The Sixth Question

Silverpop, which says it provides 'e-mail and marketing automation that's complete, not complex,' just sent me an unsolicited, 15-page report entitled, '5 Questions Keeping Marketers Up at Night — and 5 Experts with All the Answers'.

For the record, the five questions are:
– Are you as social as your prospects?
– Are you as strategic as you want to be?
– Can you automate the tactical?
– Do you wish you could do more with less?
– Can you prove your value?

ImaghhhhesIn quickly scanning the document, it became readily apparent that Silverpop's experts forgot to add a sixth, more fundamentally important question that pre-empts the others:

– Have you placed yourself in your customers' shoes and experienced your brand as they do?

A marketer really shouldn't bother addressing Silverpop's other questions until she's experienced her own brand.

But, far be it from me to wax poetic on the importance of what we call Audience Experience. The IBM Institute of Business just published a highly readable, in-depth study of the wants and needs of 1,700 CMOs in 16 countries.

In it, the IBM experts said, “…look at the organization through your customers' eyes, as they progress through the full relationship lifecycle. While you may believe you already capture this information (take note Silverpop types), all the data in the world cannot replace the personal experience of walking in your customers' shoes.” To which I say, amen.

This outside-in way of thinking now pervades Peppercom's go-to market strategy (as well as the way in which we now think about client relationships and business development).

Yet, far too many marketers remain content to stay sequestered in their corner offices and have a Silverpop tell them what the data means. Considering most CMOs have the lifespan of a May fly, one would think they'd take The Sixth Question more seriously.

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