The Marketers' Quest for CRM

For marketers the quest for the perfect CRM software is akin to the search for the Holy Grail, where that ever-elusive CRM package will offer the marketing crusader the ultimate reward: eternal shelf life (or at least a year in the black). Many a marketer has fallen in search of that faultless CRM software, hoping that it's out there somewhere and that a minimal amount of effort (or cost) will be needed to acquire it. Most will go to great lengths to come by it and be able to lay it at the feet of their lord and master, the mighty CEO. Unfortunately, that ultimate CRM software may never be found. It may, sadly, not even exist. And to find it the marketer must jump monstrously huge and seemingly impossible hurdles. Most marketers have little IT experience. So, while their software needs to be highly sophisticated, it also needs to be as technically unchallenging as possible. This problem is compounded by the fact that the CRM software is bound by stringent operating rules and often developed to be used by IT people, not marketers themselves. CRM packages often require a significant amount of customization and integration before being operational.
One thing the marketing crusader lacks is time. Lest we forget, time does indeed equal money. And the perfect solution may take many months, if not years, to implement. By that time the marketing goals, tactics, processes, and the actual decision makers may be completely different. Marketing online is a moving target. Consumers' mindsets, purchasing trends, and marketing techniques change at the drop of a hat. Therefore, the crusader needs to put a campaign together and launch it as quickly as possible; after all that the campaign will require extensive testing and reporting capabilities. Unfortunately, CRM solutions are not made to be constantly changed by nontechnical people, and therefore fail to deliver where the marketer needs them the most: on the fly. Alas, today's solutions don't nearly fulfill the needs of the marketer. The quest, though far from over, has been waylaid and overburdened by these seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The problem stems from the fact that there is a profound disconnect between marketers' needs and what CRM is really all about: providing a technical solution to IT people to automate processes that have already been well defined. The dilemma for marketers is that the course that lay before them is constantly changing and the solutions they require need to keep up with those changes. Despite these pessimistic notes we are seeing the emergence of new technologies designed with these marketing crusaders in mind: built to be used by them, allowing extensive testing, quick to implement, and yet still sophisticated and powerful. Specifically, this new breed of marketing technology is incorporating the best of offline marketing techniques and marrying it with the power of the Internet, and is mainly about generating concrete and meaningful impact on companies' bottom line. This new generation of solutions, designed not to fit a specific CRM magic quadrant, but to answer marketers' needs with appropriate solutions, will quickly win over a growing number of marketers. These kinds of solutions are delivering tremendous results to marketers in a short time frame, and are leading us to believe that the quest might succeed after all. About the Author Philippe Suchet is the CEO of Kefta, a provider of technology and strategy to Fortune 1,000 companies to help them maximize the ROI of their online channel. He has more than 10 years experience in sales and marketing, and has helped leading corporations in the retail, telecommunications, and financial services industries to develop and implement marketing strategies and tactics. Suchet holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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