The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be highly customer centric, as it relies on satisfying its guests.
However, it can learn a lot from consumer packaged goods (FMCG/CPG), as I shared with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerland. Having spent most of my career in consumer goods, I was invited to share what the hospitality industry could learn from the industry. From the reactions at the end of my talk it seems that the answer is a lot!
It might surprise you, but the two industries have a number of similarities. They both (should) have their customers at their heart. And they are both founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clients in the quality of the products and services they offer.
During my presentation, I shared many ideas; here are a few of the points I covered:
#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE
There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about the need to move from a return on investment to a return on relationships. While I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement. Despite many books touting the need for our customers to “Love” our brands, in reality, I’m not sure that any of us want to have a deep relationship with brands.
The relationship is based on more than just the brand. It is founded on trust and confidence in the product, the brand’s website and their engaging communications. Think Coca Cola and Red Bull as great examples of this.
#2. Build Relationships with Strangers
The hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests. But in today’s connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These may include the friends of past guests, who have heard about the hotel or restaurant and are interested in visiting it for themselves.
One good example of this, but I know many hotels are also doing it, is the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook.
This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging future guests before they even arrive. In addition, the posts will certainly have a positive influence on website visitors. And the guests who publish their photos, will have an even stronger positive impact on their friends and followers. After all, they will more than likely have similar tastes and desires.
#3. Value is more Important than Price
Having additional control of our lives today, means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their decisions are influenced by their peers, more than by traditional marketing.
In addition, the internet enables us to compare multiple offers, so we are far less interested in bundled propositions than we once were. Today we often prefer to decide what is best value for us personally, by buying individual elements for our very personalised vacations. For example, we may overspend on experiences and then choose a more modest hotel and car rental. Each buyer will make choices upon their individual value perceptions.
#4. Renovation is more than Buildings
Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner, by building on their individual talents and enabling them to develop better products and services.
To improve customer centricity in hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; check the link to see the latest photos published on their Facebook page.
The Art Series Hotels are another example of how well they excel at understanding their guests. Their unique offer is called Art Series Overstay Checkout, and means that if no guest is checking into your room the next day, you can stay a few extra hours or even days for free.
#5. Loyalty is never really Won
One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer demands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today.
To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This also means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.
In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want the chance to inform companies about what they want to buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints they may have.
According to a recent Edison Research, 20% of respondents expect a company to answer to their social media posts within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means that 24/7 monitoring for all organisations is now essential if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.
These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.
Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information on our training and consulting offers, and then contact us here.
This post was first published on C3Centricity in 2013 and has been regularly updated since.
Insights are the pot of gold that many businesses dream of but rarely find. Why is that? Are you one of them? If so then I have some practical ideas on how you can get much, much better at insight development.
#1. Insights don’t come from a single market research study
Management often thinks that insight is “just another word for market research”. I remember one of my previous CEOs saying exactly that to me just before he addressed the whole market research and insight’s team at our annual conference. I am sure you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!
Insights are a challenge to develop and are rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project is designed to gather information in order to answer one or more questions. Whilst it may enable a business to make a more informed decision based upon the objectives, insight development is quite a different process.
Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the data and information you have about a category or segment user. Then summarising it into knowledge and turning that knowledge into understanding. Only then are you ready to develop an insight.
All brands should have (at least) one insight on which its image, personality and communications are built. For example
AXE (Lynx in UK): (young) men want to attract as many beautiful and sexy women as possible. This is one of their newer ads, where the seduction is a little less in your face and more subtle – but still there.
Haribo Starmix: There’s a child inside every adult. This “Kid’s Voices” campaign has been running for years and manages to surprise and delight with each new episode.
Dulux sample paint pots: I love to decorate my home, but I don’t want to look stupid by choosing the wrong colour. Although these are now a standard offer for many paint brands, Dulux were the first to understand the problem facing potential home decorators.
Insight development will provide the basis on which you will define the actions that are needed to change the behaviour of your target audience. It also provides a solid framework on which to build your communications’ strategy.
#2. Insight development is based upon a desired behavioural change
When your sales, marketing or management look to improve their business results, their real objective is to change the behaviour of your current or potential customers’ behaviour. For example:
From buying a competitive brand to purchasing yours.
From using your services once a month, to once a week.
Moving customers’ beliefs about your brand from a traditional or classic brand, to a more modern image.
Changing customers’ perceptions about the price of your brand from expensive to good value for money.
Because insights are based on a desired behavioural change, they usually contain an emotional element that is communicated through advertising. The emotion that is shown in your communications is more likely to resonate with customers if it does stimulate their emotions. They are then more likely to remember your brand and may be more motivated to take the desired action you have identified.
If you are looking to increase sales or improve your brand’s image or equity, look to connect emotionally with your (potential) customers. Identifying the behavioural change you need your customers to make is a foundational step of insight development.
#3. Insight development needs more than Insight professionals
Although this may sound counter-productive, insights really do benefit from working from differing perspectives to get to that “ah-ha” moment, that many refer to. A deep understanding of customers and their reasons for behaving in a certain way, comes from looking at all aspects of their lives.
If you only review the actual moment when they choose or use a product or service, it is highly unlikely that you will develop that deep understanding you need. What happens before and afterwards also leads to their choice or that of their next purchase.
This is why it is important to work as a team when developing insights. Depending upon the issue or opportunity identified, the team can be made up of people from marketing, sales, trade marketing, production, packaging, advertising, innovation, and / or distribution. And these people don’t even need to work on the category in question; sometimes it is by taking ideas from different categories that real insights are developed.
#4. Insights are usually based on a human truth
The insights that resonate best with people are those that are not only emotional, but are also based upon a human truth. As you can imagine, these two elements are closely connected.
A human truth is a statement that refers to human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed. It is a powerful and compelling fact of attitudes and behaviour that is rooted in fundamental human values. It is something that is obvious when quoted, but is often ignored or forgotten in daily business.
Human truths are linked to human needs and although it’s validity has been questioned in the past, it is seeing a revival today. The covid-19 virus has moved all human being back to a search for the basic levels of safety and health.
Examples of human truths used by some brands include:
Parents want to protect their children.
Men and women want to find love.
People want to be better than others.
If you are struggling to find an insight, it can help to review which level of needs your target audience is on and see how your brand can respond to help answer it.
Following on from the above points, it is particularly interesting that once found, an insight can be adapted to be used by different brands. There are many examples of this, particularly amongst major FMCG / CPG companies.
So take a look at your competitors’ communications and see if you can identify the insight on which they are built. Do the same for other categories targeting a similar audience. Sometimes you can use the same insight for your brand as they are using. But I would only recommend this if you are really struggling to develop your own insight.
One very successful example of this is the advertising for Omo / Persil from Unilever and Nestle’s Nido. They are both based on the insight “I want my child to experience everything in life, even if it means getting dirty.” Take a look at the two ads below and see what I mean.
Unilever’s Omo: shows that a good mother lets her child experiment and learn – even if this means getting dirty. If you don’t know their advertising, then check out one example from this long-running campaign.
Nestlé’s Nido: illustrates this need as a mother providing the nourishment for healthy growth which allows her children to explore the outside world safely. If you would like to see a typical advertisement, check it out on YouTube here. Interestingly, Nestlé has used this same insight to develop advertising for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas too.
Another example of a shared insight is again from Unilever and the local Swiss supermarket Migros. The insight is “Young women want to be appreciated for who they are and not just their external looks.”
Unilever’s Dove was the first brand to recognise and benefit from this insight. Their famous Real Beauty campaign resonates so well with young women that many other brands copied it, especially their Evolution film. Here is one of their more recent ads that I’m sure will give you goosebumps.
The Swiss Supermarket chain Migroshas a store brand “I am” which uses this same insight across all their health and beauty products. Somewhat unusually, the brand name itself is based upon the same insight, and its advertising repeats it several times: “I am – what I am”.
So there you have them, the five ideas that I came up with and numerous examples to help you to develop better insights more easily.
Although you probably already have your own process for creating them, I know from experience how hard it can be to find insights from all the information you gather.
I hope this short article has assisted you in your search for those “golden nuggets”. Do share your own ideas for making insight development easier, I would love to hear from you.
C³Centricity uses images from Pixabay.com.
Do you need help developing or updating your own Insight development process? C3Centricity offers several 1-Day Catalyst training sessions on the topic. We will work with your team to review and revitalise your own insight process, or will define a proprietary one that integrates into your other internal processes.
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Marketing is a great profession and the marketing 5Ps is the code by which we live. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for almost my whole career and I am passionate about brand building.
From the outside, others see marketers as those who come to work late and seem to party all night. They always seem to be 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 some occasions.
So does all that hard work pay off? Not often enough in my opinion. And why? Because marketers simply don’t always ask the right questions!
The 5 Questions Marketers Should Ask
If you work in marketing, you already know the 5Ps – people, place, product, price and promotion. However, the problem with those is that when you find an issue with one of them, you know the “what” but not the “how”.
So I suggest you work with my 7Qs instead. Each of my seven questions explain not only what to check, but also the how and why you need to examine the area.
And if you can’t immediately answer more than just a couple of them, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!
Q1. Who are your customers?
The first “P” stands for people and often this 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 really are. I don’t mean just their demographics, but what, where and how they use or consume your brand and the category in which you are competing. 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.
Hopefully, you answered Q1 without any hesitation – you did, didn’t you? Did you also download our template and complete it? Many of my clients find it a useful way to store and rapidly access the information whenever they need it.
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 opinions, needs and desires?
Do you know the impact of the latest societal trends and new 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’ demand for home delivery.
Don’t be another one on the list. The current coronavirus outbreak is clearly demonstrating that we can never be too prepared for the unthinkable, because it might just happen!
The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing future scenarios in advance.
How many possible future societal and customer changes have you already prepared for? If you would like help in this area, we and our partners offer both standard and ground-breaking new ways to develop scenarios using science-fiction writers. Contact us for more details.
I don’t mean it’s marketing identity or slogan; I mean how your customers or your competitors’ customers would describe it?
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 identity? Is it authenticated by your customers’ experiences with your brand? It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise.
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:
Hero Group’s mission is “to delight consumers by conserving the goodness of nature.”
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 all these examples is that they clearly define the benefit to the customer 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 each. When that is achieved, you have a strong brand that your customers relate to and to which they are more likely to remain loyal.
How would you describe your brand in one short sentence? I’ll be happy to provide feedback in a short call if you’d like to share it. Just contact me to set up a time.
Q4. How are sales and distribution?
I am not referring to 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 your brand’s weekly, monthly and annual sales trends, means you will gain an 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. Always play to your strengths and correct your weaknesses as soon as they are identified.
I don’t mean how much it costs to manufacture and 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 may not think you’re worth it. This results in your having to offer frequent promotions and price-offs just to keep your sales stable.
If this is your situation, it is certainly time to get a true evaluation of your offer by your customers. I can help if you’re not sure how to do this.
Whether you are over or under-priced, you could be earning more and possibly selling more too. Don’t stay ignorant to your true customer value.
Q6. Are you using the right communication channels?
Many 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 know which ones they are currently using most often. In particular, it is important to understand their social media behaviour, as this can vary widely by customer segment.
In addition, if you are also able to answer Q2 you will know how usage is likely to change in the future. This will give you ample time to adjust your plans and move seamlessly from offline to online when necessary.
Wasting money with outdated media plans, based on channels your customers no longer use, is still one of the biggest errors of marketing, even in this data-rich environment in which we live today. Make sure it’s not yours.
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 any desired changes you need to make.
Do you want to attract new customers, support current customers, or develop your image in a certain direction? Appropriate analysis of your brand image data will give you all the information you need to adapt your messaging and strengthen the positioning you have chosen for it.
It’s been called “A must read for today’s and tomorrow’smarketeers” by none other than Paul Pohlman, Unilever’s former CEO! Why not follow many major Fortune 500 CPG companies and get your own copy, or buy copies for your whole team?
So there you have them, the seven questions that I believe will bring you greater results than just using the traditional 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. Then leave a comment below on how useful you found this new way of looking at your brand.
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How do you know when you have too many variants in your brand portfolio? In my opinion, the answer is that it’s when you can’t answer that question! Can you?
One of the most popular evergreen posts on C3Centricity is “The Beginners Guide to Brand Portfolio Management.” It seems that we all suffer from a deep-rooted fear in managing and reducing our brand portfolio, especially when it includes many historic or regional variants.
That is why I decided to write about these best-kept secrets in portfolio management, which even large corporations are not always aware of!
MORE IS RARELY BETTER!
We live in an over-abundant world of consumer choice, but more is rarely better. The paradox of choice is a powerful concept popularised by Barry Schwartz.
It states that people actually feel freer when they are given fewer choices. Have you never ended up walking out of a store without the purchase you had planned, because you had been faced with too many choices? I know I have – often!
It is said that the limited choice offered in hard discounters in one of the reasons for their success; it’s not only about lower prices.
They usually present just one or two brands for each item they stock and the branded products they do stock are almost always at the same price if not even higher than in normal supermarkets.
More than ten years after the first research on which Schwartz based his theory, new studies have given some alternative perspectives on choice, claiming that large assortments are not always a bad thing. In the study by Gao & Simonson, they propose that there are many factors which were forgotten in Schwartz’s original study.
You can read the full article on this latest work in Neuromarketing. What I found of particular interest, being the customer champion that I am, is that they conclude by saying that it all depends on understanding your customer – doesn’t everything?! Their summary findings state that:
“In certain situations (when the ‘whether to buy’ decision comes before the ‘which option is best’ decision) a large assortment CAN increase purchase likelihood. Especially in eCommerce, it is possible to reap the benefits of a large product assortment, while helping customers make choices?”
In other words, the online searches that we all now perform before purchasing many things, will benefit from a wide selection of offers. Once we have decided to buy, then a large choice can become a barrier to final purchase.
Although Schwartz’s original book was published in 2006, he recently commented on the current choices facing consumers in “The Paradox of Expanded Choices.” He concludes the article wistfully by saying:
“We can imagine a point at which the options would be so copious that even the world’s most ardent supporters of freedom of choice would begin to say, “enough already.” Unfortunately, that point of revulsion seems to recede endlessly into the future.”
I for one enjoy shopping because I am always on the lookout for the latest introductions and innovations. For the more ordinary shopper, it looks like we need to help their decision-making by reducing the complexity of the task.
One requirement to achieving success, is clearly a deep understanding of your customers so that you can offer the best selection of variants to consumers in each region, if not individual stores. As I have so often mentioned (and sorry if I am boring you with this) it all comes back to knowing and understanding the customer. Simple really!
CORPORATIONS ARE BRANDS TOO!
Brand management is essential to a healthy business, but marketing has one of the quickest promotion ladders of many professions. That’s great news for marketers, less so for brands. Why? Well because marketers want to make an impression and get that promotion as quickly as possible. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by launching a new brand or variant.
I believe this explains why we poor consumers often end up NOT buying something because we just can’t make up our minds between the vast choice of flavours, packs and sizes on display in some large hypermarkets. More is most definitely not always better when it comes to retailing as I’ve already mentioned!
Does any brand really need tens of flavours/aromas or hundreds of variants?
Most of these brands certainly don’t have hundreds of variants from which to choose from and therefore the customer’s final selection is relatively easy.
However, interestingly only one of these companies is a CPG (consumer packaged goods) brand. Interbrand made a great summary chart (below) showing the value of the top 100 brands of 2019, which clearly shows the importance of the different sectors. You have to search to find the CPG brands – bottom right-hand corner!
I decided to take a closer look at the sub-category of consumer brands. (Note: Interbrand still separates alcohol and beverages from CPG!) Here are the top 10 CPG brands, including beverages:
What immediately strikes me is that many of these brands are actually also the names of the corporations who make them. This might explain why few consumer goods companies appear in this list, because they just have too many brands and variants.
A few of the larger CPGs – like Unilever and Nestle – have started associating their company name more prominently with their brands. However, they have taken two quite different approaches.
Unilever places its corporate logo on the back face of their product’s packaging, leaving the brand logo as the hero on the front. Nestle, on the other hand, incorporates its logo into the front panel design of most of its brands. There are a few noticeable exceptions which include their waters and petcare brands. Both of these were run as stand-alone businesses, which might explain this.
I am assuming that both organisations chose to prominently display their company logo in addition to the brand, in order to increase corporate reputation and also consumer trust, especially for their lesser-known brands. Interestingly, Unilever is not amongst the top 100 brands of 2019, so perhaps the addition on the back panel is too discrete to have any real impact?
I am closely watching to see if this strategy results in increased loyalty in the long-term, because for now their performances are not demonstrating a positive return.
BUSINESSES ARE FOCUSING BETTER
An interesting trend in the past decade or so, is that some CPG leaders, such as P&G, Unilever and Nestle have significantly culled the number of their brands’ SKUs. In some cases, this has meant reducing them from thousands down to “mere” hundreds and they continue to do so on a regular basis.
Taking Pareto’s Principle as a guide, it should be relatively easy to cut the bottom 5%, 10% or even 20% of brand variants without losing any significant share. This is why these companies continue to do this frequently; it makes good business sense.
Brand management has become far more challenging, because consumers are changing faster than are the businesses looking to satisfy them. As the Interbrand report notes:
“Today, the world’s best brands are not positioned; they evolve together with the business along trajectories that align perfectly the Human Truths they serve, the Experiences they provide, and the Economics that sustain them.”
What is surprising is that most CPG giants still don’t evolve fast enough, which is why they are being challenged by the more flexible and agile startups! But they are going to have to change if they want to stay in the race. For now, it appears that they know theoretically that they should be better focusing their portfolio and making frequent adjustments in line with their consumers’ changes. But in the end, they don’t go far enough perhaps because they’re scared of losing share.
If you are struggling to make this difficult decision yourself, then perhaps I can provide a few reasons to convince you to make that much-needed portfolio pruning:
Those multiplications of flavours, aromas, packaging etc you are making are renovations, not innovations. Wake up marketers, you are not innovating! Renovations should be primarily replacements of less successful offers, not additions to your already over-extended brand.
Retailers can’t stock every variant, so the more you offer the less chance you have of getting wide distribution. Think back to your pre-launch market assumptions; I bet they included a wildly exaggerated level of distribution in order to get that precious launch approval!
Precise targeting and a deep understanding of your consumers are the most successful ways to limit SKU explosion. If you are suffering from too many variants, then perhaps you should go back and review what you know about your consumers and what they really need.
Arguably some categories need constant renovation (food and cosmetics to name just a couple) but even that’s no excuse for simply multiplying SKUs. Use the “one in, one out” rule I mentioned above, because if you don’t, the retailer probably will. And with little concern for your own plans and preferences.
In conclusion, to summarise the best strategies for brand portfolio management, which seem to be a well-guarded secret since many corporations still ignore them, are:
Remember, that if you offer a vast choice of variants for each brand, consumers could get analysis paralysis and end up walking out of the store without buying anything.
You need to manage the corporate brand just like your other brands, especially if it appears prominently on packaging and your other communications’ materials.
Make an annual review of all your brands and variants and ruthlessly cut the bottom 20%. If you want to keep any of them, then you must have a good reason – such as that it’s a recent launch – and a plan to actively support them.
Innovate less but better. Be more targeted with each of innovation and include your consumers in their development.
Be realistic in your distribution targets. Know what will sell where and why. Not only are you more likely to keep your share, but you’ll also make friends with your retailers.
Coming back to the leading consumer brands from the Interbrands’ list, all top ten excel in brand portfolio strategies that are precisely differentiated, clearly targeted and well communicated.
David Aaker wrote an article on L’Oreal a few years ago that explains the above theories very well. Even if it’s from December 2013, not much has changed and it still makes a great read; highly recommended.
I believe that most brands with tens or hundreds of variants in a market, are being managed by lazy marketers. People who don’t have the courage to manage their brands effectively by regularly trimming their poorest performers. They must face up to the lack of success of some of their “babies”.
Are you one of these marketers? What’s your excuse? I’d love to hear your reasons for keeping all your SKUs.
Need help in cleaning up your brand portfolio, so you can put your efforts where they will bring the most return?
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 pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use.
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.
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.
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!
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 upskilling 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 seven 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, please 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.
If you're interested in upskilling 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.
Consultants get contacted for all sorts of – admittedly sometimes strange – requests for support from their clients.
However, when I get several people asking for help in the same area, I know something important is happening in the marketplace. This is exactly what happened to me last month. They asked me share my secrets to Business Growth.
Most marketers will soon be leaving on their vacation and are realising just how little time they will have left to meet their annual objectives when they return. Their brands have not performed as well as they had hoped this year and they are looking for a solution – fast!
No less than two of my current clients and four new companies have asked me for support in growing their businesses in just the past month! In particular, they have all said that one or more of their brands is stable – to be polite – and that they want to reverse the trend. Is this your situation too? If so, then I have a useful 7-step process that will bring rapid, if not instant change.
How to Recover a Declining Brand
OK, let’s get straight to the point with the most painful of situations first, that of a declining brand. A few years ago I wrote a popular post about using brand image metrics to understand what is happening with a brand and how to identify the best actions to take.
There are many analyses I use when working with my clients. Let me know if you need help in getting more value from your brand image metrics; I’d love to help.
Changes in your Brand image are just one of the things that you should look at when you are trying to understand why your business is flat, or even worse, declining. It’s one of the best kept secrets to brand growth!
Let’s now look at some of the others.
The Typical MBA Five Steps to Brand Building
Most MBA students are taught a five-step process for brand building, at least in theory anyway. They are:
Describe: This is done through a product’s logo as well as its description on packs and other communications’ material. A successful brand will describe what it is through a consistent look, feel, tone, colours, symbols and messaging. This then builds to its brand equity which forms in the minds of customers both current and potential.
Position: A brand needs to differentiate itself from its competition with some unique value. This can be done through its packaging, colour, aroma, distribution or another element that can set it apart. Using them to position the brand will provide customers with a reason to believe and to buy.
Promote: Promotion can take numerous forms and channels, such as video, social media, TVCs (Television & Cinema), print ads or online advertising. It can include straightforward advertising and promotions, but also customer reviews, retail offers, websites etc. All of these will increase the brand’s awareness, hopefully spontaneous recall, as well as improved perception.
Personalise: Several books have been written about people “loving” brands. While I think this is a bit of a stretch, building strong loyalty and a solid fan base is important. With so much choice available today, personalisation and individualisation have become essential characteristics in many categories. They make people feel closer to the brand through increased resonance and a perception of importance. These are two of the essential ingredients that build fans / followers.
Evaluate: This is in fact both the last and first step to successful brand building. It is important that a company keeps on monitoring and reviewing the performance of its products, services and brands. Hence evaluation & review of a brand is an essential element of brand building.
While these five steps aren’t wrong, I believe that we can all do a whole lot better. As I said above, this is the theory, but I imagine that you are an expert or at least a professional, who already understands just how much effort goes into brand building. There are far more than these five simple steps!
When I realised that there is a lot missing from this standard list, I decided to expand it, but not too much, so it remains manageable. However, my clients get a far more detailed process, as I am sure you can imagine. (Contact me to learn more)
Did you notice that the MBA list is all about the product or service, and that there is nothing mentioned about the customer or consumer? Big mistake!
So here is my process for brand building, a shortened version of the one I use when working with my clients.
It succeeds whether your brand is a product or service, new or established, local or global. Take a look and let me know what you think. Is there something important I have forgotten that you do? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll send you a free copy of my book “Secrets to Brand Building.”
My 7 Secrets to Business Growth
1. Gather as much information as you can about the brand
You already have far more information than you realise! Start by gathering as much information as you can find and bring it all together.
In addition to brand image and equity measurements, you need trend information on shares, distribution, stock levels, customer penetration and profiles. Look for changes in the trends and identify where and when they happened. The why will come later.
This first analysis is the equivalent to an autopsy after death – but hopefully you are reacting long before your brand is on life-support!
2. Identify the category in which you are playing.
This is the category from the customers’ perspective, not the industry definition your business association or retail audit supplier uses. Talk to customers if you can, or watch and listen to discussions on social media.
These exchanges will often mention comparable brands, suggestions for switching etc. All this will provide a better indication of the category than your industry knowledge sources ever will.
3. Understand your customers and talk to them – a lot!
I already mentioned speaking with your customers to understand the category you are in. But I want you to make a habit of speaking to your customers – both current and potential – on a weekly, and ideally daily basis.
For a simple start, set up Google alerts for your brand, category and customer groups, so you are following what is happening on the web. If you haven’t already done this, stop reading and do that NOW! It’s that important.
If you are a regular follower of this blog, then you will know that we promote – and our clients heavily use – C3Centricity’s 4W™ Template to store everything we know about our customers. You can download a free workbook including the template HERE.
Here are a few examples; the first two are interesting in that two brands in different categories have used the exact same insight to come up with their own Big Ideas :
Persil. Insight - "I want my children to experience everything in life, even if they get dirty.” Big Idea - Dirt is Good.
Nido. Insight - "I want my children to experience everything in life, even if they get dirty.” Big Idea - Let them grow, let them go.
Mastercard. Insight - “Life isn’t about what I buy, but about the relationships I have with the people I care about, and the special moments that I can share with them.” Big Idea - Mastercard helps you deliver priceless experiences.
Jillz. Insight - "I want to drink alcohol on a night out, but I don’t like beer, and wine is too variable in quality." Big Idea - A fresh drink from the tap for elegant women.
Philadelphia soft cheese. Insight - "Food is delicious, but I don’t want to get fat (Butter vs Cream Cheese) Big Idea: Indulge your desire with less calories.
Hopefully these examples have inspired you to review the insight and big idea for your own brand. If you think you have a great example why not share it below?
6. Promote the brand where and when your customers are
This is the step that seems to be difficult for so many brands. They think that by advertising on digital media they will get their message across. But there are (at least) two things wrong with this approach.
Firstly, are your target customers actually online and if so, where? Pinterest may be perfect for a fashion or cosmetic brand but not for many other industries. The graph below show the usage by demographics for the US market. Perhaps you should take a look at your own statistics to check that social media and particularly the current channels you are using, are optimal for your brand?
7. Measure your success
Peter Drucker was so right when he said:
“What gets measured gets managed.”
So you clearly have to measure what you have been doing, so you understand what is working and what is not. But what metrics should you choose?
The data you should be following will help you to assess whether or not you are meeting the objectives for your brands. Therefore start by looking at what you were planning to improve and then choose the appropriate metrics to follow the changes you made.
So you've gone through all seven steps and your brand is showing signs of stabilising if not actually declining. Great! So what's next?
Well you start by prioritising the actions you need to take to correct the weaknesses you have found. Define the strategies and tactics you will need, and put your action plan into effect.
Then? Well, you start at step 1 and go through the process all over again! You see, brand building is a never ending, virtuous circle. That's why I'm so passionate about it, you too?
If you have specific questions relating to any of the seven steps, or if some other area of brand building is challenging you at the moment, then check out our website for inspiration and then contact me here:
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:
Chatbots, especially through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to catch consumers on the go with highly personalised messaging.
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!
Video is taking over social media, with its rapid rise on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Influencermarketing 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
For more ideas about improving your customer centricity, why not join the FREE Customer Centricity Champions Webinar? It shares many tips, tools and templates to catalyse your business and improve your customer understanding immediately.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE CUSTOMER CENTRIC
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.
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:
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a couple of years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer. They weren’t speaking about the current need for marketers to be both creative and comfortable with data. They were referring to the growing need for marketers to stand up to the challenge of taking local brands global. The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today’s global economy.
In this networked world, more and more successful local brands are attempting global roll-outs. What does it take to repeat the success you’ve had at market level, when you launch globally? Here are my five rules to fortune:
1. Understand the Market
This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global rollouts as it does to local brand developments. Today’s consumers are demanding, so find out as much as possible about them. Understand their rational needs but also their emotional desires, even if they don’t openly articulate them.
For global rollouts, an additional information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must also be considered. This is where trend following is of particular use, even if you haven’t developed future scenarios, as I recommend here.
Let’s look at some of the latest trends which are growing across regions today.
I want it now! Consumers and shoppers want information where and when they need it. This has been the case for years. But now they expect to get answers as well as making use of visual search that enables them to buy whatever they see, wherever they see it. Ikea Place offers shoppers the possibility to snap and then see an article in their home environment. Ikea also offers a visual search function for shoppers to identify an item seen in a magazine or real life, and then find similar ones. Dulux’s Paint Colour Visualizer offers shoppers a similar service; you can try out paint colours virtually in your home to see how it will look with your furnishings, before you purchase it.
Personalised Experiences. Despite the desire for data privacy control, consumers are ready to provide their information in exchange for a better, highly personalised experience. ZozoSuit is one example which enables consumers to order clothing online that will fit them perfectly.
Join the Club! Another use of personalised data is in providing privileged services – at a price. This idea is used for the regular delivery of razor blades and tampons, as well as for personalised exercise routines and menus. Consumers are happy to join a “club” to pass on mundane tasks to a (virtual) assistant to make their lives simpler. Some successful examples of these include Dollar Shave Club, Freda, and Amazon Dashbuttons.
2. Understand the Customers
What does the product stand for in the eyes and minds of your customers? Do those in the new market have the same sensitivities as the ones in the local market where your product has met with success? Will the consumers in the new target market perceive the same benefits in the same way?
If not, is this really a potential market, or are you just rolling-out there due to geographic proximity? I am still amazed how many organisations base their roll-out strategy on geography rather than the customer! Big error!
Examples of such disasters include:
Kellogg’s Cornflakes launch into India. It failed because they ignored the Indian habit of having a boiled & sweetened milk rather than using cold milk for their cereals, so the flakes went soggy.
P&G’s Pampers was launched in Japan with the image of a stork which confused consumers. Whereas a stork is fabled to bring babies to parents in the west, this is not the case in Japan.
Mitsubishi (Pajero), Mazda (LaPuta) and Chevrolet (Nova) all had issues when rolling out their cars into Spanish speaking countries. Had they bothered to check the meaning of the model names in the local language, they would have avoided the negative connotations and the need to change their names after launch.
3. Position Based on a Human Truth
One of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human needs. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children, used by many, many brands, including Nestlé’s Nido and Unilever’s Omo / Persil.
Or what about women and their frustration with not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models in their magazines, which is very successfully used by Unilever’s Dove?
And how about men and their need to charm women, to affirm themselves, that is used by Lynx / Axe from – you’ve guessed it – Unilever, again. (They really do know their consumers better than any other brand builder today!)
Human Truths or Needs are used the world over and form the basis of many very successful roll-out communication strategies. So before you dream of taking your local brand’s success to global stardom, think about what human truth you are using to build it. If you can’t identify it, there is a far lesser chance of your repeating its local success in other markets.
4. Can You Use Your Local Heritage?
Many countries and regions have strong, stereotyped images that can play to inherent qualities associated with certain product categories coming from them. Examples of these include French perfume, Swiss watches, Russian Vodka, Italian fashion, German or American cars and Japanese technology.
If your brand has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it. Even if consumers in the new market may be less aware, authenticity and tradition are strong current sensitivities on which you can build your brand in new markets. (Just make sure you check trend levels of them before choosing the new countries for rollout!)
5. Understand the Category
As I mentioned above, many companies get their rollout strategy wrong by looking at geographical proximity, rather than the closeness of the customers’ social sensitivities in them. Just because countries are geographically close, doesn’t mean their populations are similar when it comes to category image and usage.
When planning product roll-outs, also consider how alike the customers are in terms of usage and behaviour, as well as the category trends. By doing this, you are more likely to better prioritize the markets most open to the local brand’s product launch.
One Final Idea
I’d like to end with a final comment on global roll-outs. C3Centricity’s partner PhaseOne, wrote a guest post for us on the risks of implementing a global creative strategy. As communication experts, PhaseOne knows what it takes to succeed in engaging customers across the globe. The article makes a great complement to this post and you can read it here: “Why Implementing Global Creative is Risky”
Many companies have effectively rolled-out local brand successes to other countries in the region, if not the world. But many more have failed. What would you add to the list to increase the odds in favour of a regional or global roll-out? I would love to read your own thoughts in the comments below.
If you would like to know more about improving your branding and communications, then please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com
Be a true leader; share this post with the members of your team who need the inspiration and support.
Your boss expects you to be able to answer all his questions and especially to know your customers. Here are the 13 things your boss is likely to ask you and a handy Checklist to prove to him that you know your customers better than he realises.
Everyone speaks about customer centricity and the importance of the customer, but just how well do you know yours – really? The following is a checklist of 13 facts you need to be able to answer in order to know your customers as well as you should.
As you read the post, keep tabs on your answers and share your final score below. I’m offering a personal 50% discount code to spend in store for everyone who publishes their score here in July 2018. And if you’re the boss, I’d love to hear how well you think your team would do – 100% of course, no?!
#1. Who is your customer?
OK I’m starting off slowly, but do you know who your customers are? Not who uses your category, but who the people are that actually buy your product or service today? How much do you really know about them?
The C3Centricity 4W™ Template is a great resource for storing all the information you have on your customer. Download a free copy and watch the related videos HERE.
#2. What business are you in?
Although this refers more to the category than the customer, it is important to ensure you are looking at it through the eyes of your customers. Many organisations are working with industry definitions rather than customer ones. What about you? If you want to know your customers, you need to understand what category they think they are buying.
This is one of the essential elements you need to understand in order to know your customers deeply. It is something that many organisations don’t take the time to clearly identify, which results in an incorrect appreciation of their market and competitors. By not correctly identifying the category you are in, or plan to enter, your innovations will also lack the success you are hoping for.
For instance, are you in the food business or the pleasure business, beverages or relaxation? One of my clients wanted to launch a fruit flavoured soft drink and thought they were competing with other soft drinks. When we worked together we discovered that they were actually competing in the energy drink business!
Again another slow starter to show you know your customers. Here you want to make sure that you have correctly identified what market you are actually competing in and who are your competitors. It just might not be the one you think!
Also, do you know as much about your competitors’ customers as you do about your own? Complete a SWOT to know exactly where you stand with them – although it’s probably best to wait until you have read the next eleven points before actually doing this.
Once you know who your competitors are, use the 4W™ Template again for each of the major ones and add information to it every time you learn something new about them.
#4. What do they buy?
What and where your customers buy your product should have been covered in point #1. (If it’s wasn’t, make a note to gather that information and add it to your 4W™ template.)
Now you should look at how much your customer spends on your product or service and how much they have available. How does what they spend compare with the amount they spend on your competitors? Is your share of category and wallet growing? If not, why not?
Other information you need to gather to know your customers in this area is how they react to promotions. Do they only buy on promotion? Do they buy in bulk? Do they have size or packaging preferences? All this information will help you to get into the head of your customers and really know them.
Understanding the shopper, who is not always the person who uses or consumes your product, is also essential information you need to have at your fingertips for this section. If they are different people (mothers, housekeepers, single mums) then I would suggest you also develop a 4W™ Template for the shopper too. In this way you can compare and understand the similarities and differences between the buyer and the consumer. I’m sure that having personas for both will also impress the boss and show him/her that you really know your customers!
#5. What does your customer need?
I’m not speaking about what he says he needs, but what he really needs and perhaps doesn’t even know yet. What would surprise and delight him? What does he need that he only knows he does when he sees it?
Apple is one company that seems to be very good at getting at peoples’ unarticulated needs. Be inspired by them to know your customers as deeply as they do.
Apple have people queuing up to buy one of their new products even when they already have a perfectly functioning older model. Do they really need this new version? No. Do they want it? Perhaps! But, what their real emotion is, is a desire, a craving for the latest version, whatever the price! Wouldn’t you like customers to feel the same about what you have to offer?
#6. What do they think of your price?
Here consider not just the price they pay, but also the cost to them of their actual purchase. Do they buy online with packing and shipping costs extra? Do they have to drive out-of-town or even further to be able to purchase? All of these add to the perceived cost of your brand.
In order to know your customers, you have to calcualte the total cost to them of buying what you have to offer? And how that price compares to the total value they place on it?
Value will automatically include comparison to competitive offers, so ensure you include an evaluation of their brands’ values too.
Review the elements of your offer which your customers value and which they value less. Is there room for renovation to include more of what they like or to remove what does not bring value – and usually involves cost for you. Spend your manufacturing and development budget on things your customers value most.
Packaging today goes far beyond protecting the product inside and making its on-shelf presence more impactful.
It is a further medium for communications and also for showcasing your value and USP (unique selling point). However, many organisations have still not realised this. You can therefore get ahead of the competition when you know your customers deeply and their packaging preferences. Read “Is your packaging product or promotion?” for more on this topic.
Packaging is also an important part of your manufacturing costs so its value to the customer should be critically assessed. Even if you reduce your carton strength or pack content because you can, it certainly doesn’t mean you always should. Perhaps your customers don’t immediately notice the changes, but one day they will wake up and re-evaluate the value they are getting. Your packaging which is now made of flimsy carton, will appear to them as being of lower quality and this perception mat get transferred to its contents. Upon evaluation of your total offer, they then might decide to switch away!
Product testing is an often overlooked essential of concept development. Even if a product is tested before launch, and supposingly does well (or it wouldn’t have been launched, I hope) competition is constantly changing, as are your customers’ tastes.
Therefore it is important to keep an eye on your performance over time. Annual measurement at the very least and preferably also of your major competitors is the minimum, to keep your finger on the pulse.
Another important aspect of product testing is to keep track of the metrics over time. It is not sufficient to test versus your previous offer or that of your major competitor. Incremental changes may not be immediately noticed, but can become significant over time. And this applies to product just as much as to its packaging mentioned above.
If you don’t have the budget for regular testing – and I would question why you don’t for such a critical element of you mix – there are other things you can do. Follow social media comments from your customers for one. These provide invaluable input not only on your product’s performance and that of your competitors, but online comments can also supply ideas for renovation and innovation.
As with product testing, this is another of the on-going performance metrics, to ensure you know your customers. In addition, the earlier you start testing within the communications development process, the less money you will waste on multiple advertising concepts. I am continually appalled at just how many companies waste large portions of their marketing budget by producing multiple ads, sometimes to practically air-readiness before choosing the final direction.
Of course, your ad agency will never complain about you working in this way, but couldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere? I highly recommend you check out PhaseOne’s unique tool for early stage, confidential global communications evaluation.
Their clients rarely develop more than two ads and often by testing early-stage concepts, they develop only one. Think about how much money you could save by doing this! Contact meif you’d like to hear how businesses globally are benefiting from this approach and saving tens of thousands in ad testing..
#10. What do they think about your online presence?
It’s not so much what they think here, but more about do they even notice? Unless you know your customers’ habits online, you are unlikely to be where and when they are ready to receive your messages.
Instead of choosing and using just the most popular online websites – like everyone else – your work completing point #1 will indicate which are the most visited by your customers. For some brands an online presence is of minimal importance, whereas for others it actually replaces more traditional forms of advertising. Think of RedBull as just one powerful example of this. Although they now advertise both on and offline, they started building awareness through social media and word of mouth alone.
#11. What do they think of your social media personality?
You can’t hide your personality on social media, nor delete what you have shared. The words you choose for a Tweet, the ideas you share on FaceBook, the images you post on Pinterest, all build to a picture in the minds of your customer. What image do you think was created in the minds of people who read the following Tweet exchange from Nestle?
Treat your online discussions in the same way you would any other form of communications and use the same tone and spirit. Just because it’s new media doesn’t mean it is less important or serious.
As the above example shows, mismanagement of customer connections on such platforms cannot be removed – even if as Nestlé did, you take it off your own website – it will always be online for others to find and haunt you with!
#12. Why do they buy?
There are many “why” questions I could have added here, but this is fundamentally the most important. If you know why people buy and how you are satisfying their needs, the more likely you are to satisfy them.
In addition, if you frequently monitor their changing needs and desires through trend following, the more likely you are to continue to enjoy increasing customer satisfaction.
I’ve saved the best for last. Why are you in the business you are in? Are you looking to grow a products’ sales, increase distribution for your other products, make a different product more attractive (or a competitors’ less attractive), or are you just milking profits? All of these are valid reasons, but you need to be very clear on why, in order to know how to answer all the other questions.
The BCG Growth Share Matrix is a well-known tool you can use to check that you really understand what you are trying to do. This verification will enable you to eliminate the actions that don’t align with your objectives and mission for your brand.
So there’s my 13-point “Know your Customer” checklist to enable you to know your customers well enough to answer any question your boss may ask of you.
I suggest you go back to the top and revisit each point and answer them truthfully. By reviewing all 13 I am sure that your thoughts will have changed or at least been modified as a result of this new perspective.
And if you yourself happen to be the boss, why not ask your team how many they can answer? Let my know your score below; be the first to confirm that you can answer all 13!
If you or your team can’t answer all 13 questions, I have a solution. Book a 1-Day Catalyst training session and be amazed at the progress & changes!
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.
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?
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’d like to discuss opportunities of working with me, contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact)
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 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:
How the relationships between brands and customers have changed. The most influential CMOs lead digital transformation with a customer-first mindset.
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.
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 2019 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Head of Marketing 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
Do you feel isolated and would like an external perspective, advice or ideas? Then we should talk.
“There may be customers without brands, but there are NO brands without customers!”
I am often quoted as saying this and yet I still find most companies spend more time thinking about their brands than their customers, which is alarming to say the least! And you?
Last week I spoke about identifying the exact category in which you are competing. If you missed it, then I suggest you read “You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are!” before continuing. You will never be successful if you don’t understand the category people put you in and the competitors they compare you to.
In the post, I explain that we often work with a category definition that is based upon industry norms rather than that of our customers. For instance you might segment by price or demographic groups, whereas your customers group brands by flavour or packaging.
Understand how customers see the category and its sub-segments, can make a huge difference to your success in satisfying your own target customers.
This week I want to continue the theme of taking the customers’ perspective by speaking about our own business objectives. You know, the topics that make up our business and marketing plans with such lofty ambitions as:
Grow our market share to X%
Become the category captain/leader in Retailer Z
Launch three new brand variants
All of these may be valid business objectives, but they are not customer focussed. They start from the business perspective.
Adopting a customer-first strategy means turning business objectives into customer aims, by taking what is sometimes referred to as a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach.
Here are some questions to help you identify your customers’ aim, their attitudes and behaviours that you are trying to influence:
1. Who are you targeting?
Every brand has a target audience. This is a sub-segment of all category users. Yes you do need to segment users and target the most relevant and most profitable group of them for your brand, and then ignore the rest. If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!
“If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!”
2. Why are they currently using your competitor’s brand?
In order to attract your competitors’ customers you need to understand their motives, why they are preferring the competitive brand to your offer. This information can come from many sources, such as market research, social media, or care centre contacts.
3. What reason might make them consider switching?
If you are to appeal to your competitors’ customers then you must be able to satisfy them at least as well, and ideally better than does their current brand. What do you know about the criticisms customers have of the brand? What benefits do you offer and they don’t, or only partially? Could these be appealing to some of their customers?
4. Why do you believe that you can appeal to them now but didn’t before?
Do you have benefits that you have never highlighted in the past? Have you improved your product or service to now make it a better option? The reasons for switching must be both obvious and appealing in order to attract new customers to your brand.
Answering these four questions will enable you to turn a business objective into a customer aim. You now have all the information you need in order to be able to attract some, if not all, of your competitors’ customers.
This is probably one of the most common business objectives I have come across. Is it yours too?
In order to grow market share, we first need to answer the four questions mentioned above, and turn the business objective into a customer aim:
1. Who are you targeting? Suppose you sell a carbonated soft drink. At first, you may think you are selling to all soft drink consumers. However, from your Usage & Awareness data (or observation at retail) you know you are attracting 18-35 year old men, who live in main urban areas of your region. You also know that there are two competitor brands who attract the same consumer group, Brands X and Y. Brand X is the same price as your brand and is sold in similar can packaging. Brand Y however is higher priced and sold in glass bottles.
2. Why are they currently using your competitor's brand? From your brand image study, communications analysis or in-store interviews, you know who the consumers of Brand X and Y are. Hopefully you also know why they are using that brand rather than yours.
Do you have any of the benefits for which they are searching? If so, then you may be able to appeal to them. If not, then they are certainly not the best source of potential new customers for your brand.
For this example we will assume that consumers like Brand X because it is sweet and has small bubbles, whereas Brand Y is less sweet and is very fizzy.
3. What reason might make them consider switching? Consumers of Brand X are sensitive to fashion and the latest trends. Brand Y is a traditional brand that has been around for decades. Brand X was launched in the last five years and its can is bright, modern and trendy looking.
4. Why do you believe that you can appeal to them now but didn't before? You launched a new campaign that went viral on social media. Everyone if talking about it and it has positively impacted your brand's image. Whereas you used to be seen as a cheaper version of Brand Y, you have revitalised your brand's image and are now perceived as much trendier.
Customer Aim: Attract consumers from Brand X who are looking for a trendy, carbonated soft drink that comes in a can and is affordably priced.
As you can see from this objective, it is far more focused and is now based upon your potential customers' aim. This makes it both more actionable and easier to implement.
I hope you found this exercise useful and will try it yourself in your next marketing or business plans. If you do, then do let me know how it goes. You can email me or simply add a comment below and share your experiences.
Your plan may say that you want to grow your business, but in reality this objective is ongoing. Every year you are usually looking to grow your brand - unless of course you are "milking" an older brand as you allow it to die off.
In order to grow, you need to both maintain your current customer base, as well as attract new ones. It is well documented that it costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one.
And yet most organisations continue to spend more on acquisition than retention. To see the latest numbers on this, I suggest you check out this awesome infographic by Invesp that was recently shared by Neil Davey on MyCustomer.
The explanation could be that they always have growing market share as a company objective and think that they therefore need to invest more. Or perhaps it's because they take the time to attract new customers, but then don't invest to follow them over time, in order to identify their changing needs and desires.
While I agree both are important, with loyalty levels decreasing, organisations must invest more in retention than acquisition, at least in my opinion. What do you think?
Growing market share can only come from attracting more customers, getting your current customers to buy more, or getting your customers to spend more. It's time you considered investing (equally?) in all three areas.
Of course, you can also grow market share by maintaining your customers in a declining category, but that needs a totally different approach and more pertinent questions. If you're interested, then I'll happily cover this in a future post. Just let me know.
“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”
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
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
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
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.
#4. “If you use standard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else.” David Nichols
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
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
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
Today’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
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 isthe 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
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
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.
#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.
#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.
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.