Xerox CMO Carone stresses need for more relevant marketing

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New York—Marketers must “break through the barrier” of simple personalized communications into more relevant one-to-one interactions with customers and prospects, according to Christa Carone, CMO of Xerox Corp., who delivered Tuesday's keynote address at the Direct Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Days.

“Xerox is faced with the same challenges as every other company, which is cutting through the clutter in a world of information overload,” Carone said.

Despite the rise of social networks, true marketing value comes from the customer experience, not technology, she said.

“Despite the flood of media messages, people remember little more than one-tenth of 1% of them,” she said. “As marketers, it's important that we don't take our eyes off the ultimate prize, which is creating value through exceptional brand experiences. The key is relevant communications: the right messages via the right media at the right time.”

Relevant, personalized communications also figured prominently in conference sessions. In a featured workshop, Richard Bonfiglio, director-customer marketing at industrial supplies distributor MSC Industrial Direct, presented his experiences in using voice-of-the-customer research to devise multichannel marketing programs.

Faced with dwindling sales as the recession intensified last year, Bonfiglio conducted VOC research that included dozens of telephone interviews of up to an hour each, with both customers and noncustomers, to help the company refine its understanding of sales trends.

“We were losing sales, but we weren't losing customers,” Bonfiglio said of the VOC research findings. “They were just changing the way they purchase.”

The company determined to develop messages more relevant to individuals, rather than to companies, he said. MSC also used an “on boarding” program for new customers, again using the phone to determine channel, product and service preferences of individual decision-makers.

“As a result, our response rates were 20% higher in follow-up orders and expanded purchases, compared with a control group,” Bonfiglio said.

The moderator of the session, Ernan Roman, president of marketing consultancy Ernan Roman Direct Marketing, said understanding opt-in and channel preferences is central to any VOC audit.

“Developing multichannel marketing without understanding preferences just means you're getting better at irritating people in different ways,” Roman said.

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