Should CMOs Concentrate on Brand Building or Business Growth?

Do you remember when Coca-Cola did away with their CMO in favour of a Chief Growth Officer? Then two years later they brought back the position. At the time, I asked if they were wise or foolhardy to make such a change, but they answered the question themselves!

In an interview with Marketing Week, their global vice-president of creative claimed that it had “broadened” the company’s approach to marketing. Obviously, this didn’t live up to their optimistic expectations. I think that other companies who followed suit, also realised that they need a CMO after all. However, their role has changed significantly. 

 

HOW MARKETING HAS CHANGED

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. If you’re like me and are fascinated by how change happens, then I’m sure this complete history of marketing Infographic by Hubspot will be of interest.

With the arrival of digital marketing in the early 80’s, many companies began to take a serious look at their marketing. They realised that their primarily outbound strategy had to change. Their consumers didn’t appreciate being interrupted in their daily lives. However, with the creation of inbound marketing, they still irritated their consumers with spammy emails, popups and “subtle” cookies for following their every move. No wonder the EU felt inclined to develop its GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

What has changed over the past five years is marketing’s deeper awareness of, if not complete adherence to, what customers like and dislike. The major trends that we have seen and their impact on marketing, include:

  1. Chatbots, especially through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to catch consumers on the go with highly personalised messaging.
  2. The use of voice. With the battle between Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the voice search and commands domain, customers can get answers just by asking. This is a huge challenge for businesses because being on the first page of search results is no longer enough; you have to be first!
  3. Video is taking over social media, with its rapid rise on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Influencer marketing is giving way to customer journey mapping with the increased detail that IoT can provide. Many organisations have moved their marketing plans to mirror their customers’ path to purchase. Or rather paths, as personalisation continues to trump mass engagement.
  5. Zero-party data. As social media platforms have seriously reduced the collection of their subscribers’ data, brands are increasing their direct engagements with their consumers. Through polls, quizzes and competitions, they openly ask for consumers’ details, bypassing the need for cookies.

Have you taken these megatrends on board and adapted your marketing accordingly? If not, why not? 

 

BRAND BUILDING

In the past decade or so, many large CPG companies such as P&G  and Nestle renamed their Marketing departments as Brand Builders, in the hope of adapting to this new world. They failed, miserably.

I believe the reason they failed is that despite this name change, they continued to run their marketing in the same old way. Continue Reading

How to Take Local Brands Global: The 5 Rules to Fortune

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a few years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer. You might be forgiven for thinking that they were speaking about the current need for marketers to be both creative and tech-savvy. But they weren’t. They were referring to the growing demand for marketers who could take successful local brands to global fortune.

After all, thanks to the internet, we live in a global market and the recent pandemic has highlighted this more than ever before, with online shopping booming. The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today’s global economy.

In this networked world, more and more successful local brands are attempting global roll-outs. What does it take to repeat the success you’ve had at market level when you launch globally? Here are my five rules to fortune:

 

1. Understand the Market and How It’s Changing

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global rollouts as it does to local brand developments. Today’s consumers are demanding, so find out as much as possible about them. Understand their rational needs but also their emotional desires, even if they don’t openly articulate them.

For global rollouts, additional information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must also be considered. This is where trend following is of particular use, even if you haven’t (yet?) developed plausible future scenarios, as I recommend here.

 

Let’s look at some of the latest trends which are growing across regions today.

  • I want it now! Consumers and shoppers want information – and their purchases too! – where and when they need it. This has been the case for years. But now they expect to get near-instantaneous answers to all their questions, sometimes using visual search to identify and buy whatever they see, wherever they see it. Ikea’s Place App offers shoppers the possibility to snap an article they like and then see it in their home environment. Ikea also offers a visual search function for shoppers to identify an item seen in a magazine or real life, and then find similar ones. Dulux’s Paint Colour Visualizer offers shoppers a similar service; you can try out paint colours virtually in your home to see how it will look with your furnishings before you purchase it.
  • Personalised Experiences. Despite the desire for data privacy control, consumers are ready to provide their information in exchange for a better, highly personalised experience. ZozoSuit is one example in Japan which enables consumers to order clothing online that will fit them perfectly.
  • Join the Club! Another use of personalised data is in providing privileged services – at a price. This idea is used for the regular delivery of razor blades and tampons, as well as for personalised exercise routines and menus.
Continue Reading

The 7 Keys to Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Ever wonder how to get more people talking about your business? It’s simple.

Offer them incredible products and services that solve their problems and fulfil their needs and desires. Then when you have converted them into customers, continue to keep them satisfied and give them something to talk about by surprising them too.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But as you know it’s not. I realise that only too well in my own service offerings. Which is why I decided to write this article about the 7 key elements that will get people talking about us!

Every strategy comes with its own set of rules, and the same is true for word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Yes, this means that you can actually create a strategy to generate positive word-of-mouth for your business. In fact, this has become an essential part of marketing as people have started to lose trust in the reviews they read online – more on that later. Friends, family and trusted advisors are those they turn to for a valued opinion these days.

But first: why does Word-of-Mouth matter?

To start with, it is important to understand what cognitive dissonance is. According to Wikipedia’s definition, it occurs when

“a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. Coping with the nuances of contradictory ideas or experiences is mentally stressful. It requires energy and effort to sit with those seemingly opposite things that all seem true.”

In other words, people are always searching for ways to reduce their stress that is caused by cognitive dissonance when shopping and selecting brands. One of the ways they do this is by searching for confirmation that they have made the right choices. Receiving positive word-of-mouth opinions of products and services from friends or family members will reduce the dissonance, as it confirms people’s beliefs in what they have purchased.

Given that consumers need input to reduce the risks they take, especially when purchasing a brand for the first time, it is marketing’s job to provide a maximum amount of information to build trust. Whether this is through advertising or online customer reviews, it is important to show both transparency and popularity to enhance confidence.

This has become a challenge in recent years as a result of the exposure of significant fake reviews on many websites, including Amazon. There are now even services to highlight these paid or fake reviews, such as fakespot.com and reviewmeta.com. If you are interested in this topic, then I suggest the article on “10 secrets to uncovering which online reviews are fake.” by Catey Hill.

So how can we improve customers’ trust in what we offer? Here are seven ideas I came up with to include in your word-of-mouth marketing:

 

#1 Make Customers Delighted!

If you value your customers, offer them more than they expect! It’s not only the great product or service that generates loyalty but the implicit message that “you matter to us!”  Continue Reading

Are You Still Using The Marketing 5Ps? Move To The Improved 7Qs.

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Marketing is a great profession and the marketing 5Ps is the code by which we live. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for almost my whole career and I am passionate about brand building.

From the outside, others see marketers as those who come to work late and seem to party all night. They always seem to be watching TV or jetting off to exotic places to talk about advertising!

For people working in operations or finance, marketers just don’t seem to be doing a very serious job; they’re always having too much fun! I’m sure you’ve already heard such comments.

Well, as you yourself know, marketing IS fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work, often close to 24/7 on some occasions.

So does all that hard work pay off? Not often enough in my opinion. And why? Because marketers simply don’t always ask the right questions!

 

The 5 Questions Marketers Should Ask

If you work in marketing, you already know the 5Ps – people, place, product, price and promotion. However, the problem with those is that when you find an issue with one of them, you know the “what” but not the “how”.

So I suggest you work with my 7Qs instead. Each of my seven questions explain not only what to check, but also the how and why you need to examine the area.

And if you can’t immediately answer more than just a couple of them, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!

 

Q1. Who are your customers?

People is the first of the marketing 5PsThe first “P” stands for people and often this is taken to be “Do you know to whom you are selling?” The answer is always yes and that’s accepted as sufficient.

Instead, ask yourself who your customers really are. I don’t mean just their demographics, but what, where and how they use or consume your brand and the category in which you are competing. And especially the why of their attitudes and behaviours. If you can’t give all these details about your customers, then you’re in serious trouble.

For more on this topic, see  “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for details on better defining your customer persona. You will also find a link in the article to download a useful template you can use to store all your information as you gather it. 

 

Q2. How are your customers changing?

Hopefully, you answered Q1 without any hesitation – you did, didn’t you? Did you also download our template and complete it? Many of my clients find it a useful way to store and rapidly access the information whenever they need it.

It’s great that you know a lot about your customers, but people change. Are you following how your customers are changing? Continue Reading

The Future of Brand Building is Customer Centricity

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.

Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did!

However, even today, with the creation of inbound marketing strategies, they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use.

Despite these changes CMOs remain one of the leading c-suite members who struggle to keep their jobs for more than four or five years. The reasons are many, but the post “Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?” explains what you can do to ensure you only leave your position when you want to.

 

Brand Building

Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.

Luckily a few other consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their business. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight.

I think we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for the next price offs whenever they can.

They also realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance.

That’s why consumers now often have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be.

 

They have also come to expect constant innovation as they quickly adapt to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “ Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago! Continue Reading

How the Best Marketers are Getting More Actionable Insights

Are you as busy as I am, as we plan on how we’re going to deliver on all our objectives before year-end?

The last quarter of any year is a stressful time indeed, but this post on actionable insights is a must-read if you want to start 2020 ahead of the competition!

I’ve just returned from running a two-day workshop in Japan. The topic was “Insight into Action with Impact”. One of the things that I loved about the workshop was that marketing was invited too. Even though market research and insight (MRI) groups generally report into marketing in most companies, it seems to me that they are often working on different planets! In many organisations, the collaboration between these two departments goes no further than project briefings and results delivery.

This is not the case with my client in Tokyo; this MRI group has a wonderful working relationship, not only with marketing but also with Channel, Sales, R&D, Finance and even Legal. They have understood that insight development is too important to be left to the market research team alone and have worked hard to build strong relationships with all the other departments in their organisation.

I am sure that many of you reading this, are asking why this is so important. It is NOT important, it is VITAL! Insights are the golden nuggets that we are all searching for. Successful companies depend upon deep customer insights to grow their business. They understand the power of engagement built on insight, to connect with and inspire their customers. And yet many companies continue to leave this to the insight team to develop and deliver on their own. It’s as if they believe that this group have some natural-born skill or magic that enables them to do it while others cannot. Don’t worry, we can all do it with the right training and a few tools.

Great companies understand the importance of insight generation and the challenges faced by everyone in developing them. This is why the best marketers search for greater collaboration. I always encourage the market researchers in my client companies to socialise with other departments, rather than sitting behind their computers all day. The best marketers already do this, do you?

I was encouraged to see that marketing have finally understood the importance of insights. In some recent research by Gartner CMOs selected market research and insights as just as important as marketing analytics and digital commerce (see graph below).

Better late than never I suppose, but it always amazes me that marketing could put anything ahead of insights. After all, every action they decide to take should be based upon deep knowledge and understanding of the customers targeted.

 

actionable insights supporting marketing strategy

 

If you are struggling to develop insights that will truly resonate with your consumers or customers, then I suggest you follow these eight tips that I shared with my client’s marketing and insight teams last month.

 

 

 

8. Insight development should involve more than the insight team, which is why it is important for them to always be building their relationships with other departments. Continue Reading

Is Packaging Part of Product or Promotion? Should it be Both?

Which did you answer subconsciously when you read the title? Do you consider your packaging to be a part of the product, protecting its contents and framing its on-shelf life? Or do you consider it to be an integral part of your connection with your customers at an important moment of truth, that of purchase and usage?

If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communication.

If you answered only one of the choices, then you may be missing an important opportunity. Let me explain, with a few examples.

 

People don’t read instructions

We all expect most things that we use or consume to be intuitive these days. In other words, we assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions.

 

If you are like most people – myself included – this has nothing to do with the complexity of the product concerned . I myself will only turn to the instructions when something doesn’t work: I end up with left-over screws when mounting a flat-pack piece of furniture, or I can’t achieve multi-recordings on my smart TV or DVD recorder.

In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they  they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.

As internet results in us having access to more and more information, we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore we need to ensure that any vital information is called out in some way on the packaging – and perhaps visually as well.

 

People do look at packs

Whether it is the cream we put on our faces, the cereal we eat for breakfast, or the dip that we offer to friends on match night, there are moments when we are faced with packaging for more than a split second. It is at these times that we are likely to read at least some of what is written on a pack.

It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention.

 

Here are a few examples I have come across recently:

Our customers’ attention is pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels, products and services. Capturing their attention is more likely to be successful when they are open to learning about your product, that is to say, when they are actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn’t you agree?

For more information on the support we can provide in product innovation and branding, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/training

This post is regularly updated and expanded from the original published on C3Centricity.

 

 

Continue Reading

How Marketers Can Benefit From More Than Technology: Modern Marketing

Just like most entrepreneurs and business people, I go to my fair share of conferences. I believe that marketers can benefit from being regularly challenged by new thinking and ideas.

One that stays in my memory for many reasons, was an event I attended in San Jose, California. Some say California is the centre of internet marketing; the San Francisco area for technology and San Diego for marketing. I tend to agree after having recently attended events in both cities.

The conference that changed many of my views on modern marketing was one about how business people, not just marketers, can break through our self-limiting behaviours. It is this idea which prompted today’s post. How we marketers can relinquish our well-established thoughts and actions to make our businesses grow more profitably. If this is of interest to you too, then read on.

 

HEART-CENTERED VERSUS CUSTOMER-CENTRIC

The conference I attended in San Jose was a great opportunity for me to meet many other people from around the world. People who want to make their businesses more heart-centered. You know that I am a champion of customer centricity. I love to support companies that want to put their customers at the heart of their businesses.

So you might be wondering what the difference is between a customer-centric and a heart-centered business. After the conference, I would say that in my opinion, not much. I believe it is difficult to think customer first without it also involving the heart; at least, it should.

As we try to put our customers at the centre of our organisations, it is through a concern to satisfy and delight them. A heart-centred business would probably go even further to ensure that what they do also benefits non-customers, or, at least, doesn’t harm them.

Creating shared value has become a strong commitment of many of the leading global players in the consumer goods market. Reliance Jio, Merck and Bank of America lead the way according to the Fortune “Change the World” List.

If the topic inspires you then you might also be interested in reading an article on “Innovation and Creating Shared Value”, which I was invited to contribute to one of the first issues of the Journal of Creating Value. I will also be speaking at the 2nd Global Conference on Creating Value in New York later this year. So let me know if you too will be attending and we can meet up.

 

CUSTOMER FIRST EXAMPLES

But back to defining the types of business. Which is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric? Or are you not even there yet?

Do you think customer first but forget about those who are not yet your customers? That’s a dangerous thing to do as you may be limiting your brand’s potential. Here are a few current habits that some companies have, which show how customer centric they are – or not:

 

 

If you’d like to read more on this topic then I would highly recommend you follow Steve Aitchison, as well as read a wonderful guest post there by Kathryn Sandford called “ 3 Strategies to master the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back in life.”  Continue Reading

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

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

Most shared marketing infographics

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.

(Source: Infographic Journal)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

 

Top Marketing Design Trends 

SSTK Core TrendsIFGC Static english  eWith 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!

(Source: Shutterstock) 

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

 

The Meaning of Colours by Culture

Meaning of colour marketing infographicIf 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.

(Source: Information is Beautiful)

(Click image to see full infographic)

 

Content Marketing Uses

Content marketing infographic matrix

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. Continue Reading

Why You Struggle To Meet Your Business Objectives (And how to Crush them)

“There may be customers without brands, but there are NO brands without customers!”

I am often quoted as saying this and yet I still find most companies spend more time thinking about their brands than their customers, which is alarming to say the least! And you? 

Last week I spoke about identifying the exact category in which you are competing. If you missed it, then I suggest you read “You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are!” before continuing. You will never be successful if you don’t understand the category people put you in and the competitors they compare you to.

In the post, I explain that we often work with a category definition that is based upon industry norms rather than that of our customers. For instance you might segment by price or demographic groups, whereas your customers group brands by flavour or packaging.

Understand how customers see the category and its sub-segments, can make a huge difference to your success in satisfying your own target customers.

This week I want to continue the theme of taking the customers’ perspective by speaking about our own business objectives. You know, the topics that make up our business and marketing plans with such lofty ambitions as:

  • Grow our market share to X%
  • Become the category captain/leader in Retailer Z
  • Launch three new brand variants

All of these may be valid business objectives, but they are not customer focussed. They start from the business perspective.

Adopting a customer-first strategy means turning business objectives into customer aims, by taking what is sometimes referred to as a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach.

Here are some questions to help you identify your customers’ aim, their attitudes and behaviours that you are trying to influence:

1. Who are you targeting?

Every brand has a target audience. This is a sub-segment of all category users. Yes you do need to segment users and target the most relevant and most profitable group of them for your brand, and then ignore the rest. If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!

“If you are trying to appeal to everyone you end up pleasing no-one!”

2. Why are they currently using your competitor’s brand?

In order to attract your competitors’ customers you need to understand their motives, why they are preferring the competitive brand to your offer. This information can come from many sources, such as market research, social media, or care centre contacts.

3. What reason might make them consider switching?

If you are to appeal to your competitors’ customers then you must be able to satisfy them at least as well, and ideally better than does their current brand. What do you know about the criticisms customers have of the brand? What benefits do you offer and they don’t, or only partially? Could these be appealing to some of their customers?

4. Why do you believe that you can appeal to them now but didn’t before?

Do you have benefits that you have never highlighted in the past? Continue Reading

You’re missing out on A Free Communication Channel! (Any guesses what it is?)

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“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

Are you as shocked as I am, to think that there is a free communication channel which most marketers are not using effectively today?

So what is this incredible channel? The Internet? No. Social Media? No.

OK, so everyone is excited about the web and have jumped on board the digital train. But some are already seeing that online advertising is not the “safest” way to communicate.

Take P&G for example. A recent AdAge article stated that:

Procter & Gamble‘s concerns about where its ads were showing up online contributed to a $140 million cutback in the company’s digital ad spending last quarter… 

P&G didn’t call out YouTube, the subject of many marketers’ ire earlier this year, … but did say digital ad spending fell because of choices to “temporarily restrict spending in digital forums where our ads were not being placed according to our standards and specifications.”

Will others follow? I don’t know. But I would like them all to reconsider their total advertising spend in light of this underutilised but highly effective channel that I’m about to share with you. Have you guessed what it is yet? It’s packaging!

Think about it. Packaging communicates in-store, on the shelf as shoppers pass by.

It communicates to users when they take it home and open it. Although for how long? See below for some developments in that area.

And it may also communicate when it’s used, whether it is snacks, drinks, breakfast cereals, cookies, pharmaceuticals or a whole load of other products which are consumed straight from the pack.

So if a pack has the possibility to communicate, why are so few marketers using it?

I believe it’s because they don’t see packaging as a communication channel, which is a serious mistake. After all, it’s free!

There are two very popular posts on C3Centricity on the topic, which you might like to read before continuing. The first is “How Communicating through Packaging is more Informative & Personal” which shares some great examples of how creative pack usage has become the basis of full media campaigns. Click the link above to read more.

The other is “Is your Packaging Product or Promotion?” which talks about why people don’t read instructions – until they need them – but they do read what’s written on packs. Click above to read more.

Both of these posts provide some great examples of companies which have used their packaging to communicate with their consumers. However they are a couple of years old now, so I wanted to update my thoughts on the packaging channel opportunities, as well as the examples I share.

After all, customers have become more demanding in recent years and want to know far more about the products they purchase.

And if you can’t wait to start a review of your own packaging, why not book a complimentary advisory session with me? Continue Reading

Why Customers Are The Answer To All Your Problems (If You Ask the Right Questions)

Listen on Apple Podcasts“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

Last week I asked whether it is employees or customers who are more important to an organisation. If you missed it read “Customers Care About a Product’s Value, Not How the Company Treats Employees” now and catch up.

I knew it would be a provocative question but I still didn’t expect quite so many comments! So this week I decided to be just as provocative and talk about the issues that challenge many businesses. And where the answer to whatever problem they have is actually quite simple. For me, customers are the answer! They can either answer or help you overcome any challenge or issue you may have.  Read on and then let me know if you agree.

 

How can I innovate more successfully?

 
According to an excellent article by Harvard Professor Dr Srini Pillay “Humans have a natural aversion to innovation because it involves a healthy dose of uncertainty and risk.”
 
 
Unfortunately, we try to reduce this risk by referencing past events to help us to predict the probability of our future success. Dr Pillay concludes that possibilities rather than probabilities are more likely to lead to better results.
 
I would concur with this statement, as the world is changing too fast to rely on past events as a predictor of anything in the future. This is why I say that customers are the answer!
 
It is only by getting closer to our customers and being constantly curious, that we have any chance of increasing our success in satisfying them.
 
It therefore makes sense that we involve our customers in helping us innovate. Not as a judge of concepts, which is what many businesses do. This is wrong because we know that consumers don’t know what they want, at least not until they see it.
 
However, they do know what their pains are; what is wrong with a product or service and what they would rather have. Co-creation and in fact ongoing conversations with our customers is the only way to stay ahead of the game.
 
In another article, this time in the HBRHeitor MartinsYran Bartolomeu Dias and Somesh Khanna from McKinsey shared the results of numerous interviews they conducted in Silicon Valley, the home of US (tech) innovation.
 
They conclude that it takes many skills and cultural changes for most organisations to become more innovative. These include:
  • Audacity and grit: The determination to continue despite failure. And I would add the acceptance of failure and the license for employees to fail too.
  • Strong leadership and true collaboration: An inspiring vision and the tenacity to make it happen – together.
  • Give employees autonomy. We all need meaningful work. The chance of helping an organisation grow is what motivates top employees. That and the freedom to make decisions based on clear goals but without directive processes on how to meet these objectives.
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