It is to the UK's Purple Parking, which recently sent the above-pictured email to a fellow dim bulber. Pause for a moment, and stroll with me through the gloriously cluttered communication:
- The lead offer promotes a strange amount -- 12.5%, when most consumers "get" numbers in increments of 5 or 10, if they don't automatically default to "half" or fahgeddabouit -- and says that it's a discount on some total amount that appears nowhere
- A partner offer, I think, that has nothing to do with parking whatsoever. Is it another discount deal? A secret webstore shopper program? Who knows? But there are lots of brand logos to drive home the point...whatever it is
- A "club member" offer that promises reduced prices to registered users. Yet my friend is already registered, which is why she got the email! Also, are these discounts on top of the deal promised next to it?
- A "super offer" to forward the promo to friends...only what offer? The member discount, or the holiday promo?
- More secret shopper stuff clutters the bottom-half of the email, making more than half this communication from a car parking firm utterly irrelevant to parking a car
There are two more amazing qualities of this CRM communication that aren't apparent in the above-pictured example:
- The email misspelled the recipient's name. Well, it left off the last letter of her admittedly long last name, as if the software ran out of character fields. But it was a glaring error, all the more visible because it was at the opening of the communication
- She'd already booked her holiday car park! Purple possessed her reservation, yet sent the email anyway, as if she were nothing more than an anonymous name on a list.
Which, of course, is exactly what she is to them. A target. A statistical possibility for revenue, offering the potential for a transaction upside with no apparent downside for trying. At least not apparently to Purple.
I've struggled with the idea of managing relationships ever since the software started appearing late last century. I just don't believe people manage such things. We manage entries in calendars with a pen or click, or manage CD collections by alphabetizing them. There's an understanding of what we're trying to accomplish underlying the things and activities we hope to manage.
But the tools we use don't do the managing; rather we do it, via our intentions and expectations. CRM is a selling tool. Customer relationships come from, and relate to, your brand.
In other words, while the goal of CRM should be to be able to see, understand, and somewhat predict sales and profitability -- and this would include all of the data integration and knowledge, so correspondence was not just accurate, but had some relevance to the user -- there should be a brand strategy that identifies and creates the content on which relationships with customers/consumers are based?
This strategy wouldn't define brand as ad creative or colors of a logo or website. It wouldn't be somehow "integrating" marketing activities or sharing content. In fact, it wouldn't come from marketing at all, but rather from a collaboration between all of the operations in the business...to create the brand strategy, not just get lectured on how to deliver it with the proper logos at the ends of all email correspondence.
Effective brand strategy consists of the substance of behaviors. What matters is what the company does, not what it says. Or sells.
The Purple correspondence is a perfect example of what CRM isn't. It's just promotional selling, managing no relationship other than that between the company and the vendors it pays for its marketing and software. Call it whatever you want.
I wonder what % of CRM activities in the world today amount to little more?