November 2012 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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Creative Messaging for Competitive Advantage

Most companies have issues with their products at times. Often they don’t immediately correct them unless they are considered to be significant and could have a direct impact on sales.

You could argue that this will always be the case eventually, so better resolve them as soon as they are identified. Some companies however are creative enough to turn what others might see as an issue into a competitive advantage. Let me give you a couple of examples.

 

Pringles Freshness Seal

Most consumers associate bulging lids and packs with a product that has deteriorated in some way. This is not at all the case of Pringles, for which a bulging seal under the plastic cap is a sign of freshness apparently, or at least is a normal phenomenon.

What I love about the br and is that whereas in the past the seal’s surface was used for communicating promotions and competitions, it is now used to send a positive message to their consumers about this situation.

On a pack I recently bought the seal was printed with the words “Bursting with flavour”. How is that for making a positive out of what might have been perceived as a negative? I love it! It adds to the br and’s image and also to the taste and pleasure expectations for the consumer who is about to open the pack. I can imagine that this came directly out of consumer insights, to answer a query about why the seal was always bulging, which as I already mentioned would usually be associated with a product that had “gone off”.

 

Heinz Tomato Ketchup

Another br and which has recently started using the “Bursting with Flavour” tag on their pack is Heinz. However I am not sure whether it has the same impact as it does on Pringles. Heinz started inverting their ketchup bottles in 2003, because their product was so thick it took time to slide down the bottle and onto the plate. This resulted in impatient consumers banging the bottom of the bottle, leading to the product being shaken out in a burst of splashes, not only on the plate but the consumer and tablecloth too! Perhaps this is where they got the original idea for the slogan.

Whilst I admire Heinz for putting different, and usually very relevant, messages on their ketchup bottles, the lastest one I saw didn’t live up to the others in my opinion. Why? Because the product is now much thinner and slides easily when the bottleis upturned. In fact it is so thin it doesn’t even need to be turned upside down anymore. As for bursting with flavour; it might have been appropriate in the past, but not any longer for this thin sauce. Pity.

 

The strange taste of Marmite

In contrast to Heinz, another well-documented example of a product that converted an issue to its advantage, is that of Unilever’s Marmite. Marmite claims to be a nutritious savoury spread, although non-Brits would describe it more as a very strange tasting concoction. Even UK consumers are divided in their opinion of it; they either love it or hate and there is apparently no half-way sentiment here.

Marmite created a very successful campaign around this love / hate relationship with the product which has now become a social phenomenon, and this divide has even been emphasised in their advertising and on the web. In the UK they even sell Marmite flavoured food – chocolate and cashew nuts – as well as br anded T Shirts, Kitchenware, Books, Cooking, Merch andise and more. How would you like your consumers to pay their hard earned money not only for your products, but for br anded promotional goods too?

In 2011, Unilever took the love / hate relationship into the kitchen, by developing and sharing simple recipes using Marmite for people who hate to cook. Each commercial of the campaign, called “Haute Cuisine, Love Marmite Recipes” ends with the “u” in Haute being blocked by a jar of Marmite, making “Hate Cuisine” and continuing the love / hate theme with which Marmite has become associated. If you would like to see some of the ads from the campaign, you can find them  here  and their website is  www.marmite.co.uk .

These are just three examples of creative messaging but there are many more br ands that have turned a negative into a positive and made it an appealing competitive advantage. Does your br and have an issue and if so could you turn it into a strength? Do you have any other examples you can think of? I would love to hear about your ideas.

This post has been adapted from one first published on March 29th 2012

For more ideas on br anding check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

Is your Br and Worth Paying More for?

This week’s guest post is from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne. Terry Villines, their senior vice-president shares some of the learnings from analysing the marketing communications of thous ands of premium br ands. Whether you work in the Luxury Industry or not, wouldn’t you like your br and to be worth more?

Every product category has at least one – a br and that costs more than the competitors; a br and that, even though it costs more, is successful at building the business; a br and that has been successful at convincing their target that they have a premium offering and are worth the extra cost.

For example, Rolex is clearly seen as a more premium br and than Timex or Fossil, and consumers are willing to pay more money for a Rolex even though all of these br ands provide those who wear them with accurate time. 

How are br ands ableto convince audiences that they are worth paying more for – regardless of category?

PhaseOne has mined over 1,000 pieces of marketing communications to identify guiding principles for establishing a premium positioning.  The key is to:

“Credibly promise that consumers will get more of what they want most from the product, promising more benefit than competing br ands”

Six specific types of benefits were found among the messages PhaseOne analyzed.  The inclusion of these benefits was associated with strong Premium Positioning.

#1.  Product innovation – your br and brings an enhanced benefit or a new benefit to the category.

#2. Human Worth Factor –  by tapping into the target’s self-esteem, a br and communicates how  the target is worthy of the more costly br and – “I’m worth it / You’re worth it”

#3.  Unique Production Process – the way in which the product is made results in delivery of a more significant benefit.

#4. Premium imagery – associating the br and with other things that are also premium in nature.

#5. Higher performance than competing br ands.

#6. Endorsement by a credible authority.

Interestingly, some of those things that we have readily accepted as contributing to Premiumness did not prove to be effective:

  • Claiming superiority alone does not confer Premiumness.  Positioning a br and as superior does not equate to the br and being worth more.
  • Having an abundance of features or advantages does not make a product worth more.  Features and advantages may contribute to a Premium Positioning, but they are not sufficient to establish the positioning on their own.
  • Marketing messages that contain breakthrough creative elements and premium production techniques do not translate into Premium Positioning.  Such techniques can reinforce a Premium Positioning, but they cannot create it.

We’re confident that these benefits can be tapped for virtually any product / service category.  Yet, it is likely that the weighting / emphasis given to them will vary.  For example, in a just completed study of the advertising for 16 Luxury watch br ands, PhaseOne found most messages cluster into only 3 of the benefit clusters:

  1. Premium Imagery – br ands focus on the visual aesthetics and the watches role as a fashion accessory
  2. Human Worth Factor – br ands add a layer of specific personal or lifestyle interests to suggest for whom the br and is most appropriate
  3. Unique Production Process – br and communications emphasis that the watch is made of high quality materials with precise craftsmanship.

How do you see br ands in your category successfully convincing their customers that they are worth paying more for whether it be durable goods (auto to washing machines), packaged goods (confections to sodas) or services (Insurance to Dentistry)?

If you would like help from C3Centricity on improving the positioning or communications of your own Luxury br and, then please contact us, we know we can help. For more on br and positioning, please check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Do you yourself work on a Premium br and or perhaps you did in the past? Were you using another type of benefit that didn’t work? Then please share your experience here. Of course, you can also share what worked too, if you are feeling really generous! We would love to hear from you.

4 Tips on International Marketing

This week’s post was prompted by an article recently published by HubSpot about the similarities and differences between the preferences in social media around the world. As the world becomes ever smaller thanks to real-time connection, the challenge to international marketing is above all to remain relevant.

If you work in marketing then you are certainly feeling this. I hope you find the tips below of use and please share your own in the comments below; I would love to hear them.

Should you “Think Global, Act Local”?

This is one of the favourite sayings of many Fortune 100 CEOs. The original phrase has been attributed to Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes. Whilst sourcing information and particularly local production is critical for many food consumers, so is the desire for novelty and new experiences.

In addition, certain countries are seen to be experts in the manufacture of certain products and thus add a perception of positive attributes such as quality, durability or modernity, that local production cannot match. Take for example Germany cars, French wine, Swiss chocolate, American Burgers, Japanese technology.

What are your own customers more interested in, local or global? Whereas the food industry may be becoming more locally biased for everyday purchases, the recent economic crisis encouraged more at-home eating and thus a rise in the desire for more exotic experiences on occasions.

Language is not the only frontier

I am sure you all know that language and not geography is the new frontier, but do you also know what this means in terms of preferences between the social media channels? The Hubspot report does a great job of showing a few of the major differences in habits across what they term to be the 20 most social media savvy countries, but there is a lot more you need to know.

Local country habits may in fact not be relevant for your own particular target group. Social media channels vary widely by demographics and sensitivities for example. David Moth recently wrote a great post about “The top 10 social media fails of 2012” which highlighted some of the issues encountered when you don’t know your audience as well as you should.

All your employees are marketers

You may be head of international or regional marketing, but do you know which of your employees are active online? According to MarketingEasy, most companies have adopted social media “without adequate on-going management, leaving them open to alarming exposure and potentially uncontrollable risk”. It further suggests that the average company has 178 “social media assets” (Websites, Twitter h andles, employee blogs, etc.), yet only 25% of these same organisations offer social business training to their employees.

If your own employees are talking about your company or br ands, wouldn’t it make sense to have a say in what they are sharing, if not to actually guide them in what they are saying? The cost of training will certainly be significantly lower than the cost of a crisis and its subsequent management.

Your CEO may not think “you’re worth it”

To paraphrase a famous slogan from the world of beauty, a recent Marketing Week article announced that 70% of CEOs have lost trust in their marketers. Is yours one of them? If you are not providing the business impact of your actions in a language that the CEO and CFO can underst and – growth, margins, share – then they will question whether or not you are worth your budget AND salary.

Social media and information technology can provide marketing with numerous metrics that would prove the worth of their investments, but marketers have to get comfortable with data and not remain in their cosy, creative world. How about befriending your CIO this week? I went into more detail on why this is important in another post earlier this year: Are your CMO and CIO friends?

International marketing in particular, but the world of marketers in general, is already in flux and the tide of change can no longer be stopped. We cannot remain the keeper of the br and without also becoming the keeper of the customer. What changes are you expecting and are you prepared for them?

If you enjoyed this post then why not share it with your colleagues? They will thank you for the chance to learn more about customer centricity too!

For additional ideas on making your company even more customer centric, please check the wealth of inspiration on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

10 Inspiring Customer Quotes

Need a quote about the customer to start or end a marketing presentation or to bring home an important point to your audience? If so, then this list was created just for you.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my favourite Infographs of the moment. The post received record hits and loads of shares across many social media channels.

It seems you like “best of” lists so this week I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes on the topic of customer centricity. As I did for the Infographs,  included are some ideas of actions to be taken, prompted by each quote. Enjoy.

#1. “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can” Gary Comer

Action: Choose one of your customer segments and decide a few ways to make their experience even better. If you don’t yet have a segmentation, check here for some ideas on simple ways to start.

#2. “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business” Zig Ziglar

Action: Get a list of all the complaints, issues and suggested improvements that customers have given to your care center operators or promotion demonstrators. Do the same from your customer-facing staff if you have your own retail outlets.

#3. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else” Sam Walton

Action: Find out what your customers are spending with your major competitor and more importantly identify why. Then find a way to meet one of their needs that you are currently not satisfying.

#4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers” Ross Perot

Action: Spend a day operating the care center phones or working on the shop floor. Find as many ways as possible to talk to your customers and ask them questions, if they are willing to answer them. Share your learnings with everyone else.

#5. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company” Tony Hsieh

Action: Identify one or two members from each department who are particularly customer centric and form a customer support group. Meet regularly to identify how to ensure everyone in the company underst ands their role in satisfying your customers.

#6. “Every client you keep, is one less that you need to find” Nigel S anders

Action: Review the reasons why your customers leave your product or service, and identify one thing you can do differently to stop that continuing.

#7. “Research is not proof, it just improves the odds” David Soulsby

Action: Review the last five or ten market research studies that have been conducted and the decisions that were taken based upon their results. Did you delegate responsibility for decision-making totally to the customer by simply following the results of the research, or did you take a more balanced approach by considering them as a complement to other business factors and past information gathered? One study should never be the only source of information on which a decision is made

#8. “Customer needs have an unsettling way of not staying satisfied for very long” Karl Albrecht

Action: Review the results of the last five or ten renovations you have made to your products and services. Are they still performing well or do you need to bring further improvements as your customers are already used to the improved offer? Are you following societal trends and building scenarios to be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges. Check here for more information on doing this.

#9. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!” Eleanor Roosevelt

Action: This is easier if you work in a multi-br and or multinational organisation; encourage departmental members to share one of their mistakes and how they would do things differently next time. This will only work in established groups with high trust between its members, so if this is not the case, start by sharing successes to learn from until people feel more comfortable opening up to their mistakes too.

#10. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare” Japanese proverb

Action: Review your company vision and evaluate whether or not you are actioning all parts of it. If not, then update your plans to support your total company vision. Similarly review your business and br and plans and ensure they all fit into the wider company vision; if not update to exclude or replace inappropriate actions.

I hope you found some inspiration both in the quotes and the suggested actions prompted by each one.

If you have a favourite quote that you would like to include in the future, please add a comment below. We will be continuing these lists in coming months and will include yours, duly attributed if you would like to be named personally as a contributor.

Check out our website for hundreds of marketing and customer centric quotes, all segmented by topic: https://www.c3centricity.com/library/

 

What the Hospitality Industry can teach us all about Customer Service

One of the industries most sensitive to customer service errors is hospitality. If they get something wrong their clients will tell them immediately.

This is a great opportunity, since it gives them the chance to respond appropriately and save their reputation. However, it also means that they have had to adapt to being not just reactive but also proactive.

If you would like to see what you can learn from how they meet some of these challenges read on.

This past week I was in Miami and had the chance to visit and stay in various hotels both at the beach as well as in the financial district. With a presentation to give in January on the hospitality industry (more about that next month), I wanted to get some true-life stories from the people on the ground. Their comments and ideas were so inspiring, I thought it would be useful for us all to consider some of their solutions, even if we are not in the hospitality industry. Their businesses depend on excellent customer service; shouldn’t ours as well?

#1. Know your client

They all spoke about the importance of knowing whom they are serving. Are their guests on business or vacation? These two groups have very different needs and dem ands, and so it is vital that the purpose of their visit is clearly understood in order to better serve them.

Ask yourself: These hotels start with a simple two cluster analysis and then group each of these into subgroups. What does your own segmentation tell you? Is it too complex to be actionable? Would a simpler approach such as the one these hotels are using help? Check our website for more about customer targeting and segmentation.

#2. Imagine the clients’ needs before they ask

Another interesting similarity between these professionals is their pride in underst anding their clients’ needs. They actually feel that they haven’t done their best if a client has to ask for something.

Ask yourself: Are you continually updating your knowledge about your customers’ changing needs in order to anticipate them? If you develop a process to satisfy them but don’t adapt with each new learning, then you risk losing a deeper underst anding. More about this topic here.

#3. The buck stops with the person listening

The banquet manager at one of the hotels talked about the importance of representing the Hotel to ensure the clients’ needs are met. He said that telling a client that something is not his job / responsibility is unacceptable. Whomever the client is speaking with is the company (hotel in this case) (>>Click to Tweet<<) from his perspective, so the employee cannot just pass responsibility to someone else to get rid of the issue.

Ask yourself: Do clients get passed from one person to the other when they call your company? Does everyone underst and that it is their responsibility to find a solution to each client’s issue? They should only transfer them to someone else to resolve the client’s problem, once they have established that this is the right person to solve it. Read the 5 steps to customer care excellence for an example of simplified contact management.

#4. Speak to the decision maker

Another topic the banqueting manager mentioned was to always speak to the decision maker, not (only) the person making an order. For example, if it’s a wedding he speaks to the bride directly, not just the groom or the parents, even if they are the ones paying.

Ask yourself: Do you underst and the purchase decision journey of your clients? If the end user and purchaser are different people, you will need to underst and them both; (>>Click to Tweet<<) their reasons for using / buying the product they choose and how they came to make that decision.

#5. Your checklist is the start not the end

Most hotel departments now work with checklists, just like pilots. Whether it is reservations, the room cleaning, or meeting management, these lists have been built up over time to ensure that nothing essential is forgotten. However, if your customer service experts are still working to scripts, then their connection will seem false and uncaring in the eyes of your customer.

Ask yourself:Are all your scripts, processes and checklists absolutely necessary? Could you give your employees more responsibility and freedom to satisfy your customers? If you are concerned that they may take too many liberties and initiatives, you could set limits, such as decisions that cost less than a certain limit. As your confidence in their decision-making ability grows, you can increase this limit. And this makes good business sense. In Temkin’s 2012 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, they found that highly engaged employees are more committed to helping their companies succeed.

If you work in the hospitality industry I would love to hear your comments and ideas on the above. Would you add any other points? If you work in a different industry, I hope these comments inspire you to make your own customer services more caring and that the questions posed make you think about what we can learn from this industry that is not called hospitality for nothing. Shouldn’t we all be in a hospitable business?

Would you like to know just how customer centric you really are? Complete the C3Centricity Evaluator (it’s FREE to C3Centricity Members) and receive a summary report with suggested actions to take.

For more ideas about how to put your customer at the heart of your own business, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

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