What emerged and became official at the beginning of the year was a new role for both me and Aberdeen / Harte Hanks: VP of Client Success & CMO-in-Residence. While some may say this rather long title reflects my weakness for verbal, ur… verbosity, it actually captures the hats I wear pretty well, and in a way speaks to how we think about customer success at Aberdeen / Harte Hanks.
The idea of customer success at a research company may seem odd to some, but several factors contribute to the need for the role at Aberdeen.
- The first is that we’re not a traditional, advisory-based research house, we think and act more like a publisher, one that bases its content on high-quality, first-party quantitative and qualitative research. So we often use the term “research publishing company” in describing the model. This fact is all the more obvious in the fact that we make our research content freely available to end-users via a registration process – disrupting the traditional research subscription fees necessary for professionals to get access to high-quality research content. This model is commercialized through content marketing services, specifically to support the need that companies have for 3rd party research that informs and educates buyers (one important note: Aberdeen does not endorse, rank, or rate these vendors to avoid the appearance of impropriety or “pay-for-play” as it’s called).
- The second important factor is that late last year Aberdeen introduced a new delivery model for its research-driven content marketing services with a content-as-a-service offering. This allows for companies to not only use any of our research content in a channel for marketing programs with virtually unlimited distribution, but also allows them to appropriately curate from the research documents for derivative works (infographics, slide shares, ebooks, etc.), all for an annual subscription.
What this all means from the perspective of customer success is that Aberdeen / Harte Hanks is now operating under the rules of the subscription economy. The content-as-a-service model will only work for Aberdeen if it works for clients, that is if clients get enough perceivable value from the program to justify a renewal. It also turns out that what’s good for the subscription economy is pretty good for the traditional economy (especially in a services business) – as successful clients are more likely to be both return and do more business when they do.