• December 1, 2009
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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For the rest of the December 2009 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

December is an eventful month for CRM magazine, since it’s the time for cranking out the assessments of the year that’s passed and predictions of the one to come. I used to enjoy that sort of thing, and I probably still would, but it’s not strictly in my job description anymore.

That said, this is still my column, so I may as well give it a whirl. No reason I can’t personalize it, though: Let’s talk about changes in the CRM world that affect me.

You’ll be reading this sometime around my birthday (December 5—gifts are welcome), and it’s strangely significant to me this time. To begin with, I’m turning 38, so I have to start worrying about being old. I blame Michael Palin for this—one of the characters he plays in Monty Python and the Holy Grail says, “I’m 37, I’m not old.” Therefore, to my tenuous sense of logic, I can no longer say that of myself. (The arthritis, dull memory, and thinning hair have nothing to do with it, of course.) This means that the members of Generation X are old, old enough for some of them to have kids in high school. Businesses will be stepping up their efforts to reclassify me as more mature than I really feel, and I have to realize that I’m no longer the prize demographic for some of the things I love. If I had a lawn, I’d be yelling at some kids to get off of it.

Second, whatever my demographic as a consumer, I’m also entering the New Year as a self-employed being, which means I have a newfound view of the small-business scene I used to only write about. Consulting and freelance writing suits me well, so I get the benefit of working on a subject I enjoy and understand—social CRM—with a degree of freedom I haven’t had for some time. Naturally, that freedom includes freedom from financial security, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. 

I’m not alone—the recession has led to an awful lot of employment shifts, with many people deciding to be their own next boss. As such, I predict there will be even more emphasis on CRM for small businesses than we’ve already seen. 

Small businesses are in a pretty good position to get quick and easy returns from social media (though they might lack the monitoring and automation capabilities of larger counterparts), so I call that good news. Not only does it mean that customers will be better served and businesses better operated, but I’ll have a better shot at maintaining an income.

Third, social media may be The New Thing, but big changes are coming, which means changes for social CRM as well. Take Facebook’s acquisition of FriendFeed, for example. While both services cater primarily to casual, nonbusiness users, FriendFeed’s capabilities will probably improve Facebook’s relevance for businesses seeking to connect with their markets in a social setting. Or consider the reports that Twitter’s popularity may have peaked—a sign that somebody will soon come up with The Next New Thing, and I’ll have to learn how to use it. Meh. 

Marshall Lager is managing principal of Third Idea Consulting LLC. Contact him at marshall@3rd-idea.com, or via @Lager on Twitter. Ice cream cakes are welcome, with or without candles. 

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