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Managing your process

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Business Process Management (BPM), the effort to identify, document, quantify and replicate best practices, is coming to marketing. CEOs and CFOs want to know what's behind the curtain, how much it costs, how much it yields and how much faster and cheaper it can be done. 

 The move to manage marketing processes is rooted in material changes and significant savings in time, efficiency and cash gained from process re-engineering in finance, accounting, manufacturing, logistics and the supply chain. It is based on the premise that every successful business is an aggregation of discrete processes. If you get the processes right, you win the game. These are the processes that will be first under the microscope:

Targeting. There is a finite, definable universe of buyers, influencers, advisers and spoilers for every b-to-b product and service. Names and titles turn over as much as 40% each year, and very few companies have put standardized processes in place to regularly update lists and databases. Data cleansing and updating should be a program running quietly in the background of every marketing organization.

Organizational alignment. It's not uncommon for sales and marketing to have different agendas, time lines, targets, program preferences and budget priorities. But even the most Machiavellian CEO has figured out that competition and conflict between sales and marketing yield wasted time and resources. The lessons of process engineering will force chief marketers to become much more involved in sales processes, pricing and productivity issues.

Demand generation. The search for qualified leads that turn into bona fide sales opportunities is and always has been a numbers game. There are a finite number of ways in which individuals are contacted, messaged and engaged. "Best practices" can be identified, quantified, replicated and probably automated. The emphasis shifts from making new creative to a mining and refining a model where getting to the right person with the right frequency at the right time rings the bell.

eNurturing. In every industry and for every product, there are prospects who are interested but not yet ready to buy. Managing C or D leads should be an automated process driven by assumptions about when to mail, when to ping with an e-mail newsletter, when to invite to events and when to contact live by phone or in person. Well-timed contacts can yield maximum return on minimal investment.

CRM. Tracking customer information and behavior ought to yield competitive advantage, facilitate up-sell and cross-sell and build stronger customer loyalty. A reasonable, immediate payoff should be better reporting and insightful analysis from the data collected. Expect management "dashboards" to become as popular as blueberries.

Daniel Flamberg is a veteran marketing consultant. He can be reached at dflamberg@hotmail.com.

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