Those responsible for business growth may be putting themselves at a disadvantage by not applying this same attention and care to relationships with prospects--before they become customers.
Posted Oct 11, 2004
Sales and marketing departments are under increasing pressure to produce stellar results while creating cost and process efficiencies. That pressure, along with a desire to successfully cultivate and retain business, has fed the demand for a multitude of CRM solutions.
However, those responsible for business growth may be putting themselves at a disadvantage by not applying this same attention and care to relationships with prospects--before they become customers.
Few sales and marketing heads have access to a comprehensive look at their customer acquisition process - from a prospect's initial interest through a sale or through a lost opportunity.
The Missing Piece--Customer Acquisition Management
What's missing is the means to examine and manage marketplace response in its entirety. And, that important activity takes place before a prospect becomes a customer and enters the CRM system. That, in essence, is customer acquisition management (CAM), a comprehensive approach to relationships with prospects.
Think of CAM as a total solution that encompasses the entire front end of the lead-to-customer lifecycle. CAM manages the acquisition of customers, while CRM addresses the ongoing customer experience. CAM complements and enhances CRM.
For some very successful companies customer acquisition strategies actually dictate where they spend their promotional dollars. Watkins Manufacturing, for example, makes Hot Spring portable spas, and markets its products largely via direct-response television, which generates substantial leads for its national network of independent dealers. Watkins uses sophisticated, hosted customer acquisition and lead-management services to find the right places to advertise.
"We found the advertising we were doing on MSNBC was not yielding results and was not bringing in people who were tending to buy our product," says Susan Strible, dealer programs manager at Watkins. "Conversely, our spots on the National Geographic cable channel were generating significantly more leads and more people who tended to buy our spas." The result--dollars being spent on MSNBC were moved to the National Geographic channel.
Watkins uses a hosted CAM solution supported by professional services, including lead management, on-demand printing, fulfillment and inbound/outbound telemarketing services, warehousing, and analytical services to improve its sales-to-leads ratio. Watkins can access information on its prospects 24/7 through a Web site. The program has allowed the firm to get much more from its marketing budget. Leads generated by sales and marketing efforts are captured by Watkins' CAM partner, and are automatically qualified, ranked, and routed to the spa company's dealers across the United States via the Web.
"I can tell you that the president of our company is personally interested in this program," Strible says. "It gets a lot of attention across the executive team here. The program helps us build brand awareness--it helps us meet those goals of tracking our advertising efforts and increasing brand awareness among our target consumers."
Outsourcing your customer acquisition management to a hosted service provider that offers a variety of strong support services delivers a competitive advantage and a complete solution to your customer acquisition process.
About the Author
Justin Saylor is director of marketing for The AdTrack Corporation, responsible for marketing communications and product marketing. His 15-year marketing career includes experience as director of marketing and communications roles at McLeodUSA and companies in the electric utility and industrial water treatment industries. Immediately prior to joining AdTrack Saylor owned a corporate recruiting firm that specialized in recruiting high-level sales and marketing executives in the enterprise software and professional services arenas. He holds a BA and an MBA from the University of Iowa.
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