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Customer service expert on demand-chain management

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Jim Dickie is managing partner of CSO Insights (www.csoinsights.com), a Boulder, Colo.-based research firm that analyzes how companies market to and service customers. BtoB recently asked Dickie to discuss the evolving metrics of demand-chain management.

BtoB: What is driving marketing automation in the b-to-b space today?

Dickie: Because prospective customers have so many personal demands on them, you have to fit into their timetable, not the other way around. Focusing on lead incubation is really about one-to-one marketing. If I know a customer's two or three interests through automated analytics, I can customize how I stay in touch with him versus having to send him every single marketing piece I have.

BtoB: It sounds like the Web is really changing the game for marketers.

Dickie: The Internet is not just an easy way for customers to get information on you, it'a an easy way to get information about customers. For example, financial services firms keep track of everything you've previously done online, so they don't make the same offer that you've declined before. If an insurance company knows you don't have kids, it doesn't bother sending you information about college savings plans.

BtoB: Does this customization add a complicated layer to the marketing process?

Dickie: What we're talking about is systematizing what marketers already do. Using demand management systems, I now can figure out who in my database might really care about my product and why. If you continue to take into account what a person is interested in, when he is interested in it, your e-mails will continue to be accepted.

BtoB: Is the price of entry high?

Dickie: There's already a cost associated with doing things as you always have ... for example, spending a fortune sending out thousands of things that nobody responds to. If you spend 5% extra to get 20% more sales, that sounds pretty good.

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