Monique Bonner, vice president of global marketing at Dell, kicked off the 15th Anniversary Marketing World 2015: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange conference by talking about 1996. This year was notable, Bonner explained, because it was the year she learned about the concept of one-to-one marketing, which Don Peppers and Martha Rogers introduced in their book, The One-to-One Future.
"The future of marketing will be based on unique relationships with individuals that are formed through dialogue and feedback; I remember being blown away when I read this [in The One-to-One Future] back in 1996," Bonner said.
The concept of one-to-one marketing is still relevant 18 years later, continued Bonner, who pointed to Dell's Ideastorm (a website launched in 2007 that served as an online suggestion box) as an early example of the company's focus on meeting customer demands.
The stakes for interacting with and delighting customers on a one-to-one basis are higher than ever. Dell faces stiff competition from other customer centricity experts like Apple and Amazon, as well as a rapidly changing marketplace.
The importance of one-to-one marketing and how to implement it was a major theme at the Marketing World conference. Jeff Adee, senior vice president of Infogroup, a multichannel marketing solutions provider, led a discussion on using customer insights and personas to provide personalized experiences.
One of the takeaways was that focus groups are still essential, even though marketers have a growing arsenal of digital analytics and other data at their fingertips. "Nothing replaces hearing from actual customers," commented one attendee.
Even attendees were reminded of the value of a face-to-face introduction.
Day two of the event started with the YouTube hit "A Conference Call in Real Life," in which executives act out the many things that often go wrong during a conference call, such as speaking while the mute button is on.
The video, which has received more than 8 million hits since it was launched in January, captures the disconnected experience of a teleconference. Patrick Nugent, executive MindXChange chairperson and event emcee, used it as an opportunity to encourage attendees to introduce themselves to their neighbors.
And even though they want to improve their customer interactions, marketers also face several obstacles. Some of the challenges are related to privacy regulations. Health insurers are restricted from personalizing their emails with member info under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, for example.
Not having employees with the right talent or skills is another issue. "The people you have on your team is critical," said Misty Hathaway, Mayo Clinic's chair of marketing, during a presentation. "Sometimes the people you have determines what you can do."