Seth’s Blog: Three things you need if you want more customers

Another wise snippet from Seth Godin:

Three things you need if you want more customers

If you want to grow, you need new customers. And if you want new customers, you need three things:

1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach.

2. A group with a problem they want to solve using your solution.

3. A group with the desire and ability to spend money to solve that problem.

You’d be amazed at how often new businesses or new ventures have none of these. The first one is critical, because if you don’t have permission, or knowledge, or word of mouth, you’re invisible.

The Zune didn’t have #2.

A service aimed at creating videos for bestselling authors doesn’t have #1.

And a counseling service helping people cut back on Big Mac consumption doesn’t have #3.

via Seth’s Blog: Three things you need if you want more customers – Mozilla Firefox.

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Speed, Trust, and the ROI of Relationships

A great article on leveraging the internet and social networking tools to meet and collaborate with those with whom you have a natural synergy.

Our strengths, our networks, our skill sets are complimentary. As we talked we found that we’re both saturation learners. We don’t just take on a subject. If we’re going to do something, we learn it to our fingers.

We talked about how if you land on my blog and you don’t like me, you click away in seconds and I never know. It’s efficient. No hurt feelings. No social burden; no time wasted talking to me. If you stay, we’re self-sorted. If I live up to what you expect, we’ve got a relationship. If I’m consistent and helpful, I become a trusted source.

via Guest Blogger Liz Strauss: Speed, Trust, and the ROI of Relationships – Think customers: The 1to1 Blog – Mozilla Firefox.

CNN Shows the Power of Facebook

CNN Shows the Power of Facebook

Anyone who watched CNN’s coverage of the President’s speech to Congress last night witnessed something that I believe companies will more readily leverage in 2009: the power of Facebook.

For days leading up to the speech, CNN featured an area on its site asking visitors to join CNN.com Live to have the ability to update their own Facebook status directly from the CNN.com Live player during the presidential address. As a result, users could also see status updates from their friends and other Facebook users on CNN.com Live. On Facebook, the status updates for those using CNN.com Live were published in their news feed with hyperlinked tags that read “via CNN.com Live” so users’ friends on Facebook could click the tag and join the CNN.com Live/Facebook experience.

via CNN Shows the Power of Facebook – Think customers: The 1to1 Blog – Mozilla Firefox.

Customer Retention in a Recession | CRM Guru Blog

Though this article is focused on the retail vertical, the strategies should apply across industries:

With a recession in full swing, cutbacks are being made. The latest Bellwether report from the IPA revealed the biggest fall in marketing budgets for nine years. However, in an economic downturn it is even more important to spend and use marketing budgets wisely. In the current climate it is easy to think the worst but marketing departments will still have money to spend.

With consumers tightening their purse strings and seeking cheaper alternatives, one of the best ways for marketers to spend their reduced budgets is on customer retention and development, i.e. focusing on the key customers – the 10% giving you 50% of your turnover.

Read the rest of the article at:

Customer Retention in a Recession

Leveraging Technology to Beat the Recession

Below is a link to a free webinar that will highlight different ways to leverage CRM technology during tough economic times.

Businesses are being more frugal with their spending and put their money into areas that improves sales, better customer services or helps them gain operational efficiencies.

Join us to see how CRM technology is one of those critical areas that companies continue to purchase, especially during tough economic times. The right CRM system can help a company:

* Understand its customer base better

* Get more relevant data to its sales force

* Increase revenue opportunities

* Provide greater customer services

* Help marketing develop more highly-targeted and effective campaigns.

via Leveraging Technology to Beat the Recession – Inside CRM

5 Reasons Why CRM is Even More Important During a Recession

In a recession, you need to work smarter, not just harder. With CRM, your business can become more strategic — and more profitable — by applying its resources more efficiently to serving and developing customers.

via 5 Reasons Why CRM is Even More Important During a Recession – Inside CRM .

How Recession Proof is CRM?

Calling this recession an economic downturn is akin to calling an avalanche a snowfall. While the label is irrelevant, the continued hemorrhage from corporate bottom lines is bloodying us all. Businesses everywhere are rushing to stop the bleeding. The best tourniquet found so far is CRM.

“During a recession, it’s much more difficult to acquire new customers, so many companies are looking to their customer base for additional revenue opportunities,” said Steve Chipman, CEO of Lexnet Consulting Group Inc. “This means that a CRM system automatically becomes a more valuable tool for segmenting existing customers and scheduling the appropriate follow-up actions, whether those actions are phone calls, site visits, emails or a combination.”

Desperate Times Call for Smart Measures

But like most makeshift tourniquets, CRM was initially designed for a different task. It is now pushed to a new use by the urgency of disaster. In the beginning, CRM was designed to cut costs in handling customer queries and services; now companies use it to safeguard a dwindling customer base and to patch debilitating budget cuts.

“Companies are cutting staff and cutting budgets, and marketing budgets at that,” said Ashley Leckey, spokesperson for Guest Relations Marketing, an advertising and marketing agency based in Atlanta. “But wise companies understand the importance of CRM as a part of smart business practice.”

Leckey said savvy companies are finding the zealots for their brands, those that are passionate supporters. “Nurturing their relationships with these most loyal supporters will give them the advantage over those in their competitive set,” she said. “CRM is all about the relationship, and in today’s world very few people discount the value of a strong relationship.”

Looking for Trouble

Even the hardest-hit industries are finding relief in CRM. “In addition to increasing our budget investment in CRM, we are utilizing even more functionality,” said Holly Allison, vice president of marketing at Vico Software, a firm that designs software for the commercial construction market. “Particularly in the commercial building market, we need to see where the economic brick wall is. Will our pipeline dry up? Will existing orders be put on hold?”

Allison said Vico is diligently tracking each and every opportunity in terms of the value, the bookings and revenue. In Q4 of 2008, Vico increased its investment in Salesforce.com CRM by 25 percent. “We do have excellent visibility for 270 days, which brings cautious optimism to the management team and board,” she said. “But we know better than to relax. Knowing that our numbers are in place, we have the time to devote to developing new products and service offerings to have in our back pocket in case the downturn comes at us hard and fast.”

As much hope as companies find in new CRM uses, the technology can’t save everyone. “There is nothing inherent in CRM that will change a company’s experience in a recession,” said Denis Pombriant, founder of Beagle Research. “CRM is good at helping to move business processes like sales along or even accelerate them, but it has no power to create demand in a situation where demand has been destroyed by lack of credit and low cash flow.”

Cuts Hitting CRM?

Business is so bad that even salespeople are taking pink-slip hits. Might CRM soon face the chopping block as well? Not likely, according to the experts. New CRM program sales are likely to increase, especially in the SMB (small- to medium-sized business) market. Add-ons and plug-ins are likely to increase as companies seek to quickly punch up their existing CRM, but CRM vendors are likely to be pushed hard to ante up more in the way of features, functionalities and support to aid their ailing customers in the mutual quest of survival.

“The economic challenges of today will force companies to look for trusted vendors and turn them into partners, not only to help them through the current challenges, but to allow them to focus on long-term quality improvements,” said Chris Tranquill, managing director of ACS Communications and Consumer Goods. “This should free up money for companies.”

There will likely be an increased call for open-source in CRM as companies seek to integrate even more of their business into a single system at a smaller cost. In short, CRM will be in higher demand, but it will also be subjected to more stringent demands.

“During the last economic slowdown, industry growth continued despite tighter budgets in the commercial and public sectors — largely because business-process outsourcing and service offerings were valued and sought after,” said Tranquill. “Once again, there is a sense that enterprises have not only a hunger — some say even desperation — to look for ways to save money in this economy.”

Sector Trends

The recession is prompting new trends to emerge in the use of CRM. “The key trend we have been seeing is that companies are relying on automation more than ever to achieve their CRM objectives,” said Peter Grambs, vice president of the Customer Solutions Practice at Cognizant Technology Solutions. “As budgets get tighter and they try to wring every possible dollar out of current processes, many companies are constrained in terms of sales resources and see automation as a cost-effective method to improve sales performance.”

Grambs said this is particularly true within the life sciences industry, where there is a significant reduction in the number of sales resources. “Life sciences firms are leveraging CRM, using a combination of SFA, CDI/MDM and analytics to increase sales performance, and consequently, getting more output per sales person,” he said.

“In two other key industries — health care and insurance — firms are leveraging CRM to help them adjust as their business model is transforming to a more direct-to-consumer model,” added Grambs. “In the media and entertainment space, we are seeing these firms utilize CRM to enhance social-networking capabilities in order to reach out directly to their customer base.”

But one big trend is flashing across all sectors: the customer is now in total focus — at least while everything else is in a total state of flux.

“Business rules are going to be softened in favor of the customer, and options are going to increase,” said Esteban Kolsky, vice president and practice leader at eVergance. “Retention scripts are going to be improved and tested every day for efficacy and the ones that don’t work will be quickly discarded. All this requires CRM.”