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Improving the ROI of Information Investments

If you have ever worked in a typical organisation, you will have almost certainly been under pressure at times to reduce budgets. Each time this happens, market research and information gathering tend to be one of the first areas to be cut. After all there doesn’t appear to be a negative impact on sales, so its Return-on-Investment is questioned. Sound familiar? Then read on.

Unlike advertising and communications to your customers, information gathering does not have an obvious link to sales, at least in the short term, so it is the first target many managers choose when looking to reduce costs. If you are tired of having to constantly defend your budget then I have some ideas to help, so that next time someone comes looking for money, it won’t be from your budget.

#1. Take your (internal) client’s perspective

What is the boss getting for his / her money? If you reply lots of data and information, then that is the reason your budget gets cut. People who have problems don’t want data they want solutions. Therefore don’t provide nice tables and graphs, but rather a story to inspire the changes you recommend, based upon your findings.

#2. Review your methods

Are you still doing the same type of information gathering that you’ve done for the last five, ten or even more years? If so then it is time to review your methodologies, questionnaires and reporting. The world is changing fast and you can’t expect the questions you developed years ago remain as relevant today as they once were. Take a look at your customers and see how they have changed and what needs to be measured today. That way what information you do collect is likely be in areas that are new to the organisation and thus invaluable.

#3. Review your reports

Another habit we can get ourselves into is to continue to produce the same old reports with the same KPIs, graphs and tables. Or sometimes even worse, as I once sadly witnessed in a major FMCG / CPG; the reports just kept getting bigger and bigger as more and more information was added. It got to the point where management woke up to the fact one day and (rightly) cancelled the whole report!

As with methodologies, your own reports need to be regularly updated. What are your own clients really using out of everything you circulate? You may be disappointed to see just how little they use. If they are not reading / reviewing everything you send, then stop sending it. When you get over the shock, you will be happy to have more time to develop more useful analyses. After all, the main reason we get locked into habit is that we don’t have time to think!

#4. Review your costs

Are you working in a regional or global organisation? If so, has your company negotiated discounts for multiple purchases of their different external reports and analyses? Many suppliers are open to providing a discount for a st andardised report or mass purchases of regular reports they produce. However they won’t offer them if they find unnecessary multiple purchases, why should they? You have to ask for them.

#5. Review your value

With the above four points you may be able to avoid a budget cut next time, but you need to also prepare for future crises. Review what value you provide and admit honestly whether or not you would pay what you cost your organisation, for the information and insights you provide. If not, then act quickly before someone else realises this too. Find out what your clients need and provide more of it. Perhaps even more importantly, find out what your clients may need in the future and are maybe not yet aware, and pre-empt their request by offering it. That will certainly impact your value and their appreciation.

If you follow these five tips, then you have a good chance that your budget will not be cut next time your manager has to make a cost-cutting exercise. Have other tips to add? Please add your comments below and also share these with your colleagues. They will appreciate your foresight.

Let’s discuss how we can help you achieve a better ROI on your information investments; contact us today and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/vision

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

10 Things your Customers won’t tell you

Customer centricity has many organisations buzzing in anticipation today. Everyone seems to be talking about it and saying how important it is to the success of their business. 

We are all trying to satisfy our customers as best we can, but all too often we continue to take our own perspective, instead of theirs. Here are ten things your customers wished you knew about them.

#1. I’m sometimes irrational

Don’t ask me why I do what I do. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do things myself! If you really want to underst and me, don’t ask me questions, be a part of my life to underst and things from my own personal perspective.

 

#2. I like gifts

Yes I know I won’t tell you I bought something because I saw it advertised, but the promise of a gift really does help. We never get enough gifts, especially as an adult. Even if I know it is not that special, it makes ME feel special on an otherwise ordinary day, so go on, give me an unexpected treat.

 

#3. I like advertising

Yes I know I tell you it doesn’t matter, but I really do like watching some ads on television. Especially if they make me laugh or tell me something I didn’t know, or entertain me. I will watch them and even more than once, so your br and name might just be in my head when I next go shopping.

 

#4. I don’t like being taken for a fool

I know prices are going up all the time, but don’t try and fool me by putting less and less in the pack whilst maintaining the same pack size and price. One day I’ll notice and I won’t be happy – at all!

 

#5. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Also, don’t try to fool me by promising something on the pack you can’t or don’t deliver. OK you need to make your product or service look appealing to me, but if you over-promise and under-deliver it will only make any negative feelings I might have become even stronger. Even if I buy once, it’s doubtful that I’ll buy again if you have disappointed me.

 

#6. I’m just not that into you

With very few exceptions that I am really passionate about, most products and services I buy satisfy a need that I am looking to fulfil. There are usually choices available to me, so don’t take my loyalty for granted. Every purchase is a decision for me, so make it easy by always satisfying my continually exp anding needs. If you don’t, one of your competitors can probably do just as good a job as you do.

 

#7. Don’t confuse me with statistics

Whether it is offering different pack sizes at differing prices, or calculating fat / sugar content by weight instead of calories, I check your maths with my smart-phone today. I believe I should get larger sizes for less money per gram, and lower fat / sugar content for less calorie intake. I will check your claims, so don’t play the numbers game with me.

 

#8. Be happy when I complain

If I complain about something it means I care. You should be happy that I care enough to actually tell you when I am dissatisfied. Make it easy for me to contact you, give me a choice of mediums and make damn sure you satisfy me completely when you listen and respond. I will not only take my business elsewhere if I am unhappy with your response, but will probably tell the whole world about it on social media too.

 

#9. Respect my ignorance

I like to know what you are offering me. What ingredients you use; where they come from; are they from sustainable sources; can I trust you? Give me the information I need, when I need it. Don’t bombard me with too much, or hide less positive things from me. Discuss with me as an equal, don’t talk down to me, after all I pay your wages.

 

#10. Be thankful I’m not satisfied

I know I may sometimes be a pain, but be thankful that I buy from you, tell you what I think of it and ask for more, better, larger, smaller etc etc. My need for constant change and improvements will challenge you to greater things and if you satisfy my rational needs and emotional desires, I might just stay loyal. Oh yes, and don’t believe everything I say; as I said in the beginning I can be irrational, so underst and not what I am saying, but what I mean by what I say.

What are your customers saying to you? Are you listening? No-one knows them better than they do themselves, even if they don’t know how to express what they are feeling / thinking in many cases. They might not always know what they want, but they can always tell you what they don’t want.

What have you heard lately? Please share the surprising comments your have listened to recently.

For more information on customers, how to connect and underst and them, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

Four Steps to Building Br and Affinity

This week’s guest post is from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne. Terry Villines, their senior vice-president shares some of the learnings from their proprietary research, which identify the characteristics of br and communications that successfully elicit emotional responses. See how your communication compares.

There’s no question that the role br and-sponsored communications play in building br ands has changed drastically.  Remember when we were held to a benchmark of quant testing and getting a high Persuasion score or high Br and Linkage score on an advertisement?

Today, with the influx of channels, and having our customers and prospects in control of how and when they receive our messages, we have to think beyond the persuasiveness of any one message.  We have to build a relationship with our targets, participate in the conversation, elicit an emotional response, and ultimately build affinity for our br and.  Persuasion and motivation are so much more than any one communication.

But how do br ands build that affinity?  How do they elicit emotional responses?  It was only a year or so ago that br ands felt that if they could get their web-posted video to go viral that they were in some way building affinity for their br and.  But how many videos that you received or forwarded made you consciously aware they were br and sponsored?  In fact, one of the key attributes of a successful viral video is that it appears to be amateur and not sponsored.  Affinity is so much more than passing a video from one person to the next.  It’s about building an emotional connection, and there is a specific role your communications can play in building that connection.

In a recent study of 70 different advertisements covering 21 br ands and 7 product categories, PhaseOne identified 4 key characteristics of br and communications that were successful in eliciting emotional responses (getting consumers to say that they “liked” or were “engaged” by the communication).

1)      Entertainment – So what we always thought played a role in eliciting an emotional response holds true… the Entertainment value of the communication is the foundation.  Yet, entertainment on its own is not enough.

2)      Br and Integration – Believe it or not, building affinity for your br and requires your br and to be integrated into the entertainment; woven in like fibers of a rope.

3)      Meaningful Differentiation – giving your target a way to think about your br and in a way that sets it apart from other options they have is critical.  Just think about it: people become most engaged with messages that provide them with meaningful information.  Yes, it should be wrapped in an entertaining context, but without an underlying meaningful message, it is likely to go the way of so many messages our targets are exposed to – into the ether of our overcrowded minds.

4)      Absence of Issues – Because each and every one of us is bombarded with marketing messages day in and day out, the presence of any kind of issue (clutter, boring, unclear) gives us permission to drop out, not pay attention, and move on.

So the next time you see a br and-sponsored communication that you like (not just an ad that entertained you, but an ad that truly resonated with you), ask yourself if it contained these four criteria.  The same could be said for those advertisements or messages you simply can’t st and – where did they fall apart?  We know these principles hold true across platforms – do you see it when you engage with a br and online or out of home?

For more on communicating effectively with your target audience, don’t forget to check out C3Centricity’s website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage and contact us for an informal chat on how we can support the optimisation of your own communications.

Presentation success: 5 Tips to go from good to great

Are you sometimes frustrated that nobody seems to listen to your presentations as closely as you would like, or to take the actions you are recommending afterwards? 

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you probably work hard to make needed transformations in your presentation content and style, to get the attention of management, but they either don’t notice or even worse don’t give you the chance to show that you can do better. If so, then this post is for you.

Recently, I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to present it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely stop reading and click on the link given above; it is an inspiration to all who watch it, I guarantee.

Watching this video made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only when the sharing of the results is effective, that it leads to action and success. Therefore I came up with the following five tips to help bring the change and action you are hoping for from your presentations, be they the results of market research projects, the summary of information you have gathered from trawling the web, or any other form of knowledge gathering, analysis and sharing.

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report should they want to.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider, to take advantage of the challenge or opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than trying to analyse and comprehend all the numbers you are showing, or trying to read all the words on your slides.

One great example of how people love pictures rather than too many statistics, is the rise in popularity of Infographics; why not make one yourself and give it away at the end of the meeting, rather than sending a report? You can find many inspiring examples on different topics  here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data and never-ending tables of information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing tables of the results and findings. Everyone likes a good story and what’s more they remember it. How often do people remember tables of data?

Sevendots, a C3Centricity partner, prides itself on storytelling in presentations and their clients have been known to retell the story to their colleagues afterwards and also to use the visualisation elements they saw. It is so much easier to remember a story than an analysis.

#5. Don’t give results give actions

Analysts love to drown us all in data and information, when what we are looking for are insights and actions. So instead of presenting results, why not develop insights, by integrating all the other things you know about the subject under discussion and proposing actions or changes that would answer the issues or opportunities that have been identified? This way everyone goes away with concrete ideas of what needs to be done, rather than a sore head from all the data and information. If you have followed tip 4 then this will be a natural conclusion, as every story has an ending.

These are five ideas that I came up with to help the world move away from boring presentations to the more inspiring world of storytelling. They should certainly help your presentations be more successful. Do you have any other ideas on how to make information sharing fun for everyone? I would love to hear about your own best experiences; how did you inspire your audience?

For more on knowledge sharing and presentations, do check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post is based on one that first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on April 26th 2012.

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

6 Tips to Thinking Outside the Innovation Box

Does your business have an innovation process? No? Then perhaps you should count yourself lucky! Most businesses that do have one, sometimes get stuck in it, stopping them from thinking Bigger and Bolder, and therefore also stopping them from dreaming. If this is the case with your own organisation, then this post should offer some inspiration for change.

When companies are starting up, they often begin with just one or a few products or services to offer. However, as they grow, they get ideas about other products or services they could add, sometimes at the suggestion of their current customers. As business continues to grow, they might set up an innovation process or put someone in charge of searching for new ideas and unfortunately this tends to be when they start to lose contact with their customers and what they really desire.

Today we all underst and the importance of customer centricity, the power of putting the customer at the heart of the business and yet we still manage to forget them somehow when looking to innovate. For this reason, I thought it would be useful to share my six tips to help you to think outside the innovation box in your organisation, whether you are a big multinational, or just a small local firm.

#1. Start with your customers in mind

This makes so much sense and yet we all seem to forget it at times. Big companies have R&D departments so their innovations tend to be technology and skill driven. Smaller ones have maybe more limited resources, so ideation falls on the desk of the owner, marketing head or the person responsible for operations. All businesses have customers, so why not start with them? What do they dream about improving, what are their biggest issues with your category? Finding solutions to their frustrations will almost certainly guarantee the success of your next new product or service.

#2. Why do you want to innovate?

The answer to this simple question will give you some ideas of the solutions you need to create:

  • Is competition growing? If so, what do they know about your customers that you don’t? What can you do about it, both now as well as in the future to stop it happening again?
  • Is the market segment growing faster than you are, so even though your sales are growing you are losing market share? If so, why; what products and sub-categories are increasing, what benefits are attracting customers more than in the past? Can you follow or lead with a different benefit area?
  • Is your image getting old and in need of updating? Where are your comparative weaknesses and is competition filling all possible positionings in the category map?

#3. Do you need to innovate or renovate?

The difference between the two can make a huge difference in what you develop. If you need to innovate but actually produce a “small” innovation, closer to a renovation, you are less likely to succeed, at least in CPG, according to Steenkamp. Identify which end of the innovation scale you are aiming for and rework your ideas until you reach it.

#4. Can you innovate outside your box?

Most companies innovate in very predictable ways, so that even their current customers are less excited or inspired to try their new offers. This is unfortunately a trait of human behaviour; we all get bored in the end, even with the best product or service that excited us when it was launched. What was once seen as a breakthrough can quickly become taken for granted as customers become used to it. Therefore why not think outside the box, using different levers? For example food companies continuously bring out new flavours, when maybe a new sensation is what’s needed. Nestlé’s chocolate mousse is a great example of this.

#5. Reinventing innovation needs a new culture, not a new process

As mentioned above, new processes are usually not the best answer to more successful innovation. According to a recent Forbes article likeminded people develop likeminded products. To create breakthrough innovation, you need a culture shock, people who think differently. This can be as simple as taking people from different departments to work together, or hiring people from the outside, with very different mind-sets to stimulate new thinking.

#6. Innovate in answer to scenarios not trends

Most customer-facing organisations follow societal trends. The problem with this is that their competition is doing exactly the same thing, which means that they will be in a constant rush to launch faster than their competitors, and at best end up leading a new segment of two or more almost identical products.

A much better way to innovate is to respond to opportunities or challenges identified by developing future scenarios out of the trends. These have the advantage of being unlikely to be duplicated, at least in the beginning, and are further out time-wise so they will allow more time to create a new offering even before your customer knows they have the need. In some cases this might mean you will have to be patient until the customer is ready – it took Nespresso more than 20 years to become the phenomenal success it is today! – but at least you are less likely to be faced with a competitor offering a similar product.

If you follow these six tips, you can be sure your innovation will meet with greater success and your business will be well prepared to capture future opportunities better than the competition. If you are already doing all of these, I congratulate you. Still struggling to grow as fast as you would like? Well then here is my seventh, only for the bravest innovators:

EXTRA #7. What business are you in?

If you are constantly met with innovations from your major competitors just before or after your own launches, then it is time to get out of the fight be changing the territory. What do I mean by that? Ask yourself what business you are really in.

For example a cigarette manufacturer could see itself as a provider of personal pleasure; now that opens up innovation doesn’t it, far beyond just a different cigarette br and? And suppose a food company became a nutrition business offering supplements and meal replacements; a home cleaning corporation widens to become a home carer and beautifier; a pet food company shares its passion for animals be offering insurance and medical treatments. Asking what business you are really in and not the one you thought you were in, can sometimes be just the spark that is needed to truly successful innovation.

So which one of these are you going to use this month to start reinventing your innovation? Take action today, so that you get a positive ROI on your reading of this post.

Would you like to share your own ideas for improving innovation? Please add a comment below; we reply to all comments and might invite you to write a guest post on the topic for us.

If you want to know more about innovation, please check our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

Do you know someone who is struggling with their own innovation? Please share this post with them.

Does your organisation need more help in reinventing its own innovation? We can run a 1-Day Catalyst session to get you started FAST; contact us here for more information.

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

10 ways Customer Excellence can Ignite Your Business: And Why You Need It Now

Why are so many businesses looking at building a Customer Excellence (CE) department today?

Customers, consumers and clients are demanding more attention; they want to be heard, they want to be seen and understood for who they are; they want their needs and desires answered. Social media has increased our attention to them, but many organisations are still struggling to walk the talk of customer centricity. If this is your own case and you are looking to develop customer excellence, then this post is for you.

Several companies have contacted me in the last few months, to ask for help in creating a Consumer / Customer Excellence Department. Having already gone through the challenges of doing this when I worked in the corporate world, I knew that I could certainly help others with this exciting objective. However, each time, my first reaction was to ask “Why”; not why they had contacted me but why they wanted to create the group and why now?

Setting up a Customer Excellence (CE) department is not just a structural change; it is more importantly a cultural change that must go deep into the whole organisation if it is to work. #CEX #CMO #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

It is often the CEO or CMO who makes the original request, since they feel that the company is not paying enough attention to their customers. However, the initiative will only succeed if everyone in the company not only buys into the vision, but is also excited by the changes it will bring.

 

Let me share some of my own experiences to help you on your own journey, by illustrating a few of the imperatives to succeed in such an initiative:

#1. CE should report into the Board

This new department must report into the board and ideally have a seat there too. The initiative must be seen as an organisational and not a departmental objective. If CE reports into marketing, it will be seen as a marketing support group; maybe just a new name for the traditional marketing services, market research or insight departments, as I am sad to report was once said to me by my CEO!

 

#2. CE should group all customer-facing departments

Customer Excellence should include all customer-facing departments, including market research and insight of course, but also care centres, consumer services, web services, CRM and perhaps even the promotions teams.

Customer Excellence should include all customer-facing departments, including market research & insight, care centres, consumer services, web services, CRM and perhaps even the promotions teams. #CEX #Customer #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

This means that CE will watch over both personalised and anonymous connections with customers, but these can provide valuable information that can be integrated and used cross-functionally.

 

#3. CE ensures the business connects with the same tone & vocabulary

Every personalised contact with the customer must use the same tone and voice. They should also be based upon background information about every previous connection, by whatever medium used. In this way, the customer who already sees them all as links to the company, will perceive that the business cares about them and wants to build a deep relationship and understanding of their needs and desires. Everyone likes people who take a positive interest in them, so this is a true win-win.

 

#4. CE should be multi-category

In order to truly integrate all the knowledge and understanding, the CE group should also work across categories and brands in a multi-category company. In this way they will comprehend the person as a whole, and not just as a category user.

This also has the added benefit of giving the organisation an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell when a connection is made, by proposing appropriate products and categories.

I am sure you have all been contacted at some time in the past for an inappropriate product, by a company that didn’t do this, right? For example diapers promoted to single men, a new desert to people on a diet or who are diabetic, innovative new alcoholic beverage to teetotallers etc etc. Irritating for the customer and damaging the image of the brand.

 

#5. CE should be Global

Wherever relevant, Customer Excellence should have a worldwide remit, integrating all regions and markets. This enables them, and the business, to be aware of global as well as regional category and societal trends, which in turns helps the company be prepared for future opportunities and challenges.

In addition, this can build a useful community spirit, especially in decentralised organisations. Markets should always be looking for information from countries ahead of them on any relevant trends, whilst also looking back to help those who are following them on other trends.


Customer excellence roadmap in the book Winning customer centricityThe book Winning Customer Centricity: Putting customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time  includes a simple roadmap for adopting a customer first strategy. It covers the four foundational topics that need to be addressed.

Find out more and about the book and reserve your spot for the webinar:

 

 

 

 


#6. CE should develop Scenarios

Most organisations today follow trends, but these do not bring competitive advantage unless they are developed into future scenarios. By doing this, Customer Excellence can prepare management for the future, identifying possible changes to the market, so that opportunities can be grabbed and response to possible challenges well prepared in advance.

Business relevance will always be higher for scenarios than trends. In a regional or multinational organisation, scenarios can help markets to be better prepared, by sharing information across borders and continents, rather than using geographic closeness to define regions.

Language rather than geography sets the boundaries in todays connected world, so innovation and new product roll-outs should follow them. Surprisingly, companies still favour launching based on market proximity; this is a big error.

Language rather than geography sets the boundaries in todays connected world, so innovation & new product roll-outs should follow them. Surprisingly, companies still favour launching based on market proximity; this is a big error. #NPD… Click To Tweet

 

#7. CE should be Market / Brand agnostic

By being market and brand agnostic, the Customer Excellence department is free to give advice and to share their true opinions, without fear of upsetting the business unit or regional head. Corporations today must get comfortable with cross-departmental team working and the creation of a Customer Excellence department is a great way to catalyse this change.

 

#8. CE should Integrate all Customer Information

Understanding and insight development from the information gathered by market research, sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, and all the other available sources within an organisation, can only come from total data and knowledge integration. Consumer Excellence can again provide the analytical expertise and the cross-category perspective to reap the full benefits for everyone.

Having a one-stop shop for a company’s customer and market information, knowledge, understanding and insights means that work is not replicated when requests come in from different departments. Additionally, multiple categories may be interested in similar target groups, which means that customer excellence can provide deeper insights to both groups without twice the work.

 

#9. CE should cover costs through better negotiation

This also applies to the purchasing of external information and reports. Few suppliers would ever tell a company that they have already purchased a report or database. They are happy to make that second or even multiple sales to different departments within an organisation. However, if all information requests are handled by one group, companies can certainly avoid this and also negotiate better deals for multiple purchases for reports that are relevant in several business units and which should be made available across the organisation.

This is a particularly valuable additional benefit for decentralised corporations, since there is generally little collaboration at the purchasing level. However, from my own personal experience, savings can even be found for centralised enterprises, through simply negotiating volume discounts.

 

#10. CE Ignites Customer Centricity & Business Growth

Last but not least, the customer benefits from a CE function, since all employees are thinking about the role they play in satisfying them. Becoming customer centric is a long journey, so the more people that are involved at the start, the more likely that cultural change will happen. This is because each employee reinforces the thinking of putting the customer at the heart  of the business.

To conclude, the creation of a Customer Excellence department sponsored at board level, can put the customer at the heart of the company, as well as of every department within it. The business will benefit, the customer will benefit and hopefully the employees too.

What have been your experiences with the creation of a Customer or Consumer Excellence Department? Please share your own stories here and add the other benefits you have found from your own experiences. 

For more about the processes of enhancing customer centricity or creating a Customer Excellence Department, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com

Build Better Insights in just 4 steps

We are lucky to be living in an information rich environment, where numerous data sources are readily available to us.

However, this can also be a challenge since we are usually:

“Drowning in data and starving for insight”

as I have often been quoted.

If you too are drowning in data, take a look at these four easy steps you can take to meet the challenge of better insight development. We call them the four “I’s” of Insight development to impact business:

Step 1 – IDENTIFY: first identify the most relevant pieces of information for the issue or opportunity you have selected to address, as well as for the business or industry you are in. How do you decide what is relevant?

Look at who your target audience is; what do they like to do in their spare time; what are their hobbies; what are their needs, desires and dreams; what motivates them; what are their basic values? What are they tweeting and blogging about? Do they speak about problems they have with the products and categories you are reviewing? All of these will help you to really underst and them and what issues or opportunities there are for your product or service and br and.

Step 2 – INTEGRATE: once you have gathered and prioritized the most valuable sources of information, it is necessary to integrate them in order to reap their full benefits. Customer information and facts that are integrated help to build deeper knowledge. It also enables the extraction of essential underst anding on which the business can grow.

Data integration can be done manually or using technology, which is advisable when managing large amounts of information. Integration of underst anding can be done by looking for themes and key topics that get repeated across the different sources.

Step 3 – INSIGHTS: after integration of the information, you need to develop the insights. If you haven’t already done so, get a mixed team of experts from different relevant departments together to review all the information, and have the project led by one of your Market Research or Insight group. They will love both the recognition and the challenge of running an insight development session, using everything that has been gathered and integrated.

Step 4 – INSPIRE: as the team begins to hypothesize insights coming out of the information, find someone who can then synthesize their findings into a compelling story. Storytelling will fire enthusiasm into both the team and the company at large, and everyone will be more ready and willing to take the required action. Storytelling helps the findings and insights to be transmitted to all interested parties within the organisation. In some cases, a presentation using storytelling is sufficient for decisions to be made.

How do you develop insights in your own organisation. Do you have other ways to integrate information and knowledge? Please share your ideas with everyone.

For more on Insight development, please see our website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post first appeared in C3Centricity Dimensions on December 29th 2011

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Choosing the right marketing ROI metrics

If you work in marketing and are being challenged by management to demonstrate that you are an investment and not just a cost to the business, then this post is definitely for you.

Marketing is coming under a lot of pressure these days; it is being asked, no dem anded, to demonstrate the ROI of their investments. With the explosion of information readily available from social media, this has become even more pressing. In response, marketing is showing how many “Likes” they have on Facebook, or how many fans they have on their br and pages, but are these effective and relevant measures of marketing success today? I doubt it.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, marketing is no longer (just) the creative arm of business (you can read that post here); – it is now also heavily involved in data integration and analytics, with the need to befriend the IT department to manage all the information.

This is a truly exciting time to be in marketing, especially because of all these changes. However change also brings its own challenges and many in marketing are feeling the need, if not obligation, to defend their budgets, whether stable or increasing. This is due to the many opportunities for what many see to be “free” media on the web, so I thought it would be useful to review what marketers can do to ensure they continue to be viewed as the essential predecessor of sales that they are in reality.

“Everything that can be counted doesn’t necessarily count; everything that counts can’t necessarily be counted” Albert Einstein

According to the Lenskold Group’s 2010 B2B Lead Generation Marketing ROI Study, most marketers don’t know what impact a 10% increase or decrease in their budgets would have. Therefore if the CEO is looking for money, you know where he’s likely to go; if marketers can’t defend their own budgets, who will?

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketing people is that they don’t all speak the language of business. CEO’s and CFO’s are interested in sales, margins and profits, so there is no point in speaking to them about increasing awareness or the number of clicks on your latest website or ad – unless you can say what impact these increases will have on the business.      

I think that the main issue with calculating marketing is that too many marketing plans are still being developed based upon those of previous years, without too much thought going into what the objectives of each action are specifically. How many times have you been asked why your br and is running three new ad campaigns this year and the reply is “because we ran three last year”!

If you or your organisation is likely to reply in a similar fashion, here are three tips for you to consider:

#1. Plan the metrics when you plan the actions

Marketing are often found scrambling to prove why their budgets should not be cut half-way through the year, when the CEO is looking for money. Unless you know what the results of your actions are likely to be, as well as best case and worst case scenarios, which means you have already thought about the outcomes and metrics, you are unlikely to be able to defend your continued spending when times are tough.

Defining the metrics doesn’t mean finding the easiest way to measure your actions, but the way that will produce the most relevant metrics to show their impact on sales and profit. Thus although advertising does impact awareness, it is only when the awareness level is linked to trial and purchase does it become relevant from a business perspective.

#2. Aim for foresight rather than “eyesight”

There has been a lot of talk about developing insight in recent years, but I think it is even more valuable for business to develop foresight. Most market research studies measure what is happening at best and often report what happened in the past, since the results are presented weeks if not months after their recording.

To be effective you need to get more comfortable with hypotheses and considering likely outcomes of your actions, in order to know when you need to ask for more budget or when you might even return monies if your actions are not delivering the expected results. No CFO will reduce budgets next year just because you didn’t use all your money this year, if they can clearly underst and how you came to the decision concerning the required investments and the likely results.

Another point to consider is to run test and learn exercises, which will save time and provide metrics on which to base your hypotheses, when the test is compared to a control group. CFO’s love numbers and comparisons are even more likely to meet with approval of your dem ands.

#3. Think quality not (just) quantity

Marketing is usually happy to report on the number of contacts made at an event, or the number of people remembering an ad campaign, when in many cases increases in these contact / recall numbers don’t mean an equal or proportional increase in sales. So unless you know exactly the relationship between the two, find a more meaningful metric for the business.

Management always has too much to read and review, so keep the metrics to a small number, three to five should be sufficient. Since marketing directly impacts sales, the effectiveness KPI’s chosen should be a collaborative decision of the two departments concerned. Whether your organisation is used to working with a sales funnel, a path to purchase or a decision journey, choose metrics that can be measured in a consistent way along it and thus also followed over time.

And one last word of warning; link your metrics to outcome not to spend, which is the easier and oft chosen one. Of course a CMO will be following many more than 3-5 metrics of the marketing activities, to ensure the budget split is as effective as possible, but the CEO will not need to see them all.

These are just three tips to help marketing defend their budgets through appropriate measurement; what others would you add?

For more on KPI’s please see our C3C Solution on our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part II

If you commission or conduct market research, then you really should read this post, which concludes the Ten reasons not to commission market research.

Last week I shared with you the first five of my ten reasons not to run a market research project. You can read it here if you missed it. Here are the remaining five reasons.

#6. When findings would not be actionable

If the information will just be “nice to know” but will not be actioned, and I have seen enough of those in my career, then you shouldn’t be running any research. This can happen when the objectives are not well defined, or when action needs to be taken, but no one knows what to do, so they decide to conduct some research.

Running a research project will certainly get people into action, but not necessarily in a relevant way and will anyway delay the required situation analysis that is more important to be undertaken.

#7. When market research is politically motivated

This situation can arise when a researcher is relatively young in his or her career and doesn’t feel confident enough to refuse a project. It can also be linked to a half-hidden requirement from the management concerning the outcome as well. This puts the researcher in the difficult situation of working on a project that will be ignored if it doesn’t confirm the boss’s opinion.

In these situations it is vital to agree upfront what actions will be taken based on the otucome, before the research is undertaken. In fact this is a good idea for all projects; review possible outcomes before the project starts and evaluate the consequent actions that should be taken. They might not be firmly agreed, but at least everyone will have had the chance to review possible outcomes and to think about their consequences, before the results are presented. It will hopefully open peoples’ minds and if this is not the case, well the project should not be run.

#8. When what is to be measured changes only slowly – or too fast

Everyone today underst ands the importance of measuring br and image, to underst and what their customer perceptions are of their offer and how it differs from what was intended. In most industries, unless there is a significant change in the market such as a powerful new competitor or communications drive, the images of the br ands will change relatively slowly over time – certainly more slowly than marketers would like. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to measure it more than bi-annually, or annually at most.

The same would apply to usage and habits in a market where very little is happening and customers rarely switch br ands or segments. In most of these cases, market research run in the last few months can often be sufficient for most assessments of issues and opportunities.

However, there is also the case where habits are changing almost daily, such as in a heavily discounted or promoted category. In these cases, it is best to either run  a continuous measurement and present rolling averages, or measure at the same time each year, accepting that it will be just a “snap-shot” of the true market’s reality at the moment of the fieldwork and will have already changed by the time the results arrive in many situations. Following trends and changes then becomes more important than the actual level at the time of measurement.

#9. When the information provider / institute is not “OK”

Many agencies have been around a long time and have built up solid reputations for high class, accurate data and information gathering. Newer agencies can be faced with a hard struggle to gain market share and a few are tempted to “cut corners” to be able to offer cheaper prices or shorter timings, in order to get the business.

I remember once discovering that an agency had in fact only run half the agreed number of interviews for which we had paid, and had then “weighted” every answer in the database during its analysis to show a larger base size. Unfortunately for the agency, we asked for the weighted and unweighted base sizes – which is always recommended to ensure there are not skews in the sub-samples.  This is how we discovered the deception.

Especially when budgets are tight or timing is too short, neither MR agencies not departments should be tempted to meet the dem ands of management by resorting to such practices.

#10. When the information already exists

This is linked to #1 mentioned last week; all projects should start with a detailed situation analysis during which time all current knowledge, information and underst anding are reviewed. In some cases it can just be due to laziness that a new study is asked, rather than taking the time to review the results of all previous market research surveys and analyses.

This completes my list of the ten reasons NOT to run a market research project. If everyone checks that none of them are the reason why they want to run a project before commissioning the work, it will ensure that resources are used correctly and both client and agency will be happy with the outcome.

Have another point you think should be on the list? Then please share it below.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

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5 Ideas on How to Present for Action not Boredom

Many of you in market research, information & planning functions, can clearly see what needs to be done to make your organisations more customer centric, but are frustrated that nobody seems to want to listen to you or make the changes you propose.

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you fight a constant battle to bring these much needed transformations to the attention of management, but usually get blocked by negative reactions or even worse disbelief. If so, I hope you find inspiration in this post.

Last week I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to introduce it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely do so to get inspired.

This made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only if its results lead to action that it can be termed a success. Therefore I came up with the following five points to help bring change and action from all data and underst anding, be it from market research projects, trawling the web for information, or any other form of knowledge gathering:

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report, that you will no doubt provide at the end of the interview.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider to take advantage of the opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than analysing what you are showing, or reading the words on your slides.

One great example of this is the rise in popularity of Infographics; why not make one yourself and give it away at the end of the meeting, rather than sending a report? You can find some inspiring examples here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data tables and never-ending information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing graphs of the results and findings. Everyone likes a good story and what’s more they remember it. How often do people remember tables of data?

Sevendots, a C3Centricity partner, prides itself on storytelling in presentations and their clients have been known to retell the story to their colleagues afterwards and also to use the visualisation elements they saw. It is so much easier to remember a story than an analysis.

#5. Don’t give results give actions

Analysts love to drown us all in data and information, when what we are looking for are insights and actions. So instead of presenting results, why not develop insights and propose actions or changes that would answer the issues or opportunities that have been identified? This way everyone goes away with concrete ideas of what needs to be done, rather than a sore head from all the data and information. If you have followed tip 4 then this will be a natural conclusion as every story has an ending.

These are five ideas that I came up with to help the world move away from boring presentations to the more inspiring world of storytelling. Do you have any other ideas on how to make information sharing fun for everyone? I would love to hear about your own best experiences; how did you inspire your audience?

For more on knowledge sharing and presentations, do check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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Walking the Talk of Customer Centricity

Do you ever get frustrated that although everyone in your organisation claims to underst and the importance of placing the customer at the heart of the business, nobody seems to be really “walking the talk” of customer centricity? If so, then this post is for you.

Thanks to Stan Knoops from Unilever, I recently came across a great video produced by their Insight Team. It is part of a series of Unilever consumer connect programs and presents a new way for connecting their R&D people at Unilever Vlaardingen to consumers. It shows how to engage and inspire a complete organisation of R&D with consumer insights and is a highly inspirational film.

This got me thinking about the problems that many- or should I say most? – organisations have to get all employees engaged and interested in better underst anding their customers. To help get them started on this essential road to customer centricity, I came up with these 6 points:

#1. Put customer connection in everyone’s annual objectives

This can be left open, or specified such as watching a certain number of focus groups or in-depth interviews, accompanying a certain number of customers whilst they shop for or use your product or service, or listening – and why not also manning, after training? – your care centres or websites.

#2. Conduct co-creation or co-elaboration sessions

Whilst it is good to get people close to your customers, you can also help the company with the development of new products, services or communications, by inviting your customers to join meetings and planning sessions. This is both fun and exciting for your customers and inspiring for company employees. And don’t forget the positive publicity and word of mouth you additionally get, since the participants will certainly talk about their experience to their friends and colleagues

#3. Work on the front line

If marketing, sales, supply chain or another department is struggling to find a solution or new development idea, put them on the front line, to talk to customers directly. If you have your own retail outlets this can be relatively easy to organise. However, even if you don’t it can still be done, with a little planning.

I remember when I first started working at Philip Morris International, I spent a week on the road with a sales representative. Not only did I see first h and some of the issues he faced in selling in his stock, but also learnt a lot from the retailers with whom we discussed. I also began to underst and consumers’ mentally whether smokers or non-smokers, when we were offering free samples in bars and cafés (not sure this goes on today, as I am speaking about 30+ years ago!) Being on the front line is both an inspiring and humbling experience and I just wish that more organisations gave this training, both to new hires, as well as all employees on a regular basis.

#4. Get out of the office

When I worked for Gillette many years ago, all br and managers had to spend one day every two weeks in the field, watching. I am not sure that many organisations still send their staff out of their offices on a regular basis – with a few notable and infamous exceptions of course – but since customers can be and often are, totally unlike the people in your organisation, it is difficult for them to appreciate the customers’ perspective.

Whether it is a difference of age, background, culture, wealth or experience, it is unlikely that the people taking the decisions about your br ands really know what their customers feel. So get them to stop sitting in their Ivory Towers and get out into the real world occasionally.

#5. Listen to the frontline staff

When was the last time you invited your promotions staff or retailers to join a meeting? Unfortunately today, many companies don’t even use their own staff to man promotions and sampling, s the wealth of information about how the events have gone and how potential customers appreciated the offer, is lost.

#6. Share the knowledge

In addition to gathering information and knowledge about your customers, it should be regularly shared so that everyone benefits from each other’s learnings. The latest topics customers are calling or writing in about can be visibly published to stimulate everyone’s thinking; how about putting weekly summaries on the notice board, at the lift, in the restaurant waiting area or anywhere else in your offices where a maximum number of people can be inspired by the information? Or what about holding monthly “lunch and learn” sharing sessions during the mid-day break, in a relaxed, fun and creative environment? A free lunch will get people more involved but won’t take valuable time out of their working day.

I hope this “Starter for 6” has got you thinking about ways that you might start walking the talk of customer centricity in your own organisation. If you are using other methods to get your company to put the customer at the heart of the business, please share them here.

If you would like to learn more about targeting, connecting with and underst anding your own customers, please check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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How to Turn your Br and Issue into a Competitive Advantage

Most companies have issues with their products at times. Usually they don’t correct them unless they are considered to be significant and could have a direct negative impact on sales.

You could argue that this will always be the case sooner or later, so better resolve them as soon as they are discovered. Some companies however are creative enough to turn what others might see as an issue into a competitive advantage. Let me give you a couple of examples.

 

Pringles Freshness Seal

Pringles pack
Bursting with Flavour
SOURCE: ZIGSPICS.COM

Most consumers associate bulging lids and packs with a product that has deteriorated in some way. This is not at all the case of Pringles, for which a bulging seal under the plastic cap is a sign of freshness apparently, or at least is a normal phenomenon.

What I love about the br and is that whereas in the past the seal’s surface was used for communicating promotions and competitions, it is now used to send a positive message to their consumers about this situation.

On a pack I recently bought the seal was printed with the words “Bursting with flavour”. How is that for making a positive out of what might have been perceived as a negative? I love it! It adds to the br and’s image and also to the taste and pleasure expectations for the consumer who is about to open the pack. I can imagine that this came directly out of consumer insights, to answer a query about why the seal was always bulging, which as I already mentioned would usually be associated with a product that had “gone off”.

 

The strange taste of Marmite

Another well documented example of a product that converted an issue to its advantage, is that of Unilever’s Marmite. Marmite claims to be a nutritious savoury spread, although non-Brits would describe it more as a very strange tasting concoction. Even UK consumers are divided in their opinion of it; they either love it or hate and there is apparently no half-way sentiment here.

Marmite created a very successful campaign around this love / hate relationship with the product which has now become a social phenomenon, and this divide has even been emphasised in their advertising and on the web. In the UK they even sell Marmite flavoured food – chocolate and cashew nuts – as well as br anded T Shirts, Kitchenware, Books, Cooking, Merch andise and more. How would you like your consumers to pay their hard earned money not only for your products, but for br anded promotional goods too?

In 2011, Unilever took the love / hate relationship into the kitchen, by developing and sharing simple recipes using Marmite for people who hate to cook. Each commercial of the campaign, called “Haute Cuisine, Love Marmite Recipes” ends with the “u” in Haute being blocked by a jar of Marmite, making “Hate Cuisine” and continuing the love / hate theme with which Marmite has become associated. If you would like to see some of the ads from the campaign, you can find them here and their website is www.marmite.co.uk .

These are just two examples but there are many more br ands that have turned a negative into a positive and made it an appealing competitive advantage. Does your br and have an issue and if so could you turn it into a strength? Do you have any other examples you can think of? I would love to hear about your ideas.

For more ideas on br anding check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

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