Success is just the start of the road

Why Success is the Start & Not your Journey’s End

A few weeks ago I spoke about failure and the differences between cultures in how people react to it. It was one of the most popular posts I have ever written, so to complete the perspective I thought I would share some equally inspiring quotes on success, with again some thoughts for actions that are suggested by each of them.

Many think that success is the end of their effort, when it should be the start of a journey towards even greater things. The start of something bigger, better and even more  exciting. Success should motivate, stimulate a desire to try even harder, to go that much further and to succeed again and again. This first quote sums this up brilliantly:

1. “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure” Bill Cosby, American Actor (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: Those who succeed accept failure as one of the necessary steps to reach their goal. They know they are unlikely to succeed without first failing. What if your fear of failing was stopping you from your greatest success? Manage your fear and do it anyway.

2. “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way” Dale Carnegie (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: As #1 above also mentioned, failure is a necessary step on the way to success. Learn from your mistakes and be thankful for them, as they are steering you away from the wrong direction.

3. “Eighty percent of success is showing up” Woody Allen, American actor, director & screenwriter (>>Tweet this<<)

THOUGHT: You can’t just wish for success, you have to earn it, to make it happen. You have to put the work in, risk making mistakes and then carry on trying. How often do you forget to “turn up” when the going gets tough?

4. “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” Henry Ford, American Businessman (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: Success rarely comes in isolation, whether we are speaking about people, thoughts or actions. We need others to provide different perspectives, skills and energies. We need different experiences to complement our own norms. If you are not succeeding, ask for help or advice; people generally love to give it.

5. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will” Vince Lombardi, American football player, coach and executive (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: Success doesn’t come easy, even if as an observer we may think otherwise when seeing others succeed instead of us. Rather than feeling jealous, use others’ success as an indication that everyone can succeed if they put their minds to it. Put your energy into succeeding and not to putting down others’ successes. Are you trying hard enough to get your own success?

6. “Try not to be a success, but rather to be of of value” Albert Einstein (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: I love this quote, because it is often said that trying to succeed for success alone is setting yourself up for disaster. Look at how you can help and be of value to others and success will follow. Which are you trying for?

7. “The secret of my success is a two word answer: Know people” Harvey S. Firestone, American businessman & founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: This follows on nicely from the previous quote, in that it again puts people at the heart of success. Seek to be of help and value to others and success will follow. Be interested in others and their challenges, listen carefully, because your next success might just come from one of these.

8. “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart” Thomas J. Watson, Chairman & CEO of IBM (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: One more quote on the importance of people, this time for businesses. A company doesn’t always succeed because it has the best products, but rather because its customers are treated better. Are you putting as much thought into satisfying and hopefully delighting your customers, as in developing the best product you can make technically speaking?

9. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” Albert Schweitzer, German theologian, philosopher & physician (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: Why make it hard on yourself by searching success in something you don’t love? Look for happiness first and success will follow. If you are successful, search within yourself if you are really doing what you love, or if you are doing it for other reasons – money, family or friends’ expectations, tradition etc.

10. “Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses” Marilyn vos Savant, American magazine columnist, author, lecturer & playwright (>>Tweet quote<<)

THOUGHT: Whilst we all want to improve in areas of weakness, it is our strengths that will bring us success. As the quote above mentions, we succeed in what we love and we generally love what we’re good at. If you don’t know what your strengths are – many of us feel shy to state them – then find what you love doing instead. Be strong and love your strength. These are ten of my favourite quotes on success. To summarise all of them in just one sentence: Turn up, work hard, accept mistakes, be of value to others by using your strengths and above all Be Happy. Do you have another favourite quote on success? Please share it below. Have something to add to the topic or disagree with what I’ve written? Then please share your thoughts as I’m always ready to learn from others. C³Centricity used an image from Kozzi in this post.

The new marketing man is a brand manager

Are P&G Right to End Marketing?

In the last couple of weeks, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion around P&G’s decision to change marketing into brand management.

The consumer products world closely watches whenever P&G announces changes, whether to their strategy, marketing or in this case their organisational structure. As this AdAge article (herementions “P&G seems well out in front of the rest of the marketing world — or what used to be known as the marketing world — on this”.

As businesses have become more social, there have been a lot of articles about marketing. Some have spoken about the need for marketing and IT to get together, if not even merge in some way (See this Forbes article). Others have proclaimed the end of the CMO’s position altogether, including the infamous piece by IMD’s President Dominique Turpin “The CMO is Dead ..… Welcome to the CCO. Then there have been even more articles challenging marketing to show their worth and suggesting metrics to prove their ROI (See Fournaise 2011 study of 600 CEOs or Forrester’s Marketing Performance Management Survey).

The fact that there have been so many different pieces on the topic over the last year or so, suggests to me that marketing is still vital for and extremely attractive to business, but that it is in desperate need of reinventing itself. I believe this is behind P&G’s move.

At the end of last year I wrote a post proposing what I thought would and wouldn’t change and what needs to. Six months on, in light of P&G’s announcement, I thought it useful to review my list:

What will change

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

What won’t change

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

What must change

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

Although I didn’t predict P&G’s change, it does in fact address most of the above, by combining four functions under the new title of Brand Management: brand management (formerly known as marketing), consumer and marketing knowledge (their name for market research), communications and design. At least by combining these groups under a single leader they will be forced to work less in silos and there should be more and better collaboration. Only time will tell if this move will be successful.

Do you think P&G’s change is the right move? Will you consider doing something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are, or aspire to the “old” CMO or marketing roles. 

If you need help in adapting to the new world of marketing, why not work with one of the new breed of marketers? Someone who combines cultural sensitivity with creativity and technical know-how; a catalyst for the change your organisation needs. Contact us here and let’s discuss your needs.

C³Centricity used an image from Microsoft in this post.

How to reverse trend and meet your marketing plan

Why Most Marketing Plans Fail & 9 Ways to Succeed with Yours

This Monday is Memorial Day in the US, when Americans everywhere think back to those in the US Armed Forces who gave their lives in the line of duty. I too am thinking back, but to all the marketing plans and ideas that have been sacrificed!

The reasons why some plans are accepted and others aren’t are many. Non-alignment with corporate plans is one of the most usual, but lack of clarity, consistency, preparation or budget are also common. And even when accepted, they aren’t always executed as planned. So I thought that it would be useful to take a look back at our own marketing plans that we set earlier this year and review what is and isn’t working. We still have time to make changes and meet our 2014 targets, so which of the following is your current issue?

Declining market share

Firstly, you should be ashamed that you’ve let your brand slide so much that you are actually losing share! Brand equity measures would have given you a clear warning that something was going wrong, months if not years ago! Did you ignore the numbers or were your efforts too small to have the necessary impact? Either way, it’s time to start working out what’s going wrong. Review the 5P’s of marketing for starters and prioritise actions based on what you find.

Stable market share

So your brand’s growth is slowing? This happens in the normal life-cycle of a brand, so no panic, but you do need to take action to renew growth. But don’t think that small tweaks will be enough. Competition is ruthless these days and you will need to create some buzz around your brand. Surprise and delight is the name of the game to win (back) consumers. Start from your strengths and then ramp one or two of them up a couple of levels.

Declining image

As mentioned above, your brand image will start to weaken before market share is affected (>>Tweet this<<), so in theory you still have time to prevent significant share loss. But you must act now! It is more effective to review your image ratings by experience group, to see what you need to do to recover lapsed users or convert more trialists. In my experience the answers should be clear from a regularly run and thoughtfully analysed brand image study using a well-developed attribute list.

Losing consumer trust

This is a serious issue. (as if the others aren’t!) Trust in companies and brands is what enables consumers to forgive mistakes or accept higher prices. (>>Tweet this<<) And it tips the balance in your favour in product comparability when performances are similar. Trust is a complex principle built out of a number of influencing factors, such as integrity, reliance, confidence, quality and worthiness. Which of these has resulted in your consumers’ loss of trust? Once identified, you will need to review how you can influence it. It will take time – sometimes a lot of time – to change perceptions.

Inconsistent communications

Since most companies have one product manager or group in charge of each brand, this shouldn’t happen and yet it still does. Multiple suppliers with differing interpretations of the brand promise, and annual revamps of simply the previous year’s work, makes for communications that gradually slip from the original positioning and message. Instead of just looking at the latest or planned communications, it is vital to also review the previous five years’ work. It then becomes obvious how messaging has shifted. (>>Tweet this<<)

Inconsistent product performance

As with communications, most product testing compares current to the proposed new product and sometimes also versus the competition. Unfortunately small changes made can be undetectable to consumers even in direct comparison, or are within statistical errors and so are ignored. But over time, consumers are likely to come to realise that the product to which they have been loyal for many, many years, is no longer what it used to be. Therefore it is useful (essential) to compare product ratings to those from previous years, as well as to the current product.

No emotional attachment

This is a dangerous situation to be in, since if consumers have no emotional attachment to your brand, they can switch without too much thought. In fact your brand is no longer a brand, it’s a commodity! It needs to stand for something in the hearts and minds of consumers, so that they will choose you rather than a competitor. Especially in categories where performance differences are minimal, emotional attachment is what keeps consumers loyal. (>>Tweet this<<)Review how your consumers feel about your brand and what you can do to build more emotional attachment. The stimulation of the senses is a great way to do this. (read more here).

Confusing brand hierarchy

Your line extensions are like family members. There should be a well-defined parent brand and each variant should have clear resemblances to it. As mentioned above concerning product and communications consistency, line extensions can drift away from the look and feel of the parent brand, especially in dynamic categories where innovation and renovation are vital. When was the last time you looked at your whole product range – together? Differences in fonts, colours, sub-brand descriptions and design become quickly obvious. Make the changes needed to get the family back in line.

Lack of (the right) social media presence

I couldn’t end this list without including social media and the internet as this is where most consumer product brands “live” today. (>>Tweet this<<)It is not enough to launch a website and Facebook page for every brand and promotion. Living is the operative word here, so it’s much better to have one site that is regularly updated than tens that are visited by twenty people a month (and yes I’ve found that in many major CPGs in the past). Also make sure that your tone online fits your tone offline and portrays the same personality. Social media is not new media, it’s just another channel, so it must fit into your overall communication’s strategy.

Hopefully this list has given you some food for thought and ideas on which to take action this week. If you are facing a different challenge I’d love to hear about it and possibly offer you some solutions. Just drop me a line here.      

C³Centricity used an image from Kozzi in this post.

Boss takes decision

Four Tough but Essential Decisions Every Business Leader Must Make: Who, What, Why & How?

“Why do I have to do it?” That was what my friend’s daughter provocatively asked him recently. She didn’t want to do something he had requested of her and like many kids was now questioning his reasoning as well as his authority.

This happens in the work environment too. When you are the boss, your team members are likely to sometimes ask you a similar question. And whilst it may be done less bluntly, they will still be questioning your reasoning and authority.

Last week I spoke about honesty in the workplace and it caused a lot of discussion online and in various LinkedIn groups. This week I want to speak about the difficult decisions we, as leaders, are sometimes forced to take.

Organisational structure

Individuals are all too often promoted for good performance in their current positions and not for their people-management skills or because their abilities are suited to the future positions. This is coined the “Peter Principle” in management theory, named after Laurence J. Peter. His book on the topic, co-authored with Raymond Hull, suggests that people tend to get promoted until they reach their “position of incompetence”. In fact it has been shown that CEOs who fail are quite often found to have made poor people choices  that they have then been unsuccessful in dealing with appropriately.  (>>Tweet this<<)

True leaders accept mistakes, both theirs and their teams, and personally own their bad decisions. However, that doesn’t just mean firing the under-performing employee. It also means firing someone that doesn’t “deserve” to be fired, just because your priorities have changed. It also means taking the time to explain why; no hiding behind HR to do the dirty work or just handing over the official letters in silence. Taking the responsibility of one’s acts can sometimes be painful, but that’s what distinguishes a true manager.

Portfolio management

In the garden, you keep your plants healthy by regularly trimming them. You remove the dead wood and cut back the longer stems so the plant will bush out and have more new growth and flowers. The same is true in business.

Both P&G and Unilever have done some radical pruning of their brands over the years. P&G has around 300 brands today, a third less than just a decade ago. And Unilever continues to frequently reduce the number of its stock-keeping units (SKUs). Since introducing its “Path to Growth” initiative almost fifteen years ago, the number of its brands has been culled from 1,600 down to just 400.

Retail organisations are no longer willing to offer increased space for ever-expanding numbers of brands and variants. This is especially true in recent years with the start of a clear increase in the numbers of supermarket chains offering smaller stores. Therefore it makes sense to regularly review your own portfolio and cut the “long tail” of slowest movers. The “Pareto Principle” or 80-20 rule helps a lot to make these difficult decisions.

People management

Most major organisations go through periods of growth followed by times of headcount reduction. These latter cutbacks often result in emotional pain for many of the previously loyal employees, and often for the staff who remain too. You would think that someone would notice these cycles and come out with a better way of managing a workforce.

Personnel cuts are usually claimed to be for cost-cutting reasons, but are all too often followed by new hiring initiatives within months if not even weeks of the event! Now I understand that staffing needs change and new projects may require new skills. But I blame management for being short-sighted when they make such layoffs. Whilst a business needs a core of different staff functions, the requirements of short-term projects should be met with temporary hires. This will avoid the costly practices of first hiring and then firing staff shortly afterwards.

Luckily young professionals are looking for more freedom in their careers today than my security-seeking generation ever were. Therefore why not identify your own staffing cycles and take advantage of this trend to find alternative ways of meeting temporary skill requirements?

Resource allocation

Almost every department must occasionally defend both its headcount and its budget. Whilst intellectually we may understand that we can’t have it all, we still complain when seeing others getting more than they need (or deserve?).

Unfortunately too many businesses set their goals by looking in the rear-view mirror (>>Tweet this<<), rather than by contemplating plausible future scenarios. Basing tomorrow’s needs on what was done last year, or worse still on what competition did, guarantees that budgets will not be available where they are most needed. If however resources are managed from the top down, in line with company rather than personal objectives, the business is more likely to get to where it is headed. How do you manage yours?

These four decisions are amongst the most difficult a leader will ever have to make. To summarise, they cover the who, what, why and how you run your business. It is in making these tough decisions that leaders prove why they are where they are. What decisions have you found the toughest to make in your own career and why?

You are fired if you can't answer marketing question

8 Things CEOs might question about your Marketing Plan: And how to Answer them

All marketers create a marketing plan and work to achieve the growth mentioned in it. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop the plan, and even more to get it approved by management.

The annual parade of brand-plan presentations is a reality in most companies. Marketers all breathe a sigh of relief when it is over and they can get back to their beloved day jobs, that of supporting their brands.

Worried marketer answering a marketing question

However, management doesn’t always allow a marketer to get off that easily. They can just as easily spring an “innocent” question when passing them in the corridor or socialising at a company event. If you can answer the CEOs question to their satisfaction, you will shine in their eyes. Provide an incomplete or worse still no answer, and they might wonder if it isn’t time to restructure the marketing group.


So, here are eight of the most likely questions a CEO may ask and how you should answer. NEVER say you don’t know, but also never drown them in a long-winded answer. Neither response will win you brownie points. Make sure you have an answer like those proposed below and your name might just be on the next list of promotions.

1. Who are our brand customers?

There is far more information needed than just age and gender, to answer this question. Prepare a short description (often called a persona) of a typical user, in the same way as you would describe a friend. See “13 Things your Boss Expects you to Know about your Customers” for further details on what you should already know about your customer.

ANSWER: Our customers are middle-aged women, whose children are in their late teens or early twenties. She shops in local supermarkets and gets advice from  friends on Facebook, about the best brands to buy and what’s on offer. She’s been buying our brand for over two years because it satisfies her children’s hunger when they get in from playing sports. That makes them happy and she then feels proud of being a good Mum.

2. How much are our customers worth to us?

Marketing plan question about valueBesides having an average lifetime value in your head, you should also be able to provide information about your customers’ perceived value of your brand.

ANSWER: On average each customer spends about XXX (Dollars, Euros, Renminbi, Rupee, Real) each year on our brand, which is about YYY over ten years (lifetime value is rarely calculated further out than this). Our current average price in-store is ZZZ, but 70% of our customers thinks we’re actually worth more.

3. What return on our marketing budget are we getting?

Whilst ROI is not the best measure of marketing’s impact (see this Forbes article for more on that), you still need to answer the question. The answer to this could get very complex if you go into too much detail, so keep it simple. Say what your total budget is, how much you spend on advertising and promotions and what impact that has had on sales, in total. I know it takes a lot more than these two actions to impact sales, but as I said, keep it simple.

ANSWER: Our total budget is AAA of which BBB goes on communications and promotions. With our current sales growth of SSS, that works out at approximately TTT.

4. How much will we sell; what market share are we expecting this year?

You could give just one number in answer to this, but why not use the attention you’ve got by adding something impressive to the story?

ANSWER: We’re expecting a RRR% growth this year to UUU unit sales. This is the highest in the category so our share will increase by PPP points to MMM percent market share.

5. What are our innovation plans for the brand?

You could answer this with a long list of all the new SKUs you will launch but again use your time wisely by adding some understanding too.

ANSWER: We will be launching CCC new variants, which we expect to add MMM percentage points to our market share. We will also be eliminating FFF units that are not delivering on expectations.

6. What do we know about our carbon footprint?

Marketing question about brand carbon footprint

Questions around sustainability and sourcing tend to be raised in corporations which already have targets. If this is the case in your own company, then measurements are almost certainly already being taken. Therefore you just need to reply with the latest numbers.

But you can again use this exchange with top management to add how your customers feel about the question and all the efforts being made by the company – you do have that information too don’t you?

7. How’s the competition doing?

The answer to this question could cover a lot of topics: sales, market share, new launches, advertising, promotions or pricing. Respond with a simple summary of a few current metrics in comparison to two or three major competitors. The manager will then clarify if he was thinking of a specific topic and you can answer more precisely.

8. How’s our distribution doing these days?

A simple summary of outlets we have gained or lost is enough here, but why not add some detail about successful placement improvements too? That latest shelf redesign that has increased sales, or the fact that you have just been named category captain in a retail chain is definitely news worth sharing.

These are just eight of the most common questions top management asks of marketers. As you can see, the answers I’ve suggested are short. Especially when the question is posed outside the formal marketing plan presentation, the executive is probably looking not only for the information requested, but also to check that you have an excellent understanding of your brand. He wants to be assured that his business is in good hands. Prove it to him and also show your respect of his time, by giving a short, precise, answer whenever possible.

Do you frequently get asked other questions that I have forgotten? Do let me know. If you also have a better way of responding to any of the above questions, I’d love to hear those too.

If you’d like your team to be better prepared for “awkward” questions from management, why not ask for a 1-Day Catalyst session on marketing KPIs? No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft and Dreamstime in this post.

Checking the 7Ps of outstanding customer service

NEVER Succeed at Innovation: 10 Mistakes even Great Companies make

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Apple still excels at innovation

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing future scenarios can speed innovation

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

 

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

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

Fire of failed new products

This is Why your New Products “Crash & Burn”

Last month I invited readers to share some of the problems and challenges they need to address in 2014. I offered a free consultation to one lucky winner who asked the most interesting question, which could also be of interest for me to answer for other readers.

Well, the winner is Jean-Francois (JF) who has just started working with a start-up in the tech and app areas – I feel that’s more and more of us these days, don’t you? His question was:

“I would like to commercialize a new XXX; what would be the right approach to identify the consumer need and then the market potential, considering that the company has very limited financial resources?”

This is a great question and a reminder that not every organisation has access to large market research or marketing departments and extensive budgets. In fact, in many companies these roles are being handled by one and the same person with very few resources; is that your case? If so then you will definitely find this post of interest, but even if it isn’t, I’m sure you will still find value from the ideas shared.

As I had promised, I gave Jean-Francois a one-on-one consultancy which ended up lasting several hours, as he had planned well for our session together. He also happens to be really passionate about his innovative idea, as well as in finding solutions to all his challenges.

The product JF and his team want to launch doesn’t exist on the market today, although there are some products which are unsuccessfully trying to address the perceived customer need. The proportion of product launches which fail every year is generally “accepted” to be about 95% – although why companies continue to accept such levels is beyond me! With such odds, I think it is incredibly courageous to start a whole company based around just one new product idea, but that seems to be the norm in many areas today.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the reasons new products fail and identify ways to reduce if not completely eliminate them for your next launch.

  1. New product Process wheelThe process itself: Innovation is by definition a creative process, but many organisations use a well-worn, restrictive and uncreative process to develop their new products. They are at best most likely to come up with renovations than true innovations. The solution is to introduce some creativity into the process, and why not include potential customers in the process too?
  2. Meeting company quotas: It is surprising that with such miserable statistics concerning the likely success rate of new products, that so many companies – and which shockingly include many of the largest CPGs around – fix quotas on the number of annual new product launches. How crazy is that?! It just encourages too many new products to be launched too early, and almost guarantees failure! I believe it would be much better to seriously limit the levels of acceptance amongst all new product ideas proposed in any year, then only the best would get through.
  3. Lack of customer understanding: This is most likely one of, if not the most important reason for new product launch failures. And I don’t mean that you should ask the customer what he wants, he doesn’t know until you make it available to him in many industries. No, I mean starting by looking at a customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. If you already have a new product idea, which was the case for JF, then consider how it would make the customer’s life easier or better. If it doesn’t, then you perhaps need to reassess its market appeal.
  4. Lack of category understanding: This follows on from customer understanding, in that you need to identify how the customer is currently working around or compensating for their need today. Don’t assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified what the customer is currently doing or using. That is the way to identify your true competition.
  5. Not living up to your promises: If you promise a better, cheaper or more enjoyable experience, then customers deserve to be able to confirm this if they buy. Especially in today’s connected world, if you disappoint by not meeting customers’ expectations, your product will fail even more quickly than in the past, since early-adopters will Tweet or leave comments on Facebook, Blogs or other social media platforms for all to see.
  6. Not being sufficiently differentiated: Following on from living up to your promises, customers need a reason to change behaviours, and depending upon the category this can be costly, whether in time, money or effort. Many customers prefer to continue buying an inferior product or service than making the effort to change – think Telecom, Banking, Hotels, Air travel or Insurance as some of the most typical examples of such industries. These businesses are in a constant battle to differentiate themselves and provide a real advantage to attract new customers.
  7. Being too different: Whilst not being sufficiently differentiated can be a certain cause of failure, being too new can also meet with no success. The reason for this is that if customers are totally unfamiliar with the new product or service offering, you will need to spend considerable resources to educate them. If you are unable or not willing to invest the time and money in doing this, then you will undoubtedly fail to attract more than just a few customers who take the time to understand what you are offering.
  8. Correct pricing is key to NPD successPricing yourself out of the market: Here I’m not just speaking of pricing your product too high; being too low can also negatively impact your likely success. Understanding how much potential customers value your offer to essential to the success of any product. Getting it wrong can result in lost revenue or worse a promotional spiral leading to brand hell (read more about this in “Are you on the way to brand heaven or hell“)
  9. Inappropriate distribution: This can be the consequence of an incomplete understanding of your customer and is also linked to differentiation. Whilst you can just follow near competitors into their own distribution channels, why ignore the possibility of being available where and when your customer might buy it most? By reducing the effort necessary to change their habits and buy, you can attract more potential customers to at least try your new product.
  10. Being too far ahead of the customer: There are many examples of great products that were ahead of their time. Gillette brought out 2–in–1 shampoos with conditioners included in the early 70’s, but they were a dramatic flop. Ten years later most personal care manufacturers offered these products, and were met with huge success, even if such products have gone out of fashion somewhat since then. It took Nespresso almost twenty years to become profitable and Philip Morris has needed similar levels of patience for their most infamous of brands Marlboro, in many markets. If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision.

These are ten of the most common reasons for new product launch failure. Which do you think is most prevalent in your own company? What are you going to change to increase the success of your own new products? Is it some other reason altogether, that I’ve missed? Let me know and share your thoughts below. 

Coming back to JF, most of our time together was spent discussing ways to collect information on many of the above points. As he has little budget for extensive market research, it was important for him to find other ways of gathering the much needed information and not to just bypass that stage; perhaps many people don’t bother to search out the information they need to truly assess the likely success of their new product, which would explain the high failure rate mentioned above.

By the end of my session with JF, he had a clear plan of action and I have since heard that he is progressing incredibly fast, so watch this space for an announcement concerning the launch of his new device.

I will be sharing the tips I gave him in a future blog post, but in the meantime feel free to continue sending me your own questions; I’m always ready to have a short Skype or phone call to assist you with your own marketing and innovation challenges.

C³Centricity uses images from DreamstimeKozzi and Microsoft

Angelo Ponzi, Director PhaseOne

Why Global Campaigns often Fail and What You Can Do So Yours Won’t

It’s been a while since we had a guest post so I am happy that this week Angelo Ponzi from C³Centricity partner PhaseOne, based in Los Angeles, has shared one of his most popular articles on taking local communications global.

If you’re a global advertiser or have done research on global advertising, you know it’s not easy to launch a global campaign.

Year after year, many brands launch global campaigns only to have them fail.  Sometimes it’s the message that doesn’t translate.  Other times, a product name or slogan just doesn’t translate around the globe — or worse, it offends the target audience. Or, perhaps the behavior the brand is trying to influence just isn’t relevant.

What are the pitfalls that must be avoided and what strategies do you need to have in place in order to set the stage for a successful global campaign?

Benefit of a Global Campaign

Unilever Dove logoThere is a strong argument for implementing a creative campaign on a global scale.  When it works, it provides brand stewards with a high level of control.  It also ensures consistent implementation of a brand strategy, and it saves money — a lot of money.  When it works, it can work BIG.  Take for instance Unilever’s global work for their Dove brand and their Beauty campaign. This global work beat the odds, changed the way people think of beauty, and changed the way we as advertisers communicate about beauty.

Regardless of the brand, all brands — even regional or local ones — need to think globally. Why?  Because a brand’s image or reputation is only one post, tweet, blog, pin or share away from being talked about on a global basis.  Social media has changed the way we market, but more importantly, it has changed the way we need to think.

It’s difficult enough to create relevant communications that include a strategic message, strong theme and a brand story that appeals to the target audience in one market. Creating one that appeals to multiple cultures is extremely difficult. One size fits all does not apply here folks!

Important Considerations:  A Common Voice Spoken in Many Languages

What are some of the important considerations when beginning to think about a global approach?  Certainly, humor or the use of slang when trying to establish a brand across borders does not always work.  For example, humorous TV spots that aired in the UK didn’t make audiences giggle as it traveled across borders to other English and non-English-speaking countries.   Keep in mind, the joke or “shtick” doesn’t always travel well from country to country.  The use of humor may also be impacted by cultural values, etiquette, language and dialects, as well as social economics of the audiences.  Individually, these are all important considerations to be researched when developing campaign strategies and creative executions. Brands must learn to have a common voice that can be spoken in many languages.

Campaigns need to consider the four elements of the brand

In addition, you should take into consideration your international competition, since they are most likely exploring global and local (“glocal”) approaches as well.  But, while you’re looking in the rearview mirror at your primary competitors, don’t forget to look out in front for those local brands that are already entrenched and may already be the leaders in the market.  Know where your brand stands in the market.  Are you a challenger in one market and a leader in another? How you speak to your target audience will be different based on your market position, making it even more difficult to identify a distinctive message that is relevant globally from market to market.

Define your brand’s core personality, including the tone in which you speak to your audiences, and keep it consistent.  Identify a common motivation or need across cultures that speaks to their aspirations, not just your brand’s product benefits. By doing so, the overall culture of the brand remains constant and familiar to the audiences throughout the world.

Key Factors for a Successful Global Campaign

In examining the factors in developing and implementing a successful global campaign, we have found that it becomes clear that there has to be almost precise alignment across five different market factors for success.  If even one of them is off, the campaign and its investment are at risk.

As we explore these five key factors, ask yourself the outlined questions and answer them honestly as you assess the possibility of your global campaign.

#1. Your Brand’s Equity

Does your target audience think about your brand the same way across all markets (i.e., do they have the same associations)?  Do the brand’s values and its personality resonate at the same levels across all markets?  Is awareness high and attitudes strong in one market while they suffer in another?  If so, then there is a high level of certainty that the same advertising will not work in both markets.

#2. Your Brand Market Share / Market Position

Do you have consistent market share in each and every market in which you compete?  In reality, it is much more likely that your market position varies by market.  Whether you’re a strong leader with few challengers working to grow the category and retain market share or a challenger against stronger brands trying to steal market share, it is almost impossible for the same kind of creative and messaging to work across all of these situations.

#3. Competitive Actions

In examining the competitive environment, a number of variables must be considered.  How many competitors are there?  Very crowded categories require different actions from less-crowded categories.  What is the level of spend by competitors?  Some competitors are more dedicated to certain markets, investing greatly in them.  Are they buying market share?  Are you prepared to compete?  What are your competitors claiming?  We often see that the claims competitors make vary by market.  Just because your message is perceived to be different in one market doesn’t mean it will be distinctive on a global scale. What are the environments in which your brand will compete?

#4. Category Penetration / Maturity

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make today is assuming that the advertising they create for well-established brands within very mature markets will work in markets where the category as a whole is just emerging — those markets from which future growth will come.  What they are forgetting is that the audience’s familiarity with the category dictates how much you have to explain versus what you can assume they will already know.

#5. Target Audience / Cultural

We as human beings are complex.  Yes, there are some core things that tie us together: we all have needs that we strive to satisfy.  But even then, what our needs are and how they are expressed vary, with much of that driven by culture.  More times than not, global campaigns fail by not taking into consideration the cultural differences between the markets.  This is particularly true when humor is involved.  What one culture views as funny could be offensive to another.  Culture can also impact how our target audiences approach the category.  One example is cleaning products — what “clean” means varies across cultures.  We also see great variance for games and toys.  For example, are they for independent enjoyment or do they bring people together?

To help lay the foundation for global campaign success, a research study that examines your brand in your current and planned markets is essential, as is the same research on your competitors to see how they have succeeded and failed so you can learn from their efforts.  Understanding where you stand and where you intend to go versus your competitors is essential to creating a successful and lasting global brand strategy.

Get thinking about what’s important in developing a global campaign.  Do your homework.  Invest the time (and money) to understand your target audience country by country. 

Before you start ask yourself, “What campaigns have been successful on a global basis?  How did they do it?  And, which ones failed and why?”  Learn from it.   Now go take over the world.

SOURCE: Kozzi.com

Are you Actually Training or Educating? Become a Master in 6 Easy Steps

I once read that training is only for animals, not for humans, and that I should be doing adult educating not giving training courses! However, whichever word you prefer to use, I hope that like me you enjoy both teaching and learning. One of my personal mantras is that:

“A day without learning is a day without living”

and I strive to find something new to appreciate every day.

 

Several of my major clients have recently asked me for help in improving their brand building efforts. Whilst this is certainly a good objective, I do wonder sometimes how many courses and workshops really make a difference to the way things are done. I am not dismissing workshops at all, in fact I regularly give training courses but I do understand that it can be a challenge to share knowledge when facing a roomful of adults, peers, or even worse, bosses.

Adult learning is very different from teaching younger people in that by nature we are not as open to change, preferring to stay with our habits, even when we are shown that a new way of thinking or doing might be better. As if that isn’t bad enough, we also generally don’t like group-learning experiences led by a professional.

Since I know many of you get involved in adult training within your own organisations, I thought it would be useful for me to share some of my own learnings, to help you do it with even more success.

To quote one of my favourite masters, Confucius:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”

Keeping this in mind and applying it to adult learning here are my 6 tips:

Unhappy, disappointed man

#1. Understand the motivations of your audience

Adults usually have high, some may say unrealistice, expectations or courses, so it is important to clearly articulate and clarify objectives within the first hour. Collect and review them from all participants before you get into the content. Do this again at the end of the course to get agreement from everyone on whether or not they have been met. If people believe that they have been heard, they are much more likely to at least be open to considering the new ideas and processes you will share during the course.

Participants will also have many different reasons for attending a workshop or training session and you need to accept that perhaps very few will have actually chosen to be there. They might therefore resent their (mandatory) participation, have little if any interest in the topic you will be covering, and possible no respect for your own experience and knowledge, nor for the ideas you have to share. Whilst it is unlikely that you will make them all change their minds over the short duration of the course, it is critical that you become aware of these sentiments, as they will remain undercurrents whether you like it or not.

 

#2. Keep sessions very focused

The above mentioned (lack of) motivation will also mean that adult learners tend to be less interested in standard courses, because they feel they are different from (superior to?) most of the other participants. They are more likely to prefer courses around one precise concept or idea, and which will focus specifically on the application of the tools and processes designed to respond to a relevant problem or opportunity.

It is therefore usually better to run a number of shorter one-topic sessions, than a week-long course covering several different ideas around a subject, if at all possible. These shorter session will most probably improve the likelihood of participants actually actioning their learnings afterwards. In addition, they will reduce, if not completely eliminate, the need for frequent interruptions or absences due to the demands of the every-day work environment. (C3Centricity runs 1-Day Catalyst training sessions; check them out HERE)

 

#3. Build new learning on top of known processes and tools

Process wheelParticipants will bring a large amount of their own experiences into the classroom, which can be a tremendous asset if you can tap into it. They will learn much better if you can engage them in dialogue. It will anyway be difficult to stop most of them from sharing their ideas and opinions, so it is better to control rather than trying to prevent them from doing so.

People are not naturally open to learning new tools, processes and ways of thinking, so you are likely to meet with more success if you base your new ideas on what is already known. Build and expand on current processes, showing how the additions and changes will be more beneficial. Learning is a means to an end for adults, not an end in itself, as it is for most kids. Increasing or maintaining participants’ sense of self-esteem is a strong secondary motivator; adults can take errors very personally, so they tend to take fewer risks and push to defend known solutions rather than to try new approaches.

 

#4. Vary speed

Adults have a similarly short attention span to children, but not for the same reasons. Again whether due to a lack of willingness to consider different ways of working, or a (misplaced?) feeling of superiority, adults will want things to progress fast and will lose interest if the program is not presented at their own personally preferred rhythm.

For this reason you should vary the speed of sessions, covering some topics deeply and others more quickly and superficially. Don’t worry about missing in thoroughness though, as you can always go back to resume and deepen the topic later in the day or in a follow-up session should someone request it.

 

#5. Include breakout sessions

Group session

Another solution to this increased likelihood for boredom is to provide more frequent breakout sessions. Whereas in normal workshops a coffee / tea break is provided in addition to lunch, you should include more reasons to have people get up and move around.
Use group breakout exercises, physical tasks, sortings, puzzles, Q&As and even exercise or races to get the juices flowing in mind and body and revitalise their enthusiasm.

 

 

#6. Contests and competitions

Adults are very competitive, especially when workshops are being run internally where people know each other, even if only by reputation. Being able to beat the boss or lead a team, make the learning even more enjoyable. The contests could be as simple as the exercises mentioned above, or a full blown case study to be completed during the workshop. And don’t forget the prizes; however small, people love surprises and adults in particular appreciate them, as they become a rare occasion as we grow older.

Following these six tips for improving your own training sessions should help you achieve even greater success and perhaps more importantly lead to increased enjoyment for both you and the participants.

Have I forgotten something? What other ideas do you have for making adult learning more enjoyable? I would love to hear about your own tricks and tips for improving the learning experience for us all.

Do you have a question or challenge about adult training? Check out our offers at:  http://www.c3centricity.com/training or contact us here for a chat about your needs.

Images used here were sourced from Microsoft.com

This post was adapted from one that was first published Febraury 23rd  2012 on C³Centricity Dimensions.

The spark of insight

Is there a Future for Insight Departments?

Many organisations have revamped their Market Research groups as Insight Departments in the past five to ten years. However, it takes more than a name change for those involved to achieve the recognition they deserve. If you work in or with such a department, then read on, as I have some ideas on how you can achieve this.

Last month Forrester issued the results of some research they had done looking into the Future of Market Research in 2013. Their conclusions were:

  1. 2013 is the year of truth for market insights: their future will depend on how successful they are at getting increased investments and tapping into alternative information sources than just market research
  2. Market insights departments need to invest in knowledge, technology and skills: the group will need to better respond to the fast-paced management need for the customer understanding that can impact their business decisions
  3. Vendors have to show their worth: suppliers have become commodity providers as they have allowed their clients to select on price more than differentiation.
  4. Future market insights solutions have to connect the dots: single source is no longer sufficient – if it ever was – and vendors need to be able to better respond to the need for 360 degree perspectives.

Whilst I certainly agree with these conclusions, which in fact impact both supplier and company insight professionals, I believe that most of these needs are not really new. Some more forward-thinking organisations have in fact already identified and adjusted to these changed needs. So what is there to do if you haven’t? How do you prioritise what needs to be done in your organisation? Here is my top 5 tips:

#1. Find out what management really needs

It is amazing how many market research and insight groups still have little, or no contact with top management. So how can they possibly be perceived as value creators for the business? It is not enough just to attend the presentations of the business plans or to get a copy of them to read afterwards. You need to talk with those who wrote them and those who will implement them. Ideally, you should be instrumental in helping to draw them up. Get out of your offices and into the boardrooms and hallowed top-floor offices. Listen hard and ask hard questions. Make sure you understand where the company is going and your role in getting there.

#2. Review the information you currently collect

Most organisations have regular on-going measurements of some sort, which probably haven’t changed in years, if not decades! Now you know what the business needs, review, revamp or retire the studies that are no longer needed. Show that you are using your budget wisely, to provide management with the information and knowledge they need, to help them to take better decisions.

#3. Revamp what is important

Those projects that do add value to the organisation will certainly need updating on a regular, possibly annual basis. Do your retail audits reflect the current market situation? Are the attributes you follow in your brand image trackers accurately covering the strengths of the latest competitive launches as well as your own? Take each study and adjust for each brand in collaboration with your marketing AND sales teams.

#4. Share the knowledge

Many organisations are afraid of competition getting a hold of their information, and therefore do not make it widely available within the organisation. Have you never learnt about something going on in your own organisation, but from competition? I know I have. Therefore the risks of tipping off the competition are far lower than others may think, so start to share the information you gather. It is amazing how much you can save when you do, as other departments often then discover that they are conducting research, or buying information and reports that are already available in-house.

#5. Integrate for Insight

Despite some managers still believing that insight is just another word for market research, insights are in fact developed out of multiple information sources. Whilst Forrester suggested that this could be managed by your suppliers, I believe that whilst they may help, true insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources, both internal and external. This means not only different projects, but also different departments that have differing perspectives and perhaps also different connection points with the customer. The insight group can help bring all this understanding together and develop actionable insights for profitable business growth.

Well this is my starter for five. What else would you add to help bring insight departments into the center of the brave new world of customer centric organisations? If you carry out these first five steps that I have mentioned, then you will start to get more appreciation for the real value you are adding to the business and your budgets might even be increased; which will then lead to even greater value. Now that’s what I call a win-win and a really bright future for everyone in Insight! What do you think?

For ideas and training on insight development check out our website: http://www,c3centricity.com/home/understand

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com