Michael Lowenstein

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

Amazon leaders who are known for bullying Disney and book publishers into submission are doing the same thing to their co-workers, according to a lengthy expose from The New York Times. So should marketers be partnering with an entity its customers may despise at the moment?

With all the emphasis on data and technology in today's marketing, it's too easy to forget that marketing is an emotional discipline. As the recession falls further into the past, we're seeing more and more that customers who've been primarily concerned about price for years are now looking for a reason, almost any reason, to choose a brand based on something more. Can your marketing meet the needs of these customers?

Much of what I've learned over the years about sales, marketing and customer service has to do with the critical importance of customer data, and how those data are converted to actionable insights. It's how companies generate the right customer data, manage and share data the right way, and use it at the right time. It's also how they use data to the best effect, to optimize loyalty and profitability, that makes them successful, or not, on an individual customer basis. Culture, leadership, and systems will facilitate effective information gathering, storage and application; and, CRM, CEM, ERP, or other acronyms notwithstanding, it's impossible to be successful without having as much relevant anecdotal and dimensional content about customers as possible.

About 30 years ago, Paul Simon wrote a song entitled "One-Trick Pony." The song describes a performing pony that has learned only one trick, and he succeeds or fails with the audience based on how well he executes it. As Simon conveys in the lyrics: "He's got one trick to last a lifetime. It's the principal source of his revenue."

A couple of years ago, our local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ran a disturbing story about how a mortgage loan company in Phoenix had sent spam advertising messages which appeared on the screens of thousands of wireless phone customers. Not only were the messages not requested, but these customers had to pay to retrieve them.

Stating that all customers are not created equal is hardly an oversimplification. But, just like the pigs in Orwell's "Animal Farm," some customers are more equal than others. No company has unlimited resources to equally service or support all its customers. Repeat buying power, the essence of customer loyalty, is everything. Some customers are worth a great deal, some may become more valuable over time, some may be valuable for a brief period but may be easily lured away, and some are never likely to become valuable.

More Blogs