• September 19, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

The Sticky Side of CRM

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. -- Like any well-crafted marketing campaign or advertisement, good ideas stick -- and the stickiness of those good ideas is the difference between most concepts' success or failure. CRM is no different, said best-selling author and consultant Dan Heath during his Day 2 keynote at the Gartner CRM Summit here yesterday. "A CRM initiative will always encounter resistance to change," Heath told attendees. "To make sure their customer-centric strategies are accepted, executives and management need to make their ideas and concepts stick." Addressing the fundamental change-management issues that are inherent to any CRM initiative, Heath opened his presentation -- "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" -- with a pair of popular tropes: that humans only use 10 percent of our brains; and that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space. "These are urban legends that became as reputed as they are totally on their own merit, without help from any people or resources," Heath said. Their stickiness, and any idea's staying power, Heath said, is the result of any combination of the following six attributes:
  • simplicity
  • unexpectedness
  • concreteness
  • credibility
  • emotion
  • narrative
In terms of getting employees to buy into any customer-centric strategy, Heath said, four of those six are most important: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, and narrative. First and foremost, any idea must be simple and not overly complex. To demonstrate simplicity
, Heath cited Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly's laser-focused business strategy, one that resonates throughout all of Southwest's corporate decision-making. "They're a low-fare airline, period," Heath said. "He had a simple concept and sticks to it. Once asked if they should upgrade their long-haul flights from offering simply snacks to offering meals, he stuck with the snacks because he wanted to remain a low-fare airline. He chose economy over market demand." The Atkins diet, in Heath's estimation, was an example of an unexpected idea, a diet that spread through word of mouth because it was a concept that "broke the schema of most diets," he said. "Eat as many high-fat food as you'd like? That's an idea that worked because it violated our notion of what a diet is suppose to be." And as for making an idea concrete, Heath referenced the curse-of-knowledge paradigm. "Oftentimes, somebody will assume their targeted audience already knows what they're talking about, leading that person to fall into the trap of fluffy terms and industry jargon," Heath said, referring to such examples as "maximizing shareholder value" and "engaged marketing." "In a business culture like this," he added, the trick is for executives to ask themselves, " 'How do you make your ideas about a CRM strategy stick out?' " Finally, any good idea needs a springboard narrative that "paints a picture [of] what change can bring," Heath said, before underlining for attendees the importance of returning to their respective companies and leveraging the information gleaned from the Summit. "You're going to leave this conference with a basket of ideas. Don't fall into the trap that everybody does and get sucked back into Outlook, doing nothing with what you've learned," he said. "Go back and become a strategy of change by making your customer-centric ideas stick with your employees."

Related articles: CRM's Future Will Look Nothing Like Its Past At the Gartner CRM Summit, a distinguished industry analyst outlines (yet again) how companies have learned about -- but continue to struggle with -- the requirements of CRM. TaylorMade for Golf and E-Business Golf-club maker handles change-management issues while reinventing its supply chain -- and itself. Viewpoint: Managing Scope Creep in CRM Projects A key success factor in a CRM initiative is managing the scope of the project. Viewpoint: CRM Failures: Are They Real? So-called CRM failures are as much a mindset as an organizational reality. Making Change Discover how change management can promote the success of your CRM project.
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