One bank decided to take Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous words, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” to heart and count the number of communications they had with their best customers over the course of a year. They counted and counted and counted, ending up with close to 200 communications for a single high-value customer alone - and, in some cases, more than one communication per day. That’s a lot of love. This couldn’t happen in your organization, could it? The truth is that this overwhelming number is quite possible in large organizations where marketing, sales and service are decentralized and each group has individual revenue goals to meet. In the instance of this bank, many different product groups conducted marketing campaigns to fulfill product volume and profitability goals. Customer segment managers generated promotional offers to improve segment value and surveys to measure satisfaction. Branch and call center personnel actively solicited customers to meet pay-for-performance goals. Campaigns from the asset and liability committee were printed on monthly statements, featured on the Web and voice response systems, and attached to the bottom of email responses. The same 20 percent of customers (those generating most of the organization’s profit) were targeted over and over again.

How do we avoid giving our customers too much love? The American Marketing Association has coined the term integrated marketing communications (IMC). IMC is defined as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” Focus on the “all brand contacts” component of the IMC concept, and things get interesting. Imagine being able to coordinate and prioritize your entire program of promotions and communications across all customer touchpoints. You could eliminate conflicting offers across channels. You could stop inundating your best customers with multiple marketing campaigns. You could deliver a seamless dialog with customers where every interaction is relevant to the customer, delivered at exactly the right time and satisfies a significant customer need. In this universe, the very act of communicating with your customer fosters a positive experience, facilitates trust and expands the relationship.

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