Big PictureOver coffee with a friend this week, they mentioned the benefit of someone having “helicopter skills”. They meant the ability to understand the technical detail but then zoom out to see it in the context of the big picture (often business context or need).

Given our theme this month is Database Marketing, that got me thinking about how such an approach helps leaders of these teams.

What does it mean for a Database Marketing leader to step away from the technical detail & focus on the bigger picture of how to make a real difference in their business?

Well, I’ve been browsing other blogs again & found some content that shares interesting potential answers to that question.

Does it matter if it’s Offline or Online?

First, let’s start with this post from Tommy Landry, published in CMS Wire. In it, he argues that marketers are in danger of being pedantic & myopic if they obsess about thinking in terms of offline verses online marketing. Your customers don’t see you that way & the biggest impact from your database marketing efforts probably comes through integrated marketing anyway. See if you agree with this challenge to step back & look at the big picture:

Call it Online, Call it Offline, It’s All Just Marketing

Ask 10 different business people with varied backgrounds about the difference between online and offline marketing and you’ll probably get 10 distinct answers. Us full-time marketers might have an easier time answering the question. But would our answer be enough to educate less experienced business owners, younger marketing specialists, and even other specialties like sales, engineering or product development?

How can your customer be the hero of your story?

Another key theme that’s emerged from a few writers is the need to focus your database marketing efforts back on the customer. We’ve posted before on the need to return to customer centricity in all our data, analytics & database marketing plans. Good to read Courtney Feairheller making the same plea on HubSpot’s marketing blog. Sound high-level principles here, especially the need for your wider insight work to give real clarity & understanding of your target audience before co-creating interactions:

How to Make the Customer the Hero of Your Story

A common mistake companies make in marketing efforts is positioning their company or product as the hero of the story. You may want to don the cape, drive the Batmobile, and kick the villain’s butt (and who could blame you?), but most brands overlook the interests of customers when they focus on themselves.

Is culture the elephant in the room?

As a consultant, all too often you come across clients who want to hear the easier advice but shrink back from addressing thorny cultural issues. So, I was encouraged to see Brian Solis raise this topic in the context of barriers to driving digital transformation. Although our focus is on more customer-centred holistic database marketing, not just going digital with your business, the problem he raises can often be a barrier for insight leaders too. That’s why more & more are investing in people change, coaching & culture initiatives, not just data projects. Here’s Brian’s diagnosis:

Culture is Either the the Roadblock or Gateway to Digital Transformation – Brian Solis

Executives underestimate the importance of culture in an era of digital Darwinism. Most cultures are risk averse at a time when taking risks is the most direct path to innovation… Digital Transformation is the act of investing in people, technology and systems and processes to upgrade how businesses work in this digital economy.

What about you?

Hope those excerpts were interesting and got you thinking about any ‘big picture’ context you might be missing. Could you be at risk of just ‘heads down’ working on technically optimising your database marketing, whilst missing the opportunity to address some wider business barriers to real impact?

How well are your Database Marketing team joining up with other Insight professionals, marketers & wider business leaders — to ensure interactions make sense for customers & optimise profit? If you’ve any tips to share or ‘war stories’ of what doesn’t work, please do share.

Taking Database Marketing from being seen as just a part of Marketing or IT, into a driver of transforming your business to interact intelligently with your customers is a long journey for everyone.