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Improving the ROI of Information Investments

If you have ever worked in a typical organisation, you will have almost certainly been under pressure at times to reduce budgets. Each time this happens, market research and information gathering tend to be one of the first areas to be cut. After all there doesn’t appear to be a negative impact on sales, so its Return-on-Investment is questioned. Sound familiar? Then read on.

Unlike advertising and communications to your customers, information gathering does not have an obvious link to sales, at least in the short term, so it is the first target many managers choose when looking to reduce costs. If you are tired of having to constantly defend your budget then I have some ideas to help, so that next time someone comes looking for money, it won’t be from your budget.

#1. Take your (internal) client’s perspective

What is the boss getting for his / her money? If you reply lots of data and information, then that is the reason your budget gets cut. People who have problems don’t want data they want solutions. Therefore don’t provide nice tables and graphs, but rather a story to inspire the changes you recommend, based upon your findings.

#2. Review your methods

Are you still doing the same type of information gathering that you’ve done for the last five, ten or even more years? If so then it is time to review your methodologies, questionnaires and reporting. The world is changing fast and you can’t expect the questions you developed years ago remain as relevant today as they once were. Take a look at your customers and see how they have changed and what needs to be measured today. That way what information you do collect is likely be in areas that are new to the organisation and thus invaluable.

#3. Review your reports

Another habit we can get ourselves into is to continue to produce the same old reports with the same KPIs, graphs and tables. Or sometimes even worse, as I once sadly witnessed in a major FMCG / CPG; the reports just kept getting bigger and bigger as more and more information was added. It got to the point where management woke up to the fact one day and (rightly) cancelled the whole report!

As with methodologies, your own reports need to be regularly updated. What are your own clients really using out of everything you circulate? You may be disappointed to see just how little they use. If they are not reading / reviewing everything you send, then stop sending it. When you get over the shock, you will be happy to have more time to develop more useful analyses. After all, the main reason we get locked into habit is that we don’t have time to think!

#4. Review your costs

Are you working in a regional or global organisation? If so, has your company negotiated discounts for multiple purchases of their different external reports and analyses? Many suppliers are open to providing a discount for a st andardised report or mass purchases of regular reports they produce. However they won’t offer them if they find unnecessary multiple purchases, why should they? You have to ask for them.

#5. Review your value

With the above four points you may be able to avoid a budget cut next time, but you need to also prepare for future crises. Review what value you provide and admit honestly whether or not you would pay what you cost your organisation, for the information and insights you provide. If not, then act quickly before someone else realises this too. Find out what your clients need and provide more of it. Perhaps even more importantly, find out what your clients may need in the future and are maybe not yet aware, and pre-empt their request by offering it. That will certainly impact your value and their appreciation.

If you follow these five tips, then you have a good chance that your budget will not be cut next time your manager has to make a cost-cutting exercise. Have other tips to add? Please add your comments below and also share these with your colleagues. They will appreciate your foresight.

Let’s discuss how we can help you achieve a better ROI on your information investments; contact us today and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/vision

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

13 Marketing Quotes to Inspire Customer Centricity

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a great time to consider what changes you need to make in your marketing.

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

These thirteen (plus a bonus one!) marketing quotes are amongst my favourites of the moment and will hopefully inspire you to consider what changes you need to make in the coming year to become even more customer centric.

#1. “There may be Customers without Br ands, but there are no Br ands 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. Br ands depend upon 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 customer, they may enjoy their work but their br ands will always be vulnerable to competition.

#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 underst andably hard for a br and 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 more precise audience selection. More on 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 it isn’t already included, then every employee should have customer connection added to their annual objectives. Whether they are the CEO, an Executive Vice-President, a machine operator, sales clerk or br and manager, they all need to underst and how their day job impacts the satisfaction of their customers.

#4. “If you use st andard 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, underst and and eventually delight your customers should be moving as fast, if not even faster, to stay in touch with the market. If you are interested in a 1-Day Catalyst session reviewing all your methodologies and metrics contact us 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 of 2013?

#6. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappo’s (>>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 above, every single person in a company has a role to play in satisfying the customer. Zappo’s have an integration program for all new hires – including the EVPs – that includes time at their call centre answering customer queries. What a great way to show a new person what the company is really about. Why not start a similar introduction in your own company?

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

Today’s customers are very dem anding 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 link to relevant articles HERE). Instead of forcing your marketing and R&D to meet certain percentage targets, most launches of which will be destined to failure according to latest statistics, why not review your current offers with new eyes? If you truly underst and 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.

#8. “A br and 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 br ands and forgot that of the company, other than with investors. As consumers become interested in knowing and adhering to the policies of the companies behind the br ands, it is vital to manage both from the customer perspective. In addition, if your company is the br and, will be closely associated with it, or you are considering adding it more prominently to your packaging, then this becomes vital to follow.

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

Today’s customer often has a more complex path to purchase in many categories, so thinking of the simple awareness to loyalty funnel becomes less relevant. In order to underst and the purchasing of your br and, think information integration, as customers are becoming as savvy about products as they are about themselves. They seek out information, usually in relation to the size of the budget they will spend, and take the time needed to make what they consider to be an informed decision. Check whether you are in every relevant touchpoint with appropriate information for them.

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

If your world had changed then so should the metrics you use to manage the business. The new year is a great time to 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, perhaps you need to redefine your KPIs.

#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 your employees are to 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?

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

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

How about making 2013 the year that you moved from PowerPoint presentations to Prezi storytelling? Even if you remain with whatever software you are currently using, taking the decision to share information and underst anding in a new way through storytelling, will have a profound impact on the way your employees think and remember the essential underst andings of your customers.

Finally, if you take only one message out of all these suggestions,  I hope it is this one, which to quote Charles Darwin is:

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

2013 is going to be a year of considerable change for us all; let’s manage it rather than just suffer its impact.

If you have your own favourite quote that inspires you to change your business practices in 2013 , then please share it below. We would love to hear your own inspiration.

For even more inspiring quotes, why not check our website; they are regularly updated: https://www.c3centricity.com/library/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

 

4 Tips on International Marketing

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

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

Should you “Think Global, Act Local”?

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

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

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

Language is not the only frontier

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

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

All your employees are marketers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Minimalist Guide to Customer Satisfaction

Are you looking to provide the best Customer Satisfaction and Experience with the minimum amount of effort? If so, then read on.

During lunch with a friend this week, we were discussing how apparently impossible it seems for many retailers to satisfy their customers. We exchanged recent experiences about our own customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, his concerning the in-store purchase of a radio, mine during a sales pitch from a local telecom company.

We laughed together as we realised that neither of us had bought the product / service we had the intention of purchasing because of the “salesman’s” basic errors. When we realised this, we started to enumerate what potential customers are looking for, when making a purchase. Hopefully the list we developed will serve you in providing better service and satisfaction to your own potential clients.

#1. Underst and who your potential customer is

If you don’t know who the person with whom you are discussing is, then it is unlikely that you will be able to effectively empathize. Start by listening to them, to better underst and who they are and what they could be interested in buying from you. Only then should you propose a solution, or perhaps a choice of two. Remember too much choice is likely to result in no sale too. Read more about this in the Columbia / Stanford paper “Choice is Demotivating”

#2. Underst and what your customer wants

In my case, the online salesman started by telling me there was a great offer, which included all local calls for free. When I explained that I rarely called others, preferring to use VOIP services such as Skype or Google Talk, he then changed the offer to a higher priced one that included making calls when I was traveling. If he had simply prepared for the sales pitch, by reviewing my past behaviour, over the previous 6-12 months, he would have been better able to propose a more attractive new service to me.

As it was, his proposals meant my spending more money for less service, which of course was not of interest. In addition, after three attempts at proposing new services I, like many customers I imagine, had lost interest in listening to him. He didn’t know how to excite me and spent useless time in a conversation that had no value to either of us.

Again, listen and learn before proposing a product or service, to ensure you are making the one best possible suggestion. If you just keep throwing offers at a potential client in the hope that one will stick, even ones with potential are likely to go unheard.

#3. Underst and what your customer needs

In many cases, a potential customer wants something different from what he actually says he needs. Remember one of many famous Henri Ford quotes:

“If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”

Underst anding the need that is behind the claimed want takes you half-way to actually satisfying the desire of the customer.

#4. Underst and what you can offer

In some cases you will be unable to give your customer either what he wants or needs. In these instances you have two options:

  1. Say that your product / service will satisfy your customer, which is dangerous as he / she will quickly realise that it doesn’t
  2. Say that your product can’t satisfy their need but tell them of any future planned improvements that may appeal in the near future if they are prepared to wait. You could also suggest one that will, which may sound counter-intuitive, but which will build trust and image of your br and / company that can positively impact future purchases.

Of course, if you go for the first option and say that your product / service delivers exactly what the customer is looking for, you may congratulate yourself on the sale. Of course, when your customer finds out that it doesn’t provide the satisfaction that was expected he won’t come back and he’ll probably tell everyone he knows, or even doesn’t know via the web, about his dissatisfaction. Is that really an option? A few years ago, some HBR research showed that almost a half of people having a negative experience told ten or more others.

#5. Underst and yourself

Part of building trust and a long-term relationship with your customers comes from underst anding yourself, the real, honest and transparent strengths and weaknesses of what you have to offer. Transparency is essential today in building customer trust and customers will eventually uncover whatever you have to hide, so it’s best not to have anything that you do not want them to discover.

These are just five simple ways to guarantee customer satisfaction, but of course there are many, many more. Why not share your own favourite below? 

For more information on how to underst and your customers better, check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

Four Steps to Building Br and Affinity

This week’s guest post is from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne. Terry Villines, their senior vice-president shares some of the learnings from their proprietary research, which identify the characteristics of br and communications that successfully elicit emotional responses. See how your communication compares.

There’s no question that the role br and-sponsored communications play in building br ands has changed drastically.  Remember when we were held to a benchmark of quant testing and getting a high Persuasion score or high Br and Linkage score on an advertisement?

Today, with the influx of channels, and having our customers and prospects in control of how and when they receive our messages, we have to think beyond the persuasiveness of any one message.  We have to build a relationship with our targets, participate in the conversation, elicit an emotional response, and ultimately build affinity for our br and.  Persuasion and motivation are so much more than any one communication.

But how do br ands build that affinity?  How do they elicit emotional responses?  It was only a year or so ago that br ands felt that if they could get their web-posted video to go viral that they were in some way building affinity for their br and.  But how many videos that you received or forwarded made you consciously aware they were br and sponsored?  In fact, one of the key attributes of a successful viral video is that it appears to be amateur and not sponsored.  Affinity is so much more than passing a video from one person to the next.  It’s about building an emotional connection, and there is a specific role your communications can play in building that connection.

In a recent study of 70 different advertisements covering 21 br ands and 7 product categories, PhaseOne identified 4 key characteristics of br and communications that were successful in eliciting emotional responses (getting consumers to say that they “liked” or were “engaged” by the communication).

1)      Entertainment – So what we always thought played a role in eliciting an emotional response holds true… the Entertainment value of the communication is the foundation.  Yet, entertainment on its own is not enough.

2)      Br and Integration – Believe it or not, building affinity for your br and requires your br and to be integrated into the entertainment; woven in like fibers of a rope.

3)      Meaningful Differentiation – giving your target a way to think about your br and in a way that sets it apart from other options they have is critical.  Just think about it: people become most engaged with messages that provide them with meaningful information.  Yes, it should be wrapped in an entertaining context, but without an underlying meaningful message, it is likely to go the way of so many messages our targets are exposed to – into the ether of our overcrowded minds.

4)      Absence of Issues – Because each and every one of us is bombarded with marketing messages day in and day out, the presence of any kind of issue (clutter, boring, unclear) gives us permission to drop out, not pay attention, and move on.

So the next time you see a br and-sponsored communication that you like (not just an ad that entertained you, but an ad that truly resonated with you), ask yourself if it contained these four criteria.  The same could be said for those advertisements or messages you simply can’t st and – where did they fall apart?  We know these principles hold true across platforms – do you see it when you engage with a br and online or out of home?

For more on communicating effectively with your target audience, don’t forget to check out C3Centricity’s website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage and contact us for an informal chat on how we can support the optimisation of your own communications.

Choosing the right marketing ROI metrics

If you work in marketing and are being challenged by management to demonstrate that you are an investment and not just a cost to the business, then this post is definitely for you.

Marketing is coming under a lot of pressure these days; it is being asked, no dem anded, to demonstrate the ROI of their investments. With the explosion of information readily available from social media, this has become even more pressing. In response, marketing is showing how many “Likes” they have on Facebook, or how many fans they have on their br and pages, but are these effective and relevant measures of marketing success today? I doubt it.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, marketing is no longer (just) the creative arm of business (you can read that post here); – it is now also heavily involved in data integration and analytics, with the need to befriend the IT department to manage all the information.

This is a truly exciting time to be in marketing, especially because of all these changes. However change also brings its own challenges and many in marketing are feeling the need, if not obligation, to defend their budgets, whether stable or increasing. This is due to the many opportunities for what many see to be “free” media on the web, so I thought it would be useful to review what marketers can do to ensure they continue to be viewed as the essential predecessor of sales that they are in reality.

“Everything that can be counted doesn’t necessarily count; everything that counts can’t necessarily be counted” Albert Einstein

According to the Lenskold Group’s 2010 B2B Lead Generation Marketing ROI Study, most marketers don’t know what impact a 10% increase or decrease in their budgets would have. Therefore if the CEO is looking for money, you know where he’s likely to go; if marketers can’t defend their own budgets, who will?

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketing people is that they don’t all speak the language of business. CEO’s and CFO’s are interested in sales, margins and profits, so there is no point in speaking to them about increasing awareness or the number of clicks on your latest website or ad – unless you can say what impact these increases will have on the business.      

I think that the main issue with calculating marketing is that too many marketing plans are still being developed based upon those of previous years, without too much thought going into what the objectives of each action are specifically. How many times have you been asked why your br and is running three new ad campaigns this year and the reply is “because we ran three last year”!

If you or your organisation is likely to reply in a similar fashion, here are three tips for you to consider:

#1. Plan the metrics when you plan the actions

Marketing are often found scrambling to prove why their budgets should not be cut half-way through the year, when the CEO is looking for money. Unless you know what the results of your actions are likely to be, as well as best case and worst case scenarios, which means you have already thought about the outcomes and metrics, you are unlikely to be able to defend your continued spending when times are tough.

Defining the metrics doesn’t mean finding the easiest way to measure your actions, but the way that will produce the most relevant metrics to show their impact on sales and profit. Thus although advertising does impact awareness, it is only when the awareness level is linked to trial and purchase does it become relevant from a business perspective.

#2. Aim for foresight rather than “eyesight”

There has been a lot of talk about developing insight in recent years, but I think it is even more valuable for business to develop foresight. Most market research studies measure what is happening at best and often report what happened in the past, since the results are presented weeks if not months after their recording.

To be effective you need to get more comfortable with hypotheses and considering likely outcomes of your actions, in order to know when you need to ask for more budget or when you might even return monies if your actions are not delivering the expected results. No CFO will reduce budgets next year just because you didn’t use all your money this year, if they can clearly underst and how you came to the decision concerning the required investments and the likely results.

Another point to consider is to run test and learn exercises, which will save time and provide metrics on which to base your hypotheses, when the test is compared to a control group. CFO’s love numbers and comparisons are even more likely to meet with approval of your dem ands.

#3. Think quality not (just) quantity

Marketing is usually happy to report on the number of contacts made at an event, or the number of people remembering an ad campaign, when in many cases increases in these contact / recall numbers don’t mean an equal or proportional increase in sales. So unless you know exactly the relationship between the two, find a more meaningful metric for the business.

Management always has too much to read and review, so keep the metrics to a small number, three to five should be sufficient. Since marketing directly impacts sales, the effectiveness KPI’s chosen should be a collaborative decision of the two departments concerned. Whether your organisation is used to working with a sales funnel, a path to purchase or a decision journey, choose metrics that can be measured in a consistent way along it and thus also followed over time.

And one last word of warning; link your metrics to outcome not to spend, which is the easier and oft chosen one. Of course a CMO will be following many more than 3-5 metrics of the marketing activities, to ensure the budget split is as effective as possible, but the CEO will not need to see them all.

These are just three tips to help marketing defend their budgets through appropriate measurement; what others would you add?

For more on KPI’s please see our C3C Solution on our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part II

If you commission or conduct market research, then you really should read this post, which concludes the Ten reasons not to commission market research.

Last week I shared with you the first five of my ten reasons not to run a market research project. You can read it here if you missed it. Here are the remaining five reasons.

#6. When findings would not be actionable

If the information will just be “nice to know” but will not be actioned, and I have seen enough of those in my career, then you shouldn’t be running any research. This can happen when the objectives are not well defined, or when action needs to be taken, but no one knows what to do, so they decide to conduct some research.

Running a research project will certainly get people into action, but not necessarily in a relevant way and will anyway delay the required situation analysis that is more important to be undertaken.

#7. When market research is politically motivated

This situation can arise when a researcher is relatively young in his or her career and doesn’t feel confident enough to refuse a project. It can also be linked to a half-hidden requirement from the management concerning the outcome as well. This puts the researcher in the difficult situation of working on a project that will be ignored if it doesn’t confirm the boss’s opinion.

In these situations it is vital to agree upfront what actions will be taken based on the otucome, before the research is undertaken. In fact this is a good idea for all projects; review possible outcomes before the project starts and evaluate the consequent actions that should be taken. They might not be firmly agreed, but at least everyone will have had the chance to review possible outcomes and to think about their consequences, before the results are presented. It will hopefully open peoples’ minds and if this is not the case, well the project should not be run.

#8. When what is to be measured changes only slowly – or too fast

Everyone today underst ands the importance of measuring br and image, to underst and what their customer perceptions are of their offer and how it differs from what was intended. In most industries, unless there is a significant change in the market such as a powerful new competitor or communications drive, the images of the br ands will change relatively slowly over time – certainly more slowly than marketers would like. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to measure it more than bi-annually, or annually at most.

The same would apply to usage and habits in a market where very little is happening and customers rarely switch br ands or segments. In most of these cases, market research run in the last few months can often be sufficient for most assessments of issues and opportunities.

However, there is also the case where habits are changing almost daily, such as in a heavily discounted or promoted category. In these cases, it is best to either run  a continuous measurement and present rolling averages, or measure at the same time each year, accepting that it will be just a “snap-shot” of the true market’s reality at the moment of the fieldwork and will have already changed by the time the results arrive in many situations. Following trends and changes then becomes more important than the actual level at the time of measurement.

#9. When the information provider / institute is not “OK”

Many agencies have been around a long time and have built up solid reputations for high class, accurate data and information gathering. Newer agencies can be faced with a hard struggle to gain market share and a few are tempted to “cut corners” to be able to offer cheaper prices or shorter timings, in order to get the business.

I remember once discovering that an agency had in fact only run half the agreed number of interviews for which we had paid, and had then “weighted” every answer in the database during its analysis to show a larger base size. Unfortunately for the agency, we asked for the weighted and unweighted base sizes – which is always recommended to ensure there are not skews in the sub-samples.  This is how we discovered the deception.

Especially when budgets are tight or timing is too short, neither MR agencies not departments should be tempted to meet the dem ands of management by resorting to such practices.

#10. When the information already exists

This is linked to #1 mentioned last week; all projects should start with a detailed situation analysis during which time all current knowledge, information and underst anding are reviewed. In some cases it can just be due to laziness that a new study is asked, rather than taking the time to review the results of all previous market research surveys and analyses.

This completes my list of the ten reasons NOT to run a market research project. If everyone checks that none of them are the reason why they want to run a project before commissioning the work, it will ensure that resources are used correctly and both client and agency will be happy with the outcome.

Have another point you think should be on the list? Then please share it below.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

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Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part I

If you commission or conduct market research, then this post is for you. It shares some of the reasons I have learned over the years for NOT doing research, but which are unfortunately still prevalent today. Here are the first five of my ten; are you guilty of any of them?

#1. When the issue / opportunity is not clear and the objectives are not well defined

Most organisations will have a briefing of some sort, written or oral, for each piece of research required. It usually includes the background to and the objectives of the research, which should be specified in terms of the opportunity or issue identified, as well as the relevant information and data already gathered and analysed. If it doesn’t include these basics, it might mean that someone wanted to know or underst and something and just thought research could quickly provide them with the answers. Wrong! The best studies come from a thorough situation analysis which should include a complete review of all current knowledge and past research findings.

#2. When the cost would exceed the value of doing the research

Following on from the above point, when requesting a study, if the objectives are well defined, then the decisions and actions resulting from the findings should be clear and therefore also the expected benefit of the information too. Thinking about how you will use the data and information gathered is one of the best ways to estimate the true value of it before it is gathered. If the decisions and actions to be taken cannot be clearly expressed, then the research results will be just “nice to know” and not “need to know”.

#3. When the budget is too small to do an adequate job

Most agencies would agree that clients often want a top-class work, but at a lower price than it would cost. Some clients even make a point of negotiating all prices downwards on principle, but their reputation soon goes before them and agencies start adding an amount that they will then remove in answering the client’s request for a cost reduction.

A second example of this aspect of cost is when a client wants to do some research but doesn’t have an adequate budget to cover it, so requests something “quick and dirty”. My recommendation would always be to refuse to get involved in such a project. If it is worth doing it is worth doing well, and a good agency will always work with the client to accommodate their needs as best they can within the budget available.

#4. When time is an enemy

How many times have you been asked to run a research project, but in fact the requestor is actually in need of the results – now?! As already mentioned in #3 if a study is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Today there are luckily more opportunities to reduce the time needed to run a study, using panels, the web, or by reducing the sample size or number of groups / regions. Again the best projects are developed as a win/win, with client and agency working together to deliver the highest quality results within the available resources of both time and money.

#5. When conducting the study would “tip off” the competition

This is a difficult situation to be in, as this is often a worry of management, especially when running research on innovation projects. Whilst it is a very valid concern, and a lot can be done to limit the risk, it cannot really be totally eliminated.

There is also the view that in many industries, all major companies are often working on very similar developments within a similar time scale, so competition is not likely to be surprised if they learn about your own efforts. The most important thing to do to reduce to a maximum the risk of tipping off the competition, is to ensure that people who work or have friends or family members working in relevant professions and positions, are eliminated at the start of the research.

Next week I will complete the list with the remaining five reasons not to do market research, but I would already like to know if you have been guilty of any of these and if so, what you did to correct the situation.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

Please share this post with all your colleagues who you would like to help underst and why not all market research requests are approved!

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Advanced analytics can help marketers know their customers

This week’s guest post comes from Ray Eitel-Porter, Executive Director and Leader – Europe, of Opera Solutions, C³Centricity’s Big Data Analytics partner.

Analytics can help marketers know their customers’ preferences, anticipate their behavior – and take the right steps to influence both.

Today’s advanced analytics allow marketers to detect the signals that indicate how customers will behave – whether positively or negatively – and identify the steps they should take to reinforce the former and head off the latter. It’s a truly customer-centric approach that works across various industries.

Opera Solutions, a leading Big Data analytics company with more than 220 data scientists – one of the largest such groups in private industry – is in the forefront of helping companies use the latest predictive analytics to better underst and their customers. Here are some of the successes we have seen when marketers use advanced analytics to connect with their customers:

A company in the hospitality industry achieved far greater customer centricity by creating a customer record with behavioral tags that explain each individual customer’s reaction to a particular offer and help tailor future ones. By scraping information about specific aspects of the offer – a hotel’s amenities, the reputation of its restaurant, types of nearby attractions – a picture of this customer’s likes and dislikes comes into focus over time. Taking this one step further, by comparing a customer’s behavioral signals to other in-market consumers with similar activity – a “twin” – the company can infer that the customer’s “twin” will respond in the same way. The result: it lets the company serve up timely, relevant offers to a broader, more receptive audience.

An analytics-based approach to customer centricity can also detect the faint signals of a customer that’s about to stop using a business or service – sometimes, even before the customer knows it. Marketers can take early action to reverse this fading, through more individualized interventions. For example, a weight-loss company now gathers as many behavioral indicators as possible on each of their customers – focusing heavily on their website behavior. Then they use them for “survivor analysis” – scoring activity on a daily basis to determine if a customer is at risk of attriting. All this allows them to rapidly identify those individuals in danger of leaving in time for the company to take action.

A food retailer has taken customer centricity to the household level. It looks at the purchasing history of customers on a home-by-home basis, compares what one household buys to what similar ones buy, tracks spending in specific categories over time, and pushes recommendations right to the point of sale. The result: an increase in incremental revenue on the order of $100MM, versus a 16 percent reduction in sales in the control group.

These are just a few examples of the new ways that advanced analytics can drive real results for marketers – and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Big Data is an incipient gold mine for marketers, containing information, patterns, indicators, and signals that can refine target markets, serve up better recommendations, help optimize prices and offers, and much more. Advanced analytics are the means to extract the gold from the dross – and they are only going to become more powerful at doing so.

For more on C3Centricity’s partner Opera Solutions, check out our website:  https://www.c3centricity.com/about/

 

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