Denyse Drummond-Dunn, Author at c3centricity - Page 2 of 20 | c3centricity

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Top 10 Marketing Infographics to Smash 2018 (Inspiration for the Visual World)

One of C3Centricity’s annual traditions is to publish a post which shares the best marketing infographics of the previous twelve months.

Here is this year’s crop, with ideas on how you can get inspired to take action in your own marketing.

Interestingly, many marketing infographics that have been shared in the past year are actually about content marketing. It’s as if “true/traditional” marketing doesn’t exist any more. That in itself says a lot about the focus of marketers these days! Are they right to do so? I don’t think so, but let me know your opinion.

In the same way that new media channels were separated from traditional channels for a while. it seems that content marketing has also been separated from traditional marketing. This is wrong from my perspective, because content marketing has always existed, whether through communications on pack, in advertising or more recently on websites.

Anyway, here is this year’s crop of the best marketing infographics around. If yours is not among them then please add a link to your preference in the comments below.

 

The Most Shared Marketing Infographics of 2017

Most shared marketing infographics

It makes sense that I start this post by taking a look at the most shared marketing infographics of last year. What is great about this post is that it is itself an infographic! It explains what makes a shareabale infographic.

Take a look at the six most shared posts and draw inspiration from their ideas, to create your own.

(Source: Infographic Journal)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

 

Top Marketing Design Trends 

SSTK Core TrendsIFGC Static english  eWith the rapid expansion in offers online, websites can no longer satisfy their audience by just adding content. They need to regularly update their design too, to stay fresh and appealing to changing preferences. (C3Centricity does this annually; le me know what you think when we relaunch our new design in a couple of weeks)

This infographic summarises beautifully the trends for the coming year. Check your own site against these images and if you find yours lacking in any way then an update should be planned – sooner rather than later!

(Source: Shutterstock) 

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

Don't be satisfied with updated content, your website needs regular design updating too! #design #website #marketing #infographic Click To Tweet

 

The Meaning of Colours by Culture

Meaning of colour marketing infographicIf you work globally then you already know that while we are all human beings, we are not all the same. This is particularly true in terms of our associations with colour.

These differences come from a wide variety of sources; from tradition, to history and even from the impact of the most popular brands.

So it is important that if you are responsible for a brand globally, or sometimes even regionally, that you understand the nuances in interpretation of your brand’s pack and communication by the colours used.

This infographic, while it may seem complex at first view, will become your best friend once you understand how to look at it.

(Source: Information is Beautiful)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

Content Marketing Uses

Content marketing infographic matrix

This is a small but useful graphic – I don’t think it is “officially” an infographic but I’ve used the term widely as you have seen – that explains the differing uses of content in marketing.

Even if the original was first published more than five years ago – an eternity these days! – I like this updated version because it reminds us that we should have an objective before developing content, which I know most of us still don’t! (I’m guilty as charged too!)

What I find particularly useful about this graphic is that it splits content between emotional and rational, as well as between whether the objective is to build awareness or attract purchase.

All of us should review this and then evaluate our own content, to ensure that we are including all four quadrants. Are you?

(Source: Smart Insights) 

(Click image to see full infographic)

Want successful content? Split yours between emotional and rational, as well as between whether the objective is to build awareness or attract purchase. Click To Tweet

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing

Email marketing infographicMarketers can’t easily build relationships with their customers without using email or text messages.

This infographic provides clear guidance on what to do and what not to do. I bet you find some things you are doing which could be improved.

Leave me a comment below if your email marketing is faultless!

(Source: Campaign Monitor)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

 

The Rise of Video Marketing

The Rise of Video Marketing eIt was said that 2017 would be the year of the video. They quickly appeared as GIFs on Twitter, and “Live” sessions, rather than just photos, became the norm for sharing on many other social media channels. Everyone seems to be doing it, including brands, so if you aren’t (yet?) you’re already behind the curve!

This infographic explains clearly and simply everything you need to know about getting started in video marketing. Follow these steps and your brand will soon by in the spotlight.

In addition to this video-maker roadmap, I suggest you also check out “Top 10 Video Marketing Trends And Statistics Roundup 2017” for all the latest statistics.

(Source: Business2Community)

(Click image to see full infographic)

How to get your brand in the spotlight by using #video effectively. #brand #marketing Click To Tweet

 

Augmented Reality

what is AR eIf you’ve been ignoring AR in your marketing until now then you’ll have to change in 2018.

Still a bit confused as to what it is and how it can help your marketing? Then this infographic will explain what you need to know.

It includes everything from the history of augmented reality, to the market size and how it will impact all areas of our lives. Everything a marketer needs to understand in order to make best use of it is here.

(Source: Web Designer Depot)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

 

The Inbound Marketing Process

inbound marketing processupdated eWhile marketers are well skilled in outbound marketing, the new world of inbound marketing can be frustrating to say the least. You do the best you can and then sit and wait for things to happen – or not!

If you’ve ever been in this situation, then this inbound marketing infographic will be your saviour!

It lays out eactly what you have to do over the next three months to get started or to improve your current situation. You’re welcome!

(Source: Inbound.com)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

Frustrated that you build it and no-one comes? This #inbound #marketing #infographic is for you! Click To Tweet

 

The 7-Steps to Insight

Final HD CatSight Process eI couldn’t list the best marketing infographics without including one from C3Centricity!

This infographic details the seven steps to insight development. What is important to notice in this process, is that it includes three steps which most organisations forget to do, which dooms them to failure!

Can you identify them? Free eBook for anyone who correctly identifies them and leaves a comment below.

Adopting this process practically guarantees that you develop an insight every time! Try it out and you’ll see.

(Source: C3Centricity.com)

(Click image to see full infographic)

If you’d like to learn more about the training we offer to support your insight development, then check out our 1-Day Catalyst Training and download the brochure. All our courses are personalised to your precise needs, so they will integrate seamlessly into your current processes. This is the only way you will bring about lasting change.

 

 

Social Media and eCommerce

januray  infographic social commerce eFew businesses can survive today without an eCommerce site or social media presence. This is why I decided to end this list with a marketing infographic that covers both.

In this very thorough analysis from 16BestNet, the infographic covers everything you need to know from the history of commerce by channel, to demographics, product and brand popularity and even some sales statistics.

It is one of the most comprehensive analyses covered in a marketing infographic that I have found and definitely worth checking out. Of course, you should then take actions based upon what you learn from it – and there will certainly be a lot of “aha” moments as you scroll down it.

(Source: 16BestNet )

(Click on image for full infographic)

 

 

So there you have them; my choice of the ten most inspiring and useful marketing infographics of the past twelve months. Is your favourite amongst them? If not add a link to it in the comments below.

If you struggle to know what content, communications or engagement your customers might like and how to integrate infographics into your own marketing efforts, then let’s connect for a free, no-obligations call. Contact me here and I’ll share some of the success stories of my local, regional and global clients.

Why You Struggle To Meet Your Business Objectives (And how to Crush them)

“There may be customers without brands, but there are NO brands without customers!”

I am often quoted as saying this and yet I still find most companies spend more time thinking about their brands than their customers, which is alarming to say the least! And you? 

Last week I spoke about identifying the exact category in which you are competing. If you missed it, then I suggest you read “You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are!” before continuing. You will never be successful if you don’t understand the category people put you in and the competitors they compare you to.

In the post, I explain that we often work with a category definition that is based upon industry norms rather than that of our customers. For instance you might segment by price or demographic groups, whereas your customers group brands by flavour or packaging.

Understand how customers see the category and its sub-segments, can make a huge difference to your success in satisfying your own target customers.

This week I want to continue the theme of taking the customers’ perspective by speaking about our own business objectives. You know, the topics that make up our business and marketing plans with such lofty ambitions as:

  • Grow our market share to X%
  • Become the category captain/leader in Retailer Z
  • Launch three new brand variants

All of these may be valid business objectives, but they are not customer focussed. They start from the business perspective.

Growing market share may be a valid business objective, but it's not customer focussed. Click To Tweet

Adopting a customer-first strategy means turning business objectives into customer aims, by taking what is sometimes referred to as a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach.

Here are some questions to help you identify your customers’ aim, their attitudes and behaviours that you are trying to influence:

1. Who are you targeting?

Every brand has a target audience. This is a sub-segment of all category users. Yes you do need to segment users and target the most relevant and most profitable group of them for your brand, and then ignore the rest. If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!

“If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!”

2. Why are they currently using your competitor’s brand?

In order to attract your competitors’ customers you need to understand their motives, why they are preferring the competitive brand to your offer. This information can come from many sources, such as market research, social media, or care centre contacts.

3. What reason might make them consider switching?

If you are to appeal to your competitors’ customers then you must be able to satisfy them at least as well, and ideally better than does their current brand. What do you know about the criticisms customers have of the brand? What benefits do you offer and they don’t, or only partially? Could these be appealing to some of their customers?

4. Why do you believe that you can appeal to them now but didn’t before?

Do you have benefits that you have never highlighted in the past? Have you improved your product or service to now make it a better option? The reasons for switching must be both obvious and appealing in order to attract new customers to your brand.

Answering these four questions will enable you to turn a business objective into a customer aim. You now have all the information you need in order to be able to attract some, if not all, of your competitors’ customers.

Answer four simple questions to turn a business objective into a customer aim. You will have all the information you need to attract some, if not all, of your competitors' customers. Click To Tweet

Let’s now look at a (necessarily) simple example.

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Business Objective: Grow our market share

This is probably one of the most common business objectives I have come across. Is it yours too?

In order to grow market share, we first need to answer the four questions mentioned above, and turn the business objective into a customer aim:

1. Who are you targeting? Suppose you sell a carbonated soft drink. At first, you may think you are selling to all soft drink consumers. However, from your Usage & Awareness data (or observation at retail) you know you are attracting 18-35 year old men, who live in main urban areas of your region. You also know that there are two competitor brands who attract the same consumer group, Brands X and Y. Brand X is the same price as your brand and is sold in similar can packaging. Brand Y however is higher priced and sold in glass bottles.

2. Why are they currently using your competitor's brand? From your brand image study, communications analysis or in-store interviews, you know who the consumers of Brand X and Y are. Hopefully you also know why they are using that brand rather than yours.

Do you have any of the benefits for which they are searching? If so, then you may be able to appeal to them. If not, then they are certainly not the best source of potential new customers for your brand.

For this example we will assume that consumers like Brand X because it is sweet and has small bubbles, whereas Brand Y is less sweet and is very fizzy.

3. What reason might make them consider switching? Consumers of Brand X are sensitive to fashion and the latest trends. Brand Y is a traditional brand that has been around for decades. Brand X was launched in the last five years and its can is bright, modern and trendy looking.

4. Why do you believe that you can appeal to them now but didn't before? You launched a new campaign that went viral on social media. Everyone if talking about it and it has positively impacted your brand's image. Whereas you used to be seen as a cheaper version of Brand Y, you have revitalised your brand's image and are now perceived as much trendier.

Customer Aim: Attract consumers from Brand X who are looking for a trendy, carbonated soft drink that comes in a can and is affordably priced.

As you can see from this objective, it is far more focused and is now based upon your potential customers' aim. This makes it both more actionable and easier to implement.

I hope you found this exercise useful and will try it yourself in your next marketing or business plans. If you do, then do let me know how it goes. You can email me or simply add a comment below and share your experiences.

Final Thoughts

Your plan may say that you want to grow your business, but in reality this objective is ongoing. Every year you are usually looking to grow your brand - unless of course you are "milking" an older brand as you allow it to die off.

In order to grow, you need to both maintain your current customer base, as well as attract new ones. It is well documented that it costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one.

And yet most organisations continue to spend more on acquisition than retention. To see the latest numbers on this, I suggest you check out this awesome infographic by Invesp that was recently shared by Neil Davey on MyCustomer.

According to Gartner's latest CMO Survey US CMOs continue to find more success with customer acquisition than they do with retention. They reported a 3.1% year-over-year increase in customer acquisition performance versus a 1.9% increase in customer retention performance.

The explanation could be that they always have growing market share as a company objective and think that they therefore need to invest more. Or perhaps it's because they take the time to attract new customers, but then don't invest to follow them over time, in order to identify their changing needs and desires.

While I agree both are important, with loyalty levels decreasing, organisations must invest more in retention than acquisition, at least in my opinion. What do you think?

While loyalty levels are decreasing, organisations must invest more in retention than acquisition, at least in my opinion. What do you think? Click To Tweet

Growing market share can only come from attracting more customers, getting your current customers to buy more, or getting your customers to spend more. It's time you considered investing (equally?) in all three areas.

Of course, you can also grow market share by maintaining your customers in a declining category, but that needs a totally different approach and more pertinent questions. If you're interested, then I'll happily cover this in a future post. Just let me know.

You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are! (How to Find Out)

Last week I wrote about my 7-step CatSight™ Process for Insight Development. The first step is to identify the Category in which you are competing. I got so many comments about this step that I decided to dedicate a whole post to this important topic.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read last week’s post (“Customer Centricity is Today’s Business Disruptor, Insights its Foundation”) I suggest you do this first, as background to this post. In it, I summarised the very first step of Insight development like this:

C = Category

Whenever you want to develop insight, the first task is to decide on the category you want to study. This may seem obvious to you, but in many cases, it isn’t as clear as you might think.

Category identification by zooming inFor instance, suppose you are looking to launch a new juice flavoured soft drink. You may think that you are competing with other juices or perhaps other soft drinks.

In working with one client in just such a situation, we actually found that their main competitor was an energy drink!

The reason was that these are seen as being for lively, energetic, fun-loving people who needed a boost. Whether this comes from the caffeine of an energy drink, or from the added vitamins and minerals which was my client’s offer, didn’t seem to matter.
If we’d only looked at other fruit flavoured soft drinks we would have missed a whole – and large – section of category consumers.
By starting our comparison in all beverages and then slowly zooming in as we learnt more, we were quickly able to discover this perhaps surprising positioning for the new drink.

This shows the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. But more about that in a moment.

The above example is a great start. But many readers have since asked me to help them with their own category definition, so here are the suggested steps to doing it for yourself:

 

Step 1. What is the category definition you are currently using? 

In any process we need to start by identifying where we are today. In this case, it should be the category you think you are competing in. Depending on whether you are offering a product or service, you might define it as:

– All hot beverage consumers ….. or ….. users of an insurance service.

– Consumers of coffee ….. or ….. people who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

– All consumers of instant coffee powder ….. or ….. house owners in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

– Consumers of instant coffee powder costing less than US$ 2.50 per 100 gms ….. or ….. owners of houses over US$2 million in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

As you can see from these few examples, the bottom definitions are far more precise and focused than the top ones.

In any process we need to start by identifying where we are today. #Process #Business Click To Tweet
The one you use, will depend upon whether you are looking to grow your brand through your marketing activities or looking to develop a new product or service offer. I call this zooming in and zooming out. In general understanding the category by zooming in is best for growth, zooming out for innovation.

Now take a look at your own current category definition. I bet it’s too broad for general use isn’t it? This is the mistake that most businesses make, big and small. They want to attract all consumers or users of a category, but as is often quoted:

“If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one”

The more precise you are in the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused will be your actions and communications. In addition, they will also resonate more strongly with your target audience.

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Step 2. How is this category changing?

Once you have identified the precise category in which you are playing, you need to consider what is currently happening to it. Is it growing or declining? Why?

Understanding how the category is changing and more importantly why, will help you to understand it better. For instance:

- Is the category growing? If so is it the leading brands which are increasing, or are there new brands that were recently launched which are making the difference? Identfying which brands are growing and the reasons for this growth will enable you to take corrective action.

- Is the category stable? Are category shares stable, or are some brands gaining and others losing? Again, why? What do the brands which are gaining have in common? What are the losing brands lacking? Are the changes making a difference to the category definition?

- Is the category declining? Are all major brands in the category losing or are some gaining at the expense of others, but not maintaining overall category size? If so, What are the declining brands lacking? Where are customers who are leaving the category going to? Is there a new category which is better meeting their needs?

Your answers to these questions, will help you to understand whether the category in which you are currently competing is going to remain as attractive as it is today.

 

Step 3. How will this category change in the future?

In addition to current category trends, you also need to assess what is likely to happen in the marketplace in the coming years and how this may impact it.

Things are changing nd changing fast these days. There is no more "business as usual." Expecting the unexpected has become the norm, which is why I am such a big fan of scenario planning.

There is no more business as usual. Click To Tweet

Industries are being disrupted. A study from the John M. Olin School of Business (Washington University) estimates that 40% of today's Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years time!

40% of today's Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist in 10 years time! #Business #Trends #Future Click To Tweet

Understanding who and what will impact your category, is the first step to preparing for the changes which could come. Preparing for likely future opportunities and risks is the second step, and the reason scenario planning is so vital to ongoing busines success.

 

Step 4. Which of the category users are you attracting?

This question surprises some people. They expect that once they have identified the category in which they are competing that they can just start trying to attract everyone in it. However "You can't please all the people all of the time" as the infamous quote from John Lydgate mentions.

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. John Lydgate Click To Tweet

You therefore need to identify which of the category users would be most interested in what you have to offer. The best way is by running a segmentation study and then plotting the groups on the Boston Matrix I mentioned in last week's post. Or you can read "How to Sell Less to More People: The Essentials of Segmentation." for a more detailed explanation on how to divide all category users into relevant sub-groups.

Understanding which sub-group of all the category users you are most likely to appeal to with your offer, is one further step in focusing on the very best target audience for your brand.

Step 5. How are your customers changing?

After identifying which category users are the most attracted to your offer, you also need to consider how this sub-group is changing. Is it increasing or decreasing in size, and how and why is it changing.
 
As with category changes mentioned above, it is important that you target a viable group. This can either be a growing segment or you should have plans to attract those who switch out with a separate offer
There are many reasons why a segment may decline:
  • The introduction of a new category segment that is taking customers away from yours.
  • Natural decline because of aging.
  • Behavioural changes that make the category less relevant than in the past.
Having identified how your customers are changing today, you then need to consider societal trends and their impact on your customers. That is the ultimate test to choosing the right group of category users to target.
 

Conclusion

Going through these five steps will give you the very best understanding of the categroy in which you are competing, as well as the customers who make up the sub-segment you target.

Have you successfully mastered every suggested step? What have you forgotten?

Is there something I myself have forgotten or that you would add? If so, then please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks

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Customer Centricity is Today’s Business Disruptor (Insights are its Foundation)

I’ve just returned from a speaking invitation in Las Vegas. It was an incredible Symposium run by Sitecore and I was blown away by the importance placed on customer centricity during the whole event!

From the opening keynote by Sitecore’s new CEO Mark Frost, to the second-day keynote by Kirsten Newbold-Knipp from Gartner, everyone in this tech and data heavy conference understood that data is only as good as the use you put to it. Do you?

We are all excited by the wealth of information available to us about our customers, from the IoT as well as people’s behaviour on the internet. In fact, data gathering is no longer an issue; it is its management, analysis and above all understanding to turn it into actionable insights that is today’s challenge.

I believe that the reason most organisations today are drowning in data and thirsting for insights as I am often quoted as saying, is because they are more excited by data than people.

“Organisations are drowning in data and thirsting for insights”

And yet data usually comes from people and their acts, is analysed by people, so that businesses can have more impact on their customers’ attitude and behaviours. It is therefore vital to turn that wealth of information into actionable insights. That’s why I want to share my 7-step process for doing just that with you.

I call it CatSight™

and the acronym always causes a few giggles as I’m sure you can imagine. After all, business is a serious topic, which is why I try to find ways for us all to find reasons to laugh in all this seriousness.

I choose the name CatSight™ because I thought it is not only memorable but also has a serious relevance to what insight developers do.

Cats have an acute vision, particularly in the dark. They are good at listening because their ears turn 180 degrees. They are highly sensitive – just ask an owner how their cat reacts when they are sad or ill.

Seeing in the dark, listening skills, sensitivity and empathy for the customer are essential skills for all insight developers.

Seeing in the dark, listening skills, sensitivity and empathy for the customer are essential skills Click To Tweet

So here are my 7-steps to insight development – and note that information gathering is only step #6!

If you react to business questions by immediately running a market research project, then please read on. It could save you a lot of money and time!

Using my method, you only start spending money on running a survey in step six – and then, only if you have identified a gap in your knowledge of the situation. Many organisations don’t know what they already know and what is already available within the company that they are unaware of.

This 7-step process will save you money because you will run less research AND make better use of all the information already available within the organisation. That’s an immediate improvement in the ROI of your information gathering.

7-steps to insight development, but information gathering is only step #6! #customer #insight Click To Tweet

C = Category

Whenever you want to develop insight, the first task is to decide on the category you want to study. At first sight, this may seem obvious, but in many cases, it isn’t as clear as you might at first think.

Category identification for developing actionable insightsFor instance, suppose you are looking to launch a new juice flavoured soft drink. You may think that you are competing with other juices or perhaps other soft drinks.

In working with one client in just such a situation, we actually found that their main competitor was an energy drink! The reason was that they were both seen as being for lively, fun people who needed a kick – whether from caffeine or healthy fresh ingredients with added vitamins and minerals.

If we’d only looked at other fruit flavoured soft drinks we would have missed a whole – and large – section of category consumers.

This shows the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. But more about that in a moment.

 

A = Aim

Once you know which category you should be trying to understand better, you must consider what the aim or objective of your initiative is towards the customer. Are you looking to change their attitude or behaviour? Yes, of course, these are linked, but there will be one you are trying to influence more than the other.

Then you need to translate your objective into the words of the customer, or at least a description of your objective in how it impacts the.

For instance:

How can we grow the market share of Brand “A”?

This could be written as: How can we attract consumers from competitor Brand “X” who are looking for a low sugar CSD?

You will notice that the second is far more focused and will deliver more relevant results than the first.

A customer-centric objective is more focused & will deliver more relevant insights than biz objective Click To Tweet

 

How can I expand my business?

This could be written as: Which of my customers would be most interested in my new service offer and why?

This example came from work with one of my clients in the service industry. He wanted to offer something new and was trying to identify which of his clients would be most interested in it.

When we worked together, we first ran a detailed segmentation of all potential customers for this new service. By understanding each segment in detail, we actually found that he had two and not one group to whom he should be selling his basic service to. One of these groups could also be exactly interested in this new offer. Talk about leaving money on the table – he almost doubled his business overnight!

T = Target

There are many different pieces of information that make up a complete knowledge of your customers. This takes time to complete, but there are hree main areaas which I suggest to at least get basic information on:

BCG Matrix for developing actionable insights1. First thing you need to segment all category users and then choose the most attractive one.

For this one of the simplest tools to work with is the BCG matrix. I say that because it works just as well with observed facts as it does with complex measured and weighted data.

 

 

4W Customer persona template for developing actionable insights2. Next you need to develop a customer image or persona.

We use the 4W™ Template as you know, because it reminds users to find out the who, what where and why. That way no area if forgotten.

 

3. The third tool we use to better understand our customers deeply, is their journey map.

Customer journey map for developing actionable insights.This can be as simple or as complex as you like too. However I would suggest adding the emotional state of the customer at each stage, as this provides valuable information concerning pain points. These steps are obviously the ones you want to solve for your customer as a priority.

These three tools will provide you with a great foundation on which you can build both your understanding and insight development. Do you have others which you regularly use? If so, then please suggest them in the comments below. 


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S = Supporters 

No-one is an island and this goes whether you are an executive, solopreneur or corporate slave. If you work in a business, then I advise you to get out from behind your desk and talk to people in other departments. We can sometimes get so tied up in our work that we never take time to understand the wider corporation in which we work. We live on our floor, take coffee and lunch with fellow employees and never learn much news that we didn’t know already.

by making a habit to speak with your colleagues from other departments and floors, will open you to a deeper understanding of your organisation. It will give you an advantage over your colleagues in knowing what’s going on in other groups and will enable you to gather information you would be unlikely to get otherwise.

If you are a solopreneur, meetings others on a regular basis becomes even more vital. It provides you with some fresh thinking and perspectives, a friendly ear to discuss business with and a change of air for an hour or two. I try to meet up with someone for coffee or lunch at least three or four times a week when i`’m not traveling.

Getting supporters is vital to the success of both projects and business in general, so make a habit of widening your professional circle anyway you can/

 

I = Intimacy

Even if you have a detailed persona of your target customers – you do don’t you? – nothing beats getting intimate with them. Not only does this bring your data and information to life, but you may also learn new things about your customers.

You can do this by simply listening into your care centre calls or by serving in your retail outlets if you have them.

But you can also accompany a researcher while interviewing or organise customer connection sessions. If you are interested in organising these events designed specifically for getting closer to your customers then I suggest you read “Why customers are the answer to all your problems”

 

G = Gap Filling

As I’ve already mentioned, when a business wants to know their customers better they immediately think of running a market research project. Don’t do this!

Save yourself time and money by first reviewing everything your organisation already knows. Identify any gaps and only then run a survey. You will be amazed how this simple habit can save you tens of thousands every year.

 

HT = Human Truth

A human truth is a

“Fact of human attitudes & behaviour, based on fundamental human values & beliefs.”

It is vital to insight development since it is needs based and emotional resonant. It is a powerful and compelling statement that is rooted in basic human values, which is why it is valid for all your customers, wherever in the world they live.

Some simple examples are:

  • Parents want to protect their children so they grow up happy and healthy.
  • Men and women want to find love.
  • People want to feel good about their choices. (be better than their peers?)

These human truths are the basis of many of the well-known brands such as Omo / Persil, Nido, Axe / Lynx, Dulux, Heineken. When you are next watching an ad break on television, it is fun to try and identify the human truths on which they are based. The more clearly identifiable they are the better the ad will resonate with its customers.

I also suggest using this as a fun exercise in a brainstorming or other meeting of marketers in particular.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse!

So there you have it, the 7-step process I call CatSight™ which practically guarantees an insight every time you use it. 

Why not try it yourself next time you are trying to work through a marketing challenge?

If you like this process and would like to learn even more details about it, then we offer two solutions:

  1. An online course of videos and workbooks to take you through every step in detail.
  2. An in-person training in your own office. This is particularly cost-effective when you are upgrading the skills of your entire team.

For either one, we are offering a 20% discount during November, to help you assign any remaining budget before you lose it at year-end! (I’ve been there too so I understand your situation very well) Just contact us and book your session; you can even plan it early in the New Year if you prefer. As long as you pay this year, we will accord the 20% discount. How’s that for an early Christmas present?

Smart Marketing for Smart Customers (What Marketers Need to Know Today)

Our customers are getting smarter every day. But are we performing smart marketing too? I don’t think so.

When I have the chance to look at what most organisations are doing, I see that they are still living in the past of traditional media and have hardly dipped their toes into new media. Or they are using social media but still treating it as if it is traditional media! Neither plan will work. Here’s how marketers should be reaching, connecting and engaging their customers.

 

1. Don’t talk to everyone

We all know that you can’t please all the people all of the time, so why are we marketers still mass producing our messages? In the past, the annual marketing plan requirement was for us to develop a few ads for each of our planned campaigns.

Today with social media, we need a constant flow of new ads and new campaigns, each targeted at a sub-group of our audience, with individual messages. We need to not only to be mobile, but flexible, adaptable and ready to take advantage of any opportunity, the moment it happens.

One  of the best examples of this is still Oreo’s reaction to the power outage at the Superdome during the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. The cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment, tweeting an ad that read Power Out? No problem with a starkly-lit image of an Oreo with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Read more in this article on Wired.

Since then, we have seen a few more brands “stage” similar events during the Super Bowl; I’m referring to Tide and Snickers of course. What all these memorable moments have, is a deep understanding of both the audience – in this case of the Super Bowl – and their target customers.

Smart marketing focusses on understanding the customers of a targeted group of category users. And accepting to ignore those that don’t fit, even if they are currently using the brand. Are you brave enough to do the same?

 

2. Stand out from the crowd

A recent article in Forbes by Larry Myler mentioned and-out-in-a-crowd-of-competitors/#c0dbd4762fa9″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>7 ways for a br>and to stand out from the crowd. These were:

  1. Provide Legendary Customer Service.
  2. Admit Mistakes and Fix Problems to Build Stronger Relationships.
  3. Be Honest About Your Products and Services.
  4. Come Up With Something New.
  5. Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility.
  6. Start a Blog.
  7. Offer a Guarantee.

What I find interesting about this list is that the first four concern customer service excellence, but the last three are more about the organisation. OK so they should also impact the customer, but not as directly as the first four.

Smart marketing can counter declining customer loyalty

The other thing, for me at least, is that I don’t think any of these will actually make a brand stand out from the crowd! After all, they are the table stakes for the social world we live in today. What do you think?

A survey conducted by KPMG and industry network The Consumer Goods Forum in April this year, found that nearly four out of every 10 consumer products executives think brand loyalty will see a decline among consumers over the next two years. This is a depressing thought, especially as it comes from the very people who should be doing everything they can to build the loyalty of their customers!

For me, to stand out from the crowd, brands have to offer exceptional service and value so that they create raving fans.

To stand out from the crowd, brands have to offer exceptional service and value so they create raving fans. #CRM #customer Click To Tweet

Most products and services today are indistinguishable from each other. That’s why loyalty is at an all-time low.

And to offer such exceptional service to your customers, you have to know them deeply. Know what they value, what they want, what they dream of having, or even what they would love but don’t believe is possible! That’s how you get the raving fans, through continued surprise and delight. That’s smart marketing.

 

3. Be where your customers are

Very few customers are sitting in front of their TVs watching your brand’s commercial in the ad breaks, or listening to your radio publicity during their morning commute or seeing your ads while they read their newspaper. Today they are watching YouTube and Vimeo, or programs streamed directly to their tablets and smartphones. They are then sharing the best content they find on social media with their friends and followers. So where are you?

Now it’s true that digital media and YouTube in particular, got called out earlier this year for fake traffic statistics driven by bots. And as if that wasn’t enough, they were accused of placing some ads in sub-optimal positions alongside objectionable content. However, online is where a lot of consumers get their brand and category information today, so you can’t ignore these video channels.

It therefore also makes sense to take advantage of the content you do control, namely your website.

Make maximum use of the social content you do control, namely your website. #brand #marketing Click To Tweet

How customer-centric is yours? Does it have regularly updated content which is of interest to your customers? Does it encourage engagement and frequent return visits? Does it make it easy to contact you without going through contact forms which then disappear into anonymous hyperspace? It should.

Smart marketing is all about putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers. How often do you do that?

For more details on this topic, I recommend you read “How to Go From a Good to a Great Website: Engage and Convert More Successfully.”

 

4. Be available when your customers need you

We have become an impatient raceand its getting worse by the day!

Smart customers don't wait for sites to load
Source: Kissmetrics

According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. And Kissmetrics reports that 85% of internet users expect a mobile site to load as fast or faster than on their desktop!

This is particularly important if you sell online. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. And more than half of these would also tell their friends about the poor experience online. Therefore you don’t only lose your current shoppers but potential new ones too!

If you don’t have a shop, then at least you’re on social media, no? Well if so, then the picture is even worse!  showed that 42% of customers who contact a company via social media expect a response within the hour, and 34% expect a response within 30 minutes!

Have I got you worried? How do your numbers compare?

But it’s not all bad news! Do the right thing, fast,and you can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan! Convince and Convert reported that dealing quickly and effectively with customers’ complaints can increase advocacy by 25%. A brand advocate will share their love for your company, their unabashed loyalty and general goodwill with anyone who will listen – on social media too!

Do the right thing, fast,and you can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan! Click To Tweet

Smart marketing means responding to customers on their terms not ours. If that means 24/7 service then that’s what we have to provide, or risk losing them to a more attentioned competitor.

 

5. Never believe you have won loyalty

It is well known that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep one you already have. I have seen estimates of up to five or ten times more! But I think we all agree that it makes sense to do whatever we can to keep our customers loyal.

But in today’s world of never-ending choices, how do we do this?

No matter what business you are in, customers continuously compare on price, service and quality before making a purchase. In fact, research suggests that on average,. How does your business stand up to that sort of comparison?

One way to get a competitive edge is through supplying superior information. A study by Oracle revealed that what people want most is detailed and visual product information (37%), better search capabilities (29%), and easier access to a customer service representative via live help options such as click-to-call or live chat (20%).

People want detailed product info (37%) better search (29%) & easy access to customer service (20%) Click To Tweet

Providing what your customers want, where and when they need it, is clearly an additional role to the more “sales oriented” one that marketers have traditionally played.

Likewise the need to get comfortable with both giving and gathering data. And then analysing the data they get from their customers to effectively deepen their relationships with them.

One great example of this is from the Good Food Guys restaurant group in California who own Split and Mixt stores. They use spend data to analyze their customer-base and uncover their “VIPs.” Last Christmas they surprised these special guests with a personalized stainless steel Swell bottle that could be filled with ice tea or lemonade, for free, every time they visited. The gift makes their most loyal customers feel valued and provides a clear indication to the store employees to treat these people especially well.

These are just five areas of smart marketing that will support your business and provide a clear and positive ROI. After all, that is what marketers are being challenged to provide these days, isn’t it?

Or perhaps your priority for 2018 is in a completely different area altogether? If so, then I’d love to hear more about your plans.

If you’d like help with any of these areas then C3Centricity provides ongoing advisory sessions and 1-Day Catalyst training. Download our brochure for more information.

 

Technology is an Enabler not a Disruptor (So Stop Using it as an Excuse!)

I was giving a talk earlier this month in which I mentioned that technology is an enabler not a disruptor of business today.

It was to the BPW Lake-Geneva (Business & Professional Women) group in Rolle, Switzerland, which was a first for me. Not because I was speaking about customer centricity as a disruptor, but because it was an all-female group. (They even turned away one gentleman who was interested in hearing me speak about adopting a customer-first strategy!)

Anyway, my talk was about identifying the category in which you are working, the benefit you provide>and the audience to whom you are offering it. These are the first three steps of my CatSight™ Process for actionable insight development. (If you would like to know more about it sign up for our free webinar)

During the presentation at BPW I talked about the fact that technology is seen as the disruptor in business today, but it isn’t. Technology is an enabler; it is in fact customer-centricity that is the disruptor today.

Technology as enabler, not disruptor
Source: Marco Pacheco
Executive Director JP Morgan

It was 

I had already been speaking about the need for businesses to prepare for the dramatic change that was coming thanks to technological innovation. However, Pacheco’s slide made me realise why I was so keen on companies adopting a customer-first strategy and running scenario planning.

His five simple examples brought it home more powerfully than I have ever done before. That’s why I wanted to share it. The summary says:

  • Netflix did not kill Blockbuster, ridiculous late fees did.
  • Uber did not kill the taxi business, limited taxi access and fare control did.
  • Apple did not kill the music industry, being forced to buy full-length albums did.
  • Amazon did not kill other retailers, bad customer service did.
  • Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry, limited availability and pricing options are.

In conclusion it states that:

“Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.”

That’s music to my ears!

Looking again at the five examples he gives, there are a number of specific aspects of customer-centricity that are highlighted. In my opinion they show the following advantages for the customer:

  • freedom of choice
  • transparency
  • trust
  • being valued

If you don’t want to see your own industry fall victim to start-ups that better provide these, then now is the time to act.

If you don't want to see your own industry fall victim to start-ups that better provide these, then now is the time to act. #startups #Business #Technology Click To Tweet

Include all these essential elements into your own business. In my opinion they should already be there and industries where they are not, are already being threatened. Make sure you’re not on the new list next year!

 

The Future of Many Industries is Unthinkable

By this I mean that change is happening so fast that it is difficult for organisations to even imagine the future. This is why I encourage my clients to develop plausible future scenarios. Only by doing so, can they be prepared for every possible risk and opportunity. Identifying one, most likely future is unlikely to deliver the variation than will no doubt happen. For more on this topic, read ”

As I mentioned at the beginning, technology is an enabler that permits industries to provide more of what their customers want. There are already many examples of ones which have been helped or radically altered by technology and science. For example:

  • Verizon data revenueTelecoms now make as much money from selling (geo-localisation) data than they ever did from selling phones and lines.

Already in 2015 data accounted for 44% of Verizon’s profits, as shown in this Adage article.

Don’t you think their business model has changed – dramatically? Are they happy they made the change? You bet; it is growing faster and more profitably than ever before!

 

  • Food companies are shifting from machine-made to do-it-yourself meal-kits. In fact, to be precise, the industry is being ever-more disrupted by start-ups offering replacements to the mass-produced, less-than-healthy products that Nestle, Mondelez, Kraft Heinz and Danone have been used to churning out.

Companies like Blue ApronGreen ChefHelloFreshMartha & Marley SpoonPlated, and Sun Basket are offering healthier and fresher alternatives.

The largest food manufacturers are trying to compete by lowering “bad” ingredients and increasing “good” ingredients in their mass-produced brands. However, take a look at what they are doing in detail >and you will see that in most cases their “improved” products are not better for us. They still have far too much sugar, salt and trans fats, despite being reduced. They still lack fresh ingredients, which we all know are far better for nourishing a live body.

 

  • Beverage manufacturers are getting into entertainment in a big way. They have always sponsored or promoted events, bars and cafes. Coca-Cola is probably the best known for this with sponsorships including American Idol, Apple iTunes, BET Network, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA, and the Olympic Games.

But some drinks manufacturers are going much further and have now started including media development too. As a great example, think about Red Bull which today is seen more as an entertainment company that just happens to make a drink!

 

  • Tobacco and cigarette manufacturers have been fighting to protect, even save, their industry for decades. Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO of Philip Morris International, recently declared in a Radio 4 interview that

“I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products … to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes.”

Coming from one of the largest global cigarette manufacturers, this is huge! But he is (hopefully) right. The future of the tobacco business is in heating rather than burning it, at least short term. Longer term I believe they need to look to other ways of providing personal pleasure that does less harm to the user and to their environment.

 

  • Pharmaceuticals have for years been moving investment from sickness to wellness and health. An excellent article on the topic mentions that

“The transition from current ‘high-risk, high-margin’ business model to ‘low cost high volume’ nutria business model is dependent on many factors and also advised to move into less regulated markets like animal and consumer health.”

The line between Food and Pharma is blurring as companies expand and invest in the “other side” of nutraceuticals.

The line between Food & Pharma is blurring as companies expand & invest into nutraceuticals. Click To Tweet

Which will win out in the long run? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

  • Transport. Will there even be a viable automobile business in the future? How many manufacturers will survive as the market for personalised road transport collapses?

As people move from ownership to rental, and from self-drive to driven, the industry will need to move into alternative modes of transport to make up the shortfall in their businesses. What do you think?

 

Harnessing technology to enable companies to adopt a customer-first strategy

A 2016 Forrester report shows that while 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority, only 63% of marketers prioritize implementing technology investments that will help them reach this goal!

It therefore makes sense that I include in this post some of the best examples I have found to start you thinking about your own situation.

How are you harnessing technology to provide your customers with greater freedom of choice, trust, transparency and the demonstration that you value their business and loyalty? Here are some inspiring examples and ideas:

  • Amazon uses technology to identify suggested products to their clients. Many others have followed this great example and we are now bombarded with “people like you also bought…” proposals. Like it or loath it, they do come in useful occasionally, don’t they? It also shows that the company is using your data for your good and not theirs (alone).
  • Your websites can provide your customers with a wealth of information. It can also provide a platform for them to share their tips, ideas and associated facts which would be useful to other users, as well as ask questions. Petcare, Personal Care and Homecare br>ands make use of this in particular. Check out P&G and Mars Petcare for a couple of the best.
  • Insight development today uses more than information from market research. Therefore technology is used to enable quicker and deeper integration and analysis of all the information flowing into an organisation. Machine learning adds further value by understanding the relationships between the data which may have previously gone unnoticed. Many of the global CPG companies are going this, including Unilever and Coca-Cola.
  • Social Media has become the new customer services department because replies are almost instantaneous.  Pizza Hut is a great example of this, answering any customer complaints in record time. Other brands react more slowly and then feel the wrath of their customers who are today expecting immediate answers to their questions. Make sure that’s what you offer!
  • Chatbots are providing additional resources to the already overworked customer services departments. Findings from recent research in the UK show that many high street brands offering live chat and chatbot technology consistently performed better in customer sentiment analysis.

These are all examples of ways that are already being used so you can benefit from the experiences of others. But the world is moving fast and you need to also be exploring further new territories where technology can help.

Earlier this year ZDNet highlighted five technologies that touched on technological changes that could impact customer service and experience by the year 2021. They were:

1. Two-way video

Tech priorities for customer experience

2. Augmented and virtual reality

3. Virtual assistants

4. Messaging

5. Connected devices

As you can see, all five technologies are enablers of improved customer satisfaction, which will lead to increased relationship building and trust. Customers view them as novel and useful today, but it won’t be too long before they are seen as the norm. Are you using them? If so, what experiences have you had, as I’d love to hear more about their uses?

Another recent article, this time on Jacada, spoke about the “4 Technology Trends set to Improve Customer Experience in 2017.” (See their diagram on the right) In it they highlighted ChatBots, Big Data analytics, Mobile customer support and messaging Apps.

In this article they pulled out the larger areas around how technology can help with mass connection and analysis of the resulting exchanges.

What both these articles highlight is the need for marketing to harness technology in order to build relationships with their customers. If they do so, they can set their brands apart from the competition. If you are not already doing so, then you have little time remaining to catch up before being left seriously behind.

It conclusion, it is clear that technology is an enabler and can and should be employed to improve the customers’ experience. We live in a fast-paced world where we expect instantaneous responses from brands, and information at our fingertips where and when we need it. Technology is the only way we can meet these increased customer demands, by collecting, analysing and then actioning the learnings from these contacts. 

Which of these are you working with today? I’d love you to share your experiences – good and bad – below.


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Interested in using technology to help you integrate multiple data sources and develop actionable insights? Then we should talk. Book time in my calendar for a complementary Advisory session.

7 Essential Steps to Successful Business Projects (A Useful Roadmap)

Although there is no magic bullet to transform your business into a successful powerhouse, I have witnessed similarities amongst those that grow more profitably. And what they have in common is the process steps of their business projects. Why not compare your own to the elements below and see how good yours really are?

Here are my 7 secrets to managing a successful business project. At first view, you might think that they are rather basic, but can you confirm that you have them for every project you run? If not, then they are well worth checking out. And they will be useful to you, whether you are just starting out or are looking to take your business to the next level.

 

1. A Support Team

As is often said to motivate us into exercising more:

“Change is more fun when there’s more than one.”

Business Project ProcessBut this is relevant in business too. No-one ever changed a company, let alone its culture, by working alone.

Therefore start by gathering together a group of like-minded people as your support team.

If you are a solopreneur, like myself, then this is even more important, if not vital to your success.

If you are a solopreneur, getting support is vital to your success. #business #businessprojects #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

You must have a sounding board to share ideas and get differing perspectives. People you can meet for a coffee or lunch so you don’t spend your days in your (home) office, behind your desk and in front of your computer.

Social media and Facebook groups are great for daily connections, but nothing beats the more intimate face-to-face discussions a personal meeting provides. So make sure you include two or three of them in your weekly agenda.

If you work in a corporation, no matter its size, choosing the right group of team members will ensure that you have support to bring about the required improvements. Internal change is more a cultural than a process challenge so a team made up of members across the different departments will provide you with the necessary support.

And what I said about face-to-face meetings applies to you corporate slaves too. Don’t always take a coffee or go to lunch with your team or the same group of people. Take the opportunity to discuss with people you don’t normally come into contact with. They are likely to be in different departments and have new ideas and perspectives to share.

Don't always take coffee or lunch with the same people. Get new #ideas #perspectives #business Click To Tweet

 

2. A Plan

I know, most of us don’t like planning, we like action! I’m with you there! But it is a necessary evil, even vital, for success. As Alan Lakein, the writer of several self-help books on time management, is famously quoted as saying:

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

The content of a plan will obviously depend upon the objectives, but at a minimum, it should include details about:

  • The problem
  • The objectives and desired outcome / changes
  • Team members and their needed experience
  • Others who need to be involved and / or informed
  • The suggested approach
  • The information needed in order to make the change
  • External support needed, if any, and why
  • Time and budget resources available
  • Any barriers or risks that could impact or restrict implementation

If any of these components are lacking or incomplete, then the project should not be started, nor any changes implemented. Insufficient execution and support is one of the main reasons why projects fail.

 

3. Management Support

Management supportThe success of business projects is always dependent upon gaining buy-in in one way or another, whether from management, key stakeholders or even the whole organisation.

This will only be possible if the project is seen as a company rather than a departmental or individual initiative. That is why all the components of the plan, as detailed above, are so important.

Any change is likely to meet with some resistance, that’s only human. We are creatures of habit who prefer to stay in our comfort zones. In fact, the brain actively avoids anything, which could destabilise our current position, whether good or bad. The #brain actively avoids anything which could destabilise our current position, whether good or bad. Click To Tweet

We will only change when we are either forced to – not good – or agree to – good – because we see the outcome as positive, ideally for ourselves. Therefore management must explain what benefits are in the project for each employee, not just for themselves, the team or even worse, the shareholders!

 

4. A Project Management System

In line with creating a plan, you must have a way to identify milestones and follow the progression of your business projects. Therefore you need some sort of system to record and share progress with everyone concerned.

The platform you use can be as simple or as complex as you like, but should be appropriate for the complexity of the project itself. No point in buying a sophisticated project management system if it could be summarised in a simple spread sheet, Gantt chart or with a free online tool. (Microsoft Project, Zoho Projects, GanttProject, Asana) “Horses for courses” is what is important. In other words match the system to the project and not the other way around. Match the system to the project and not the other way around. #business #planning Click To Tweet

Whatever you choose, it should be easily accessible, visual, informative, user friendly and as intuitive as possible. If it isn’t, it won’t get used, it’s as simple as that!

 

5. Launch Following

Launch followingSince most business projects will have an end or launch date when it goes live, it is a good idea to make everyone aware of it. A celebration of some sort is useful for gaining both awareness and excitement around the project launch.

If you have not been very successful at getting company-wide support for your project, then this becomes even more important. The event will give you the opportunity to improve understanding and encourage everyone to get behind the launch.

Hopefully you will have already developed a logo and catchy phrase for the project and can now use them under your email signature or on posters and newsletters to announce the launch.

And don’t think that a single go-live event is sufficient. To gain maximum awareness and support it needs to be followed up with further occasions to celebrate additional milestones such as meeting different targets for adoption, distribution etc.

One added benefit of such follow-up events is that they remind all employees that this project is on-going and warrants their attention, if only to ensure they understand what it is about should anyone ask. It also enables people to use their own language and vocabulary to integrate it into their own projects, which is essential for long-lasting impact.

 

6. Best-Practice Improvements

As well as regular follow-up events, it is important to frequently track the current situation of the roll-out of each of your business projects. This ensures that any deviation from the plan is quickly identified and corrective actions taken.

This helps in improving the original plan by pinpointing any areas that need additional steps or enhancements. It will also guarantee continued involvement by everyone since they will see that they have the chance to suggest changes.

In this way employees who were not involved in the original project do not feel it mandatory to execute as specified, when they know things could be improved. They will also feel concerned about the project’s success rather than excluded and will be more likely to give their ongoing support.

Beat the Competition in 2018 (Higher growth, profitability, innovation)

Listen on Apple Podcasts

“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

After the mid-year break, most organisations get into their planning phase for the coming year in earnest. Do you know how you’re going to beat the competition in 2018? If not then this article will set out some clear priorities.

Although business plans are usually developed and approved in the middle of the year before the vacation period starts, it is only afterwards that the real work begins. So what have you promised your top management? Faster growth, increased profitability, or more successful innovations?

Whatever is in your plans, now is the time to review them and decide the very best strategies and tactics for meeting them. Let’s take a look at each of these objectives and see how best to meet them.

 

Higher Growth

As you know, there are basically only three ways to grow your sales:

  1. Get more people to buy
  2. Get people to buy more
  3. Get people to buy more frequently

What you may never have noticed before when reviewing these options, is that all three approaches include the word “people.” And it is only by understanding them better than you do today, that you will be able to grow your business tomorrow.

So, how well do you know your current and potential customers? Do you know what they think about your current offer? Do you understand their needs, desires and dreams? Do you recognise what they really want but can’t even themselves articulate? Uncovering these are what will give you a clear competitive advantage.

Of the three strategies, the first seems to be the one that most organisations immediately think about when looking to grow their business. They go out looking for new customers by increasing their distribution channels in the hope of getting more people to buy. But that costs a lot of money, doesn’t it?

Most organisations try to get more purchasers to grow their #business. Be different! #sales Click To Tweet

CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies on the other hand, frequently encourage their customers to buy more through promotions and discounts. This too takes a large portion of their budget.

However, it is now well documented that it is easier to increase sales amongst your current customers than it is to go out and attract news customers to buy.

A 2015 study by  Price Intelligently showed that a 1% increase in customer acquisition impacts your bottom line by around 3.3%. But improving your retention rate by 1% affects your bottom line by around 7%. In other words, it is twice as profitable to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.

“It is twice as profitable to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.”

Even if you replace every customer who leaves by a new customer who buys, you end up with the same number of customers—but lower margins–because it costs far more to gain a new customer than to keep the one you already have.

According to ThinkJarCollective, it is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

“It is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.”

Marketing Metrics helps you beat the competition

To quote a comment in the excellent book Marketing Metrics, from the Wharton School Collection, by Paul W. Farris, Neil Bendle, Phillip Pfeifer, and David Reibstein, the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer.

Therefore it’s clear that your current customers are worth far more to you than any new potential customers are today.

Whichever strategy you use to grow your business, it involves knowing your customers deeply. Therefore that is what you need to work on first.

To do this, start by collecting everything you know about them and then store all this knowledge and information as a descriptive and visual persona. (You are welcome to download our 4W™ Template if you don’t already have one)

Then get out and meet as many of your customers as possible in person.

Meet your customers to beat the competition

This could be by serving behind the counter if you have a retail outlet. Or attending market research interviews, focus group discussions, or by getting to know your customers by meeting them in their house or going shopping with them.

All of these are great ways to see the reality behind the numbers and truly brings your data to life. And the more you meet and understand your customers, the more likely you are to beat the competition – as long as you put your learnings into action of course!

Increased Profitability

Profit comes from selling your product or service at a higher price than it costs you to make. However that doesn’t mean selling it for a price that is just a percentage increase on your costs.

There are two important things to consider in addition to the category pricing range:

  1. What value do your customers place on your offer?
  2. What is your customer’s lifetime value?

To answer both these questions you need information.

Value-based pricing requires an understanding of what your customers value. With many product categories becoming ever more commoditised, price has unfortunately become almost the only the differentiator. This is a dangerous strategy, as I explain in “Are you on the way to brand heaven or hell?”

A better way to compete is to identify not only the basic requirements customers are looking for in a category, but the small things they value in addition. These include:

  • Sensorial elements such as a better perfume, a more appealing colour, a more elegant packaging
  • Rational advantages such as an easy-carry handle, resealable pack, reusable container
  • Emotional advantages such as club membership, preferential treatment, express service

In so many categories today, the leading brands are nor performing any better than their competitors, they just have a small edge in one or more areas that their customers value.

Does your product or service offer a competitive advantage beyond price? If not read “How do people recognise brands?” for inspiration.

The second area of pricing to review is your customers’ lifetime value.

Sometimes a product can be sold at a price that is not at all or only slightly profitable. This is done because the company makes money from the customers continued loyalty.

Think coffee capsules, razor blades, printer cartridges and game stations. In most of these cases once you have bought the item, you can only continue to use it by buying the same branded elements, usually at highly exaggerated prices.

This business model is called two-part pricing. The first item is sold cheaply and the second, disposable item at a (huge) profit. Customers can’t use the first without the second. Their only alternative is to buy a new product from a competitor. As long as that is more expensive than the replacement item for your current product, you will reluctantly pay up.

A further cost associated with this model that customers must consider, is the cost of switching.

Here the cost is not so much monetary, as time and energy to make the change. That’s why so many software platforms are offered for free trial. They count on familiarity breeding contempt for the competitors offer after the trial. For many, the hassle is just not worth the energy to learn a new system and you pay up.

The final cost for customers in switching in the psychological cost of doing so.

After a certain time, customers are invested in their choice and switching becomes harder to justify. They don’t want to admit – even to themselves – that they made a poor choice.

So you see, pricing isn’t just about cost for the manufacturer, it’s also about the cost and value to the customer that really matters.

Pricing isn't just about cost for the manufacturer, it's also the cost & value to the customer. Click To Tweet

 

More Successful Innovation

There are many articles here on innovation, such as “A Customer-First Approach to Successful Innovation” and “Improving Ideation, Insight & Innovation: How to Prevent Further Costly Failures.”

Both of these posts emphasise the importance of customer understanding and starting your innovation process with the customer.

What does your innovation process look like? Is it a funnel or a virtuous circle that starts and ends with customer understanding. Unless you have moved to the latter, your innovations are almost certainly not as successful as they could be.

The two above posts clearly lay out how you can move from a linear to a circular approach and then how to integrate the customers into your innovation process. That is why I’m not going to go into more detail on how to do this here. Read the above mentioned posts for an in-depth roadmap to more successful innovations.

 

At the end of the day, growing your business more profitably and beating the competition, is simply about knowing your customers deeply, often times better they even know themselves!

Do you know which area offers you the biggest chance of beating the competition in 2018? If not, then why not answer our short quiz. The C3C Evaluator™ Tool will give you a clear indication of which of the four areas of adopting a customer-first strategy you should prioritise. And the summary report will give you exactly what you need to change.

Link to the Mini C3C Evaluator Tool

 

Click on the image opposite to complete the evaluation yourself.

 

 

Hopefully this article has helped you prioritise your strategies and tactics for meeting your business plans and to beat the competition in 2018. If you have another challenge which I haven’t mentioned, then let me know. I will answer all your questions personally either in the comments below or by email, by contacting me HERE

In September I am offering a 20% discount on any 1-Day Catalyst Training Session. I thought that this would help you to meet your objectives next year in a more serene and comfortable position. Again you can book online HERE

You’re missing out on A Free Communication Channel! (Any guesses what it is?)

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Are you as shocked as I am, to think that there is a free communication channel which most marketers are not using effectively today?

So what is this incredible channel? The Internet? No. Social Media? No.

OK, so everyone is excited about the web and have jumped on board the digital train. But some are already seeing that online advertising is not the “safest” way to communicate.

Take P&G for example. A recent AdAge article stated that:

Procter & Gamble‘s concerns about where its ads were showing up online contributed to a $140 million cutback in the company’s digital ad spending last quarter… 

P&G didn’t call out YouTube, the subject of many marketers’ ire earlier this year, … but did say digital ad spending fell because of choices to “temporarily restrict spending in digital forums where our ads were not being placed according to our standards and specifications.”

Will others follow? I don’t know. But I would like them all to reconsider their total advertising spend in light of this underutilised but highly effective channel that I’m about to share with you. Have you guessed what it is yet? It’s packaging!

Think about it. Packaging communicates in-store, on the shelf as shoppers pass by.

Packaging communicates in-store, on the shelf as shoppers pass by #Packaging #Instore #Retail Click To Tweet

It communicates to users when they take it home and open it. Although for how long? See below for some developments in that area.

And it may also communicate when it’s used, whether it is snacks, drinks, breakfast cereals, cookies, pharmaceuticals or a whole load of other products which are consumed straight from the pack.

So if a pack has the possibility to communicate, why are so few marketers using it?

I believe it’s because they don’t see packaging as a communication channel, which is a serious mistake. After all, it’s free!

There are two very popular posts on C3Centricity on the topic, which you might like to read before continuing. The first is “How Communicating through Packaging is more Informative & Personal” which shares some great examples of how creative pack usage has become the basis of full media campaigns. Click the link above to read more.

The other is “Is your Packaging Product or Promotion?” which talks about why people don’t read instructions – until they need them – but they do read what’s written on packs. Click above to read more.

Both of these posts provide some great examples of companies which have used their packaging to communicate with their consumers. However they are a couple of years old now, so I wanted to update my thoughts on the packaging channel opportunities, as well as the examples I share.

After all, customers have become more demanding in recent years and want to know far more about the products they purchase.

Customers are more demanding & want to know far more about the products they purchase #shopper #purchase Click To Tweet

And if you can’t wait to start a review of your own packaging, why not book a complimentary advisory session with me?

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Food and Beverages

NHS TRAFFIC LIGHTS
Image source: NHS UK

The F&B category has seen and continues to see the introduction of a lot of packaging laws.

When Nestle launched its "Compass" way back in 2005, most other food manufacturers were keeping things simple. Some had colour codes like traffic lights to indicate calorie content, while others had five or seven bullets on front of pack that showed the ingredient breakdown in terms of daily limits of fat, protein, sugar, carbohydrates etc.

Today, purchasers check far more details on labels in-store before buying. According to research by Prepared Foods and BevNet, they are looking for very specific guarantees in addition to mere ingredients, such as:

  • gluten free, dairy or nut free.
  • no additives or preservatives
  • recyclable packaging
  • healthier packaging materials
  • functional properties such as a good source of calcium, fiber, antioxidants, protein, omega 3 or probiotics.

Unfortunately with such demands for so much information on pack, there is little room for anything else. That is why manufacturers are getting creative with their packaging.

There are so many new ways to use packs for communications, but here are three of the most on-trend tactics today.

There are so many new ways to use packs for communications #packaging #communications Click To Tweet

Smart Packaging

It has always amused me that we spend time reading product contents, but still try to connect electronics or build flat-pack furniture without reading the instructions! Clearly we think we understand technology and furniture better than food, or at least we think we do! Therefore thank goodness that smart packaging is now available!

Smart packaging, including NFC (near field communic­ation) tags, transforms conventional packaging into a digital communication channel with customers. Not only does it transmit information at the point of sale, but also after purchase in the home, with such benefits as refill reminders, freshness alerts or usage tips.

Connected packaging is a real win-win for both manufacturers and customers. It can collect consumer habits and behavior that provides brands with a new level of understanding which can then be used to develop future products.

According to Research and Markets, the global smart packaging market is expected to grow to $52 billion by 2025, thanks to adoption in categories such as personal care, beauty, food, healthcare and pharmace­uticals.

Smart packaging works by tapping on the pack with your smartphone, to receive information about the product, usage suggestions, sourcing and ingredients. This brings an intimacy with the customer that will differentiate the brand from its competitors and hopefully increase loyalty. It also provides a guarantee of authenticity, which is an added benefit in certain categories plagued by counterfeits.

As packaging is also required to show more information on pack, and in multiple languages as sourcing goes global, smart packs have arrived just in time to save the customer from needing a magnifying glass to read what's printed on them. With the aging population in most developed countries today, this is an additional benefit.

 

Free communication on Tapped
Image source: Tapped

Attractive Packaging

Amongst the numerous trends highlighted by Mintel in their report "Five key trends set to impact global packaging markets in 2017" the importance of appeal, especially online, was mentioned. This will mean a desire for packs which stand out from the competition, especially in the smaller sizes on-screen.

 

 

An article on 99Designs shows how manufacturers have risen to the challenge in a number of creative ways:

Free communication on Sweety & Co packs
Image source: Sweety & Co
  • Simpler, bolder designs
  • Exceedingly bright colours
  • Unusual designs
  • Illustrations as narratives
  • Eco-friendly packaging

 

 

There is one additional benefit of unusual or attractive packs and that is their "buzz" value.

There is one additional benefit of unusual or attractive packs & that is buzz value #SMX #packaging Click To Tweet
Free communication on Smash Mallow packs
Image source: Smash Mallow

People love to be the first to share a new purchase when it is out-of-the-ordinary in terms of colour, shape or usefulness. It's a matter of forget the contents - at least the time of a YouTube video clip - and love the look of the pack!

Personalised Packaging

This is not a new trend but has attracted attention from many brands in recent years. In an article entitled "The pros and cons of personalised packaging for FMCG brands" eConsultancy reported that:

Free communication on Heinz soup cans
Image source: WeAreSocial.com

The success of Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign proved that people can’t get enough of  personalisation.

However as they also point out, personalisation is not really "personal" since so many people have the same name around the world.

Enter the trial of true personalisation. Heinz offered their soup range with a "Get well soon ... " message.

Although it was almost twice the usual price per can, the reasons it worked were many. It included a donation to charity for every one sold. It communicated online rather than on TV, adding to the personalised feel of the campaign.

Also in the second year they even allowed fans to vote for their favourite soup to join the tomato and chicken flavours they already offered. (potato and leek won, by the way)

One company that has had less success with its own attempts to copy Coke is Nestle. They proposed a pop-up "KitKat Chocolatory" in London's Westfield shopping mall.

Free communication on KitKat packs
Image source: eConsultancy

It was built on Coke’s naming trend and the success KitKat had with the concept in Japan.

Although the personalisation went beyond the name, with customised toppings and flavours too, it made a number of basic mistakes:

  • The UK is not Japan. KitKat is a cult brand there and has been for years, especially for gifting.
  • The process was digitalised, so people didn't get the chance to make nor even see the bar being made for them - unless they hung around for an hour or so.
  • Purchasers had to wait (at least) 90 minutes before their personalised bar was ready.
  • The "experience" added up to a few moments using a touchscreen; neither personal nor very exciting.
  • It cost seven pounds! 

I believe most of these points could have been corrected if they'd bothered to be a little more customer centric. The text message sent when the bar was ready, while a nice touch, meant providing Nestle with additional information about the purchaser, which no doubt they will use in the future to contact them, whether they like it or not!

I suggest that Nestle learn from how Pret a Manger did pop up retail brilliantly. You can read about it in "Eight ways Veggie Pret innovated pop-up retail strategy" from eConsultancy.

Like Veggie Pret, the KitKat example does include a personalised product offer too. But that's not new. Many food and confectionary brands have been offering these for many years on a promotional basis. Again the prices are higher, but the impact of the product too is greater. At least that was one thing Nestle did get right.

Returning to the topic of packaging, the change in retail, which I spoke about last week in "The Future of Retail is in the Stars - or it is the Cloud?" means that packs too have a new role to play beyond protection and container. They can be a free communication channel too.

In some industries we are seeing a return to non-packaged products where the customer provides their own containers. 

Bulk offering of essentials has been used for years for washing powders, chocolates, candy, juices, wine, vinegar, olive oil etc, but with the crackdown on recycling, many purchasers are leaving the cardboard outers in the shops.

Manufacturers will have to get smarter in the way they communicate, when their outer no longer exists. It will certainly make communicating even more difficult unless manufacturers follow the trend to smart packaging.

What do you see as the future of packaging? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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The Future of Retail is in the Stars (or is it the Cloud?)

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Will the future of retail be without physical outlets?

I had a very interesting discussion with a new client last week. Like many CPG companies, they are considering online retailing. They are already selling a little online, but haven’t seriously considered it until recently.

However, with the move of most major supermarket chains to offer online stores too, plus a few successful online only stores, such as Amazon in the US and Ocado in the U.K. they are now reconsidering just how big they could or should grow their online business.

 

Amazon Go is the future of retail
Source: USA Today

I remember participating in heated arguments in the past, between sales teams and retailers, about online stores. Retailers thought that it was unfair competition and threatened to delist a manufacturer’s products if they sold directly. No wonder my client had been scared to develop this area, as in fact are most other CPG companies.

 

Fast forward a decade or so, and supermarkets are scrambling to catch up as start-ups in many developed countries are giving this new type of freedom to consumers. So what is a poor manufacturer to do?

For me, it’s not so much a question of whether, as much as the how and when? With Amazon muddying the waters by testing their new Fresh delivery and Go bricks and mortar offer and Walmart retaliating with a competitive online offer of fast service and free delivery, this is a battle that has already begun. Whether CPGs like it or not, they need to join in or get seriously left behind!

 

The case for bricks & mortar stores

An excellent article published last month in Forbes entitled “Five Signs That Stores (Not E-Commerce) Are The Future Of Retail” concludes that physical stores are more valuable.

Of course, for me, planning for the future is simply a matter of taking the consumers’ perspective and what they (will) want. Am I being naive? Maybe, but I’m not so sure.

Personally, I’m happy to order my usual brands online and have them delivered, especially when they’re cumbersome, like pet food, drinks, tinned and paper products. However, for some items, particularly fresh produce, I like to be able to pick the leanest meat or the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Customers will always need to see and try before they buy in numerous categories. Offering free returns may work for apparel but not for electronics. In several industries, consumers will want to see, compare and appreciate items before they purchase something.

Several home improvement brands and stores are already offering apps which allow customers to see their potential purchases in their homes. Or their paint and fabric choices “in situ” but actually virtually. So are retail outlets really essential for every category?

Make sure the future of retail isn't a Kodak moment
Source: Brian Solis

Brian Solis wrote a great article on “11 Trends Shaping The Future Of Retail” based on a presentation he wrote back in 2015 – an eternity these days!

However, they remain as true today as when he wrote it.

He says that retail continues to suffer from what he calls the new “Kodak Moment.” This, he claims, is the moment when executives fail to see how customers and markets are shifting.

 

The new Kodak Moment is when executives fail to see how customers & markets are shifting #retail Click To Tweet

 

Here are the trends Brian mentions:

1. New (human) perspective is needed to see the actual future that is playing out.

2. Cater to “Accidental Narcissists” as I call them and compete in the on-demand economy.

3. Compete for customer experience…not CX…there’s a difference and one is customer-centered.

4. Become payments agnostic. Don’t impose false standards to compete against other systems to reduce fees. Be open.

5. Understand social commerce and design targeted initiatives that drive shared experiences, reviews and referrals online.

6. Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through the facilitation of open engagement and commerce.

7. Balance web rooming and showrooming by investing in mutually-beneficial experiences and outcomes on both sides.

8. Explore new technologies to reimagine the in-store/online experience blurring the lines between digital/brick-and-mortar.

9. Study the digital and specifically the mobile customer journey to uncover friction, update ageing touch points and cater to mobile-first and mobile-only customers.

10. Invest in innovation teams or innovation centres to discover new competition and possibilities to test and learn in more rapid prototyping programs (outside of risk-averse culture).

11. Take a fresh look at space and consider it a blank slate. Ask yourself and your team, what if we could build a physical store that brought the digital and real-world together to deliver intuitive and indispensable experiences? That’s what Amazon is doing.

What I love about this list is that in the end it can be summed up very simply. It is essential to both know and understand your customers. It is fundamental to a business to treat the customer as you want to be treated. Isn’t that what business has always been about? And life too, come to think of it! So why should retail by any different?

 

The future of retail

What is sad, in my opinion, is that the vast majority of retailers – and CPG companies too – are playing a “wait and see” game. In so many areas, they think that adding a few technical gadgets or an app or two will enable them to continue to attract customers. Things have gone far beyond payment options or mere personalisation of the shopping experience.

I, therefore, decided to summarise some of the key changes which I believe are essential to answer customers needs already today, not just in the future:

Convenience: customers have busy lives and prefer less and less to go for the large weekly shop in out-of-town shopping malls and hypermarkets. This is why smaller stores in strategic localities will develop faster in developed markets.

There will also be a clear differentiation by category. The customer will decide on their personal preference between what they value most in terms of their time, price and convenience. For some products, and not just the more expensive ones, they will make an effort in choosing, for others very little.

This has always been the case and is the reason why manufacturers strive for 100% distribution. But in the future distribution should be linked to convenience for the customer, not just mass presence.

Experience: while some shopping malls are in decline, especially in the US, those that survive will shift the emphasis from purchasing to experience. By incorporating cinemas, bowling alleys, cafes and restaurants, malls are hoping to attract customers by differentiating themselves and driving more traffic to them. But just how different they can be is relatively limited.

However, the retailers themselves also need to start selling differently. Apple, Nike and a few others have already done this. But most outlets appear to be oblivious to the change in their customers’ desires for experiential connections with brands.

Most outlets are oblivious to the change in their customers' desires for experiential connections with brands #retail Click To Tweet

Delivery: Whether we buy online or in-store, one thing is clear; we want it NOW! Fast these days is two-day or same-day delivery – if ordered before a certain time. In the very near future, we will want our purchase to be waiting for us when we get home. Already a quarter of shoppers, according to some L2 research said they would abandon their cart if same-day delivery was unavailable.

Why should shopping be any different from transport today? ]

Forget about standing on street corners in the hope of finding a taxi driving by. The success of Uber and Lyft lies partly in the fact that the customer can call a car and immediately know the waiting time based on a live map of their surroundings. They also know the plate number, driver’s name and what others think about the person. All this delivers trust in the experience.

Another aspect of delivery that is changing is its timing. As Lin Grosman says in her article The Future Of Retail: How We’ll Be Shopping In 10 Years: “Of course, that’s just the beginning.  Two-hour drone delivery is coming in the foreseeable future, and Amazon is already talking about  30-minute drone delivery.

Talk about near instantaneous gratification!

I’m not sure that this is a great direction for humanity. We all know that we value things more if we have had to work or wait for them. Is this the start of a new type of consumerism?

We value things more if we have had to work or wait for them #consumer #value Click To Tweet

Choice: We now all know what is available around the world, thanks to the internet. Our desires are no longer limited by what is available in-store or even in our own country. We want to have the choices that others have, wherever in the world we live.

Customers are already ordering online from far and wide; pet care from Australia, fashion from France and technology from China. It is then up to them to compare not only prices but delivery costs and timing.

According to research conducted by Walker, by the year 2020  customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Customer experience will overtake price and product

From that perspective, outlets have arguably an easier task to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and memorable. But will they? I believe they have to because no longer will it be faster.

Values: Both manufacturers and retailers are being held to higher standards that have far more to do with their values than their products and services. Millenials, in particular, are basing their choice of brands on things such as social responsibility, sustainability, transparency and authenticity.

Corporate reputation is being scrutinised and evaluated at each mention in the press or on social media. Organisations that don’t walk their talk will be rapidly found out and publically discredited.

 

Conclusion

So where is the future of retail? In the stars or in the cloud? With some retailers banking on the first and others on the second, it’s going to be an interesting ride. And the customer has everything to gain, at least in theory. Bigger choice in products, services and prices, for sure, but perhaps not always better. I believe that this is why organisations are pulling back their finance departments and care centres from India. And why China is in a race to transform itself from the manufacturer of the world to a global innovation hub.

Retail has always been about making sure that “the right product is in the right place at the right time at the right price.” The right place at the right time appears to be gaining ground over the other two. What do you think?

 

How to Innovate Successfully (What You’re Still Getting Wrong!)

I’ve written a number of posts on innovation and yet I still get client requests to further help them innovate successfully!

One of the favourite articles here on C3Centricity about the topic is “Improving Ideation, Insight & Innovation: How to Prevent Further Costly Failures.” 

Despite all the great ideas and tips it includes, I believe there is still more I can share. That’s why I am adding to last week’s post on marketing in general, with a post specifically about improving your innovation. In particular, I wanted to help those of you who may be unable to complete all the “best-practice” actions I recommend, through a lack of resources, be it time, money or people.

Not every organisation has access to large market research or marketing departments and extensive budgets. In fact, in many companies these roles are being handled 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 you’re one of the luckier ones with a good size team and plentiful budget, I’m sure you will still find value from the ideas shared.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the reasons why new products fail. And then we’ll identify some creative ways to completely eliminate them from your next launch. Sounds good? Then read on.

Why your innovations fail

Did you know that the proportion of product launches which fail every year is generally “guesstimated” to be somewhere between 74% and 95%?

Why CEOs accept such abysmal levels and accept their organisations’ continued use of the same old innovation process is beyond me!

Book on innovating successfully

In this article in HBR, Saul Kaplan, author of “The Business Model Innovation Factory” shared five important reasons that explain why companies fail at business model innovation:

  1. CEOs don’t really want a new business model.
  2. Product is king. Nothing else matters.
  3. Cannibalization is off the table.
  4. ROI hurdles are too aggressive for fledgeling models.
  5. Rogues and renegades get no respect.

I find these five reasons spot-on. They are all based on fear of getting outside the organisation’s comfort zone. If you can identify yourself with even one of these, it might explain why your innovations are not as successful as you would like them to be.

Successful innovation involves change, and human beings don’t like being out of their comfort zone. It may involve challenging accepted ideas and ways of working too. No wonder so many innovations fail.

And 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 for startups in many areas today.

Taking the organisational reasons mentioned above, I’d like to detail ten more ideas I have found in my work with clients as to why innovations fail:

#1 The 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. As David Gluckman says:

“Committees are the death of innovation.”

As mentioned earlier, we don’t like things that shake up our comfortable beliefs and actions. Committees are unlikely to come up with groundbreaking innovations, just because they’re a group. In such teams, you tend to go with the least disruptive idea that everyone can accept.

#2 Meeting company quotas: It is surprising that with such miserable success rates, so many companies – and which shockingly include many of the largest CPGs around – continue to 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 their failure!

#3 Lack of customer understanding: 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. Successful innovators know their target customers better than they know themselves!

#4 Lack of category understanding: This follows on from customer understanding, 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 competitors.

#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 when 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. 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 their behaviours. 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. Just think about industries such as Telecom, Banking, Hotels, Air travel or Insurance. These businesses are in a constant battle to differentiate themselves and provide a real advantage to attract new customers. Luckily for them, at least until recently, the effort of leaving was perceived as greater than the pain of staying.

#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 unwilling to invest the time and money in doing this, then you will undoubtedly fail. Attracting more than just a few customers who are willing to spend time understanding what you are offering takes resources.

If you are unable or unwilling to invest the time and money in doing this, then you will undoubtedly fail. Attracting more than just a few customers who are willing to spend time understanding what you are offering takes resources.

#8 Pricing yourself out of the market: I’m not just speaking about pricing your product too high; being too low can also negatively impact your likely success. Part of a customer’s perceived value of a new product, especially before buying, comes from the price and expected usefulness to them of the promise you make.

Part of a customer’s perceived value of a new product, especially before buying, comes from the price and expected usefulness to them of the promise you make.

#9 Inappropriate distribution: This can be the consequence of an incomplete understanding 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 exactly where and when your customers might just be ready to buy it the most?

#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 conditioner and shampoo combined in the early 70’s. They were a dramatic flop! Ten years later most personal care manufacturers offered these products, and were met with huge success.

Following trends is a great way to understand how your customers are changing, but you need to also understand their speed of change to get your timing right.

It took Nespresso almost twenty years to become profitable for Nestle and Philip Morris has needed similar levels of patience in certain markets, before their most infamous of brands, namely Marlboro, took off.

How to innovate successfully

The ten reasons for innovation failure which I have mentioned, each have a number of solutions which you can use. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

New process to innovate successfully

 

#1 The process: Introduce some creativity into the process. Use a virtuous circle as shown on the right, rather than the usual linear or funnel approach.

All innovation processes should start with a deep understanding of the potential customer segment and then insight development.

#2 Meeting company quotas: Instead of company quotas on the number or proportion of new product launches, a better target is a percentage of sales. This should eliminate all but the very best ideas, which are expected to increase sales rather than merely replace current products.

I also believe that it would be much better to seriously limit the acceptance level of new product ideas proposed in any year. This would be a case for quality over quantity and only the very best would get through the approval process.

This would also mean that brand managers would have to be assessed on sales performance and growth, rather than on the number of new products they launch.

#3 Lack of customer understanding: Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

The best way to innovate successfully is to start by looking at the target customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. If you already have a new product idea, then consider how it would make the customer’s life better. If it doesn’t, then you perhaps need to reassess its market appeal as it’s probably just a renovation.

Watching and listening to your customers with an open mind, rather than with your hypotheses in your head, will also enable you to identify pain points. The customer may even be unaware that they are compensating for something that they would change. What an incredibly valuable opportunity to offer a solution to them.

#4 Lack of category understanding: Never assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified how your customers are choosing and what they are currently using. That is the way to identify your true competition.

I suggest using either a zooming in or zooming out technique from the current category, which I explain in our “I3 – Improved Ideation & Innovation” 1-Day Catalyst training sessions.

#5 Not living up to your promises: In today’s connected world, false or exaggerated promises are quickly identified and shared on social media. However, speaking about possible pain points you have identified and sharing your solution, will avoid your having to make any such misleading claims.

#6 Not being sufficiently differentiated: With such an abundance of information available to everyone, comparisons are easy to make. In fact, there are many websites which make a good living out of doing just that and then sharing their results.

Categories with little differentiation rapidly see that competing becomes largely price based. As a result, the products quickly become mere commodities. Better therefore to understand the category in which you are competing and its customers, so you can offer a point of differentiation. Solution based offers will always be able to charge more than product based ones. It’s up to you to decide which you want to do.

Solution based offers will always be able to charge more than product based ones. It’s up to you to decide which you want to be.

#7 Being too different: There are many startups today which offer only a few products or services. The successful ones have identified one or more pain points which the “big guys” have not, and take full advantage of them. In this case, their being different is a plus, because they offer the customer a solution.

However, for most brands, their problem is not being different enough, as mentioned above. It takes more than a new colour, aroma or packaging to be perceived as positively better than others. Identifying a sub-category of users with a precise need and then meeting that need better than anyone else is the more successful way to differentiate.

#8 Pricing yourself out of the market: Understand how much potential customers value your offer is essential to the success of any product. Getting it wrong can result in lost revenue or worse a promotional spiral leading to brand hell or commoditization. (read more about this in “Are you on the way to brand heaven or hell“)

#9 Inappropriate distribution: Appropriate distribution means being available where and when your customer is ready to buy. It also means reducing the effort needed for them to change their habits and buy your new offer. Trial will only come if you make it easy for customers to purchase.

This doesn’t mean being in stock everywhere at the lowest price. But it does mean being in the retail outlets that your target customers visit more often. Forget the exaggerated 100% distribution claims you used to get your new product line approaved; be selective in where you distribute, to attract your target customers first. The other customers will be your second priority as you get wider availability.

#10 Being too far ahead of the customer:  If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product or service idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision. Keep the concept in your “back drawer” and follow the societal changes of your customers, so you will be ready when they are.

Most organisations are working on multiple new concepts at the same time, each at a different level of preparedness. Trend following will allow you to identify when the customer is ready for each offer. This will avoid too early, as well as tardy launches.

Identifying relevant trends to follow will also enable you to plan a multi-national roll-out in a more solid foundation than mere geography.

These are ten of the most common reasons for new product launch failure and a few ideas on how to resolve each of them. Which do you think is most prevalent in your business? 

What are you going to change to increase the success of your future new product launches? Is it some other reason altogether, that I’ve missed? Let me know and share your thoughts below. 

I will be sharing more tips on innovation excellence in future blog posts, but in the meantime feel free to send me any questions you still have. I’m always ready to have a short Skype or phone call to assist you with your own brand building challenges.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it, to help others find it! Thanks.

C3Centricity used images from Wiley, C3Centricity online and “Winning Customer Centricity” in this post; it has been updated from the original first published in 2014.

Brand Portfolio Secrets to Success (The 5 Things You Need to Know)

How do you know when you have too many variants in your brand portfolio? In my opinion, the answer is that it’s when you can’t answer the question!

One of the most popular evergreen posts on C3Centricity is “Guide to Brand Portfolio Management.” It seems that we all suffer from a deep-rooted fear in managing and reducing our brand portfolio, especially when it includes many historic or regional variants.

That is why I decided to write about these best-kept secrets in portfolio management, which even large corporations are not always aware of!

 

More is rarely better!

We live in an over-abundant world of consumer choice, but more is rarely better. The paradox of choice is a powerful concept  popularised by Barry Schwartz.

It states that people actually feel freer when they are given fewer choices. Have you never ended up walking out of a store without the purchase you had planned because you had been faced with too many choices? I know I have – often!

It is said that the limited choice offered in hard discounters in one of the main reasons for their success; it’s not just about lower prices.

They usually present just one or two brands for each item they stock and the branded products they do stock are almost always at the same price if not higher than normal supermarkets.

In this over-abundant world of consumer choice, more is rarely better. #consumer #brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

More than ten years after the first research on which Schwartz based his theory, new studies have given some alternative perspectives on choice, claiming that large assortments are not always a bad thing. In the study by Gao & Simonson, they propose that there are many factors which were forgotten in Schwartz’s study.

You can read the full article on this latest work in Neuromarketing. What I found of particular interest, being the true customer champion that I am, is that they conclude that it all depends on understanding your customer – doesn’t everything?! Their summary findings state that:

“In certain situations (when the ‘whether to buy’ decision comes before the ‘which option is best’ decision) a large assortment CAN increase purchase likelihood. Especially in eCommerce, it is possible to reap the benefits of a large product assortment, while helping customers make choices?”

In other words, the online searches that we all now perform before purchasing will benefit from a wide selection of offers. Once we have decided to buy, then a large choice can become a barrier to final purchase.

 

Although Schwartz’s original book was published in 2006, he recently commented on the current choices facing consumers in “The Paradox of Expanded Choices.” In it he concludes wistfully by saying:

“We can imagine a point at which the options would be so copious that even the world’s most ardent supporters of freedom of choice would begin to say, “enough already.” Unfortunately, that point of revulsion seems to recede endlessly into the future.”

I for one enjoy shopping because I am always looking out for the latest introductions and innovations. For the more “normal” shopper, it looks like we need to help their decision-making by reducing the complexity of the task.

One requirement to achieving success in this is clearly a deep understanding of your customers so that you can offer the best selection of variants to consumers in each region, if not store. As I have so often mentioned (and sorry if I am boring you with this) is that it all comes back to knowing and understanding the customer. Simple really!

 

Corporations are brands too!

Brand management is essential to a healthy business, but marketing has one of the quickest promotion ladders of many professions. That’s great news for marketers, less so for brands. Why? Well because marketers want to make an impression and get that promotion as quickly as possible. And one of the easiest ways to do it is by launching a new brand or variant.

I believe this explains why we poor consumers often end up NOT buying something because we just can’t make up our minds between the vast choice of flavours, packs and sizes on display in some large hypermarkets. More is most definitely not always better when it comes to retailing as I’ve already mentioned!

Does any brand really need tens of flavours/aromas or hundreds of variants?

To answer this, I decided to take a look at the latest table of leading global brands. According to Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands of 2016:”  

      1. Apple
      2. Google
      3. Coca-Cola
      4. Microsoft
      5. Toyota
      6. IBM
      7. Samsung
      8. Amazon
      9. Mercedes- Benz
      10. General Electric

Most of these brands certainly don’t have hundreds of variants from which to choose from and therefore the customer’s final selection is relatively easy.

However, interestingly only one of these companies is a CPG (consumer packaged goods) brand, so I decided to take a closer look at the sub-category of consumer brands. (Note: Interbrand still separates alcohol and beverages from CPG!) Here are the CPG brands, including beverages, within the Top 100:

      1. Coca-Cola (3)
      2. Pepsi (23)
      3. Gillette (24)
      4. Pampers (28)
      5. Nescafe (36)
      6. Kellogg’s (39)
      7. L’Oreal (45)
      8. Danone (55)
      9. Nestle (56)
      10. Colgate (57)
      11. Lego (67)
      12. Johnson & Johnson (73)
      13. Sprite (86)
What immediately strikes me is that many of these brands are actually also the names of the corporations behind them.
 
This might explain why few consumer goods companies appear in this list because they just have too many brands and variants. A few of the larger CPGs – like Unilever and Nestle – have started associating their company name more prominently with their brands. However, they have taken two differing approaches.  
 
Unilever places its corporate logo on the back face of their product’s packaging, leaving the brand logo as the hero on the front.
 
Nestle, on the other hand, incorporates its logo into the front panel design of most of its brands. There are a few noticeable exceptions which include their waters and petcare brands. Both of these are run as stand-alone businesses, which certainly explains this. 
 
I am assuming that both organisations did this to increase corporate reputation and also consumer trust, especially for their lesser-known brands. I am closely watching to see if this strategy results in increased loyalty in the long-term because for now, their performances are not demonstrating a positive return.

 

Businesses are focusing better 

An interesting trend in the past decade or so, is that some CPG leaders, such as P&G and Unilever, have significantly culled the number of their brands’ SKUs. In some cases, this has meant reducing them from thousands down to “mere” hundreds and they continue to do so on a regular basis.

Taking Pareto’s Principle as a guide, it should be relatively easy to cut the bottom 5%, 10% or even 20% of brand variants without losing any significant share. This is why both companies continue to do this on a frequent basis, it just makes good business sense.

A newer, alternative strategy some of the better-managed companies are also using, is the selling off of certain brands or even categories. This enables them to better focus on their core businesses.

After a long tradition of the big buying the small – and often more successful competitors – the trend seems to be reversing.

Katie Rothschild from Interbrand noticed this too. In her analysis she says:

“A number of FMCG brands have a stronghold within the BGB table, such as Gillette (#24), Pampers (#28) and Kellogg’s (#39). These are global household names that possess a combination of strong heritage, positive family associations, and the trustworthiness that is all-important for brands that are bought on a daily basis and consumed instantly. 
However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the success of smaller, niche brands is starting to chip away at the market share of these global giants and shake up the traditional approach of FMCG marketing. 
Niche brands cleverly make use of their nimble size to tap into new trends, be first to market, and win new audiences through visual and verbal storytelling. The big guys are taking notice. 
Niche brands focus on a particular market position, demographic, or unmet consumer need, and with this focus comes deep understanding of consumer’s needs and wants. What can established global businesses learn from the success of these brands, and what growth opportunities do they represent?”
What is surprising is that most CPG giants still don’t focus, or at least not to the same extent as many startups do! But it looks like they are going to have to change if they want to stay in the race. For now, it’s as if they know theoretically that they should be making cuts and some do make a few of them. But in the end, they don’t go far enough perhaps because they’re scared of losing share.
If you are struggling to make this difficult decision yourself, then perhaps I can provide a few reasons to convince you to make that much-needed pruning:
  • Those multiplications of flavours, aromas, packaging etc you are making are renovations, not innovations. Wake up marketers, you are not innovating! Renovations should be primarily replacements not additions to your already over-extended brand.
  • Retailers can’t stock every variant, so the more you offer the less chance you have of getting wide distribution. Think back to your pre-launch market assumptions; I bet they included a wildly exaggerated level of distribution in order to get that precious launch approval!
  • Precise targeting and a deep understanding of your consumers are the most successful ways to limit SKU explosion. If you are suffering from too many variants, then perhaps you should go back and review what you know about your consumers and what they really need.

Arguably some categories need constant renovation. (food and cosmetics to name just a couple) but even that’s no excuse for simply multiplying SKUs. Use the “one in, one out” rule I mentioned above, because if you don’t, the retailer probably will. And with little concern for your own plans and preferences.

 

The Secrets

In conclusion, to summarise the best strategies for brand portfolio management, which seem to be secret since many corporations still ignore them, are:

  • Remember, that if you offer a vast choice of variants for each brand, consumers could get analysis paralysis and end up walking out of the store without buying anything.
  • You need to manage the corporate brand just like your other brands, especially if it appears prominently on packaging and other communications’ materials.
  • Make an annual review of all your brands and variants and ruthlessly cut the bottom 20%. If you want to keep any of them, then you must have a good reason – such as that it’s a recent launch – and a plan to actively support them.
  • Innovate less but better. Be more targeted with each of them and include your customers in their development.
  • Be realistic in your distribution targets. Know what will sell where and why. Not only are you more likely to keep your share, but you’ll also make friends with your retailers.

 

Coming back to the leading consumer brands from the Interbrands’ list, all top ten excel in brand portfolio strategies that are precisely differentiated, clearly targeted and well communicated.

David Aaker wrote an article on L’Oreal a few years ago that explains the above theories very well. Even if it’s from December 2013, not much has changed and it still makes a great read, highly recommended.

I believe most brands with tens or hundreds of variants in a market, are being managed by lazy marketers. People who don’t have the courage to manage their brands effectively by regular trimming and who can’t face up to the lack of success of some of their “babies”. Are you one of them? What’s your excuse? I’d love to hear your reasons for keeping all your SKUs.

This post had been updated and adapted from one which first appeared on C3Centricity in May 2014

C3Centricity used images from “Winning Customer Centricity” and Dreamstime in this post.

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