10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Customer Centricity

We all know that adopting a customer-first strategy is essential for business growth and profitability. However, customer centricity has become even more important today, as a result of all the changes in our customers’ behaviour following the global covid lockdown. We are now even more impatient and demanding of businesses, and quick to complain publicly when things go wrong, or rather when we are not totally satisfied.

All companies need to put their customers clearly at the heart of their organisation. But I know that many struggle, even in more normal times, to be customer centric. They just don’t know where to start. Am I right? If you’re in this situation yourself, then this article is for you. In it I share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.

 

#1 Review & Revise the Description of your Target Audience

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityIs it as complete as it should be? If not, then regular readers will know about and probably use the C3Centricity 4W™ template for storing all this information. You can download it and get the accompanying workbook for free here.

In your avatar, you must include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.

 

#2 Assess the Optimum Way of Connecting with Your Customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?

Review how you communicate with your customers and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers by listening, especially when they are ready to share their information with you.

For an original take on engaging your customers see “You’re missing out on a Free Communication Channel!” (Any guesses what it is?)

 

#3 Identify the Needs Your Brand is Addressing

Maslow's hierarchy of needsDo you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one at a time.

If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be confused.

Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them, will leave your customers perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their needs and objectives.

Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need. Continue Reading

Your Brand has an Image, but Does it Have a Great Personality too?

Your brand is not what you think it is! It’s what your customers think it is; its brand image, personality and its value to them.

I was lecturing at Miami University a few years ago on brand image and personality. These are two vital elements of branding. They need to be clear and consistently represented in all your communications.

If you’re having issues with your own brand in either of these areas, then you’ll find the following article both interesting and valuable.

 

Why We Buy Brands

According to Wikipedia, a brand is:

“a set of marketing and communications methods that help to distinguish a company from competition and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.” 

Although this definition in my opinion, is a little sterile for something as exciting as branding, I do appreciate that it mentions customers. However, for me, a brand is created in both the minds and hearts of its customers.

There has been so much said about the importance of emotions and resonating with the customer, that we shouldn’t forget it. But be honest we often do! And this is where image and personality play vital roles. They are both more or less created in the heart, rather than in the mind of the customer.

We usually buy brands without even knowing why we buy them. We can, of course, provide a clear, reasoned answer if asked, but explanations come from the mind. The heart is what makes us buy.

 

Branding Elements

A brand is made up of a number of components, with which people learn to identify and recognise it. These include its logo, colour, pack, shape, taste, aroma, sounds and feel. There may also be other things that are directly associated with the brand, such as a celebrity, an event or a cause it supports.

A brand needs to have a clear image, personality and equity in the minds of its customers. These come not only from these branding elements, but also from the customer’s own personal experience with it.

All these factors must be both respected and complementary in order to build a strong brand with which customers can identify themselves. If they’re not, then the brand is at risk of not developing correctly, or even worse, of becoming just a commodity.

Therefore, It is vital for marketers to know and understand what their brand means to its customers. Not just what it means for their organisation. And then, of course, to follow it over time through regular measurement.

 

Brand Image Essentials

A brand is associated with many thoughts and ideas, that we translate into statements or attributes for measurement purposes. These are what current and potential customers think or feel about it. They may have developed from exposure to its communications, as well as from their own personal experiences.

These elements are usually grouped into three types: the rational/functional benefits, the subjective/emotional elements and the cultural/relational factors.

The third group was added by David Armano of Edelman Digital almost fifteen years ago.  Continue Reading

Top 10 Posts on Brand Building Strategies of 2018

A New Year tradition we started here at C3Centricity back in 2011, is to share our most popular brand building strategies and posts of the year. This gives everyone a chance to catch up on our best posts that they may have missed.

This year has been a particularly successful year for C3Centricity, with many of our newest post getting the top scores globally. This is quite tough for a blog that has been running for almost eight years and highlights the quality of the content we share with you! So have a look at our list and see if your own favourites are there. If not, then please let us know in the comments. Thanks.  

market research departments should deliver insights1. Is it Time to Do Away with Market Research Departments? 

This post shares the highlights of recent research into how market research departments can become true business partners, rather than being viewed as a mere cost center. It also shares ten steps to reinventing and upgrading your market research department. If you believe that you could be getting better support on your customer understanding and insight development, then these ten ideas will take you a long way to doing this in 2019.

 

 

CMO & Head of marketing keep your job2. Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs? 

Many CMOs are frustrated by their lack of recognition by their fellow c-suite colleagues. If this is your case, or you are new to the position and want to make an impact quickly, then this is a must-read post. It shares the most collon opportunities and challenges you may face and suggests five areas to (re)visit which will provide a new and fresh perspective on their business.

 

 

Top 2018 Infographics3. Top 10 Marketing Infographics to Smash 2018 (Inspiration for the Visual World)

These are the most shared marketing infographics of 2017. As usual, for each one we have added an action for you to take based upon the topic covered.

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

 

 

Customer first strategy4. What a Customer First Strategy Is (And what it’s not!)

In its simplest form a customer first strategy is about thinking customer first in everything you do. Yes I know it sounds easy but it really isn’t. It doesn’t come naturally, at least to start with. And it involves a culture change to move the organisation in this direction. But I can assure you it’s worth it; its value is now well proven.

This post lays out the importance of being data driven, innovative, collaborative and agile to succeed a customer first strategy. It also shares the seven reasons most companies fail.

 

Customer journey map5. Do You Know Your Customer Journey Map & the Emotions Overlay?

Continue Reading

How Well Do you Know Your Customers? 13 Questions your Boss Expects you to Answer

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?

C3Centricity how well do you know your customerOK 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?

Their age, gender and location are the basics, but there’s a lot more you need to know about them. Check out12 things you need to know about your target customers for more on what you need to know to be able to describe them in the depth your boss expects.

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!

How many of your brands are not competing where you thought they were? See How to Innovate better than Apple for more on this topic. Continue Reading

Brand Recognition and How People Recognise Brands

Brands are expressed in many ways, many of which will help build brand recognition.

I wrote a highly popular post on the topic last year, which I would recommend reading first for background, if you missed it. It’s called “What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Brand Image, Equity, Personality & Archetypes”

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what brands are, above and beyond their names, logos and the product or service they offer.

Which of them have a face, a voice, an aroma, a unique packaging, a slogan or a sound that immediately identifies them? And if they do, what does it bring in addition to the brand in terms of brand recognition?

Here is a very personal perspective of some of the best examples in each area. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

 

Face

Some of the faces which represent brands are of celebrities, others of unknown people who become celebrities.

One of the first faces I think of for a brand is Flo from Progressive. She has won the hearts of Americans over the years, with her helpful but quirky discussions with potential customers.

Flo has also made insurance less confusing and more friendly through her “girl next door” looks and sparky attitude. Here’s one of the more recent ads with Flo.

 

In 2012, an animated box was added to their campaign concepts, to represent the company’s products. Apparently, the vast number of ads with Flo – over 100 – had resulted in a “love her or hate her” relationship as some found her off-putting.

Take a look at an example below from a few years ago and decide for yourself if the animated box is better than Flo.

 

 

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for many years now. He started as smooth and superior, but over the years he has become more approachable, even funny. The latest commercials actually show him being injured in various ways, from falling pianos to “Mafia-type makeovers!” They are always entertaining, even for non-Nespresso drinkers.

 

 

Perhaps Nestle is trying to open their appeal to younger coffee drinkers who enjoy humour and hoping that the videos get shared on social media?

There are many other examples of “faces” that we now immediately recognise and associate with their brands. Even if some have been dropped over the years, they still maintain their strong connection:

SC Johnson’s Mr Clean and the muscle man

Quaker Oats and the Quaker.

Coca-Cola and the Polar Bear

Marlboro and the Cowboy – Darrell

Duracell / Energiser and the Pink Bunny

 

Each face is chosen to represent the brand because it fits with the values with which it wants to be linked.

The Muscle man suggests toughness, never tired, perfect for house cleaning when you want the quickest and easiest solution to difficult jobs.

The Quaker implies integrity, harmony, simplicity, perfect for natural products.

The Polar Bear is associated with cold, stimulating, refreshing liquid (ocean), perfect for a carbonated soft drink. Continue Reading

Are you Happy with your Market Research?

Next week is the official start of Spring in Europe, although in the US you have already moved your clocks forward by an hour.

Therefore, this seems to be a good time to review what market research we are running and spring-clean our toolbox in line with our new company objectives. If you would like some help in doing this then please read on for some original ideas on how to make it all easier.

In order to decide on the tools you need, it of course depends upon the maturity of your market, the size of your budget, as well as the position of your br ands in their life-cycles.

Last Spring, we used the 5Ps of marketing as a basis for the review of the market research toolbox; if you didn’t see it or would like to re-read it then you can find it here. This year I will be taking into account the three elements mentioned above and looking at how you might adapt the tools in consequence. Whatever stage your br and is in, however, there are some metrics that you will always want to follow. These include awareness, usage, product performance versus competition and advertising & communication (including pack and web) effectiveness.

 

Market maturity

Are you competing in a mature category or is it still growing strongly? Mature markets tend to change more slowly; consumers have their purchase habits settled and in some cases choose from amongst a portfolio of br ands, between which they switch depending upon current promotions.

If you are competing in such a market, then you can probably manage with monthly or bi-monthly or even less frequent data about stocks, pricing and shares. Unless a newcomer is launched onto the market, many mature categories have br ands that are being “milked” by their manufacturers, with perhaps little investment in communications. Therefore it is price that usually dominate share changes and can to a large extent be predicted.

In terms of market research needs, retail audits, price tracking and promotional monitoring are all important metrics to gather. Br and Image studies are also important, but can be limited to every few years, when real changes are more likely to be recorded. Too frequent measurement of a static market is likely to show only noise from sample error rather than true shifts in image. If you are in a service industry, then loyalty and satisfaction (NPS) metrics are also useful. (If you’re not quite sure what NPS is or how to use it, then HubSpot did a great Infographic a few months back that I recommend reading)

If however, you are competing in a new or strongly growing category, you will need far more frequent data in order to make informed decisions. In these cases, retail chain data, shares, stocks, out-of-stocks and pricing will be vital to follow, ideally on a weekly basis. Br and Image data should be gathered annually, but everyone should underst and that in a fast moving market, things can alter rapidly, so the ratings are merely snapshot comparisons versus competition. Continue Reading

Why Implementing Global Creative is Risky

We are pleased to share with you another guest post from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne, our communication experts. This week Terry Villines, their SVP speaks about the challenges of taking campaigns global.

Why implementing global creative is risky:  5 market factors must align. If just one of them is off, the entire initiative will likely fail!

Most major, global organizations have tried it – attempted to use the same creative around the world, across markets.   Coca-Cola has tried it, so has Procter & Gamble, Unilever and even luxury brands like Rolex and Patek Phillipe.

The argument for implementing a creative campaign on a global scale is strong.  When it works, it saves money (a lot of money); it provides br and stewards with a high level of control; it also ensures consistent implementation of a brand strategy with no wavering.  And, when it works, it can work BIG – take for instance Unilever’s Dove brand and their Real Beauty campaign from a few years ago.  This global work beat the odds and changed the way people think of beauty and changed the way we as advertisers communicate about beauty.

But what about all those cases where it doesn’t work?  Why does a campaign with a strong launch in Italy not work in the UK?  What about those powerful US ads that when taken to Europe, Asia or South America fall flat?  In examining case after case it becomes clear that there has to be almost precise alignment across 5 different market factors for a campaign to be successful across markets – if even one of them is off, the campaign and its investment are lost.

#1. Your Brand’s Equity

Does your target audience think about your brand the same way across all markets — do they have the same associations?  Do the br and’s values and its personality resonate at the same levels across all markets?  If so, then you are one step closer to having confidence global creative will work.  But, if awareness is high and attitudes are strong in one market and they suffer in another, then there is a high level of certainty that the same advertising will not work in both markets.

 

 #2. Your Brand Market Share / Market Position

Do you have consistent market share in each and every market in which you compete?  If you do, you are one of a very rare breed; however, it is much more likely that your market position varies.  Whether you’re a strong leader with few challengers working to grow the category and hold market share, or a challenger against stronger brands trying to steal market share, it is almost impossible for the same kind of creative and messaging to work across all of these situations.

 

 #3. Competitive Actions

In examining the competitive environment, a number of variables must be considered.  How many competitors are there? – very crowded categories require different actions than less crowded categories.  What is the level of spend by competitors? Continue Reading

Brands need to Cultivate Storytelling

Storytelling is a natural human behavior. In all cultures around the world, it has been used to convey learning and history, as well as to entertain children and adults alike. It has developed down through the ages for transferring knowledge long before books and now the web enabled their storage.  

Big brands and those that resonate with their customers, all have myths and stories built up about them. Do yours?

Stories of an iconic br and

When I worked for Philip Morris International, I first heard about this for the iconic Marlboro br and. At that time, it was rumored that Marlboro was financing the Ku Klux Klan in the US, because its packaging had three red rooftops or “K’s” on it. As this was certainly neither true nor desirable, the powers that be decided that we should remove one of the K’s by making the bottom of the pack solid red.

We thought that the rumours would then stop, as we saw them as negative for the br and. However, our consumers had the last say, because they then replaced the KKK rumour with one announcing that Marlboro hated blacks, Asians and Indians. This second story came about because a consumer had found the printer reference markings of coloured dots on the inside of the pack when he had dismantled it.

 

Customers tell stories about “their” brands

There are many myths about the greatest br ands around, coming from their packaging or communications in most cases. Toblerone is romoured to have the “Bear of Berne” and the Matterhorn exemplifying its Swiss origin on its pack, which also resembles the Matterhorn mountain. Camel is said to show the “Manneken Pis from Brussels” on the back leg of the camel of its pack, although I am not sure where that comment originated!

Other br ands develop stories through their communications, that are then shared and repeated by their customers. Examples of these include Columbia Outdoor wear’s “Tough Mother” campaign, Harley Davidson’s enabling “middle aged” men to become bikers at the weekend, or Dove’s campaign for real women to name just a few. All these stories emphasize the connection their customers have with these br ands, making them almost a part of their families through this emotional connection.

 

What stories are told about your brands?

What do your customers say and believe about your br ands? Rather than trying to correct them, unless of course they are clearly negative as was the case for Marlboro, continue to inflame them and more people will talk and share their proof that it is true. Someone said that there is no bad publicity; I am not sure about that, but it sure fires enthusiasm when people can share stories about their favorite br ands, and today’s ease of sharing through social media makes them arguably even more important.

One word of warning though; your br and has to live up to the story; Columbia’s wouldn’t have worked if their gear failed in the real world, nor Dove’s if they had moved to show women that looked too much like top models in their advertising. Continue Reading

Time to Spring Clean your Market Research Toolbox

This week we are officially into Spring in Europe, so we all now start thinking about spring-cleaning the interiors of our houses and apartments. Of course living in Switzerl and, where people seem to be born with duster and brush in h and, I can imagine that there is not much work for most of my neighbours, but I have to admit that for my place it is a slightly different matter!

This is the reason why today I want to speak about YOUR interior, however I am not talking about your home, but about your Market Research Toolbox. When was the last time you took a look inside? Isn’t now an appropriate moment to review the tools you have in there? Some may be a few years old and need updating, whilst you may now notice that some others are missing that you really need. If this is the case, then this post will help you to do your toolbox spring clean.

In order to decide on all the tools you need, I suggest you start by taking a look at your br and essence. What do you want your br and to st and for in the hearts and minds of your target customers and your stakeholders? Who is your target customer; what attributes describe your product or service; what is your br and’s personality and character, and finally what benefits can your target customers expect from your br and? Once you have these identified, you need to agree what measures you will use to ensure that you follow them effectively and efficiently.

The 5Ps of marketing have been around long enough to assume that many people still find them to be useful, so we will base our review of your toolbox around these five topic areas, keeping your br and essence in mind of course.

Here are some questions I came up with, to help you to identify whether or not your toolbox needs some cleaning or updating:

People:

Who is your br and or service targeting? To underst and, you will need to gather representative data on your users, current, past and potential, and not just demographics, but as much information as you can gather about their habits, attitudes, preferences, values and motivations.

Price:

Are you pricing your br and based on cost or value? What do your current, past and potential customers value and what price estimate do they place on your offer? What are the psychological price barriers for your category and br and? Where is your price in comparison to your competitors’? If it is higher, what additional value are you offering to warrant the difference?

Promotion:

How effective are your communications? What tools do you have to help in their development and to test their performance; not just at the end before airing, but also early on in the process of their creation? What do your category users talk about online? Are you gathering information on and responding to these discussions? Continue Reading

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want me to catalyse your growth and profitability, just book a call.

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