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DIGITAL COMMUNICATION SERVICES

Thinking Differently
About Digital Marketing:
Thought Leadership Beyond Acquisition

Francesca Brosan, Chairman,
Omobono Limited.
January 2010

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Time to start thinking differently about
digital marketing

Retaining the 2009 was the year in which marketers at building the experience around the
accepted the fact that digital was a central product. In service markets it is actually
relationships you acquire
pillar of their marketing activities rather an integral part of the product. As Will
than a nice to have, as online advertising Harris, Marketing Director of Nokia put it
expenditure grew 4.6% to £1.75 billion, at the Marketing Society 50th Anniversary
overtaking TV for the first time. Finally, ‘new’ Conference (a lot of good sense talked
media was centre stage. there), “Customers will be interested in
corporations who are doing things, not
The majority of the spend however, and brands who are saying things.”
certainly the reporting of it, focuses on
acquisition. Marketers have transitioned Although Marketing control of websites has
their activities from offline advertising to been growing and they have moved from
online advertising and are now seeking static, IT driven brochureware to adopt
ways in which to use social media to, well, the full panoply of web 2.0 features they
advertise – despite the fact that that’s not are still primarily promotional tools. They
how the medium seems to work. don’t do things, and are therefore, arguably,
peripheral to creating preference.
The obsessive focus by marketers on
acquisition makes less sense in the current Digital’s real power is to reinforce the
climate however. For a start, markets relationships which surround and influence
are retracting, making the retention of customer preference.
customers an essential exercise. Secondly,
customers are more likely to be influenced It’s a truth universally acknowledged that
by what peers say about product or service relationships drive business. As Hakasson
on a social networking site than by an ad, & Ford put it:
and never more so than in B2B decision
making where advertising has always
hovered around a mere 15% of marketing
spend.
“The overall
In addition, for many businesses the 80/20
performance of
rule applies. The opportunity not just to a company will
retain your business but to grow it is more
likely to come from people you know depend on how
well. Here the game is not about creating
awareness but about creating preference. well they are able
This is where digital really comes into its to manage their
own. Preference is not about liking an ad,
but about having a really good experience.
own relationships.” 1

Experience is ultimately what drives your
choice of business partner. Digital is adept

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Shifting the focus of But it’s surprising how little work has been Service businesses for example, focus
done on how business relationships impact on building relationships with their end
each relationship customer. But in truth, as knowledge is
on each other, and on the bottom line.
the fundamental source of competitive
A study conducted for Omobono, the advantage for service organisations, the
digital communication services company, need to share information across the
2
by Judge Business School in 2009 company is also paramount. Another
focused on this specifically and highlighted example is the influence of the regulator on
some important issues for marketers who customer relationships. Whilst one part of
are looking to use digital as more than an the organisation is focused on improving it,
acquisition tool. another is in the process of dismantling it.

Omobono’s research showed that All of which means that the new place
although relationships gel around four for marketing is as much internal as it
key areas – internal, suppliers, customers is external. They need move out of the
and external stakeholders – the relational promotional corner in which they have
focus shifts, depending on the business. been painted to partner sales and service
What also emerged is that relationships delivery teams. Their skills are ideally
are interdependent. So secondary suited to improving not just the promotion
relationships have significant impacts on of a product or service but the delivery
the organisations ability to deliver to its experience.
customers.

Source: Morgan, R.M. and Hunt, D.H. (1994) 3

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Jeremy Bullmore backed up the point in As Accenture4 puts it, “Our research
his video input at the Marketing Society shows, providing a consistent, differentiated
Conference. As he put it (succinctly, as customer experience has the most
always). “Marketers need to get back impact on customer loyalty, which in turn
to being obsessive about products and contributes to growth, profitability and
services. Forget about the gloss, just do shareholder value.”
good stuff.” In digital terms it’s not about
doing better, cleverer web 2,0 promotional Which gets us back to the original point.
stuff. It’s about using the medium to Digital has come of age. But using it simply
enhance business relationships and to drive as another acquisition tool is missing a
maximum value from them. trick. It’s an essential part of retention. Not
as a clever comms tool but as part of the
The good news is that the wiring is already actual service delivery. Marketers who think
in place. We have the internet, intranets, like this, spend their time developing added
extranets and e-commerce sites. We value services which can be delivered down
have CRM systems and email. We fire the line, using the medium to enhance off
messages down the wires with alarming line delivery to build relationships.
regularity. What is telling is how responses
emails vary directly in accordance with Judging from the media coverage, it’s
the strength of the relationship. As an approach that not many people have
demonstrated by the chart below, the yet tapped into. But, as the Omobono/
stronger the relationship, the higher the Judge Business School research showed,
response levels. An argument begins to marketers who do adopt this thinking are in
emerge that investing in the tools which a position to create commercial advantage
build a relationships, is an exercise which for their organisation.
can pay off financially.
For further information on how digital
can be used to enhance Enterprise
Relationships go to www.omobono.co.uk/
knowledgebase

Email Response Levels from Financial and Service industries
Source: Omobono/Marketwatch 2008/9

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Acknowledgements

1. Journal of Business Research, (55(2), 133,
2002)

2. Research into Enterprise Relationship
Management, a concept developed by
Omobono Limtied, was conducted by
students on the MBA programme between
July and November 2009. Findings are Relationships drive your business.
based on depth interviews with senior We drive your relationships.
management in a range of industries
including financial and professional services, ERM® helps world class organisations drive
manufacturing, energy, transport and value from their business relationships by
logistics, law, IT and public sector. examining the ways they interact with their
customers, partners and staff; and how that
3. Morgan, R.M. and Hunt, D.H. (1994) “The is measured to help achieve organisational
Commitment-Trust Theory of goals, deliver to customers and create mutual
value. We look largely at the contribution online
4. Relationship Marketing”, Journal of
technologies can play, and how companies can
Marketing, Vol.58 (July 1994), 20-38.
maximise value from the infrastructure put in
place over the past 5 – 10 years. By exploring
5. Accenture, “Marketing mastery matters”.
alternative approaches to improving B2B
Outlook 2006, Number 2.
marketing effectiveness, ERM enables us to think
about marketing differently, to put it back to its
original place; where marketing has a meaning
and purpose beyond communication and
becomes a business essential, not a business
expense.

Francesca Brosan is Chairman and Founder of
Omobono Limited, the digital communications
services company. A former Board Director
of WCRS, her career has spanned consumer
advertising, PR, live events and digital. She
now focuses on B2B strategy for the agencies
corporate and public sector clients. Francesca
is the author of 3 IPA Advertising Effectiveness
Awards and is a regular speaker and contributor
to marketing forums.
uk.linkedin.com/in/francescabrosan

OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK
T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167
info@omobono.co.uk | www.omobono.co.uk