This week Microsoft honored my company, Ascentium, with its prestigious “Partner of the Year” award for our work in the area of portals and collaboration. We were also named a finalist in the category of CRM Partner of the year. This comes on the heels of being named one the top ten agencies by the Interactive Media Council and one of the top 50 digital agencies by Adage Magazine. So what, other than it’s always cool to work for a company that’s winning awards and being named to top ten lists?
It shows that we can bring together a team that is equally adept at marketing and technology. That it is possible for these two distinctly different business types, and I’d go one step further and say two inherently different styles of reasoning can come together and create something new and unique.
I’ve been evangelizing, some might say harping on, the concept of what I have been calling closed loop marketing. I gravitated to the term closed loop marketing, not because it’s the most accurate representation of my views on how marketing and technology can and should intersect, but because it’s a relatively well-understood term within the marketing world in the context of reporting and reaching the goal of measuring ROI in a way that will satisfy CFOs and more importantly CEOs, not just marketing organizations.
What I really mean by closed loop marketing is the ability to create, develop, deliver, and support truly differentiated experiences, whether between company and customer (B2C), company and company (B2B), company and employee (B2E) or customer and customer (C2C). Experience is core to communication. It is both logical, lineal and definable as well as emotional, inspirational and multi-dimensional in nature. It spans the entire customer lifecycle from awareness, consideration, conversion, retention and loyalty. It is the essence of engagement and the rationale of relationships. And ultimately, from a business perspective, it is the source of all revenue.
In today’s world of multi-channels, global reach, micro-segmentation and a societal case of attention deficient disorder, it is the holy grail of successful companies and can only come about through a partnership between marketing, sales and IT. There is almost no customer interaction that does not involve technology and the capture, use or movement of data. When a retail customer buys their groceries, an online buyer downloads music, the CEO attends an event or when any of us goes to the Web to search for information or to communicate with our friends (which of course the term friends has been completely redefined in the Web2.0 world), we are engaging because of technology. CRM, BI, HTML, Ad-serving, lead scoring, site optimization; all are technology tools which provide the intelligence to empower experiences. So when it comes down to it, the solution is fairly simple:
Experience plus Intelligence equals Relationship – E + I = R
So back to the question at hand, why does it matter that Ascentium wins Partner of the Year and Top Ten Agency at the same time. It’s because we have studiously built a team of people who understand the formula and are proving that right brain marketers can co-exist with left brain technologists and that together they can use intelligence to build experience and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always that combining intelligence and experience was a good thing. Maybe politicians should even try it sometime.