XFM’s Marsha – CRM Goddess

Lovely Marsha from XFM likes music. That is probably the understatement of the year. To give you an idea of her relationship with music, this is a recent line from her weekly-mailer:

Yesterday morning, as I got into my taxi home after the night shift, the driver was listening to Radio 4. Out of courtesy, I said “Do you mind if I put my headphones on?” (cos I wanted to listen to the new Field Music). The driver lowered his eyebrows and said “You’ve just spent five hours listening to music – and you want to listen to *more music?”

I looked at him, in much the same way as I imagine you would have, and said, “It’s my oxygen”.

Then I listened to “In Context” and pondered on how different people can be.

Marsha creates a weekly mail-out that talks about the music she’s been listening to that week, the gigs she’s been to (and the one’s she promoted on-air) and other entertaining things that she wants to share with her listeners. It’s chatty, friendly and passionate and it pops in your inbox once a week. It also serves to increase the connections recipients have about Marsha and probably drives loyalty to her. It also marks her out against all the other passioante music DJs out there. I’m absolutely sure that none of these are reasons that she does it, but these will naturally be some of the results.

It’s a perfect example of well-targeted CRM, something that most companies are bloody awful at. That’s because in consumer’s minds they dislike getting things from evil, faceless companies but absolutely love getting things from real people. This is one of the reason’s why blogging is so well received. Through a blog (even one from a company) you feel that a person is sharing things with you. If you have bought into them as a person, you’re happy to receive marketing messages from them, because you’ve built up some trust.

In marketing nirvana, product managers hope that ‘brands’ and their values can build these kinds of relationships too. It’s bloody difficult to think of many companies that have achieved it. What I don’t understand is that actually they don’t really need to bother, they just need to get a passionate person, like a Marsha, to help build those relationships for them.

3 thoughts on “XFM’s Marsha – CRM Goddess”

  1. Mmm. Disagree. This is nothing to do with well-targeted CRM; and more to do with well-produced content.

    The cynical among us would point out…

    All this great content isn’t on the XFM site. It’s on MySpace. XFM is earning no revenue from this content, and doesn’t even own the CRM data.

    I can’t see all of the information on her MySpace homepage – (it’s been apparently laid-out by someone with a screen twice as large as the average) – but from what I can see, there’s no XFM branding. At all.

    Marsha is building relationships with her own fans. There is no relationship and no attachment to XFM here. When she inevitably leaves XFM, she will take her own fans with her; and XFM will be badly damaged if Marsha next appears on, say, BBC 6music.

    So; while Marsha is doing a great job here (and, while I’m no muso, her personality and passion really comes through), let’s make it entirely clear that XFM gets little benefit out of it and may well get badly damaged from this.

    If it were me, I’d be giving Marsha the tools to do this on the XFM website – including emails, RSS feeds, the lot. I’d be ensuring she can communicate with her fanbase however she wants to: through podcasting, texting, MMS, RSS, XMPP, the works. I’d be bending over backwards to keep this fantastic content within the company for whom, let’s face it, she’s contracted to work.

    Disclosure: I work for a (much better) competitor to XFM. Given this, read the above with a pinch of salt.

  2. I absolutely get what you’re trying to say James, however what I would say is that in the post I specifically didn’t talk about this being XFM activity, what i’ve focused on is Marsha, who’s a freelance, creating (inadvertantly) her own CRM strategy for herself. To repeat I’m definitely not saying that this is XFM-based activity.

    Obviously at the same time, XFM may decide that this is something they want to encourage and make an intergral part of their site. They also however might decide that what’s more core is supporting other specific things in the X schedule, or indeed their excellent Mi-XFM system. I wouldn’t know though – that’s one to ask XFM directly.

    What i’d also say is that a lack of XFM branding and an (obviously) personal position perhaps has more benefit than if it was branded to buggery, sat on the brand website and was perhaps even updated by Marsha’s producer rather than Marsha herself (see Breakfast show blog on Virgin Radio for example).

    Using MySpace is interesting because it’s (generally) the consumer’s platform that we (evil brands) have come to, rather than forcing consumers to come to our environment. But that’s for another post…

  3. Is ‘In Context’ the name of the album that Marsha was listening to, or the name of the Radio 4 show that the taxi driver had on? It could be either really. It’s funny because ‘In Context’ has no context at all and means very little on its own. Well funny if you’ve been up since 5am and are flagging a bit.

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