Now What? Leveraging your CRM System

I’m here to pick up where we left off last time: marketing tools and how to use them, starting with customer relationship management (CRM) software. Once you’ve gotten something workable in place it’s time to consider what to do with the system that will meet your business goals.  Let’s explore how to start leveraging CRM to help your business.

As always, I want to remind you to determine your goal: new customer growth? Getting more business from existing customers?  Keeping customers happy and connected?  All of the above?  A key value of CRM systems, besides the obvious benefit of having all your prospects and customers in one place, is that information’s electronic portability, which in turn lets you approach multiple goals across subsets of your database.

Two core precepts of marketing, either consumer or business-to-business are, first, match the message to the audience, and second, repeat that message relentlessly.  That doesn’t mean doing the same thing over and over again—in fact, that’s just the sort of thing that will drive people away.  What you want to do is make sure your message is consistent across whatever activities you employ, from email blasts to post cards to brochures.  Eliminating ambiguity about what you stand for is critical!  Ever see a sign at a local auto repair shop that reads “We specialize in foreign and domestic automobiles”?  While I appreciate the sentiment behind the message, it doesn’t convey the story that shop was trying to impart!

Likewise, it’s important to consider the attention span of your customers and prospects.  In today’s sound bite, 140 character, text message, multi-tasking world you’ve got to assume your intended audience is not going to notice everything you put in front of them, regardless of medium.  That means not only do you have to lock down the message, but you have to deliver that message in a variety of ways, and frequently enough that you’ve got a shot at some of it being seen or heard.  This is where working with your core CRM data comes in.

Let’s say, for example, you want to start a campaign to get new customers.  You’ve got prospects from various sources loaded into your CRM system and you know what you want to say. Most CRM systems have some form of bulk email capabilities either built in or available as an option.  Better still, there are a host of email marketing tools available which can integrate with your CRM database and do a good-to-terrific job of managing campaigns. (I’ll talk more about marketing automation in an upcoming article.)  In either case, use the tool to send that message.  But that’s just one step in an ongoing process.

Remember, this is about getting your message to your prospects consistently and with enough frequency to move them toward becoming a customer.  A week later send something with the same message but in a different form.  For example, your first email might be a piece of news (the weather, pending legislation, a reference to a study of interest to your prospects, etc.)  Your messaging should leverage that information in a way that shows your business as connected to that information and the recipient of the message.  The next email (and this could be postcards or advertisements or banner ads just as easily) must share something else but draw the same connection.  Let’s use a terribly topical subject: snow shovels.  Your company has designed or sells a shovel that is better on the back than a conventional snow shovel.  Your first email could be referencing an article written by a chiropractor or other medical professional about the risks of shoveling snow.  Your message is all about how your shovel reduces the risk of injury.

The second email could be about all the snow we’re getting and the trend for the rest of the winter, and the message remains the same: your shovel reduces the risk of injury (and the more snow, the more risk there is).  Follow on emails continue the pattern, one after another: here’s some context and here’s your message.  In its simplest form you’ve just built a campaign to get new customers.  Of course there are an almost endless range of complexities, subtleties, delivery mechanisms (electronic, print, radio, internet ads, etc.) and a real-life campaign can be pretty big.  That said, the best way to do something complicated is to begin with something less complicated, and build from there.  Leveraging your CRM to start proactively marketing your business is a nice place to start.

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