May 2012 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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Choosing the right marketing ROI metrics

If you work in marketing and are being challenged by management to demonstrate that you are an investment and not just a cost to the business, then this post is definitely for you.

Marketing is coming under a lot of pressure these days; it is being asked, no dem anded, to demonstrate the ROI of their investments. With the explosion of information readily available from social media, this has become even more pressing. In response, marketing is showing how many “Likes” they have on Facebook, or how many fans they have on their br and pages, but are these effective and relevant measures of marketing success today? I doubt it.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, marketing is no longer (just) the creative arm of business (you can read that post here); – it is now also heavily involved in data integration and analytics, with the need to befriend the IT department to manage all the information.

This is a truly exciting time to be in marketing, especially because of all these changes. However change also brings its own challenges and many in marketing are feeling the need, if not obligation, to defend their budgets, whether stable or increasing. This is due to the many opportunities for what many see to be “free” media on the web, so I thought it would be useful to review what marketers can do to ensure they continue to be viewed as the essential predecessor of sales that they are in reality.

“Everything that can be counted doesn’t necessarily count; everything that counts can’t necessarily be counted” Albert Einstein

According to the Lenskold Group’s 2010 B2B Lead Generation Marketing ROI Study, most marketers don’t know what impact a 10% increase or decrease in their budgets would have. Therefore if the CEO is looking for money, you know where he’s likely to go; if marketers can’t defend their own budgets, who will?

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketing people is that they don’t all speak the language of business. CEO’s and CFO’s are interested in sales, margins and profits, so there is no point in speaking to them about increasing awareness or the number of clicks on your latest website or ad – unless you can say what impact these increases will have on the business.      

I think that the main issue with calculating marketing is that too many marketing plans are still being developed based upon those of previous years, without too much thought going into what the objectives of each action are specifically. How many times have you been asked why your br and is running three new ad campaigns this year and the reply is “because we ran three last year”!

If you or your organisation is likely to reply in a similar fashion, here are three tips for you to consider:

#1. Plan the metrics when you plan the actions

Marketing are often found scrambling to prove why their budgets should not be cut half-way through the year, when the CEO is looking for money. Unless you know what the results of your actions are likely to be, as well as best case and worst case scenarios, which means you have already thought about the outcomes and metrics, you are unlikely to be able to defend your continued spending when times are tough.

Defining the metrics doesn’t mean finding the easiest way to measure your actions, but the way that will produce the most relevant metrics to show their impact on sales and profit. Thus although advertising does impact awareness, it is only when the awareness level is linked to trial and purchase does it become relevant from a business perspective.

#2. Aim for foresight rather than “eyesight”

There has been a lot of talk about developing insight in recent years, but I think it is even more valuable for business to develop foresight. Most market research studies measure what is happening at best and often report what happened in the past, since the results are presented weeks if not months after their recording.

To be effective you need to get more comfortable with hypotheses and considering likely outcomes of your actions, in order to know when you need to ask for more budget or when you might even return monies if your actions are not delivering the expected results. No CFO will reduce budgets next year just because you didn’t use all your money this year, if they can clearly underst and how you came to the decision concerning the required investments and the likely results.

Another point to consider is to run test and learn exercises, which will save time and provide metrics on which to base your hypotheses, when the test is compared to a control group. CFO’s love numbers and comparisons are even more likely to meet with approval of your dem ands.

#3. Think quality not (just) quantity

Marketing is usually happy to report on the number of contacts made at an event, or the number of people remembering an ad campaign, when in many cases increases in these contact / recall numbers don’t mean an equal or proportional increase in sales. So unless you know exactly the relationship between the two, find a more meaningful metric for the business.

Management always has too much to read and review, so keep the metrics to a small number, three to five should be sufficient. Since marketing directly impacts sales, the effectiveness KPI’s chosen should be a collaborative decision of the two departments concerned. Whether your organisation is used to working with a sales funnel, a path to purchase or a decision journey, choose metrics that can be measured in a consistent way along it and thus also followed over time.

And one last word of warning; link your metrics to outcome not to spend, which is the easier and oft chosen one. Of course a CMO will be following many more than 3-5 metrics of the marketing activities, to ensure the budget split is as effective as possible, but the CEO will not need to see them all.

These are just three tips to help marketing defend their budgets through appropriate measurement; what others would you add?

For more on KPI’s please see our C3C Solution on our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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SIX Pitfalls Impacting Advertising Success

This week’s guest post from PhaseOne Communications’ Senior Vice-President Terry Villines, shares some of their learnings on successful communications and how to avoid the six most common pitfalls.

General Motors made big news this month by first announcing that it was pulling its advertising off Facebook.  This was quickly followed by the news it would no longer advertise on the Super Bowl – the one television program that actually attracts audiences to watch the commercials.

Because these two events happened almost simultaneously, it is clear General Motors’ research had determined that these outlets were ineffective in moving their target audience closer to their br ands.  Yet, one might question if it was the outlet that was ineffective or the messages used on those channels that were ineffective.  I think Ford captured it all in their recent tweet: “It’s all about the execution.  Our Facebook ads are effective when strategically combined with engaging content & innovation.”

Why is Ford finding success and GM is pulling out?  In a recent study of over 160 advertising messages covering multiple media, PhaseOne identified 6 pitfalls that prevent advertising success.  When these advertisements were clustered into groups of successful and unsuccessful as measured through quantitative metrics, we found that 4X as many ads with at least one of these pitfalls fell into the low performing category. Could it be possible that General Motors’ advertising contained at least one of these Serious Overriding Communication Issues that led them to conclude Facebook wasn’t working for them?

1) Lack of Clarity

A fundamental tenet of communication is clarity.  Yet, 20% of the ads in this base had elements that were unclear.  These ranged from an unclear situation to trying to convey too many ideas.  Remember, your audience has a short attention span.  In most instances, they aren’t seeking out your message.  If you make them work to underst and what you are trying to do, they will probably just tune out.

2) Turn Offs

The clutter of advertising messages bombarding our targets today requires unique creativity to grab attention.  Unfortunately, a ploy often used to break through is shock value – incorporating into the advertising message vulgarity, rudeness, and sexist comments just to name a few.  While these antics might get your ad noticed, there is a high and equal risk it could alienate the very target you are trying to reach.

3) BORING Ads.

All good advertising is built upon a strong creative brief with a well thought out br and proposition.  But, your advertising shouldn’t be a literal interpretation of that brief listing your core proposition and reasons to believe.  Harness the power of your ad agency to bring the brief to life.

4) Failure to Establish the Product Category

Having an ad that creates a strong desire for your br and without letting your audience know where they can find it is the same as creating a bad ad.  They both result in poor in-market results.  This is especially true for new products / br ands with which your audience is unfamiliar.   Even the most subtle cue to your category or distribution channels can make the difference between success and failure.

5) Weak Br anding

Let’s not forget why we advertise – to promote our br ands.  How many times have you described an entertaining ad to a friend but had no idea of the br and?  We found that 62% of low performing advertisements suffered from low br anding.  The solution isn’t necessarily br and early and often.  Yes, that helps, but more importantly, it is about integration.  Be sure your br and has a role within the creative situation.

6) No Clear Reason to Buy

Great advertising is more than well-br anded breakthrough creative.  Its goal is to bring your target closer to your br and, provide your audience with a way to think about your br and relative to other options, and elicit an emotional response.  Successful advertising not only carves out a unique position for your br and in the target’s psyche, it also must lay the groundwork for the br and to OWN that intended idea.  As you plan out your br and story, don’t forget to consider how your br and can OWN (what reasons to believe can you provide?) the image or proposition.

With this learning, it makes you wonder what other very effective channels may have been dismissed when it wasn’t the channel at all – it was a poorly constructed message.

How common do you think these points are? Have you come across these or others and if so how did you resolve the issue? Please share your own stories here.

For more on communicating effectively with your target audience, don’t forget to check out our website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/  and contact us for an informal chat on how we can support the optimisation of your own communications.

Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part II

If you commission or conduct market research, then you really should read this post, which concludes the Ten reasons not to commission market research.

Last week I shared with you the first five of my ten reasons not to run a market research project. You can read it here if you missed it. Here are the remaining five reasons.

#6. When findings would not be actionable

If the information will just be “nice to know” but will not be actioned, and I have seen enough of those in my career, then you shouldn’t be running any research. This can happen when the objectives are not well defined, or when action needs to be taken, but no one knows what to do, so they decide to conduct some research.

Running a research project will certainly get people into action, but not necessarily in a relevant way and will anyway delay the required situation analysis that is more important to be undertaken.

#7. When market research is politically motivated

This situation can arise when a researcher is relatively young in his or her career and doesn’t feel confident enough to refuse a project. It can also be linked to a half-hidden requirement from the management concerning the outcome as well. This puts the researcher in the difficult situation of working on a project that will be ignored if it doesn’t confirm the boss’s opinion.

In these situations it is vital to agree upfront what actions will be taken based on the otucome, before the research is undertaken. In fact this is a good idea for all projects; review possible outcomes before the project starts and evaluate the consequent actions that should be taken. They might not be firmly agreed, but at least everyone will have had the chance to review possible outcomes and to think about their consequences, before the results are presented. It will hopefully open peoples’ minds and if this is not the case, well the project should not be run.

#8. When what is to be measured changes only slowly – or too fast

Everyone today underst ands the importance of measuring br and image, to underst and what their customer perceptions are of their offer and how it differs from what was intended. In most industries, unless there is a significant change in the market such as a powerful new competitor or communications drive, the images of the br ands will change relatively slowly over time – certainly more slowly than marketers would like. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to measure it more than bi-annually, or annually at most.

The same would apply to usage and habits in a market where very little is happening and customers rarely switch br ands or segments. In most of these cases, market research run in the last few months can often be sufficient for most assessments of issues and opportunities.

However, there is also the case where habits are changing almost daily, such as in a heavily discounted or promoted category. In these cases, it is best to either run  a continuous measurement and present rolling averages, or measure at the same time each year, accepting that it will be just a “snap-shot” of the true market’s reality at the moment of the fieldwork and will have already changed by the time the results arrive in many situations. Following trends and changes then becomes more important than the actual level at the time of measurement.

#9. When the information provider / institute is not “OK”

Many agencies have been around a long time and have built up solid reputations for high class, accurate data and information gathering. Newer agencies can be faced with a hard struggle to gain market share and a few are tempted to “cut corners” to be able to offer cheaper prices or shorter timings, in order to get the business.

I remember once discovering that an agency had in fact only run half the agreed number of interviews for which we had paid, and had then “weighted” every answer in the database during its analysis to show a larger base size. Unfortunately for the agency, we asked for the weighted and unweighted base sizes – which is always recommended to ensure there are not skews in the sub-samples.  This is how we discovered the deception.

Especially when budgets are tight or timing is too short, neither MR agencies not departments should be tempted to meet the dem ands of management by resorting to such practices.

#10. When the information already exists

This is linked to #1 mentioned last week; all projects should start with a detailed situation analysis during which time all current knowledge, information and underst anding are reviewed. In some cases it can just be due to laziness that a new study is asked, rather than taking the time to review the results of all previous market research surveys and analyses.

This completes my list of the ten reasons NOT to run a market research project. If everyone checks that none of them are the reason why they want to run a project before commissioning the work, it will ensure that resources are used correctly and both client and agency will be happy with the outcome.

Have another point you think should be on the list? Then please share it below.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

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5 Steps to Customer Care Excellence

A few months ago, I took a very early flight with BA out of Geneva International Airport and as on many previous occasions, BA staff demonstrated their excellent customer centricity, which prompted this post.

On that particular morning, it was Lionel who was working in the Club lounge who impressed me, for allowing me to enter and have a quick coffee, even though he had already called the flight and everyone else was on their way out.

The rule in such circumstances is not to admit any passengers once the flight has been called. It was refreshing to be treated as an individual and not as one of the mass of passengers taking the flight that morning. By allowing me to have a quick coffee before dashing to the gate certainly made my morning and my speed in gulping down the much-needed brew, as I had promised, enabled him to empty the lounge as he was required to do without too much delay.

What has this got to do with your own customer centricity you might ask? Well quite a lot in my opinion. As more people move from rural to urban areas, we are all challenged with living in a crowded environment, with little chance of being treated as an individual. This has created an increased value perception of space and service; people desire and actively search for recognition and a little extra personalised service. In the case of Lionel, he apparently saw me as a low risk and that he could trust me to have the quick coffee I so desperately needed at that time of the morning. I felt so special, he made my day and all because of a cup of coffee!

How do you train your own Customer Service Advisors?

Are all your company’s interactions with your customers scripted? Do your metrics of call centre efficiency include time per call, which is targeted down, or calls per advisor, constantly targeted up? If so, then there is little likelihood that you are making your customers feel very special or valued.

A few months ago I shared some information about a CEO who had decided to throw away the scripts that his call centre personnel were using and to trust his advisors to satisfy the callers in the best way possible – for the client! I am sure you can see how satisfaction went way up, for both the advisors and the customers.

If throwing away your call centre scripts is too far for you to go, at least for now, but you know that you could do with improving your care centre operations to make them even more customer centric, I have a few ideas for you:

#1. INVITE: How are you currently inviting your customers to connect with you? Are you putting a (free) telephone number, email or web address on your pack or in your advertising? Is the invitation clearly legible and does it offer your customers a choice of channels that they can use to connect with you? You should encourage as many connections as possible with your customers, so openly invite them wherever they will have a chance of noticing.

Some of you will certainly see this as a risk; more contacts will equal more complaints, no? Well yes – but hopefully at the same proportion as currently – and wouldn’t you rather know if your product or service has any perceived issues so that you can resolve them as quickly as possible? You will also get more chances to be praised on your offering, which means you will get information on what is particularly appreciated by your customers.

#2. LISTEN: Advisors should listen attentively to what the customer has to share: it always amazes me how often they try to interrupt the customer as quickly as possible in their explanation of the reason for their call. Perhaps this has to do with the call / time targets you have set, which I mentioned earlier. Why not replace these metrics by satisfaction targets? Let the customer talk until the reason for calling is fully explained and she feels that the advisor has really listened. Only then should your personnel start to respond with suggestions of possible solutions and actions.

#3. RESPOND: If your care centre is working with scripted responses and you feel too scared to throw them away immediately, at least give your advisors the freedom to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to satisfy and even surprise the caller. Your customers have taken the time and effort to reach out to you, so don’t disappoint them. Delight them with your response. Don’t just offer them a replacement product or coupons; everyone else does that. What more can you do for your customer, so that they feel special and valued? If they do, then they will certainly be prompted to share their positive experience with friends, family and even the world at large if they are active on social media. One satisfied customer can do a lot for your image, several and your reputation grows significantly.

#4. KEEP LISTENING: Don’t assume that the first thing your customer talks or writes about is the real reason for the call or connection. Sometimes there are other things that would be useful for you to know but you never get the chance to hear them because your advisors are ending the contact too quickly.

Perhaps your customer believes you wouldn’t be interested so never calls you about ideas that they have had or suggestions they would like to make. Why not ask if there is anything else your customer wants to share or talk to you about. More information is better information and more underst anding.

#5. ASK: Only when your customer is fully satisfied with your responses and has no other things they want to share, can you broach the subject of whether or not they would be willing to answer a few questions for you. If they do agree, then keep it short; if they refuse, respect their decision.

And, please don’t go through your full segmentation questionnaire if they do accept t answer a few questions; keep it short, a maximum of about five questions that will help you know her better. You can always complete a further five when she contacts you again – which they will do if they have been treated with interest, respect and openness.

These are my five steps to customer care excellence. Do you have any others you would add? I am sure everyone would be interested in hearing your additions and so would I. 

Why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own customer care centers? No obligation, just opportunity!

Find out more about connecting with your own customers on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on December 22nd 2011

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Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part I

If you commission or conduct market research, then this post is for you. It shares some of the reasons I have learned over the years for NOT doing research, but which are unfortunately still prevalent today. Here are the first five of my ten; are you guilty of any of them?

#1. When the issue / opportunity is not clear and the objectives are not well defined

Most organisations will have a briefing of some sort, written or oral, for each piece of research required. It usually includes the background to and the objectives of the research, which should be specified in terms of the opportunity or issue identified, as well as the relevant information and data already gathered and analysed. If it doesn’t include these basics, it might mean that someone wanted to know or underst and something and just thought research could quickly provide them with the answers. Wrong! The best studies come from a thorough situation analysis which should include a complete review of all current knowledge and past research findings.

#2. When the cost would exceed the value of doing the research

Following on from the above point, when requesting a study, if the objectives are well defined, then the decisions and actions resulting from the findings should be clear and therefore also the expected benefit of the information too. Thinking about how you will use the data and information gathered is one of the best ways to estimate the true value of it before it is gathered. If the decisions and actions to be taken cannot be clearly expressed, then the research results will be just “nice to know” and not “need to know”.

#3. When the budget is too small to do an adequate job

Most agencies would agree that clients often want a top-class work, but at a lower price than it would cost. Some clients even make a point of negotiating all prices downwards on principle, but their reputation soon goes before them and agencies start adding an amount that they will then remove in answering the client’s request for a cost reduction.

A second example of this aspect of cost is when a client wants to do some research but doesn’t have an adequate budget to cover it, so requests something “quick and dirty”. My recommendation would always be to refuse to get involved in such a project. If it is worth doing it is worth doing well, and a good agency will always work with the client to accommodate their needs as best they can within the budget available.

#4. When time is an enemy

How many times have you been asked to run a research project, but in fact the requestor is actually in need of the results – now?! As already mentioned in #3 if a study is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Today there are luckily more opportunities to reduce the time needed to run a study, using panels, the web, or by reducing the sample size or number of groups / regions. Again the best projects are developed as a win/win, with client and agency working together to deliver the highest quality results within the available resources of both time and money.

#5. When conducting the study would “tip off” the competition

This is a difficult situation to be in, as this is often a worry of management, especially when running research on innovation projects. Whilst it is a very valid concern, and a lot can be done to limit the risk, it cannot really be totally eliminated.

There is also the view that in many industries, all major companies are often working on very similar developments within a similar time scale, so competition is not likely to be surprised if they learn about your own efforts. The most important thing to do to reduce to a maximum the risk of tipping off the competition, is to ensure that people who work or have friends or family members working in relevant professions and positions, are eliminated at the start of the research.

Next week I will complete the list with the remaining five reasons not to do market research, but I would already like to know if you have been guilty of any of these and if so, what you did to correct the situation.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

Please share this post with all your colleagues who you would like to help underst and why not all market research requests are approved!

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How to segment for marketing success

All br ands and services need a group of customers that they are going to satisfy, since it is impossible to appeal to everyone most of the time. This means that you will need to make a choice about who you are going to target, which also implies that you must accept that you will also ignore some other category users.

This is not an easy thing to accept, but is essential for successful marketing. It may even sound counter-intuitive, but segmentation is the only way to ensure you have the best possible chance of satisfying the needs of your target audience. 

 

Where to start

When deciding who to target, most companies will start by conducting some sort of analysis. This could be as simple as identifying your users by what you observe, such as young men or large families, or as complex as looking to appeal to those who value freedom and are looking for br ands that can provide or suggest this dream, which would come from a values and motivational segmentation. As mentioned last week in the post entitled “Are you targeting the right customers?“, the deeper the underst anding of your target customer is, the more likely it is to provide you with a competitive advantage.

 

The MIDAS touch

Whatever method you use for segmenting and choosing your target customers, the results of your exercise of customer grouping needs to meet the following five conditions, known collectively as the MIDAS touch:

  • Measurable: The individual groups need to be clearly defined and quantifiable using KPI’s such as size, market share, value share
  • Identifiable: Each segment must have a distinct profile and each customer must be attributed to only one segment
  • Definable: Every cluster must be easy to describe and share with others, so that you have mutual underst anding of each of them
  • Actionable: The groups must be easy to identify, in order to be able to target your actions and communications to them
  • Substantial: The chosen segment must be financially viable to target, which means that it should in general be stable or growing, and durable over the long term

All good segmentations or clusterings will fulfil these five key conditions, so it is easy for you to evaluate the segmentation you are currently using to see if it is valid and robust enough. If it does not meet these conditions, then you will struggle to activate it and target your actions to your chosen group of customers.

Since underst anding your target as completely as possible is vital to the success of the business, I would suggest you review your own segmentation and decide how it can be improved. This may mean simply completing the information you have on each group, or may mean having to run a whole new segmentation exercise. However, it is definitely worth getting your segmentation and target customer choice right, as this forms the foundation for your br ands’ customer centricity.

 

A solution if you don’t have the resources for this

Boston Matrix for segmentation evaluationIf you do not have the time, money, or expertise to run a detailed segmentation study, you can still make an informed decision based on simple criteria, and then using an analysis similar to the Boston Matrix, first developed in the 70′s by the Boston Consulting Group. At the time it was created to help corporations analyse their business units and was based on market growth and relative market share. Today this scatter plot is used with various elements combined to make up the two axes. Whilst the criteria you use for each axis can vary, this simple method has the advantage of being able to be completed over time, as you get more information. Examples of the criteria that can be used are:

  • Attractiveness: Segment size, segment growth, segment value, competitive environment, fit to the company or br and
  • Ability to win: Product attractiveness to your customer, your distribution channels, your media mix, your reputation

Once you have positioned the different segments or groups of customers on the axes, you can easily see what needs to be done for each:

  1. Maintain: these are your core users as they are both attractive to the business and easy for the company’s product or service to attract them, so they need to be protected from competitors’ attacks
  2. Convert: these users can be attracted to your product or service but your ability to win them is currently low; you probably need to consider improving one of the elements of the mix to attract them
  3. Grow: your product or service can easily win these groups but perhaps they are not as profitable as you would like; review them from time-to-time or develop a different strategy to attract them
  4. Ignore: many organisations struggle to make the decision NOT to go after a group of category users, but if you have neither the product / service nor the segment size that would be profitable to you, why spend time, money and energy going after them?

Choosing the right group of customers to satisfy with your product or service is essential for business success, as is doing everything you can to underst and them as deeply as possible. Truly customer centric organisations excel at doing this; do you? Why not share your own succcess story on segmentation?

If you would like to  know more about targeting, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

Need help in segmenting your current category customers or defining which group to target? Let us help catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

This post is an adaptation of one that was publised on C3Centricity Dimensions on December 8th 2011

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Are you targeting the right customers?

I mentioned last week about an MBA course at which I spoke recently. Apart from the active participation of everyone and the fun we all had, I remember it mostly for all the great questions that were asked.

One of these was about underst anding whether or not you are targeting the right customer. If you yourself have ever wondered about this, then this post is for you.

Besides the work I do with CPG / FMCG companies globally, I also support local small businesses with their marketing, mostly “pro bono work” when my time permits. I enjoy doing this as it allows me to put into practice what I have learnt over the years working for some of the best marketing companies around, such as Gillette, Philip Morris International and Nestlé. It also enables these businesses, which wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to hire a global expert, to benefit from my experience and also hear about all the latest best practices.

When I meet them, I try to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible, so as not to scare them with too many new ideas and processes, but I am finding that my approach works well in larger organisations too. That’s why I thought I would share it with you here.

These are the four questions that I ask them all, big or small, to assess whether or not they are targeting correctly:

 

Who are you targeting?

The 4 Ws of customer targeting
The 4 Ws of targeting

This is often the first question I ask, as it helps me to quickly assess their level of customer centricity. If I get, as I did recently from the owner of a chain of hairdressing salons – all men, women and children! – then I know we will need to work together to better develop their target’s description before going any further in optimising their marketing efforts.

If you don’t already do so, then I would suggest you look to describe your target audience(s) in terms of not only demographics, but also add descriptions of their behaviours, values and motivations, as the diagram above shows. The deeper you go in completing their description, the more you will underst and them and therefore will have a better chance to not only meet but even surpass their expectations.

 

What’s their personality?

People use products and services that fit their personality in general, either because they match their own, or because they complete who they are or would like to be, by bringing elements that they feel they lack.

For instance, Marlboro cigarettes may be seen as having a strong, independent personality and so might be chosen by young adult men looking to show their independance from their parents.

Do you know what the personality of your own br and is and whether it is matching or completing that of your target audience?

 

What do they think of you?

Once you know to whom you are trying to appeal with your product or service, then you need to underst and what they currently think of you. Most organisations run some sort of br and image study, and get equity measures on a number of attributes.

However, I often find that companies are only measuring what they are trying to communicate or even worse, what is important to them and not what is important to their customers.

Are you getting your customers’ opinions on things that matter to them? For example, rather than asking if your customers think your price is “high” or “low”, why not ask for an evaluation of it, such as “it is worth paying more for”, or why not even “makes me feel worth more”?

Since br and equity is best measured in comparison to other br ands, it is important to ensure that all attributes that might be valid for the category or segment are included in your list.

 

What benefits do they see?

Do you know what benefits your target sees in your product or service offering? Not what you see, but what they themselves appreciate. As is the case with image, you need to know your audience’s opinion and how close it is to what you intended it to be. Are there any additional benefits that your users have identified that you were unaware of and could use to your advantage in future communications?

I remember discovering many years ago that dried soup mix was often being used as a cooking ingredient, as it provided a richer flavour than sauce mixes or stock cubes alone. It is only by underst anding how your offering fits into your customers’ daily lives, that you can appreciate its true value to them.

If you can honestly answer these four questions completely and accurately, then you are almost certainly targeting the right customers for your product or service. If not, then I suggest you spend a little more time with your customers externally and the Market Research and Insight people internally, to learn as much as you can.

Why not take a critical look at your own target audience description? How deep is your underst anding of them? Could you do better?

For more on targeting go to our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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How to Become a Fan of your Customer

All companies know the importance of being customer centric, but how many of them encourage ALL their employees to think about their customers and to try and serve them better every time? 

What about you? When was the last time you yourself listened to or watched your customers using your product or service, to learn more about them, and to underst and them more deeply? Most people see this as being the responsibility of their colleagues in the Market Research and Insight Department and are happy to wait for them to come and present the findings of a research study.

Your customers are constantly changing, as are their attitudes, needs, desires and how your products and services fit into their lives. This means that everyone should be involved in getting to know them better and being close to customers should be on their annual objectives.

Plan customer closeness sessions

One of the best ways to energize curiosity and excitement around the customer, is to organise customer closeness days or weeks. During these times, several groups in the organisation leave their offices and go out into the world to watch and listen to their customers as they think about, purchase or use your products and services. There are numerous ways of doing this, but to mention just a few:

  • listening in to service centre calls
  • watching group discussions or in-depth interviews organised by market research
  • accompanying demonstrators who are showing or sampling your products in store
  • serving customers behind the counter if you have your own retail outlets
  • accompanying customers as they shop or use your product or service
  • observing your customers as they shop or use your product

Observation is not as simple as it sounds

In order to really underst and what people will be witnessing, it is advisable to run a briefing session before allowing them to go out and observe customers. Your market research and insight people should be able to help with this training and will no doubt be happy to share their expert knowledge.

Ideally each person should go out with a task or question to answer, rather than observing customers with no precise objective in mind. Watching and listening first and asking questions only afterwards, is the best way to gain a maximum amount of underst anding; by listening first you learn what is important to your customers, rather than just finding the answers to the questions you might have. Everyone can meet up at the end of the exercise to share their observations and build greater knowledge and underst anding of the customer.

Try it; you will become a fan of these exercises  and as a result, of your customers as well! If you already run such experiences we would love to hear about your ideas and success stories.

For more ideas on getting closer to your customers please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

This post is adapted from an article which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on July 7th 2011

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New Marketing is Here – Are YOU Ready?

I was recently asked to speak to some MBA students about what has and will change in the life of a marketer and what additional skills they must have to be effective today. Here is what I told them, but I would love to hear your own thoughts on this important question.

Marketing used to be considered one of the most creative parts of a business. Marketers were seen to arrive late in the office after what was assumed to have been another dinner with one of their agencies in one of the best restaurants in town. As if that image was not bad enough, they were also accused of going to fancy conferences in exotic places around the world that most employees only dream of visting. Whilst I am sure a (lucky) few had this lifestyle, the majority of us worked hard and late, and usually also put in hours at weekend to ensure promotions and events were successful.

Today marketers are challenged with a new world, a world where the customer is in control; where marketing is no longer (only) creative, and they are required to have many more skills to be successful, the following three in my opinion, being the more important:

1. Actionable Insight development

When a marketer needs information, he usually asks the marketing research department to run a study to gather the data. The results are presented and marketing takes a decision based on them – or not!

In many organisations today, the market research department has exp anded and now gathers information on the customer, the shopper, the competitor, in fact all areas of the market in general.

In the last ten years we have seen the growth of insight development, where multiple studies and other sources of data and information are integrated with internal knowledge to develop insight. Suddenly marketers not only communicate with, but now actively search out the opinions of their colleagues in R&D, operations, sales, purchasing etc when making a decision about how best to satisfy their customers.

2. Customer connection

Media choice until recently was pretty limited: TV, print, radio and outdoor – what is now referred to as traditional media. In addition, companies connected with their customers through their care centres, promotions, events and sponsorship. With the growth of the internet and social media, connecting with the customer has exp anded in possibilities, which makes the need for consistency not only more difficult, but also more important.

Customers expect to be able to choose where, when and how a company connects and communicates with them. They decide when to watch their favourite programs, often without advertising breaks, at an hour that suits them rather than at the programmed time and often not even on a television any more, but on a computer, tablet or mobile screen.

Marketers are therefore challenged to be available 24/7 for their customers and any frustration when this doesn’t happen is very quickly shared with the world at large.

3. Information integration

With the expansion of media comes also an explosion in information. According to IBM, 90% of data today did not exist two years ago and it is estimated to be growing at a rate of between 40% and 60% annually. This means that by 2015, there will be ten times more data than there is today!

It is not only the quantity of data that a marketer has at his disposal that is changing, it is also the nature of the data and the way that the value of it is extracted.

Structured data, describing what has happened amongst a sample of customers will be replaced by real-time, unstructured, external, predictive information that is or can be personalised. We are moving away from data mining to signal identification, and computers working with advanced analytics and with machine learning capabilities.

The New Marketing

So what do these changes mean for the marketer of today? Well product and br and managers will give way to people experts, who are no longer satisfied by data and information alone, but will dem and underst anding and insight. They will need to be comfortable with multi-sourced information where the customer is in control and pulls to them what they want, rather than accepting what marketers want to push their way.

The marketers creative skills will remain important, but will no longer be sufficient. They will need to get comfortable with the world we live in, which dem ands cultural sensitivity and real-time information integration and analytics. This will require that they become global thinkers, more flexible, technically savvy and comfortable taking rapid decisions as the market evolves.

Are you ready?

What do you see changing in the world of marketing today? Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my own thoughts.

For more about these three topics please see our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

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