Closed-loop marketing (CLM), by David Hunt
Part I: start, and therefore finish, with insight
My first experience of healthcare marketing, and indeed closed-loop marketing, was in 2004. Even then it was being presented as the ultimate sales tool – the silver bullet for customer engagement. Almost a decade later, the story remains the same. Truly bespoke experiences are as unique in their delivery as they are in their frequency.
I am fortunate enough to have worked on some amazing campaigns, with some amazing people. And with 10 years’ experience, I have come to realise that delivering a true closed-loop experience is not about the technology, it’s not about budget, it’s not even about expertise – it is about absolute commitment to the vision across an entire organisation. You need the full support of senior management, experienced marketers that truly understand their customers and products, an engaged field force looking for a competitive advantage AND a flexible IT infrastructure that is committed to dynamic innovation. It is only with complete dedication that an organisation can deliver a SUSTAINED, tailored experience.
Conversations often begin with technology – a ridiculous and bizarre starting-point. Technology is only the platform. It is the idea that truly counts. First we need to really understand our customers. In face-to-face interactions we each instinctively perceive their interest. We do this based on a reaction, we do not do this because they have spent 12 seconds digesting a piece of information.
Within CLM, we shouldn’t just be looking at page metrics. At best it is inconclusive, at worst it is misleading. Who led the interaction? What was the facial response? What was the real reaction? My wife and I recently had our first child. The use of customer relationship management systems by large superstores is both exceptional and well documented. As a result of our “tells” we received the right offers at the right times. It wasn’t because of a request on our part, it was because of an action observed on theirs. To deliver a true closed-loop marketing experience in healthcare, we need to design and study genuine interactions, interactions with meaning. The late Steve Jobs and his team afforded us a revolutionary piece of kit. It demands engagement, it ensures participation and if done right, it absolutely captures true reactions and true, actionable insights.
So how do we know what makes our customers tick? We typically default to traditional market research, which has both its values and challenges. Research of this nature is set-up to validate a story, it does not convey the nuances of our interactions. I believe in multi-disciplinary teams, and I believe in iterative product design. Led by the brand team, with valued input from the field and true digital creatives, we can create interactions that are worthwhile to the customer and loaded with insight for us. The customer tell. We can create a campaign designed around a conversation to support the field, support the business and, most importantly, to support the customer.
It is not always possible to augment traditional research with robust, integrated workshops and numerous prototypes, but if we want to deliver closed-loop marketing we need to do more than embed the technology, more than talk about the benefits, we need to start, and therefore finish, with insight.
Part III: judging the impact