August 2012 - c3centricity | c3centricity

+41 79 93 39 789 info@c3centricity.com

The Great Trends Hoax: They don’t give a Business a Competitive Advantage

Do you follow trends? I bet you do! Everyone likes talking about the future, imagining what it might hold and then taking pride in seeing that they were “right”, that what they had “predicted” has come true. If this is how you work with trends, then you must read this post – urgently!

There are many trend providers today, from futurologists, to trend agencies, to gurus, all claiming to have “the truth”. An ex-colleague of mine made an interesting comment to me last weekend, as we hiked up to the top of La Dole, one of the small hills in the Lac Leman area of Switzerl and where I live.

We were discussing trend following and she was comparing the providers with which her company had worked in the last five or ten years. Which of them “had got it right” and which ones hadn’t. I said that I wasn’t too keen on businesses working with trends alone, as there was no competitive advantage in doing so. She then made a wonderful comment: “You’re right of course. In fact when you go to these meetings to hear about the latest trends each year, you are sitting with a group of 20, 50, 100 or often even more people, all hearing the same presentations and “predictions”. If you all go back and start working on actions to respond to the future that was just presented, you’re all doing the same things and are in a way actually making the predictions come true”.

As I said, I have never really liked working with trends other than for developing plausible future scenarios, but she had put one of my concerns into words; you don’t gain competitive advantage from following trends. Whilst they may at best provide indications of some tactical actions you might take in the short-term, trends cannot help you develop your vision and strategy.

So if you want to achieve the real advantage of following trends and to get a head-start over your competition, then it’s time you started developing your own future scenarios. How? Well, here’s a 10-step approach that I have found has worked with many of my clients, which assumes that you are already following trends of some description:

10-Step Process

  1. Identify the most relevant trends for your category from all those that you are currently following. This evaluation is often best h andled by your market research and insight group, who have access to a lot of information, both internal and external, and not just on trends. If this is a new area for you all, you may decide to seek some external support to help you make these first difficult choices.
  2. Invite a group of about 10-15 people from various departments within the organisation and who have ideas about what will happen in their different areas of the business, to join your “Futures” team. I have found that when invited, few refuse and in fact more ask to join the group when they hear about it, than you really need, so you’ll get the wonderful privilege of choosing the best and most complementary members.
  3. As a team, discuss each of the selected trends in turn and how it is likely to develop in the future, say in the next 10-20 years. Really push everyone’s thinking out of the “probable” and into the “possible”. Depending upon the number of trends, this may take several meetings to pass them all under review.
  4. The market research and insight group, who will ideally be leading the whole process, should then summarise the future of each trend and the forces that will be acting upon it. Agree on the two or three main trend drivers, that are common to the developments, and which when crossed will result in four to eight future worlds.
  5. Review these worlds in another “Futures” team meeting and decide if they are all relevant for your business, or whether their impact will in fact be similar; you are looking to eventually reduce the number of worlds to a more manageable size.
  6. Describe each future world and build a story around them; a day in the life tends to work well.
  7. Identify the challenges and opportunities for the business in each of the created new worlds.
  8. Share the conclusions with the “Futures” team and refine your selection of actions for best business preparedness.
  9. Illustrate each of the worlds that you have selected as being of most relevance. To make them inspirational for everyone with whom you share them, why not try something different? We work with storytelling, visualisation and videos to get the findings across in the most exciting way.
  10. Present to top management and enjoy sharing with them your identified opportunities and challenges, which from my own experience they will never have imagined before.

You will notice that the last step of the process is the presentation to management. Of course in reality it is only the beginning, as you will then need to support each business in defining solutions to answer the challenges and opportunities identified.

Additional steps for Regional / Global players

Also, if you work in a regional or global role, you will need to follow up with regional and global presentations, to ensure that everyone appreciates the necessity of working together on the trends, their progress and their impact on business. They also need to underst and that it will be important to alert markets behind them on certain trends and what may happen to them, as well as to observe those ahead of them to prepare their own market for changes.

Scenario planning is a company project, not a departmental one, which is why trend following cannot be left to each market or business unit to do on its own. Have fun with your own scenario developments and enjoy the unique chance of inspiring the whole business with the opportunities and challenges you have identified. It is much more rewarding than presenting trends, which have merely grown or declined from one year to the next.

Have you had experience in developing scenarios yourself? If so, please share what worked or didn’t for you, and let me know if you would add any important steps from your own process, to the ones I have mentioned above.

For more information on scenario planning, vision and strategy development, please check out our website:  https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

If you would like our help in developing an inspiring story about what your business’s future worlds could be, and what challenges and opportunities may await you in 10, 15 or even 20 years from now, then why not contact us for an informal discussion? NO Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

Presentation success: 5 Tips to go from good to great

Are you sometimes frustrated that nobody seems to listen to your presentations as closely as you would like, or to take the actions you are recommending afterwards? 

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you probably work hard to make needed transformations in your presentation content and style, to get the attention of management, but they either don’t notice or even worse don’t give you the chance to show that you can do better. If so, then this post is for you.

Recently, 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 present 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 stop reading and click on the link given above; it is an inspiration to all who watch it, I guarantee.

Watching this video made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only when the sharing of the results is effective, that it leads to action and success. Therefore I came up with the following five tips to help bring the change and action you are hoping for from your presentations, be they the results of market research projects, the summary of information you have gathered from trawling the web, or any other form of knowledge gathering, analysis and sharing.

#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 should they want to.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider, to take advantage of the challenge or 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 trying to analyse and comprehend all the numbers you are showing, or trying to read all the words on your slides.

One great example of how people love pictures rather than too many statistics, 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 many inspiring examples on different topics  here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data and never-ending tables of information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing tables 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, by integrating all the other things you know about the subject under discussion and proposing 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. They should certainly help your presentations be more successful. 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/

This post is based on one that first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on April 26th 2012.

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

The shocking truth about managing data: it’s simple!

There is so much talk about information and Big Data these days, every organisation is feeling swamped by the belief that they should be doing more with their data.

From gathering more, to analysing more, and developing more insights about their customers, they are also afraid that their competition is doing more. If this is your situation, then this post will provide the answers you need.

Organisations have always collected information about their customers; it’s nothing new. Whether this is through conducting market research studies, or simply from obtaining details when customers buy something, there is already a lot you can do today to manage your data. However, there is an even bigger opportunity to get a better underst anding of your customers and their needs and desires, when you integrate all the information sources you already have at your disposal. This is why there is so much news about Big Data these days. For all of you that have been shocked into inaction by all this talk, here are some simple ideas that you can use to start your own journey to managing your data, whether Big or Small:

 

#1. Make your information more visible

You are certainly already collecting a lot of data, both internal and external, but it is probably only the former that is shared today; sales, distribution, targets, budgets, plans and forecasts are the most common examples of this. How are all these numbers shared across your organisation? Why not develop a simple dashboard showing the most important numbers?

Using comparisons to competitors, indices and trends are generally the most useful way to provide a quick overview of business, into which viewers can then dig deeper, depending upon their area of interest. You don’t need to show it all on the dashboard, and you shouldn’t try, just keep the summary to the KPI’s that are most relevant for everyone to know.

For more on how to choose your KPI’s see here.

 

#2 Make your information more available

You already have many sources of information, but who has access to it? If you are like most companies, it is the department that collects the data that analyses and uses it, and other departments rarely know of its existence, let alone get to see it. Why not develop a library in which you can store all the information and insights that are gathered and developed, and then give everyone access to it?

This library can be as simple as a folder in a shared file, an Excel folder, an Access database, or a more sophisticated system that can manage budgets, projects and suppliers, as well as the storage of the processes and reports. Some organisations are afraid of doing this for fear of information getting into the h ands of their competitors, but access rights today are easy to manage so that you can significantly reduce such a risk.

You can find more information on knowledge sharing here.

 

#3. Make your information more actionable

Much of the information that companies gather is backward looking, coming from sales and distribution that have already happened or your customers’ consumption and usage habits of last week, last month or last year. Whenever you gather any sort of information, it is a good idea to review the description of your target audience for each br and, in order to ensure it is as complete and as deep as possible. This should not be a once a year exercise, at the time of plan writing, but a continuous process to stay in close contact with your customers’ desires and changing opinions and behavior.

You will almost certainly find that in today’s fast paced world, they have changed quite significantly in some areas. However, even if the current descriptions have not changed substantially, the review of your information should enable you to enrich it further for an even better underst anding. Additionally, in order to build insight and foresight the information you gather needs to be complemented by forward looking metrics such as trends and future scenarios. By looking at how your customers are adapting today, and hypothesizing on their future changes, your organisation will be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges, providing a real competitive advantage.

To learn more about developing your Vision & strategy check here.

 

#4. Make your information more readable

If you have gotten beyond the amount of data that is humanly possible to analyse, you need to consider building a database that can be analysed and modelled with the help of complex analytics. This is when information starts to become BigData and can result in a step-change in the insights an organisation can gain from it.

The sophisticated algorithms that can now be developed can make your information “speak” more clearly about your customer and become usable for many different purposes. You can try hypothesizing about your customers future behaviours, the likely success of your promotions or innovations by region or country, and then get near real-time answers to your questions about them. In some cases, you can even simulate market response to new ideas before they are even launched, in order to identify the best roll-out plan, or even to decide whether or not to launch in the first place.

If you yourself are at this tipping point, as descibed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book of the same name, and need support in developing your integrated marketing database, please contact us so we can share with you some of the successes our clients – your competitors? – have already had.

These are just a few ideas on how to make more and better use of the information you are already gathering. What made the biggest change for your own organisation in the use of the information and knowledge it gathers? Have you reached the tipping point to BigData yet? If you are proud of what you’ve done, why not share it with everyone here?

For more information on developing processes for the integration of information, the development of insights and the internal sharing of  knowledge, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

10 ways to improve your customer centricity today

Many of you know that customer centricity is essential today. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business.

But I also know that many of you struggle because you just don’t know where to start. Am I right? Then this article is for you. 

This week I give you ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to improved customer centricity. 

 

#1 Review & revise the description of your target audience

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityDo all your br ands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas.

Is it as complete as it should be? If not, then use our C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template and complete the who, what, where and why for each one.

Include not only demographics and consumption / purchasing habits but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to use your br and.

 

#2 Assess the optimum way of connecting with your customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?

Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers when they are ready to share their information with you.

 

#3 Identify the needs your br and is addressing

Maslow's hierarchy of needsDo you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one.

If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be getting confused.

Mixed br and messages on what the br and can do for them will leave them perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their objectives.

Knowing where your br and sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need.

 

 #4 Make your customer everyone’s responsibility

Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments in your organisation? Perhaps it’s only for the care centre employees or merch andisers to do.

It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives to watch, listen and engage with your customers regularly. This will help them to underst and how their work fits into the company’s objective to satisfy and delight them.

Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences will ensure that they underst and this.

#5 Plan for the unthinkable

Do you know where your business is going? Do you know what might happen in the future and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer dem ands, and their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing or ingredients?

It is better to plan for such events before they happen, so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities.

 

#6 Review your business plans for customer centricity

Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors? Review your plans by considering how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis based upon your underst anding of them and their desires. Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them, or are you only relying on the “same old” activities, repeated from last year? People get bored quickly and you can actually “train” your customers to expect your actions, which as a result will quickly become less interesting to them. Plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year.

 

#7 Exp and your innovation thinking

Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical and expert skills? If you know your customer well you can offer them more successful innovations, perhaps through additional sensorial experiences. Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays. Give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become more loyal.

 

#8 Stop testing your communications to death

Customer centricity means observing your customersI can feel your shock as you read this, but why not review your process for developing your advertising? If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customer, and then reviewed early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners. It would also reduce or totally replace your usual tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is too late to change anything.

 

#9 Define your image

Your br and has an image but it might not be what you think it is. Make sure you are measuring it regularly and not only on the attributes that you ideally wanted to perform well on. Review and update the attributes used to measure the perceptions of your category with your customers, and ensure you measure what is (also) important to them. The coverage of the total category will likely be more complete and you might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying.

 

#10 Update your KPI’s

You know that what gets measured gets managed, well are you measuring what needs managing or only the easy metrics to gather? It you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare these to where you want to take your br and, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.

 

I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Even actioning just one of them will improve your customer centricity. Of course doing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.

If you would like to know just how customer centric you are today, why not complete the C³C Evaluator? It will help you to identify where you are today as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation. Become a C³C Member and you can use the tool for FREE.

For more information on making your organisation more customer centric, please check out all C³Centricity solutions and training at https://www.c3centricity.com/

C³Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

Trust: How to build your customers’ before it’s too late

Last week, I was reviewing some work for a friend and something didn’t feel quite right about it. The content was great, lots of interesting facts and information, but the flow just wasn’t there.

When I questioned her about it, she admitted that she had taken passages from other articles to make up her own; from that moment I lost trust in her work.

In today’s world of information overload she could have been forgiven for having “curated” work from other writers, but to me it was dishonest for her not to have mentioned her sources.

Whilst your websites and blogs are hopefully filled with your own material, are you as honest in other areas of your marketing and communications? This post is for you if you want to make sure you are.

Telling the truth

All of us want to have confidence in the products and services that we buy. However, it seems to have become the “norm” to exaggerate our offering in so many industries:

  • Food manufacturers show beautiful dishes on the front panel of their packs that don’t at all resemble the dull, industrialised product inside the box or can
  • Personal care products promise glossy hair, wrinkle free skin or quick weight-loss
  • Perfumes claim to that their use has the opposite sex falling at our feet

To a greater or lesser extent, all these exaggerations are setting the companies up for failure rather than success in the mean term. If you are disappointed by the look or performance of the product when you open the box, are you likely to buy it again? Unless it tastes incredible or smells exceptional, or has some other merit, with the choices out there, you are more likely to try a different br and next time. For example, why do we women all have several shampoos cluttering up our bathrooms? Because we believe with each new launch, that this time it will make a difference to our limp, dull, dry or greasy hair.

Now I am the first to admit that I don’t want total reality either; wouldn’t the world be dull otherwise? But did you know that according to the 2011 report from Oracle “The Customer Experience Revolution“, 89% of people have switched br ands after just one negative experience. There is so much choice today, why risk that one bad experience by over-promising.

The Dove br and has built its reputation on exactly this and its now infamous communication “Evolution” still remains a hit on YouTube. Incidentally, there have also been some copies of the evolution theme; if you want a good laugh, check out the “Foster Farms” parody from last year, one of the best in my opinion.

Don’t hide behind the small print

Sorry CPG / FMCG Industry, I’m going to mention you again. Have you noticed how packs are showing more and more languages on them? As production becomes more centralised, it makes sense, at least for the manufacturer, to reduce the number of pack versions they need to print. It also helps with their supply chain, since products prepared for one market can end up being shipped to another if needed.

I remember once hearing that you should never believe what is printed on the front of pack – 95% fat free is usually by weight and not be calories for instance, which is what we are probably more interested in knowing. But it is often difficult to realise this since the back panel with the ingredients information is printed in such small font, that you can’t actually read it.

How about the technology industry too? How many of us read all the agreements and contracts we are asked to approve when we buy, install or download software? I remember a few years ago having a problem with my i-Phone, which kept synchronising non-stop over the air with Mobile-Me (luckily now ab andoned by Apple). When I called Apple to sort it out I also asked them what to do about the $300 Telecom bill I had just received from my network; they told me that it wasn’t their responsibility, as I had signed the agreement which stated that they are not accountable should their system not work! So what was I buying?!

Be ready to listen to your customer

I assume most of you reading this have a call centre which customers can contact for queries or complaints? One major CPG company was very proud that they had put their contact telephone number and email address on every one of their packs. However, if you tried to call outside working hours, you just got a recorded message with the times to call.

A friend of mine tried to call a Food manufacturer at 12:30 in Europe as she had trouble using one of their recipe mixes; imagine her surprise when she got a recorded message saying that they were closed for lunch. Wouldn’t it make more sense to be available when your product is more likely to be used, at lunch-time or in the evening? I had a similar experience calling an airline on a Saturday, when I heard the message that their offices were closed at weekends. Luckily, I went online and found a number for them in a different time zone, where at least they were open, although they quicly explained that they couldn’t help me, since my ticket had been bought n Europe. Global airlines anyone?!

These are just three examples of things companies do to make their lives easier, but not those of their customers. Even organisations who claim to put their customer at the heart of their business and consider themselves to be customer centric, can overlook these simple yet vital areas of customer service.

Maybe you could benefit from reviewing what services you are providing to your own customers and checking that they are indeed doing what they were planned to do, namely making your customers’ lives easier and not just your own. In fact why not start with the first three I mentioned above? I bet at least one of them could do with some improvement in your own business.

If you are doing these three correctly, but notice in your review that something else could be improved, please share it here and let everyone know below. Together we will all become more customer centric, which will benefit us both as customers and businesses.

For more information about building trust with your customers by underst anding them better, please check our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

Join Global Customer First Strategists!

Get our latest posts before everyone else, and exclusive content just for you.

* indicates required

FREE DOWNLOAD “Secrets to Brand Building”

Everything You Need To Know To Improve Your Marketing & Brand Building

* indicates required