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How Not To Apply Intelligent Content

At Intelligent Content 2009 the “big names” in the industry discussed a variety of current projects and fielded questions about the particular problems facing attendees.  I was shocked that 85% of the discussion was on “organizational goals” and only 15% focused on customers and their needs.  Although the percentages I cite are subjective, there is no doubt that the bulk of time was spent on what IT can do to move ahead with its priorities. Any consideration given to the customer was an afterthought. Supporting Bob in sales with presentation materials through a content management system, no matter how fancy or technologically advanced is not considering the customer’s needs. 

A question was asked of a keynote speaker: How could intelligent content help eliminate a problem the firm was having with RFPs in that clients did not know the firm had certain services? His answer?  I paraphrase here, but in essence it was to “form an internal team to analyze organization goals, determine priorities, and assign assets accordingly.”  This was after of course, pointing out that the line guys don’t really know what to ask for, or why they need it anyway, so the chief IT need is to vet their projects.

Are you kidding me?  No one outside this guy’s cubicle gives a rat’s backside about the organization’s goals.

Instead, ask your customers what their needs are in relation to your content.  Don’t guess.  Go find out.  One firm that presented at the conference spent millions, yes millions, without asking their clients what they wanted out of the sales department.  Good old Bob got his collaterals, and they think they gave the client what they wanted, but no one bothered to ask. Would 5% of that budget have been well spent surveying not only existing clients but also past and potential clients on their needs?  You bet.  I see little coincidence that the home page of this large corporation deals with their impending bankruptcy.

Key Tips to Executing Intelligent Content at Your Firm

• Make your clients and prospects part of your internal marketing team – survey everybody involved and ask your best clients to be part of the process.
• Customer requirements should dictate what internal strategy and goals would best fit for your company.  Look from the outside in. Don’t assume what your customer wants.  Ask what attracted them to you or your competitor, what channels they want to utilize, and what format they desire to see content.  The answers may surprise you.
• The key to any successful campaign is to track the effectiveness.  Measure results not only in terms of sales, but re-survey to determine if your efforts hit the mark. Incorporate customer feedback into the process. Continuously improve your process and involve your customers and prospects and you will never fall behind.

What’s in it for IT?

In addition to creating a more effective organization that is driving more revenue, what IT gains is easier funding from the executive committee.  A key concern voiced several times at the conference was how to get funding for projects.  Initiatives that meet customer needs and generate revenue can easily justify the expense.  If IT relies on cost savings, which no one in the E-suite believes anyway at this point, what about next year? 

Take Away

Everyone in the organization always needs to focus on the customer.  Survey your stake holders and get their input, use that input to generate your content, and survey them again to make sure you are doing it right.


David Moore

James, you sound passionate! If you read any of Seth Godin's stuff, you can imagine Seth chewing this guy up and spitting him out. Survival is ALL about the customer. All the new tools our there are to find out more about your customer. Direct mail, email and purl campaigns aren't as effective if you don't know your customer. Get to know 'em and you'll get to keep 'em.

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