When we started Draw Connect, we decided to keep our proposition simple. No fancy, convoluted statements that try to say everything but end up saying nothing. No over-reaching based on what we hoped we might do, just a clear statement of what we can do.
For us, that simple statement was and is CRM.
However, as always, it’s just not that simple. Yes, we get to find prospective clients because lots of people now have ‘CRM’ in their job title. Yes, most people have some sense of what it means, and they’re not all entirely different. And it should be clear what’s being offered. Customer Relationship Management, no? Or is it Marketing. I’ve never been entirely sure about that one. But it’s a really important distinction, and it’s one that’s defining the challenges that agencies like ours can face.
And tackling these challenges head-on can present a unique turbulence. The business of CRM is big. It’s enterprise grade, consultancy-tastic, multi-year investment. It’s technical, mechanical, diabolical. And it’s all about the M, as in Management. That’s the root of these large, software-based products - promising the tools required to solve all the world’s ills in one daring SAAS mission. Except that the result is invariably a stodgy, unworkable behemoth which no-one in the business really understands or buys into, and yet has to because someone senior bought it and won’t hear a word against it. Who dares wins? Not in this SAAS world.
Don’t believe it? Here are three examples of CRM as it should be termed: Catastrophic Rudimentary Mayhem.
There’s the breakdown service company which sent an email dripping in clever vehicle details, glowing DeFaqto scores, a tempting renewal cost. And the details of a car that had been sold 13 years before. Or the top 5 high street fashion retailer which carefully asked for gender (male) during data capture, and then sent a welcome email with a quite sensational set of lingerie. Or another fashion retailer which laughed at that story while telling us about their multi-layered CRM infrastructure of consultants, technology, optimisation tools - only for us to return to the office to find an email telling me ‘I need this in my wardrobe’. Unfortunately, ‘this’ turns out to be a swirly gypsy blouse with wizardy sleeves.
How much have each of these companies spent on their tools and advice? Looks like just about enough to completely cock it up. How and what is up to them, but let's hazard a guess that their ‘CRM’ operation is a big machine into which the same old crap goes, and out of which - inevitably - comes yet more crap.
Big machines are unlikely to work if they’re not created for the job at hand, and definitely not if they’re left to just get on with it. Technology is our slave - NOT the other way around.
So where does that leave us, an agency which doesn’t make the mistakes listed above. Which doesn’t cost as much as a mews house in Chelsea to hire and still ignore the C in CRM. Which gets excited about what these tools can do for us - but does so in a creative, customer-driven, measurable, test and learn way. And which keeps things defiantly simple - because if it’s not, it just won’t bloody work.
It leaves us in a great place actually. Because we can and regularly do make these foul smelling CRM engines purr like mixed metaphoric kittens.