Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Don’t become junk mail.

Easier said than done. Our team at BAM has been conceiving, pitching, and managing major CRM programs for over 20 years — and all our most successful efforts were guided by the same creative principle: something we call Careiosity™ (yes, that’s a real trademark)

We define it as the act of being caring and curious at the same time, with the intention to create real and valuable impact. A simple notion, but one that’s rarely embodied by big brands.

And nowhere is this idea more important than in the world of customer relationship “management” — an oxymoron in and of itself.

Nobody wants a toxic relationship.

“The idea of ‘managing’ your customers is dead,” marketing wizard Seth Godin said in an interview about the state of CRM over 10 years ago. “You don’t get to manage your customers. Your customers now manage you.”

Fast forward to 2020 and the balance has shifted even further in the customer’s favor. The line between preferred brand and a lifetime in junk box purgatory is razor thin. Newsletter clutter has become so bad, Gmail actually invented a new UX to hide them from users.

But there’s no denying the power of thoughtfully conceived CRM programming. It’s estimated that US marketers will spend over 350 million dollars on email advertising alone in 2020 (the biggest share of digital marketing budgets) fueled by a highly-rated ROI — approximately $51 return on every $1 spent.

But coupons and contests will only take you so far.

Make the journey matter. 

This is a phrase we tattoo on every BAM employee (face or lower back, their choice) as part of their on-boarding process. We’ll use a real client example to demonstrate its meaning:

So let’s talk heartburn.

Most brands in this category take a basic approach to targeted CRM communications, focusing on big eating occasions like Thanksgiving or Super Bowl weekend. We know you’re about to eat and drink more than usual this weekend, so don’t forget to stock up on heartburn medication.

That’s certainly contextual, and it’s often effective. 

But does the brand care about them? Are they curious about their experience?

Or are they just trying to capitalize on their next upset stomach? 

Caring is the cost of entry. 

This is where our client embraced the notion of Careiosity to go the other way. Instead of saying “buy our product to fix that problem you’re about to have”, we helped them create content about how to avoid heartburn in the first place; which foods are most likely to irritate; tips to eat a bit slower; avoid carbonation; don’t do more than 3 keg stands in under 60 minutes; etc. etc.

Two approaches to contextual CRM communications: One smelled dollar signs. The other saw an opportunity to prove they actually cared.

Earth-shattering creative strategy? No. But the story behind why we reached out and the value-add content that accompanied our offer came from a genuine place. Yet 99% of brands fall short of this very modest yardstick. They don’t spend any time getting curious about what their customer is going through — and they almost never care enough to give help beyond the purchase incentive.

A little Careiosity goes a long way.

The truth is, there’s really not that much to “manage” in the world of CRM. Either you’re providing value through your products, offers, and content — or you’re just clutter. At which point, the only relationship left to manage is how much you’re bothering people.

But if you’re curious enough to uncover a real need, and if you care enough to actually help them address it, well, you may just create a customer relationship that manages itself.

Pete Meyers

President – BAM Strategy U.S.