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Baesman started as a printing company when Richard Baesman founded it in 1952, but it has become much more than that. It is now a force in CRM and loyalty and helps brands understand its customers and figure out their best strategy to engage them.
Loyalty360’s Mark Johnson spoke with Kim Welther, vice president of marketing strategy at Baesman, about what the company does for its clients, the biggest challenge for customer loyalty, and how Q3 and Q4 might be completely different from any other in years prior.
Tell us about Baesman, and what you do for brands?
It might not be a name that a lot of people recognize. Baesman has been around for over 60 years. It began as a sheet-fed printer and has evolved its services to help brands and marketers in other ways. We’ve created a CRM loyalty division, and have fulfillment services that we help a lot of brands with. Our history is rooted in retail, but we apply those experiences from B2C companies across all kinds of industries and brands. We’re able to develop a more personalized experience because of that.
What does your role within Baesman entail?
I lead our CRM and loyalty division, and work with brand marketing teams to identify both CRM and loyalty strategies. We help with execution and insight, and we have a variety of clients. As I mentioned, we’re heavy in retail, but we also have home services, healthcare, and we have all of our clients’ data in-house, so we make sure we can be the best provider for them.
Is one of Baesman’s roles increasing the efficacy of a brand’s loyalty program they might be running with somebody else?
We’re different in that we are platform and technology agnostic. We get to work with a variety of brand and technology partners, as well as have one ourselves.
What is your customer loyalty offering, and how you drive deeper engagement?
We are former brand-sided marketers, and we wanted to bring that experience to the agency side. We understand the challenges that marketers are facing daily, and our fundamental approach is technology that supports marketing. So many times — and I’ve had this challenge on the brand side as well — marketers are provided the technology and are forced to adapt and build strategies around it. That is why we created Baesman CRM and loyalty; it’s to make sure marketers can execute whatever approach they want, and not let technology be the restriction.
What is the biggest challenge or opportunity you’re seeing in customer experience or customer loyalty?
Marketers are constantly sent roadblocks. We’re always trying to find the right offer, messaging or time. We’ve spent years testing and learning, trying all these strategies out, maximizing sales, reducing costs and the challenges never stop. But as we’re talking to brands right now, we’re faced with a whole new level of problems where the customers have so much power, and the brands don’t. The world that we had — with controls and holdouts — is quickly slipping away. We’ve always wanted to hear the customer’s voice; it’s been something we’ve searched for forever, but now we have these social platforms where the customer has more of a voice than they’ve ever had, and it’s taken away a lot from the marketers. We are faced with a challenge where we can’t hold out, and we might sacrifice the best brand experience because the customers want to get all the offers. I think one of the biggest challenges we’re working with brands on right now is: how do we make sure when customers have such a big voice that we’re still able to do the right strategies, and where do we put the customer experience versus the brand learning and how do we balance that?
Have you seen anything lately on diverse data sets and individual engagement brands that may be different from a historical perspective?
That’s something that came out of Q1 and Q2, and going through the pandemic, where a lot of brands couldn’t move as quickly as they needed to, and had shut stores. They weren’t able to do curbside pickup, and so we did see a lot of brands that were able to capitalize on other stores being closed, and thus their new customers skyrocketed in Q1 and Q2. The biggest challenge there is how do they maintain that? With loyalty programs, we’re able to capture all of that data and help harness a lot of those new customers that came in. But it’s a concern of, ‘now you got them, and you want to keep them,’ and making sure the right triggers are in play to keep them.
What are you seeing from your brand clients on how customers are changing now and going forward?
The customer is changing, and there’s no doubt about it. The brands that are doing it well are the ones that are answering those changes, but we see a lot of brands that aren’t adapting to the change. That’s where you see brands succeed and others decline based on the ones that are doing it right. While the customer is changing, if we’re not moving at the speed they’re changing, then we see brands fall out because they’re not able to adapt. Free shipping and returns have been something we’ve been talking about for the last five years. There are still brands that haven’t been able to conquer that hurdle yet, and they’re not only quickly going to get that hurdle as a challenge, but also expedited shipping. It’s about making sure they understand that while the finance and the P and L won’t look right; it’s the right decision for the brand to be moving as quickly as the customer. It’s making sure that they understand that the customers have these platforms that they never had in the past, and we have to adapt and make sure the brand is stable is enough to meet those expectations.
How do marketers effectively start planning for Q3/Q4 with all of the changes and transformations happening right now?
It’s setting the expectation up-front, begin your planning, and then be prepared for re-planning and re-planning. As we head into Q3 and Q4, we must be reactionary to all scenarios we can map out now. We must be ready for those in-season changes and have those engagement tactics and levers to pull. Most brands are hoping to see positive Q3 and Q4. That’s been the predictions that we’ve heard in the industry. Still, I think preparing for that, knowing that we’re heading into an election year, and heading into a pandemic in Q3 and Q4 we’re still in, those are going to leave levels of uncertainty where we’re not sure about what’s happening. Now is the time to make sure we have the right import reporting in place, do we have daily/weekly or in-season planning going, and how do we make sure we’re prepared to go real-time because marketers are going to be real-timing in Q3 and Q4. Most of all, plan but get ready to re-plan.
Are you seeing a big challenge for brands creating integrated digital experiences as people move and push for digital transformation?
Everyone is trying to predict, get ahead, and again, customer first; how do we make sure that we have all of the digital and in-store aspects that are easy to get to and access, like running out to curbside pickup. We must have all of those things implemented in Q3 and Q4.
What is some advice or recommendations for these brands that are going into Q3 and Q4?
The most significant piece of advice will be to be ready. Get everything in place, like your new reporting and scenarios now, and most importantly, prepare your team for how Q3 and Q4 will look. As we go into this, everybody needs to prepare for a new normal of change, whether it’s at the home office or store associates. As we go into that, we’ve got to be brainstorming what that looks like. Rally the team around this Q3 and Q4 initiative because it’s not going to look like any other Q3 or Q4 we’ve had in the past. It’s going to be completely different.
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