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September 14, 2015

As originally featured in The Guardian, 9/14/15, by Sophie Daranyi:

The phenomenal rise of customer relationship marketing (CRM) over the past ten years has been the most significant thing to happen to marketing for a generation. Technology has given brands power to connect with ever more consumers on an increasingly personalized level. As a result, CRM has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

But the same technological revolution that has seen the rise of CRM is also changing consumers and their lives just as fast. And it’s doing it in ways that could put them beyond the reach of CRM as we know it.

Consumer-power technologies are transforming industries and markets worldwide. Social media is now bigger than broadcast. Taxis are taking a back seat to Uber. Hotels are displaced by Airbnb. Brands need people more than people need brands. It’s a fundamental shift in the balance of power – and, increasingly, in consumers who are in control.

It’s a new world – but too many brands look to CRM for new ways of doing the same old things. Which is why, despite their apparent sophistication, most CRM programs are surprisingly ineffective. They’re linear, top-down and built on the mistaken assumption that brands should be in the driving seat, not consumers.

Brands need to change. They need to stop thinking CRM and start thinking differently. At RAPP, we believe brands need to embrace CMR – Customer Managed Relationships and Consumer Motivated Responses.

CMR offers strategies and technologies for a world where consumers are no longer the passive recipients of marketing, but active partners in a dynamic relationship. A world where messages are no longer “pushed” at consumers – forcing them to ‘opt-out’ – but “pulled”  by consumers’ own choices, preferences, behaviors and opt-ins.

CMR is about creating a value-exchange. It’s about offering consumers the choice to broaden and deepen their relationship with things that enrich their lives. It requires a little more effort from brands and a new marketing mindset. But whether brands like it or not, CMR is the future of marketing in a digitally-driven world.

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