Insights are the pot of gold that many businesses dream of but rarely find. Why is that? Are you one of them? If so then I have some practical ideas on how you can get much, much better at insight development.
#1. Insights don’t come from a single market research study
Management often thinks that insight is “just another word for market research”. I remember one of my previous CEOs saying exactly that to me just before he addressed the whole market research and insight’s team at our annual conference. I am sure you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!
Insights are a challenge to develop and are rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project is designed to gather information in order to answer one or more questions. Whilst it may enable a business to make a more informed decision based upon the objectives, insight development is quite a different process.
Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the data and information you have about a category or segment user. Then summarising it into knowledge and turning that knowledge into understanding. Only then are you ready to develop an insight.
All brands should have (at least) one insight on which its image, personality and communications are built. For example
AXE (Lynx in UK): (young) men want to attract as many beautiful and sexy women as possible. This is one of their newer ads, where the seduction is a little less in your face and more subtle – but still there.
Haribo Starmix: There’s a child inside every adult. This “Kid’s Voices” campaign has been running for years and manages to surprise and delight with each new episode.
Dulux sample paint pots: I love to decorate my home, but I don’t want to look stupid by choosing the wrong colour. Although these are now a standard offer for many paint brands, Dulux were the first to understand the problem facing potential home decorators.
Insight development will provide the basis on which you will define the actions that are needed to change the behaviour of your target audience. It also provides a solid framework on which to build your communications’ strategy.
#2. Insight development is based upon a desired behavioural change
When your sales, marketing or management look to improve their business results, their real objective is to change the behaviour of your current or potential customers’ behaviour. For example:
From buying a competitive brand to purchasing yours.
From using your services once a month, to once a week.
Moving customers’ beliefs about your brand from a traditional or classic brand, to a more modern image.
Changing customers’ perceptions about the price of your brand from expensive to good value for money.
Because insights are based on a desired behavioural change, they usually contain an emotional element that is communicated through advertising. The emotion that is shown in your communications is more likely to resonate with customers if it does stimulate their emotions. They are then more likely to remember your brand and may be more motivated to take the desired action you have identified.
If you are looking to increase sales or improve your brand’s image or equity, look to connect emotionally with your (potential) customers. Identifying the behavioural change you need your customers to make is a foundational step of insight development.
#3. Insight development needs more than Insight professionals
Although this may sound counter-productive, insights really do benefit from working from differing perspectives to get to that “ah-ha” moment, that many refer to. A deep understanding of customers and their reasons for behaving in a certain way, comes from looking at all aspects of their lives.
If you only review the actual moment when they choose or use a product or service, it is highly unlikely that you will develop that deep understanding you need. What happens before and afterwards also leads to their choice or that of their next purchase.
This is why it is important to work as a team when developing insights. Depending upon the issue or opportunity identified, the team can be made up of people from marketing, sales, trade marketing, production, packaging, advertising, innovation, and / or distribution. And these people don’t even need to work on the category in question; sometimes it is by taking ideas from different categories that real insights are developed.
#4. Insights are usually based on a human truth
The insights that resonate best with people are those that are not only emotional, but are also based upon a human truth. As you can imagine, these two elements are closely connected.
A human truth is a statement that refers to human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed. It is a powerful and compelling fact of attitudes and behaviour that is rooted in fundamental human values. It is something that is obvious when quoted, but is often ignored or forgotten in daily business.
Human truths are linked to human needs and although it’s validity has been questioned in the past, it is seeing a revival today. The covid-19 virus has moved all human being back to a search for the basic levels of safety and health.
Examples of human truths used by some brands include:
Parents want to protect their children.
Men and women want to find love.
People want to be better than others.
If you are struggling to find an insight, it can help to review which level of needs your target audience is on and see how your brand can respond to help answer it.
Following on from the above points, it is particularly interesting that once found, an insight can be adapted to be used by different brands. There are many examples of this, particularly amongst major FMCG / CPG companies.
So take a look at your competitors’ communications and see if you can identify the insight on which they are built. Do the same for other categories targeting a similar audience. Sometimes you can use the same insight for your brand as they are using. But I would only recommend this if you are really struggling to develop your own insight.
One very successful example of this is the advertising for Omo / Persil from Unilever and Nestle’s Nido. They are both based on the insight “I want my child to experience everything in life, even if it means getting dirty.” Take a look at the two ads below and see what I mean.
Unilever’s Omo: shows that a good mother lets her child experiment and learn – even if this means getting dirty. If you don’t know their advertising, then check out one example from this long-running campaign.
Nestlé’s Nido: illustrates this need as a mother providing the nourishment for healthy growth which allows her children to explore the outside world safely. If you would like to see a typical advertisement, check it out on YouTube here. Interestingly, Nestlé has used this same insight to develop advertising for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas too.
Another example of a shared insight is again from Unilever and the local Swiss supermarket Migros. The insight is “Young women want to be appreciated for who they are and not just their external looks.”
Unilever’s Dove was the first brand to recognise and benefit from this insight. Their famous Real Beauty campaign resonates so well with young women that many other brands copied it, especially their Evolution film. Here is one of their more recent ads that I’m sure will give you goosebumps.
The Swiss Supermarket chain Migroshas a store brand “I am” which uses this same insight across all their health and beauty products. Somewhat unusually, the brand name itself is based upon the same insight, and its advertising repeats it several times: “I am – what I am”.
So there you have them, the five ideas that I came up with and numerous examples to help you to develop better insights more easily.
Although you probably already have your own process for creating them, I know from experience how hard it can be to find insights from all the information you gather.
I hope this short article has assisted you in your search for those “golden nuggets”. Do share your own ideas for making insight development easier, I would love to hear from you.
C³Centricity uses images from Pixabay.com.
Do you need help developing or updating your own Insight development process? C3Centricity offers several 1-Day Catalyst training sessions on the topic. We will work with your team to review and revitalise your own insight process, or will define a proprietary one that integrates into your other internal processes.
A New Year tradition we started here at C3Centricity back in 2011, is to share our most popular brand building strategies and posts of the year. This gives everyone a chance to catch up on our best posts that they may have missed.
This year has been a particularly successful year for C3Centricity, with many of our newest post getting the top scores globally. This is quite tough for a blog that has been running for almost eight years and highlights the quality of the content we share with you! So have a look at our list and see if your own favourites are there. If not, then please let us know in the comments. Thanks.
This post shares the highlights of recent research into how market research departments can become true business partners, rather than being viewed as a mere cost center. It also shares ten steps to reinventing and upgrading your market research department. If you believe that you could be getting better support on your customer understanding and insight development, then these ten ideas will take you a long way to doing this in 2019.
Many CMOs are frustrated by their lack of recognition by their fellow c-suite colleagues. If this is your case, or you are new to the position and want to make an impact quickly, then this is a must-read post. It shares the most collon opportunities and challenges you may face and suggests five areas to (re)visit which will provide a new and fresh perspective on their business.
These are the most shared marketing infographics of 2017. As usual, for each one we have added an action for you to take based upon the topic covered.
What was new for last year is that many marketing infographics that were shared were actually about content marketing. It’s as if “true/traditional” marketing doesn’t exist any more! That in itself says a lot about the focus of marketers these days! Are they right to do so? I don’t think so, but let me know your opinion.
In its simplest form a customer first strategy is about thinking customer first in everything you do. Yes I know it sounds easy but it really isn’t. It doesn’t come naturally, at least to start with. And it involves a culture change to move the organisation in this direction. But I can assure you it’s worth it; its value is now well proven.
This post lays out the importance of being data driven, innovative, collaborative and agile to succeed a customer first strategy. It also shares the seven reasons most companies fail.
This post shares the three lessons learnt from a personal (bad) experience with a hotel chain and its “guaranteed lowest price” promise. These are: 1. The customer journey needs to integrate all possible contact points. If it doesn’t you could alienate your customers before they make a purchase. 2. If you mess up admit it and correct the situation. People understand that mistakes get made. While they may forgive you if you quickly put it right, they will never trust you again if you pretend nothing is wrong. 3. Follow up to make sure the customer is happy. In the heat of the moment a customer may feel satisfied that something was done. However in the cold light of the next day, week or month they might feel that what you did was not enough.
In working with clients around the world and in numerous industries, I have found that many are lost by the wealth of information that is available to them. In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do and they remain frozen in indecision.
If this is your situation, just follow the detailed steps of this post and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not 10x the ROI of your data!
Your brand is not what you think it is! It is what your customers think it is; its brand image, personality and its value to them.
If you’re having issues with your own brand in either of these areas, then you’ll find this article both interesting and valuable. It covers why we buy brands, the different elements of a brand, the three types of attributes you should be measuring for your brand. It then goes on to review brand personality and the main archetypes with some great examples.
This article has been amongst the top twenty posts every year ever since it was first published back in 2013, a staggering five years ago! If you haven’t read it yet, then you really have been missing out on some surprising facts about insight development. Perhaps one of them is the reason that you are still struggling to develop valid and actionable insights? Check it out and see what you have missed all these years.
We all know how extremely demanding consumers have become. Constant innovation and novelty has made us all more impatient and critical. We want things better, faster and sometimes cheaper as well. And customer satisfaction is becoming insufficient to drive growth alone. Marketing must deliver more!
This article shares three examples that provide a clear roadmap for anyone wanting to move their customer service and engagement to the next level, by offering more than mere customer satisfaction.
All brands and services need to choose a group of customers that they are going to satisfy, since it is impossible to satisfy everyone most of the time. This means that you need to make a choice and agree to ignore some of the category users you could appeal to, in order to totally satisfy your target customer.
Although this may sound counter-intuitive, segmentation is the only way to ensure you have the best possible chance to satisfy the needs of your targeted customers.
When I look back at these top ten posts I am proud that most of them are from 2018. After almost eight years, it seems that what I am writing today is more in line with marketers’ needs than previous posts which have been around for much longer.
There are a few exceptions to this, my evergreen content on topics that will always appeal to marketers young and old. This year, as in the past, they are on the topics of Brand image, equity and personality, Insight development and Principles of segmentation. I think this makes a lot of sense as they are fundamental skills that every marketer needs, even in this digital age.
Now my question to you dear reader, is what topics you want me to cover in 2019? If you have reached the end of this post then you must be a keen supporter, so I will offer a free e-book to everyone who completes our short survey in January 2019. Just click on the button and you will be taken directly to the survey. Once completed you will receive an email with a link to download the ebook “Secrets to Brand Building” for free – it’s normally US$ 4.95!
Over the many years of blog posting, I have written many other posts on many different topics, and which include my solutions to failing in countless areas of marketing. I therefore thought it would be useful to share four of the most important ones here in a single post. Let me know what you think.
For this first summary of a post, I’d like to share not a list of solutions but a selection of inspiring quotes on reacting to failure. I think it sets the stage beautifully for the other articles to come.
In the full post (which you can read by clicking the above link) you can also find suggested actions for each of them. They will make you realise that there is great opportunity in every failure! So don’t be afraid to fail. Just never give up!
1. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates, American Businessman
2. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” John Wooden, American Coach
3. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin, American Politician
4. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” Henry Ford, American Businessman
This post mentions the ten reasons innovation fails and then shares ideas on finding a solution to each of them. That is what I share below.
#1 The process: Introduce some creativity into the process. Use a virtuous circle (as shown above) rather than the usual linear or funnel approach. All innovation processes should start with a deep understanding of the potential customer segment and then insight development.
#2 Meeting company quotas: Instead of company quotas on the number or proportion of new product launches, a better target is a percentage of sales. This should eliminate all but the very best ideas, which are expected to increasesales rather than merely replace current products.
#3 Lack of customer understanding: The best way to innovate successfully is to start by looking at the target customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. Watching and listening to your customers with an open mind, rather than with a hypothesis in your head, will enable you to identify pain points the customer may even be unaware of.
#4 Lack of category understanding: Never assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified how your customers are choosing and what they are currently using. You might be surprised to learn that your competitors are not those you thought they were!
#5 Not living up to your promises: In today’s connected world, false or exaggerated promises are quickly identified and shared on social media. Nothing is every hidden for long these days, so if you make a mistake, admit it, own it, correct it and move on. It will be forgotten or forgiven quicker than if it becomes a scandal.
#6 Not being sufficiently differentiated: With such an abundance of information available to everyone, comparisons are easy to make. Solution based offers will always be able to charge more than product based ones. It’s up to you to decide which you want to be.
#7 Being too different: Identifying a sub-category of users with a precise need and then meeting that need better than anyone else is the more successful way to differentiate.
#8 Pricing yourself out of the market: Understanding how much potential customersvalue your offer is essential to the success of any product or service.
#9 Inappropriate distribution: Appropriate distribution doesn’t mean being in stock everywhere at the lowest price. But it does mean being in the retail outlets that your target customers visit more often.
#10 Being too far ahead of the customer: If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product or service idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision. Keep the concept in your “back drawer” until customers are ready. You will then be the first to respond to these new needs and beat the competition to market with the correct solution.
The full article goes into more detail on each of these solutions of course. So if any of them resonate with you, it is worth checking out the full post.
You must innovate to stay in the game, but that doesn’t mean launching anything just to meet the company’s innovation targets. Launch bigger, bolder and better, as one of my bosses used to say. And never give up!
This post summarises my easily applied learnings that will make your leadership style more efficient and effective, no matter the industry in which you work.
1. We should never stop learning. As we age and rise in the corporate world, we seem to forget that we don’t know it all! We even think that we should have all the answers, or worse still, think that we do!
2. We should accept help. Some people find it hard to ask for help or even to accept it when it is offered. This is foolish, since we cannot be an expert in every area of business. In fact if we lead a team, whether just a few people or many thousands, we should be good at managing people first.
3. Practice really does make perfect. It’s not only perfectionists that think they’re never good enough. We should always strive to be the best we can be. We should never compare ourselves to others, only to our previous selves.
4. That final check is worth it. When I was learning to fly, my instructor never stopped reminding me that the pre-flight checks were vital to do thoroughly. He reminded me that once you’re in the air, it’s too late! The same goes for meetings, events and conferences once they’ve started. Make and use checklists, like pilots do, and complete that final check thoroughly and completely.
5. Accept defeat and mistakes. We all make mistakes sometimes and get defeated occasionally. We’re human after all. However, those mistakes and defeats are great teachers. If we learn and grow from them, then the pain involved should be short-lived, as we move on to bigger and better things.
6. Honesty is always the best policy. Somehow honesty is rarely discussed these days and yet we all know that trust is one of the main reasons people do business with companies. Trust built over the long term will enable companies to be forgiven for any occasional mishap that may occur.
7. Business isn’t only about millenials. Everyone is speaking about the Millenials these days. While Millenials may be trendy, there are other groups which are arguably just as important to consider for a successful business. For example, there are now more Baby Boomers that Millenials in the US!
Great leaders are aware of these seven points, are you? If not, then read the full articlefor further details. Leaders don't know it all but they do know how to learn from failure. Never give up on your plans, just adapt them when needed.
Be honest! Everyone struggles to develop true insights about their customers. Most times we accept summary information or facts about the marketplace and call them insights. But we alll know that insight development is difficult. So hard to get to that "aha" moment when what we have said about our customers is so obvious we can't understand how we - or anyone else for that matter - never realised it before.
If you are struggling to develop insights that truly resonate with your consumers or customers, I suggest you follow these 8 tips.
#1. Turn business objectives into customer-centric ones. Identify what you want to change in terms of your customers’ behaviour or attitudes. This way you will be thinking about your customers’ objectives rather than (just) your own.
#2. Insight generation should start with customer connections. When was the last time you personally spoke with your customers? If it wasn’t in the last week, you’re not getting out enough!
#3. Have regular contact with all other departments. It is impossible to really understand the business if your contact with other groups is limited to meetings and presentations. Make a habit of taking a coffee or lunch with people from other spheres of the company and share your latest ideas and learnings. You will both discover a lot!
#4. Get MRI (Market Research & Insight) to share their nuggets of information regularly. Market research and insight teams learn new things about the business every day, so why not ask them to share more? Don't wait for a formal presentation of the results of the latest piece of research. Get them to share findings and analyses with you on a regular, (at least) monthly basis.
#5. Get into the habit of speaking with consumers at every chance you can. Suggest to join in when research projects are being run. Listen in to call centre conversations, speak to demonstrators and merchandisers, or even talk to shoppers at retail.
#6. Ask MRI to analyse more than market research information alone. They are the best synthesisers you have and can manage multiple data sets from all available sources. Ask them to integrate more information and you will both be happier.
#7. Remember that insight development takes energy and time. It usually takes days, if not weeks or even months to refine, group and synthesise information down to an actionable insight.
#8. Insight development should involve more than the insight team, which is why it is important for them to build relationships with other departments.
Following these 8 ideas will make your business one of the most successful in insight development. How would that feel? Read the full article HERE. Insight development may be difficult, but it's not impossible. Never give up!
And if you want to improve even faster in any areas of learning from failure, you can invite us to give a 1-Day training that will catalyse your team in record time. Download the summary brochure of all our current training courses HERE.
These are some ideas and processes for avoiding failure or even more importantly, learning (a lot) from them. Whether it is in business management, innovation or customer understanding, you can learn from the best, so you don't have to make the same mistakes. I hope you appreciate it!
What’s your gut response to the title question about eliminating Market Research Departments? Yes? No? It depends?
I am probably in the third camp. No, if it is a department that integrates and analyses information from multiple sources, and then delivers actionable insights and recommendations. Yes, if it is the traditional market research department. Let me explain.
Thanks to social media and websites, the IoT (Internet of Things) and smart products, companies are inundated with information these days. Who better than market research to help in its analysis? But in order to become this new business decision support group, new skills are required.
This research is now a few years old and the world is changing fast. A more recent study by BCG and GRBN resulted in an Invest in Insights Handbook to help organisations report on the ROI of the insights function. They found that those who measure their ROI have found a seat at the decision table, increased budgets, and more control. Those are the department objectives that the FMCG world in particular desires today, be they in a manufacturing or retail environment.
As the handbook mentions:
“Architecting a world-class Insights organization requires executive, cross-functional commitment/engagement”
To do this, they mention the following six points:
Vision & Pace
Seat-at-the-table and leadership
Functional talent blueprint
Ways of working with the Line
Impact and truth culture
The report concludes that:
“The biggest barriers to experimenting with innovation in CI are resources, both time and money. A lot of times there’ll be [a need for] an innovation project but it can’t find a home.”
This seems to suggest, at least to me, a chicken and egg situation. Resources are insufficient because the business doesn’t see the benefit of investing in market research and insight. But the Market Research Department is struggling with insufficient budget and personnel to provide the support that they should – and often could – provide.
In the GRBN report, they mention the largest barriers to the measurement of the ROI of market research and insight. These were found to be:
Difficult to do – studies are used in many different ways
Difficulty in isolating impact of consumer insights
Time lag between insight delivery and business results
The secondary concerns are:
Consumer insights distant from business decision-makers
Business objectives not clearly defined
Insufficient staff to measure
Lack of alignment on important metrics
Looking at this list, it is clear that the market research profession is in need of a significant overhaul. Most local MR associations, as well as the global ESOMAR team are all very aware of this and have set up various groups to look into it. If you want to learn more about what they are doing, check out the discussions on the topic in last year’s ESOMAR conference in Amsterdam. You can also read a short commentary from System 1. Hopefully we will see changes coming out of all those debates in the coming years.
In the meantime, I decided to propose a few ideas to get your market research and insight departments moving in the right direction, no matter where you are today.
10 Steps to Reinventing Your Market Research Department
Here are the steps that I would suggest you take, should you wish to create or optimise your market research and insights function:
Step 1: If you already have a market research or insights department, then the GRBN / BCG self-assessment tool is a great place to start – and it’s FREE! The link is: http://insightsassessment.bcg.com/ . This will clearly indicate both what stage of development you are in, and what you can do to improve. Invaluable! Then all you have to do is to prioritise the changes needed!
Step 2: Another assessment tool than can help you to better understand your customer understanding in its wider sense, is our C3C Evaluator™. Again it is FREE; the link is: https://c3centricity.com/customer-centricity-mini-quiz-2. Unlike the insight assessment tool from BCG, this evaluator tool looks at insights as the motor or foundation to adopting a customer-first strategy. As such, it considers best-practice market research and insight development as a management decision support tool. Again, after your evaluation, you get a summary of what you need to change so you can prioritise your actions.
Step 3: Review the management’s needs in terms of information – besides the financial data they are certainly already receiving. Prioritise these and choose only the major KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to follow your business vision and strategy. For a truly customer-centric organisation these may include:
Market and category shares
Brand image and brand equity metrics
Pricing, value perceptions and CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
Distribution and OOS (Out-Of-Stock)
Awareness of communications
Understanding and appreciation of messages
Website and social media traffic, and conversion rates
Customer retention and churn rates
Sales funnel’s level distribution
Besides measuring your chosen metrics, trends often mean more than the numbers themselves – in many markets the numbers will be going up anyway. Although I have mentioned many examples above, remember that KPIs mean the metrics you choose must be KEY to your business. Choose wisely so you don’t drown people in data and information.
Step 4: Identify which of the metrics you already gather and which you need to start collecting perhaps on a more regular basis. Then review methodologies and suppliers for providing all the information. If you already conduct regular tracking studies, they should be opened for pitch every few years, to avoid both sides becoming complacent and stale.
Step 5: Once the metrics are agreed upon, turn them into a one-page summary or dashboard. Most executives don’t have time for more than a rapid scan of information, so find ways to help them to read it. Using traffic-light colours, graphs and one-number indices all help them to quickly understand the current situation and identify any needed actions.
Step 6: In addition to data, management will also require information about the market, its customers, competitors and retailers. This can be gathered through observation and listening, whether in person or through market research qualitative studies. Read “Five rules of observation and why it’s hard to do effectively.” for more on the topic.
Step 7: Improving your data and information collection coming from market research will depend upon a solid briefing document. The brief should be developed in collaboration between the internal client and the market research department. It must include at a minimum why the information is needed, by when and why. For more on better briefing, read “Why Marketing doesn’t Always Get the Research it Needs, But Usually What it Deserves.”
Step 8: Identify how to measure the ROI of your service. The importance of a detailed brief cannot be overemphasized. It will not only allow good work to be done so the business gets the answers it needs. It also allows the measurement of its ROI. Knowing how the information will be used and the value of the decisions made from it, will go a long way towards proving its value. If this is only considered in retrospect, it is unlikely to meet with agreement from all concerned parties. Therefore these need to be discussed and included in your briefing document.
Step 9: The next step is to build a team of supporters within the organisation with whom you regularly share all the nuggets you learn from your different analyses. Beyond answering the questions for which any research was conducted, there are always additional learnings which can be invaluable to share. Unfortunately most Market Research Departments are so stretched that they spend most of their time behind their desks.
Even if it is just in the corridor, or during a coffee or lunch break, always have something interesting to share with your internal clients. This will quickly build respect and the MR team will be seen as an invaluable source of business understanding. Of course, this does mean that the department should be involved in business meetings, but this tends to naturally come when you start sharing more than market research presentations and reports.
Step 10: The final step in optimising your market research department is to start developing insights. Although I mention this last, the 7-step insight development process I suggest to my clients involves data and information gathering only at step 6. And yet this is the one thing most MR departments are seen to do.
The reason why I mention insight development last here, is because an organisation must believe in the need for a deep understanding of their customers before it can start to develop insights about them. Otherwise its market research department will remain simply a data-gathering group. For more details about the C3Centricity insight development process, read “Customer centricity is today’s business disruptor, Insights are its foundation.”
Et voila! The first ten steps that I believe will help all organisations upgrade their market research departments. If nothing else, at least try to complete the two assessment tools. They will give you a terrific start to understanding just how good – or bad – you are today!
If you need help in upgrading your market research and insight department or processes, then check out our inspiring website content, especially our training offers, and then contact me here: http://c3centricity.com/contact
One of C3Centricity’s annual traditions is to publish a post which shares the best marketing infographics of the previous twelve months.
Here is this year’s crop, with ideas on how you can get inspired to take action in your own marketing.
Interestingly, many marketing infographics that have been shared in the past year are actually about content marketing. It’s as if “true/traditional” marketing doesn’t exist any more. That in itself says a lot about the focus of marketers these days! Are they right to do so? I don’t think so, but let me know your opinion.
In the same way that new media channels were separated from traditional channels for a while. it seems that content marketing has also been separated from traditional marketing. This is wrong from my perspective, because content marketing has always existed, whether through communications on pack, in advertising or more recently on websites.
Anyway, here is this year’s crop of the best marketing infographics around. If yours is not among them then please add a link to your preference in the comments below.
The Most Shared Marketing Infographics of 2017
It makes sense that I start this post by taking a look at the most shared marketing infographics of last year. What is great about this post is that it is itself an infographic! It explains what makes a shareabale infographic.
Take a look at the six most shared posts and draw inspiration from their ideas, to create your own.
With the rapid expansion in offers online, websites can no longer satisfy their audience by just adding content. They need to regularly update their design too, to stay fresh and appealing to changing preferences. (C3Centricity does this annually; le me know what you think when we relaunch our new design in a couple of weeks)
This infographic summarises beautifully the trends for the coming year. Check your own site against these images and if you find yours lacking in any way then an update should be planned – sooner rather than later!
If you work globally then you already know that while we are all human beings, we are not all the same. This is particularly true in terms of our associations with colour.
These differences come from a wide variety of sources; from tradition, to history and even from the impact of the most popular brands.
So it is important that if you are responsible for a brand globally, or sometimes even regionally, that you understand the nuances in interpretation of your brand’s pack and communication by the colours used.
This infographic, while it may seem complex at first view, will become your best friend once you understand how to look at it.
This is a small but useful graphic – I don’t think it is “officially” an infographic but I’ve used the term widely as you have seen – that explains the differing uses of content in marketing.
Even if the original was first published more than five years ago – an eternity these days! – I like this updated version because it reminds us that we should have an objective before developing content, which I know most of us still don’t! (I’m guilty as charged too!)
What I find particularly useful about this graphic is that it splits content between emotional and rational, as well as between whether the objective is to build awareness or attract purchase.
All of us should review this and then evaluate our own content, to ensure that we are including all four quadrants. Are you?
It was said that 2017 would be the year of the video. They quickly appeared as GIFs on Twitter, and “Live” sessions, rather than just photos, became the norm for sharing on many other social media channels. Everyone seems to be doing it, including brands, so if you aren’t (yet?) you’re already behind the curve!
This infographic explains clearly and simply everything you need to know about getting started in video marketing. Follow these steps and your brand will soon by in the spotlight.
If you’ve been ignoring AR in your marketing until now then you’ll have to change in 2018.
Still a bit confused as to what it is and how it can help your marketing? Then this infographic will explain what you need to know.
It includes everything from the history of augmented reality, to the market size and how it will impact all areas of our lives. Everything a marketer needs to understand in order to make best use of it is here.
While marketers are well skilled in outbound marketing, the new world of inbound marketing can be frustrating to say the least. You do the best you can and then sit and wait for things to happen – or not!
If you’ve ever been in this situation, then this inbound marketing infographic will be your saviour!
It lays out eactly what you have to do over the next three months to get started or to improve your current situation. You’re welcome!
I couldn’t list the best marketing infographics without including one from C3Centricity!
This infographic details the seven steps to insight development. What is important to notice in this process, is that it includes three steps which most organisations forget to do, which dooms them to failure!
Can you identify them? Free eBook for anyone who correctly identifies them and leaves a comment below.
Adopting this process practically guarantees that you develop an insight every time! Try it out and you’ll see.
If you’d like to learn more about the training we offer to support your insight development, then check out our 1-Day Catalyst Training and download the brochure. All our courses are personalised to your precise needs, so they will integrate seamlessly into your current processes. This is the only way you will bring about lasting change.
Social Media and eCommerce
Few businesses can survive today without an eCommerce site or social media presence. This is why I decided to end this list with a marketing infographic that covers both.
In this very thorough analysis from 16BestNet, the infographic covers everything you need to know from the history of commerce by channel, to demographics, product and brand popularity and even some sales statistics.
It is one of the most comprehensive analyses covered in a marketing infographic that I have found and definitely worth checking out. Of course, you should then take actions based upon what you learn from it – and there will certainly be a lot of “aha” moments as you scroll down it.
So there you have them; my choice of the ten most inspiring and useful marketing infographics of the past twelve months. Is your favourite amongst them? If not add a link to it in the comments below.
If you struggle to know what content, communications or engagement your customers might like and how to integrate infographics into your own marketing efforts, then let’s connect for a free, no-obligations call. Contact me here and I’ll share some of the success stories of my local, regional and global clients.
Last week I wrote about my 7-step CatSight™ Process for Insight Development. The first step is to identify the Category in which you are competing. I got so many comments about this step that I decided to dedicate a whole post to this important topic.
Whenever you want to develop insight, the first task is to decide on the category you want to study. This may seem obvious to you, but in many cases, it isn’t as clear as you might think.
For instance, suppose you are looking to launch a new juice flavoured soft drink. You may think that you are competing with other juices or perhaps other soft drinks.
In working with one client in just such a situation, we actually found that their main competitor was an energy drink!
The reason was that these are seen as being for lively, energetic, fun-loving people who needed a boost. Whether this comes from the caffeine of an energy drink, or from the added vitamins and minerals which was my client’s offer, didn’t seem to matter.
If we’d only looked at other fruit flavoured soft drinks we would have missed a whole – and large – section of category consumers.
By starting our comparison in all beverages and then slowly zooming in as we learnt more, we were quickly able to discover this perhaps surprising positioning for the new drink.
This shows the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. But more about that in a moment.
The above example is a great start. But many readers have since asked me to help them with their own category definition, so here are the suggested steps to doing it for yourself:
Step 1. What is the category definition you are currently using?
In any process we need to start by identifying where we are today. In this case, it should be the category you think you are competing in. Depending on whether you are offering a product or service, you might define it as:
– All hot beverage consumers ….. or ….. users of an insurance service.
– Consumers of coffee ….. or ….. people who have bought insurance for natural disasters.
– All consumers of instant coffee powder ….. or ….. house owners in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.
– Consumers of instant coffee powder costing less than US$ 2.50 per 100 gms ….. or ….. owners of houses over US$2 million in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.
As you can see from these few examples, the bottom definitions are far more precise and focused than the top ones.
The one you use, will depend upon whether you are looking to grow your brand through your marketing activities or looking to develop a new product or service offer. I call this zooming in and zooming out. In general understanding the category by zooming in is best for growth, zooming out for innovation.
Now take a look at your own current category definition. I bet it’s too broad for general use isn’t it? This is the mistake that most businesses make, big and small. They want to attract all consumers or users of a category, but as is often quoted:
“If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one”
The more precise you are in the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused will be your actions and communications. In addition, they will also resonate more strongly with your target audience.
Does Your Insight Development Need Optimising? Does Your Marketing Need a Boost?
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Once you have identified the precise category in which you are playing, you need to consider what is currently happening to it. Is it growing or declining? Why?
Understanding how the category is changing and more importantly why, will help you to understand it better. For instance:
- Is the category growing? If so is it the leading brands which are increasing, or are there new brands that were recently launched which are making the difference? Identfying which brands are growing and the reasons for this growth will enable you to take corrective action.
- Is the category stable? Are category shares stable, or are some brands gaining and others losing? Again, why? What do the brands which are gaining have in common? What are the losing brands lacking? Are the changes making a difference to the category definition?
- Is the category declining? Are all major brands in the category losing or are some gaining at the expense of others, but not maintaining overall category size? If so, What are the declining brands lacking? Where are customers who are leaving the category going to? Is there a new category which is better meeting their needs?
Your answers to these questions, will help you to understand whether the category in which you are currently competing is going to remain as attractive as it is today.
Step 3. How will this category change in the future?
In addition to current category trends, you also need to assess what is likely to happen in the marketplace in the coming years and how this may impact it.
Things are changing nd changing fast these days. There is no more "business as usual." Expecting the unexpected has become the norm, which is why I am such a big fan of scenario planning.
Industries are being disrupted. A study from the John M. Olin School of Business (Washington University) estimates that 40% of today's Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years time!
Understanding who and what will impact your category, is the first step to preparing for the changes which could come. Preparing for likely future opportunities and risks is the second step, and the reason scenario planning is so vital to ongoing busines success.
Step 4. Which of the category users are you attracting?
This question surprises some people. They expect that once they have identified the category in which they are competing that they can just start trying to attract everyone in it. However "You can't please all the people all of the time" as the infamous quote from John Lydgate mentions.
You therefore need to identify which of the category users would be most interested in what you have to offer. The best way is by running a segmentation study and then plotting the groups on the Boston Matrix I mentioned in last week's post. Or you can read "How to Sell Less to More People: The Essentials of Segmentation." for a more detailed explanation on how to divide all category users into relevant sub-groups.
Understanding which sub-group of all the category users you are most likely to appeal to with your offer, is one further step in focusing on the very best target audience for your brand.
Step 5. How are your customers changing?
After identifying which category users are the most attracted to your offer, you also need to consider how this sub-group is changing. Is it increasing or decreasing in size, and how and why is it changing.
As with category changes mentioned above, it is important that you target a viable group. This can either be a growing segment or you should have plans to attract those who switch out with a separate offer.
There are many reasons why a segment may decline:
The introduction of a new category segment that is taking customers away from yours.
Natural decline because of aging.
Behavioural changes that make the category less relevant than in the past.
Having identified how your customers are changing today, you then need to consider societal trends and their impact on your customers. That is the ultimate test to choosing the right group of category users to target.
Going through these five steps will give you the very best understanding of the categroy in which you are competing, as well as the customers who make up the sub-segment you target.
Have you successfully mastered every suggested step? What have you forgotten?
Is there something I myself have forgotten or that you would add? If so, then please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks
“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”
What habits have you become so comfortable with that you don’t even notice or question them? With today’s fast-paced world, businesses need to be constantly adapting and preparing for the future.
These thirteen marketing quotes (plus a bonus one!) are amongst my favourites of all time. They will hopefully excite and inspire you to consider what changes you need to make to become even more successful through a customer first strategy.
As is the tradition at C3Centricity, there is a recommended action for you to take for each quote. How many will you complete?
#1. “There may be Customers without Brands, but there are no Brands without Customers.” Anon
This has to be the most important marketing quote to remember for all of us wanting to be more customer centric. It’s also one of my favourites, as I’m sure you’ve realised!
Brands depend on customers and if companies remember this, then they can only succeed. If however they get so tied up in their products & services that they forget their customers, they may enjoy their work but their brands will always be vulnerable to competition.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Watch the Customer First Strategy Webinar HERE
#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.” Nido Qubein
One of the biggest mistakes marketing can make is to not appropriately define its target audience. It is understandably hard for a brand manager to accept that he can’t please all category users and that his target sub-category is smaller than the total category he thinks he could attract.
By trying to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one! So bite the bullet and reduce your target category size by being more precise in selecting and describing your audience.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Learn the essentials of targeting HERE.
#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” John Russell, President, Harley Davidson
If they aren’t already included, then every employee should have regular customer connections added to their annual objectives. Whether they are the CEO, an Executive Vice-President, a machine operator, sales clerk or brand manager, they all need to understand how their day job impacts the satisfaction of their customers.
Customer connections also inspire new thinking, can identify previously unknown issues and excite everyone to think customer first in everything they do.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up below for the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar.
For more ideas about getting to know your customers, join the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar. In it, I share many Tips,Tools and Templates to improve your Customer Targeting, Understanding & Engagement to Grow your Business Faster.
#4. “If you use standard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else.” David Nichols
When was the last time you revised your market research toolbox or refined your insight development process? It’s a rapidly changing world both technologically and societally-speaking. The methods you use to observe, understand and eventually delight your customers should be moving as fast, if not even faster, to stay in touch with the market.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Attend a 1-Day Catalyst session reviewing all your market research methodologies and metrics. Find out more HERE.
#5. “The structure will automatically provide the pattern for the action which follows.” Donald Curtis
There has been a lot of discussion about the new roles of the CMO, CIO and the creation of a new CCO (Chief Customer Officer) position. Perhaps it is time for your organisation to review its structure and see if it is still optimal for the business of today, as well as of tomorrow.
As mentioned above, the world is changing rapidly and you need to keep abreast of these changes to stay in the game. Who wants to find themselves the equivalent of the Kodak or Borders of 2017?
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Develop plausible future scenarios to prepare for possible opportunities and threats. Contact us HERE.
#6. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company.” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos
This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a man I truly admire, for truly “getting” customer centricity. Their slogan is even “Powered by Service”! As already mentioned above, every single person in a company has a role to play in satisfying the customer.
Zappos have an integration program for all new hires – including the EVPs – that incorporates time at their call centre answering customer queries. What a great way to show a new person what the company is really about.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Why not start a similar introduction programme in your own company and organise regular customer connection sessions? We can show you HOW.
#7. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Today’s customers are very demanding which has prompted many companies to increase their innovation and new product launches. However, it has been shown that renovation is as important as innovation in keeping customers satisfied (find links to relevant articles HERE).
Instead of forcing your marketing and R&D to meet certain percentage targets of new launches, most of which will be destined to failure according to latest statistics, why not review your current offers with new eyes?
If you truly understand your customers, you will quickly find small changes that can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, when you take their perspective. And as an added bonus, if it solves a frustration of theirs, it might even bring you increased profits, since the perceived value will be higher than the cost.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the free "Secrets of Innovation" eBook by completing the form on the right-hand side of this page.
#8. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos
In the past, most companies were more concerned with the reputation of their brands than they were with that of their company, other than with investors. As consumers become interested in knowing and adhering to the policies of the companies behind the brands they buy, it is vital to manage your image from both perspectives.
In addition, if your company isthe brand as is the case of Coca-Cola or Red Bull, then this is vital to follow very closely. The same applies for any organisation that is considering adding their company name more prominently to their packaging.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Review whether there are differences between your company and brand images and whether they are complementary. And book a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session to ensure you are measuring the right metrics to optimise your images.
#9. “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Chinese Proverb
Today’s customers often have more complex paths to purchase in many categories than they did in the past, so thinking of the simple awareness to loyalty funnel becomes less relevant.
In order to understand the purchasing of your brand, think information integration, as customers are becoming as savvy about products as they are about themselves. They seek out information based on the size of their budget and take the time needed to make what they consider to be an informed decision.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Check whether you are in every relevant touchpoint with appropriate information for them. Learn more about optimising your communications HERE.
#10. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill
If your world has changed then so should the metrics you use to manage the business. Annual reviews of your KPIs should be made, if not even more frequently.
Also, review last year’s business results in comparison to the metrics you have been following. Were you correctly assessing the environment, the market and customer behaviour? If not, then it's probably time to update your KPIs.
#11. “The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process.” Jean Bryant
Do you embrace entrepreneurship in your organisation? What happens when someone fails whilst trying something new? The more accepting you are of relevant trial and error exercises, the more likely it will be that your employees will share their more creative ideas.
If failure is punished, then they will be reluctant to try or even propose new things and your business will stagnate. This is a great time to review your ways of compensating creativeness as well as how you share learnings from failures.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the FREE "Secrets to Actionable Insights" below.
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#12. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.” T S Eliot
Do you ever take decisions based on information or knowledge? If so then perhaps you should reconsider your insight development process.
While information and knowledge are essential to a deeper understanding of your customers, it is only when you have integrated everything you know and understand about them, that you can begin to develop insights that will positively impact your customers’ behaviour.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up for a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session on "Insights to Action" or "Insights to Impact." More information HERE.
#13. “If you can’t sum up the story in a sentence, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Garr Reynolds
Taking the decision to share information and understanding in a new way through storytelling, will have a profound impact on the way your employees think and remember the essential understandings of your customers.
Before every presentation ask yourself what is the one sentence that sums up everything you want to share.
If you can't come up with one, then perhaps you don't know what you're talking about, or perhaps you just need more time to practice.
So there you have thirteen marketing quotes that will excite and inspire most people. And because I promised you a bonus if you read to the end, here is one more which aptly sums up all the others.
It is the one message out of all these marketing quotes from Charles Darwin which remains vital to remember in this awesomely changing world we live in.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is those most responsive to change”
If you have your own favourite marketing quote that inspires you to change your business practices in 2017, then please share it below. We would love to hear from you and we promise we'll add it to our growing library of quotes, with appropriate credit to you. (Fame at last!)
For even more inspiring marketing quotes, why not check out our website library? it's regularly updated.
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As you know, I am a global customer centricity champion. My passion is helping organisations to grow faster by putting customers at the heart of their business. One of the most frequent requests I get is to help in improving ideation and innovation.
This is by far the most common area that my clients struggle with. Is it a challenge for you too?
Many companies create great new products and services – from their perspective – but they fail! They then ask if I can help them to identify to whom they should be selling. Of course, I do help them, but I also suggest that next time it would be better if they called me before they started innovating! In a failure situation, it is almost always due to an outdated innovation process in which the customer has not been involved.
I know it can be difficult to innovate in this new age of technology, but it remains vital for growth. This is why I was recently invited to run two workshops on improving ideation and innovation, as well as to speak about it at three different universities in Beijing and Shanghai.
China is an Innovation Hot-House
China joined the top 25 most innovative countries in the WIPO global innovation index for the first time this year. This is because they no longer rely on cost-effective manufacturing alone. They also applied for more patents than the next two countries, the United States and Japan, combined! This clearly shows that China is improving ideation as well as their innovation. But they know they must do even more. To become a truly competitive nation, they have to better understand their customers, especially their growing middle and higher-income residents, who continue to prefer primarily imported Western brands.
Let me share with you a few of the ideas that I spoke about during my visit. They may just save you too from more costly failures.
Innovation is Essential
Switzerland continues to lead the world in innovation according to the latest WIPO GII study. It was, therefore, a privilege for me to by invited to help China corporations and academics by proposing a new way to innovate.
Most companies innovate from a technical and skills-based foundation. It doesn’t usually work very well, if at all. In fact, according to Nielsen, IRI, Fortune and many others, it is estimated that between 85% and 95% of new consumer products in the US fail. In Europe, it’s just as bad, with only 25% of new consumer products still on the shelf just twelve months after launch! And less than half that number by the end of the second year.
With such disastrous results, you might wonder why companies continue to innovate. Well there are three main reasons why they do:
It keeps brands fresh. Brands which innovate have something new to share with current and potential clients. We have come to expect it. What excites today, is normal tomorrow and then just boring after that. We have gotten accustomed to regular updates and constant new choices.
It encourages switching. If brands and options remain the same, people would only switch if they became dissatisfied and the cost of switching was low. Since product performances are so similar in many categories today, new variants and offers suggest differentiation. The brand appears more vibrant and people like that.
It revives brands through excitement and buzz. In today’s connected world, this is vital. People learn about brands as much from friends and family as through advertising. And they trust the former more than the latter, even if some of these “friends” are virtual ones they’ve never met. According to Nielsen’s report ” Global Trust in Advertising” more than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, and two-thirds (66%) others’ opinions posted online.
Renovate your Innovation Process
It still surprises me that companies continue to use their same innovation process when their failure rate is so high. It often looks something like the diagram on the right. Is that what yours looks like? In fact, is your process a funnel? If so, then you are facing at least two problems:
1. That it is a funnel. This process is linear, with a beginning and an end. It assumes that there is only one “winner” from all the ideation and brainstorming. And it also supposes that only one concept developed from that “winning” idea will succeed.
But what if all your ideas are great? You would be throwing away all but one of them! Or suppose that they are all “losers” and you launch the least “awful” amongst them? There must be a better way, no?
Even IDEO’s iterative process still assumes “winners”, because they quickly move from brainstorming to prototyping and testing with customers. At least they do suggest co-creating with customers which is a positive element of their process and it is great fun to do – from my own experiences.
2. That it doesn’t include the customer. How can you have any chance of innovating for your customers if you don’t include them? You are relying on your own perspective to make choices. Are you the typical consumer for whom you are innovating? Probably not. In which case, why are you taking decisions based on your opinion? It’s pretty irrelevant!
The second diagram on the right is the type of NPD process that I encourage my clients to use. It is, of course, adapted to their specific needs, based upon their current process. By doing this, it makes adoption of the new process much easier, by quickly getting everyone to support the needed changes.
The major difference from most current innovation processes is that it is a virtuous circle. It starts and ends with opportunity identification, in other words with the customer and insight. This, of course, means that we must know and understand our customers deeply.
Know your Target Audience Intimately
We all think we know our customers, but this is often not totally true. Not deeply enough anyway. One of the quickest roads to improving ideation and innovation is to know for whom you are innovating. (>>Tweet this<<)
The first thing I ask my clients to complete is the 4W™ Template of the “who”, “what”, where” and “why” of their target audience. Often times they struggle with the last “w”. If you want to try it yourself, check our post “How well do you know your customers?”
Even with the template filled, you still have to go further. Optimal understanding comes from regular connection. Our customers are changing – fast, so we need to keep our finger on the pulse of the market. Yesterday’s information is no use to manage today’s brands or innovate for tomorrow.
During my talk at Shanghai’s ECUST, someone asked how we can be better prepared for the future. I loved the question, as it enabled me to speak about another of my passions, that of scenario planning.
Change happens, and especially rapidly in China. My recommendation to the student was to not rely on trends alone. They are uncompetitive. To gain an advantage over the competition, you need to develop them into plausible future scenarios. If you are interested in learning more, then do check out our post “10 Steps & 5 Success Factors to Ensure your Business is Ready for Anything“.
Knowing why your customers do what they do, buy what they buy and consume what they consume, and then watching and listening to them, will put you in the best possible position for improving ideation and innovation. But there’s still more you can do.
Increase your External Partnerships
As mentioned above, many companies still rely on their own technology and skills to innovate. However, while technologycan certainly help deliver improved benefits, it is unusual to be sufficient. In many areas, companies need to collaborate with others who are more specialised in certain areas.
Joint ventures and partnerships are useful for developing new products and services more quickly. You don’t need to build the needed skills internally and you can rely on the immediate support of external experts. Whether you team up with another corporation or a university is up to you, as long as you recognise the support you need. If you rely totally on your internal knowledge for improving ideation and innovation, you are unlikely to find those breakthrough ideas most companies are searching for.
Procter & Gamble and >Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced the creation of a joint venture in consumer healthcare in 2011. The newly named PGT Healthcare partnership with president Tom Finn has since negotiated tens of JV’s, partnerships and strategic alliances.
Expand your Business Model
Another external lever from which more and more companies are benefitting today is a change in their business model. Take the food industry. It is moving more into health and wellness and could become a direct competitor to the pharmaceutical industry as it develops more nutraceuticals.
Pharma, on the other hand, is moving from sickness to wellness, from treatments to prevention.
Or how about Google moving into cars, solar panels and most recently travel with its Trips App? Through the analysis of their customers’ searches, Google can identify those of us who are looking to travel, those interested in buying a new car or in using taxi services. Google knows more about us today than we know ourselves. And that is both exciting and frightening.
Work with Emotional Benefits, not just Functional Ones
Companies which succeed at innovation know that it is the emotional benefits of their product or service that matters, often more so than the functional ones. (>>Tweet this<<)
Apple used to be a great innovator. In the past few years, I feel they have been relying too much on their technical expertise. The recent launch of the iPhone 7 and the new Mac Book Pro were both less successful than their previous launches. While neither are true flops, they failed to ignite excitement in their potential customers.
There have been numerous posts on why Apple is failing at innovating today. One article in the HBR by Steve Blank stated that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates “… suggested execution executives as their successors. They confused world-class execution with the passion for product and customers, and market insight. Yet history has shown us that these two talents are not the same. For long-term survival in markets that change rapidly, one is far more important than the other.”
Another article in Business Insider by Julie Bort concludes by saying “Microsoft is now officially more innovative than Apple” based upon Tweets of the events. But Microsoft too failed when Bill Gates handed the company leadership over to Steve Ballmer. For 14 years Ballmer successfully ran the business from a financial perspective. He tripled sales and doubled profits. But he didn’t set the company up for long-term survival. In early 2014, Satya Nadella took over and made some radical changes which focused the company on mobile and the cloud (Azure). This freed Microsoft to become more innovative again and the result is already showing.
You can never go wrong if you start from your customers’ perspective and connect emotionally with them. (>>Tweet this<<)
Develop Insight as a Company; Don’t Leave it to Market Research Alone
Some managersthink that insight is just another word for market research. They’re wrong, but perhaps you too see it in this way?
Market research is a great source of information, but for insight, you have to integrate multiple sources of information. It is rare for a single project to provide a deep insight. This comes from truly understanding the customer and that takes time. It takes data and information, turned into knowledge and then understanding.
Knowing is also insufficient unless you understand what it all means to the customer.
The full development process, such as the example given on the right, takes time and people, ideally with differing perspectives. It takes a detailed understanding of the target audience, their needs and desires so that you can resonate emotionally with them.
Many organisations work with humantruths to help in identifying a concept that will resonate emotionally. These are usually based on basic human needs, which cut across cultures. This makes them particularly useful for regional and global brands.
During my different talks, I gave many examples, but one which my audiences found particularly fascinating was the insight both Unilever’s Omo and Nestle’s Nido are using. The insight is based on the human truth that “All parents want their children to grow up happy and healthy”. The insight they then developed, which is relevant for both washing powder and infant formula is “I want my child to experience everything life has to offer, even if it means getting dirty”. What is particularly interesting in this example is that both companies have been able to use the same human truth and insight but make it relevant for each of their categories.
My recommendation, therefore, if you are struggling to develop insight, is to analyse your competitors or the brands targeting a similar audience. If you can identify on what human truth and insight their message is based, you may be able to use it too.
These are just a few of the many ideas which I shared with enthusiastic audiences wherever I went in China. It is clear that both entrepreneurs and corporate executives in the country are keen to improve their innovation. They are also thirsty for support in further improving their ideation. For this reason, I believe they will continue to top the nations in patent applications for many years to come. Therefore, it is vital that we supposed ” developed” nations support our entrepreneurs and creative executives to stay in the race. Unless we do so, we could see China dominate new products and services as they have dominated manufacturing in the past.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on the race for innovation.
Halloween is coming, even earlier than usual this year, judging from all the retail displays already in the shops! Although it is now more associated with children dressing up in scary costumes and dem anding “Trick or Treat”, it is actually a Christian remembrance of the dead on the eve of All Saints’ Day.
So what does that have to do with marketing? Apart from the obvious effort of many companies to include the pumpkin shape, flavour or aroma in almost every product they make, at least in the US, marketing too has its scary moments doesn’t it?
What scares you marketers the most, or to put it another way, what keeps you up at night? One of the most recent studies on the topic, issued a few months ago, comes from The Marketing Institute (MSI) and was summarised by David Aaker of Prophet as seven issues, which he divided into three tiers:
TIER ONE: The hot topics
Underst anding customers and the customer experience with particular emphasis on the impact of social and digital.
Big data and analytics, with how they will impact predictive modelling and the marketing mix.
TIER TWO: The other concerns
Following on from the opportunities of Big Data, the next concern is Marketing Accountability and its ROI.
Developing marketing excellence and the new skills required such as visualisation and storytelling.
Leveraging digital/social/mobile technology and linking it to CRM
Creating and communicating enduring customer value and how to measure it in the social environment.
Developing and delivering integrated marketing
TIER THREE: Previous concerns getting under control
Innovating products and services
Optimizing social contracts
What I find interesting from this and similar studies that I wrote about last year, is the overlap between many of these challenges. Marketers are really concerned about the wealth of information that they have on their customers and how they can manage to turn it all into insights, for more profitable actions and engagement. I therefore thought it would be useful to summarise the “so whats” of all these current challenges and propose actions that will help marketers get these issues under control, so they can change their scares into solutions:
Underst anding the customer experience
SCARE: With the exciting new worlds of social and digital taking up much of the thoughts of marketers, they are struggling to find ways to think integration, but that is the only way to underst and today’s customers.
SOLUTION: Starting from the customers’ perspective makes looking at the bigger picture much easier. Instead of thinking single channels of communication, think connection and engagement. (>>Tweet this<<). Instead of thinking purchase and loyalty, think advocacy. Creating value for the customer goes way beyond providing a product or service these days. (>>Tweet this<<)
Knowing what to do with data
SCARE: We have gone from an information rich environment to complete data overload. This challenge definitely keeps a lot of marketers up at night. They feel as if they have to use everything available but at the same time are also aware that they are incapable of doing so.
SOLUTION: The answer lies in the old “eating an elephant” solution. Rather than worrying about what is not being managed, marketers should review what they already have, and only then decide what else they could use to help answer all their questions. There is so much information available today that we can’t work with it all, but we can ask better questions that can be answered by analysing this data. Start with the right question and then use the data you have to answer it. (>>Tweet this<<)
SCARE: Every br and has some sort of web presence today. Whether that is a website, Facebook page or Twitter account, most companies have rushed into social media without a detailed underst anding of why they are there. If this is your case, it’s time to take a step back.
SOLUTION: How are you connecting with your customers today, both offline and online? The two should be complementary. However if there is too much overlap and you are doing the same on both, then you are wasting your money. You are also wasting your money if you don’t know why you are online in the first place! (>>Tweet this<<)
I had a client once who wanted help in updating one of their websites. In running a first analysis of all their websites, I found that more than 80% of them were being visited by less than 30 visitors a month! We cancelled all those websites and invested the money in the remaining active ones, improving both their ROI and the engagement with their customers. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own web statistics?
SCARE: Marketers are scared for their budgets and even more so for their jobs. With the rise in the importance of technology and IT, marketers need to move from br anding and creativity alone, to embracing data and analytics much more than they have done in the past.
SOLUTION: Become friends with your CIO and see IT as a support of rather than as a threat to your budgets. Yes managing new technologies and data analysis will need more investment, but that won’t (shouldn’t) come at the expense of br and building. In fact with the increased power of the customer and the number of channels on which to reach them, marketing needs increased budgets to be where and when the customer dem ands connection and information. (>>Tweetthis<<)
Acquiring new skills
SCARE: As already mentioned, marketers must get comfortable with large amounts of different data. They also need better ways to analyse and make sense of it all, often in near real-time. This is a challenge in itself, but the new skills they have to acquire don’t stop there. They also need to turn their information into actionableinsights and then share them with the rest of the business to gain acceptance and impact.
SOLUTION: Your market research and insight colleagues are the best people to help in making sense of the data and developing actionable insights. It will be the marketer’s job to share these with the rest of the business in a more creative way. Visualisation & storytelling are the new must-have skills for today. No longer can you expect PowerPoint presentations to excite and engage your C-suite executives – if they ever did!
These are five of the most pressing current scares of marketing and some simple solutions to address them. Are you challenged by something else? If so, add a comment below and I’ll help you find a solution. Or if you prefer, you can contact me here.
C3Centricity used an image from Microsoft in this post.
Summer is a great time to reflect on the progress we have made to date on our plans, be they personal or professional. Having finally completed the “nth” revision of my latest book –the formatting not the content! – it was the perfect occasion for me to review what I wanted to achieve in the coming six months.
This got me thinking about how organisations too need to take a step back and review how their plans are going and what changes need to be made to ensure their completion over the remaining six months of the year. So here are my ten ways to tell if you are well on your way to becoming truly customer centric – and what actions you can still take to go further along your journey.
#1. Identify the category in which you are competing
This may sound strange to you, but many br ands are not competing in the category in which they first thought they were. Think soup which is now a meal replacement, or laptops which are now entertainment platforms.
Action: Review how your product or service fits into the customers’ daily life and how they compare and decide between options. This will help you identify your real competitors and the actual category in which you are competing.
#2. Underst and your primary target
Knowing precisely who the customer is for each of your br ands is the first essential step to satisfying them. Use the BCG Matrix to help select the best group. Do you already work with this matrix, or do you have a better system? Please share your own best practice below, so I can learn.
Action: Review the target audience for each of your br ands and ensure you have information on their +4Ws” – Who, What, Where and Why: demographics, purchase, usage, media use, places of purchase, consumption, connections to communications, their values, usage motivations and emotions when doing so.
#3. Watch and listen to your customers
Personal experience of your customers is essential to putting them at the heart of your business.
Action: Ensure everyone has regular – ideally monthly – contact with the customer, whether by listening in at the call centre, watching market research interviews & discussions, or observing customers as they shops and use your product / service.
#4. Know what current trends could mean for your business
Many organisations follow trends, but they don’t provide any competitive advantage unless they are turned into future scenarios.
Action: Identify the most relevant trends for your br and and then project them into the future to develop two axes of uncertainty and four plausible future worlds. These will help prepare the business for future opportunities and challenges.
#5. Reinvent your innovation
Most organisations innovate based upon their current knowledge or technical skills. This keeps them boxed into a narrow b and of categories.
Action: Take your NPD thinking outside its box, by making use of all relevant innovation levers, including, but not limited to, packaging, channels, sourcing, communications, br anding, services.
#6. Follow your image
It is amazing how many companies don’t follow their br and images on a regular basis. Image trends are a great way to be alerted to possible sales issues before they appear in the numbers.
Action: Identify the major image attributes of both your own and competitor br ands, and measure them regularly (annually for fast moving categories, every two to three years for slower moving ones).
#7. Turn your information into insight
Whilst information and knowledge are essential to gather, it is only when they are turned into underst anding and insight that they become truly customer centric.
Action: Review your insight development process and ensure decisions about customer satisfaction are based on them and not just on information. Insights ensure your communications resonate with your customers and your product / service delights and sometime surprises them.
#8. Share your information and insights
Companies spend a lot of money gathering data and information about the market and customers. However, in most cases they spend far too much money, because the information that is needed is actually already available somewhere in the company.
Action: Review your organisation’s information needs and negotiate contracts and access company-wide rather than by department. Make your information and insights available to everyone in the company through a library or database with appropriately managed access rights.
#9. Evaluate your progress
As the infamous quote from Peter Drucker says “What gets measured gets managed”. Besides br and image, are you following other KPIs to measure your progress on your journey to customer centricity?
Action: Identify the three to five most important areas you want to improve and then measure them consistently. If the numbers aren’t trending up, act – see #10. below. The actual metrics you follow will depend upon your industry, but may include market comparison (shares), availability (distribution or out-of-stock) communications impact, competitivity, value.
#10. Plan for action
Once you have identified the KPIs to follow, you need to take action to improve those that are trending downwards and perhaps also those which are stable.
Action: Since your KPIs are the most important metrics for your business, plan actions as soon as their trend changes and don’t wait.
These ten steps should ensure your organisation remains focussed on the customer and doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day issues of the business. After all, as I have been quoted many times for saying:
“There may be customers without br ands, but there are no br ands without customers”
Think about it; do you have the right priorities? How do you know? Have I missed an essential step off of my list above? If so, let me know. Please also share which of your actions towards customer centricity you are struggling with the most. Together we’ll find a solution.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Marketing & Communication Loft event in Geneva. The topic was building great br ands so how could I not talk about insight development, the foundation of all great br ands?
Ever since the marketing world started buzzing with the opportunities that BigData presents, insight development seems to have been forgotten. And yet data, whether big or small, cannot be used until it is turned into knowledge and underst anding and then insight.
I therefore thought it was time to take a fresh look at insight development and how BigData increases rather than decreases the need for true insight.
Marketing’s ROI is Lacking
A report by the FournaiseMarketingGroup showed that 70% of CEOs have lost trust in marketers’ ability to deliver growth and 69% of them have stopped enforcing key business objectives & indicators on marketers because they have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies and campaigns deliver business growth.
The report further suggested that the reason for this was because marketing failed to deliver ROI, which is a surprise in today’s world of data and information. In fact a recent IBM report actually mentioned that the data explosion was the main worry of CMOs today, not the lack of information.
Insights and Customer Centricity
I believe the problem goes far beyond just data and is linked to marketers’ inability to make their organisations customer centric. In fact there was a suggestion in this same IBM report that marketers should not lead customer centricity initiatives. I think theyre right, as marketing is the defender of br ands rather than of the customer; it is difficult for one person to prioritise both!
Thinking customer first means doing everything we can to satisfy and hopefully, also delight them. So if we all know that, why are so many of us struggling to walk the talk of customer centricity? I believe it is linked to insight development. I don’t think we know and underst and our customers as well as we should.
We’ve been speaking about insight development for even longer than customer centricity, and yet we are still not always developing insight. Even today, we are more likely to be working with information, knowledge and sometimes underst anding, but rarely true insight. I think that many of us still haven’t grasped the importance of the fact that insight doesn’t come from information, nor knowledge, nor even underst anding, but from the integration of everything we know.
A Fresh Approach to Insights
Insight development requires the integration of three types of information, knowledge and underst anding:
Hindsight is what all companies rely on most of the time. It’s about looking back at what has happened and trying to underst and why. The market shares we achieved, the recall of communications we aired, the volumes we manufactured. The problem is that Hindsight is yesterday’s news.
BigData helps to partly address this problem of recency, since most algorithms are developed to adapt to the latest information through machine learning. Although they will work with a combination of different data sources, some older than others, we are getting closer to real-time decision making. But data alone is still insufficient in most cases to develop true insight; we need to add Hearsight.
Hearsight is my name for what we can observe about what our customers are doing and what we can listen to when they are speaking. In some ways it’s better than hindsight, because we are listening to our customers and watching what they are doing today, rather than looking back to what they said or did yesterday. However, we must keep in mind that it is not market research, so we should use our findings to stimulate new thoughts and ideas about our br ands and categories, and not as the whole truth.
One problem with listening to and observing our customers, is that they are changing fast. What works today won’t work tomorrow. What is surprising today, will be taken for granted tomorrow. Although it’s not already out of date when we get it, as is the case with hindsight, it soon will be, so we can’t rely on this information alone either. That’s why we need to add foresight.
Foresight is about looking beyond today to what our customers will want or need tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in years to come.When we speak of foresight, we often think of trend following services first, to provide it. The problem with them is that they are a service – and findings are shared with all the agencies’ clients. This means we’re following exactly the same information as our competitors. There is no competitive advantage in that! And when it comes to preparing for the future and innovation, this becomes a critical flaw of trend following tools.
So what’s the solution? Future scenarios are the solution. By extending trends into the future and combining and clashing them, we can come out with creative but plausible new worlds. These worlds will have similarities and differences which we can then use to develop new product concepts. Most scenarios are built using contrasting possible outcomes in two major areas of influence, sometimes referred to as the axes of uncertainty.
Most people find working with future scenarios exciting but we must remember a few things. Firstly scenarios are not forecasts. They are not predictions of what will happen but rather indications of what may happen in the market and with the customers’ choices and preferences in the future. However, scenarios do help prepare business for possible opportunities and risks. They are a useful way to consider possible future worlds and markets that can form the basis of brainstorming for the business.
Scenario Planning using SciFi Writers
Many scenario companies offer sketch and video portrayals of the future worlds developed and then use storytelling to its utmost. One of my favourite suppliers in this area (whom I should also mention are C3Centricity partners) has a very unique way of developing and sharing their scenarios with their clients. SciFutures use science fiction!
This may surprise you but science fiction writers have a long history of imagining things that get developed 20, 50, 100 or more years later. Here are just few examples to illustrate.
H.G. Wells book “The World Set Free” spoke of the atom bomb – 30 years before its invention.
Mark Twain talked about what became the Internet in 1904.
Jules Verne’s story “From the Earth to the Moon”, predicted moon l andings and weightlessness – in 1865
Star Trek’s “Tricorder” – inspired the smart phone.
The Minority Report – inspired big data mining, Predictive Policing, virtual reality and touch screens.
Dan Ariely, Professor of psychology & behavioral economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina claims that:
“Humans grossly overestimate what is going to happen in the short term and completely underestimate what is going to happen in the long term”
Therefore in trying to design plausible future worlds, we need to stretch our minds way beyond what we would otherwise feel comfortable doing, and this is where SciFutures and their science fiction writers come into play. They are definitely bringing their clients an impressive competitive advantage with this radically new way of thinking!
Coming back to earth, I hope I have explained why I think it’s time to take a fresh look at Insight development. Insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources. We need Hindsight to know what has happened in the past, Hearsight to watch and listen to our customers to underst and their current behaviours, and we need Foresight to prepare for future opportunities and risks and to ensure that our innovations have been developed with maximum competitive advantage. Combining the three we get to insight.
Customer centricity is built upon our insights of our customers. A deep, intimate underst anding of our customers, what they desired yesterday, desire today and may desire tomorrow. It comes from integrating data and information from both internal and external sources; from market research, observation & listening and trend following & scenarios. All three types of information are needed to develop insights efficiently and effectively. Each adds different perspectives to the equation. If we all use more information for deeper insights, then we will finally be “in sight of our goal” to be truly customer centric.
Let me know what you think of this new approach to insight development in the comments below. In appreciation I leave you with an Irish Blessing:
I believe we can never go too far in underst anding and satisfying our customers? Do you agree?
Last week I shared the first three essential steps to improved insight development, which covered setting the objectives, forming the team and reviewing the available information and knowledge. If you missed it or would like to re-read it before continuing then please go HERE.
This week I will complete the process with the remaining three steps and also provide you with some tips on actioning your insight once developed. After all, if you don’t take action nothing will change for your product, br and or service.
#1. Walk in your customers’ shoes
I am always disappointed how social media has encouraged marketers to stay behind their desks instead of getting out and meeting their customers. They just don’t seem to be going out and getting in touch with them as much as they used to. Is that the case in your organisation? Although you can certainly learn a lot about your customers’ opinions and even needs online, it is only when you take their place that you get the chance to really get their perspective.
Walking in your customers’ shoes can be done in numerous ways and will depend upon the issue or opportunity you have identified, as well as the underst anding you have gained from reviewing all the information you have. You could for instance:
Go out shopping with a fixed budget and purchase items for an evening meal of your target customer (a couple of mother of three kids). This may help you underst and why your target customers are buying the competition.
Compare competitive offers online for a new service you would like to propose. Is your website as user-friendly as your competitors’? Have you thought of all the important elements you need to include?
Call up a number of competitive manufacturers of the same product that you offer and ask questions about its uses, reliability etc. Do your own staff provide the same information? Are they as knowledgeable, credible, empathetic?
Role play your target customer in using your product and identify opportunities to improve for instance its packaging. If your product is used by mothers of toddlers, is it easy to open with a baby in your other arm? If your product is used in certain dem anding surroundings, such as outdoor, in the car, in the country, at night, is it easy to open and consume?
Whilst walking in your customers’ shoes, you should be extremely sensitive to any pain points in considering, evaluating, shopping and using your product or service. If you are looking to define a completely new offer, then it is the pain points of your competitors’ offers that you are looking to identify. Taking your customers perspective, rather than just observing them, can provide a wealth of information you might not get in any other way.
#2. Fill the gaps
Having done a complete review of all the available information and knowledge about your customer, including walking in their shoes, it is important to turn it all into underst anding. This also enables you to identify any information gaps there may be. These must be filled before you develop your insight, otherwise you will be working with a less than complete underst anding of the situation. The gaps can be filled by running some market research or by gathering the required information from other available sources, either internally or externally.
Before continuing with insight development, these new findings need to be summarised and integrated into the knowledge and information already reviewed. If the objectives of the project have been well defined, this is relatively easy to do.
#3. Develop the insight
You have probably never had the amount of underst anding of your customer as you do at this stage, at least in relation to the identified issue or opportunity. Insight development needs a review of all of this in the multi-disciplinary team, which can take anything from a few hours to several days. Don’t hurry this process, as too often we are too keen to get to the action and accept less than a true insights.
You will know when you are there; it is when you can summarise it in one (or maximum two) sentences phrased as it were being spoken by your customer. Often, when it is read out, it creates what is known as an “ah-ha” moment, when everyone agrees that it is just so obvious you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before! I am sure you will agree with me that it is a wonderfully rewarding feeling when you get there.
Together with last week’s first three steps, these are the six basic steps to building an insight. Of course the most important step of all is still to come, that of actioning the insight you have developed. This is where the multi-disciplinary team comes into its own. As all the team have agreed on the objectives and the insight, it is extremely easy for them to define the next steps that are needed to be taken. It also means that all areas of the organisation will work together to take the appropriate actions, rather than just the marketing department which can otherwise be the case.
From my experience actioning insights only creates problems if not enough time was spent at the beginning of the whole process, in underst anding the behavioural or attitudinal change that you are looking to encourage when defining the objectives. If you have trouble with this part of the process, then I would suggest reviewing the completeness of your defined objectives.
What areas of insight development do you find the most challenging? Do you have any questions about developing or improving your own insight development process? If so, then please add a comment or question in the box below. I would be happy to answer them for you.