Ad supremo blasts blame-laying marketing execs

Executives who blame poor IT performance and cost blow-outs on CRM and the IT departments got a pasting from a leading advertising and marketing executive last week.

One of Australia's best known advertising and marketing executives, Wayne Kingston, said CEOs and boards should take a good, hard look at themselves.

Kingston, a partner with Peppers and Rogers Group and former chairman and CEO of DDB in Australia, let fly at a panel discussion during the SAS User Group of Australasia Customer Intelligence Business Forum at Darling Harbour last week, claiming that many boards had bought into the wild promises and hype surrounding CRM "because it came from sales and marketing", rather than bothering to listen to what IT managers had to say.

Part of the reason for this was that many senior executives had a "greater affinity" with sales and marketing types, who were already skilled at telling executives "what they want to hear". Additionally, many people who rose to the ranks of executive leadership often themselves came from sales or marketing backgrounds.

Kingston also argued that executives with a corporate background earned in the boom-time of 1990s' mergers and acquisitions had wrongly attempted to force mass market results from CRM systems designed to hone in on, and exploit niche trends.

"The merger and acquisitions thing was convenient [to drive growth] in the 90s for boards, but it's over. The next 10 years will see [a focus on] increasing customer value... rather than making companies bigger," he said.

Kingston also levelled heavy fire at marketing executive management and culture for being unable to "take ownership" of campaigns that went sour -- especially after they had based decisions on information which they either knew little about, didn't know how to interpret, or "simply didn't care".

"Mass marketing is now in the hot seat. It's broken -- it's not working and it's not coming back. "Channel marketing is what's happening. Mass-market strategy must channel into 'one to one' and NOT vice versa," Kingston told the audience.

Panel member Mark Jeffrey, group CRM manager for optical retailer OPSM, told the audience that his team had actively considered "not using the term CRM in our business case presentation [to the board] due the amount of bad press that was around".

Over 650 delegates attended the conference.

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