With more businesses cutting overhead costs, filing for bankruptcy, and going out of business, it’s clear that few are immune to the effects of the current recession. And yet a difficult economy is no excuse for simply doing more of the same and hoping for the best. (See our February 2009 edition, The Recession Issue, for why that’s a terrible long-term competitive strategy.) To survive—and emerge as a stronger force—companies that are experiencing sizeable disruptions to existing business models must not only do their best to maximize profitability, but also to innovate.
Even typically stable sectors, such as higher education, are forced to pursue innovation—a truism borne out by this month’s cover story, “Making the Grade” (page 22), by Assistant Editor Christopher Musico. The story outlines some recent admissions challenges faced by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. While the school is highly regarded, it’s not as well known as some of its peers. To help level the playing field, the administrators turned to CRM technology to better track and manage interactions with prospective students. As a result, the number of completed applications jumped 29 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Innovation doesn’t have to break the bank. Annenberg is one of many organizations experimenting with social media tools, and others are creatively—and relatively inexpensively—increasing exposure via search engine marketing techniques. Assistant Editor Jessica Tsai’s feature story, “Search Engineering” (page 37), has tips on optimizing your own efforts in these areas.
In a recession, an innovative organization can learn to focus on fewer projects, but ones that can meet or even exceed its expectations. This preferred strategy is one of the 10 CRM implementation tips collected in Assistant Editor Lauren McKay’s feature, “Simplementation” (page 28). “When you design the scope of a CRM implementation, you want to do as little as possible,” one consultant suggests. In other words, don’t throw too many functions at the people expected to use them—you’ll only damage adoption rates.
It’s easy to tell an organization to innovate, but some may not even know where to begin. Others may be struggling to elevate existing efforts. There are, however, proven ways to encourage innovative ideas. Successful innovation can emerge from the right environment—one that fosters effective business strategies and great ideas, and one in which professionals can learn from and network with top industry consultants and smart business leaders. For those realizing the importance of this type of environment, we’ve created the CRM Evolution conference.
Attendees of CRM Evolution (August 24–26, in New York) will hear firsthand about innovative strategies that cut costs, increase revenue, and improve customer relationships across sales, marketing, and customer service departments. We’ll have presentations from some of the most sought-after industry consultants and networking opportunities with some of the most well-respected companies (AOL, Nestlé, SmartMoney, TransUnion, and more).
As an added bonus, every full-conference registrant will receive a new BlackBerry smartphone. Additionally, these attendees will be able to set up private meetings with industry consultants—and, what’s more, will have a chance to win 40 hours of free phone consulting from Conference Chair Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, CRM columnist, and author of industry bible CRM at the Speed of Light, the fourth edition of which will be published this year.
In a challenging climate, organizations need to justify every penny they spend. That’s why we’ve made this our most valuable conference ever. For more information, or to register, visit www.CRMEvolution2009.com. As with every issue of CRM, the goal of our conference is to share innovative ideas to help improve your customer relationships and your business.
For the rest of the July 2009 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.
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