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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It's Not You, It's Me - MyPreferences
I love my sister and enjoy our conversations about food, restaurants and the craziness of planning family get-togethers. But there is one topic that I never want to discuss with her.

You see, my sister and I picked very different career paths. I spend my time in an office with computers and people - she works at a hospital as a nurse practitioner. While I am proud of her accomplishments, I prefer to not hear about what she does for a living. I can’t stand the sight or even thought of blood, needles or really anything medical.

Which brings me to a point about communication - just because I don’t want to hear about her work doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to her at all. She knows that these conversations make me squeamish, so she stays on topics we both know work for our relationship.

In my experience with marketing departments and other brands, most don’t provide the same level of understanding to their consumers. Instead, they provoke their customers into discontinuing conversation altogether by “opting out” completely just because of one imperfect interaction.

I started working with PossibleNOW in January of this year to assist them with the creation of a Professional Services Organization. PossibleNOW is the industry leader in managing preferences for some of the largest companies in the world. In fact, they have over 80 billion preferences currently under management.

The more time I spend with PossibleNOW, the more I realize their approach to preference management is ideal. I have always advocated that companies listen to and honor their consumers’ wishes - that they really get to know their customer. PossibleNOW’s technology allows companies to do just that.

It’s Not a Guessing Game

The last 12 years of my career has included a strong focus on customer typing based on their behavior – how does a company identify their target customers, sort them into clusters and market to them effectively. In the countless hours I have spent studying and talking with consumers, I have learned that consumers are more than willing to tell you what they want. They’ll tell you what your product is doing well and they aren't afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong.

The great benefit about collecting customer preferences, when done correctly, is it allows your customers to tell your company exactly how they want to be communicated with, over what channels, about what content and even when they are open to receiving the message. This is amazingly powerful and helpful information to any marketer.

Knowledge is Centralized

In my background of understanding consumers, I experienced how hard it was to relay knowledge learned across an organization - to teach everyone what I knew about their consumers and how to apply it to their initiatives.

Preference management suffers from the same problem. You need the right technology and it must sit in a central point within your company’s infrastructure so the varied systems across the enterprise can access the information to make sure you communicate with consumers in the way they prefer.

What’s compelling, and the reason I joined PossibleNOW to build a world class organization to help their customers implement preference management within their enterprise, is the unique approach PossibleNOW takes to preference management and how it allows marketers to both understand consumers and communicate with them in a meaningful way. PossibleNOW centralizes preference management, concentrating on that as the core offering, and allowing the systems (CRM, POS, e-mail, etc.) they connect with to do what they do best.

Preference management, if implemented correctly, lets your customers tell you what they want. One customer might be highly interested in some of the communication your company is providing, but will be turned off by other offers. Allowing them to choose the communications that best fits their desires keeps them in the relationship.

Preference management was listed as one of the top 10 trends for marketing in 2013. While it landed on the list as item #8, I argue it should have appeared much closer to the top of the list.  Implementing centralized preference management supports and informs all of your marketing initiatives and gives you a powerful tool to establish and maintain relationships with consumers across your organization.

About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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