Transforming into One Red Cross with Data Driven Insights

By | November 7, 2013

“We need to be  ‘One Red Cross,” that’s the overarching message from American Red Cross CMO Peggy Dyer, “that’s how the public knows us whether it is blood donations or a first aid and CPR course or when we’re there during a disaster.  And that priority to operate as one Red Cross was our guiding principle, and from that we knew that data was central and foundational.”

Peggy Dyer
CMO, American Red Cross

The day we spent at the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. left us inspired; by their mission, their history, and their vision for data.  We all have our own experiences of the American Red Cross (ARC) – we see them on the national news assisting in large disasters like Katrina or Superstorm Sandy and even on the local news housing people after a fire. The ARC facilitates life-saving blood donation efforts and provides essential CPR training.  And the lifeblood of the ARC is donations… your time, money and blood.  But the data on ARC constituents has been everywhere; multiple databases, excel spreadsheets, and even index cards filed in drawers.  In order to get to know each donor individually the American Red Cross needed one vision of data strategy.

“Our journey really started with our strategy and what do we want, and that was driven by the priority for One Red Cross.  From a marketing perspective we wanted to look at who are key constituents and what should their experience be first and foremost and then how can data fit into that and help enable us to have a wonderful and impactful experience for our donors?” – Peggy Dyer

ARC hired a VP of Data Strategy, Peggy credits former Disney executive Chris Taylor with significantly advancing their progress towards One Red Cross, from a data perspective.  The key to that? Marry marketing and IT and move in unison to be a data driven organization.

At the apex of that goal – design the ARC customer experience and craft it around data.  The architect for the customer experience,  Banafsheh Ghassemi, VP of Marketing CRM, Customer Experience and Marketing Excellence.

Banafsheh Ghassemi
VP, CRM & Customer Experience Strategy
American Red Cross

“As a marketer, when you make a promise to your constituents, whether you’re an American Red Cross or any other brand that’s out there, IBM, Coca-Cola and so forth, you’re making a brand promise. And as a constituent or as a customer of that brand what you’re really looking at is how does this promise enhance– gives me value in my life and enhances my experience? So what data does, across these lines of business that we have, is that in order for us to meet that expectation, in order for us to articulate that value to you, we need to give you some relevance. And relevance is when you– if I can articulate relevance to your life, whether blood donation, whether it’s donation of your money, how will that be relevant to you, and give you the stories that you need to hear in order to see where is that money going, where is that blood going? “  – Banafsheh Ghassemi

Banafsheh says the ARC will crawl, then walk, and then run with data.   In the future the American Red Cross will thank donors for ALL of their contributions in one communication.  Donors won’t have four personalities across different channels. They will have ONE and they will meet the donor on the channels the donor prefers.

How?  The data dictates.  A teenager in high school and college is more likely to be a volunteer, but she is a future blood donor and a future fundraiser.  When that teenager moves on to college student, she becomes a blood donor, a volunteer and has also taken a CPR class.  Later when she is employed – she becomes a fundraiser and a monetary donor.  Banafsheh’s promise to the donor – “we will work with you through the cycle of life.”

Through it all Banafsheh knows that data by itself will not give you a strategy, it needs context and a roadmap to understand – but data itself gives you cues on where to go.

The vision for marketing at the American Red Cross is to create consolidated, powerful, breathtaking marketing.  Peggy Dyer says the data and information that the Red Cross will have must be done in a consolidated way, so it will enable ARC marketing to be powerful and breathtaking.

Getting to the concrete objectives the ARC has rolled up their sleeves and dug in – creating better website interaction, a new mobile site for donations, and fundamentally changing the approach to data.  Admittedly they are at the beginning of a long but worthwhile journey.  Thank you to the American Red Cross from all of us at Teradata and Teradata Applications.  We thank you for your service.

For more information on the American Red Cross and strategies to create your own data driven organization – read Lisa Arthur’s Big Data

Big Data Marketing by Lisa Arthur

Marketing, written by Teradata Applications CMO. **

**All proceeds from Big Data Marketing will be donated to the American Red Cross.

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