Sean Ebeling applies his passion for personalized, results-driven marketing at financial services firm Edward Jones, where he is a CX specialist and part of the client experience team. Ebeling has invested 25 years on the agency and client sides of direct, database, and now, champions people-based marketing for innovative brands such as AT&T, American Express, and the Salvation Army.
Read on for insight behind his approach.
1. What marketing topic is most important to you as an innovator?
People. Yes, they are clients and prospects and have lots of data points, but they’re people first. Real people with real families. People who have jobs. Busy people who are searching for innovative ways to make their lives, and the lives of those around them, better. They have souls. They’re at the center of B2C and B2B and B2Anything. They leverage technology to communicate and be informed. They’re influenced by their background, and they look at their current circumstances to shape their actions.
People take action when they find value in a service. Technology enhances—and many time facilitates—those actions. It’s our role as responsible marketers to gain a deep understanding of who they are as humans and what they’re trying to accomplish. Only then can we provide them with the best possible experiences.
2. Why is this so important?
I believe marketing groups greatly diminish their value to the organization and risk becoming irrelevant if they fail to take a people-first approach. To innovate, we must listen to the client; learn from the client’s actions; create ideal experiences based on understanding the needs and expectations of current and future clients; and use data, technology, and systems to support innovation—not vice-versa.
3. How will this improve the customer experience?
Many times, as modern-day marketers, we lose sight of the people behind the “client” and “prospect” labels. We focus too much time and energy on commodity-type technology decisions and too little time providing solutions to the client’s problems. I’d challenge marketing leaders to ask themselves, “How are we adding value to our clients’ lives? How are we demonstrating that we understand the context in which the client wants to interact with our company?”
4. How will doing so improve the effectiveness of marketing?
In his 1954 book “The Practice of Management,” Peter Drucker wrote, “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” He followed that with, “... and make serving the customer the center of everything.” It’s still true today. In today’s marketing landscape, effectiveness equals one-to-one. From my perspective, personalization is the manifestation of data, listening, observing, and putting into context how your product or service can provide a solution for your clients. We need to strive for creating ideal client experiences. We can do this by putting people first. We can do this by truly personalizing interactions and helping those we serve by providing the solutions they’re seeking.
Bonus: 3 Thoughts For “People-Based” Innovators
1. Clients and prospective clients are real people: They’re busy. Find those people for whom you can provide a valuable service or product, and strive to make their experience ideal.
2. Content and contact management systems are important: But they are simply the technology and tools that allow you to focus on the “person” in your personalization.
3. Client experience looks out the windshield, not the rear-view mirror: Get in the driver’s seat, and allow your clients and prospective clients to be your GPS.