Serving is the New Selling – Mantra of ExactTarget’s Joel Book


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While we believe that email marketing is essential to digital marketing, Joel Book, Principal of ExactTarget’s Marketing Research & Education Group, is certain that 2013 will bring the birth of a marketing renaissance, specifically in email. He makes a strong argument to support his email theory – first, consider that today 36% of all emails are sent or read on a mobile device, and that research indicates there will be 138 million U.S. smart phone owners in 2013, up from 116 million this year.

Marketing Renaissance Approaching
As for a marketing renaissance, Joel believes we are undergoing fundamental changes. Successful marketers in both the B2B and B2C spaces are choosing to better serve their customers by performing real-time cross channel marketing. No longer are companies setting up each department as its own silo, each with its own team – one for the website, mobile, customer service, SEO, social media, events and others. By breaking down these artificial walls and integrating this data in a central system of record, like a CRM or marketing automation system, all customer facing company spokespeople can finally have a single, 360-degree view of the customer that they’ve needed for so long. 

From Selling to Serving
Joel’s belief that email is cornerstone to a modern marketer’s real-time cross channel strategy was recently put on display at ExactTarget Connections 2012. From keynotes like Matt Fleckenstein, Director of Relationship Marketing at Microsoft Office, to John Johnston, the Director of Digital Marketing for Volvo Construction Equipment, marketers repeatedly highlighted the need and ability to serve customers through the full consumer lifecycle. Take Microsoft Office, for example, who is effectively leveraging email to onboard new users and then support them throughout their lifetime by integrating data gleaned from other channels to enhance their offerings.

Volvo Construction is an example of a B2B firm who truly understands how to use the website to deliver the right goods to the customer at the right time. For starters, the website is developed with engagement in mind. Volvo has also nailed SEO, which helps to attract buyers to their site. From there, Volvo uses targeted email messages, from transactional alerts to dynamic content to drive sales. Using a combination of social and traditional tactics, coupled with data integration, Volvo has created a strong revenue base from their cross-channel marketing efforts.

For many companies, though, this is still a pipe dream. Without this consolidated, relevant understanding of your customers, it’s impossible to perform accurate segmentation and best serve your customers’ needs. For instance, in Rob Fuggetta’s new book, Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers Into a Powerful Marketing Force, Rob shares that, on average, a company’s strongest brand advocates recommend the brand 1 time per week. Furthermore, 22% of those referred individuals go on to make a purchase – effectively making brand advocates a hugely viable and heavy-hitting sales force. But from a brand’s perspective, if the data isn’t available to identify these brand supporters, there’s untold amounts in unclaimed revenues.

Joel acknowledges that truly serving customers and meeting their needs takes planning and time. But he credits sophisticated marketers creating customer-centric infrastructures to support this strategy, from Oakley to eBags to Scott’s Miracle Gro, all of whom have adopted a ‘serving is the new selling’ approach. These companies don’t simply push unwanted sales message; instead, they deeply understand their customers’ needs and wants and deliver useful, relevant content that fits their demands. 

Ultimately, that’s what success comes down to. Marketers – to truly excel – need to understand their customers’ needs. Instead of thinking of, how can I sell my product, marketers should instead focus on offering to serve or enrich ongoing relationships. In part, for this to work, the data must be liquid. As marketers continue on their quest to serve the customer, they need more customer data, traditionally locked in silos. In fact, marketing is becoming so engrossed in data application, Gartner predicts that the CMO will control more of the IT budget than the CIO by 2017.

As that time comes, marketers will need to make strategic decisions, including setting up a customer-centric technology stack that facilitates serving the customer. It’s time to begin thinking ahead – what information will I need about my customers to best service their needs? Where is this information now – what will I need to collect and what will I need to integrate from current systems to create this 360-degree view?

Marketers, we encourage you to look review what leaders like Volvo Construction Equipment are doing in their quest to better serve the customer. How are you implementing customer-centric strategies in your business? Tell us on Twitter.

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Peter Chase
Peter founded Scribe Software along with Jim Clarke in the beginning of 1996. As Executive Vice President, Business Development, Peter is responsible for establishing and growing partnerships with other leading technology companies in support of Scribe's overall market and product strategy. Prior to founding Scribe, Peter held senior positions in sales, product marketing, and finance at SNAP Software, an early pioneer in CRM software that was acquired by Dun and Bradstreet. He has published numerous articles and whitepapers and is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events.


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