Money, People, Time & Technology

Each time we decide to achieve a new project in business, it requires resources. Here at Accubase, we define resources as Money, People, Time and Technology (MPTT). Whether it is a marketing, technology or another type of initiative, a given effort may require one or more of these resources to make it proceed from concept to solution.

More specifically, marketing initiatives rely upon these same resources in addition to Creativity and the 4P’s of marketing. This formula has shown results many times during the course of its existence. While many other considerations are necessary for a marketing program to experience success, these represent the blocking and tackling of marketing.

Each of these resources may take multiple forms, but ultimately, they create a currency for marketing programs to be executed. While money sounds simple, it may be gathered in its traditional form, or another currency that is of value to a particular team. Examples include raising funds for a non-profit program to occur, paying in an alternative currency such as bitcoin or loyalty points to get value from a program partner.

When discussing People or Human Resources (this label sounds even more appropriate as we take a new step in the era of robotics), there are many forms as well. This may include teams of people within your company or from the many companies with whom you have structured strategic alliances. I have seen many instances of the clever usage of people and their time from many a marketer.

This brings us to Time. How could we create time for an initiative aside from traveling to another time zone? Most of us rely upon adding people to accomplish more in the same amount of time. Others will hire people in other time zones to increase the number of productive hours in a day. These are tried and true tactics to making more happen in less time, but each has its limits.

Finally, what about technology? It doesn’t tend to play a major role in creating money, other than with governments, the lottery and gambling. By the way, I don’t recommend the latter two as reliable funding techniques for your marketing programs. However, marketing technology may play a significant role in creating the equivalent of more People and Time.

Let’s talk about Social Marketing as our example in this case. Every social media marketer realizes quickly that social marketing tools will drastically reduce the time required to disseminate their social marketing content across multiple sites. Even the free versions have this much functionality. Sending content to 5 sites took 5 minutes per site per post. If done with a social marketing tool, it may be done in 10 minutes, a reduction of 60% from 25 minutes. Alternatively, it allows a marketer to distribute content to many more sites than without the technology, creating better reach. Imagine a social marketing program that generates 3 posts per day for 250 days per year. Most businesses within this volume of social marketing simply couldn’t afford not to have this technology. However, it provides many other benefits that accomplish similar decreases in the use of limited resources within most organizations. As a marketing team climbs the maturity curve for social marketing, the efficiencies increase at least linearly, but are counterbalanced by larger audiences, additional content needs and more sophisticated segmentation.

As you begin to plan and regularly adjust the social marketing component of your annual marketing plan, be sure to consider what technologies could create this type of efficiency with your marketing programs. Optimizing your resources is crucial for any size budget and will usually have a material, if not game changing effect on your use of limited resources.

Sales Enablement for Enhancing Results

Sales Enablement capabilities occur in many forms by providing tools to a sales person usually to create sales process efficiencies and drive the behaviors that will lead to topline results. Both of these may be desired in the context of a field sales team, an inside sales group, a call center sales function or other teams responsible for part of the sales function, each with a different set of needs, objectives and goals.

As examples, a few key objectives associated with the capability of Sales Enablement for a given company may encompass any of the following:

  • Improve sales responsiveness
  • Increase close rate
  • Decrease the sales cycle

Ultimately, the above may be measured in goals set to align with the group of objectives, such as calls per hour, lead to close ratio and average days to close, respectively. The techniques implemented to reach these objectives may vary based on many factors. A method for improving sales responsiveness is to ensure that initial contact for each lead occurs within a certain amount of time from it arriving. This sounds reasonable, but if the close rate typically increases along with the amount of research a sales person performs on a lead, then these objectives may work against each other. Therefore, enhancing access to the amount and accuracy of knowledge about potential customers, respecting their privacy of course, may play an important role with regard to making progress toward all objectives simultaneously. The question then becomes – what methods and technologies will enable a sales team to ensure prompt initial contact yet improve their access to research and information that will better the close rate?

Let’s discuss a more tangible industry example for a hotel that wants to increase its ability to respond to a plethora of group business leads from corporations. The better the hotel’s sales person understands the prospect’s needs as it relates to their event, the better they can customize a proposal for the group. What will drive results in this situation for the hotel? The following should improve the opportunity to generate these results barring other counterproductive influences:

  • Automating and integrating the identification and consolidation of relevant prospect information from available sources
  • Streamlining the customization and generation of the RFP response

While additional assumptions may be required for the above to deliver results, these are examples of what’s possible today. In fact, multiple solutions provide the above sales process enhancements in various forms. Finding the specific solutions within the thousands available that both provide these capabilities and are in harmony with your sales objectives is the next step.

A partial list of capabilities and features associated with Sales Enablement may include those in the following list, among many others:

  • Data Sources
  • Data Verification
  • Account Management
  • Contact Management
  • Sales Methodology
  • Correspondence Management
  • Lead Management
  • RFP Management
  • Calendar
  • Workflows
  • Collaboration

The hospitality industry as a whole may also want to manage event scheduling, menus, marketing materials along with reporting for the sales cycle. Furthermore, the overlap of these elements with Customer Relationship Management solutions should be readily apparent. As a result, decisions regarding the features of solutions covering the necessary capabilities should be considered in conjunction with an existing or planned CRM.

Safe Harbor to Privacy Shield

As of December 2015, the European Parliament, Council and Commission have approved the rules associated with the General Data Protection Regulation to replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive within the European Union (EU). This becomes an important consideration for companies based in the United States and other countries due to a fundamental change with regard to the regulation. The EU-US Privacy Shield complements this to set expectations for how data will be treated when it flows across the atlantic.

What has Changed? – Specifically, any company doing business with a citizen of the EU while the person is on its soil, will be held accountable to these rules defined by the EU Commission. However, each company’s accountability will be to their respective country’s Supervisory Authority. This of course requires the country to have this Authority in place and enforceable laws for businesses to understand. This applies to personal data as documented by the EU, which is defined as follows:

“Personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, your posts on social networking websites, your medical information, or your computer’s IP address. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights says that everyone has the right to personal data protection in all aspects of life: at home, at work, whilst shopping, when receiving medical treatment, at a police station or on the Internet.”

Other key changes for businesses are:

  • Simplified transactions for companies doing business in the EU due to a consistent set of data protection rules across all EU countries
  • One Supervisory Authority for each country for accountability purposes
  • Consistent rules will be built into products to promote privacy-friendly innovation

Additionally, this changes the world for consumers, such that it provides:

  • Accessibility to a person’s own data in a clear and understandable way
  • The right to data portability from one service provider to another

Assuming this is finalized as scheduled in the spring of 2016, it will become law at the same time in 2018. The GDPR has many more aspects to it as defined in the full document, but this highlights a few considerations for US companies that have a presence in the EU or do business with EU citizens. Ultimately, it will cause the US to consider what role its corporations will play in the protection of data associated with EU citizens.

Lastly, the EU-US Privacy Shield was constructed to regulate trans-atlantic data flows between EU and US companies and protect the rights of EU citizens when their data are being processed by US companies. The Privacy Shield replaces Safe Harbor and provides new parameters for US companies processing data containing information about EU citizens.

A Marketer’s Perspective – While these changes mostly affect companies and consumers located in the EU, the subtleties affecting the US are important for selected businesses. Professionals will be able to guide your company as to how these changes affect your company and whether changes are required to prepare for compliance with the regulation. However, a few questions to consider are:

  • Does my company sell or market to companies or citizens within the EU?
  • Does my company transact business with citizens within the EU?
  • Does my company share data with entities where EU citizen data are being exchanged?

Depending upon your answers to these questions and formalization of the agreement by the US to comply, you may need to adjust marketing policies and procedures. More to the point, marketers may need to be cognizant of how data under the scope of this prospective law is captured, shared and exchanged.

Real Applications – Given the status of the GDPR and Privacy Shield for the US and EU, there is more to come. If finalized, the Federal Trade Commission will be responsible for enforcing the privacy statements made by US companies needing to process EU data. Stay tuned to what the future holds as the final result may be a minimal change or set the stage for more meaningful transformation well beyond the boundaries of the EU.

Sources:

Rita Heimes, Gabriel Maldoff & Anna Myers for, “Top 10 operational impacts of the GDPR”,  International Association of Privacy Professionals, January 28, 2016. Web. February 4, 2016.

“General Data Protection Regulation”, Wikipedia, January 25, 2016. Web. February 4, 2016.

“Agreement on Commission’s EU data protection reform will boost Digital Single Market”, European Commission, December 15, 2015. Web. February 4, 2016.

Stephen Dockery, “EU Data Law Shows Way Forward for Next Safe Harbor Agreement”, Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2015. Web. February 4, 2016.

“EU Commission and United States agree on new framework for transatlantic data flows: EU-US Privacy Shield”, European Commission, February 2, 2016. Web. February 4, 2016.

“Statement of FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Agreement”, Federal Trade Commission, February 2, 2016. Web. February 4, 2016.

“EU-U.S. Privacy Shield”, Federal Trade Commission, February 2, 2016. Web. February 4, 2016.