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Clues to a Remarkable Brand Story

Stories exist in all cultures. They have developed down through the ages as a means of transferring knowledge, long before books and now the web enabled their storage.

Today’s information-rich world has made storytelling a required talent for CEOs and CMOs alike to develop. And websites and Fan pages now make it a necessary skill for br ands too.

Br and stories are perhaps one of the easiest ways to resonate with customers. Hopefully, this will then lead to those highly sought-after but ever-diminishing rewards of loyalty and advocacy. Of course, I say “easiest” with caution, since great storytelling is an art that is often learned but rarely truly mastered. ( and I am conscious that I am (too) often in that group!)

One of the best places to find great stories is on TED. Amongst the most popular talks on the topic of storytelling, andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story.html”>The Clue to a great story was given in February 2012 by Andrew Stanton. Stanton is the Pixar writer and director of both the hit movies Toy Story  and WALL-E. I was reminded of his talk because it has since been turned into an infographic on the TED Blog. It inspired me to review the five “clues” Stanton talked about and then to apply them to br ands. These five essential elements of remarkable br and stories are the result.

 

Make me Care

According to Stanton, a story needs to start by quickly drawing sympathy from the audience / reader. The hero is introduced as being rejected or badly treated by family, friends, circumstances, or the world in general.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
SOURCE: CopyPress

Well-known examples of heroes include Cinderella or the lovable WALL-E in the film of the same name. Their predicament immediately generates feelings of concern and empathy, especially when identified as unfair or outside the control of the hero.

This works well for people, but for br ands I believe the emotions sought should be on the opposite side of these as demonstrated by Plutchiks’ Wheel of Emotions (see right).

Those of trust, admiration or anticipation are more relevant for br ands than remorse, grief, and loathing. People spend money on br ands because they believe that they will provide pleasure and / or solve one of their problems. Our job as marketers is not only to satisfy this need but to go even further by turning that expectation into surprise and delight (but more on that later).

 

Take me with you

In storytelling, there is often a journey, a mystery or a problem that needs solving. Something that entices the reader or audience to linger a while longer  and to learn more about the situation. In a similar way, a br and wants its customers to remain and become loyal. It therefore makes promises, whether real or just perceived as such by the customer.

Storytelling in businessWhen I first started working at Philip Morris International, there was a rumour amongst consumers that Marlboro was financing the Ku Klux Klan in the US. This started because its packaging had three red rooftops or “K’s” on it (front, back and bottom of pack). Management obviously didn’t want this untruth to be believed by its smokers, so one of the K’s was removed by making the bottom of the pack solid red.

However, consumers’ desire for mystery and intrigue was so strong that another rumour quickly emerged. This time, smokers had found three printer’s colour dots inside the pack (black, yellow and red). The story went that these markings symbolized that Marlboro hated Blacks, Asians and Indians! Once again management looked for ways to dismiss this rumour, but as in the previous case, just denying it would have most likely led to further reinforcement of the rumour. Since the printer needed these colour matches, they remained for many years.

Customers love to tell stories about “their” br ands. There are many myths about the greatest br ands around, often starting from their packaging or communications. For example, Toblerone has the “Bear of Berne” and the Matterhorn, exemplifying its Swiss origin, on its pack. The br and name too has Berne spelled within it and the chocolate itself is shaped like a mountain.

Camel has the “Manneken Pis from Brussels” on the back leg of the camel. Whereas the Toblerone links were intentional, I don’t think JTI planned that association into their design! Consumers just looked at the pack and having discovered the resemblance, started to share their findings, and it became a “truth”.

Many other br ands have developed stories through their communications, that are also shared and repeated until their customers believe they are true. Further examples 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 confirm and further support the connection their customers have with these br ands, so they almost become a part of their extended families. Such a strong emotional connection will ensure br and loyalty and advocacy for as long as the stories are maintained.

Be Intentional

In a story, the hero has an inner motivation, which drives them toward their goal. They will encounter problems and challenges along the way, but their motivation remains strong to reach their desired destination.

For a br and, this motivation is what it st ands for, its br and equity. What is the br and’s image, its personality; what benefits can the customer expect? Not only is it important to identify these, but perhaps even more importantly, is to consistently portray them in everything a br and does. From its product to its packaging, its communications to its sponsorships, the customers’ loyalty and appreciation are reinforced by every element that remains consistent and continuously reinforced.

Let me like you

A story depends on a hero with whom the audience can empathize; someone worthy of their respect, even love.

This is exactly the same for br ands, which is why problems and crises need to be h andled quickly, fairly and respectfully. In today’s world of global connection, everything a br and says or does, anywhere in the world, is shared and commented upon, around the globe in a matter of milliseconds. Whereas in the past, disappointed customers may have told ten others, today it is estimated to be closer to ten million, thanks to social media!

In a great article entitled “What an angry customer costs” by Fred Reichheld, it is said that the cost to companies of haters or detractors is enormous. “Successful companies take detractors seriously. They get to the root cause of customers’ anger by listening to complaints, taking them seriously and fixing problems that might be more pervasive” But it’s not merely a question of preventing the spread of negative word of mouth. As Reichheld, himself says “For many customers … (resolving complaints) …is where true loyalty begins”.

(Surprise and) Delight me

Stanton says that stories should charm and fascinate the audience. For br ands, we should aim for surprise and delight as previously mentioned. The surprise of learning something new about the product or company that made it; delight at getting unexpected gifts or attention from the br and.

This is where limited editions and seasonal offers first started, but over the last few years, thanks to today’s connected world, br ands are going much further:

  • In 2010, SpanAir delivered an Unexpected Luggage Surprise for its customers flying over Christmas Eve.
  • Also in 2010, another airline KLM, had staff members prepare gifts for a select few passengers who tweeted about their pending departure on a KLM flight at the airport.
  • Tropicana  brought “Artic Sun” to the remote Canadian town of Inuvik, where residents live in darkness for weeks each winter.
  • Amazon is known for their excellent customer service, but they often go the extra mile, upgrading customer shipping to expedited service for free.
  • Kleenex surprised sick people with their Feel Good campaign that targeted people Tweeting about going down with the ‘flu.
  • Google, who are known for their creative and timely illustrations on their homepage, started showing a birthday cake as the image above the search box on people’s birthday.

The last example actually happened to me for the first time a few years ago and I admit that I was so excited I actually Tweeted about it! Am I the only one who was touched by this gesture, because I haven’t heard anyone else mentioning it?

So those are Stanton’s five clues to a great story, adapted for br ands. Do they work? What stories are told about your own br ands? Or do you have other great examples to share? Please share them below.

For more on br ands please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/ or contact us here for an informal chat about how we could support your own br and building efforts or provide fun and-evaluation/”>training days.

This post has been adapted and updated from one which first appeared on C3Centricity in 2013.

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.

New Thinking for Old Ways of Business

I’ve just come back from IIeX-EU (Insight Innovation Exchange – Europe) in Amsterdam, and my head is full of exciting new things to experiment. It’s strange what happens to our brains when we have the chance to get away from the office and THINK! We become more creative, less bound by old habits, and ready to try new experiences.

After these few days away, I am fired with enthusiasm to bring real changes to my own business, those of my clients, as well as to yours through this post. I’d like to share a few of the ideas which were stimulated by some of the best presentations I’ve ever seen grouped into one single conference. Read on for four inspirational ideas for you to implement immediately, to bring new thinking into your own business.

Partner for Growth

Lowes logo eOne of the first speakers at the event was Kyle Nel from Lowe’s, an American home improvement chain. He explained that business is about changing customers’ behaviour and to do this we need to constantly update our methods for underst anding them. Lowe’s finds inspiration in partnering with organisations including Coke, UNICEF and NASA; how’s that for thinking outside the box? By connecting with companies in other industries, their thinking is constantly challenged, which enables them to grow exponentially, rather than in the linear fashion that most of us seem to be satisfied with. Kyle shared how Lowe’s accepts that whilst there may often be disappointments, the one in ten new ideas that truly deliver are worth all their efforts.

NEW THINKING: Find a catalyst for your own growth to bring you new ideas from external sources. Also look outside your industry for inspiration, and partner with a select few industry leaders that are trying new, exceptionally creative things (Like Loew’s!)

Know what you Know

Information & knowledge sharing is essentialGregory Short, author of “The Billion Dollar Paperclip”, suggested that it’s time we took a new look at our business and the eco-system in which it is operating. Amongst the list of things mentioned, he included identifying what you already know. This resonated with me because so often when new clients ask for help, they often already have a lot of the information they are seeking, they just didn’t know they had it!

Haiko van Lengen and Sjoerd Koornstra shared a Heineken case study which covered a similar point on knowledge sharing. They mentioned the 2009 Boston Consulting Group Insight Benchmarking study which showed that most companies are not using the majority of the information they gather.

Haiko and Sjoerd suggested that before doing any sort of information gathering, we should first assess what is already available internally on the topic. This review should include talking to all departments and definitely not just market research. You would be surprised how many companies operate in silos, each buying their own reports and information, and too often without the knowledge of their market research and insight department.

NEW THINKING: Find a way of sharing more information across your organisation, by setting up an easily accessible storage system. This could be as simple as a shared folder or as proprietary as a knowledge management system and library.

Don’t be Scared of Emotions

Plutchik's wheel of emotionsDiana Lucaci at True Impact Marketing, spoke about the surprising habit many marketers have of being satisfied with knowing just the “Who” and the “What” of their customers’ behaviours. She pointed out that it is even more important to underst and the “Why” of customer actions in order to impact them.

With the rapid expansion in the use of neuroscience and biometric measurement in market research, we now have the possibility to underst and a lot about our customers without even directly asking. Perhaps it’s time for you to experiment (again?). Let me know if you’re interested in trying out the leading emotional measurement tool around.

Diana also made a throw-away comment at the end of her presentation that was also later picked up by Daryl Travis during his talk on “Why emotions win the battle of the br ands”. It reminds us that there are simple things we can do that can have an incredibly positive impact on our customers’ loyalty:

“Make sure that checkout, or the last action your customer makes, is a memorable and positive experience” (>>Tweet this quote<<)

Daryl also ended his presentation with another well chosen, inspiring quote from Maya Angelou, the American author and poet:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” (>>Tweet this quote<<)

NEW THINKING: Review your own customer journey maps, but this time as an emotional journey and ensure that the last step is a positive experience – or urgently correct it if it isn’t!

Customers only Care about the Benefit

Benefits are what interest customersThis links to the previous comment on emotions. Michael Bartl from Hyve, mentioned that your customers don’t really care about who or how you solve their problems, only that you have a solution. Whilst this is probably correct in general, I believe there are some customers who do care and you need to know who they are. Concerns about sustainability, sourcing and ecological impact can all be relevant for some industries and br ands, so you need to check whether they are to your customers or a segment of them.

NEW THINKING: Review your advertising and see if you too spend most time speaking about rational product or service elements and less about the customer benefits. If it’s the case, make the swap to a more benefits-driven communications and measure the impact.

These are just four of the tens of pages of ideas I wrote, that were stimulated by presentations I followed during the IIEX-EU conference in Amsterdam last week. I hope they inspired your own thinking and interest in trying out some new things in your own marketing and market research. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, or if you’d be interested in getting some help in catalysing change in your own organisation.

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime and  Kozzi

What Martin Luther King & Apple have in Common: Inspiration & Excitement

The world’s press is full of references to Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech this week. This is because Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of one of the key moments in American civil rights history, even if these days the 28th August 1963 is better remembered for King’s speech than the March on Washington itself.

Some claim that the speech was in fact something of an afterthought and came about because one of his supporters supposedly whispered in his ear to “Tell them about your dream.” His speech inspired thous ands of people then and continues to do so even fifty years on. It also inspired me to write this post, although I need to paraphrase it slightly:

“I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all products are created equal”

Even altered they remain inspiring words indeed, but unfortunately, when it comes to innovation, successful new products are rarely created equal. Why then did I find my inspiration for this post in them? Because I believe that the main reason many new products don’t sell as expected, is because they are sold as such – as just new products!

Today’s consumer has so much choice that product benefits on their own rarely sell. Consumers dem and so much more. They ask that they are in fact sold a dream! An inspiration to believe in a better world for them and their families.

Apple logo brings inspiration
SOURCE: Apple.com

Does Apple sell just a computer, an MP3 player, a mobile phone? No, they sell creativity, excitement and individualism. I am not criticising their products, they are of course fantastic, but rather highlighting that even if their products are sometimes said to be better than their competitors, Apple is selling each one emotionally. They have found a way to build excitement, longing and love into each one of them. Who else has people camping out overnight to be amongst the first proud owners of their latest product? Apple has enabled each and every consumer to feel unique, special, privileged, an individual. And in this mass market world that we live in, this is certainly something that we all desire, dare I say crave?

So what can we learn from Martin Luther King and Apple in launching new products that will sell? Many things I am sure, but here are the first three that came to me:

  1. Inspire a dream – why will your customer’s life be better with your product or service, and I mean emotionally not just rationally? Describe and picture their future with your product or service in it, and make them crave it even before it is launched.
  2. Build emotion – make consumers excited by the launch; build anticipation, make the wait an integral  part of the sell, so that they will be lining up to buy it. Use tease campaigns, get press coverage, talk about it in interviews and on the TV weeks, even months before launch if you can. Forget fears of the competitionve; they know more than you think and often more than your own employees!
  3. Provide individualism – make consumers feel privileged to have bought it, whether this is through great after-sales service, automatic club membership, personalised offers or limited editions; even limiting distribution can work, although this needs to be done very cautiously, as it can have the opposite effect and disappoint rather than inflame the desired longing.

With so many new product failures today – I have heard anything from 80% to 95% – consumers have become blasé about them. They dem and more and better and rarely stay satisfied for long. This is why innovation has become a major part of business planning and success – or failure. Consumers know that if they are not immediately satisfied, there are many more opportunities out there in the market and new products to try. Building loyalty comes from connecting with your consumer on an emotional level, so that there is no comparison to competitive products and services, even if they are in reality very similar or cheaper at a rational level.

What other keys do you see to new product launch succcess today? What would you add to my starter for three? Do you have your own list? Please let me know if I have “inspired you emotionally as an individual” to comment here.

For more ideas on successful innovation, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision

Need help in reinventing your innovation to inspire, excite and delight your customers? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here

This post has been adapted from one that was publised on C3Centricity Dimensions on March 15th 2012

How to Segment for Actionability & Success

Last week I shared the twelve questions you need to be able to answer in order to ensure you really know your target audience. If you missed it, you can read it here. The post certainly attracted a lot of hits, so I hope you have all found ways to improve your own customer underst anding as a result of reading it.

All br ands and services need a group of customers that they are going to satisfy, since it is impossible to appeal to everyone most of the time. This means that you will need to make a choice about who you are going to target, which also implies that you must accept that you will also ignore some other category users.

Last week I read a really great post by Colin Nelson of HYPE on how a simple segmentation of employees enabled Swisslog to underst and and improve participation in their innovation ideas campaigns. I highly recommend reading this case study as it shows how even the simplest grouping of a market – in this case employees – can be both actionable and successful.

Segmentation can be as simple or as complex as you like, but is essential for all successful businesses. If you yourself are struggling to underst and your consumers, employees, retail customers, or any other group of people, perhaps a segmentation exercise is what you need to run.

 

 Where to start

When deciding who to target, most companies will start by conducting some sort of data gathering. This could be as simple as identifying your users by what you observe, such as young men or large families, or as complex as gathering your customers’ values and motivations. As mentioned in last week’s post, the deeper the underst anding of your target customer is, the more likely it is to provide you with a competitive advantage. The same also goes for segmentation.

 

Do you have the MIDAS touch?

Choosing the golden segmentWhatever method you use for segmenting and choosing your target group, the results of your exercise need to meet the following five conditions, known collectively as the MIDAS touch:

Measurable: The individual groups need to be clearly defined and quantifiable using KPI’s such as size, market share, value share
Identifiable: Each segment must have a distinct profile and each customer must be attributed to only one segment
Definable: Every cluster must be easy to describe and share with others, so that you have mutual underst anding of each of them
Actionable: The groups must be easy to identify, in order to be able to target your actions and communications to them
Substantial: The chosen segment must be financially viable to target, which means that it should in general be stable or growing, and durable over the long term

All good segmentations or groupings will fulfil these five key conditions, so it is easy for you to evaluate the results of your segmentation exercise. If they do not meet these conditions, then you will struggle to target your actions to your chosen group of customers.

Why not take a look at your own segmentation right now and decide how it can be improved? This may be by completing the information you have on each group, or may make you realise that you need a whole new segmentation study. However, it is definitely worth getting target customer choice right, as this forms the foundation for your br ands’ customer centricity.

 

Don’t have the resources? Here’s a solution

If you do not have the time, money, or expertise to run a detailed segmentation study, you can still make an informed decision of thebest  customer group to target. Use an analysis similar to the Boston Matrix, first developed in the 70′s by the BCG. At that time, it was created to help corporations analyse their business units and was based on market growth and relative market share. There are numerous free articles online explaining both the methodology and giving example plots; the one from MindTools is in my opinion one of the better sources.

Boston MatrixWhilst the criteria you use for each axis can vary, this simple method has the advantage of being able to be completed over time, as you get more information. Examples of the criteria that can be used are:

Attractiveness: Segment size, segment growth, segment value, competitive environment, fit to the company or br and
Ability to win: Product attractiveness to your customer, your distribution channels, your media mix, your reputation

Once you have positioned the different segments or groups of customers on the axes, you can easily see what needs to be done for each:

  1. Target: these are your core customers to target, as they are both attractive to the business and easy for the company’s product or service to attract
  2. Convert: these users can be attracted to your product or service but your ability to win them is currently low; you probably need to consider improving one of the elements of the marketing mix to attract them
  3. Grow: your product or service can easily win these groups but perhaps they are not as profitable as you would like; review them from time-to-time or develop a different strategy to attract them
  4. Ignore: many organisations struggle to make the decision NOT to go after a group of category users, but if you have neither the product / service nor the segment size that would be profitable to you, why spend time, money and energy going after them?

Choosing the right group of customers to satisfy with your product or service is essential for business success. So is doing everything you can to underst and them as deeply as possible. Truly customer centric organisations excel at doing both; do you? Why not share your own succcess story on segmentation?

If you would like to  know more about targeting, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

Need help in underst anding and segmenting your current category customers or defining which group to target? Let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

This post has been adapted from one that was publised on C3Centricity Dimensions on May 14th 2012

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

12 Things you Need to Know about your Target Customers

How well do you know your target customers? I mean really know them? Are they men, women, young, old, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses?

If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more could you know about them? Can you answer the following twelve questions?

I was recently working with a local service company who was looking for help with their online presence. They were keen to get more active on social media and had asked for advice about the best platforms, optimal frequency of publishing and possible content ideas.

However they were in for a surprise. Rather than getting straight onto the “sexy” topic of social media, I started by taking them through the basics of target customer identification. Lucky for them that I did! When we had finished the exercise, we had actually found five different targets for them to address, rather than just the two they had been addressing until now. This clearly would have an impact on both where, what and how they communicated online.

Customer persona template
Click image to download the template

These are the twelve questions that enabled us to brainstorm, identify and then complete a better and more complete description of their target customers. Their use also resulted in clear differentiated segments for their services – three more than they had originally thought! How would you like to double your own market potential? Read on:

  1. WHO DEMOGRAPHICS: OK this is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. Not really original and definitely not competitive, but still the essential foundation.
  2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or service, you need to know what your customers are using today. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too. What do they use – if anything – if your product / category is not available?
  3. WHAT THEY CONSUME: Here we need to underst and what types of information and media they are consuming; what do they read, watch, listen to in their spare time. Which social media do they use, what websites do they consult on a regular basis?
  4. WHAT THEY DO: How do your customers spend their time? What type of lifestyle do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they do all day, and in the evening and at weekends?
  5. WHAT THEY BUY: This is where you describe their current category purchasing habits. How frequently and what quantity do they buy? Do they have regular buying habits? Do they do research before buying or repurchasing? Do they compare and if so how, where, why?
  6. WHERE THEY CONSUME: Is the category consumed in home, in work, on vacation? With friends, with their partner, with friends? Are there certain surroundings more conducive to consumption? What makes it so?
  7. WHERE THEY BUY: Do your target customers have certain places and times they buy? Is it an habitual or impulse purchase? Is it seasonal?
  8. WHERE THEY READ: Today “read” covers not just traditional media but new media as well. From where do they get information about products? From manufacturers, friends, family, colleagues? Do they access it online, in print, on radio or TV, at home or on the road? What websites and people do they follow, listen to and value the opinion of? What interests do they have in general and concerning the category?
  9. WHERE THEY SEE: One reason to target a specific group of customers is so that you can better communicate with them. Where are they most likely to be open to your messages, what media, what times, which days?
  10.  WHY VALUES: What values do your customers have that you are meeting with your product or service, and explain why they are using it? Do they have other values that are not currently addressed, either by you or your competitors? Do these values offer the possibility of a differentiated communications platform or product / service concept?
  11.  WHY EMOTIONS: What is the emotional state of your customers when they are considering a purchase or use, both of the category and the br and? Clearly identified emotions enable you to more easily resonate with your customers through empathising with their current situation. You are more likely to propose a solution that will satisfy their need or desire when their emotional state is precisely identified.
  12.  WHY MOTIVATIONS: What motivates the customer to consider, buy and use their category and br and choice? Emotions and motivations are closely linked both to each other and to the customer’s need state. By identifying the need-state you want to address, you will  be better able to underst and your customers and increase the resonance of your communications.

If you can answer all twelve of these questions in detail, then you certainly know your customers intimately. But before you sit back and relax on your laurels, remember that people are constantly changing and what satisfies them today, is unlikely to satisfy them tomorrow. Therefore you need to keep a track on all four layers of your customer description to stay ahead of competition, as well as to satisfy and hopefully delight your customers.

As mentioned above, by answering and completing a detailed description of the target audience for my client, we were able to identify a couple of new segments that their services could address. Although their demographics were similar, their emotional and need states were quite different. This gave us the opportunity to respond with slightly different service offers for each group. 

If you would like to try out this exercise for yourself, we have some useful templates that we can send you, to make it easier and a lot more fun; just drop us a line and ask for them.

For more information on better identifying and underst anding target customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Five Ideas to Improve your Insight Development

Last week I spoke about updating your market research toolbox and how to review your metrics. This week I want to take the next logical step by turning the knowledge you gather into actionable insights.

Insights are the pot of gold that many businesses dream of but rarely find. Why is that? Are you one of them? If so then I have some ideas on how you can get better at developing insights.

#1. Insight doesn’t come from a single market research study

Management often thinks that insight is “just another word for market research”. I remember one of my previous CEOs saying exactly that to me just before he addressed the whole team at our annual conference; you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!

Insights are tough to develop and are rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project that is conducted should be designed to gather information in order to answer one or more questions. Whilst it may enable a business to make a more informed decision based upon the objectives, insight development is quite a different process.

Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the data and information you have about a category or segment user, summarising it into knowledge and underst anding, and then developing the insight. All br ands should have (at least) one insight on which its image, personality and communication is built. For example

  • AXE (Lynx in UK): (young) men want to attract as many beautiful and sexy women as possible
  • UK anti-smoking: smokers don’t want to have to live with the guilt of having damaged a child’s health through their smoking

Insight development will provide the basis on which you will define the actions that are needed to change the behaviour of your target audience.

#2. Insight development is based upon a desired behavioural change

When sales, marketing or management look to change a category, segment or br and customer’s behaviour, it is with the objective of improving their business results. For instance:

  • From buying a competitive br and to purchasing yours
  • From using your services once a month, to once a week
  • Moving customers’ belief about your br and from a traditional to a more modern image
  • Changing customers’ perceptions about your value from expensive to good value for money

Because insights are based on a desired behavioural change, they usually contain an emotional element that is communicated through advertising. The emotion that is shown in the advertisement is more likely to resonate with customers, who are then motivated to take the desired action.

#3. Insight development needs more than Insight professionals

Although this may sound counter-productive, insights really do benefit from working from differing perspectives to get to that “ah-ha” moment, that many refer to. A deep underst anding of customers and their reasons for behaving in a certain way, comes from looking at all aspects of their lifestyle. If you only review the actual moment when they choose or use a product or service, it is highly unlikely that you will develop that deep underst anding. What happens before and afterwards also lead to that choice or that of their next purchase.

This is why it is important to work as a team when developing insights. Depending upon the issue or opportunity identified, the team can be made up of people from marketing, sales, trade marketing, production, packaging, advertising, innovation, distribution. And these people don’t necessarily need to work on the category in question alone; sometimes it is by taking ideas from different categories that real insights are developed.

#4. Insights are usually based on a human truth

The insights that resonate best with people are those that are based upon a human truth. A human truth is a statement that refers to human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed. It is a powerful and compelling fact of attitudes and behaviour that is rooted in fundamental human values. It is a fact that is obvious when quoted, but is often ignored or forgotten in daily business. Human truths are linked to human needs and although questioned in some circles today, Maslow’s hierarchy is still seen as one of the most relevant sources of classification of human needs.

Examples of human truths include:

  • Parents want to protect their children
  • Men and women want to find love
  • Children want to be better than others

If you are struggling to find an insight, it can help to review the level of need of your target audience and see how your br and can respond to help answer it.

#5. Insights aren’t always category specific

Following on from the above points, it is particularly interesting that once found, an insight can be adapted to be used with different br ands. There are many examples of this happening, particularly amongst major FMCG / CPG companies.

Insight: Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy

  • Unilever’s Omo: shows that a good mother lets her child experiment and learn – even if this means getting dirty. If you don’t know their advertising, then check out one of their latest from this long-running campaign: Unilever Omo “Dirt is Good” ad on YouTube
  • Nestlé’s Nido: illustrates this need as a mother providing the nourishment for healthy growth which allows her children to explore the outside world safely. If you would like to see a typical advertisement, check it out on YouTube here. Interestingly, Nestlé has used this same insight to develop advertising for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas too.

Insight: Young women want to be appreciated for who they are ie not models

  • Unilever’s Dove was the first br and to recognise and benefit from this insight. Their famous Real Beauty campaign resonated so well with young women that many other br ands copied it, especially their Evolution film. Here is one of their more recent ads that I’m sure will give you goosebumps.
  • The Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store br and “I am” which uses the same insight across all the health and beauty products. Somewhat unusually, the br and name itself is based upon the same insight, and its advertising repeats it several times: “I am – what I am“.

So there you have them, the five ideas that I came up with to help you to develop better insights more easily. Although you probably already have your own process for creating them, I know from experience how hard it can be to find insights from all the information you gather. I hope this short article has assisted you in your search for those “golden nuggets”. Do share your own ideas for making insight development easier, I would love to hear from you.

For more information on Insight development, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst anding

Do you need help developing or updating your own Insight development process? C3Centricity offers a 1-Day Catalyst session, where we work with your team to review and revitalise your own insight process, or to define one if you do not as yet have a proprietary one.

Contact us for an informal chat about it. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

6 Secrets to Better Customer Relationship Building

Yesterday I read a wonderful post from Ted Rubin about IBM’s recent Global Summit, which used an unusual emotional stimulation to connect with the participants. It also illustrated how emotions can be used for customer relationship building as well as for prompting longer-term memory in potential customers. If that is what you too want to build, read on.

Ted mentioned that when it was first announced, that they were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s Longest H andshake Chain “You can imagine the reaction of the attendees. The first response was one of amazed disbelief. “Really?” And then, “Wow, this will be something to always remember as a group!” This is the sort of thing you naturally tell your kids about… and then tweet, and post to Facebook. The energy in the room and the excitement of the crowd were palpable.”

I still remember the excitement of attending a local cinema morning when I was 5 years old, that was sponsored by a major tea br and. I should mention that I grew up in Cornwall, where tea is the leading day-time beverage and it is served as strong as the women who make it and the men who drink it. Even today, I can sing the song we learnt word-for-word before the film was shown and find myself buying the br and to take back home whenever I go to the UK.

What both these companies got right, was their customer relationship building based upon a group experience of their potential customers at the respective events. In my case I don’t remember what film was shown and I am not sure what IBM services Ted will remember, but we will both surely remember the br and names at the heart of our memorable experiences.

How are you getting into the brain of your own potential customers and are you finding a permanent place in it? Earlier this week I presented to a group of professionals at The Marketing and Communications Loft in Geneva. We discussed the many ways there are to connect with our audiences today, but also the challenge of breaking through the clutter of everyone attempting to do the same. As this Infographic “What happens online in 60 seconds” shows, there is so much going on online already, that it is becoming harder to build this emotional connection, which is the only way to really resonate and build relationships with your potential customers. So here are some ideas on how to do so:

#1. The secret of Information

Underst and what information your customers really want, not just what you want to give them. This is the single most important thing to remember when building a br and website. Read this post from Anita Williams Weinberg of Poppermost Communications for some useful thoughts on this.

#2. The secret of Needs

Review where your customers are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and ensure you are using relevant arguments to resonate and build a relationship that matters to them for the level they are at currently. Talking status to someone who is struggling to feed their family is unlikely to get either a positive reaction, or recall!

#3. The secret of Polysensoriality

Realise that products alone are rarely building an emotional connection and need a point of differentiation. Adding sensorial experiences will link directly with consumers and ensure higher loyalty even when product performance is similar to a competitor’s. Cars and personal care products are two industries that already rely on these to resonate with their potential clients.

#4. The secret of Surprise

Another way of increasing the emotional connection of a br and is by adding appropriate services to your offer. Zappo’s is a great example of how to do this; their slogan “Powered by Service” and their habit of training all new hires in customer service, including time in their care centres, ensures all employees are truly customer centric and will go above and beyond their duty to satisfy their customers.

#5. The secret of Underst anding

Surprise your customers with an extra they weren’t expecting. Amazon was one of the first to propose other relevant articles to their customers whether they were merely browsing or after having purchased. The emotional connection their customers feel by being understood clearly outweigh any feelings of “Big Brother” watching, although this of course remains a risk, especially for other companies trying to replicate the service idea.

#6. The secret of Service

Welcome the chance to solve complaints. According to the results of research recently conducted by The Temkin Group, 89% of customers have switched to a competitor after just one negative experience and only around 4% will even complain. It therefore makes good business sense to treat complainers as providing you with the prized gifts that they are doing and to do everything you can to solve their issue. Go “over the top” in listening to them and resolving their issue to their complete satisfaction, not yours. A positive experience will be shared with friends and family, as well as on the web, as will a negative one, so make sure your company delivers the former.

I hope this has given you some food for thought on how to start building relationships with your customers, to gain a place in their hearts and minds through using emotional connections. If you have any other ideas, we would all love to hear them, so why not share them below?

For more information on how to better connect with your customers to build relationships, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/engage/

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

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