Last week I joined Matt Smith, VP of Marketing Services from Best Buy, Kim Verhaaf, director of Customer Intelligence at ING, and Matt Preschern, VP of Demand Programs for IBM, for a keynote panel: "Marketing Innovation in Action: How Being Adaptive Can Help You Innovate," at Unica's Marketing Innovation Summit.  To structure the panel, I introduced Forrester's CORE framework. If you're not yet familiar with CORE, its our mission that interactive marketers should adopt to help their firms adapt to the next digital decade. See a summary of the topic here or our research on The Future Of Interactive Marketing for a deep dive. 

Smith, Verhaaf and Preschern talked about the efforts they have underway to help their firms customize marketing experiences, optimize decisions and processes, respond to changing market conditions and empower employees and customers to advocate on your behalf. They raised some great points for interactive marketers to consider as they undertake CORE:

  • Tackle CORE as part of a larger customer-centric strategy. Easier said than done, perhaps, but panelists agreed that CORE initiatives will be easier to do and better executed if part of an overall realignment around the customer. Ad hoc CORE efforts — like delivering customized Web pages based on visitor profiles — can work certainly, but their value goes only as far as their single effort, and efforts can be duplicated creating inefficiency when not managed as part of a larger whole.

    Smith referenced an initiative called VOCE — voice of the customer through the employee, which is certainly a way for Best Buy to respond to its market. But it is not just that. VOCE provides a technology conduit between in-store staff and executives making decisions about merchandise buying, customer support and store design among others. Becuase VOCE is part of a larger customer strategy, Best Buy enabled a way to respond to customer needs AND act on direct customer feedback AND empower employees to influence execs.

    In another example, ING mentioned that it hosts quarterly cross-department meetings to review customer feedback and results from various online marketing programs. This also has more value than ad hoc report downloads. Of course individual stakeholders evaluate program health throughout the quarter, but once every few months they collectively talk about what they are learning from their customers and if/how they should change products or positioning in response.

  • Establish metrics unique to your business.  Everyone is interested in industry benchmarks. But the reality is that your results, and even what you should measure, depend on your model, your customers. For example, as a B2B organization, IBM tracks lead quality to determine how effective marketing programs are supporting its sales efforts. It also tracks pace of progress by customer segment along its lead management cycle to determine places where marketing can hasten the pace or keep people from falling out of the cycle. Comparatively, Best Buy measures customer sentiment and how it changes in response to marketing activity or service incidents.
  • Use technology to simplify. You can manage your interactive marketing initatives manually. But technologies can make things easier, faster or more scalable. IBM finds its marketing platform (it uses Unica of course) doesn't just help automate campaign processes. It provides visibility into customer response that it wouldn't otherwise be able to see.
  • Hire marketing scientists. Panelists were looking to hire staff that is comfortable with data, technology — and most importantly — change. Matt Smith from Best Buy explained that, "Change is constant. So we have to hire people who are comfortable being in a constant state of flux." Veerhaaf pointed out that for ING seeking digital talent has changed ING's approach to employee retention. It offers an internal master's program to provide advanced traning to good hires, give them more responsibility and hopefully keep them loyal to ING.

You can see what TechTarget took away from our panel here.