside of your organization”, and your circle can provide something of value in exchange for currency, we call them a customer.

If you are able to do this over and over, circles containing multiple customers are created. They can, in turn, create their own circle or circles. They can tell stories about your circle to other circles they belong to. Some might label this process Social CRM.

If the same scenario happens behind the veil of corporate walls, we label this collaboration. We call it Enterprise 2.0. The ultimate value exchange might look a little different as currency might not be exchanged. But we’ve done the same thing. We’ve created a circle of collaboration to solve a problem – a purpose. The only difference is that the focus of goal was to solve a need within our existing circle.

The dynamics of these circles aren’t new. Humans have organized in this fashion for eons.

Here’s what is new, and is rapidly changing the fabric of society and business:

  • We can now create circles with unlimited amounts of people in them
  • We know increasingly more about these circles because of the data we are collecting, and the analytical capabilities we have
  • Any conversation within one circle can be shared with an unlimited number of circles
  • Circles are increasingly dynamic – they can be drawn, erased, and/or reconfigured almost instantaneously

Could all the complexity of this world really be wrapped up in… Circles?

Three New Required Roles for your company: (#3) Media Mogul

Longer ago than I’d like to mention, I started a series called “Three New Required Roles for your company”. As the business landscape changes, shifts in business models and design require new roles and adjustments to traditional thinking. New opportunities emerge, and businesses who understand the greater trends can profit from seizing these gaps in market awareness and efficiencies.

In the first first two posts of this series, I advocated incorporating two new roles into your organization. These were:

(1) The CIA Operative, which highlighted the importance of listening to what folks are saying about your company, your products and services and other key topics that are relevant to what your organization is interested in.

(2) The Social Anthropologist, which highlighted a rapidly growing requirement for a skill set that has previously been relegated to studies of remote people groups, but now has potential ground breaking applications for forward looking organizations. Know your customers (and their network).

If you haven’t read those, or you need to refresh your memory, please (re)read those at your convenience, as I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback, criticism (or praise).

Now, let’s take a look at the third and final critical role necessary for you to compete in the new business landscape: Your company’s very own Media Mogul.

I’m not talking about a web designer. I’m not talking about the Director of Marketing who comes up with good campaign ideas and glossy slicks to hand out at trade shows. I’m not talking about Press Releases.

I’m literally asking you to think about figureheads like Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Forbes, Ted Turner, etc. Get those people in your mind. Imagine them working for your company. Think about how they’d corral attention in your business domain. Keep them there and let that image frame this conversation. We’ll come back to those folks later.

Oprah

Ted Turner

Ted Turner

There are at least 5 reasons why we need to consider this strategic hire:

(1) Time is the most elusive resource for all of us. We increasingly only seek media that we want and need. Filters play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Your customers, prospects, partners, influencers, and vendors in the same boat. If you’re not providing something that they want or need, it’s not getting through.

(2) EVERYONE (including you and I) now has access to content creation tools AND significant media distribution channels. More and more individuals and organizations are hopping into the pool everyday.

(3) Traditional company centric messaging is increasingly ignored, less effective, and more expensive

(4) The makeup of Internet content is rapidly moving:
—> AWAY from text TO rich media
—> AWAY from computer based interaction TO mobile device interaction
—> AWAY from unidirectional communication and information consumption TO multi-directional annotated sharing, conversation, and feedback

(5) Valuable Content is being syndicated at exponential reach through newly formed and evolving “Communities of Trust”.

Look at points 1 and 2. Merge them together. Time is the most elusive resource for all of us and EVERYONE has access to content creation tools AND significant media distribution channels.

There is an absolute collision happening right now. Blogs, Microblogging, Video Production, and other Interactive Media Production is now essentially open to everyone. A huge majority of new media distribution is on “free” channels. There is a rush to participate.

People who were already faced the challenge of time management, are now faced with an increasing complex dilemma of what to read, who to listen to, who to talk to, etc., and every day there are more entrants competing for our time and attention… for your customer’s and prospect’s time and attention.

In short, there is chaos. And, where there is chaos, there is opportunity.

With the inability to filter, we look for others to help us with our decisions of what media to consume. Who do we trust? People we like. People we trust. People we admire. People…like us. This is one reason why Valuable Content is being syndicated at exponential speed and reach through newly formed and evolving “Communities of Trust”.

There is a heated battle happening for attention.

Those that are able to capture it, provide something extraordinary while they have it, and enable those that engage to share with their trusted circle have a huge advantage. Once you gain pole position, you have a great chance to stay there. (Hat tip to Tom Foremski at Every Company is a Media Company who provided this analogy and seems to have very similar thinking on this)

For a moment, let’s bring those media moguls we referenced earlier back to the forefront of this conversation. What is the common thread for each of them? There are probably dozens, but here’s a key one: They have consistently created (bought, or curated) compelling and interesting content consistently over time that attract people AND keep their attention. Many of them have also bought distribution channels so that they could control the content on each respective channel.

Who else is doing this, and what benefits have they reaped?

Wine Library

Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family’s local New Jersey liquor store into a $60 million dollar a year business by creating a daily video blog Now he’s written a book, has signed a multi-book deal, has joined the speaker circuit, and his company is growing even more as he rides the media wave.

Blendtec – a blender manufacturer

Created one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns ever and increased their retail sales by more than 700% because of it! Read the case study. Perhaps many of you can relate.

They’ve since parlayed their initial success of that “media” into the production of 96 videos capturing the attention of millions of would be customers.

In another recent stroke of genius, they leveraged the recent hype and publicity of the iPad to create this cameo appearance on YouTube, which oh, by the way, has garnered more than 6 MILLION views in just a few weeks. Here’s the video:

BluDot

Here’s another example from BluDot, a chair manufacturer who observed a community culture in SoHo of those who liked to find interesting things on the street and take them home. In response, they came up with a creative experiment, and subsequent video:

But, it doesn’t have to be video.

Read this article posted on the American Express OPEN site about how a university differentiated themselves by giving their prospective attendees (prospects) something useful that helped them achieve what they are trying to do.

The Altimeter Group recently produced a framework for Social CRM which has garnered nearly 40,000 views at the time of writing this post, which by the way, is a very good starting point if you are considering a Social CRM initiative.

You get the idea. Think along these lines. Think outside the realm of your traditional thinking. You are now a media company.

And if you want to get a glimpse of where this all is heading so you can be ahead of the curve, here’s a VERY interesting glimpse into the future of publishing:

And finally, if you’re still not convinced, check out what’s happening over at salesforce.com.

It seems that marketing and business visionary Marc Benioff also sees things the way that I do. In addition to Salesforce.com’s recent acquisitions of Jigsaw and launch of VMForce, he just hired his own Media Mogul, Steve Gillmor, away from TechCrunch.

March Madness: Timeless Business Lessons from the Greatest Coach of All Time

The Final Four tips off tomorrow to determine who will play in the NCAA Men’s National Championship Game.

Every March, 65 basketball teams are given an admission ticket for a chance to play their way into a dream – competing for a National Championship. It’s my favorite time of year. It’s a time where most dreams are never realized, and some dreams are shattered when attainment is just inches from their grasp.

Not unlike the social landscape, the NCAA Tournament (aka March Madness) is a great equalizer. It’s a place where the small guys get to face the giants and see how good they really are. It’s a place where undiscovered stars emerge under a giant spotlight to take center stage and sometimes, just sometimes, this is where magic happens. Schools like Texas Western defeat legends like Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky. Little schools like Northern Iowa conquer untouchable top ranked giants like the University of Kansas.

Fans and observers across the USA simply love the excitement and adrenaline rush of buzzer beaters, agonizing near misses, and the thrill of the “win or go home” environment. Well, at least most fans do…

This March was a little different for me. Number one, I regrettably didn’t get to watch many games. (On a positive note though, as referenced above, I did fare better in my pool than Brent.) Secondly, I suddenly found myself witnessing a different kind of “March Madness” unfold. Use of the word “Social CRM” has absolutely exploded. A relatively small conversation between a few of us a year ago is currently experiencing “hockey stick” interest and discussion.

Social CRM Search Volume

Now this growth and interest is a good thing. I firmly believe that Social CRM has the potential to reshape modern day commerce. If you’re just getting up to speed, check out a great compilation of valuable discussions curated by Prem Kumar.

But, boy have I seen the term misused, misinterpreted, and all of a sudden there is a rush of new definitions, new models, and anything related to social media is now being called Social CRM. Some are arguing that the term shouldn’t even be used, and trying to rename it to align it with their own agenda. Many posts and discussions have become misleading, misguided, and in many cases, myopically focused on the latest social tools with absolutely no real context, strategy, purpose, or value behind them.

STOP THE MADNESS!

Over the course of NCAA basketball history, there is one coach who stands far above the rest.

His all time coaching record was 885-203.
In more than 40 years as a player and a coach, he NEVER WAS ON A LOSING TEAM.
He won 10 National Championships.
He won an unbelievable 38 STRAIGHT NCAA tournament games, leading to 7 STRAIGHT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS.

His name is John Wooden.

While he applied his principles to coaching young men to play a game, he could have applied them anywhere and had a similar track record. He was (and still is) simply a remarkable leader.

For a stretch of 12 years in a row, Coach Wooden navigated the UCLA Bruins successfully through March Madness, defeating countless adversaries on their way to appearing in a championship game. During the course of his tenor, opposing coaches and players devised new schemes, new defenses, innovative offensive plays, fancy tricks, and spiced the game up with a little “razzle dazzle” for the entertainment the crowd. Wooden never lost his focus.

Ironically, he never focused on winning. He identified 12 key principles, and he pushed his players to give everything they had to try be the best they could be. He believed the results would take care of themselves.

To Wooden, winning was the result of focusing on just three things: Fundamentals, Conditioning, and Teamwork. He was and is, at the vivacious age of 99, a man of profound simplicity. To tie the 3 things to the business world, conditioning equates to simply striving to increase your competence everyday. An oft used term right now for Teamwork is “Collaboration”.

In this fast changing landscape of new toys, schemes, tools, and ideas, we can probably heed some things from Coach Wooden. I urge business leaders and those who are advising them to capitalize and leverage new opportunities brought about by emerging technologies and strategies to not lose sight of the core business fundamentals critical to their success.

For each organization, these core fundamentals will likely be slightly different. But there are many that can and should apply across the board.

What are the core business fundamentals YOU believe organizations should be focusing on today?

Please share them in the comments section. I’ve taken the initial stab with a short list below. I look forward to your additions.

  • Align your entire value delivery chain around customer needs
  • Constantly measure and improve your customer experience
  • Draw talent, customers, and partners to your organization by constantly doing something that others can’t, or won’t
  • Build loyalty (with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees) by exceeding expectations and offering an unbelievable value proposition
  • Execute: Do what you say you are going to do

And, before we go, in this rapidly emerging world where “reputation management” is becoming more and more relevant, here are some valuable parting words from Coach Wooden:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

Thanks Coach for getting us back on track.

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