Monday, December 1, 2008

Integrated marketing and social performance management

If you’re still unconvinced about the benefits of integrated marketing, how do you feel about social performance management? Because the two practices are so similar – in design and data collected and data reported – that their functions can be contained within one department (whatever you decide to call it).

First, however, let’s define our terms. Social performance management (or “SPM” for short) is a regular, systematic model for client knowledge management – i.e. learning about the client and managing that information. Under SPM, three types of data are collected: indicators which assess the MFI’s client outreach, its client needs, and the benefits clients receive from the program – e.g. changes in lifestyle or income.

Integrated marketing is also a regular, systematic model for client knowledge management. The data collected by market research typically includes indicators which analyze the MFI’s target market (i.e. outreach), its client needs, and the benefits its clients receive from the program – e.g. changes in lifestyle or income.

Notice any similarities?

The data collected is the same. The focus on regular collection and managing the data so it is utilized throughout the institution – at strategic and operational levels – is the same.
Data collected under SPM and integrated marketing programs flow throughout the institution the same way – to and from upper management and loan officers alike. In both cases, the data is used to improve outreach, develop better products, and communicate more effectively with current and potential clients.

Imagine an MFI with a stated social mission to support at-risk families. Through the MFI’s integrated marketing/SPM system, the managers have learned that a key segment of female urban borrowers use the MFI’s business loans not for their business, but to pay for school fees, because they believe education is the key to their children’s success.

Seeing an opportunity, the MFI redesigns the product so it better fits the timing and loan size needed for school fees. The MFI then trains its loan officers to promote the product’s benefits, (e.g. education loans help children earn more later in life). It also develops a poster campaign on urban subways, which research has shown most of these borrowers ride on daily.

The re-designed product fulfills the MFI’s social mission, while expanding its client base. The social and profit/sustainability outputs are interwoven. Integrated marketing is what weaves it all together.

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