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The Future of Brand Building is Customer Centricity

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.

Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did!

However, even today, with the creation of inbound marketing strategies, they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive popups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use.

Despite these changes CMOs remain one of the leading c-suite members who struggle to keep their jobs for more than four or five years. The reasons are many, but the post “Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?” explains what you can do to ensure you only leave your position when you want to.

 

Brand Building

Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.

Luckily a few other consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their business. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight.

Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

I think we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for the next price offs whenever they can.

They also realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance.

That’s why consumers now often have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be.

 

Switching economy harming loyalty and brand building
Source: Accenture

They have also come to expect constant innovation as they quickly adapt to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “ Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago!

Customer Centricity

Brand building needs new skills for marketers
Source: Korn Ferry

In response to these ever more savvy customers, marketing has to change. In the  2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it confirmed that marketers need new skills and can no longer rely on creativity alone.

 

 

If you’re interested in ups killing your team, then we can provide fun training on many areas of customer centricity. Download our training brochure and then contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.

Get Your Training Needs Answered

 

Are You Customer Centric?

Companies that place their customers at the heart of their business, are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and engaging games. Their contact pages provide many alternative ways for customers to reach out to them, rather than the less appealing reason menu and message box that disappears into hyperspace!  Their advertising is emotional, with the customer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their customers in many aspects of their business.

If you would like to start involving your customers more in your business then the post "The exceptionally easy and profitable uses of co-creation" is a popular and highly recommended read.

And if you're not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website and then complete our free quiz C3C Evaluator.

 

Moving Beyond Brand Building

Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are some ideas that you can use to help you quickly move forward on your journey to greater customer centricity:

1. Place pictures of consumers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be at the beginning and end of presentations, in your office reception, in the lifts or anywhere many employees spend time.

2. Whenever you take a decision, ask yourself "What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken?" If they would disagree, then you should reconsider your options.

This will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the consumer. Or asking credit card details for the use of a "free" trial, in the hope that the customer will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want.

What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken? If they wouldn't like it, reconsider your options. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

3. Review the content of your website in detail. If there are more "we's" than "you's" then you know what to do. And while you're online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above.

Review the content of your website. If there are more we's than you's then you know what to do. Customer centric companies talk about their customers more than themselves. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

4. Take a look at your target consumer description or persona / avatar. When was it last updated? If you don't even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C3Centricity's 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free HERE)

5. Examine your advertising. Who is the hero? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.

Review your current advertising campaign. Who is the hero? If it's not your customer, consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers. Click To Tweet

6. If you are lucky enough to have retail outlets, spend time with your front-line staff and your customers. Make use of call centers, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will almost certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know. Then add the information to your persona description and review your future promotions for any improvements you could make.

7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with everyone in the company. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2 above.

These are your starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building to a more customer centric approach. They all have your customer at the heart of them. Any others you'd like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can alone, so why not share them below and let your knowledge shine?

If you'd like more suggestions about moving to a new-age marketing approach, check out my book "Winning Customer Centricity". You'll see it's like no other business book you have ever seen! Then you will understand why numerous major CPG / FMCG companies follow it annually. It's fun, inspiring and a useful roadmap for your customer centric journey. 

Is Packaging Part of Product or Promotion? Should it be Both?

Which did you answer subconsciously when you read the title? Do you consider your packaging to be a part of the product, protecting its contents and framing its on-shelf life? Or do you consider it to be an integral part of your connection with your customers at an important moment of truth, that of purchase and usage?

If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communication.

If you answered only one of the choices, then you may be missing an important opportunity. Let me explain, with a few examples.

 

People don’t read instructions

We all expect most things that we use or consume to be intuitive these days. In other words, we assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions.

We all expect most things that we use to be intuitive these days. We assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions. How intuitive is your brand? Click To Tweet

If you are like most people – myself included – this has nothing to do with the complexity of the product concerned . I myself will only turn to the instructions when something doesn’t work: I end up with left-over screws when mounting a flat-pack piece of furniture, or I can’t achieve multi-recordings on my smart TV or DVD recorder.

In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they  they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.

As internet results in us having access to more and more information, we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore we need to ensure that any vital information is called out in some way on the packaging – and perhaps visually as well.

 

People do look at packs

Whether it is the cream we put on our faces, the cereal we eat for breakfast, or the dip that we offer to friends on match night, there are moments when we are faced with packaging for more than a split second. It is at these times that we are likely to read at least some of what is written on a pack.

It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention.

 

Order our Pack AuditCheck your packs are connecting effectively with your customers

 

 

Here are a few examples I have come across recently:

Nestle compass on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionNestlé does a great job of providing useful information on their packs with their nutritional compass, which includes four different pieces of information.

What I particularly like about what Nestle has done, is to combine mandatory information on nutritional values, with useful information for the consumer. While they may not be the most consumer centric company around, at least they did think consumer first in the development of their compass.

 

 

Juvena message on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionJuvena of Switzerland: The short message to "Enjoy the smoothness" on the back of the Juvena hand cream sample tube I recently received makes the usage experience both more enjoyable and longer-lasting.

Users will almost certainly check out the promised smoothness after their application, bringing to their attention a benefit that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Clever.

 

 

Yucatan message on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionYucatan Guacamole: I love Mexican food and especially guacamole. The message I discovered on the inside of a tub I bought in the US, made me smile.

The manufacturer has turned what could have been perceived as a negative, into a healthy positive. I just love that.

While you may have to click on the image on the right to be able to read all of the message, their website is very clear. Now that's what I call impact!

 

 

Pringles message on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionPringles have done something similar with their “Bursting with flavour” message. Again it explains what some might have perceived as a negative – the bulging top – into a positive.

They used to put this only on the inside seal, but they have obviously understood the power of this message since they have now added it to the pack as well, as the photo on the left shows.

 

Heinz message on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionHeinz Tomato Ketchup: A final example, also from my trips to the US is a ketchup bottle that had a very important message on front of pack, as you can see from the photo on the right.

Heinz ketchup packaging message is both product and promotionHeinz now uses their front label to announce many of their initiatives and promotions. It has become something that consumers are used to seeing - and reading.

A fun campaign they started running in 2019 with Ed Sheeran includes a pack label change - of course! The accompanying TVC ad shows Sheeran adding ketchup to a dish in an exclusive restaurant. While it is funny, I am not sure the anguish many will feel watching it is positive. What do you think?

 

 

These are just five examples of companies using their packaging more creatively. There are many others. If you have a favourite example then please share it in the comments below.

If you're not confident that your packs are optimised to connect with your customers, why not get us to run a pack audit? We will review all your packs and discuss how you can make them more customer centric. Why not communicate with your customers when they are ready to listen, as they use your product?

Order our Pack AuditCheck your packs are connecting effectively with your customers

 

 

People are willing to help you

Geneva airport customer feedbackCreative messaging needn’t be limited to packaging of course. I came across this incredibly simple solution for gathering customer feedback in a Geneva airport toilet (restroom). That was five years ago, but they seem to be everywhere these days. This shows how instant customer feedback has become a necessity in so many industries.

What I liked about it, is its simplicity, it's fun look, and its lack of invasion of customer’s time in providing their feedback.

Our customers’ time is valuable and we should respect it. The information we provide must be relevant and useful for the customer; something they would like to know, not (just) something we want to tell them.

Our customers’ time is valuable and we should respect it. The information we provide must be relevant and useful for the customer; something they would like to know, not (just) something we want to tell them. Click To Tweet

We also need to be careful to connect only when invited, or find other ways to provide information that a customer can access when they need it. This is why social media has become such an important element of the communications plan. However, packaging has not, as yet, met with the same level of consideration.

Our customers’ attention is pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels, products and services. Capturing their attention is more likely to be successful when they are open to learning about your product, that is to say, when they are actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn't you agree?

For more information on the support we can provide in product innovation and branding, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/training

This post is regularly updated and expanded from the original published on C3Centricity.

How Marketers Can Benefit From More Than Technology: Modern Marketing

Just like most entrepreneurs and business people, I go to my fair share of conferences. One that stays in my memory for many reasons, was an event I attended in San Jose, California.

Some say California is the centre of internet marketing; the San Francisco area for technology and San Diego for marketing. I tend to agree after having recently attended events in both cities.

The conference that changed many of my views on modern marketing was one about how business people, not just marketers, can break through our self-limiting behaviours. It is this idea which prompted today’s post. How we marketers can relinquish our well-established thoughts and actions to make our businesses grow more profitably. If this is of interest to you too, then read on.

 

HEART-CENTERED VERSUS CUSTOMER-CENTRIC

The conference I attended in San Jose was a great opportunity for me to meet many other people from around the world. People who want to make their businesses more heart-centered. You know that I am a champion of customer centricity. I love to support companies that want to put their customers at the heart of their businesses.

So you might be wondering what the difference is between a customer-centric and a heart-centered business. After the conference, I would say that in my opinion, not much. I believe it is difficult to think customer first without it also involving the heart; at least, it should.

As we try to put our customers at the centre of our organisations, it is through a concern to satisfy and delight them. A heart-centred business would probably go even further to ensure that what they do also benefits non-customers, or, at least, doesn’t harm them.

Creating shared value has become a strong commitment of many of the leading global players in the consumer goods market. Reliance Jio, Merck and Bank of America lead the way according to the Fortune “Change the World” List.

If the topic inspires you then you might also be interested in reading an article on “Innovation and Creating Shared Value”, which I was invited to contribute to one of the first issues of the Journal of Creating Value. I will also be speaking at the 2nd Global Conference on Creating Value in New York later this year. So let me know if you too will be attending and we can meet up.

 

CUSTOMER FIRST EXAMPLES

But back to defining the types of business. Which is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric? Or are you not even there yet?

Which type of business is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric? Or are you not even there yet? #CRM #CEX #CustomerCentric #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

Do you think customer first but forget about those who are not yet your customers? That’s a dangerous thing to do as you may be limiting your brand’s potential. Here are a few current habits that some companies have, which show how customer centric they are – or not:

  • Asking credit card details for a “free” offer. This information would only be of use to charge the client. It is a “trick” often employed by companies that are not customer centric. Those that are would only ask for such information once the customer is committed to purchasing the offer.
  • Requiring full details on a contact form when the customer just wants to ask a question or download something. This information rarely provides value to the customer and is a real turn-off for many. Customer-centric businesses avoid asking more information than they need for immediate action. For them, building a strong relationship with their customer is more important; the additional details can be gathered as the relationship develops.
  • Offering helpful suggestions of other products or services that may be of interest when a customer buys something. Yes, this does benefit the company too if the customer buys additional offers, but a win-win service offer can be customer-centric too. These recommendations use a technique called affinity analysis (sometimes called basket analysis) and although Amazon wasn’t the first to use it, they are by far the most well-known marketers to do so.
  • Providing positive experiences the customer hasn’t paid for and doesn’t expect. This can be upgraded products or shipping, samples or complementary products or services included with their purchase. This benefits the customer by adding an element of positive emotional connection to the business. It also benefits the business as it can lead to a better company image, increased sales and greater loyalty.

 

FUTURE SCENARIOS

During my US trip, I caught up with a few of C3Centricity’s major partners in California. One of them,  SciFutures, in Burbank, gave me my own experience of the future in a hands-on way, which was awesome!

During my last visit a few years earlier, they let my try out the Oculus Rift VR glasses. While it was interesting, the stilted imagery did not enable me to fully embrace the new world I was watching. It was of a roller coaster they had warned would make me sick – which of course it didn’t! Not only did I not fully engage with the scenes shown, I was underwhelmed by the potential of using the experience for marketers.

Fast forward to just a few years later and I was blown away by the HTC Vive  and Amazon Echo / Alexa experiences they gave me. (I am speaking about several years ago now) The HTC glasses enabled me to integrate into a world of endless possibilities. They invited me to become an artist. And although I am not very creative, this tool enabled me to create incredible 3D images which I could view from every angle.

The Amazon Echo / Alexa unit, which is the first step towards a smarter home that I would certainly like to make, sat quietly on the shelf until an order was issued. “She” was an always-on assistant that I couldn’t wait to own. (I still don’t have one and yet me less “techie” brother does!)

She could estimate the drive time to my next appointment – which is vital when battling the impossibly heavy traffic in Los Angeles –  or play a specific song or add an item to my shopping list. This promised a vocal, hands-off experience I wanted.

But my visit wasn’t just to try out the latest gadgets, although I admit they were fun experiences. We also discussed SciFutures’ work with major multinationals. They were developing  and more importantly, showing, the possible future developments of the home, the financial sector and multiple other industries. Their unique demonstration of the future remain ahead of all the other trend-following, scenario planning agencies, even today!

I am always living in / dreaming about the future, so you can imagine how exciting my discussions with them were. (If you are in need of some new perspectives on your own industry, in order to be better prepared in this fast-changing world, then let me know. We can start creating an inspiring and exciting future scenario for your business)

 

SELF-LIMITING THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOURS

At the beginning of this article, I said that I had been inspired by an event to review the self-limiting thoughts and behaviours that slow our progress and that of our businesses. I therefore, want to end with a list of them, which I developed during the conference and in the days following it. I would love it if you would add your own ideas in the comments below.

Beliefs are created out of our own, personal experiences and we rarely realise that some of them are not truths. Tony Robbins said that “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”  While reviewing the following list, I suggest we dwell on our own thoughts and behaviours and make 2019 the year we make changes that will empower us. Both we and our businesses will flourish if we do.

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives. Tony Robbins… Click To Tweet
  • The word “can’t” is far too often used these days, when in fact we most likely mean “won’t make the time” or “aren’t interested“. We should be more honest with both ourselves and our co-workers. Explaining our reasons for our behaviour or lack of enthusiasm is valuable information for future exchanges and learning. “Honesty is the best policy,” said Benjamin Franklin more than three hundred years ago and yet we have still not learned the lesson!
Honesty is the best policy. #Quote by Benjamin Franklin that applies as much to our personal as our professional lives. #Honesty #Business #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet
  • The word “should” often precedes the use of the word “can’t”. For example “I should do that but I can’t find the energy”. Again we need to be honest in admitting the real reasons behind both why we “should” do something and why we won’t. This will also lead to a better self-awareness and understanding.
  • We love to give rather than to receive. We love to provide support and help others, but hate asking for it ourselves. This is a crazy situation that most of us find ourselves in more often than we would like to admit. We like others to be indebted to us, as it gives us a (false) feeling of power. Keep this in mind and endeavour to make your life one of balance; to give and receive.
  • Shakespeare said it best in his play “As you like it”, Act II, Scene VII:  “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”  What are you playing at? Relationships are built on trust and authenticity, both in the personal and professional circles. Are you or your brand pretending to be someone (thing) you are not, or to know something you don’t? If so, the stress of being “found out” will take its toll eventually, one way or the other. Being our authentic selves is the only way to exp and, grow and flourish. The same is true for brands.
Relationships are built on trust and authenticity, both in the personal and professional circles. Are you or your brand pretending to be something you're not? #Brand #Relationships #CEX #CRM #Marketing Click To Tweet
  • “Procrastination is the thief of time”  is a mid-18th century proverb which means that if you delay doing something, it will almost certainly take longer to complete later on. The best solutions to procrastination include making lists, breaking down large or unattractive tasks into smaller, more achievable steps, and making the work time-limited. Making progress, however small, is better than none at all. 
Making progress, however small, is better than none at all. #Progress #Action Click To Tweet
  • Often one of the reasons for procrastination is perfectionism. We set such impossibly high standards that we know we’ll not meet, even before trying – so we don’t try. Life is for learning and as I said previously, any progress is better than no progress. Imperfection is human; embrace your humanness and learn from your failures. Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.  So ask yourself: “Are you learning to fail or failing to learn?” Hopefully, it’s the former! 
Are you learning to fail or failing to learn? #Quote @DenyseDrummond-Dunn #failure #Winning Click To Tweet

These are just a few of the many self-limiting thoughts and behaviours that many of us, including myself, have. They make our lives more difficult than they need to be. I was motivated by the conference I attended. I hope that my sharing these ideas has inspired you too to change. But without the need for the travel and resource investments I myself made!

My final comment on self-limiting thoughts and behaviours is a quote from that conference; “Fear is the only thing that gets smaller as we run towards it.” Marketers, are you ready to run towards your own fears and succeed in this awesomely changing world of possibilities?

Fear is the only thing that gets smaller as we run towards it. #Quote #Fear #Fearless Click To Tweet

If you’d like to read more on this topic then I would highly recommend you follow Steve Aitchison, as well as read a wonderful guest post there by Kathryn Sandford called “ 3 Strategies to master the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back in life.” Enjoy!

Please share your own ideas and inspiring quotes below. Let’s support each other to be more authentic in 2019. If you haven’t already done so, please join the Winning4Marketers on Facebook, where we share ideas and support each other in becoming more heart-centered and customer centric.  

Winning customer centricity for marketersThis post includes some concepts from my book Winning Customer Centricity.

It is available in Hardback, Paperback, EBook and AudioBook formats. You can buy a copy from our website here, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, iTunes or in any good bookstore.

This post is an updated version of an article which first appeared on C3Centricity in April 2016. See the original post here.

How To Write A Winning Marketing Plan: 8 Questions Every Marketer Should Be Prepared To Answer

How hard is it to write a marketing plan? After all, every marketer writes one every year, so how difficult can it be, right?

Well, writing a marketing plan isn’t hard at all, but writing a winning plan is very difficult. And time consuming. And getting it approved by your executive board is perhaps the most challenging part of all.

Management are renowned in most organisations for “innocently” posing questions when passing marketers in the corridor or while socialising at a company event. Answer the CEO’s questions to their satisfaction and you will stand out from the crowd. Provide an incomplete or worse still no answer, and they might wonder if it isn’t time to restructure the marketing group.

So here are 8 actionable tips on how to write a winning marketing plan, so you can answer any question your CEO or boss asks you. The simple rule is to NEVER say you don’t know, but also to never drown them in a long-winded answer. Neither will win you brownie points. Make sure you have an answer like those proposed below and your name might just be on the next list of promotions.

 

1. WHO ARE OUR BRAND’S CUSTOMERS?

There is far more information needed than just age and gender, to answer this question. Prepare a short description (often called a persona or avatar) of a typical user, in the same way as you would describe a friend. See “13 Things your Boss Expects you to Know about your Customers” for further details on what you should already know about your customer.

Once you’ve checked out the above article, why not also download our 4W™ template? It will help you put everything in one place so it is always handy.

GOOD ANSWER: Our customers are middle-aged women, whose children are in their late teens or early twenties. She shops in local supermarkets and gets advice from friends on Facebook, about the best brands to buy and what’s on offer. She’s been buying our brand for over two years because it satisfies her children’s hunger when they get in from playing sports. That makes them happy and she then feels proud of being a good Mum.

 

2. HOW MUCH ARE OUR CUSTOMERS WORTH TO US?

Besides having an average lifetime value in your head, you should also be able to provide information about your customers’ perceived value of your brand. This information will come from certain attributes in your brand image study, such as “worth the price”, “more valuable than other brands” or “is worth paying more for.” The summary results of your brand image study should always be included in your winning marketing plan.

Just make sure that when you quote such statistics, that you compare them to the competition. Rather than saying “56% of category users think we offer great value for money”, say “more than a half of category users think we provide better value than the competition.” Your boss will always ask for more detailed information if needed.

GOOD ANSWERS: On average each customer spends about XXX (Dollars, Euros, Renminbi, Rupee, Real …) each year on our brand, which is about YYY over ten years (lifetime value is rarely calculated further out than this). Our current average price in-store is ZZZ, but 70% of our customers thinks we’re actually worth more than that.

 

3. WHAT RETURN ON OUR MARKETING BUDGET ARE WE GETTING?

Whilst ROI is not the best measure of marketing’s impact (see this Forbes article for more on that), you still need to answer the question. Your response to this could get very complex if you go into too much detail, so keep it simple.

Say what your total budget is, how much you spend on advertising and promotions and what impact that has had on sales, in total. I know it takes a lot more than these two actions to impact sales, but as I said, keep it simple.

GOOD ANSWER: Our total budget is AAA of which BBB goes on communications and promotions. With our current sales growth of SSS, that works out at approximately TT%.

 

4. HOW MUCH WILL WE SELL; WHAT MARKET SHARE ARE WE EXPECTING THIS YEAR?

Your boss will almost certainly remember your brand’s market share from your marketing plan. So when he asks this question he is probably looking for more than just a number.

You could of course just give him that number, but why not use the attention you’ve got by adding something impressive to the story? Comments about how your brand is growing compared to category growth or your main competitors, puts the numbers immediately into perspective. It also helps the boss to better understand the numbers.

GOOD ANSWER: We’re expecting a RR% growth this year to UUU unit sales. This will be the highest rate in the category, so our share will increase by PP points to MM% market share. These will be the best results we have achieved in over ten years – or some such comment to add value to the numbers.

 

5. WHAT ARE OUR INNOVATION PLANS FOR THE BRAND?

You could answer this with a long list of all the new SKUs you will launch, but again use your time wisely by adding some understanding too. Speak about the objectives behind the launches and any new theme or direction the brand is taking.

For instance, are you moving to more low fat, organic, natural, or sustainable sources? Sharing the objectives behind your plans for the brand will show the solid foundation you have for your launches and the decisions you have made.

GOOD ANSWER: We will be launching CC new variants in our new organic range, which we expect to add MM% points to our total market share. We will also be eliminating FF units that are not delivering on expectations and contain too much sugar for today’s customer preferences.

 

6. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

Questions around sustainability and sourcing tend to be raised in corporations which already have targets. If this is the case in your own company, then measurements are almost certainly already being taken and shown in your marketing plan. Therefore you just need to reply with the latest numbers.

But you can again use this exchange with top management to add how your customers feel about the question and all the efforts being made by the company – you do have that information too don’t you?

However if this is a new initiative for your business, then you will want to take the opportunity to show how you and your brand are playing their part in supporting this important company initiative.

 

7. HOW’S THE COMPETITION DOING?

The answer to this question could cover a lot of topics: sales, market share, new launches, advertising, promotions or pricing. After all, when you write your marketing plan you will add a lot of information about your brand and also its main competitors – or at least I hope so!

Therefore respond with a simple summary of a few current metrics of your brand in comparison to two or three of your major competitors. The manager will then clarify if he was thinking of a specific topic and you can then answer with a little more precision.

Make use of this question to share any particularly tough market conditions you are facing of which your boss / CEO may not be intimately aware. This is a great opportunity to pre warn them should your brand be struggling to meet the objectives laid out in the agreed marketing plan.

 

8. HOW’S OUR DISTRIBUTION DOING THESE DAYS?

A simple summary of outlets in which we have gained or lost distribution is enough here, but why not add some detail about successful placement improvements too? That latest shelf redesign that has increased sales, or the fact that you have just been named category captain in a retail chain, is definitely news worth sharing.

If on the other hand, you are having difficult discussions with an important chain or outlet group, then that too deserves a mention. Perhaps your boss has some useful contacts or ideas to help. Marketers are nervous about sharing their challenges, but pre warning them of market situations that are negatively impacting your brand are definitely worth mentioning before the situation become serious.

 

So there you have them. Eight of the most common questions top management asks of marketers. As you can see, the answers I’ve suggested are short and simple.

Especially when the question is posed outside the formal marketing plan presentation, the executive is probably looking not only for the information requested, but also to check that you have an excellent understanding of your brand. He wants to be assured that his business is in good hands. Prove it to him and also show your respect of his time, by giving short, precise answers whenever possible.

 

Do you frequently get asked other questions not mentioned here? Then add them in the comments below. Also, if you have a better way of responding to any of the above questions, I’d love to read those too.

 

If you’d like your team to be better prepared for “awkward” questions from management, why not ask for one of our 1-Day Catalyst Training Sessions? 

 

This post is adapted from an article which first appeared on C3Centricity in 2014. See the original.

AI and ML are Taking Digital Marketing to the Next Level

I presented last week at an exciting, forward-looking conference in Fort Lauderdale, USA. It was ITEXPO, a successful conference celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year! The huge turnout of thousands clearly shows the value that both attendees and exhibitors get from it.

This year the programme included a new stream, the Future of Work and that was the one in which I was invited to speak. Before summarising what I presented, I’d like to share some of the ideas and takeaways that I discovered about digital marketing and the impact of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning).

 

Generations in the USAFrom text to voice: 

Most of us have grown up with text communication, but Gen Z, those born after 1996, are more comfortable with voice. They are less formal but far more impatient than previous generations.

They expect Alexa, Siri, Cortana and similar voice-activated personal assistants to be available whenever they have a question. With this type of search expansion into daily life, being on the front page of Google is no longer good enough. You have to be the number one answer to their questions!

Being on the front page of Google is no longer good enough; you have to be the number one answer in this voice-activated, personal assistant supported world we live in. Click To Tweet

 

AI is not one technology:

Despite what digital marketers may have hoped, AI is not the solution to all our problems. It is simply a series of technologies addressing various current and future customer needs.

Unlike normal analytical processes, using AI needs developers and users to start with the end in sight. Knowing what we are looking for, rather than waiting to see what the analysis brings us, needs a very different thought process. The questions asked become as important as the answers received, if not even more so. Therefore it is advisable to make them the best you can possibly ask. Your digital marketing has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

 

AI is far from 100% accurate:

AI is still in its infancy, despite great leaps forward in some areas in the past year or so. For example, language translation is still far from accurate today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Anything that moves us toward increased customer satisfaction from our digital marketing efforts is great. However, we must understand their limitations and not be fixated on perfection.

One of the biggest challenges is siloed data – still! It is easy to see that the more information sources we integrate, the more accurate our platforms are likely to be. But until we finally break down our internal silos AI will not be able to deliver to its full potential.

 

Taking the robots out of humans:

Robots are not new. Henry Ford was one of the first to realise the advantage of taking robots out of humans. In other words, gatting machines to do the boring, repetitive tasks done until then by people.

Today we need to consider the digital workforce as also an HR challenge and not (just) a technical one. Humans are not upskilling and progressing as fast as robots are. This is the real cause of any work losses that may happen as automation rolls out.

 

The future of work

Now that I’ve touched on the elephant in the closet, that everyone is secretly scared about, that of job losses, let’s talk about employment. The future is not so much about replacing workers, as in expanding and amplifying their work through the use of AI.

The future will be a world of work plus AI, not work minus AI. When, not if, robots take on many of our current tasks, humans will need to supplement their knowledge with soft skills, ones that AI can’t replicate, at least for now. This is why I, like many others, refer to AI as augmented intelligence rather than artificial intelligence.

AI should refer to AI as augmented intelligence rather than artificial intelligence. We are not replacing people but increasing their capacities in many areas. #AI #Digital #Intelligence Click To Tweet

One area that will certainly need a tremendous amount of human input is in speech analytics. You probably don’t realise it, unless you’ve learnt another language or two, but speech has an enormous diversity in the ways to say the same thing. Just ask any owner of Alexa, Siri or Cortana! Sometimes their responses are hilarious, at least at first, but these quickly become irritating and frustrating, when you can’t make yourself understood.

If robots are to understand humans, then these alternative expressions need to be programmed in, before being understood. Although machine learning may speed our progress, the foundations must be identified and created by humans.

 

AI and care centers

Most businesses have customer service departments and many are jumping on the bandwagon of requesting AI. However most don’t really know why they need it! The case for AI has to be put into terms of its business impact and relevance in order to be valued beyond mere “modernisation.” Just ask anyone who has chatted with a bot or gone round in circles on self-service phone lines! So many corporations today have increased their technology but have not improved their customers’ satisfaction.

AI is already proving to be of great value in following and analysing customer service connections. A supervisor can’t listen in or read every exchange, but AI can. However, as previously mentioned, understanding speech is still in its infancy, especially when it comes to sentiment. An agent will quickly sense when something is wrong or an answer is unsatisfactory, even when the customer is saying everything is alright.

 

The customer journey that led to the connection, is just as important as the call itself. This is where total integration of all touchpoints is vital. The customer already sees them as such, but most companies do not. This leads to irritation when a customer must repeat their details and experiences with each new customer service agent.

It could be so easily eliminated, by simply integrating multiple data sources and then assessing the customer’s “effort” in getting the answers they are looking for. The greater the effort has been, the quicker a solution should be found.

I believe that not taking the customer’s perspective here is the root cause of this less than satisfactory situation today. Once again, adopting a customer first strategy is the answer. If you would like help with this or don’t know how customer centric you are today, why not contact C3Centricity and complete our complementary C3C Evaluator™?

I believe that not taking the customer's perspective is the root cause of many less than satisfactory situations. #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

 

Developing Chatbots

Customers in developed markets already have far more interaction with AI than they probably realise. However, when developing chatbots it is important to allow for far more variation than we are aware of. The challenge is not only understanding the variations in vocabulary mentioned previously, but also colloquialisms, spelling mistakes, acronyms and alternative expressions.

Therefore, instead of aiming for perfection, by brainstorming all possible variants, our time is better spent in identifying the 20% of variations that cover 80% of the cases. Ideally we should first collect information and then analyse what the company is likely to receive most of the time. Perfection is once again the enemy in progressing the use of chatbots.

We also need to be transparent about when chatbots are being used. It may be a good idea to make them respond in a friendly way, but pretending to actually be a human is not a good idea. Customers will eventually understand that they are exchanging with a chatbot when the responses they are getting do not meet their expectations.

 

AI and taking digital marketing to the next level

After all these intriguing sessions, it was my turn to speak. Luckily I was taking a far more practical approach to digital marketing, AI and ML, which I am happy to say was met with enthusiasm. The audience were fascinated with my hands-on perspective and had loads of questions and comments at the end of my talk.

I would be delighted to share my slides with any reader who would be interested in seeing them, but to summarise my main points:

  • Digital marketing has made our communications’ media choice even more challenging. There are far more channels than ever, many being used concurrently, especially by the under 35’s (for example TV and the internet).
  • There are more brands vying for space online. The relative cheapness of advertising on the internet means that those that didn’t have access to traditional media because of their high costs can now communicate.
  • Customers are more demanding and expect real-time responses to their questions, and ever shorter delivery times for purchased goods.
  • AI and ML can improve digital marketing through predictive intelligence, content curation / creation, dynamic pricing, and especially by improving the customers’ overall experiences.
  • Digital is best used as an amplifier of traditional media, and when connections need to be more individualised, relevant and timely. This is not always the case, so choose wisely.

It is exciting times for marketing with all the opportunities that technology, AI and ML offer us. However, we are still faced with many of the same challenges we always have been. Essentials such as knowing and understanding our customers more deeply, and removing the siloed information hubs within organisation, remain critical.

Without finding solutions to these, digital marketing will perhaps be cheaper in terms of investment, but could become a more costly exercise and no more effective. What do you think?

 

 

 

Goodbye CMOs, Your Time is Up: From Brand Building to Business Growth

It is more than a year ago that Coca-Cola did away with their CMO in favour of a Chief Growth Officer. Was it a wise move or foolhardy?

In a recent interview with Marketing Week their global vice-president of creative claims that it has “broadened” the company’s approach to marketing. Well something is clearly working for Coke; at the end of last month it reported higher-than-expected financial results for Q3 2018. So what do you think? Will you replace your CMO?

 

HOW MARKETING HAS CHANGED

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. If you’re like me and are fascinated by how change happens, then I’m sure this complete history of marketing Infographic by Hubspot will be of interest.

With the arrival of digital marketing in the early 80’s, many companies began to take a serious look at their marketing. They realised that their primarily outbound strategy had to change. Their consumers didn’t appreciate being interrupted in their daily lives. However, with the creation of inbound marketing, they still irritated their consumers with spammy emails, popups and “subtle” cookies for following their every move. No wonder the EU felt inclined to develop its GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

What has changed during 2018 is marketing’s deeper awareness of, if not complete adherence to, what customers like and dislike. The major trends that we have seen this year and their impact on marketing, include:

  1. Chatbots, especially through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to catch consumers on the go with highly personalised messaging.
  2. The use of Voice. With the battle between Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the voice search and commands domain, customers can get answers just by asking. These are a huge challenge for businesses, because being on the first page of search results is no longer enough; you have to be first!
  3. Video is taking over social media, with its rapid rise on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Influencer marketing is giving way to customer journey mapping with the increased detail that IoT can provide. Many organisations have moved their marketing plans to mirror their customers’ path to purchase. Or rather paths, as personalisation continues to trump mass engagement.
  5. Blockchain technology has made marketing results more transparent. This is good for business as customers see how their data is being used, which builds trust.

Have you taken these megatrends on board and adapted your marketing this year? If not, why not? 

 

BRAND BUILDING

In the past decade or so, many large CPG companies such as P&G  and Nestle renamed their Marketing departments as Brand Builders, in the hope of adapting to this new world. They failed, miserably. I believe the reason they failed is because they continued to run their marketing in the same old way. With very few exceptions, their communications are still all about them  and their brands  and very little to do with their consumers.

Luckily, some more progressive consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to consumer centricity. Or to be precise, they started on their journey towards putting the consumer at the heart of their business. Consumer centricity is not a destination because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. Therefore the aim for satisfaction and delight will never end. 

It is interesting to see how Coke’s change to a growth officer pans out. I don’t see other companies following for now, so I suppose they are prefering to just wait and see.

Consumers are constantly changing & their satisfaction never lasts for long, so the aim for satisfaction & delight will never end. #brand #Marketing #CEX #CRM Click To Tweet

We have taught our consumers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for their price offs. They realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume may be different, but their performances are pretty comparable.

That’s why consumers now have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be. They have come to expect constant innovation so they quickly adapt to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago.

Consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago. @Accenture #CEX #CRM #Consumers #Marketing Click To Tweet

 

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

Marketing needs new skills
SOURCE: Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report 2015

In response to these ever more savvy customers, marketing has to change, to become smarter. In the  2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it is confirmed that marketing needs new skills. The most sought-after skills today are analytical thinking and customer centricity.

 

Marketing is now as much a science as it is an art. We must take full advantage of the enormous quantity of data about our customers that is now available; we can no longer rely on creativity alone to connect.

 

Companies which place the customer at the heart of their business are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and games, and their contact page provides all possible forms of communication.

Their advertising is clearly customer centric and emotional, with the customer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their customers in many aspects of their business. (see  “The exceptionally easy and profitable uses of co-creation” for more on this topic.)

If you’re not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website, especially the contact page. Or why not complete the C3C Evaluator? It’s free!

 

MOVE BEYOND BRAND BUILDING

Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are a few of the essential first steps that you need to urgently make to adopt a more customer centric approach:

  1. Place pictures of your customers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be at the beginning and end of presentations, in your office reception, on the lift doors or anywhere employees spend time.
  2. Whenever a decision is taken, ask “What would our customers think about the decision we have just taken?” This will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the customers. Or asking credit card details for the use of a “free” trial, in the hope that the customers will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want. What would our customers think about the decision we have just taken? If they wouldn't like it, it is wrong. #CEX #CRM #Customer #Business #Decision Click To Tweet
  3. Review the language of your website. If there are more “we’s” than “you’s” then you know what to do. While you’re online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above. Look at your website; if there are more 'we's' than 'you's' then you know what to do. You're not thinking customer first. #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet
  4. Take a look at your target customer description or persona. When was it last updated? If you don’t even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C³Centricity’s 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free  here)
  5. Examine your advertising. Who is the hero? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.
  6. Spend time with your front-line staff and customers. Make use of call centers, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will almost certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know.
  7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with the whole company. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2.

 

These are your starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building to adopting a customer first strategy. If you’d like more suggestions about moving to a future-oriented marketing approach, download a free sample of my book “Winning Customer Centricity”. The fun drawings in this post come from the book!

This post is based upon and is an updated version of one first published on C3Centricity in 2016.

How to Update Your Marketing with a Customer First Strategy

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All marketers know their marketing 5Ps, but how do you update your marketing when you adopt a customer first strategy? Here are some tips and ideas for you to adopt – or adapt.

 

People

This is the easiest of the marketing 5Ps for a customer centric organisation to adapt because a customer first strategy is all about your customers. However, in recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of employees, some even suggesting that they are more important than customers!

I discussed this in detail in a post a couple of months ago, called ” Customers Care About Products & Value, Not Employees.” Click the title link to read my perspective on this topic.

The 4W template is useful for the new marketing 5Ps.

Personally, I believe that customers are your biggest asset, as they are the ones who pay your wages and make your business thrive. It, therefore, makes sense to know them intimately. If you have a different perspective I’d love to hear it; just add a comment below.

In C3Centricity we use the 4W™ Template to record and describe the customer personas of our clients’ brands.

If you still haven’t downloaded our FREE persona template, CLICK HERE to get your free copy and instructions.

In addition to knowing and describing your target customers in detail, the other tip I give when you want to update your marketing when you adopt a customer first strategy. is to start and end every meeting by asking the “magic question.” What is it? It is this: “what would your customers think about the decision you have just taken?”

This one simple idea is incredibly powerful in identifying actions which are not customer centric. I will give examples of these in the remaining 4Ps below.

So a customer-centric approach to your customers is both thinking about them in every action you take, as well as knowing them as deeply as you can and keeping this knowledge constantly updated.   

 

Product

This is often seen as the most important to address when you decide to update your marketing. After all it is what you are selling. It is also the one thing you think about day in and day out. But it’s not the most important in a customer centric organisation. Surprised?

Think about it for a second. Without knowing the P for people in great detail, you won’t be able to optimise your offer in terms of the other four Ps. That’s why it’s a customer first strategy that works better than any other.

Without knowing the customer in great detail, you won't be able to optimise your offer of the other Marketing 5Ps #Marketing #Brand #CMO Click To Tweet

Here are some examples of how companies realised they get their product wrong when adopting a customer first strategy and a couple of right actions for inspiration: 

  • WRONG! Any business that reduces pack content without informing its customers of it and the effective price increase. Read JD Roth’s “Hidden price increases at the grocery store” for more on this.
  • WRONG! Exaggerated claims or twisting the numbers of contained calories by having unnatural serving sizes – seven potato chips anyone? Or saying a product is 95% fat-free, but it refers to the weight, not the calories! I once heard that everything written on the front of a pack is a lie!
Everything written on the front of a pack is a lie! #brand #marketing #packaging Click To Tweet

Check this out with any pack and you’ll see what I mean; there’s sure to be something not strictly correct on it. Please share any funny or annoying examples you find in the comments below.

  • WRONG! Making variant identification difficult for customers. Have you ever bought the wrong product because packs were the same colour and just the names changed? I know I have. Or tried to understand the differences between variants that have five or seven descriptors?
  • WRONG! Running frequent product tests only comparing to the latest version. Although this is standard procedure, if you make regular tests for small changes which go unnoticed in the short term, they can amount to a big, noticeable change over the long term. Better to compare results also to past best ones than only using the current benchmark.
  • WRONG! Any company that makes it difficult for its customers to use their product. Think large bags of pet food or kitchen rolls without easy-carry handles; salad sauce or shampoo bottles which are impossible to open with damp hands; sealed bags which split when opened and need to be stored in a different container.Tropican pack change
  • WRONG! Making pack or logo changes without finding what your customers like or dislike in the current one. Think about the much-publicised Tropicana disaster back in 2009, or the Gap logo change.

Coke holiday edition white canOr more recently the Coke holiday edition white can that consumers confused with the diet version, and were understandably disappointed when they realised they had bought the wrong variant.

 

 

 

  • RIGHT! Taking the customers’ perspective when designing your packaging. Think deeply about how your customers will purchase, open and use your product. Don’t make them struggle in any way, whether to carry, open, close or store it.
  • RIGHT! Working with your customers to perfect current and develop new products. This is by far the best way to guarantee that you stay connected to changing preferences.
  • RIGHT! Be transparent, in your operations, your actions and your plans. If you aren’t, whatever you try to hide will eventually be uncovered and then made public on social media, probably with an accusation of unethical behaviour. United have discovered this many times.
Working with your customers to perfect current & develop new products is by far the best way to guarantee that you stay connected to changing preferences. #NPD #Customer #Marketing Click To Tweet

A customer-centric approach to the product when you want to update your marketing is therefore once again thinking about your customers when developing it. And ideally actually involving them in your decision-making whenever possible.

 

Price

Pricing in my opinion is the most difficult of the marketing 5Ps to get right, especially when updating your marketing when adopting a customer first strategy. You may think that a customer-first price is the lowest possible. It’s actually not! People estimate the value of products and services they purchase, based only in part upon its price.

For example, how many “cheap” products have you bought, perhaps on sale, only to wonder why you ever bought it when you were home? You’d bought on price alone, excited by what appeared to be a “good deal” and then realised your purchase didn’t meet your needs or desires when you contemplated it more rationally at home.

Research shows that customers value a better experience above price and it is expected to surpass both price and product by 2020.

Customers value a better experience above price and it is expected to surpass both price and product by 2020 Click To Tweet

Retailers like Aldi and Lidl have used their pricing strategies to position themselves against more traditional competitors. In these new super-discounters, consumers accept limited choice for the sake of rock bottom prices. However, as they expand their offering to include more well-known brands, they have positioned themselves to appeal to a growing target of purchasers.

However, many manufacturers lose out as their margins are stripped to almost zero. This is why we are now seeing a slow realisation that there is a better way to do business than mere price cutting. Both retailers and manufacturers are adapting to new consumer demands of value and not just low prices.

Consumer goods companies, in particular, have for too long relied primarily on price promotions to meet their sales targets. Amazon has forced pricing down in most other categories because people now check online before buying in many categories. However, as Amazon starts trialling their Fresh online groceries and their bricks and mortar stores the whole world of retail is about to change forever.

As if lowered prices is not challenging enough, people expect to receive something for free in exchange for their personal information online. Data has become the trading currency between consumers and product or service providers. This has resulted in many companies even changing their business models. Just one example of this is telecom that has become geolocalization data providers to many other industries.

Data has become the trading currency between consumers and product or service providers. #Data #Marketing #SMX #CEX Click To Tweet

A customer centric pricing strategy will enable businesses to continue to grow, by understanding how to fix pricing levels more carefully. Knowing the value of what you offer and the importance of brand or service will enable retailers and manufacturers alike to continue to thrive.

 

Place

This is a major difficulty for every brand, especially if they have a lot of variants. The answer to improving your distribution is your customers – of course!

The more variants you have the more difficult it usually is to gain a wide distribution. If you know your customers as deeply as you should, then you will be able to identify their differences by region. You can then use these to make decisions about what to sell where.

Since most retailers provide limited shelf space to each manufacturer, it is best used by showcasing your top selling variants in that area, plus eventual new offers to test their acceptance.

Another “place” that it is important to understand today is social media. The Pew Research Center provides a 2016  US analysis of the major channels by demographics which is a great starting point. Ideally, you should know both where your customers are and when. That way you can be present when they are open to messaging. But more about that in the next topic.

This P is relatively easy for a brand to be customer centric. You just have to offer what your customers need, where and when they need it.

To have customer-centric distribution, you just have to offer what your customers need, where & when they need it Click To Tweet

I know it’s easier said than done when you don’t have full control over your distribution. This is one reason why many manufacturers are now offering their products directly to their customers through online shops.

The change will certainly have a significant impact on retailers and it is only a question of time before they increase the prices of making goods available in physical stores. In so many categories today, outlets are mere showrooms for people to see before they buy – online.

 

Promotion

As with place, knowing what messages your customers are interested in receiving from you and even more importantly where and when are one of the keys to successful communications.

Whether it is advertising, price promotions, social media sharing or other advertising activities, understanding your customers deeply is the other foundation of success.

An organisation which makes it difficult for customers to connect using their preferred channel is not customer-centric.

An organisation which makes it difficult for customers to connect using their preferred channel is not customer-centric Click To Tweet

Take a look at your own website contact page. Does it include email, postal and street addresses? Does it have a telephone number or live chat option? It should.

But if not, then I bet it has a contact form with possibly a drop-down menu from which a customer chooses their reason for reaching out. You probably also ask them for all their details, while not providing them with yours. Definitely not fair play is it?

Another related area of promoting your brands is PR. Quickly owning up when you’ve made a mistake, rather than trying to hide it. This builds trust and customers will even forgive companies that do this. Honesty is definitely the best policy when it comes to your customers.

A customer-centric organisation provides their customers with valuable information where and when they need it. They also communicate in ways which enhance their relationship and shows they value their business. If things go wrong they own up quickly, inform the public, say how and why it happened and what they are doing to put things right. They then go on to do just that by taking the appropriate actions, all the while informing their customers of their progress. 


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Interested in updating your own Marketing 5Ps? 

Check out our 1-Day Training courses and download the brochure for more details on each of them.


 

What Do You Think About Adopting a Customer First Strategy?

Did you notice that the new way of thinking about each of the Marketing 5Ps that I am suggesting involves the customer? Thinking and above all following a customer first strategy is the new marketing objective that gets results.

Thinking and above all following a customer first strategy is the new marketing objective Click To Tweet

I believe that both manufacturers and customers will benefit from a customer-first strategy. In fact, research from both Forrester and Gartner has now proven this; customer-centric organisations grow seven times faster and are 60% more profitable. Makes you wonder why companies are not rushing to change, doesn’t it?

Marketers have been working with the marketing 5Ps (and 7Ps) for decades, so perhaps it’s time for an update. What do you think? Should they be translated into a more customer centric approach? What do you see are the major challenges in doing this? Why are some businesses still hesitating about moving to a customer-first strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

 

Your Customer First Challenges Sorted!Complementary half-hour Solutions Call with Denyse - Click to Reserve

 

Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?

What does a Head of Marketing (CMO) do in their average four-year tenure to ensure that they keep their job for longer?

Did you know that CMOs have the shortest average term of office of any chief in the C-suite, according to a recent report by Korn Ferry? And even more shocking is the fact that in the consumer goods industry it is even lower at just 3.6 years! So just how long have you been in your position?

A 2012 global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group provides one possible explanation. It highlights the ongoing tensions between CEOs and CMOs. A huge 80% of CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMOs, compared to just 10% for their CFOs and CIOs. Why is this? Perhaps it’s because CEOs don’t understand the role of a CMO or is there still an issue with the ROI of the marketing budget? I’ll let you be the judge of this in your own situation.

 

The Opportunities

Let’s start at the beginning. Marketers, what opportunities are there, that you can keep your job? Despite the short lifespan of a CMO, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s not all bad news. While the position is plagued by high turnover, this could also be because CMOs are highly visible for promotions or a steal by the competition. Nice to feel wanted, isn’t it?

CMOs are highly visible, which is great for promotions or a steal by the competition. #CMO #Marketing Click To Tweet

It is therefore important that a new CMO quickly makes an impact. More so than any other c-suite function, bar the CEO of course, who sometimes faces almost immediate criticism by shareholders and the financial world, upon being named.

Another piece of good news for the head of the marketing function is that being on the executive board they have access to resources. The bad news is that as the CMO is a member of the EB, management expects them to make (profitable) changes fast. And even more so if they have just been hired! The board trusts the new CMO to analyse the situation, identify what needs to be done, develop the plan to do it and then take actions. And all of this in their first 3 months or so!

Are you or have you yourself been in exactly this situation? Tough isn’t it? That’s why many CMOs hire a supportive advisor or sounding board such as myself to accompany them on this stressful early part of their journey. (If you like, you can book a complimentary session with me here)

In the meantime, here is what I would do if I were in the position of a new CMO, or one who is reaching their four-year breakpoint and is not ready to leave quite yet.

 

The Challenges

The latest Forbes research into the CMO function highlights three major areas where the head of marketing’s remit now goes far beyond the previous traditional, more creative areas. In the report they mention three changes that CMOs are grappling with in an effort to impact both inside and outside their organisation:

  1. How the relationships between brands and customers have changed.  The most influential CMOs lead digital transformation with a customer-first mindset.
  2. How brands can offer the very best customer experience. Top CMOs are championing the voice of their customers and aligning their organizations around better customer experiences.
  3. How brands can become more human and approachable. CMOs are no longer afraid to raise their voice or take a stand on political and social issues – because that’s how they connect and build trust with their customers. Take a look at the Forbes list of The World’s Most Influential CMOs of 2018 to see inspiring examples of this.

The report concludes:

The world’s most influential CMOs recognize that customer experience is the new brand, and inspire marketers everywhere to ask: How can we better know and serve our customers — not as a collection of data points, but as people?

How can we better know and serve our customers — not as a collection of data points, but as people? @Forbes #CMO #Marketing Click To Tweet

However, the most influential CMOs also recognize that their ultimate job is driving business growth. And to do that, effective CMOs play a larger role, taking on additional responsibilities in areas as diverse as internal culture, talent, IT purchasing, and customer engagement. Talk about broadening their skill-set!

 

So how should CMOs, old and new, tackle their businesses from a fresh perspective? I suggest looking at the following five areas:

1. Mission and Vision

These are the very foundation of a company and are the starting point for any employee who wants to understand their role in an organisation, not just the CMO.

For the head of marketing however, it is perhaps even more important, since it is their actions that will bring them to life for consumers. And don’t forget that this also includes developing the corporate brand as well!

The mission should be played out in every product, service and communication that is launched. If it doesn’t, then those planned actions should almost certainly be reconsidered.

Or perhaps it’s the brands in the current portfolio that are not a good fit for the company’s aspirations. If this is your case, then a brave and determined effort is needed to admit which ones are not supporting current values and make plans for moving them out. This can be done either through discontinuing them or by selling them to other organisations which have less lofty ambitions.

One example of this that was recently in the news comes from Nestle USA. Nestle has for many years had the ambition to become a nutrition, health and wellness company, not “just” a food and beverage company. This past month we saw them (finally) selling their U.S. confectionery business to Ferrero. CEO Mark Schneider said of the sale:

“This move allows Nestlé to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition”.

Companies that ignore making hard portfolio decisions, risk diluting their impact, their image and more importantly their equity. The various top 100 most valuable brand tables only highlight this issue. Brands appear on the leaderboard but sometimes fail to remain there.

In the Brand Finance list Amazon took over the top spot from Google this year. And Apple then pushed them into third place. What makes Amazon more valuable than Google? Customer understanding and building a relationship based on solutions. Beyond being an online retailer, Amazon includes a cloud infrastructure, electronics, music and video streaming. Compare this to Google’s search and cloud technology; pretty limiting if you ask me.Companies that ignore making hard portfolio decisions, risk diluting their impact, their image and more importantly their equity. #marketing #brand #Business Click To Tweet

Now it is true that Google’s parent company Alphabet does dabble in other sectors such as smart-home technology, self-driving cars, aging research and more, but almost all these new developments are losing money. Identifying and responding to customers’ needs is clearly one of Amazon’s real strengths and has allowed them to expand into distant industries far from their origins of the simple online bookstore they were just 25 years ago.

In Forbes’ Worlds’ Most Valuable Brands list, Apple leads ahead of Google and Microsoft, with Google in fifth position. The Forbes list is dominated by tech companies because I believe they are more in line with consumers needs today. These companies are also relatively new and thus have missions and values which are closely aligned with our new-age world. However even this list highlights the struggle Google is having to increase its value in the same way as Amazon or Apple. I wonder how their CMOs are planning to correct this. (and if they’d like my help!)

The vision and mission of an organisation can sometimes be difficult to live up to, but isn’t that the case for anything of value? This is why I see it as the first thing for a new CMO to get their head around and fully embrace – updating comes later when the EB trusts them enough to allow them to suggest changes.

The vision and mission of an organisation can sometimes be difficult to live up to, but isn't that the case for anything of value? #Business #Vision #Mission Click To Tweet

 

2. Talking to (more) People

Once the (new) CMO understands the company’s mission and vision, it is important for them to evaluate how well these are integrated into the daily working of all employees.

This means gathering qualitative information from key players from the board on downwards, at global, regional and market level. Including market heads, business unit heads, marketing heads, brand managers, sales heads, operations, innovation, R&D, market research and insight provides a good overview. The more diversity in perspectives gathered the better, so the head of marketing should aim to talk to people from different departments, categories, levels and geographies (where relevant).

Have you noticed how most consultants that start working within a company will usually commence their audits by speaking with many people internally? They then come back and share a multitude of findings and information that we should probably already have known! Frustrating perhaps, but a useful pointer at what all CMOs should be doing – regularly – in order to be up-to-date with the organisation and ensuring they add value everywhere.

Have you noticed how most consultants start their audits by speaking with many people internally? Copy them for increased understanding and impact! #business #impact #CXO Click To Tweet

I don’t know how many times I have heard a new client say to me “If only we knew what we know.” That’s why we external consultants have it relatively “easy.” We can ask the naive questions that perhaps a new CMO is too shy to pose and a longer-serving CMO is afraid to admit they don’t know.

Well, why not change this by taking the decision to ask the naive questions you have about your business – even if you are not new to your job? You can make your fact-finding less formal by doing it over a simple coffee or lunch. This way your colleague is unlikely to see that you are actually drilling them for information! A definite win-win as you will be building your reputation and internal relationships at the same time.

“Dare to ask the naive questions you have about your business. You have everything to gain.”

 

3. Analysing (more) Information

After the qualitative information gathering, and having identified any possible issues and opportunities the business has, based on the interviews and their own analysis of the situation, it’s time to put some metrics against them.

Some organisations are very rich in terms of data and know it. But many more are rich and don’t know it, as previously mentioned.

Some organisations are very rich in terms of data and know it. But many more are rich and don’t know it. #information #Data Click To Tweet

The information you need will depend upon the business you’re in, but there are some basics that all companies have or should have, ideally with the trends of them too:

  • Market size, in total and by geography.
  • Category size, shares.
  • Consumer (customer, client) profiles.
  • Brand image and equity.
  • Segmentation results.
  • Customer lifetime value.
  • Communications’ awareness and performance
  • Website / SEO performance

The analysis of these metrics and especially their trends will help identify the facts from the feelings. Not to say the latter are unimportant, but they will need addressing separately. With this analysis done, the CMO can start defining strategies and prioritising actions.

One exciting improvement to information analysis that is now available to any business is the use of AI and machine learning. A recent article from Bain & Co explores the opportunities that it brings to marketing mix optimisation in particular. They call it MMO 3.0. The article makes a great read, but their conclusion suffices for here. They end by summarising the major elements of analysis that CMOs should keep in mind:

“Stay practical and in control of your data. Use balanced analytic approaches. Don’t let analysis get too far beyond action. Cultivate analytic marketers. And focus on incrementally better insights and predictions that you understand, rather than big-bang black boxes you don’t.”

I believe that that these points are valid and valuable for all marketers to remember. As AI and machine learning distance us all from the data sources, we are at risk of losing the means to make sense of it all. And we are all so overwhelmed by the data tsunami, that we often forget to keep it simple – so KISS your analytics and look for small, steady advances in your information learnings.

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4. Evaluating New Team Skills

Most CMOs will join an existing team, so I will not speak about how to create a dream marketing team. (However I would be happy to jump on a Skype if that is your situation) It will therefore be necessary to review and evaluate the members of your inherited team.

Hold off the temptation to immediately start hiring colleagues from your previous company for at least six months and ideally a year or more. Give yourself and your team the necessary time to get comfortable working together. This will also enable you to correctly identify any missing skills; sometimes good people are just in the wrong jobs.

As a recent article in The Marketing Journal mentions:

"The war for marketing talent is escalating as companies demand people skilled both in the art and the science of marketing, and who understand the emerging realities of empowered customers in a social media universe."

Despite what the people who attended the Cannes Lions in the South of France last week may think, creativity alone is no longer enough. Marketers need a whole list of other skills.

The war for marketing talent is escalating as companies demand people skilled both in the art and the science of marketing. #Marketing #CMO #Brand Click To Tweet

I came across an interesting list (thanks to @ValaAfshar from Salesforce) of the 20 talents that the ideal team should have. I think it pretty much covers the needs of the modern marketing department but you be the judge:

1 storyteller 11 entertainer
2 designer 12 alchemist
3 builder 13 connector
4 magician 14 negotiator
5 stabilizer 15 teacher
6 fighter 16 juggler
7 explorer 17 scientist
8 dreamer 18 futurist
9 mentor 19 mathematician
10 recruiter 20 journalist

Now clearly many of you reading this article don't have such a large team that you can include all these positions in addition to brand and communications staff. Nor do you have the possibility to hire more members to a smaller one, so you will have to think creatively. However as everyone has far more talents than the one for which they were hired, I am sure you will find people in your current group who can fulfil all or most of these positions. (How about a storytelling scientist?)

 

5. Improving Processes

All organisations have ways of working and hopefully many of them have been developed into processes. I believe these processes are what make a company more or less successful. This is because the methods used and any information collected is consistent, which makes product and service management that much easier. It also makes results comparable and the process repeatable over time.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”Will Durant - not Aristotle!

As for the CMO, their process is their whole job. It involves reviewing the information mentioned earlier and then taking the following steps:

  1. Prioritize: Every position will uncover more tasks to do than can be handled in the average working day. That's why priority setting is so important. For the CMO this will mean identifying the tasks that will support the company's objectives as well as its mission and vision.
  2. Strategise: Next they will build strategies to meet these objectives in the most resourceful way. With such emphasis on ROI for marketing, this will include paying attention to the budget split and people allocation. I would highly recommend reading this article by Smart Insights' cofounder Dave Chaffey on the differences between strategy and tactics - with some useful examples included.
  3. Structure: As already mentioned having a range of skills in any team is important, as is talent development. CMOs must ensure they are surrounded by a capable team able to implement their strategies with appropriate tactics and actions.
  4. Motivate: Every job has its set of challenges and with marketing being challenged to prove its ROI, motivation can take a hit. The CMO's task is to motivate both their team and internal peers to the opportunities provided by marketing to impact and grow the business. No man is an island and the CMO needs the support of the c-suite, and especially the CIO and CFO to support their plans.
  5. Excite: Marketing excites me, but I know not everyone feels the same. The function can be seen as having too much fun and not being that serious, especially at the Cannes Lions time of the year. However since marketing will impact most other functions within an organisation, it is essential for the CMO to excite other departments to support their carefully laid-out plans.
  6. Lead: This is often one of the most difficult things for a CMO to do - really! Since they are usually the most experienced professional in the marketing group, it can be tempting to end up doing a lot of the work that should be handled by the team. Yes it can always be done better, but if the CMO manages all the above steps then they will not need to get personally involved in the day-to-day tactics and actions. If you are still doing everything from planning to sweeping the office floor (ladies, you know what I mean don't you?) then it's time to check which of the above steps you need to improve - and yes I'm actually referring to all female c-suite members and managers in general here!
If you're doing everything in your department from strategy to switching off the lights as the last one out, then you're probably a woman! #marketing #CXO Click To Tweet

Of course, the CMO also has a lot of other processes that they lead, such as for communications development, innovation and scenario planning. However, for this post I wanted to concentrate on the role of a new CMO and how they can quickly make their mark. If they get through their first 90 days and then 3+ years, they will have plenty of time to address these other very specific processes. Other C3Centricity posts on these topics will certainly help them.

So marketers, have I answered your question about how to keep your job? Are these five steps sufficient to make a difference? Personally I think so - but only if they are followed with real actions and change. After all making an impact is the name of the game in any profession but especially for one that previously relied on creative juices alone. Do you agree? What changes are you making or would you like to see made in your own organisations?

 

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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.

 

13 Inspiring Marketing Quotes (And the Actions You Can Take)

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What habits have you become so comfortable with that you don’t even notice or question them? With today’s fast-paced world, businesses need to be constantly adapting and preparing for the future.

These thirteen marketing quotes (plus a bonus one!) are amongst my favourites of all time. They will hopefully excite and inspire you to consider what changes you need to make to become even more successful through a customer first strategy.

As is the tradition at C3Centricity, there is a recommended action for you to take for each quote. How many will you complete?

#1. “There may be Customers without Brands, but there are no Brands without Customers.” Anon (>>Click to Tweet<<)

This has to be the most important marketing quote to remember for all of us wanting to be more customer centric. It’s also one of my favourites, as I’m sure you’ve realised!

Brands depend on customers and if companies remember this, then they can only succeed. If however they get so tied up in their products & services that they forget their customers, they may enjoy their work but their brands will always be vulnerable to competition.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Watch the Customer First Strategy Webinar HERE

 

#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.” Nido Qubein (>>Click to Tweet<<)

One of the biggest mistakes marketing can make is to not appropriately define its target audience. It is understandably hard for a brand manager to accept that he can’t please all category users and that his target sub-category is smaller than the total category he thinks he could attract.

By trying to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one! So bite the bullet and reduce your target category size by being more precise in selecting and describing your audience.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Learn the essentials of targeting HERE.

 

#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” John Russell, President, Harley Davidson (>>Click to Tweet<<)

If they aren’t already included, then every employee should have regular customer connections added to their annual objectives. Whether they are the CEO, an Executive Vice-President, a machine operator, sales clerk or brand manager, they all need to understand how their day job impacts the satisfaction of their customers.

Customer connections also inspire new thinking, can identify previously unknown issues and excite everyone to think customer first in everything they do.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up below for the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar.

 


For more ideas about getting to know your customers, join the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar. In it, I share many Tips, Tools and Templates to improve your Customer Targeting, Understanding & Engagement to Grow your Business Faster.

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#4. “If you use standard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else.” David Nichols (>>Click to Tweet<<)

When was the last time you revised your market research toolbox or refined your insight development process? It’s a rapidly changing world both technologically and societally-speaking. The methods you use to observe, understand and eventually delight your customers should be moving as fast, if not even faster, to stay in touch with the market.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Attend a 1-Day Catalyst session reviewing all your market research methodologies and metrics. Find out more HERE.

 

#5. “The structure will automatically provide the pattern for the action which follows.” Donald Curtis (>>Click to Tweet<<)

There has been a lot of discussion about the new roles of the CMO, CIO and the creation of a new CCO (Chief Customer Officer) position. Perhaps it is time for your organisation to review its structure and see if it is still optimal for the business of today, as well as of tomorrow.

As mentioned above, the world is changing rapidly and you need to keep abreast of these changes to stay in the game. Who wants to find themselves the equivalent of the Kodak or Borders of 2017?

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Develop plausible future scenarios to prepare for possible opportunities and threats. Contact us HERE.

 

#6. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company.” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos (>>Click to Tweet<<)

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a man I truly admire, for truly “getting” customer centricity. Their slogan is even “Powered by Service”! As already mentioned above, every single person in a company has a role to play in satisfying the customer.

Zappos have an integration program for all new hires – including the EVPs – that incorporates time at their call centre answering customer queries. What a great way to show a new person what the company is really about.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Why not start a similar introduction programme in your own company and organise regular customer connection sessions? We can show you HOW.

 

#7. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Marketing roll-out plansToday’s customers are very demanding which has prompted many companies to increase their innovation and new product launches. However, it has been shown that renovation is as important as innovation in keeping customers satisfied (find links to relevant articles HERE).

Instead of forcing your marketing and R&D to meet certain percentage targets of new launches, most of which will be destined to failure according to latest statistics, why not review your current offers with new eyes?

If you truly understand your customers, you will quickly find small changes that can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, when you take their perspective. And as an added bonus, if it solves a frustration of theirs, it might even bring you increased profits, since the perceived value will be higher than the cost.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the free "Secrets of Innovation" eBook by completing the form on the right-hand side of this page.

 

#8. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos (>>Click to Tweet<<)

In the past, most companies were more concerned with the reputation of their brands than they were with that of their company, other than with investors. As consumers become interested in knowing and adhering to the policies of the companies behind the brands they buy, it is vital to manage your image from both perspectives.

In addition, if your company is the brand as is the case of Coca-Cola or Red Bull, then this is vital to follow very closely. The same applies for any organisation that is considering adding their company name more prominently to their packaging.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Review whether there are differences between your company and brand images and whether they are complementary. And book a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session to ensure you are measuring the right metrics to optimise your images.

 

#9. “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Chinese Proverb (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Today’s customers often have more complex paths to purchase in many categories than they did in the past, so thinking of the simple awareness to loyalty funnel becomes less relevant.

In order to understand the purchasing of your brand, think information integration, as customers are becoming as savvy about products as they are about themselves. They seek out information based on the size of their budget and take the time needed to make what they consider to be an informed decision.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Check whether you are in every relevant touchpoint with appropriate information for them. Learn more about optimising your communications HERE.

 

#10. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill (>>Click to Tweet<<)

If your world has changed then so should the metrics you use to manage the business. Annual reviews of your KPIs should be made, if not even more frequently.

Also, review last year’s business results in comparison to the metrics you have been following. Were you correctly assessing the environment, the market and customer behaviour? If not, then it's probably time to update your KPIs.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Review and refine your KPIs. Find out more in Chapters 37-38 of "Winning Customer Centricity."

 

#11. “The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process.” Jean Bryant

Do you embrace entrepreneurship in your organisation? What happens when someone fails whilst trying something new? The more accepting you are of relevant trial and error exercises, the more likely it will be that your employees will share their more creative ideas.

If failure is punished, then they will be reluctant to try or even propose new things and your business will stagnate. This is a great time to review your ways of compensating creativeness as well as how you share learnings from failures.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the FREE "Secrets to Actionable Insights" below.


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#12. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.” T S Eliot

Do you ever take decisions based on information or knowledge? If so then perhaps you should reconsider your insight development process.

While information and knowledge are essential to a deeper understanding of your customers, it is only when you have integrated everything you know and understand about them, that you can begin to develop insights that will positively impact your customers’ behaviour.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up for a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session on "Insights to Action" or "Insights to Impact." More information HERE.

 

Storytelling#13. “If you can’t sum up the story in a sentence, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Garr Reynolds

Taking the decision to share information and understanding in a new way through storytelling, will have a profound impact on the way your employees think and remember the essential understandings of your customers.

Before every presentation ask yourself what is the one sentence that sums up everything you want to share.

If you can't come up with one, then perhaps you don't know what you're talking about, or perhaps you just need more time to practice.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Read Chapters 45-47 in "Winning Customer Centricity."

 

So there you have thirteen marketing quotes that will excite and inspire most people. And because I promised you a bonus if you read to the end, here is one more which aptly sums up all the others.

It is the one message out of all these marketing quotes from Charles Darwin which remains vital to remember in this awesomely changing world we live in.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is those most responsive to change”

If you have your own favourite marketing quote that inspires you to change your business practices in 2017, then please share it below. We would love to hear from you and we promise we'll add it to our growing library of quotes, with appropriate credit to you. (Fame at last!)

For even more inspiring marketing quotes, why not check out our website library? it's regularly updated.

C³Centricity used images from Denyse's book "Winning Customer Centricity" in this post.

Are You Still Using The Marketing 5Ps? Move To The Improved 7Qs.

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Marketing is a great profession and the marketing 5Ps the code by which we live. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for almost my whole career. From the outside, others see marketers as those who come to work late and seem to party all night. They’re always watching TV or jetting off to exotic places to talk about advertising.

For people working in operations or finance, marketers just don’t seem to be doing a very serious job; they’re always having too much fun! I’m sure you’ve already heard such comments.

Well, as you yourself know, marketing IS fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work, often close to 24/7 on many occasions. So does all that hard work pay off? Not always in my opinion. And why? Because marketers don’t always ask the right questions!

If you work in marketing, you already know the 5Ps – people, place, product, price and promotion. However, the problem with them is that when you find an issue with one of them that needs attention, you know the “what” but not the “how”.

So I suggest you work with my 7Qs instead. Each question explains not only what to check, but why. And if you can’t immediately answer any of them, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!

 

Q1. Who are your customers?

Your marketing 5Ps are your sourced from customer understandingThe first “P” stands for people and often that is taken to be “Do you know to whom you are selling?” The answer is always yes and that’s accepted as sufficient.

Instead, ask yourself who your customers are. I don’t mean just their demographics. I mean who they really are; what, where and how they use or consume your brand. And especially the why of their attitudes and behaviours. If you can’t give all these details about your customers, then you’re in serious trouble.

See  “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more details on defining your customer persona.

 

Q2. How are your customers changing?

Hopefully, you answered Q1. without any hesitation – you did, didn’t you? And it’s great that you know a lot about your customers, but people change.

Are you following how your customers are changing? Are you keeping up with them and their new opinion, needs and desires? Do you know the impact of the latest trends and technologies on your customers’ behaviours? Do you know how these changes may alter your market in five, ten or even twenty years from now?

There are countless examples of brands that have disappeared because they didn’t keep up with the changing needs of their customers:

  • Kodak who didn’t understand the impact of digital photography.
  • Borders bookstores who didn’t get into eBooks.
  • Motorola, once the leader in smartphones, who didn’t embrace new communications technology.
  • Sony who resisted MP3 and lost the portable music player market that they had led for years.
  • Blockbuster who survived the transition from VHS to DVD, but failed to adapt to consumers’ dem and for home delivery.

The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing future scenarios. (Tweet this<<) How many possible future customer changes have you already prepared for?

 

Q3. What does your brand stand for?

Brand extensions need to be complementary to the parent brand's 5P structureI don’t mean it’s marketing identity or slogan; I mean how your customers or your competitors’ customers would describe it, its image? Is it strong and consistent? Does it align precisely with its identity or the positioning you want today? Do you follow the developments in its image regularly? Do you adapt your advertising and promotions to strengthen its desired image and eliminate negative changes before they impact your brand’s image? Is it authenticated by your customers’ experiences with your brand? It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise. (Tweet this<<)

You should be able to describe your brand in one or at most a couple of sentences, using the words and ideas you want it to stand for, like these:

  • McDonalds offers “quick, convenient, family-oriented  and fun, casual dining.”
  • Bic disposable pens, lighters and razors offer “high-quality products at affordable prices, convenient to purchase and convenient to use.”
  • Dollar Shave Club: “Shave and grooming made simple.”

What you notice about these three examples is that they clearly define the customer’s benefit and what the brand is promising to provide. There is a synergy between what the internal image of the brand is and what the customers would say about it. When that is achieved you have a strong brand that your customers relate to and to which they are more likely to remain loyal.

 

Q4. How are sales and distribution?

I don’t mean just the totals. I mean the local specificities. The regional differences and anomalies. Do you know why they occur? Do these differences result from cultural differences, alternative traditions or usage, historical reasons or just distributor practices? Even if you work in marketing and not sales, understanding weekly, monthly and annual trends all mean increased understanding of your customers and their differences.

If you don’t know why your brand is doing better in some regions than others, then you’re probably missing opportunities for growth. (Tweet this<<) Always play to your strengths and correct your weaknesses as soon as they are identified.

 

Q5. Do you know what your brand is worth?

I don’t mean how much it costs to manufacture or to distribute. I mean how it is valued by the end user. How does your brand’s value compare to its current price? Incorrect pricing could mean that you are leaving money on the table!

If you are priced lower than your customers’ perceived value of it, you could be asking for more. If you are priced above the perceived value of your potential customers’, you are stopping many new customers from buying into your offer, as they don’t think you’re worth it.

Either way, you could be earning more and possibly selling more too. (Tweet this<<)

 

Q6. Are you using the right channels for your communications?

The marketing 5Ps include how to communicate consistently with customersMany marketing plans are still just a rehash of last year’s, especially when it comes to advertising and promotions. With today’s huge array of media opportunities, both on and offline, it is important to choose the most appropriate ones for your customers.

If you answered Q1. completely then you will know which ones they are currently using most often, and if you are also able to answer Q2. you’ll know how these are changing or likely to change in the future.

Wasting money with outdated media plans and channels no longer used by your customers is still one of the biggest challenges of marketing. Make sure it’s not yours.

For a fun piece on the topic, check out “ 10 Signs Your CEO Has an Outdated View of Marketing‘ on Hubspot.

 

Q7. Is your messaging consistent and complementary?

Answering Q3. means that you know what you want to stand for and the image you want to portray. Image metrics will tell you which of them need to be boosted, depending upon the desired changes.

Do you want to attract new customers, support current customers, or develop your image in a certain direction? Appropriate analysis of your image data will give you all the information you need to adapt your messaging and strengthen the positioning you have chosen for it.

For more details on image analysis check out the section in Denyse’s latest book “ Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time.” It’s been called “A must read for today’s and tomorrow’s marketeers by none other than Paul Pohlman, Unilever’s CEO!

So there you have them, the seven questions that I believe will bring you greater results than just using the marketing 5Ps. What do you think? Next time you review your brand’s performance, why not give the 7Qs a try? They will provide you with a clearer picture of your brand’s current and future development opportunities, and more importantly, will identify the actions you need to take to progress its growth.

If I’ve missed any important points that you check regularly for your own brand, please share your thoughts below by adding a comment. I’d love to hear your own ideas and success stories.

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Is it time to review your own 5Ps?

Let C3Centricity support you with advisory sessions and 1-Day Catalyst training courses. Find out more and download our summary brochures HERE.

 

How Marketers Like You Are Fully Benefiting From This Awesomely Changing World

I’ve just returned from a trip to California, USA. All you marketers who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, will have seen some photos of the various places I visited, from San Jose in Silicon Valley near San Francisco to the huge sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles.

I was there to attend a conference on how business people, not just marketers, can break through our self-limiting behaviours. I also took the chance to catch up with a few C³Centricity partners. All the experiences were mind-blowing or rather mind-stretching, and it is this idea which prompted today’s post. How we marketers can break through our well-established but self-limiting thoughts and behaviours to make our businesses shine.

Heart-centered versus Customer-centric

The conference I attended was a great opportunity for me to meet many other people from around the world, who want to make their businesses more heart-centered. You know that I am a champion of customer centricity, so you might be wondering what the difference is between a customer-centric and a heart-centered business. After my three days in San Jose, I would say that in my opinion, not much. I believe it is difficult to think customer first without it also involving the heart; at least, it should.

As we try to put our customers at the centre of our organisations, it is through a concern to satisfy and delight them. A heart-centred business would probably go further to ensure that what they do also benefits non-customers, or, at least, doesn’t harm them.

Creating shared value for smart marketersCreating shared value has become a strong commitment of many of the leading global players in the consumer goods market, with Vodaphone, Google and Toyota leading the way according to the Forbes “ Change the World” List. If the topic inspires you then you might also be interested to read an article on ” Innovation and Creating Shared Value“, which I was invited to contribute to the latest issue of the Journal of Creating Value.

But back to businesses; which is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric, or are you not even there yet? (>>Tweet this<<) Do you think customer first but forget about those who are not yet customers? If so, then here are a few current habits that some companies have, which show how customer centric they are – or not:

  • Asking credit card details for a “free” offer. This information would only be of use to charge the client and is a “trick” often employed by companies making time-limited free offers, in the hope their clients forget to cancel within the allotted trial period. Customer-centric businesses would only ask for such information once the customer is committed to purchasing the offer.
  • Requiring full details on a contact form when the customer just wants to ask a question or download something. This information rarely provides value to the customer and is a real turn-off for many. Customer-centric businesses avoid asking more information than they need for immediate action. For them, building a strong relationship with their customer is more important; the additional details can be gathered as the relationship develops.
  • Offering helpful suggestions of other products or services that may be of interest when a customer buys something. Yes, this does benefit the company too if the customer buys additional offers, but win-win service is customer-centric too. These recommendations use a technique called affinity analysis (sometimes called basket analysis) and although Amazon wasn’t the first to use it, they are by far the most well-known marketers to do so.
  • Providing positive experiences the customer hasn’t paid for and doesn’t expect. This can be upgraded products or shipping, samples or additional products or services included with their purchase. This benefits the customer by adding an element of positive emotional connection to the business. It also benefits the business as it can lead to a better company image and greater loyalty.

Creating Plausible Future Scenarios

As I mentioned in the introduction, I caught up with a few of C³Centricity’s major partners in California. One of them,  SciFutures, in Burbank, gave me my own experience of the future in a h ands-on way, which was awesome! During my last visit, they let my try out the Oculus Rift VR glasses. While it was interesting, the stilted imagery did not enable me to fully embrace the new world I was watching – a roller coaster they had warned would make me sick – which of course it didn’t! Not only did I not fully engage with the scenes shown, I was underwhelmed by the potential of using the experience for marketers.

HTC Vive for smart marketersFast forward to less than one year later and I was blown away but the HTC Vive  and Amazon Echo / Alexa experiences they gave me. The HTC glasses enabled me to integrate into a world of endless possibilities. They invited me to become an artist and although I am not very creative, this tool enabled me to create incredible 3D images which I could view from every angle.

Amazon Ech Alexa

 

The Amazon Echo / Alexa unit, which is the first step towards a smarter home that I would certainly like to make, sat quietly on the shelf until an order was issued. Whether it was to estimate the drive time to my next appointment – which is vital when battling the impossibly heavy traffic in Los Angeles –  to requesting to listen to a specific music or to add an item to my shopping list, “she” was an always-on assistant that I can’t wait to have for real in the not too distant future.

Besides these fun experiences, we also discussed SciFutures’ work with major multinationals in developing  and more importantly, showing, the possible future developments of the home, the financial sector and multiple other industries.

I am always living in / dreaming about the future, so you can imagine how exciting our discussions were. (If you are in need of some new perspectives on your own industry in order to be better prepared in this fast-changing world, then let me know and we can start creating an inspiring and exciting future scenario for your business)

Self-limiting Thoughts and Behaviours

At the beginning of this article, I said that I had been inspired to review the self-limiting thoughts and behaviours that slow our progress and that of our businesses. I, therefore, want to end with a list of them, which I developed during the conference and in the days following it. I would love it if you add your own ideas in the comments below.

  • Beliefs are created out of our own, personal experiences and we rarely realise that some of them are not truths. Tony Robbins said that “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”  (>>Tweet this<<) While reviewing the following list, I suggest we dwell on our own thoughts and behaviours and make 2016 the year we made changes that will empower us. Both we and our businesses will flourish if we do. 
  • The word “can’t” is far too often used these days, when in fact we most likely mean “won’t make the time” or “aren’t interested“. We should be more honest with both ourselves and our co-workers. Explaining our reasons for our behaviour or lack of enthusiasm is valuable information for future exchanges and learning. “Honesty is the best policy,” said Benjamin Franklin more than three hundred years ago and yet we have still not learned the lesson! (>>Tweet this<<)
  • The word “should” often precedes the use of the word “can’t”. For example “I should do that but I can’t find the energy”. Again we need to be honest in admitting the real reasons behind both why we “should” do something and why we won’t. And again a better self-awareness and underst anding.
  • We love to give rather than to receive. We love to provide support and help but hate asking for it ourselves. This is a crazy situation that most of us find ourselves in more often than we would like to admit? We like others to be indebted to us, as it gives us a (false) feeling of power. Keep this in mind and endeavour to make your life one of balance; to give and receive.
  • Shakespeare said it best in his play “As you like it”, Act II, Scene VII:  “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” (>>Tweet this<<) What are you playing it? Relationships are built on trust and authenticity, both in the personal and professional circles. Are you pretending to be someone you are not, or to know something you don’t? If so, the stress of being “found out” will take it’s toll eventually, one way or the other. Being our authentic selves is the only way to exp and, grow and flourish. The same is true for br ands.
  • “Procrastination is the thief of time” (>>Tweet this<<) is a mid-18th century proverb which means that if you delay doing something, it will almost certainly take longer to complete later on. The best solutions to procrastination include making lists, breaking down large or unattractive tasks into smaller, more achievable steps, and making the work time-limited. Making progress, however small, is better than none at all. (>>Tweet this<<).
  • Often one of the reasons for procrastination is perfectionism. We set such impossibly high st andards that we know we’ll not meet, even before trying – so we don’t try. Life is for learning and as I said previously, any progress is better than no progress. Imperfection is human; embrace your humanness and learn from your failures. Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.  (>>Tweet this<<) So ask yourself: “Are you learning to fail or failing to learn?” Hopefully, it’s the former! (>>Tweet this<<)

These are just a few of the many self-limiting thoughts and behaviours that many of us have and which make our lives more difficult than they need be. I was motivated by the conference I attended and I hope that my sharing these ideas has inspired you too to change, but without the need for the travel and resource investments I myself made!

My final comment on self-limiting thoughts and behaviours is a quote from that conference; “Fear is the only thing that gets smaller as we run towards it.” Hey all you marketers, are you ready to run towards your own fears and succeed in this awesomely changing world of possibilities?

If you’d like to read more on this topic then I would highly recommend you follow Steve Aitchison at  www.steveaitchison.co.uk , as well as read a recent guest post there by Kathryn S andford called 3 Strategies to master the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back in life.” Enjoy!

Please share your own ideas and let’s support each other to be more authentic in 2016. If you haven’t already done so, please join the C³Centricity Members Group on Facebook, where we share ideas and support each other in becoming more heart-centered and customer centric.  

Winning Customer Centricity book coverThis post includes some concepts and images from Denyse’s book  Winning Customer Centricity . 

It is now available in Hardback, Paperback, EBook and AudioBook formats. You can buy a copy from our website here, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, iTunes and in all good bookstores. Discount codes are regularly published on our private  FaceBook Members group – why not ask to join?

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