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Halloween Scares & Solutions for Marketing

Halloween is coming, even earlier than usual this year, judging from all the retail displays already in the shops! Although it is now more associated with children dressing up in scary costumes and dem anding “Trick or Treat”,  it is actually a Christian remembrance of the dead on the eve of All Saints’ Day.

So what does that have to do with marketing? Apart from the obvious effort of many companies to include the pumpkin shape, flavour or aroma in almost every product they make, at least in the US, marketing too has its scary moments doesn’t it?

What scares you marketers the most, or to put it another way, what keeps you up at night? One of the most recent studies on the topic, issued a few months ago, comes from The Marketing Institute (MSI) and was summarised by David Aaker of Prophet as seven issues, which he divided into three tiers:

TIER ONE: The hot topics

  1. Underst anding customers and the customer experience with particular emphasis on the impact of social and digital.
  2. Big data and analytics, with how they will impact predictive modelling and the marketing mix.

TIER TWO: The other concerns

  1. Following on from the opportunities of Big Data, the next concern is Marketing Accountability and its ROI.
  2. Developing marketing excellence and the new skills required such as visualisation and storytelling.
  3. Leveraging digital/social/mobile technology and linking it to CRM
  4. Creating and communicating enduring customer value and how to measure it in the social environment.
  5. Developing and delivering integrated marketing

TIER THREE: Previous concerns getting under control

  1. Innovating products and services
  2. Global marketing
  3. Segmentation
  4. Optimizing social contracts

What I find interesting from this and similar studies that I wrote about last year, is the overlap between many of these challenges. Marketers are really concerned about the wealth of information that they have on their customers and how they can manage to turn it all into insights, for more profitable actions and engagement. I therefore thought it would be useful to summarise the “so whats” of all these current challenges and propose actions that will help marketers get these issues under control, so they can change their scares into solutions:

Underst anding the customer experience

SCARE: With the exciting new worlds of social and digital taking up much of the thoughts of marketers, they are struggling to find ways to think integration, but that is the only way to underst and today’s customers. 

SOLUTION: Starting from the customers’ perspective makes looking at the bigger picture much easier. Instead of thinking single channels of communication, think connection and engagement. (>>Tweet this<<). Instead of thinking purchase and loyalty, think advocacy. Creating value for the customer goes way beyond providing a product or service these days. (>>Tweet this<<)

Knowing what to do with data

SCARE: We have gone from an information rich environment to complete data overload. This challenge definitely keeps a lot of marketers up at night. They feel as if they have to use everything available but at the same time are also aware that they are incapable of doing so.

SOLUTION: The answer lies in the old “eating an elephant” solution. Rather than worrying about what is not being managed, marketers should review what they already have, and only then decide what else they could use to help answer all their questions. There is so much information available today that we can’t work with it all, but we can ask better questions that can be answered by analysing this data. Start with the right question and then use the data you have to answer it. (>>Tweet this<<)

Engaging customers

SCARE: Every br and has some sort of web presence today. Whether that is a website, Facebook page or Twitter account, most companies have rushed into social media without a detailed underst anding of why they are there. If this is your case, it’s time to take a step back.

SOLUTION: How are you connecting with your customers today, both offline and online? The two should be complementary. However if there is too much overlap and you are doing the same on both, then you are wasting your money. You are also wasting your money if you don’t know why you are online in the first place! (>>Tweet this<<)

I had a client once who wanted help in updating one of their websites. In running a first analysis of all their websites, I found that more than 80% of them were being visited by less than 30 visitors a month! We cancelled all those websites and invested the money in the remaining active ones, improving both their ROI and the engagement with their customers. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own web statistics?

Marketing ROI

SCARE: Marketers are scared for their budgets and even more so for their jobs. With the rise in the importance of technology and IT, marketers need to move from br anding  and creativity alone, to embracing data and analytics much more than they have done in the past.

SOLUTIONBecome friends with your CIO and see IT as a support of rather than as a threat to your budgets. Yes managing new technologies and data analysis will need more investment, but that won’t (shouldn’t) come at the expense of br and building. In fact with the increased power of the customer and the number of channels on which to reach them, marketing needs increased budgets to be where and when the customer dem ands connection and information. (>>Tweet this<<)

Acquiring new skills

SCARE: As already mentioned, marketers must get comfortable with large amounts of different data. They also need better ways to analyse and make sense of it all, often in near real-time. This is a challenge in itself, but the new skills they have to acquire don’t stop there. They also need to turn their information into actionable insights and then share them with the rest of the business to gain acceptance and impact.

SOLUTION: Your market research and insight colleagues are the best people to help in making sense of the data and developing actionable insights. It will be the marketer’s job to share these with the rest of the business in a more creative way. Visualisation & storytelling are the new must-have skills for today. No longer can you expect PowerPoint presentations to excite and engage your C-suite executives – if they ever did!

These are five of the most pressing current scares of marketing and some simple solutions to address them. Are you challenged by something else? If so, add a comment below and I’ll help you find a solution. Or if you prefer, you can contact me here.

C3Centricity used an image from Microsoft in this post.

 

 

Is there a Future for Information & Insight? Yes, if we learn these new skills

Last week I had the privilege of presenting at the European Pharmaceutical Market Research (EphMRA) Annual Conference in Brussels. My talk was on the important topic of the future of the Market Research profession.

My invitation came as the result of one of the committee members seeing a question I had posted at the end of last year on several LinkedIn groups: Does your organisation need a market research department? And in the future?” Whether you are a researcher or a user of research data, the following summary of that presentation should help you underst and the need for us all to change the way we work with information and data, in order to increase their value to the business. Recent studies by both IBM  and Business Intelligence about the information needs of top management in general and marketing in particular give us some great clues about what they dislike and what we need to change.

Management don’t get what they need

Executives complain that their information currently comes from numerous, disparate sources, is rarely available in real-time, cannot be easily accessed without the help of IT, and anyway takes too long to customise it to their needs. The good news is that they don’t seem to get too much; in fact it looks as if they actually want more, but more of what they need.

Executives don’t get it in the format they need

Management currently get their information primarily via emails and spreadsheets, which I find shocking.  Why do we expect them to take the time to sift through all the information to draw their own conclusions? Are we still too scared to voice our own opinions, or to make recommendations? Only one in eight receive dashboards and yet this is their preferred medium. They want someone to have thought about their needs and then to provide a simple form that is easy to scan, interpret and take action on.

Marketing needs their data in real-time

It’s a hard time to be a CMO or head of marketing these days. They are being challenged more than ever before, to prove the ROI of their spending. They want more real-time information so they can take better informed decisions. They also need consistency so they can compare across channels and link sales back to individual campaigns and lead-generation efforts.

Marketing don’t feel ready to manage even more information

More than two-thirds of CMOs feel totally unprepared for the current data explosion, especially as it relates to social media. They also feel that they aren’t keeping up with all the rapid market changes, even when they have the money to do so.

The solution is as easy as ABC

Taking into account what management have said about their current information sources, providing what they need is as easy as ABC:

  • Accessibility to the information they need, where and when they need it.
  • Business impact so that what they receive enables them to identify and take the actions needed.
  • Consistency so they can compare across br ands, categories, countries or regions.

In addition to these three essential elements, it is important for us to ask the right questions of the data. As with good market research, getting the right answers depends upon asking the right questions (>>Tweet this<<). And we can only do this if we have a good underst anding of what the business needs. In order for us to increase the value of market research and planning in organisations, analysts need regular interaction across all departments and divisions.

For some companies, this has meant placing the experts in each business unit, but I personally feel that whilst it does increase their interaction with the business itself, they lose independence as well as integration across divisions. From my experience, the most valued market research departments are centralised  and individuals or teams have identified responsibilities by business or region. This frees them to give honest, unbiased feedback without the pressure of over-keen bosses to influence the analysis and results. Additionally, in order for market researchers to maintain the interaction needed to underst and the whole business, they will need to learn some new skills:

  • Socialising with both internal clients and external customers will provide analysts with a better feel for the business and how to support their needs. They must also accept to work more with social media data. Some claim it is not representative, but I beg to differ. From what one can read online, it is probably the closest an organisation will ever get to the true feelings of their customers.
  • Synthesising of both integrated data and the sharing of the knowledge and underst anding resulting from its analysis. Storytelling is such a hugely popular topic that I don’t think I need to go further on it, but the integration and synthesis of information from multiple sources will become essential. As the “internet of things” increases the flow of information into companies, someone will have to manage and make sense of it all and I believe that market research is the best equipped for this role.
  • Surprising management with exciting new ways to gather a better underst anding of customers. Technology is providing more and more ways to do this without even asking questions of our customers. Whether it is virtual reality, facial imaging and emotional coding, neuroscience and biometrics, market research now has a wealth of new tools available, so they need to reconsider how they gather their information. Whilst it means that they will have to get out of their comfort zone of st andard methodologies, the benefits in terms of surprise and delight of their management will more than compensate.

I concluded my presentation by saying that market researchers will have to become “Bionic” to encompass the three new areas of expertise that are necessary to meet management’s needs. These are:

  1. Methodological expertise, as well as project management and analytical skills
  2. Intellectual curiosity to synthesise information from all sources and generate actionable insights
  3. Improved communication skills to tell stories that influence business decision-making

Whether suppliers will take the first role alone or help with the second and third as well, will depend upon the client-side teams treating them as true partners and not mere information gatherers. Do you think this is possible in your own organisation? I would love to hear your thoughts either way. C³Centricity used an image from Kozzi in this post.

Try a New Perspective on Business Intelligence: How to get More Impact & Answers

Last week I presented at the first Swiss Business Intelligence Day. It was an inspiring conference to attend, with world-class keynote speakers opening the day. They included Professor Stephane Garelli from IMD, Philippe Nieuwbourg from Decideo  and Hans Hultgren from Genesee Academy.

After such an illustrious start, you can imagine that I was more than a little nervous to present my very non-IT perspective of business intelligence. However, the presentation did seem to go down well, so I want to share with you some of the ideas I talked about. Not surprisingly, with my passion for customer centricity and always with the end-user in mind, I took quite a different perspective from that of the majority of IT experts who were present.

BI should Collaborate More

With the explosion of data sources and the continuous flow of information into a company, managing data will become a priority for everyone.

statistic id forecast big data marketThe Big Data market, which more than doubled last two years, is forecast to triple in the next four, according to Statista. BI will have to exp and its perspective, work with more varied sources of information and exp and its client base.

In the past BI was inward looking. It ran data-mining exercises, reviewed corporate performance, developed reports and occasionally dashboards. It was, and still is in many organisations, mostly concerned with operational efficiencies, cost-cutting and benchmarking.

How business intelligence fits into the data world of businessThe above plot is my own, simplified view of how BI fits into data management within most organisations today. The other three quadrants are:

  • Competitive intelligence (CI) uses external competitor knowledge to support internal decision-making. Although BI is sometimes considered to be synonymous with CI because they both support decision-making, there are differences. BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data. CI gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors.
  • Investor Relations (IR) uses internal data to get external people, such as shareholders, the media or the government, to support and protect the company and its views.
  • Market Research (MR) on the other h and is mostly outward looking. It studies customers’ behaviours & attitudes, measures images & satisfaction, and tries to underst and feelings & opinions. That information is then used, primarily by marketing, to develop actions and communications for these same customers.

The four quadrants, even today, usually work in isolation, but that will have to change with this new data-rich environment in which we are working.

BI is Ripe for Change

 

According to a recent (Jan 2014) Forbes article, BI is at a tipping point. It will need to work in new ways because:

  • it will be using both structured and unstructured data
  • there will be a consolidation of suppliers
  • the internet of things will send more and more information between both products and companies.
  • thanks to technology, data scientists will spend more time on information management & less time on data preparation. At present it is estimated that they spend 80% of their time on data cleaning, integration and transformation, and only 20% on its analysis!

Google glass provides access to business intelligence

In February GigaOM echoed these thoughts, claiming that we are not in BI 2.0 but rather 4.0. They said the volume of data and the number of people now exposed to it, makes data availability to everyone essential. No longer does BI involve only the CEO and IT specialists, it concerns everybody.

Google glass provides access to business intelligence
Google glass, as tested by Virgin
, is a good example of this. It delivers real-time, on time and relevant information to Virgin’s hosts and hostesses, to meet, greet and advise its passengers. Their customer support team can accompany their VIP guests and warn them of delays and gate changes as they happen. Google Glass enables them to get out from behind their desks and interact more with the guests they are trying to please.

BI must Deliver More Synthesised Knowledge

According to a recent Business Intelligence report on management’s opinion of their data, they are currently frustrated. They say that it comes from many disparate sources and is rarely if ever available in real-time. They can’t easily access it without the help of IT and it takes too long to customise it to what they need. What is particularly interesting in the findings, is that management were not saying that they don’t need information; in fact it actually looks as if they want to have access to more data. BUT more of it in a way that makes it easy to find what they want, when they want it.

Another finding from the survey shows executives’ thoughts about data delivery. Currently they are getting their information primarily through emails and spreadsheets. I find this shocking that today we still expect management to take the time to wade through all the data in order to draw their own conclusions. Less than one in eight of the C-suite is getting dashboards, which is their preferred medium (>>Tweet this<<). They also want mobile delivery so that they can access information on the go.

This study provides us with a simple plan to satisfy their needs and to help us meet our own challenges of data abundance. This is what we should prioritize, since we can no longer continue to do what we’ve always done in the same way we’ve always done it. The BI priorities are as simple as ABC; accessibility, business impact and consistency (>>Tweet this<<).

BI needs to Provide Simplified Access

Information should be provided where and when it is needed and in such a way as to have most impact on the business. This means making it easy to review, and quick and simple to draw conclusions. This is why the number one dem and from business is dashboards.

Dashboards have the advantage of imposing consistency (>>Tweet this<<) so no time is lost in underst anding what the information is showing. With the availability of more information, comes the challenge to make it available to more people. And more people will also mean more and different needs.

Business Intelligence data warehouses are like a tree of knowledgeTo underst and the accessibility challenge I find the tree is a great metaphor for what we struggle to achieve. The roots can be compared to all the different sources of information we have at our disposal. The trunk is like all the integrated information that is reported in dashboards and the branches, twigs and leaves are the different data warehouses we create.

Whilst a one-page overview is sufficient for management, others will need greater granularity. Therefore we need to make information available at different levels of detail. My experience suggests three types of information sharing.

  • The leaves are like data warehouses where the raw or nearly raw data sits
  • The twigs are the information repositories where analysed data and information resides
  • And the branches are the knowledge libraries where the integrated actionable insights sit

What I have learned from setting up numerous data warehouses, information repositories and knowledge libraries, is that it is not easy. Not because of any technical complexity, but because of winning the needed  internal support for the project and getting the essential acceptance for global access to the information. It takes more than technology, it takes a culture change in many cases too, and this is the real challenge. Stopping the “information is power” mentality means finding ways to counter the opposition who claim  confidentiality of their own data whilst also requesting access to everyone else’s. In addition, even if people need information, they will generally not make the effort to go looking for it, if there is an easier way, such as by asking someone else! All these issues need to be resolved for an integrated database project to succeed.

Business Impact

One way to encourage the culture change mentioned earlier, is to demonstrate the business impact of what you are providing. The desired impact won’t come by delivering spreadsheets, it will come from dashboards (>>Tweet this<<).

So how do you summarise a company in a one-page dashboard, especially those which are present in multiple categories, globally? Well, often the simplest way is not to try to cover the total business, but rather the top categories and markets that would cover 70% – 80% of total sales. In most cases this would be sufficient to underst and the main priorities for management.

Of course at category level each business unit should be able to get access to more detailed information, as should the regional presidents, if you are working in such a complex business environment.

The real power of dashboard information will come from data integration, where both internal and external information are synthesised, for a holistic view of the business. I have worked on several projects that combined internal information with consumer data for a complete business report. The consumer information came from promotions, call centres and CRM activities, and was combined with market research on product and communications performance, to provide a solid base of consumer underst anding. This can then be presented alongside the more usual financial information that executives are already receiving. Having a complete overview of the business has far more impact than individual, silo’d summaries and enables management to make decisions more quickly and easily.

Increase Consistency

Another challenge when setting up and integrating databases, is in the harmonisation of their master data. When you are working with consumer data, this challenge can be multiplied by ten if not one hundred. For example, consumers will talk about a pizza, without specifying the br and, sub-br and, variant, flavour, packaging and size that would be used by the business to define it. So you have to find a way to translate what the consumer is saying, into the products as recorded internally.

The consistency of the master data will even increase in importance and complexity, with the expansion in available data sources. In addition, the fact that more people will get involved, will confound things even more, since their needs will differ.

Asking Better Questions of the Data

Accessibility, business impact and consistency are vital to the success of the new BI’s data management and usage, but I feel the urge to add one more thing. That of asking the right questions of the data. Although BI is used to asking questions, I think Market Research (MR) are the real experts in questioning. Therefore they should be involved in ensuring integrated databases are combined in such a way as to permit easy extraction of whatever level of information is required, or whatever perspective might be taken.

For example, BI is used to running forecasts. Those usually start from a review of past data and current reality to develop forecasts based on complex algorithms. They will do this within their teams with perhaps input from finance. MR on the other h and, is more likely to work from societal trends and develop plausible future scenarios, brainstorming across the organisation to gather a wide array of perspectives. Both perspectives are complementary and combined, they make a powerfully readied organisation.

Making more data more accessible to more people will certainly help this question development, as I think getting the right answers depends upon asking the right question, don’t you?

These were just a few of the ideas I shared at the Swiss BI Day in Geneva. How do you see business intelligence adapting and changing as a result of the increased information availability happening today?

C³Centricity used images and graphs from Statista, Microsoft and Virgin in this post.

New Thinking for Old Ways of Business

I’ve just come back from IIeX-EU (Insight Innovation Exchange – Europe) in Amsterdam, and my head is full of exciting new things to experiment. It’s strange what happens to our brains when we have the chance to get away from the office and THINK! We become more creative, less bound by old habits, and ready to try new experiences.

After these few days away, I am fired with enthusiasm to bring real changes to my own business, those of my clients, as well as to yours through this post. I’d like to share a few of the ideas which were stimulated by some of the best presentations I’ve ever seen grouped into one single conference. Read on for four inspirational ideas for you to implement immediately, to bring new thinking into your own business.

Partner for Growth

Lowes logo eOne of the first speakers at the event was Kyle Nel from Lowe’s, an American home improvement chain. He explained that business is about changing customers’ behaviour and to do this we need to constantly update our methods for underst anding them. Lowe’s finds inspiration in partnering with organisations including Coke, UNICEF and NASA; how’s that for thinking outside the box? By connecting with companies in other industries, their thinking is constantly challenged, which enables them to grow exponentially, rather than in the linear fashion that most of us seem to be satisfied with. Kyle shared how Lowe’s accepts that whilst there may often be disappointments, the one in ten new ideas that truly deliver are worth all their efforts.

NEW THINKING: Find a catalyst for your own growth to bring you new ideas from external sources. Also look outside your industry for inspiration, and partner with a select few industry leaders that are trying new, exceptionally creative things (Like Loew’s!)

Know what you Know

Information & knowledge sharing is essentialGregory Short, author of “The Billion Dollar Paperclip”, suggested that it’s time we took a new look at our business and the eco-system in which it is operating. Amongst the list of things mentioned, he included identifying what you already know. This resonated with me because so often when new clients ask for help, they often already have a lot of the information they are seeking, they just didn’t know they had it!

Haiko van Lengen and Sjoerd Koornstra shared a Heineken case study which covered a similar point on knowledge sharing. They mentioned the 2009 Boston Consulting Group Insight Benchmarking study which showed that most companies are not using the majority of the information they gather.

Haiko and Sjoerd suggested that before doing any sort of information gathering, we should first assess what is already available internally on the topic. This review should include talking to all departments and definitely not just market research. You would be surprised how many companies operate in silos, each buying their own reports and information, and too often without the knowledge of their market research and insight department.

NEW THINKING: Find a way of sharing more information across your organisation, by setting up an easily accessible storage system. This could be as simple as a shared folder or as proprietary as a knowledge management system and library.

Don’t be Scared of Emotions

Plutchik's wheel of emotionsDiana Lucaci at True Impact Marketing, spoke about the surprising habit many marketers have of being satisfied with knowing just the “Who” and the “What” of their customers’ behaviours. She pointed out that it is even more important to underst and the “Why” of customer actions in order to impact them.

With the rapid expansion in the use of neuroscience and biometric measurement in market research, we now have the possibility to underst and a lot about our customers without even directly asking. Perhaps it’s time for you to experiment (again?). Let me know if you’re interested in trying out the leading emotional measurement tool around.

Diana also made a throw-away comment at the end of her presentation that was also later picked up by Daryl Travis during his talk on “Why emotions win the battle of the br ands”. It reminds us that there are simple things we can do that can have an incredibly positive impact on our customers’ loyalty:

“Make sure that checkout, or the last action your customer makes, is a memorable and positive experience” (>>Tweet this quote<<)

Daryl also ended his presentation with another well chosen, inspiring quote from Maya Angelou, the American author and poet:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” (>>Tweet this quote<<)

NEW THINKING: Review your own customer journey maps, but this time as an emotional journey and ensure that the last step is a positive experience – or urgently correct it if it isn’t!

Customers only Care about the Benefit

Benefits are what interest customersThis links to the previous comment on emotions. Michael Bartl from Hyve, mentioned that your customers don’t really care about who or how you solve their problems, only that you have a solution. Whilst this is probably correct in general, I believe there are some customers who do care and you need to know who they are. Concerns about sustainability, sourcing and ecological impact can all be relevant for some industries and br ands, so you need to check whether they are to your customers or a segment of them.

NEW THINKING: Review your advertising and see if you too spend most time speaking about rational product or service elements and less about the customer benefits. If it’s the case, make the swap to a more benefits-driven communications and measure the impact.

These are just four of the tens of pages of ideas I wrote, that were stimulated by presentations I followed during the IIEX-EU conference in Amsterdam last week. I hope they inspired your own thinking and interest in trying out some new things in your own marketing and market research. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, or if you’d be interested in getting some help in catalysing change in your own organisation.

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime and  Kozzi

8 Marketing Essentials for 2014

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

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

Social Media Metrics

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

Storytelling

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

Showrooming & Virtual Reality

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

 

New Communication Opportunities

According to Jay Walker-Smith of Yankelovich

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

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

Adapting Communications to Personas

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

Channel Management

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

Better Communications for Organisational Strategy

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

Disruptive Innovation

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

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

Increasing your Information ROI: Turning Knowledge into Gold

We all gather information about our customers. What do we do with it? We (hopefully) use it to inform our decisions and then it gets filed away. In some cases this is vertical (i.e. thrown away) but usually it is horizontal, to gather dust on a shelf somewhere that is soon forgotten. I think it’s time we changed this and turned our information investments into gold!

There are many, many ways to gather information about the customer: observation, listening, market research and external reports. I recently wrote about all the information on our customer that we should have at our disposition in a post called “12 Things you need to know about your target customers”. We need a lot of information to really know and underst and our customer and it clearly will not come from one single market research project or report. Therefore that knowledge must be built up over time and that is where the problem lies.

Often we forget we already have the information and go out and buy it again. This is particularly common when the marketing department changes its lead or members – which seems to be every year or two in many organisations these days! Everyone thinks they need more information, when they actually most likely need more insight. (I have written several posts on insight development, including “ Are you into insights or information?”) Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to share some ideas on resolving this situation, so that your hard-fought budget gets spent on gathering information that you don’t have available and really do need.

#1. Review what you’ve got

Data, information and knowledge are only useful if they are analysed and converted into underst anding and insight. In today’s data-rich environment, this is often where companies struggle the most. Next time you need information about your customer, start by reviewing the information and knowledge you already have, and also ask other departments who may need similar information, if they have it, before commissioning further research or report purchases.

#2. Share what you’ve got

One of the reasons companies spend money on gathering information that is already available internally, is because they don’t know it is! To help reduce this overspend, which unfortunately most suppliers will not inform you of, you need to make sure that everyone who might need the information is made aware of it and has access to it.

For one of my clients, we discovered that some external reports were being bought separately more than 20 times within the organisation! As if that wasn’t bad enough, several different departments were also buying access to the same databases, and others were doing almost identical pieces of market research at approximately the same time.

To avoid this:

  • make a review of information needs across the organisation, or across the region or globe if yours is an international business
  • make one person responsible for negotiating company-wide deals with suppliers; the savings made may even cover the cost of this position and is therefore well worth the investment
  • share plans for market research projects across businesses and look for opportunities to combine for further cost savings

#3. Store what you’ve got

Despite all the actions specified in #2. above, you may still find that there are times when unplanned information needs crop up. This is where a knowledge database or library becomes effective. It can be as simple as a folder on a shared drive or as complex as a bespoke platform, or anything in between. What is important is that is meets the needs of those looking for information and that all relevant people have easy access to it.

Whichever size of storage you decide on, I suggest first making an audit of information needs. This should cover both what is available, as well as what is needed and why. However be careful to distinguish between what people would like to have and what they actually need; I have found a wide difference between the two in many cases.

#4. Build your Library

Once you have identified the real needs of your organisation, it is time to build your Library. And don’t think once you have built it that people will immediately start to use it! They need to be encouraged to share their knowledge. In my experience, this can sometimes be met with concerns about the confidentiality of the information stored:

“I would love to see what everyone else has gathered, but of course my information is confidential and can’t be shared”

One possible solution to this is to provide right of use only to those who share their knowledge and information, ideally at similar levels to their access.  “Greedy outliers” who take more than they give should then be easy to identify.

Another issue that can crop up with open sharing is management’s worry about leaking information to the competition, especially when employees leave the company. Although this is often an exaggerated risk, in most cases this can be significantly reduced by controlling information download. If certain projects, especially new product development, are considered to be too high a risk to share, then these can have a confidential “as needs” basis rule, or a time limit set on them before being made public.

#5. Mine the gold

The real gold from information sharing comes quickly once it starts to be a reality. Even for smaller knowledge libraries, I have found that within six months the available information starts to replace planned research projects or report purchases.

Once the Library is up and running, the next step is to start sharing your insights too. As mentioned in “ Five ideas to improve your insight development” insights can often be used across more categories than the one for which it was developed. In the post I share a couple of examples of them:

  • INSIGHT: Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy used by:
    • Unilever's OmoUnilever’s Omo and its “Dirt is Good”; see one of their ads on YouTube here
    • Nestle Nido logoNestlé’s Nido; check out one of their ads here. Interestingly Nestlé has also used this same insight for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas.

 

  • INSIGHT: Young women want to be appreciated for who they really are i.e. not models used by
    • Unilever Dove logoUnilever’s Dove was the first br and to recognise and benefit from this insight with their infamous Real Beauty campaign; see one of their more recent ads here
    • Migros IamThe Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store toiletries br and “I am” which uses the same insight across all their health and beauty products, even using it for the br and name itself and advertising copy: “ I am – what I am“.

The power of information sharing goes a long way to increasing the return on information investments. Reviewing what you’ve already got, sharing and making it accessible to all, and then developing a library platform will all help increase its use whilst at the same time reducing the costs of market research and information gathering. So, what are you waiting for?

Have you developed your own system or library for information and insight sharing? If so please share your experiences and horror stories in the comments below. Everyone would love to know what some of the challenges may be for them when they follow your example. 

Need help in negotiating your information contracts or in building an information / insight Library? Why not call us to discuss just how much you could be saving and increase your information ROI. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

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

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

A New Guide to Insight Development

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Marketing & Communication Loft event in Geneva. The topic was building great br ands so how could I not talk about insight development, the foundation of all great br ands?

Ever since the marketing world started buzzing with the opportunities that BigData presents, insight development seems to have been forgotten. And yet data, whether big or small, cannot be used until it is turned into knowledge and underst anding and then insight.

I therefore thought it was time to take a fresh look at insight development and how BigData increases rather than decreases the need for true insight.

 

Marketing’s ROI is Lacking

A report by the Fournaise Marketing Group showed that 70% of CEOs have lost trust in marketers’ ability to deliver growth and 69% of them have stopped enforcing key business objectives & indicators on marketers because they have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies and campaigns deliver business growth.

The report further suggested that the reason for this was because marketing failed to deliver ROI, which is a surprise in today’s world of data and information. In fact a recent IBM report actually mentioned that the data explosion was the main worry of CMOs today, not the lack of information.

 

Insights and Customer Centricity

I believe the problem goes far beyond just data and is linked to marketers’ inability to make their organisations customer centric. In fact there was a suggestion in this same IBM report that marketers should not lead customer centricity initiatives. I think theyre right, as marketing is the defender of br ands rather than of the customer; it is difficult for one person to prioritise both!

Thinking customer first means doing everything we can to satisfy and hopefully, also delight them. So if we all know that, why are so many of us struggling to walk the talk of customer centricity? I believe it is linked to insight development. I don’t think we know and underst and our customers as well as we should.

We’ve been speaking about insight development for even longer than customer centricity, and yet we are still not always developing insight. Even today, we are more likely to be working with information, knowledge and sometimes underst anding, but rarely true insight. I think that many of us still haven’t grasped the importance of the fact that insight doesn’t come from information, nor knowledge, nor even underst anding, but from the integration of everything we know.

 

A Fresh Approach to Insights

Insights are built from hindsight, eyesight  and foresightInsight development requires the integration of three types of information, knowledge and underst anding:

  • Hindsight
  • Hearsight
  • Foresight

 

Hindsight is what all companies rely on most of the time. It’s about looking back at what has happened and trying to underst and why. The market shares we achieved, the recall of communications we aired, the volumes we manufactured. The problem is that Hindsight is yesterday’s news.

BigData helps to partly address this problem of recency, since most algorithms are developed to adapt to the latest information through machine learning. Although they will work with a combination of different data sources, some older than others, we are getting closer to real-time decision making. But data alone is still insufficient in most cases to develop true insight; we need to add Hearsight.

Hearsight is my name for what we can observe about what our customers are doing and what we can listen to when they are speaking. In some ways it’s better than hindsight, because we are listening to our customers and watching what they are doing today, rather than looking back to what they said or did yesterday. However, we must keep in mind that it is not market research, so we should use our findings to stimulate new thoughts and ideas about our br ands and categories, and not as the whole truth.

One problem with listening to and observing our customers, is that they are changing fast. What works today won’t work tomorrow. What is surprising today, will be taken for granted tomorrow. Although it’s not already out of date when we get it, as is the case with hindsight, it soon will be, so we can’t rely on this information alone either. That’s why we need to add foresight.

Foresight is about looking beyond today to what our customers will want or need tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in years to come.When we speak of foresight, we often think of trend following services first, to provide it. The problem with them is that they are a service – and findings are shared with all the agencies’ clients. This means we’re following exactly the same information as our competitors. There is no competitive advantage in that! And when it comes to preparing for the future and innovation, this becomes a critical flaw of trend following tools.

So what’s the solution? Future scenarios are the solution. By extending trends into the future and combining and clashing them, we can come out with creative but plausible new worlds. These worlds will have similarities and differences which we can then use to develop new product concepts. Most scenarios are built using contrasting possible outcomes in two major areas of influence, sometimes referred to as the axes of uncertainty.

Most people find working with future scenarios exciting but we must remember a few things. Firstly scenarios are not forecasts. They are not predictions of what will happen but rather indications of what may happen in the market and with the customers’ choices and preferences in the future. However, scenarios do help prepare business for possible opportunities and risks. They are a useful way to consider possible future worlds and markets that can form the basis of brainstorming for the business.

 

Scenario Planning using SciFi Writers

Future l andscape
Has the Future already been written?
SOURCE: Kozzi.com

Many scenario companies offer sketch and video portrayals of the future worlds developed and then use storytelling to its utmost. One of my favourite suppliers in this area (whom I should also mention are C3Centricity partners) has a very unique way of developing and sharing their scenarios with their clients. SciFutures use science fiction!

This may surprise you but science fiction writers have a long history of imagining things that get developed 20, 50, 100 or more years later. Here are just few examples to illustrate.

  • H.G. Wells book “The World Set Free” spoke of the atom bomb – 30 years before its invention.
  • Mark Twain talked about what became the Internet in 1904.
  • Jules Verne’s story “From the Earth to the Moon”, predicted moon l andings and weightlessness – in 1865
  • Star Trek’s “Tricorder” – inspired the smart phone.
  • The Minority Report – inspired big data mining, Predictive Policing, virtual reality and touch screens.

Dan Ariely, Professor of psychology & behavioral economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina claims that:

“Humans grossly overestimate what is going to happen in the short term and completely underestimate what is going to happen in the long term”

Therefore in trying to design plausible future worlds, we need to stretch our minds way beyond what we would otherwise feel comfortable doing, and this is where SciFutures and their science fiction writers come into play. They are definitely bringing their clients an impressive competitive advantage with this radically new way of thinking!

Coming back to earth, I hope I have explained why I think it’s time to take a fresh look at Insight development. Insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources. We need Hindsight to know what has happened in the past, Hearsight to watch and listen to our customers to underst and their current behaviours, and we need Foresight to prepare for future opportunities and risks and to ensure that our innovations have been developed with maximum competitive advantage. Combining the three we get to insight.

Customer centricity is built upon our insights of our customers. A deep, intimate underst anding of our customers, what they desired yesterday, desire today and may desire tomorrow. It comes from integrating data and information from both internal and external sources; from market research, observation & listening and trend following & scenarios. All three types of information are needed to develop insights efficiently and effectively. Each adds different perspectives to the equation. If we all use more information for deeper insights, then we will finally be “in sight of our goal” to be truly customer centric.

Let me know what you think of this new approach to insight development in the comments below. In appreciation I leave you with an Irish Blessing:

Insights are a blessing

I believe we can never go too far in underst anding and satisfying our customers? Do you agree?

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

And if you could do with some support in underst anding your customers better, to develop deeper insights, let us help you catalyze your customer centricity. Contact us here TODAY!

Featured image source: Kozzi.com

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Is there a Future for Insight Departments?

Many organisations have revamped their Market Research groups as Insight Departments in the past five to ten years. However, it takes more than a name change for those involved to achieve the recognition they deserve. If you work in or with such a department, then read on, as I have some ideas on how you can achieve this.

Last month Forrester issued the results of some research they had done looking into the Future of Market Research in 2013. Their conclusions were:

  1. 2013 is the year of truth for market insights: their future will depend on how successful they are at getting increased investments and tapping into alternative information sources than just market research
  2. Market insights departments need to invest in knowledge, technology and skills: the group will need to better respond to the fast-paced management need for the customer underst anding that can impact their business decisions
  3. Vendors have to show their worth: suppliers have become commodity providers as they have allowed their clients to select on price more than differentiation.
  4. Future market insights solutions have to connect the dots: single source is no longer sufficient – if it ever was – and vendors need to be able to better respond to the need for 360 degree perspectives.

Whilst I certainly agree with these conclusions, which in fact impact both supplier and company insight professionals, I believe that most of these needs are not really new. Some more forward-thinking organisations have in fact already identified and adjusted to these changed needs. So what is there to do if you haven’t? How do you prioritise what needs to be done in your organisation? Here is my top 5 tips:

#1. Find out what management really needs

It is amazing how many market research and insight groups still have little, or no contact with top management. So how can they possibly be perceived as value creators for the business? It is not enough just to attend the presentations of the business plans or to get a copy of them to read afterwards. You need to talk with those who wrote them and those who will implement them. Ideally, you should be instrumental in helping to draw them up. Get out of your offices and into the boardrooms and hallowed top-floor offices. Listen hard and ask hard questions. Make sure you underst and where the company is going and your role in getting there.

#2. Review the information you currently collect

Most organisations have regular on-going measurements of some sort, which probably haven’t changed in years, if not decades! Now you know what the business needs, review, revamp or retire the studies that are no longer needed. Show that you are using your budget wisely, to provide management with the information and knowledge they need, to help them to take better decisions.

#3. Revamp what is important

Those projects that do add value to the organisation will certainly need updating on a regular, possibly annual basis. Do your retail audits reflect the current market situation? Are the attributes you follow in your br and image trackers accurately covering the strengths of the latest competitive launches as well as your own? Take each study and adjust for each br and in collaboration with your marketing AND sales teams.

#4. Share the knowledge

Many organisations are afraid of competition getting a hold of their information, and therefore do not make it widely available within the organisation. Have you never learnt about something going on in your own organisation, but from competition? I know I have. Therefore the risks of tipping off the competition are far lower than others may think, so start to share the information you gather. It is amazing how much you can save when you do, as other departments often then discover that they are conducting research, or buying information and reports that are already available in-house.

#5. Integrate for Insight

Despite some managers still believing that insight is just another word for market research, insights are in fact developed out of multiple information sources. Whilst Forrester suggested that this could be managed by your suppliers, I believe that whilst they may help, true insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources, both internal and external. This means not only different projects, but also different departments that have differing perspectives and perhaps also different connection points with the customer. The insight group can help bring all this underst anding together and develop actionable insights for profitable business growth.

Well this is my starter for five. What else would you add to help bring insight departments into the center of the brave new world of customer centric organisations? If you carry out these first five steps that I have mentioned, then you will start to get more appreciation for the real value you are adding to the business and your budgets might even be increased; which will then lead to even greater value. Now that’s what I call a win-win and a really bright future for everyone in Insight! What do you think?

For ideas and training on insight development check out our website: http://www,c3centricity.com/home/underst and

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

From Market Research to Actionable Insights

Do you struggle to develop insights from your market research studies, or to identify clear actions out of your insights? If so, then you must read this post on how to deliver actionable insights.

There are many reasons why organisations struggle to develop actionable insights. Yet a recent report by IBM suggested that 80 percent of CMOs rely on traditional sources of information, such as market research and competitive benchmarking, to make strategic decisions.

Although they may be limiting their customer underst anding by not tapping into all their information sources, market research remains a major input to decision-making for marketers. Therefore it is essential for business to make maximum use of it.

Here are four tips to help you do both insight development and action identification better:

#1. Know why you are running the research project.

Market research is often run before people really know why they are conducting it. When you have identified a gap in your knowledge, start by conducting a complete review of all available information about the opportunity or issue you have identified. This is the only way to ensure you are spending your budget wisely on filling the knowledge gap. It is amazing how many companies work in silos and don’t share information across departments. Make sure you’re not one of them.

#2. Don’t expect the study to deliver insights

Although you need to develop insights to support your future decision making, don’t expect that they will come from the single study you are now planning. Insights are developed from the integration of numerous market research projects, information, observations and consumer connections. It is highly unlikely that one project will deliver an insight; however you can expect it to improve your knowledge of the market. Additional work will be required to build this knowledge into customer underst anding and this can only happen through integrating it with your other information.

#3. Base your insight on a human truth

Once you have identified a number of insights – although I personally would prefer to call these underst andings – you must develop an insight that is powerful enough to impact customers’ behaviour. The best way to do this is by referring to their need state and how your product or service will impact and improve their position. What benefit will your customers get from using your product? How will their thinking and behaviour be changed? In an ideal world, what changes are you looking to achieve?

#4. Identify your action

If you have developed a true insight based on a human truth, it becomes relatively easy to plan the actions needed to change your customers’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. Should you struggle to identify the actions to be taken, then it almost certainly means that your insight has not been sufficiently refined, so go back and rework its wording.

These four simple steps are the heart to the successful development of actionable insights. It is how you too can successfully impact your business and deliver true return on your information investments. Without the development of actionable insights, you are likely to be considered a cost and run the risk of suffering budget cuts when times get tough. Which is a pity, since it is exactly at that moment that businesses need the most support in underst anding what is going on.

Let me know if you agree that these are the most important steps to achieving actionable insights, or if you have others to add.

Are you struggling with a sub-optimal insight development process, or lacking clear actions from them, then why not contact us for an informal chat?

No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

For more information on insight development, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

Social Customer Service: How to be Responsible, Resourceful & Ready in Real-time

A recent Infographic got me thinking about what has and hasn’t changed in customer service thanks to social media. In fact I should have said what has still not changed and MUST change in the very near future.

If you feel that you haven’t made all the necessary changes to meet the challenges of the new social customers and their dem ands, then read on for four actions you should be taking to improve your customer service.

#1. Responsibility

Marketing, Sales and Customer Service all have contact with customers and therefore also responsibility for them. Today these departments must work more closely together to provide a seamless connection with the customer. They need to build on each other’s efforts to satisfy the customer, so that each customer perceives that there is one company working to delight him and that he is really important to them.

Action: Employees from all customer-facing departments need to meet regularly, at least monthly, to exchange and share their latest experiences and learnings. What are customers talking about, complaining about or dreaming of? What new opportunities are there to get ahead of competition in better satisfying these current or latent needs? Organise regular exchanges or “lunch & learn” sessions and if you work in the USA recognise your most active employees by signing them up in the “Most Engaged Employee Contest”.

#2. Resources

Most organisations underst and the importance of their customer, and we all know they are more than ever in control thanks to social media. However, few companies are investing in developing their customer centricity and keeping their customer database current. Business needs to start walking the talk so their customers notice and feel a difference in how they are being treated, listened to and satisfied.

Action: Did you know it costs about 8 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one? Review how you collect and store your customer information. Have you verified their details in the last year? Most companies have upwards of 28% of their database which is out-of-date; when did you last check your own level? Is data stored by br and or business unit? Integrate the information, so the connection with your customer is seamless, more intimate, knowledgeable and fulfilling for you both.

#3. Ready

Social Media connections are growing exponentially but is your organisation staying ahead of the curve?. Recent figures from the latest Burson Marsteller Global Social Media Check-up 2012 suggest there are more than 10 million references to major global companies on social media every month and more than half of these are are on Twitter. Companies need to be following these discussions in addition to responding to customers in the usual way through call centers, email or postal mail.

Action: Review and revise your care center resources and training. Ensure you have a sufficiently growing number of trained staff to be available when the customer most needs to contact you. Provide the customer service agents with the knowledge, information and authority to respond to customers on social media as well as over traditional contact means. Remember that nothing disappears on the web, so written responses need to be accurate, precise and appropriate. If not you may fall into a PR disaster similar to the one Nestlé found itself in on its Facebook page in early 2010.

#4. Real-time

Did you know that customers expect a more rapid response to queries than they are used to getting? This is driving them to non-traditional methods of interacting with customer service agents such as chat and social media. According to the latest State of the Industry report from Acxiom and Digiday 74% of companies cannot respond to customers in real-time. How have you changed your care centres to respond to this dem and?

Action: Review your current customer service practices to ensure you are responding to your customers’ dem ands in real-time or at least offering a short-term solution. Have you made your agents available 24/7 or found a way to propose an alternative solution to customers who might contact outside normal working hours but when they are most likely to need help with your product or service? Customers expect answers within one to four hours these days.

These are the four essential steps that most organisations have still not taken to respond to the new social customer and their increased dem ands. What are you waiting for?

If you have taken other steps to optimise your organisations customer centricity to respond to the dem ands of the social customer then please share them here.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

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

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

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

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

 

#1. Make your information more visible

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

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

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

 

#2 Make your information more available

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

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

You can find more information on knowledge sharing here.

 

#3. Make your information more actionable

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

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

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

 

#4. Make your information more readable

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

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

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

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

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

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Build Better Insights in just 4 steps

We are lucky to be living in an information rich environment, where numerous data sources are readily available to us.

However, this can also be a challenge since we are usually:

“Drowning in data and starving for insight”

as I have often been quoted.

If you too are drowning in data, take a look at these four easy steps you can take to meet the challenge of better insight development. We call them the four “I’s” of Insight development to impact business:

Step 1 – IDENTIFY: first identify the most relevant pieces of information for the issue or opportunity you have selected to address, as well as for the business or industry you are in. How do you decide what is relevant?

Look at who your target audience is; what do they like to do in their spare time; what are their hobbies; what are their needs, desires and dreams; what motivates them; what are their basic values? What are they tweeting and blogging about? Do they speak about problems they have with the products and categories you are reviewing? All of these will help you to really underst and them and what issues or opportunities there are for your product or service and br and.

Step 2 – INTEGRATE: once you have gathered and prioritized the most valuable sources of information, it is necessary to integrate them in order to reap their full benefits. Customer information and facts that are integrated help to build deeper knowledge. It also enables the extraction of essential underst anding on which the business can grow.

Data integration can be done manually or using technology, which is advisable when managing large amounts of information. Integration of underst anding can be done by looking for themes and key topics that get repeated across the different sources.

Step 3 – INSIGHTS: after integration of the information, you need to develop the insights. If you haven’t already done so, get a mixed team of experts from different relevant departments together to review all the information, and have the project led by one of your Market Research or Insight group. They will love both the recognition and the challenge of running an insight development session, using everything that has been gathered and integrated.

Step 4 – INSPIRE: as the team begins to hypothesize insights coming out of the information, find someone who can then synthesize their findings into a compelling story. Storytelling will fire enthusiasm into both the team and the company at large, and everyone will be more ready and willing to take the required action. Storytelling helps the findings and insights to be transmitted to all interested parties within the organisation. In some cases, a presentation using storytelling is sufficient for decisions to be made.

How do you develop insights in your own organisation. Do you have other ways to integrate information and knowledge? Please share your ideas with everyone.

For more on Insight development, please see our website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post first appeared in C3Centricity Dimensions on December 29th 2011

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