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What Blood Brothers can teach us about Emotions & Customer Satisfaction

I recently had the privilege of seeing Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers at the wonderful Gr and Theatre in Swansea. This musical is in its 29th year yet doesn’t have a wrinkle. It is still as relevant today as it was when it was first performed and continues to surprise and delight audiences from around the UK.

As the music continued to turn in my head for days afterwards, I wondered how a play that was written so many years ago, could continue to resonate with audiences so successfully. Furthermore, it is a story that is introduced from the end; you see the twin boys dead and go back to their early days to underst and how it happened. As is also the case with the Titantic movie, despite knowing the ending, the story still fascinates and the audience is still surprised when the known event finally takes place.

I realised that in fact this is a similar situation to that in which many companies find themselves today. Their customers know the ending to the story (the product usage), yet would still love (expect?) to be surprised and delighted. So what can we learn from successes such as Blood Brothers and Titanic that we can apply to our own br ands to build more emotional responses into our customer satisfaction? Here are a few that I came up with – once the music began to quiet in my head!

Resonate

One of the reasons for the success of both the Titanic movie and the Blood Brothers musical is that they are strong stories about a multitude of human emotions: love, trust, optimism, fear, sadness, anger. They are stories told by sharing the feelings of all the main characters. People empathise more easily with recognisable emotions and remember or imagine themselves in similar situations to those shown. The events then resonate without them even realising what is happening until their own emotions stir.

QUESTION: Are you identifying the needs of your customers so that you can better meet them from an emotional as well as rational perspective? What could you show or communicate that would stir memories or empathy?

Surprise

As I mentioned earlier, even though we know the story and more importantly the ending, we are still surprised when the fateful event takes place. In the case of the Blood Brothers musical, this was with surprisingly loud, double gun-shots taken from policemen discretely positioned amongst the audience. It  was something for which we in the audience were neither expecting nor prepared for at the time it occurred. There was an outburst of shock followed by nervous laughter amongst the spectators, proof that they were both surprised and emotionally involved.

QUESTION: What positive surprises have your customers experienced when purchasing or using your product, or when contacting you about the usage of your br ands? Can you find more for them to enjoy so they then share their experiences with others?

Delight

Once the shooting of the twins had taken place and the audience had calmed down, the full company came on stage for the final song. The music and voices built to a crescendo and ended to thunderous applause and a st anding ovation. I underst and that 99 times out of 100 this is the case, which doesn’t surprise me. The relief of the engaging music after such a sad event made people happy and thankful for the wondrous performance and climax.

At the end of Titanic, the movie ends with the leading lady letting go of her childhood sweetheart’s memory in an emotional farewell as she tosses the diamond in the ocean and then sees him welcoming her as she passes over. I seem to remember that Top Gun has a similar event near the end, when Maverick is seen tossing Goose’s dogtags into the ocean. How do these all work so well? I believe it’s because they free the audience from all their pent up emotions and people are delighted with their new-found (emotional) freedom.

Customer satisfaction just works betterQUESTION: Is there a way you can work with your customers’ feelings and liberate them from their pent up emotions? In the case of products and services, these are more likely to be feelings of frustration or disappointment with the pre-purchase situation. If you can replace these through a positive experience, then your customers will be delighted and thankful to you, and memories of how you made them feel will remain in their memories for a long time. Emotions beat rational satisfaction every time, so work to stir them whenever you can.

Simplify

Too many things in life today are overly complex and unduly complicated. Those of us who are from an earlier generation, sometimes long for the ‘good old days’. Back then, life seemed simpler, things worked or they didn’t. When something works well, it just works. No bells and whistles, no lost energy, no difficult instructions to follow or manoeuvres to perform.

Apple still excels at customer satisfactionThis is one of the reasons why Apple’s products are so popular. They are solid, they perform as expected and you can use them immediately upon purchase, intuitively, without reading the instructions. In fact, have you seen how few instructions are actually included in the Apple product boxes?

We don’t read as much nor as thoroughly as we used to; communications must be simple, easy to scan and of minimal length.

QUESTION: Could you simplify the way your br and is purchased, used, consumed? Can you simplify its packaging or the information that is printed on it? Is you product information too complicated and long-winded; could it be shortened?

Engage

customer satisfaction comes from storytellingI can’t conclude without a mention of storytelling. I know everyone speaks about it these days and we all now underst and its importance. But for me it’s not just about storytelling, it’s about engagement. Entertain, share, teach; make it worthwhile for your customers to spend their time, money and emotions on your products, services and communications.

QUESTION: Are you engaging your customers and do you underst and how your stories are being heard, understood and shared?

 

One week after watching the Blood Brothers musical, the music is beginning to fade in my head, but the memory of how it made me feel is as alive and raw as it was seven days ago. This is the power of emotions. This is how to remain in your customers’ minds, memories and more importantly hearts. How will you do the same with your br ands?

C³Centricity used images from Swansea’s Gr and Theatre, Dreamstime, Microsoft and Apple in this post.

NEVER Succeed at Innovation: 10 Mistakes even Great Companies make

There have been many attempts to dethrone the blond supermodel doll Barbie over her fifty plus years of existence, mostly without much success. The latest endeavour (named Lammilly, after her creator) is different in that Nickolay Lamm is going after co-funding and has already achieved over $350,000 in just a few days according to the website.

This interesting addition to the “Anti-Barbies” story prompted a number of questions in my head:

  • Is it wise to go after a declining segment?
  • What was wrong with Barbie’s customer satisfaction?
  • Who is the target for this new doll? Child, adult, collector?
  • Why now, after so many previous unsuccessful attempts at dethroning Barbie?

Those questions and various discussions on FaceBook then got me thinking more generally about innovation and how companies have adapted their processes (or not) to today’s connected world. So here are my thoughts on how NOT to innovate:

1. Change the colour, perfume or taste of your current product and then charge more.

Pepsi innovation of Crystal PepsiThis is what Pepsi did when launching Pepsi Crystal: it lasted less than a year. Interestingly this is also what Apple just did with its iPhone 5C, except it charged less. Again it is already being discounted at Walmart because of disappointing sales, which might just be a good thing for Apple in the long run. Sales of the 5S remain buoyant and any damage to the corporate image caused by the cheaper 5C should hopefully be significantly reduced.

2. Organise an innovation team and provide them with a separate office, ideally far away from the current business.

If this is how you are set up internally, get the team back into talking distance with the rest of the business. Rather than stimulating creativity as it has been claimed to do, by being separated from everyday business concerns, it actually alienates everyone else to innovation and decreases overall creativity.

3. Make sure R&D heads up innovation so your new products can make use of your technical know-how and skills.

R&D needs to connect with customers for improved innovationWhilst this may result in technically improved products, they are all too often not in line with consumer current needs or future desires. Your research people need to connect with your potential customers regularly so they can be tuned into customers’ wants and current frustrations. Wouldn’t you rather have your R&D developing new products that practically sold themselves? As Peter Drucker said “… know and underst and the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself” (>>Tweet this<<). If R&D are in constant contact with your customers, they will always have them in mind when planning their product development.

 

4. Don’t let people from outside the organisation work on innovation; prefer well-established thinkers from within the organisation, preferably with more than ten to twenty years in the company.

This often happens as the result of a naïve manager lacking the required confidence to accept criticism, to challenge the status quo and to get out of their comfort zone. No person, let alone an organisation, can be an expert in every area. Why not take full advantage of external expertise to catalyse innovation? It’s certainly faster than learning   and training the required new skills internally. Just think about how many major Fortune 500 companies have joint ventures: they know something about reaping the benefits of collaboration for a win-win to grow their businesses.

5. Only move an innovation concept forward when it is finalised and everyone in the company agrees with its potential.

Apple still excels at innovation

If you wait for complete agreement on a new concept, you will never launch any new product. Rather than looking for total buy-in from everyone, accept the proof of a well-documented justification; if it looks and feels right you can learn from in-market measurement once launched to make adjustments. This is the approach often used by many successful hi-tech companies including Apple. Become a beta tester but make sure you fail fast and learn fast (>>Tweet this<<).

 

6. Follow a well-tested established process for concept development. Take time to ensure everything is working perfectly before launching.

St andard innovation funnelRigid processes and creativity rarely go together (>>Tweet this<<). Rather than working step-by-step through a st andardised process every time, accept that your approach can and should be adapted to the concept as well as market needs.

Some argue that the more ideas you have the better the winning concept. I personally think that massive numbers of ideas merely dilute both thinking and action. I recommend working through a few potential “promising concepts” with some target customers, to refine and develop the winner. I have found this approach to lead more consistently to a winning concept that customers would buy, as well as far more quickly than any st andard funnel process of proliferation and elimination.

7.  Never use social media or test amongst consumers who are outside the control of the organisation, so competition doesn’t learn about what you are developing.

As with no. 4 above, this situation often arises from less experienced managers afraid of being found lacking in creativity. In reality, competition often knows far more about an organisation’s innovations than the majority of its employees do. Therefore test and learn, then test and learn some more, whilst of course making reasonable efforts to reduce any confidentiality risks involved.

8.  Never share ideas with anyone outside the innovation team to avoid leaks.

As mentioned in no. 2 above, everyone can be creative and have great, innovative ideas. It therefore makes no sense at all to limit accepted creativity to one team alone. Whilst it is important to have an innovation lead team, all employees should feel encouraged to bring their ideas to the attention of the business. After all, we are all consumers.

9. Only innovate products and services similar to those in which you are already an expert.

This is not innovation, this is renovation. As with no. 1 above, it is unlikely to provide significant growth for a business, but it can satisfy consumer dem ands for novelty until such time as your disruptive innovation is ready. Never accept renovations as a replacement for true innovation. (>>Tweet this<<)

10. Don’t think too far ahead; after all, the world is moving so fast that we don’t know what the future will look like.

Preparing future scenarios can speed innovation

Whilst it’s true that the world is moving forever faster, this actually makes forward thinking vital not impossible. My recommendation is to develop future scenarios to challenge the organisation to think through a number of “what if” scenarios so that the business is prepared for multiple opportunities and risks.

 

These are my ten mistakes that even the best companies make sometimes in innovation. Are you guilty of any of them? Hopefully these ideas will provide you with food for thought as well as possible solutions.

C³Centricity used images from Dreamstime, PepsiCo and Apple in this post.

The New Marketing Role: Testing & Tested

There have been many discussions lately about new marketing and how the function of the marketer has changed in recent years. The position has gone from a primarily creative role to one encompassing many new competencies.

As if that wasn’t difficult enough, marketing is also being challenged more and more to prove its ROI to the business, whilst at the same time being “forced” to get intimate with IT. These are very tough times for marketers. That is why I thought I would add my support and sympathy with a few ideas on how to make your life a little easier.

A/B Testing

Oreo's creative marketing at 2013 SuperBowl

It is no longer sufficient to publish great content on the web. Marketers are required to constantly challenge their own thinking and to improve what they are doing. A/B testing is now C/D/E and almost every other letter of the alphabet.

Great is no longer enough and anyway doesn’t stay great for long in the eyes of the customer. They are now (too) quickly losing their first positive impressions, accept as normal what was surprising just one week earlier and are soon off looking for something better.

 

IDEA: It is essential to work out a detailed plan of online activities, just like any other section of the marketing plan. Decide who will publish what and when, and make sure it aligns with and supports your offline events. Incorporate testing of content and headlines into your plans too, but always leave a little space and flexibility for topical content should something inspiring happen in the marketplace. Think Oreos at the 2013 SuperBowl.

Prepare to be challenged

Greenpeace marketing against P&G

Although I don’t know whether P&G were prepared for last week’s direct Greenpeace attack on their Head & Shoulders br and, it is not something they can easily ignore. After a similar attack on Nestle’s KitKat last year, it is clear that customers feel empowered to verbalise discontent in a ferocious manner. For this reason, it is vital to be prepared for as many possible eventualities as possible. This is where future scenario planning can be of immense support.

IDEA: Watch how other br ands are being called up short and consider what you would do if something similar happened to one of your br ands. Spend time studying societal trends (you are of course following them, aren’t you?) and then develop a few plausible future scenarios. The easiest way is probably to identify the two most important axes of uncertainty and then to describe each of the four worlds created. Review and agree what marketing and management would need to do in each of these situations.

Proving what you’re worth

Marketing has never been so closely scrutinised nor challenged as in recent years. The wealth of information being produced thanks to new technologies makes it arguably easier to measure activities than ever before. So marketing is being challenged by the business to prove its ROI. It is no longer acceptable to claim the lack of direct relationships between actions and outcomes, because of the wealth of data available.

IDEA: Review and agree with management the KPIs that you both consider to be indicators of marketing success. And then measure them, regularly if not permanently. Read this article for the top ten KPIs you should be following. Real-time information has become the new norm and although challenging at times, it does provide the advantage of the possibility for a quick response when things are not going according to plan.

Getting more comfortable with data

Marketing & IT need to be friends

It has never been a priority for marketing to befriend the IT department in their own organisation, but that time has come. But marketers need help in managing all the data available to them and for this they require systems and platforms. As was reported in a recent Domo report, the majority of marketers would work with data more often if they had the time and it was all in one place instead of dispersed across platforms.

IDEA: Work with IT to develop a system to provide easy access to the KPIs you’ve identified as of most relevance. Also develop dashboards that summarise all you activities on one page and into just a few, if not one single number – which management too will appreciate.

Get intimate with your customers

Just in case you haven’t heard, your customer is in control and that includes of your own marketing in many instances. From venting their dissatisfaction on social media, to boycotting your br ands when they don’t agree with your sustainability or sourcing efforts, today their voice is most definitely heard. If you still don’t have company objectives which include spending time with your customers then you need to set this up – urgently.

IDEA: Introduce your whole organisation to your customers and make sure you put them first in every single thing you and the company does. There are so many ways for people to get a better underst anding of their customers and rather than feeling you are losing control, you can lead the area and get additional recognition as a customer representative, rather than “just” a defender of br ands. That is in my opinion the only real future for marketing.

These are just five ways that marketing is being tested today and hopefully my ideas have inspired you enough to see this as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Let me know what you have introduced in your own organisation to meet these new challenges, or maybe others you yourself have faced; I’m sure everyone would love to learn from you.

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Forbes & Greenpeace in this post.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? Satisfaction, Surprise & Delight

There’s been a lot of rather liberal use of the word LOVE recently in connection with br ands and their customers. Perhaps this was partly due to the lead up to Valentine’s Day last week.

But ever since Lovemarks was published in 2004, followed by The Lovemarks Effect and more recently Loveworks, companies have talked about how much br ands are loved by their customers. Sorry Mr Roberts et al, I personally don’t think consumers love br ands. Consumers may say they love you but I think that they really just love themselves! (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Whilst I agree with the premise that traditional br anding practices were (still are?) generally dull, boring and rather predictable, digital has certainly livened things up in the last ten years. With greater real-time visibility, br ands are constantly trying to out-do each other and luckily the customer has everything to gain from this. After all, surprise and delight are the fundamental dem ands of consumers today and the holy grail of br ands. However from attracting interest to inspiring love, that’s one heck of a jump!

Wikipedia defines love in many different ways, because the English language doesn’t distinguish between the levels of love that other languages do. The closest I could find to the emotional connection Kevin Roberts was referring to, was impersonal love described as “People can “love” material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things”. This definition points out a very important element of br and love, that of personal investment. As I already mentioned, I believe that customers love themselves first and will only invest in br ands if they get something out of the relationship in return. That is the part of the bonding that too many br ands seem to forget when developing online advertising, fan pages and social media exchanges. It’s as if they publish and then say “Love (Like) me I’m great”, when they should be saying “We love you, you’re great”.

In 2004 Kevin Roberts introduced the notion of emotions to br anding and I believe everyone today agrees that purchasing involves an emotional response, often even stronger than rational based decision making. This is the one essential element that some br ands struggle to incorporate into their online presence in a meaningful way, so let’s see how the top br ands do it.

TwitterFirst, taking a look at Twitter’s list of the Top 20 most followed br ands for 2013 we can see that involvement (in this case following) is triggered by one of four simple customer needs:

  • Entertainment: YouTube, Instagram, TwitPic, Funny Or Die, MTV, Ramalan Indonesia, funnyordie, UberSocial
  • Keeping up with your friends: Twitter, Facebook
  • Keeping up with the world: CNN Breaking News , CNN, The New York Times, BBC Breaking News, Google
  • Keeping up with your team: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid F.C., NBA, ESPN

Interestingly, the br ands in this top 20 all provide a service to people, rather than blatantly looking for love, although they have been successful in bonding with their followers. Also, the only consumer br and to make it onto the list came in at number 20, namely Samsung Mobile. However their tweets are actually more like those of the news channels than a manufacturer promoting their br and, although of course they do include their product names when relevant.

Chatting for customer service connectionThe relationship between br ands and their followers is one of need (>>Click to Tweet<<); the Tweets provide customers with information they can use or share with their friends. In addition, for many, Twitter has become the modern day customer service line, since they are assured a more rapid response and usually a more positive conclusion than through a simple telephone based connection. Whilst excellent customer service should be the delivery no matter which medium customers choose to use, we have all now understood that they are not created equally. We know that telephone-based customer service still exists, but we just don’t get the fast, efficient level of assistance that we desire anymore, and are moving away from its usage.

As a result organisations are very keen to improve the service they give via Twitter and use it not only to respond to customer comments, but also to involve their customers in improving their products and services, as well as to keep them abreast of launches, new campaigns and promotions.

FacebookAnother platform that br ands use to connect with their customers is Facebook. Br ands create pages and encourage “Likes” for their postings, which seem to have similar purposes to Twitter, albeit with a more generous allowance than the 140 characters of a Tweet.

Looking at the pages with the most fans, we find a similarity to Twitter in terms of content and also a few of the same companies (NBA, MTV) but there are more consumer br ands present amongst the most popular. These br ands are promoting themselves through similar types of content, entertainment and news, but the biggest difference is the possibility for customers to reap direct benefit through coupons, promotions, store information and free games. In addition, customers can usually provide content too, by uploading their own photos, videos and stories.

So coming back to my original question, br ands should underst and that customers’ love can be as short lived as a holiday romance. As with marriage, it takes consistent effort to maintain the connection, providing satisfaction, surprise and delight in almost equal proportions. The br ands which succeed online are without exception those that offer all of these, as the following table shows:

Br and

Content

10 NBA videos, commentary, photos, merch andise
9 McDonald’s games, prizes, promotions, news,
8 Monster Energy extreme-sports clips, news, events
7 Victoria’s Secret exclusive updates, videos, screen wallpaper doubled its talking about me score when it started giving away 100k gift cards to fans, electronic gift cards
6 Converse photos of unique shoes
5 Red Bull mix of humour, extreme sports, events, images, games & apps
4 Starbucks photos, store locator, electronic gift cards, manage rewards, challenges
3 MTV sneak peeks of trailers, clips, humour, questions, photos, quizzes, information about pop stars
2 Disney facts, film screenshots, cartoons, videos, quotes, photo & story sharing
1 Coca-Cola encourages donations, local & global events & promotions, videos

In conclusion, let me say that I am not suggesting that we forget love, but rather that we take off our rose-tinted spectacles and underst and that our customers don’t really love us; as with my two cats it’s just a matter of “cupboard love”!

Did you know that C³Centricity measures EMOTIONAL REACTIONS to advertising, packaging, new br and concepts, products and just about anything else a customer can see, hear, taste or feel? Interested in learning more? Then why not CONTACT US today for an informal chat about your needs? We’re sure we can help.  

8 Marketing Essentials for 2014

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

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

Social Media Metrics

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

Storytelling

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

Showrooming & Virtual Reality

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

 

New Communication Opportunities

According to Jay Walker-Smith of Yankelovich

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

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

Adapting Communications to Personas

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

Channel Management

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

Better Communications for Organisational Strategy

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

Disruptive Innovation

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

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

Why Marketing will Never be Replaced but What Every CMO Must Change

As businesses become more social, there have been a lot of articles about marketing. Some have spoken about the need for marketing and IT to get together, if not even merge in some way (See the Forbes article last month). Others have proclaimed the end of the CMO’s position altogether, including the infamous piece by IMD’s President Dominique Turpin last year “ The CMO is Dead ..… Welcome to the CCO”.

Then there have been even more articles challenging marketing to show their worth and suggesting metrics to prove their ROI (See  Fournaise 2011 study of 600 CEOs or Forrester’s Marketing Performance Management Survey). The fact that there have been so many different pieces on the topic over the last year or so, suggests to me that marketing is still vital for and extremely attractive to business, but that it is in desperate need of reinventing itself.

For this reason I thought I would start (or is it join?) the conversation about the future of marketing, by proposing what I think will and won’t change and what needs to, at least in my own opinion. I would love you to join the discussion by adding your own thoughts, ideas and comments in the box at the end of this post or on social media where I will be sharing it.

What will change

  • Marketing can no longer work alone in a silo; it needs to become more collaborative and more commercial or business oriented. It can no longer remain fuzzy and hide behind claims that its ROI is difficult to measure.
  • Underst anding customer service opportunitiesThe sales funnel will be (has already been) replaced by the purchase decision journey, which will be a multi-layered, flexible representation of the route to purchase. For more on this, read “ How Great Customer Service Leads to Great Customer Loyalty”.
  • Advertising and messaging TO the customer will be replaced by valuable information made available FOR the customer. In line with the longer sales journey and multiple online consultations, advertising will become more informative, more useful, more timely.
  • Local will no longer be geographic but “Native”. Whether it’s language, habits or interests, customers will be targeted on their similarities that will rarely, if ever, include geographical proximity.
  • Mobile web consulting will become the norm, so br and sites need to become adaptive. Content will aim to inform, educate and entertain first and foremost, rather than sell, and websites will become flexible and adaptive to the differing screens and customer needs.

What won’t change

  • The customer is still the king, but content joins the ranks in almost equal position, needing more respect and value, and less commoditisation. For a great post on this read “ 5 Ways Content Marketing Must Change in 2014”.
  • Recommendations will remain a vital part of choice and decision-making, but they will no longer come from just friends and family. They will come from organised collection – think TripAdvisor or Angie’s List – or from (self) proclaimed experts through their Blog posts and faithful followers.
  • Customer (consumer) underst anding remains vital and in fact the need for underst anding will even increase as customers will be in constant evolution.

What must change

  • We are all swamped with messages and information and yet – perhaps because of this – our attention span is declining. Messaging must become shorter and simpler as people use headlines to decide whether or not to stick around.
  • In addition to the increased need for informative content, it will need to engage as well as (or is it more than?) inform. Storytelling will become an essential skill for marketers, both internally and externally.
  • Wearable technology will totally change our where and when decisions of messaging. The customer will not only be in charge of what messages are received but when to be “visible” to receive them.
  • The old marketing funnel to advocacyHaving changed the sales funnel to a path to purchase, the usual loyalty funnel no longer works. The simple path from awareness to loyalty will be replaced by a constant and consistent battle for trust. What’s more it will never be truly “won” as customers continue to be fascinated by novelty.
  • Marketing can no longer depend on creativity alone. It won’t be enough, as if it ever was, and marketers will need to get (even more?) comfortable with their BigData and its usage. Customer underst anding will come from multiple sources and market researchers will become underst anding analysts responsible for turning the unstoppable flow of information into the organisation, into palatable morsels of digestible stories.

One final word about the future of marketing. Already in September, Forbes published an article entitled “ The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends that will Dominate 2014”. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you give it a quick read, as it makes a nice, complementary piece to this more general perspective.

As you can see from the above, a lot more will change than will remain constant, and even those will need adaptation to the new world of marketing. Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are, or aspire to the CMO role. 

If you need help in adapting to the new world of marketing, we can help, so why not contact us here  and let’s discuss your needs?

C³Centricity uses images from Microsoft,  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Why Customers are your Secret Ingredient to Growth

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If you are like most businesses, you manage your factories, products and br ands with precision, efficiency and care. You develop new products, you renovate your packs, define new communication concepts and exp and your distribution. However, if you are like most businesses, you also sometimes forget that the secret ingredient to growth, is not (only) your products or the services you offer; it is your customers. Underst and them, surprise and delight them and your business will remain healthy.

I recently spoke to a company with exactly this dilemma, how to grow their very successful business even further. Having thought about possible solutions for them, I decided to share some of the ideas I came up with, as I’m sure that you too will find them useful.

The 5 ways to grow

The customer journey to growing your businessAll businesses want to grow market share and profit. Unfortunately there are only a finite number of ways to do this:

  • Get more customers
  • Get current customers to buy more
  • Get current customers to spend more
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase margins

Notice that three of these are directly linked to the customer, so that is why I refer to them as the secret ingredient to growth. I’m not discounting the other two, but arguably they take longer to action and see results, so for quicker impact, let’s concentrate on the customer.

Get more customers

Getting more customers for more businessIn order to get more customers you first need to learn who buys and why, as well as who doesn’t and why. In the latter group we also need to separate those who buy from a competitor and those who don’t buy the category at all. To underst and these three groups, you will need to gather information on the customers, as much and as deeply as you can. For more on this, please check out a recent post on the topic “13 things your boss expects you to know about your customer

The other essential to underst anding how to get more customers, is to know what your br and st ands for, its image and equity. By comparing these between the three groups, you will get clear indications of what needs to be changed and how to influence them. You will see why one group buys and the other doesn’t buy your br and, and perhaps also a better underst anding of why some don’t buy the category at all and that’s not always as easy as just a lack of the relevant need.

 

Get current customers to buy more

There are several ways to get your current customers to buy more; they could buy bigger quantities when they do buy, or just buy the same quantity but more frequently. In some industries there are a finite number of occasions or quantities that can be bought, but I have found that these limitations are often not as strict as many businesses think they are:

  • Whilst a person can only be on one plane at a time, they could fly with friends or family, or use the airline for more trips
  • A person can only eat one lunch or dinner, but your product could be served more than once a week / month
  • Someone may only have one car to insure, but would also need insurance for themselves, their family, pets, house or apartment
  • A housewife only needs a few pots and pans, or one food mixer, but she could be interested in buying specialised plates, serving dishes or equipment for particular meals or ethnic food preparation

When you underst and your customers better, these alternative product offerings become much more easily identifiable. In addition, since they are already customers, you should also have hopefully gained their trust, which makes them more open to purchasing again from you. And don’t forget the 80/20 Rule or Pareto’s principle, which often applies to business:

“80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers”

Concentrate on those 20% and ensure you satisfy their current needs and endeavour to identify their future needs too – which brings me nicely to the next solution.

 

Get current customers to spend more

Customers are happy to spend more if they trust youGetting your customers to spend more can be as simple as mentioned above, through them simply buying more quantity, or by upgrading what they buy to a more expensive product or service. There is, however,  both good and bad news for you in this.

Stairway to br and heaven or hell!The good news is that perhaps surprisingly, ever since the recession, customers are willing to spend more on certain categories than they did in the past. Whilst they struggle to make ordinary day-to-day purchases, they correspondingly splash out occasionally and treat themselves with better quality products and services from time to time. If you underst and this, then you can be there where and when the urge hits them.

The bad news is that in reaction to declining sales, even before the recession, many companies started promoting more or dropping their prices. Once you have conditioned your customers to expect these lower prices, you are on the slippery slope to br and hell, as described in “Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell?

So there it is. Customers are the secret ingredient to br and and business success. Think customer first and market share and profit will follow.

If you enjoyed this post, why not share it with others by forwarding or Tweeting it; and do sign up to receive them directly in your inbox every Friday.

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Need help in growing your own market share or profits? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com, Microsoft and  Kozzi.com

 

How Great Customer Service Leads to Great Customer Loyalty (And That’s What We All Want!)

Last week I wrote about some of the issues keeping marketers up at night and offered some suggested actions for each. Do you know what they are? Are you too worried about them?

The number one challenge faced by marketers today is reaching their customers, which may come as a surprise in this multi-channel, always on, environment we live in. However, once you have reached them and convinced them to buy, you still have the, perhaps even tougher, challenge of keeping them.

With so much on offer and the desire for novelty constantly growing, customer loyalty is declining. In fact, according to Bain & Co and Kantar Worldpanel’ 2012 survey mentioned, 50% of a brand’s ‘loyal’ users today will not be with them one year from now. 

Therefore, to follow on from last week’s post, I want to review what makes good customer service, since I believe it is one of the few ways of both building and keeping loyalty, as well as getting that vital advocacy that can grow your customer base even further. And I don’t seem to be alone in this belief.

Steven Van Belleghem wrote a great post on “Why customer loyalty is declining and what companies can do about it in which he shares his views on why this is so and what companies should do about it. His three solutions were:

1.      Treating customers well

2.      Treating employees well

3.      Doing good for society

So, assuming we accept (at least) his first solution, what do you need to do to treat customers really well? Here are a few thoughts from my side, but feel free to add your own ideas below:

#1. Really value the customer

Image source: Dyson

When I was younger I was very house proud, but these days I prefer surfing to dusting! That is one of the reasons why I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner; it gets the job done more easily and speedily and without too much mess or effort. You can therefore understand my frustration when the turbo brush stopped working. This was the second time in four years that this piece had ceased to function properly; the first time I was told that the newly introduced guarantee didn’t apply to me as I had bought my cleaner before its introduction! I therefore found myself paying a hefty price to replace the brush head.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I called Dyson this week and was told that as I had already bought a replacement brush before, this new one was going to be offered to me for free, in appreciation of my loyalty! Talk about being surprised AND delighted. The two-week delay for its delivery, which could have frustrated me, suddenly was no longer an issue; I’ll make do for now.

Dyson understands their customers. They turned a problem – being out-of-stock – into an opportunity to reinforce my loyalty. They clearly value my custom AND my patience and are happy to pay the (small) price in exchange for my continued loyalty.

#2. Go above and beyond in service

Zappos customer service excellence
Image source: Zappos

Zappos is known for their excellent service and have actually made it their mission. As they themselves say “We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy”.

In line with their mission, they have a model they call the “Happiness Experience Form” that they use to measure what they consider to be the four critical factors of customer delight:

  1. Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?
  2. Did they keep the rapport going after the customer responded to their attempt?
  3. Did they address unstated needs?
  4. Did they provide a “wow experience”?

I particularly like their #3 factor, responding to unstated needs; that takes customer service to a whole new level that few organisations achieve. Unfortunately, many still don’t even satisfy customers’ stated needs!

Zappos NPS (net promoter score) rose 5% points following the introduction of the happiness experience form. That’s pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? If you’d like to read more about Zappos customer service practices, I would recommend CRM Analyst Ashley Verrill’s “ A Zappos Lesson in Customer Service Metrics”.

 #3. Understand your customers’ experience

In order to delight your customers you need to take their perspective, not just view things from yours. This can be done in many ways. You can organise connection sessions where employees go shopping with customers or meet them in their homes. You can spend time listening to call centre exchanges or following market research projects in person. For a complete review of all the different ways to connect and learn from your customers check out “ How to become a fan of your customer” or search the “observation” or “customer service” categories by clicking on the words just below this post’s title.

Emirates journey mapping
Image source: Emirates

Understanding the journey your customers make, to compare, choose, purchase and then build to loyalty and advocacy, is one way to bring competitive value. Emirates airlines have done a great exercise in customer journey mapping and use it intensively in their training. What they have done particularly well in my opinion is linking each experience to emotions, highlighting strong and weak, positive and negative emotions to each one.

Taking their customers’ perspective and understanding the emotions connected with each has enabled them to earn much respect – and loyalty – within the industry.

Really valuing your customers means that you will do whatever it takes to not only meet their needs, but even surpass them. They should be surprised and delighted by your customer service, which makes understanding the purchase process from their perspective absolutely essential. If you manage to do that and correct any sticking points where your customers are having negative emotions, you will more likely achieve increased loyalty and hopefully advocacy too. 

If you need help in optimising your own care centres or customer connections then we would love to support your plans. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

What’s Keeping Marketers up at Night and Solutions to Help them Sleep

A recent study by Adobe shows that despite all the changes in marketing in recent years, the one thing that still keeps them (you?) up at night is reaching customers. If you think about it, this is somewhat surprising in today’s connected world; you would think that finding customers would be easier.

Having had many sleepless nights myself recently, but for very different reasons, I empathise with them and so thought I would propose some solutions to this and the other major causes of marketing nightmares.

Reaching Customers

In the past, contacting your customers was limited to (impersonal) traditional advertising, (hopefully personalised) call centers and the use of (often outdated) lists of names and addresses. Packaging was rarely thought of as a means of communication and in fact has only recently joined the realms of media. Check out How Communicating through Packaging is more Informative & Personal for more information on this.

A recent article in CIO showed 14 different ways to connect with customers, none of which were through advertising. They included social media, webinars, personal visits, the sales force and employees.

SOLUTION: With the wealth of opportunities to connect and customers more open to direct contact with br ands and organisations today, it is definitely worth reviewing which ones you are currently using. Far too many companies base their communications’ plans solely on last year’s document, whilst the world is changing and new opportunities are being presented every year, if not every month. Be more creative, unique and personal; your customers will love you for it.

Improving campaign effectiveness

Process wheelDespite increased opportunities to measure, it is still difficult for marketers to show the effectiveness of their campaigns. I believe this starts way before the airing of any advertising, since most marketers are still stuck in the ineffective habits of multi-concept developments and long, drawn-out, old-fashioned testing methods. This means that advertising agencies cost two or three times what they would if they were only working on one concept at a time. It also results in slower time to market, which further increases costs. No wonder marketing is being challenged on the total cost of advertising!

SOLUTION: Instead of working with advertising agencies to develop multiple concepts, often all the way to pre-airing readiness, try new methodologies which can help decision-making earlier in the process. PhaseOne has one such tool, a unique methodology that identifies the messages that customers will take away, which enables you to then develop the most promising concept. This saves resources of time, effort and money, which can then be spent on other things, including better metrics.It anyway makes sense to re-evaluate your own testing methods and development processes on a regaular basis, to see if they are still relevant today.

If you would like to hear more about the PhaseOne tool and see an example of its use, check out the recording of a joint webinar we just ran here.

Digital Distress

It’s hard to keep up with all the changes happening in marketing today, especially in the digital area, when you also have to concentrate on your day job. Being independent, I have the luxury of more time and less dem ands on it, which often means I can usually help marketers with what has become an important additional aspect of their jobs.

In the Adobe study, less than a half of those marketers actually responsible for digital marketing felt that they were highly proficient, and the others were even less confident (only 37% felt they were proficient). My take on this is that marketers are beginning to realise that they are ill-equipped for the personalisation needed to be effective in digital marketing.

This highlights the need for improved underst anding of the customer, something that was always needed but in today’s world of individualisation, any lack in this area becomes very evident.

If you would like to read more on targeting, check out “12 things you need to know about your target customer

 

SOLUTION: It is vital that marketers better understand their customers. This goes back to the basics of marketing and the number one action of getting to know your target audience. Whilst social media and the internet provide a wealth of information marketers still need to identify the segment most likely to be interested in what they have to offer. It is impossible to go after everyone and without this first filter, it makes underst anding online behaviour virtually impossible. Therefore, find out where and when your customers are online and only then review their behaviour.

Reaching customers with effective campaigns and underst anding digital media better are the three main concerns of today’s marketers. I hope the solutions I’ve shared have given you some ideas. Feel free to add your own comments below; I’d love to know what your own concerns are so that I can write about the topic in a forthcoming post. I look forward to hearing from you.

Need help in connecting with your own customers or in defining which segment to target? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity used images from Adobe Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

How Communicating through Packaging is more Informative & Personal

Two posts caught my eye this week as they both referred to the importance of multi-channel communications. If you are looking for inspiration and new ideas in this area, then read on. In particular we will speak about the often forgotten opportunity for communicating through packaging.

The first article was by Jim Tierney at Loyalty360 in which he commented on the results of a new survey in the USA by IBM, concerning cross-channel integrationThe research found that “only 35% of leading marketers currently integrate their campaigns across all channels, with 8% indicating they are not currently integrated at all. In comparison, only 12% of the remaining marketers surveyed currently integrate their campaigns across all channels, with 39% saying they are not currently integrated at all”.

The other post on the same topic was from Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief at Direct Marketing News. In it she spoke of the recent Responsys Interact2013 event and the keynote speech by Scott Olrich Responsys’ President:

“Most marketers still cling to blast campaigns,” he said. “Smart marketers focus on digital and addressable.” They’re now able to deliver on the promises of personalization made 10 years ago, Olrich added.

Why is doing so important? Customers today expect personalization, choice, and value—because they get it already from leaders such as Amazon, which is one company creating personalized experiences at mass scale.

One way to do this: Flip the model, said Steve Krause, SVP of product management at Responsys. Today most marketers start with the campaign, create an offer, schedule it, and send to mass audience; instead, Krause said during his presentation, marketers should start with customer, build profiles, design experiences, and personalized interactions.

As a customer centricity specialist myself, I particularly liked Steve’s comment about starting with the customer; do we still need reminding that this is the first business essential today? Perhaps we do. However, neither article spoke about the opportunity of communicating through packaging, so I would like to add my own thoughts.

I wrote a post last year about the opportunity packaging provides to connect directly with customers at the critical point of product trial (you can read it HERE).

In that post, I gave some good examples from Kellogg’s Pringles and Nestlé’s Nutritional Compass. This time I would like to add a couple of other interesting examples I have come across recently, where the messaging has become even more personalized.

Pringles goes from allaying a negative to a full blown campaign

 

Communicating through packaging
Source: Zigspics.com

Who doesn’t know Pringles, the  br and of potato- and wheat-based stackable snack crisps sold in 2012 by P&G to the Kellogg Company?

Pringles started using the freshness seal to communicate to their consumers, by printing “Bulging with flavour” to explain the swollen lid. At the time I was fascinated by the fact that Pringles had been able to turn what might have been perceived as a negative (bulging lid = altered product inside) into a positive, through this simple message.

Today, I am even happier to report that since then, Pringles have turned that short message into a full promotional campaign for the brand.

 

Food & Beverage manufacturers become more transparent

Nestle communicating through packaging with nutritional compassNestlé has been communicating on-pack concerning the ingredients of their products since 2005. According to their  website, the “Nutritional Compass” provides their consumers with four valuable pieces of information:

  • standardized nutrient table
  • “Good to Know” panel explaining ingredients or nutrients relating to the product
  • “Good to Remember” panel with tips for responsible product enjoyment
  • “Good to Talk” panel with contact details and links to consumer services.

By the end of 2008, they were claiming that its Nutritional Compass had been added to 98% of its global product packaging by total sales volume.

communicating through packagingArguably more appealing today, many other food & beverage companies have started using infographics to share similar information.

One example from :OTVETDESIGN in Russia and included in an interesting post at PATH, is from Selizharovo Cannery.

Selizharovo is using this approach to communicate the contents of its products, with clean and concise graphics that are an integral part of the branding. Innocent do something similar, but only for the list of their ingredients on the side panel.

By making the ingredient list so visual and key to the packaging execution, the brand projects transparency, honesty and authenticity – all important attributes for consumers tired of recent scandals concerning product misinformation. To read the full post and see more packaging examples using infographics, click HERE.

 

Newer, more personalized messaging

Recent uses of packaging for direct connection with the customers, show an exciting and much more personalized approach.

Coke communicating through packaging with namesFor example, Coca-Cola is putting people’s names on its bottles and cans this summer as part of its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.

They will be printing the most popular names in each country, or using a simple “Him” and “Her” label, when this is not possible.

 

communicating through packaging with personalised credit cardsMany banks offer their clients the possibility to personalize their bank or credit cards.

Although this has been true for many, many years, there seems to have been a recent revival in emphasizing this personalized alternative to the standard cards.

 

The often forgotten media channel

Packaging is a wonderful medium for communicating with your audience and yet many companies still seem to be ignoring it. My question to all marketers is therefore “Are you aware you are doing this?” I am sure many of you see packaging as purely a product protection mechanism or a facilitator of shelf impact. Whilst both of these are of course important, the opportunity of engaging with your customers whilst they are in the process of using your product has enormous value. Isn’t it time you took another look at yours?

If your company is effectively using its packaging to communicate more than just its ingredients or usage instructions, why not share it below and let your br and get the recognition it deserves and shine in the spotlight? We would love to see even more best-practice examples.

For more information on br and communication please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Do you feel that your communications could be even better? Is your copy testing coming too late or stifling creativity? Let us show you a new way to evaluate your concepts earlier in their development  process. Using it will save you considerable resources of both time and money. Contact us here.

This post has been adapted from one that was first published on C3Centricity Dimensions in April 2012

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Here’s how other Marketers make Social Media more Customer Centric

There is so much buzz around the uses and benefits of social media today that everyone is doing it; but are they doing it right? 

DreamGrow recently announced the Top 10 US Social Media sites, which showed huge gains for YouTube and LinkedIn and falls for Facebook and Twitter. Whilst these results are for the USA, when was the last time you looked at the latest statistics of the usage in your own market?

If your customers have changed their habits, then wouldn’t it make sense for you to do the same?

With that in mind, I came up with four steps to consider, for the continued improvement of your business from br and-centered to a more customer-centric one.

The success of most businesses depends upon building lasting relationships with their customers. Show them that you really value them; Connect regularly with them; Satisfy their needs and excite them with solutions to their problems. Social media is taking over many aspects of this from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) by offering more people more ways to voice their opinion, good or bad, about the products and services they have tried.

Here are four things to review when improving your customer centric use of social media:

#1 Define the fit with your marketing & communication plans

Social media as part of plansReview all the current forms of connection you have with your customers. Think about the direct contact via call centres, CRM activities, promotions, sponsorship events and websites, or indirect through retailers, advertising and market research. Then think about how social media platforms can be effectively integrated to better engage with your customers to complement these connections.

Platforms like Facebook or Twitter may offer fast and personal ways to get closer to your customers, but they do not have the same impact as your other forms of connection. Therefore identify precise roles for each media within your plan, and don’t add social media just because everyone is talking about it today.

#2 Identify where to engage with your target audience

customer centric Social media channels
Choose the channels that your customer uses

Next choose the most appropriate platform(s) for your target audience. Do they spend most time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube or another social platform? When did you last update the numbers? Have their habits changed? Continue to share valuable content via different social media channels and monitor the results. Which channels generate the most engagement with the content you share? Don’t expect your own br and websites to attract your customers without engagement on social platforms.

A leading CPG company which will remain anonymous but for which I have worked, found that more than two-thirds of their br and pages were being visited by less than 20 people per month! With Alexa, Google analytics and many other measurement sites available, there is no reason to continue to support sites that don’t deliver. Be ruthless and scrap those that don’t meet objectives. (you did set their objectives when you set them up, didn’t you?!)

#3 Listen to what they want to hear

customer centric companies listen to their customers
Learn to Listen to your customers

Every connection you make with your customers provides an opportunity for you to also ask questions or provide information back to them. This is particularly true with social media, where more people are likely to complain or ask questions than elsewhere, at least in developed markets. Although you may not like hearing negative comments about your products and services, it is better to find out and correct the issues quickly, than to discover the problem through falling sales.

To attract your customers to engage with you in social media, there has to be something in it for them. Therefore it is essential to ask yourself “what do they want to hear?” rather than “what do we want to tell them”.

 

#4 Discover when they are most engaged in social media

The right message must also be at the right timeSocial media provides virtually instantaneous contact with your customers, which means that you must always be open and ready to respond; they certainly expect it! (no you can’t continue to offer a 9-5, five days a week service – if in fact you ever really could!)

In addition, you need to discover what time of day your customers are most engaged in social media. That is when you will be posting and publishing your valuable information and suggestions. If you are doing business on a global scale, you’ll need different teams for each region. Gather smart data on a global and local scale to learn which parts of the day best support your engagement and customer centric approach.

These are a few ideas I came up with on adapting and using social media in your marketing and communications strategy. What other points are important to remember? Please share your thoughts and ideas below. 

If you would like to know more about connecting with your target customers, then please check out our website at: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Need help in better using social media? Then let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

This post has been adapted and updated from one first published in July 2011 on MirrorYourself “The Social Media Coach to Launch Your Business”

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

How to Take Local Br ands to Global Success

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times last year that challenged companies to search for a new style of  marketer. They weren’t speaking about the latest need for marketers to be both creative and comfortable with data. They were actually referring to the growing need for marketers to st and up to the challenge of taking local br ands global. The marketer who underst ands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t. (Read the article here)

In this networked, global market in which we live, more and more successful local br ands are being groomed for global roll-out. What does it take to repeat success at the market level when you launch globally? Here are my five suggestions to help you:

1. Underst and the market

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global roll-outs as it does to local developments. Today’s consumers are dem anding, so find out as much as possible about them, their rational needs but also their emotional desires, whether or not they are articulated. For global roll-outs, an additional information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must also be considered.

2. Underst and the category

What does the product st and for in the eyes 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 based on geography rather than the customer!

3. Position based on a Human Truth

Maslow's hierarchy of needsOne of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human needs. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children, used by Nestlé’s Nido and Unilever’s Omo / Persil. Think women and their frustration at not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models in their magazines, used by Unilever’s Dove. Think of men and their need to charm and seduce women, to affirm themselves, used by Lynx / Axe from – you’ve guessed it – Unilever. These are needs that can be found the world over and which can form the basis of a very successful roll-out communication strategy.

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. Think French perfume, Swiss watches, Russian Vodka, Italian fashion, German or American cars, Japanese technology. If your br and has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it.

5. Don’t (just) think regional

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, consider how alike the consumers are in terms of values, usage and behaviour as well as category trends, before deciding on the order of country launches. This way you are more likely to be sensitive to and better prioritize the markets most open to the new product launch.

One final comment on global roll-outs. C3Centricity’s partner PhaseOne, wrote a guest post for us a couple of months ago on the risks of implementing global creative. As global communication experts, PhaseOne knows what it takes to succeed in taking communication global. It 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 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 hear your thoughts.

If you would like to  know more about improving your br anding and communications, then please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

Whenever you identify a need to better underst and and communicate with your current or future customers, then please contact us; we know we can help catalyze your customer centricity.

This post has been adapted from one that was first publised on C3Centricity Dimensions in January 2012

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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