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Empowered Customers Demand Resourceful Marketing Executives

Turns out the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times” is probably apocryphal. But whatever the origin, the phrase has found its true target in today’s chief marketing officer. With customers increasingly informed, demanding, and powerful, there’s arguably a greater need for marketing than ever. At the same time, the CMO’s job has become far more complex: the CMO has to use new tools and technologies to sift through huge amounts of data, establish more intimate relationships with more diverse consumers, and prove his or her value inside the organization by demonstrating ROI. All in a shrinking average tenure. Interesting times indeed.

According to a groundbreaking survey of over 1,700 CMOs conducted by IBM, CMOs of outperforming organizations agree that in order to successfully address these changes in the market, they need to deliver value to empowered customers. But what does that mean?

Understand the empowered customer.

Today’s customers are grabbing power thanks to three basic changes in their relationship to brands:

1. More options. This is where it all starts. The digital market has broken down geographical barriers to access. Everything is just a click away, including your competition.
2. Higher expectations. What follows from options? Higher standards. Consumers expect you to earn their attention and loyalty with more personalized service.
3. Easier sharing. If you please your customers, they’ll thank you publically. But if you don’t, everyone will know. And that’s a power that can’t be overstated.

Digital media has given people a choice, and given them a voice. This adds up to a greater independence that brands have to understand and embrace.

Deliver value to individual customers.

Since this new empowered customer is more independent, market research and competitive benchmarking are of limited use because they treat customers as groups instead of as individuals. They simply don’t equip companies to respond to market opportunities in real time.

It’s crucial to find customers in their natural habitats. By collecting contextual information from sources like blogs, social media, and third-party and consumer reviews, you can fine-tune your messages to speak more precisely to customers’needs, provide more personalized service, and respond more quickly to opportunities. 

Use the right tools for the job.

Smart CMOs are already working more hand in hand with IT, because they understand that new social media, analytics, and CRM technologies are providing powerful solutions for understanding and responding to the needs of empowered consumers.

At the same time, some CMOs can’t shake the concern that these tools may not earn the kind of ROI that would justify their expense. That’s why there is a real need for scalable solutions that demonstrate value by tracking success and optimizing strategies across multiple touch points in real time.

The Garrigan Lyman Group (GLG) is helping brands meet these challenges with scalable, cloud-based IBM® software solutions that help CMOs capture actionable data and deliver value to empowered customers wherever they are.