GCRM: The Era of Green CRM Arrives

It's a battle of wits.

I'm running out of bribes, while he sits there armed with chronic cuteness and a clean plate -- except, of course, for the green peas. His 6-year-old mind made up, he waves his hand over the plate like Vanna White and declares, "These peas are alien, and they probably came from Mars. I obviously can't eat them."

Darn. If green peas were actually the color of chicken nuggets, the boy wouldn't have a leg to stand on. As it is, I'm finding it hard to toe the "they're good for you" line. Because, the fact is, being green can have its challenges -- not just at the dinner table, but in marketing and sales departments as well. Still, it shouldn't be the antithesis of effective CRM. Despite the kid's conviction, green is not alien.

Green is Good for You  

Without a doubt, the green movement is washing over every facet of business, education and government in nearly every western nation. Environmental concerns have quickly moved to the forefront of our consciousness, and with good reason. Businesses are pointing their corporate moral compasses to the issue and exploring ways to improve their environmental footprint. And it doesn't hurt that green CRM is also good for business.

But the challenge for companies goes far beyond reducing power consumption, emissions and waste. Businesses need to explore new ways to become environmentally responsible in their marketing efforts.

Direct Mail is Not the Only Focus

There are a growing number of grassroots and state legislative "Do Not Mail" movements in the United States. And the fact that millions of undeliverable advertising mail pieces end up in landfills every year definitely adds fuel to the fire. As Postmaster General John E. Potter recently observed, "mail that reaches a home where it's not welcome is not a good use of anybody's time -- or resources."

But how do companies and other organizations know? Could they unknowingly be contributing to landfills through undeliverable mail or due to lack of relevance to the very prospects, customers, or donors they are targeting? And it's not just a direct mail issue. "Green" means efficient. Efficient use of your resources in marketing, sales and CRM requires thorough, up-to-date and, again, relevant knowledge about the targets of your messages (i.e., lifestyle and life stage, purchase behavior, household makeup, etc.).

If we add the right touch of data hygiene, data integration, data enhancement, household information, event triggers, contact suppression, segmentation, buying patterns, recognition and continuous, genuinely valuable dialogue, we will get closer and closer to "green" CRM. And, since there aren't enough acronyms in our world already, let's call it GCRM.

Green Customer Relationship Management (GCRM)

Obtaining a clear picture of who needs -- and who will buy -- your product or service is one of the most pressing challenges today, and one that keeps CMOs awake deep into the night. Maybe you feel that your plate is already full. So how can you incorporate yet another goal into your over-packed agenda, particularly one as lofty as going green? Let's take it one pea-sized step at a time:

  • Do your best to integrate multiple, disparate databases and gain a clear, single customer/prospect view for driving your CRM application, your acquisition campaigns and your retention and growth initiatives
  • Utilize clean, accurate and deduplicated contact lists
  • Improve the accuracy of your targeting with propensity to purchase information, lifestyle and life stage segmentation
  • Be prepared for life events, but also be surgical through diligent contact suppression
  • Capitalize on systems that enable you to recognize any customer and his or her value at any touch point
  • Integrate and layer your marketing through the use of multiple channels, including digital channels which are environmentally friendly
  • Seek direct and interactive agency services that will help you make green printing and packaging decisions

Stop Pushing the Veggies around Your Proverbial Dinner Plate

Going green isn't as intimidating as it seems. In fact, the tactic that works for green peas also works for CRM: start with small bites. Analyze your current practices. Pilot test before your next campaign. Partner with a marketing services firm that can facilitate. It's not about discrete, asynchronous processes, nor is it necessarily about additional infrastructure investment. It's about getting started.

Now, if only I could find a way to insert the "green is good" message into a cool Wii game for my son. Maybe they could develop something with fierce, laser-sword wielding green peas -- good-guy green peas, of course -- to make that lesson even more palatable.

About the Author

Lance E. Osborne (Lance.Osborne@acxiom.com) is director of global marketing for Acxiom. Osborne provides marketing leadership for Acxiom's Consumer Insight Products and the APAC and MENA regions. For more information, visit www.acxiom.com


Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

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For the rest of the April 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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