April 2012 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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Advanced analytics can help marketers know their customers

This week’s guest post comes from Ray Eitel-Porter, Executive Director and Leader – Europe, of Opera Solutions, C³Centricity’s Big Data Analytics partner.

Analytics can help marketers know their customers’ preferences, anticipate their behavior – and take the right steps to influence both.

Today’s advanced analytics allow marketers to detect the signals that indicate how customers will behave – whether positively or negatively – and identify the steps they should take to reinforce the former and head off the latter. It’s a truly customer-centric approach that works across various industries.

Opera Solutions, a leading Big Data analytics company with more than 220 data scientists – one of the largest such groups in private industry – is in the forefront of helping companies use the latest predictive analytics to better underst and their customers. Here are some of the successes we have seen when marketers use advanced analytics to connect with their customers:

A company in the hospitality industry achieved far greater customer centricity by creating a customer record with behavioral tags that explain each individual customer’s reaction to a particular offer and help tailor future ones. By scraping information about specific aspects of the offer – a hotel’s amenities, the reputation of its restaurant, types of nearby attractions – a picture of this customer’s likes and dislikes comes into focus over time. Taking this one step further, by comparing a customer’s behavioral signals to other in-market consumers with similar activity – a “twin” – the company can infer that the customer’s “twin” will respond in the same way. The result: it lets the company serve up timely, relevant offers to a broader, more receptive audience.

An analytics-based approach to customer centricity can also detect the faint signals of a customer that’s about to stop using a business or service – sometimes, even before the customer knows it. Marketers can take early action to reverse this fading, through more individualized interventions. For example, a weight-loss company now gathers as many behavioral indicators as possible on each of their customers – focusing heavily on their website behavior. Then they use them for “survivor analysis” – scoring activity on a daily basis to determine if a customer is at risk of attriting. All this allows them to rapidly identify those individuals in danger of leaving in time for the company to take action.

A food retailer has taken customer centricity to the household level. It looks at the purchasing history of customers on a home-by-home basis, compares what one household buys to what similar ones buy, tracks spending in specific categories over time, and pushes recommendations right to the point of sale. The result: an increase in incremental revenue on the order of $100MM, versus a 16 percent reduction in sales in the control group.

These are just a few examples of the new ways that advanced analytics can drive real results for marketers – and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Big Data is an incipient gold mine for marketers, containing information, patterns, indicators, and signals that can refine target markets, serve up better recommendations, help optimize prices and offers, and much more. Advanced analytics are the means to extract the gold from the dross – and they are only going to become more powerful at doing so.

For more on C3Centricity’s partner Opera Solutions, check out our website:  https://www.c3centricity.com/about/

 

5 Ideas on How to Present for Action not Boredom

Many of you in market research, information & planning functions, can clearly see what needs to be done to make your organisations more customer centric, but are frustrated that nobody seems to want to listen to you or make the changes you propose.

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you fight a constant battle to bring these much needed transformations to the attention of management, but usually get blocked by negative reactions or even worse disbelief. If so, I hope you find inspiration in this post.

Last week I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to introduce it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely do so to get inspired.

This made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only if its results lead to action that it can be termed a success. Therefore I came up with the following five points to help bring change and action from all data and underst anding, be it from market research projects, trawling the web for information, or any other form of knowledge gathering:

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report, that you will no doubt provide at the end of the interview.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider to take advantage of the opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than analysing what you are showing, or reading the words on your slides.

One great example of this is the rise in popularity of Infographics; why not make one yourself and give it away at the end of the meeting, rather than sending a report? You can find some inspiring examples here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data tables and never-ending information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing graphs of the results and findings. Everyone likes a good story and what’s more they remember it. How often do people remember tables of data?

Sevendots, a C3Centricity partner, prides itself on storytelling in presentations and their clients have been known to retell the story to their colleagues afterwards and also to use the visualisation elements they saw. It is so much easier to remember a story than an analysis.

#5. Don’t give results give actions

Analysts love to drown us all in data and information, when what we are looking for are insights and actions. So instead of presenting results, why not develop insights and propose actions or changes that would answer the issues or opportunities that have been identified? This way everyone goes away with concrete ideas of what needs to be done, rather than a sore head from all the data and information. If you have followed tip 4 then this will be a natural conclusion as every story has an ending.

These are five ideas that I came up with to help the world move away from boring presentations to the more inspiring world of storytelling. Do you have any other ideas on how to make information sharing fun for everyone? I would love to hear about your own best experiences; how did you inspire your audience?

For more on knowledge sharing and presentations, do check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

No Success without Trust

One of the (many) reasons Coca Cola is so successful, is because consumers Trust the br and. They trust that it will refresh them and help them to enjoy a relaxing moment, probably in the company of friends and family. 

Trust in a company or br and is what makes people believe in it, makes them loyal to it and often willing to pay more for it than other, similar offers. If you don’t know whether or not consumers trust you, or how to go about increasing it, then read on.

 

There are no Br ands without Consumers

A now famous, but anonymous quote states that:

“There may be consumers without br ands, but there are no br ands without consumers”

In other words, unless people purchase what you are manufacturing, then however you package and br and it, it will certainly not succeed. IPSOS MORI in the UK went even further, when they said that “There is little doubt that an organisation’s reputation is its most important intangible asset. Managed effectively, it can increase loyalty, commitment and support from a wide range of stakeholders. A strong reputation creates a positive halo around an organisation – generating a reservoir of good will as well as increasing the effectiveness of its marketing and communication activities.” In the case of Coca Cola, the br and is the company and the company is the br and, and as such the company needs to abide by the same rules as br and building.

 

A great example of a great Br and

Coke’s promotion the Coca Cola Friendship Machine (video) is a great example of how well Coca Cola underst ands its consumers really well. This knowledge and underst anding comes not only from market research, but from all employees putting the consumer at the heart of their business. And they don’t just talk about how important their consumers are to them; they walk consumer-centricity day in, day out. They demonstrate it in their constant reevaluation of what they are communicating and how they are doing so. And they demonstrate it to their consumers by surprising and delighting them every day.

 

Trust enables mistakes to be overcome more quickly

To be truly consumer centric takes work, but all (CPG / FMCG) companies need to reevaluate how they are integrating their consumers into everything they do. They need to start every decision or plan by thinking about their consumers first and what they would like the company to do. Even when there are problems, recalls or disasters to face, consumers are more likely to be underst anding and stay with a br and that is open, honest and transparent; a company that tells people what has gone wrong and how they plan to put it right.

Whether good or bad, today the web means that news is shared globally FAST; you can’t avoid it. Everyone makes mistakes but people – and companies – we trust openly admit it, learn from it and move on. Isn’t that what you want your customers, consumers and clients to believe you can do too?

For more ideas on building br and equity: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

 

This post is adapted from one that was first published on June 30th 2011 in C3Centricity Comments

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Great Customer Satisfaction in 3 Easy Lessons

The latest Customer Experience Survey run in the US at the end of last year by McKinsey shows that Americans are generally more satisfied with their experiences today than pre-recession, although this can in part be attributed to rising consumer confidence. 

The article concludes that happier customers have a higher lifetime value  for a company and highlights several areas for businesses to consider in order to increase satisfaction.

After reading the report I was inspired to take their ideas and exp and them into three lessons that could guarantee increased customer satisfaction for all organisations. This is what I came up with:

Consistency boosts satisfaction

The article refers to consistency across contact channels, but I believe it goes much further than that. Customers need to underst and what we are offering in order to find it a – hopefully regular – place in their lives. If we frequently change packaging, distribution channels or communications from one year to the next, as often follows management restructuring, they can become destabilised.

They will then be forced to work, evaluating how these changes impact their current habits and perceptions of the br and. As we are all creatures of habit, living on auto-pilot in many areas of our lives for much of the time, changes force us to reconsider our choices, which can perhaps lead to the decision that the offering no longer has a place in our lives.

Lesson 1: remain consistent to the br and equity and personality that should have been clearly defined, in every way the br and interacts with its customers.

You can’t control everything

Customer confidence and satisfaction are said to be closely linked, especially in transactional industries such as airlines, hotels and retail. Whilst this may be true, I believe that br ands have an essential role to play in giving customers the confidence they need that they have made the best choice. What a br and st ands for in the hearts and minds of its audience can be influenced and thus we do have control over the confidence our customers have in the product or services we offer.

If we do not meet their expectations every time, again they may start to re-evaluate their choices and could decide to switch supplier. Br ands give customers confidence in the choices they make, as well as a guaranteed level of quality and reliability, but this needs to be reconfirmed every time they experience  it.

Lesson 2: control everything that can be controlled to ensure that your customers’ experience is of the highest level possible, and every single time, of course

Know what matters

P&G are well known for speaking about the first and second moments of truth; the first being when a shopper sees the product “on the shelf” and the second being when the product is actually experienced. With the rise of the internet and the use of search engines, many br and interactions are now taking place between a customer and a br and long before the product is ever seen or experienced; Google has named this the “Zero Moment of Truth”.

All these moments of truth are important to underst and along the path to consumption, but more important still, is their relevance for each consumer when making decisions about which br and to choose. Every experience with a br and builds towards that final, or repeated, decision and any interaction can negatively impact the decision if the customer is not totally satisfied.

Lesson 3: don’t assume all your customers are the same, even if they have been chosen following category segmentation. Ensure that you get to know them well enough to underst and what are their preferred choices along their journey and which steps are the most important for them to be satisfied.

To sum up the findings of the survey, experience impacts every br and and category choice a person makes, whether positively or negatively. Perhaps one of the most important challenges that marketers must face, is that whereas it can take many positive interactions for a customer to finally make the choice to purchase a br and, it may take just one negative experience to make them forget the br and or worse to eliminate it from their consideration set forever.

With the never-ending increase in choices that most customers face today, it is the whole br and decision journey that needs to be considered when looking to satisfy them. That is the only way to guarantee complete customer satisfaction.

Which is the most defining moment for your category to get right, zero, first, second, or somewhere else along your customer journey? Please share your experiences here.

For more information on connecting to your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

How Smart Marketers lower their Cost per Lead Dramatically!

Are you worrying if you should allocate more of your lead generation budget to social media or company blogs?

 

Stop worrying! Read this article to learn how relationship marketing will lower you cost per lead – to keep you in business!

# Be noticed in an over communicated market

To take the subject of this article by the horns – relationship marketing. Why should you care about relationship marketing? As more and more people enter the social web and spend a lot of time on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn, it’s getting harder for every marketer or entrepreneur to connect with their target audience. Simply, as the amount of content grows each day, the amount of lost content grows equally. So, how does your business get noticed on an over communicated social web?

Push marketing is outNot with one shot marketing messages! The old days of mass marketing PUSH messages are gone! Pushing your messages on the social web is like shooting arrows in the water; they don’t stick! Not you, but your receiving audience decides if your content is worth their valuable time. And if they value it high enough, they will most likely share it with friends.

As HubSpot says:

“…outbound marketing (businesses that push their messages at consumers) has become less effective as buyers have behaviorally and technologically (e.g., DVR, spam filters, ‘do-not-call’ lists) tuned these interruptive campaigns out!”

 

# Value your customers – focus on relationship first

Value your customersOkay, suppose you agree to put more effort in inbound marketing to pull your customers to your central hubs (website, local store, restaurant, et…). So, how do you get your audience attention – given that there’s so much noise out there pulling them each day!

Well, here’s a simple solution: create a REMARKABLE message. A message that people make a remark about! However, remarkable messages might get your business some viral visibility on a short term, it’s not a solid strategy for the long term.

Luckily you have an alternative: invest time and effort in building relationships with your audience. Keep doing that for a long time without expecting anything in return. Make them laugh or cry – wow or inspire. Share content that makes them coming back for more. The kind of content that reliefs their everyday worries, helps solve their problems or fulfills their dreams. After a while, when the relationship gets stronger – you’ll notice they even want to do business with you. Congratulations! You finally figured out how to lower your cost per lead dramatically.

 

Here are 3 simple action steps to change the course of your business today:

  1. start a business blog and/or increase the frequency of your blog posts to more than once per week (59% of companies consider their business blog “important to critical” for their business; HubSpot – The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing);
  2. dedicate most resources to social channels that have proven to be most effective in your industry (blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, etc…);
  3. know ‘the words’ your audience uses in their desperate search to solve their problems or fulfill their desires: optimize your content to increase your organic generated web traffic (Search Engine Optimization | SEO);

[According to HubSpot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report, businesses that follow these 3 action steps and dedicate resources to inbound marketing, lower their cost per lead with 50 to 60 percent!]

 

# Stick to Pareto’s Principle: 80 – 20

So, how do you lower the cost per lead even more? Here’s a simple and straightforward answer:don’t push yourself to serve every customer! Stick to Pareto’s principle  and you’ll do great: generate 80% of your sales with 20% of your customers. In other words: focus – focus – focus!

Think Niche marketing. If you focus on customers who value your weirdness (uniqueness), you most certainly will build a solid relationship. Every solid relationship thrives on passion. So, follow your intuition in the relationship and use your rational mind to track the results over time with solid KPIs (key performance indicators). Focus on those ‘weird’ customers that generate the highest revenue for your business.

Take away: if you want to stay ahead of your competition transform your marketing efforts to focus on relationship marketing! You’ll need creativity, empathy, smartness and a lot of focus to craft your social marketing strategy that thrives on solid relationships for your long term business success.

Please leave your reaction or question in the comment box below. I value my relationship with you icon smile

For more ideas on connecting with your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on Felix Relationship Marketing on February 28th 2012

Simply better communications

One of my recent posts was prompted by a pack of Pringles, where the freshness seal was printed with the words “Bulging with flavour” to explain the swollen lid.

You may remember that I mentioned being fascinated by the fact that Pringles had been able to turn what might have been perceived as a negative (bulging lid = altered product inside) into a positive, through this simple message.

In today’s world of social media, most companies are jumping onto the latest craze and extending beyond the creation of br and websites, to Facebook pages, Twitter and many other forms of online / on-the-go communication. It was therefore a double pleasure for me to see a company making use of its most intimate form of communication to its customer, that of its packaging.

Nestlé adds valuable information on pack

If I am not mistaken, Nestlé was one of the first companies to see the value in communicating not just promotional content on its website, but actually providing useful information to its consumers on its packaging. According to their website, the “Nutritional Compass” provides their consumers with four valuable pieces of information:

  • a st andardised nutrient table giving amounts per 100g, per serving and as a percentage of Guideline Daily Amount;
  • “Good to Know” panel explaining ingredients or nutrients relating to the product, such as fat, sugar, fibre or calcium content;
  • “Good to Remember” panel with tips for responsible product enjoyment and its place in a daily balanced diet;
  • “Good to Talk” panel with contact details and links to consumer services, websites and other materials.

Nestle's pack informationNestlé started working on this initiative back in 2004 and by the end of 2008, they were claiming that its Nutritional Compass had been added to 98% of its global product packaging by total sales volume. This is an incredible achievement in such a huge and diversified company, and shows what can be achieved with passion and dedication.

The often forgotten media channel

Packaging is a wonderful medium for communicating with your audience and yet many companies seem to be ignoring it, whilst at the same time significantly increasing their investments in online media.

My question to all marketing people is therefore “Are you aware you are doing this”? I am sure many of you see packaging as purely a product protection mechanism or a facilitator of shelf impact. Whilst both of these are important of course, the opportunity of engaging with your customers whilst they are in the process of using your product has enormous value. Isn’t it time you took another look at yours?

If your company is effectively using its packaging to communicate more than ingredients or usage instructions, why not share it below and let your br and get into the spotlight?

For more information on br and communication please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Defining a Better Strategy from Improved Customer Centricity

Every company today has a vision and mission statement that it proudly shares both internally and externally, to explain who they are and what they want to achieve.

Surprisingly – or should I say sadly – few B2C (Business to Customer) companies include the customer in these and yet it would not exist without them. A famous, albeit anonymous, quotation says:

“There are customers without br ands, but there are no br ands without customers” Anon

If you are in a people-facing industry, it is vital to start your vision and mission with clear statements that indicate to all that your customer is at the heart of your business.

Past, present, future:

In many companies the vision and plans are based upon past performance, and forecasts for the future are then calculated based on current sales trends. In today’s fast changing world, the future is less and less like the past, so it is unwise to rely on backward looking measures alone. A better way to prepare your vision and plans, is to start by reviewing your mission statement, which states clearly what the company is aiming to be, and then to see how this fits with the target audiences. If changes are necessary, societal trends can help to identify what they are.

 

Foresight:

Foresight is an essential part of the planning process, as it will enable a company to assess its vision with the future rather than the past in mind. Society is constantly changing; it is said that a generation today is as little as 5 or 10 years, whereas in the near past it was considered to be 20 years or more. What this means for a company, is that its strategy and plans will need almost constant adaptation, since what worked just a few years ago is no longer relevant for today’s customers.

One of the biggest challenges for an organisation wanting to introduce trend following, and I see no reason for any company NOT to be doing this, is that there is too much choice. There are agencies that are specialised in trend following, such as Mintel, TrendWatching, Yankelovich (now part of the Futures Company), McKinsey’s Global Institute, TrendHunter, Global Trends, to name just a few. In addition, many communications agencies also propose their own trend following services, McCann Pulse being one of the better.

When you are ready to introduce trend following into your organisation, it is vital that everyone agrees on ONE trend following tool for the whole company and then selects the most relevant trends for each business or service. This will avoid duplication of efforts, facilitates exchanges within the business and ensures everyone both speaks the same language and underst ands the trends and their implications for the company in the same way.

Some of the most talked about trends for business to follow at the moment include:

  • Aging Baby Boomers
  • Authenticity
  • Heritage, nostalgia, tradition
  • Community, crowdsourcing, innovative co-creation
  • Making the world a better place
  • Urbanization
  • Health and Wellbeing

 

Scenario building:

Once you have an agreed list of trends you are following in the company, you might think your work is done, but that is not the end, it is just the beginning. Every company is – or should be – watching societal trends, so there is NO competitive advantage to doing so. However, you can get the edge over your competitors by developing them into plausible future scenarios and then identifying their drivers and trigger points. Scenario planning can often be done with the same organisations you are using to follow your trends, but is of course a proprietary exercise and thus will probably cost you the same, if not even more, than your trend following investments. As it is this second step that delivers true competitive advantage it is definitely worth the money.

Scenario planning, is a strategic planning method that enables you to make flexible long-term plans and also be better prepared for the most likely future events. Most scenario work is done by extending the trends into the future and then combining them, to see how they impact one another and also your business. Two to three axes are then identified on which the most extreme changes will occur and the corresponding “new worlds” are developed and described.

The last part of the exercise is to then position your categories and markets on the trends and to identify the drivers and  trigger points, which will enable you to be forewarned of possible market changes.

What changes are you following today and how are you working with scenarios to better prepare your organisation? Please share your most creative ideas.

For more on trends and scenario planning please visit our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

This post first appeared in C3Centricity Dimensions on November 24th 2011

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Walking the Talk of Customer Centricity

Do you ever get frustrated that although everyone in your organisation claims to underst and the importance of placing the customer at the heart of the business, nobody seems to be really “walking the talk” of customer centricity? If so, then this post is for you.

Thanks to Stan Knoops from Unilever, I recently came across a great video produced by their Insight Team. It is part of a series of Unilever consumer connect programs and presents a new way for connecting their R&D people at Unilever Vlaardingen to consumers. It shows how to engage and inspire a complete organisation of R&D with consumer insights and is a highly inspirational film.

This got me thinking about the problems that many- or should I say most? – organisations have to get all employees engaged and interested in better underst anding their customers. To help get them started on this essential road to customer centricity, I came up with these 6 points:

#1. Put customer connection in everyone’s annual objectives

This can be left open, or specified such as watching a certain number of focus groups or in-depth interviews, accompanying a certain number of customers whilst they shop for or use your product or service, or listening – and why not also manning, after training? – your care centres or websites.

#2. Conduct co-creation or co-elaboration sessions

Whilst it is good to get people close to your customers, you can also help the company with the development of new products, services or communications, by inviting your customers to join meetings and planning sessions. This is both fun and exciting for your customers and inspiring for company employees. And don’t forget the positive publicity and word of mouth you additionally get, since the participants will certainly talk about their experience to their friends and colleagues

#3. Work on the front line

If marketing, sales, supply chain or another department is struggling to find a solution or new development idea, put them on the front line, to talk to customers directly. If you have your own retail outlets this can be relatively easy to organise. However, even if you don’t it can still be done, with a little planning.

I remember when I first started working at Philip Morris International, I spent a week on the road with a sales representative. Not only did I see first h and some of the issues he faced in selling in his stock, but also learnt a lot from the retailers with whom we discussed. I also began to underst and consumers’ mentally whether smokers or non-smokers, when we were offering free samples in bars and cafés (not sure this goes on today, as I am speaking about 30+ years ago!) Being on the front line is both an inspiring and humbling experience and I just wish that more organisations gave this training, both to new hires, as well as all employees on a regular basis.

#4. Get out of the office

When I worked for Gillette many years ago, all br and managers had to spend one day every two weeks in the field, watching. I am not sure that many organisations still send their staff out of their offices on a regular basis – with a few notable and infamous exceptions of course – but since customers can be and often are, totally unlike the people in your organisation, it is difficult for them to appreciate the customers’ perspective.

Whether it is a difference of age, background, culture, wealth or experience, it is unlikely that the people taking the decisions about your br ands really know what their customers feel. So get them to stop sitting in their Ivory Towers and get out into the real world occasionally.

#5. Listen to the frontline staff

When was the last time you invited your promotions staff or retailers to join a meeting? Unfortunately today, many companies don’t even use their own staff to man promotions and sampling, s the wealth of information about how the events have gone and how potential customers appreciated the offer, is lost.

#6. Share the knowledge

In addition to gathering information and knowledge about your customers, it should be regularly shared so that everyone benefits from each other’s learnings. The latest topics customers are calling or writing in about can be visibly published to stimulate everyone’s thinking; how about putting weekly summaries on the notice board, at the lift, in the restaurant waiting area or anywhere else in your offices where a maximum number of people can be inspired by the information? Or what about holding monthly “lunch and learn” sharing sessions during the mid-day break, in a relaxed, fun and creative environment? A free lunch will get people more involved but won’t take valuable time out of their working day.

I hope this “Starter for 6” has got you thinking about ways that you might start walking the talk of customer centricity in your own organisation. If you are using other methods to get your company to put the customer at the heart of the business, please share them here.

If you would like to learn more about targeting, connecting with and underst anding your own customers, please check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Innovation: the First Step to Survival: 3 Steps to Harnessing Innovation for your Future

The first three months of 2012 have proven, once again, the existence of a br and life cycle— and that those who do not re-invent themselves to stay relevant ultimately face demise. 

Kodak—once the darling of Wall Street—files for bankruptcy, while Apple—whose stock was trading at $14.68 USD pre-split in 2001—is now trading at over $600 USD per share, and is considered the most valuable company in the world.

Many say that what led to Kodak’s failure was their lack of innovation.  That may be your perception, particularly in comparison to Apple, considered the gold st andard in developing categories no one knew they needed—MP3 players, smart phones, tablets, the list goes on.  (In reality, Apple was not the first in many of these categories.  But who among us recalls those early br ands??)

Yet, I would argue that what sets these two organizations apart was their DIFFUSION of Innovation – how they gained acceptance of their innovations!

E.M. Rogers, in Diffusion of Innovation defines “Diffusion” as the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system.

You can’t argue that Kodak wasn’t innovative.  They invented the digital camera.  Today, it is proposing to sell 1,100 of its digital imaging patents, just 10% of those it holds.  What they did not do, however, was take the lead in gaining customer acceptance of those innovations – others did!

Best practice Diffusion of Innovation

Apple on the other h and, followed Rogers’ model almost in text book form.  Take the introduction of the iPod as an example:

  • Rather than focus on the device’s memory in terms of bits and gigs, Apple’s communications highlighted the RELATIVE ADVANTAGE of the iPod to its customers – “1,000 songs in your pocket” was the headline when the iPod was introduced in 2001.
  • As the iPod became available for PCs, it was marketed for its COMPATIBILITY
  • Apple Stores encourage h ands-on TRIALABILITY
  • Celebrity endorsements demonstrate OBSERVABILITY
  • While marketing messages are always SIMPLE

Apple certainly aligned itself with these innovations, going so far as to change its name from Apple Computers to Apple in 2007, freeing itself from the ties that bound it to the computer industry.  One must ask if Kodak ever saw itself as more than a film company.

The 3 Lessons of Innovation

But, the lessons do appear to be clear:

  1. While short term profitability is required to satisfy shareholders, future forward thinking (5, 10, 20 years out) is required.  Where are you going?  Where do you want to be?
  2. Define who you are and what you do in a way that allows for innovations / evolutions as markets and your customers’ needs changes.  Apple redefined itself from a computer company to a broader technology company – literally changing its name.
  3. Certainly don’t believe that if you build it, they will come.  Gaining acceptance and adoption of a category shifting innovation is a science, as outlined above.  There are key steps to take.  Skip them at your own risk.

Time will tell if Apple can maintain this momentum.  Kodak’s fall didn’t happen overnight.  It was founded in 1880, spending decades enjoying its leadership position.  In comparison, Apple is only a baby.  Let’s check back in 100 years to see if Apple still is the darling it is today.

For more information about C³Centricity’s partner PhaseOne Communications, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/about/

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