January 2014 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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This is Why your New Products “Crash & Burn”

Last month I invited readers to share some of the problems and challenges they need to address in 2014. I offered a free consultation to one lucky winner who asked the most interesting question, which could also be of interest for me to answer for other readers.

Well, the winner is Jean-Francois (JF) who has just started working with a start-up in the tech and app areas – I feel that’s more and more of us these days, don’t you? His question was:

“I would like to commercialize a new XXX; what would be the right approach to identify the consumer need and then the market potential, considering that the company has very limited financial resources?”

This is a great question and a reminder that not every organisation has access to large market research or marketing departments and extensive budgets. In fact, in many companies these roles are being h andled by one and the same person with very few resources; is that your case? If so then you will definitely find this post of interest, but even if it isn’t, I’m sure you will still find value from the ideas shared.

As I had promised, I gave Jean-Francois a one-on-one consultancy which ended up lasting several hours, as he had planned well for our session together. He also happens to be really passionate about his innovative idea, as well as in finding solutions to all his challenges.

The product JF and his team want to launch doesn’t exist on the market today, although there are some products which are unsuccessfully trying to address the perceived customer need. The proportion of product launches which fail every year is generally “accepted” to be about 95% – although why companies continue to accept such levels is beyond me! With such odds, I think it is incredibly courageous to start a whole company based around just one new product idea, but that seems to be the norm in many areas today.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the reasons new products fail and identify ways to reduce if not completely eliminate them for your next launch.

  1. New product Process wheelThe process itself: Innovation is by definition a creative process, but many organisations use a well-worn, restrictive and uncreative process to develop their new products. They are at best most likely to come up with renovations than true innovations. The solution is to introduce some creativity into the process, and why not include potential customers in the process too?
  2. Meeting company quotas: It is surprising that with such miserable statistics concerning the likely success rate of new products, that so many companies – and which shockingly include many of the largest CPGs around – fix quotas on the number of annual new product launches. How crazy is that?! It just encourages too many new products to be launched too early, and almost guarantees failure! I believe it would be much better to seriously limit the levels of acceptance amongst all new product ideas proposed in any year, then only the best would get through.
  3. Lack of customer underst anding: This is most likely one of, if not the most important reason for new product launch failures. And I don’t mean that you should ask the customer what he wants, he doesn’t know until you make it available to him in many industries. No, I mean starting by looking at a customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. If you already have a new product idea, which was the case for JF, then consider how it would make the customer’s life easier or better. If it doesn’t, then you perhaps need to reassess its market appeal.
  4. Lack of category underst anding: This follows on from customer underst anding, in that you need to identify how the customer is currently working around or compensating for their need today. Don’t assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified what the customer is currently doing or using. That is the way to identify your true competition.
  5. Not living up to your promises: If you promise a better, cheaper or more enjoyable experience, then customers deserve to be able to confirm this if they buy. Especially in today’s connected world, if you disappoint by not meeting customers’ expectations, your product will fail even more quickly than in the past, since early-adopters will Tweet or leave comments on Facebook, Blogs or other social media platforms for all to see.
  6. Not being sufficiently differentiated: Following on from living up to your promises, customers need a reason to change behaviours, and depending upon the category this can be costly, whether in time, money or effort. Many customers prefer to continue buying an inferior product or service than making the effort to change – think Telecom, Banking, Hotels, Air travel or Insurance as some of the most typical examples of such industries. These businesses are in a constant battle to differentiate themselves and provide a real advantage to attract new customers.
  7. Being too different: Whilst not being sufficiently differentiated can be a certain cause of failure, being too new can also meet with no success. The reason for this is that if customers are totally unfamiliar with the new product or service offering, you will need to spend considerable resources to educate them. If you are unable or not willing to invest the time and money in doing this, then you will undoubtedly fail to attract more than just a few customers who take the time to underst and what you are offering.
  8. Correct pricing is key to NPD successPricing yourself out of the market: Here I’m not just speaking of pricing your product too high; being too low can also negatively impact your likely success. Underst anding how much potential customers value your offer to essential to the success of any product. Getting it wrong can result in lost revenue or worse a promotional spiral leading to br and hell (read more about this in “Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell“)
  9. Inappropriate distribution: This can be the consequence of an incomplete underst anding of your customer and is also linked to differentiation. Whilst you can just follow near competitors into their own distribution channels, why ignore the possibility of being available where and when your customer might buy it most? By reducing the effort necessary to change their habits and buy, you can attract more potential customers to at least try your new product.
  10. Being too far ahead of the customer: There are many examples of great products that were ahead of their time. Gillette brought out 2–in–1 shampoos with conditioners included in the early 70’s, but they were a dramatic flop. Ten years later most personal care manufacturers offered these products, and were met with huge success, even if such products have gone out of fashion somewhat since then. It took Nespresso almost twenty years to become profitable and Philip Morris has needed similar levels of patience for their most infamous of br ands Marlboro, in many markets. If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision.

These are ten of the most common reasons for new product launch failure. Which do you think is most prevalent in your own company? What are you going to change to increase the success of your own new products? Is it some other reason altogether, that I’ve missed? Let me know and share your thoughts below. 

Coming back to JF, most of our time together was spent discussing ways to collect information on many of the above points. As he has little budget for extensive market research, it was important for him to find other ways of gathering the much needed information and not to just bypass that stage; perhaps many people don’t bother to search out the information they need to truly assess the likely success of their new product, which would explain the high failure rate mentioned above.

By the end of my session with JF, he had a clear plan of action and I have since heard that he is progressing incredibly fast, so watch this space for an announcement concerning the launch of his new device.

I will be sharing the tips I gave him in a future blog post, but in the meantime feel free to continue sending me your own questions; I’m always ready to have a short Skype or phone call to assist you with your own marketing and innovation challenges.

C³Centricity uses images from  DreamstimeKozzi  and Microsoft

Why Global Campaigns often Fail and What You Can Do So Yours Won’t

It’s been a while since we had a guest post so I am happy that this week Angelo Ponzi from C³Centricity partner PhaseOne, based in Los Angeles, has shared one of his most popular articles on taking local communications global.

If you’re a global advertiser or have done research on global advertising, you know it’s not easy to launch a global campaign.

Year after year, many br ands launch global campaigns only to have them fail.  Sometimes it’s the message that doesn’t translate.  Other times, a product name or slogan just doesn’t translate around the globe — or worse, it offends the target audience. Or, perhaps the behavior the br and is trying to influence just isn’t relevant.

What are the pitfalls that must be avoided and what strategies do you need to have in place in order to set the stage for a successful global campaign?

Benefit of a Global Campaign

Unilever Dove logoThere is a strong argument for implementing a creative campaign on a global scale.  When it works, it provides br and stewards with a high level of control.  It also ensures consistent implementation of a br and strategy, and it saves money — a lot of money.  When it works, it can work BIG.  Take for instance Unilever’s global work for their Dove br and and their Beauty campaign. This global work beat the odds, changed the way people think of beauty, and changed the way we as advertisers communicate about beauty.

Regardless of the br and, all br ands — even regional or local ones — need to think globally. Why?  Because a br and’s image or reputation is only one post, tweet, blog, pin or share away from being talked about on a global basis.  Social media has changed the way we market, but more importantly, it has changed the way we need to think.

It’s difficult enough to create relevant communications that include a strategic message, strong theme and a br and story that appeals to the target audience in one market. Creating one that appeals to multiple cultures is extremely difficult. One size fits all does not apply here folks!

Important Considerations:  A Common Voice Spoken in Many Languages

What are some of the important considerations when beginning to think about a global approach?  Certainly, humor or the use of slang when trying to establish a br and across borders does not always work.  For example, humorous TV spots that aired in the UK didn’t make audiences giggle as it traveled across borders to other English and non-English-speaking countries.   Keep in mind, the joke or “shtick” doesn’t always travel well from country to country.  The use of humor may also be impacted by cultural values, etiquette, language and dialects, as well as social economics of the audiences.  Individually, these are all important considerations to be researched when developing campaign strategies and creative executions. Br ands must learn to have a common voice that can be spoken in many languages.

Campaigns need to consider the four elements of the br and

In addition, you should take into consideration your international competition, since they are most likely exploring global and local (“glocal”) approaches as well.  But, while you’re looking in the rearview mirror at your primary competitors, don’t forget to look out in front for those local br ands that are already entrenched and may already be the leaders in the market.  Know where your br and st ands in the market.  Are you a challenger in one market and a leader in another? How you speak to your target audience will be different based on your market position, making it even more difficult to identify a distinctive message that is relevant globally from market to market.

Define your br and’s core personality, including the tone in which you speak to your audiences, and keep it consistent.  Identify a common motivation or need across cultures that speaks to their aspirations, not just your br and’s product benefits. By doing so, the overall culture of the br and remains constant and familiar to the audiences throughout the world.

Key Factors for a Successful Global Campaign

In examining the factors in developing and implementing a successful global campaign, we have found that it becomes clear that there has to be almost precise alignment across five different market factors for success.  If even one of them is off, the campaign and its investment are at risk.

As we explore these five key factors, ask yourself the outlined questions and answer them honestly as you assess the possibility of your global campaign.

#1. Your Br and’s Equity

Does your target audience think about your br and the same way across all markets (i.e., do they have the same associations)?  Do the br and’s values and its personality resonate at the same levels across all markets?  Is awareness high and attitudes strong in one market while they suffer in another?  If so, then there is a high level of certainty that the same advertising will not work in both markets.

#2. Your Br and Market Share / Market Position

Do you have consistent market share in each and every market in which you compete?  In reality, it is much more likely that your market position varies by market.  Whether you’re a strong leader with few challengers working to grow the category and retain market share or a challenger against stronger br ands trying to steal market share, it is almost impossible for the same kind of creative and messaging to work across all of these situations.

#3. Competitive Actions

In examining the competitive environment, a number of variables must be considered.  How many competitors are there?  Very crowded categories require different actions from less-crowded categories.  What is the level of spend by competitors?  Some competitors are more dedicated to certain markets, investing greatly in them.  Are they buying market share?  Are you prepared to compete?  What are your competitors claiming?  We often see that the claims competitors make vary by market.  Just because your message is perceived to be different in one market doesn’t mean it will be distinctive on a global scale. What are the environments in which your br and will compete?

#4. Category Penetration / Maturity

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make today is assuming that the advertising they create for well-established br ands within very mature markets will work in markets where the category as a whole is just emerging — those markets from which future growth will come.  What they are forgetting is that the audience’s familiarity with the category dictates how much you have to explain versus what you can assume they will already know.

#5. Target Audience / Cultural

We as human beings are complex.  Yes, there are some core things that tie us together: we all have needs that we strive to satisfy.  But even then, what our needs are and how they are expressed vary, with much of that driven by culture.  More times than not, global campaigns fail by not taking into consideration the cultural differences between the markets.  This is particularly true when humor is involved.  What one culture views as funny could be offensive to another.  Culture can also impact how our target audiences approach the category.  One example is cleaning products — what “clean” means varies across cultures.  We also see great variance for games and toys.  For example, are they for independent enjoyment or do they bring people together?

To help lay the foundation for global campaign success, a research study that examines your br and in your current and planned markets is essential, as is the same research on your competitors to see how they have succeeded and failed so you can learn from their efforts.  Underst anding where you st and and where you intend to go versus your competitors is essential to creating a successful and lasting global br and strategy.

Get thinking about what’s important in developing a global campaign.  Do your homework.  Invest the time ( and money) to underst and your target audience country by country. 

Before you start ask yourself, “What campaigns have been successful on a global basis?  How did they do it?  And, which ones failed and why?”  Learn from it.   Now go take over the world.

8 Marketing Essentials for 2014

Over the past few weeks I’ve been in the US catching up with a few C³Centricity partners about marketing priorities for 2014. The meetings were as inspirational as the new products being presented at the Las Vegas CES (Global Consumer Electronics & Consumer Technology Tradeshow)!

We discussed some of the most important challenges marketing will be facing in 2014 and brainstormed some possible solutions. If you are having any of these difficulties then I’m sure you will find the following ideas useful:

Social Media Metrics

Email is a popular customer service connection pointAs many companies transfer budget from traditional to online advertising, it is essential to also shift some of your funds to measuring its impact, even if some people do question the validity of such metrics. However, the most important thing to do is to link the metrics to what is happening in your business. Your CEO isn’t interested in how many Facebook Likes you’ve managed to get, but he is interested in knowing that you gained x% in awareness. Some st andard numbers often followed are mentioned in “ 10 Social Media Measurement Best Practices” but remember that engagement and listening for better customer underst anding are also (more?) important, as mentioned in this Business Insider post. What everyone does agree, is that every campaign must have objectives and metrics to gauge their efficacy; do yours?

Storytelling

There is so much (too much?) information flowing into organisations today, but it is not being sufficiently accessed because most of it is not being integrated and analysed. Even when it is, sharing the insights is often a challenge because of the complexity of the process. Turning knowledge and underst anding into stories and then visualising or videoing them is a better way for both sharing and getting participation in actioning them. Why not review both your insight development and your knowledge sharing processes this year? If you’re comfortable with where you are, perhaps now is a good time to start storing your information and insights in easily-accessible libraries?

Showrooming & Virtual Reality

Virtual realityIt has been suggested that showrooming will be the end of retail outlets, but I believe there will be an integrated, rather than an either / or future. Virtual reality enables shoppers to see how products could be used, or how they would look in their homes, office or even on themselves. It also allows both retailers and manufacturers to improve their offer by identifying any pain points, and enables them to hold less stock and still offer maximum choice to customers. How about going online with 3D catalogues or providing in-store areas to offer your customers product trial and experience?

 

New Communication Opportunities

According to Jay Walker-Smith of Yankelovich

“We’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.”

Whether that second number should be 5,000 or 20,000 as I’ve also heard mentioned, it suggests that little can or is being retained our customers. Since this is unlikely to change in the future, as attention spans shorten even more, finding new messaging opportunities that resonate with our customers is vital. Why not use social media to track your target audience’s expressed wants and needs, and then compare them to what your key competitors are communicating. This will help you to uncover hidden communications’ gaps which you can then use to connect with your customers.

Adapting Communications to Personas

Don't alienate your business from its customersAre you dissatisfied with your current segmentation efforts? Creating personas can already add interest and thus actionability, by visualising their similarities and differences. Have you thought of taking the same approach to your communications too? By crafting personas built from your existing data on media habits and going beyond traditional segmentation, you can focus your attention on how to actually communicate with these different groups.

Channel Management

Mapping your br and’s story as told by the br and across channels can provide a “mosaic” of its communications and quickly highlight areas which need attention.Successful campaigns work across multiple channels but it is important to examine the contribution of each to avoid overlaps and gaps. Why not make 2014 your year of br and building through improved channel management?

Better Communications for Organisational Strategy

Following on from the above point, people’s attention spans are diminishing and we are all skimming rather than reading today. This means that companies need shorter, more impactful copy, for advertising and websites, but also for internal newsletters and communications. Analysing the content of communications can be very informative in underst anding the messages our customers, employees or consumers are receiving. We can no longer be satisfied with knowing just what we are sending out. Make this year the one in which all your communications resonate and provide the right messages to your targets.

Disruptive Innovation

Trends around the worldCustomers are becoming more and more dem anding – no news there! They don’t stay satisfied or surprised for long. What was novel yesterday is normal today and boring tomorrow. I suppose that’s why shows such as CES get so much air-time on local, national and even international media. We all love to dream and imagine a better life just around the corner. The same goes for our customers, who are always open to new and better propositions.   What are you doing to meet these increasing dem ands? Is your innovation linear, exponential or disruptive? If it’s not the second and hopefully the third, you are probably missing out. Why not make 2014 the year you disrupt your innovation process?

These were eight of the tens of ideas that I discussed with my partners to help companies identify their marketing priorities. Have a look at your plans and see whether you are still playing it safe by just repeating what you did last year? The same number of campaigns, the same promotions, even the same type of innovations. There’s still time to make 2014 the year of exponential growth and change for your company. 

Managing Data or Customer Service; Which should be Your 2014 Priority?

This post was prompted by an article I read recently which proposed that companies should hire a CDO (Chief Data Officer). Whilst I agree that there is an awful lot of data flowing into businesses today that needs to be managed, I believe that we don’t really need another C-suite title. I think that the CIO is the best person for the job and more than used to managing huge data flows.

However, I also believe that there is an even greater need for CCOs (Chief Customer Officers), which have started to appear in a few forward-thinking organisations. Unless your customers are satisfied and hopefully delighted, there won’t be a business to use all that data in the very near future. So for that reason and to answer the question in the title of this post, my vote goes to customer service, but I’m sure you expected that, didn’t you?

This is why I thought I would cover some of the customer service areas that will need reviewing in 2014 and some ideas and solutions on how to address them. After the stress of queuing to buy all those last minute purchases last week, did you have to call about a replacement or suffer the queues for the return of some of the gifts you received this week? If so, then you have certainly experienced huge variations in customer service.

I’m going to use my own experiences here in California over the last few days, to highlight some of the opportunities that retail in particular has, to up their game in the New Year. However, if you work in a different industry I am sure that many of these comments will be just as relevant for you too, so please read on.

EMAIL: According to Forrester, the usage of email has been surpassed by web self-services today. However, whether it is from a PC, tablet or smartphone, customers contact a business and expect an answer almost immediately. In fact according to another Forrester report, 41% of customers expect a reply to their email within six hours, yet only 36% of retailers manage to respond within that delay.

Email is a popular customer service connection point

SUGGESTION: Customers don’t like waiting today. Therefore if you can’t guarantee the expected timing, at least inform your customer by return that you will do your best to respond as quickly as possible and by when you will reply. And keep in mind the situation is likely to get worse and customers will become even more dem anding for a quick reply. See below for further solutions.

CHAT: This is a great alternative for customers since it often pops up automatically when someone is searching online. It’s nice to have  the choice and opportunity to get immediate responses, rather than having to call or email, especially if your web search remains less than satisfactory. However, if you’re going to propose a chat, then the person connecting with the customer is unlikely to do the best support job if they are trying to manage several conversations at the same time.

I asked the question of one of my recent chat correspondents and was told that at some periods of the day they had to cope with not only multiple chats but email too. They had an automated first response and then were told to respond to each customer in rotation with a comment. This meant that at times there would be several minutes delay in the conversation since the employee had to read not only the customer’s response, but also the previous comments to be sure they remembered what the customer was asking about.

Chat for customer service

SUGGESTION: If you offer chat, then make the service adequate or consider cancelling it at busy times, rather than getting your personnel to (inadequately) respond to multiple customers at the same time. If possible, add video to make the whole experience more human. According to the aboce mentioned Forrester report, chat use has increased almost 50% in the last three years, so expect this contact medium to become an even more important connection point for your customers in the future.

ONLINE: This is where customer service is going, or has gone; customers expect immediate access to and immediate response from business today. Most companies seem to have understood this and are offering self-service information and FAQs. They are also managing to respond to Tweets or Facebook comments within a few minutes or hours. It is therefore not surprising that when customers are dissatisfied by a lack of response to their calls and emails, they feel forced to rant about their disappointment online (I admit it I’ve done it myself).

SUGGESTION: Are organisations responding efficiently online because the exchange is public? If so, then they are not truly customer centric. They are merely encouraging their customers to express their dissatisfaction online. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to solve their issues in private?

If you agree, then up your game on email and social media response times. Customers will happily Tweet about their fantastic experiences if you satisfy their dem ands quickly and go above and beyond their expectations. And update your FAQs on a regular basis, based upon the latest requests you receive. Customers are happy to self-serve if it is quicker and simpler for them, but they can also become frsutrated if their efforts are now rewarded with the desired information.

RETAIL EXPERTS: If you are offering expert support, make sure they really are experts. According to Genesys 78% of happy customer experiences are dependent upon having competent service reps. Apple call their experts “Geniuses” which in my opinion is just setting themselves up for customer disappointment. This was confirmed by my latest experience with them, which was less than convincing; if you speak with a genius you are expecting to have the help of someone who knows more than you do. After all, that’s why you as a customer, are looking for support isn’t it?

Whatever you call your own retail employees, they are your first line of contact with your customers and have a lot to share with you. I understood from the Apple Genius I spoke to, that they themselves actually hate the name; perhaps Apple should listen and try to underst and why.

Customer service can be funSUGGESTION: Listen regularly to what your retail employees have to share about their contact with your customers. Whether they are cashiers, merch andisers, demonstrators or stock managers, they all have stories to tell about your customers. In fact why not BECOME a retail employee for a day or two? Your time will not be wasted and you yourself will have stories to tell your co-workers about the “front line”.

CALLS: Perhaps my latest experience with call centers was an exception, but during a call to a well-known PC manufacturer, I was transferred a total of EIGHT times, as departments “passed the buck” for my issue. As I explained to each new representative my issue, I also suggested that instead of transferring me they could sort out my problem, since departmental structure is an internal issue, whilst as far as I was concerned, I was speaking to one company. Luckily I eventually got to a person who understood that even if she herself couldn’t help, she would find the person to sort it out for me (Thanks Linda). She even warned me that due to the holidays my response would only come on Thursday.

SUGGESTION: Don’t allow your employees to hide behind internal company structure. Manage the expectations of your customers to resolve the issue as simply and as rapidly as possible, and inform them by when it is likely to be resolved if there is any risk of delay. If it is necessary to transfer the call, ensure that it is ONLY EVER done ONCE.

These are a few ideas on improving customer services from some of my own recent experiences. Let’s make 2014 the year that we all become truly customer centric. Do you know how customer centric your organisation is today and what needs to be changed, improved or emphasised? If not, or if you are just curious to see how close your thoughts are to reality, then why not complete the C³Centricity Evaluator? It will give you a detailed analysis of where you are and what changes you might like to make. It’s free to complete for all C³Centricity members, and it’s free to join.

If you would like some help improving your own customer services and centricity, then please contact us for an informal chat. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime  and Kozzi

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