Thursday, March 17, 2005

CMO Summit: Same themes, different crowd

Yesterday, I attended the 2005 MIT Sloan CMO Summit, and although the speakers were addressing a group of B2B and B2C marketers, they could very well have been addressing a group of publishers. The issues are remarkably similar:
Technology and new tools have put more control into the hands of consumers;
P2P communication is raising new issues and opportunities;
Web-based intermediaries are forcing change on traditional channel structures.

The overarching theme related to the growing power of the consumer and the need for marketers to establish strong trust-based relationships with consumers.

I've written before about the blurring of lines between advertising and editorial content. It was interesting to hear the same comments from the marketing/advertising side of the equation. Astute marketers understand the need to shift from "push" advertising, which Professor Glen Urban from MIT describes as "tormenting your customers" with intrusive messages, to providing customers with tools and information to help them make appropriate buying decisions that will lead to positive experience and a happy customer. Happy customers can add a dimension of trusted real-world recommendations and viral marketing to the company-provided product information. It is up to the marketers, however, to leverage the recommendations of happy customes and ensure these customers also become loyal repeat customers. These suggestions almost precisely mirror the suggestions that Shore affiliate Russell Perkins repeats to his audience of directory and database publishers regarding the value of the three Rs: ratings, rankings and reommendations in adding value to basic information.

One additional lesson for marketers and publishers in the era of CMR (consumer managed relationships) [the term used by GM's director of CRM, Jack Bowen]: marketers must harness the power of interactivity enabled by the Web and other 2-way communication platforms. This point was driven home by the brief presentation by Professor Dan Ariely at MIT, who implored marketers to use the interactive functionality of the Web to experiment, experiment, and experiment some more to gain knowledge about what customers want and to learn how they respond to your message.
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