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Technology-enabled marketing

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 00:00
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As I continue my examination of something I have come to call Next Generation Marketing (NGM), I want to devote this month’s column to “technology-enabled marketing.” The state of marketing in the aftermarket is changing as a result of evolving market drivers, such as business technology, vehicle technology and exponential proliferation of inventory. These factors are causing us to radically rethink how we market our products. This is the stuff of NGM.

As I have explained previously, NGM focuses on sales and marketing activities that are:

• Zero-based
• Customer-centric
• Technology enabled
• Collaboratively applied
• Fact-based

The core of aftermarket marketing has gone unchanged for decades. It has been anchored by traditional print advertising and supported with promotional activities like countermen and salesmen spiffs for distribution and seemingly endless sweepstakes, parts cabinets, apparel, gift certificates, collectables, ad nauseam for installers.

This marketing approach is maintained by “home grown” marketing executives and services at every level of distribution who perpetuate the problem in their well-meaning attempt to “do something.” But more of the same has been shown to be only marginally successful.

NGM is disrupting this pattern based on an emerging recognition that the new aftermarket consumer, both trade and DIYer, are increasingly using the tools of technology to simulate “one to one” communications throughout the supply chain. A recent study revealed that over 80 percent of DIY parts purchasers engaged in some sort of information gathering on the web prior to purchase. Even technicians, whom we tend to think of as loyal to their “first call” supplier, use technology to gather information about applications and repair on a daily basis. This situation is creating opportunities for technology-based marketers.

With the emergence of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs, suppliers and resellers alike have the wherewithal to engage their customers in ways that promote building a one-to-one relationship.

Technology-enabled marketing is fueled by data and facts. Data management and category management are rapidly becoming the new stock in trade for maximizing efficiency throughout the supply chain. Armed with robust standardized product, application and inventory data, suppliers and resellers can provide their installers with the right part for the right vehicle at the right time. Moreover, with rich product attribute data, they can provide with critical repair and technical information (TSB’s, installation instructions, diagrams, etc.), which feeds their customers voracious desire for technical information
And equipped with category management facts and data, suppliers can collaborate with resellers to move marketing to new heights.

As I mentioned earlier, when fully implemented, technology-enabled marketing allows marketers to engage their customers in a one-to-one relationship. Marketers can attract both DIYers and repair shops to connect with them through extranets that enable them to find valuable information and instructions feed to them via video, audio and graphically. They can enroll to receive special alerts on products, applications and learning opportunities. And yes, even sweepstakes, coupons, apparel, gift certificates and all that antiquated and outmoded stuff I dissed earlier. The difference with those activates in the context of NGM is that the customer can manage them on his own terms, opting in or opting out. This is critical since by definition NGM is “customer-centric.”

Then there is the exploding issue of “New Media,” (Facebook, UTube, Twitter, et. al.) which is a subject so vast, it will have to wait for a future installment.

The bottom line is that technology enhances all elements of NGM and enables its practitioners to take a quantum leap over competitors who cling to “the way we used to do things.”

 

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