Imagine a brand manager sitting in his office developing a marketing strategy for his company's new sports drink. He identifies which broad market segments to target, sets prices and promotions, and plans mass media communications. The brand's performance will be measured by aggregate sales and profitability, and his pay and future prospects will hinge on those numbers.Brokers have a great opportunity to build AND own their marketing platform today, via a single entry system, blogs, a branded iPhone app and active cultivation of their clients via a pervasive CRM system, like Main Street.
What's wrong with this picture? This firm--like too many--is still managed as if it were stuck in the 1960s, an era of mass markets, mass media, and impersonal transactions. Yet never before have companies had such powerful technologies for interacting directly with customers, collecting and mining information about them, and tailoring their offerings accordingly. And never before have customers expected to interact so deeply with companies, and each other, to shape the products and services they use. To be sure, most companies use customer relationship management and other technologies to get a handle on customers, but no amount of technology can really improve the situation as long as companies are set up to market products rather than cultivate customers. To compete in this aggressively interactive environment, companies must shift their focus from driving transactions to maximizing customer lifetime value. That means making products and brands subservient to long-term customer relationships. And that means changing strategy and structure across the organization--and reinventing the marketing department altogether.
January 2010 Archives
Ask any CEO who has overseen a corporate transformation what should have been handled differently, and you are likely to get this answer: "We should have--and could have--moved faster."
Such executives have a long list of regrets: They wish they had unified the leadership team right away. They wish they had engaged employees sooner and quickly drummed up support for the new vision. They wish they hadn't waited so long to test their assumptions and refine their key initiatives. And they wish they had generated some visible returns early on, to accelerate the commitments and reinforce the expectations of employees, customers, suppliers, and investors.
Any corporate transformation--launching the next major phase in an organization, executing a new corporate strategy to achieve breakthrough performance, enabling a new executive leader to take charge, or integrating an acquisition--is fraught with challenges. More than 25 years ago, I began chairing an innovative program that convened groups of CEOs and their executive teams for two-week sessions at Harvard Business School, where they collaborated with faculty members and noncompeting peers on solving their most serious challenges. They met again nine months later to share their experiences. Within a few years, a clear pattern emerged from the program: The biggest barrier to corporate transformation was getting organizations to execute their bold new ideas quickly. Since then, from my direct involvement as principal process architect in more than 25 corporate transformations led by new and sitting CEOs, I've concluded that many talented executives don't fully appreciate the following subtle but powerful insights:
Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza pride themselves on meeting high standards for quality, but not necessarily for catering to the demands of their customers. They are co-owners of Great Lake, a small Chicago pizza shop that has seen the mixed blessing of great reviews.Brokers and agents are subject to more .com schemes today than the "internet euphoria" era in the late 1990's. No organization can be all things to all people. Chicago's Great Lake Pizza informs our thinking and strategy.
The couple wanted to start a business that reflected their values: a neighborhood shop that purchases top-quality ingredients directly from farmers, makes every pizza by hand and serves great food at affordable prices. They also wanted to make sure their business did not take over their lives. The 14-seat shop is open only four days a week and does not take reservations. Deliveries? Yeah, right.
Mr. Lessins makes every pizza by hand. "No man is slower," wrote GQ's food critic, Alan Richman. "He makes each as though it is his first, manipulating the dough until it appears flawless, putting on toppings one small bit after another. In the time he takes to create a pie, civilizations could rise and fall, not just crusts." Mr. Richman declared the Great Lake Mortadella pie one of the best pizzas in America -- and that is when the trouble started. The shop was mobbed, with lines stretching down the block and long waits. A condensed version of a conversation with Mr. Lessins and Ms. Esparza follows:
Whole Foods sought to change that. It began to sell information and narrative, along with the food. It told stories about where the food came from, putting up displays by the seafood counter with photographs and descriptions of the real fishermen who had caught it all--a genre that Michael Pollan, in The Omnivore's Dilemma, called "supermarket pastoral."
The profusion of provender--the array of colors and shapes, the gleaming fruits, fishes, and meats, the grains and cakes and ranges of artisanal cheeses and beers--is as much an apotheosis of America's abundance and reach as it is any kind of refutation of it. Whole Foods may aim to be a rebuke to the excess that comes of petrochemical might, unconscious gluttony, and corn-bloated immoderation. But it is also an imperial presentation of progress's spoils, like a king's Christmas feasts. The business depends on it, even if the brand image does not. The layout encourages impulse purchases. This is how a weekend grocery bill there can easily run to four hundred bucks.
First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!
Second: 2010 change and opportunity.
I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.
Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.
The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.
Most importantly, it will change their expectations......
What does this mean for brokers and agents?
## A) MobileVirtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?
The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.
Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.
Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.
Your organization must be in this space.
There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.
## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate
There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.
Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.
This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:
The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.
## C) Your Website
The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?
Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.