Why Your Company Needs to Adopt a Customer First Strategy

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

Every few days there seems to be yet another customer service disaster that fills the newspapers and swamps our online social media feeds. The mistakes companies are making in serving their customers are becoming ever more frequent, at least it appears that way to me. You too?

I find this strange, since almost every organisation, big or small, recognises the importance of satisfying their customers. They all talk about customer centricity but very few actually go beyond voicing their opinions. Why do you think that so many organisations continue to struggle?

After all, a customer first strategy is not that difficult, at least in theory. Just think customer first in everything you do. So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong? I think the reason is because they don’t see the immediate return and it costs – a lot of – money to implement.

A customer first strategy is not that difficult, at least in theory. Just think customer first in everything you do. So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong? Click To Tweet

Reasons for adopting a customer-first strategy

There has been enough research done to prove that the return on a customer first strategy is significant. Here are just a few of the numbers I found.

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. CEI Survey
  • The price premium for great customer experience is real—and it’s big, up to 16% PWC
  • 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report
  • By 2020, customer experience was expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. I haven’t heard if it did! Customers 2020 Report
  • A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Bain & Co
A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Bain & Co) What' stopping you? Click To Tweet

Those numbers would make any CEO sit up and take notice! But will it make them act? What’s holding them back from investing in their customers rather than (just) in the products and services they offer?

I believe that those numbers can no longer be ignored. It’s time every CEO started initiating a move to a more customer centric organisation. NO more excuses; this has to be (OK, one of) your top priorities!


If you’re ready to put your customers first, then why not sign up for the C3Centricity Academy and follow the course on the topic?  FIND OUT MORE.


 

Marketers are too busy building brands

With so much information available today, marketing is being challenged to demonstrate its ROI. This might explain why they are still putting their efforts into brand building, sometimes to the detriment of their customers, consumers and clients.

However, an analysis run by IBM on research carried out in the UK last year by the Callcredit Information Group gives a different reason. They found that the majority of marketers is feeling overwhelmed by all the data that is available to them these days. Their explanation for this is that:

“Only 29% of marketers believe they have the necessary skills to analyse data, with 44% planning on investing in further training over the next two years to boost confidence within their organisations around the handling of information.” 

 

Only 29% of marketers believe they have the necessary skills to analyse data, with 44% planning on investing in further training over the next two years. (IBM/CIG) Click To Tweet

Top 3 critical factors to marketing program success

According to Forrester, 44% of B2C marketers are using big data and analytics to improve responsiveness to customer interactions. But of equal importance, is the desire to generate insights. Click To Tweet

It disappoints me that despite the constant flow of data into companies most companies still lack insights into their customers. As I’m often quoted as saying:

“We’re drowning in data but thirsting for insights.”

Marketing is clearly so busy using data to manage pricing, distribution and communication channels, that they are not using the information to also get to know their customers better.

This conclusion is confirmed by a Forbes article which mentions that marketing is using big data to provide answers to

“which content is the most effective, how to increase conversion rates and customer lifetime value.”

It would be good if they used it to increase satisfaction and loyalty too, no?

Big data has actually done customer understanding a disfavour since organisations are hardly increasing their spend on market research according to ESOMAR’s latest industry figures. The industry grew 6% in 2021 and is expected to grow around 8% this year. As the graph below shows, these are the first increases after several years of stagnation.

 

 

Global Market Research Revenue Growth
Source: Statista

 

Now compare this to the more than 22% increase recorded for ad spend in 2021!

Global ad industry trends

 

But there is some hope. A recent report on the KPIs used by marketing showed that Marketers are using a variety of metrics to measure the impact of their brand marketing activities. In surveying more than 560 global brand managers and CMOs, the analysis concludes that new customer acquisition (75%) and social media engagement (72%) are the two primary ways they use to determine the success of their brand marketing efforts.

New customer acquisition (75%) and social media engagement (72%) are the two primary ways CMOs use to determine the success of their brand marketing efforts. Click To Tweet

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. A 2016 Spencer Stuart survey shows data analysis and insights are one of the three main areas where CMOs need the most development as a leader. Unfortunately, they are also the skills which more than a half of them say are most difficult to find when building a team!

 

Marketing's greatest strengths

Important marketing team skills

So if CMOs can’t develop insight about their customers, shouldn’t market research be more not less important to them? After all, it’s the one profession which spends its whole time trying to understand the market and its customers. So what’s going wrong?

 

Market research is seen as a cost, not an investment

Companies still need market research to understand their customers. Yes, there is a wealth of information flooding into organisations with the IoT, but those numbers don’t tell you their “why.” That’s where market research comes into its own. It needs to provide more answers and not just the mere statistics researchers seem comfortable dropping on the laps of executives and marketers alike.

I believe that (a large?) part of the issue is also the researchers themselves. They’re often not very sociable, speak a language others don’t always understand and yet they also seem afraid to voice their own opinion let alone make recommendations.

I believe the issue of lack of recognition is due to researchers themselves, who are afraid to voice their own opinions let alone make recommendations. #MRX Click To Tweet

This was confirmed in The Vermeer Millward Brown Insights 2020 research. It clearly showed the advantages of a senior market research position at board level. But to get there, most researchers need new skills. The critical capabilities which were said to highlight the biggest differences between leaders and laggards were in business acumen, creative solution thinking, storytelling and direction setting.

It seems a real pity to me that the very people who should benefit from the explosion in data availability are not profiting from it. As if their needed skills are not enough, there is also a real opportunity for them to lead the customer first strategy in many organisations.

Customer services are seen as complaint handlers

When I was first hired to head up the global consumer excellence division for Nestle, I found a group of siloed departments which rarely shared information. Even worse, the customer care centre was seen as mere complaint handlers. Their image was of a group of women who spent their days on the telephone talking to other women!

I don’t think Nestle are the only ones who had this image at that time, now more than a decade ago. Have things changed since? Not much in my opinion. I still find similar perceptions in many organisations today, which thankfully become my clients through a desire to make those much needed improvements.

You only have to look at companies which excel at customer care to realise the business benefits of putting the customer first, Amazon, Southwest, Zappos to name but a few. And recent Temkins research concluded that SaaS companies can expect to double their revenue within 36 months of adopting a CEX strategy.

An excellent article by Shep Hyken called “Ten Customer Service Tips for Customer Loyalty Month” details the essentials of a forward-thinking customer-first strategy and what it means today. In it, he mentions that

“According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. No company can afford to be a customer service laggard.”

The Forrester report from which Shep quotes was from an ongoing analysis that has been run each year since 2010. The key findings from the 2016 report showed:

  • In all five sectors they covered, companies with higher customer experience (CX) scores outperformed their rivals in revenue growth
  • CX leaders showed an annual growth rate of 17% compared to just 3% for the others.
  • The cable and retail industries beat the field in CX by 24% and 26%, which is a huge boost to the bottom line.
  • Even in the sector with the smallest range (airlines), there was a 5% difference between companies.
  • This also translated into subscriber growth – in the cable industry leaders grew internet subscribers by 23.9% more than others and video subscribers by 13.9%

Along with the previously mentioned statistics, I can see no reason for a company not to invest in a customer-first strategy. If you can think of any yourself, then I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

In Conclusion

A customer-first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind this company-wide objective. It can make a real difference in terms of both sales and profits to those who follow this direction. But it is essential to have executive support and true commitment from every employee to think customer first.
This will take skill upgrades for both marketing and market research departments to translate the data and information gathered into actionable insights.
And it will mean every employee having the chance to regularly get up close and personal with customers. This is the only way for them to understand the role that they play in satisfying and delighting them. After all, that’s what we all want, whether we are buyer or seller isn’t it?

Are you ready to adopt a customer-first strategy? If so, then check out the C3Centricity website for your first steps. Also, why not answer our free mini C3C Evaluator tool (https://www.c3centricity.com) and see just how good your customer-first strategy really is? It’s always better to know from where you’re starting and what changes to prioritise in order to have the most and fastest impact!

How to Easily Use Customer Co-creation for Profitable Growth

One of my clients, who is following the 50 weekly actions for customer centric excellence as described in my book Winning Customer Centricity, recently asked me for some ideas on how to better involve their customers in co-creation.

Working more closely with customers is the best way to understand, satisfy and delight them. So I am impressed that they are taking customer co-creation even further than they are doing today. In fact, I realised that this is an area that many of you may be interested in learning more about, so I decided to share what I told them. But first …

 

What is Co-creation?

The term co-creation has been around for decades. However, it is only in the last ten years or so that we are seeing a growth in co-creation in so many different areas of marketing.

According to Wikipedia co-creation is

“A management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.”

Personalised M&Ms from customer co-creation
Source: M&Ms

Individualisation, which offers higher-priced items with a customer perceived higher-value, has also been popular for years. It allows customers to design their own unique products to show off their personality. For instance, customers can personalise their M&M chocolates and design their own Nike running shoes.

But these are not strictly co-creation, since they are designed by only one person for use by just one person. Co-creation is rather about designing an offer by many, for the purchase and enjoyment of many. 

Customer co-creation is designed by many, for the many. #Customer #CustomerCo-creation #Marketing #BrandBuilding #Branding #Co-creation #Innovation Click To Tweet

After the success of such personalised offers, organisations understood that there is immense value in getting input from customers. Many now include them not only in product enhancements, but also in developing their advertising, promotions and even in first-stage innovation.

The practice has been further intensified by the internet, which has enabled companies to reach out to customers across the globe, virtually for free. Social media, in particular, is a great source of customer understanding, as well as for highlighting issues with current offers. This is why co-creation should include social media in some form, as I’ll share further on.

 

Who to work with?

Winning Customer Centricity - The BookAs I mention in my book, not all business managers feel comfortable exposing their new ideas and concepts to their customers. If this is the case in your own organisation, then you are left with the only option of interviewing employees. This isn’t such a bad thing; after all, they too are customers, but you need to keep in mind their biasses. They probably know more about the brand than the average customer does and they are also likely to be more positive towards it. However, their passion for the company and its brands is a valuable asset not to be neglected.

If your management allows you to work with customers, then you will want them to be vetted for different things by the recruitment agency.

By the way, I highly recommend using a recruitment agency to find you the customers who would be most appropriate for the task planned. They already have an extensive panel of people who can be segmented so you get the right people. And by right people I mean those who have the necessary skills and creativity, as well as knowledge and experience with the category under review.

Running customer co-creation exercises means getting the right people involved, those who have the necessary skills and creativity, as well as knowledge and experience with your category. #Brand #Co-Creation Click To Tweet

Here are the customer selection criteria I suggest using to reduce the risk of information leaks to the competition:  

  • They shouldn’t work for one of your competitors; nor should their close friends and family members.
  • They shouldn’t work for advertising, media, PR or market research agencies, which could tip off your competitors.
  • They should be creative and curious, but not be one of the infamous “1%ers” (the ultra-creatives) that were popular when co-creation was first used.
  • They should be articulate and be able to describe their thoughts, ideas and problems succinctly.
  • They should be well-informed and knowledgeable, even opinionated if you want to introduce some heated discussions into the event.
  • Depending upon the task you want to share with them, they should be category and / or brand users – or not.

Some suppliers may propose psychographic analysis to hone their selection process. However, this is not essential if you obey the above rules and clearly identify the type of person with whom you would like to work.

Social media again provides a great way to identify and recruit those who are both knowledgeable and passionate about the category. Another source of customers, is from co-creating platforms that copy successful job sites, such as UpWork and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

 

I hope you enjoyed this sample of some of the best uses of customer co-creation that I remember. I know there must be many more. If you have a favourite example, why not share it in the comments below so everyone can enjoy it?

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to involve your customers in your business. Some companies ask them a simple question, others ask for ideas, and a few even request help with internal technical issues.  What is clear after almost two decades of involving the customer in co-creation, is that posing specific challenges to targeted customers works best.

Organisations wanting to incorporate more co-creation into their business should have a clear idea of what they want to ask and to whom. They must also be ready to be open and transparent with the customers so that the rules and rewards of the exercise are clear for all.

Organisations wanting to incorporate more co-creation into their business should have a clear idea of what they want to ask and to whom. #Brand #BrandBuilding #Marketing #Co-creation Click To Tweet

The other imperative is building the co-creation community on a digital platform so that participants can add their ideas whenever they come and wherever they may be. This is one of the biggest advantages over market research and group discussions, which can still be included for additional benefits to the exercise.

I hope I have inspired you to try customer co-creation for yourself, and to include your customers in more of your internal plans and processes. It is not only fun, but it also provides you with fresh thinking  and a deeper understanding of how your customers’ needs and desires are changing. It makes you wonder why you haven’t done it before, no?

If you need help in setting up your first customer co-creation session, then I can help; contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

I was recently asked to speak about how to build relationships with clients, in this case for a realtor association. In preparing for the interview, I got to thinking about customer privacy and how important it is to build a mutually beneficial relationship while at the same time respecting the customer.

Customers don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites. An article on Business2Community by Owen Ray says that

The tracking cookie is crumbling. Smart cookie-blocking technology led by Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) now block third-party cookies by default, and even Google’s Chrome will soon get controls that let consumers block cookies.”

If you want to understand more on the topic of cookies I highly recommend this two-part article.

Companies that are truly customer centric know that it is important to build a mutually beneficial relationship where there is something for both parties in exchanging information and services. Many businesses ask far too much of their customers, with little if anything in return. I believe this is one of the major reasons that customers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give any information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes. And why cookies are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

I, therefore, thought it was useful to review the major points to keep in mind, when a business wants to collect information about its customers in order to offer products and services that better meet their wants and desires.

 

1. Ask Permission to Gather Information

This should be a no-brainer and yet I still find myself on lists to which I didn’t intentionally, if at all, subscribe! You too?

Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, phone, email or the web, you need to first request permission to ask any questions and to gather the information you are looking for.

Not only should you ask for their consent if you are not in direct personal contact, but when connecting via email or the web, you should also double-check that permission. You have to ensure that the agreement has been given by your customer and that they are still ready to provide the information.

Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship is vital and shows you respect your customers.

This also means asking them to confirm their consent not once, but twice. Double opt-in as it is known, ensures that your customer is correctly identified and that they have indeed themselves agreed to provide or receive information, or to be put on your mailing list.

Far too often I see requests where the permission is encouraged by using colourful buttons to click, or an implied criticism if you don’t, with phrases such as  “No, I have enough sales” or “No, I don’t want to save money”.

 

2. There Must be Mutual Benefit

When your customer has agreed to provide information you need to thank them immediately. This can be as simple as offering coupons for your products, some valuable information not easily available elsewhere, a free guide or e-book on a relevant topic, or special privileges such as club membership or express shipping. Something that shows them that they were right to agree and that you value their information.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to overwhelm them by asking too many questions in one go. Since your objective is to build a long-term relationship with them, keep it simple to start with.

You can complete the information you require through several contacts over time, with the same customer. This also has the added advantage of keeping the conversation more frequent than it might otherwise have been. Ask just enough to be able to identify your priority metrics and then refine your understanding of them as you gather more information.

Your objective should be to build a long-term relationship with your customers, so don't gather more information than you can immediately use. #CEX #CRM #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

3. Make them Feel Special

More and more CPG companies and brands now offer a loyalty program, especially to their higher-value consumers. These provide more targeted privileges and even give the opportunity to preview new communications or product concepts. In general customers love to give feedback and it has the benefit of building a closer tie to the brand as they feel ownership of those launched.

This is probably one of the more intimate and bigger win-win relationships that can be developed with your customer.

But it does take a dedicated team within the company to manage such a club, as these customers are naturally the most demanding for services and constant information updates. So only set one up when you know you can satisfy their needs, as otherwise they can feel frustrated when they perceive they are not getting the attention they think they deserve.

Over the past couple of years, we have started to see new types of member offers. Sephora launched a members-only social platform, which encourages shoppers to share beauty tips and advice, and to comment about any new products bought, not just those from their stores.

Nike has taken things to the extreme by opening an entire members-only store concept, Nike Live, in Los Angeles.

Both of these provide exceptional recognition to their members, making them feel a part of an exclusive program, which is exactly what they are!

 

4. Keep the Relationship Fresh

Once you start building the relationship with your customers, you must continue to interest them by offering news, information, photos, videos or articles of interest. This can be quite a strain on internal resources, so you may want to (also) consider including user generated content (UGC) on your website.

Not only does this ensure continuously updated content, but also involves the customer in what is shown, so that it remains relevant and of interest to them. People love to post and comment, so include message boards, tip sharing platforms or photo albums, whatever is relevant to your targeted customers.

Beauty, fashion and pet-care brands were amongst the first to make use of UGC, as they are in very visual industries. Who doesn’t want to share a photo of themselves when they are looking especially beautiful, or show how cute their cat or dog is?

One great example comes from L’Oreal. Their DermaBlendPro brand encouraged users to share photos or videos of how the brand had transformed their look, by hiding disfiguration or tattoos. They clearly understood that happy customers make the best brand ambassadors, and this was clearly proven by the thousands of entries and immense buzz the brand received on social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.

 

5. Ask their Advice – Frequently

For your customers to appreciate how much you value them and their business, involve them in it, by asking for feedback on how you are doing. If you have new ideas or plans, share details with them or enable them to vote for new flavours, concepts or advertising ideas.

You can also enable them to preview the ads or products before everyone else, but do make sure you provide them with some great information about it too, so that they can share it with their friends and family members. This will make them feel like the special and valued customer they are, and also help you spread the word – for free!

 

6. Always Offer a Simple Way Out

Once you have made the connection with your customers, recognise that they might change their minds at any time and want to unsubscribe from your club or mailing list. Make this as quick, simple and pain free as possible. This shows respect for your customer and their time, and also enables them to leave with a positive opinion of you and the brand. You never know, they might change their minds and stay after all, or come back again in the near future.

From making the unsubscribe link in tiny font to pale and almost illegible, to using button colours to mislead, many brands think that this will stop people from unsubscribing. It may, but it is more likely just to irritate them and label your communications as spam.

Even large companies get this wrong. Apple may provide full details of all the different ways to connect on their contact page, but it is laid out in an overwhelming block of text that is so off putting I doubt anyone hunts to find the information they need – see below.

Apple shows how not to respect your customers

Another example used by Swiss airlines and their parent company Lufthansa almost had me agreeing to give all my information, not just the necessary data to make my experience more comfortable. Their coloured button draws the eye and without reading you could end up making the same mistake I almost did.

No way to respect your customers

With so much choice available to customers today, it is our responsibility to build an engaging and respectful relationship with them. If there is no trust, there may soon be no sales!

What other ways do you show respect for your customers? Please share your best examples below. Of course, if you have come across a bad example that frustrated that, then please share it too. Let’s name and shame!

Big Data Is Not Big Enough For Business’s New Demands: Better Data Analysis

Did the title about data make you curious? Great!

Of course, in today’s data-rich environment I’m not really suggesting that you ignore it, rather the opposite! But in working with clients around the world and in numerous industries, I’ve found that many are lost by all the information that is available to them.

In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do and they remain frozen in indecision. Is this your case? If so, then just follow the steps I detail below and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not 10x the ROI of your data!

 

The Current Situation with Data

Data is everywhere and most organisations are drowning in it! Technology is at the heart of this data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world.

Technology is at the heart of the data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world. #BigData #DataAnalysis #Information Click To Tweet

I admit, a lot has changed in recent years. Consumers are learning how to adapt their behaviours and now trade their personal information for extra benefits. In response companies are changing their business models as their value shifts from products to services, or in some cases, to the sale of the information they gather.

Some organisations are reinventing themselves to take advantage of these changes. Others are ignoring them – at their peril, since they risk becoming the next Kodak, Borders or Blockbusters. If you’re interested in reading more about the US Retail Apocalypse and the 23 big retailers closing stores then I highly recommend this post on Fox Business.

So what should you do, whether you are in manufacturing or retail? Well, I believe that you should start by renovating your business model to take advantage of the countless new opportunities that the wealth of data offers you. And in my opinion, you had better do it sooner rather than later, because your competition almost certainly will!

 

The Opportunity

Yes you have data and information, but if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that it’s not enough. You have to turn these into knowledge and understanding, and then into actionable insights. And this can only be done by asking the right questions of your data and information.

If you are struggling to take needed action despite a wealth of information, then this is certainly where you should start making changes – fast!

A 2015 Capgemini and EMC study called “Big & Fast Data: The rise of Insight-Driven Business” showed that:

  • 56% of the 1,000 senior decision makers surveyed claim that their investment in big data over the next three years will exceed past investment in information management.
  • 65% admit they risk becoming irrelevant and uncompetitive if they do not leverage data. This is especially true given that non-traditional providers, like startups thriving on big data processing, are moving into their industries.
  • Although companies realise they desperately need to dig into data analytics to maintain their business position, 45% surveyed think their current internal IT development cycles are not sufficient for new analytics and don’t fulfil their business requirements.
  • Making matters worse, over half (52%) of those surveyed see the speed of their organisation’s insight generation from data analytics as constrained by its existing IT infrastructure.

So what has happened in the past couple of years? Not a lot in terms of usage, but a lot in terms of data gathering. Just check out the graph below which shows the volume of data/information created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide from 2010 to 2025

Data growth in zetabytes
Source: Statista 2022

Of course big data has been big news for years, thanks to its 5Vs (volume, velocity, variety, variability, value). These were the driving forces behind the need and finally the computing upgrades which made new ways of analysing it all even possible.

This article by Olivia Ryan sums up the “6 ways big data expansion can significantly damage our privacy.” These are the major points which the GDPR is hoping to address, and about time too in my opinion.

Today it’s the EU’s GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation, with its stricter rules, as well as the removal of third-party cookies, which has everyone concerned. It is definitely worth checking out the details here if you are not sure what you need to change by when. And if Google’s changing plans about cookies are of interest, then I suggest you refer to this article. 

Interestingly, there is no equivalent federal law in the US (for now), but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it if your business is based there. Find out more in this excellent article on Forbes.

It’s true that companies do recognise all the threats detailed in the earlier mentioned study, and while startups flourish in every industry, the mastodons of commerce are slow to change, hence the need for GDPR. (see below for an alternative approach to individualised data utilisation)

 

An Alternative Approach

Data comes into its own when used for personalised engagements. However, there is an alternative or complementary approach that some organisations are now using. This is to address global issues such as resource management, water usage or pollution, which certain customers feel passionately about.

 

One example is Nestle whose relatively new CEO Mark Schneider is finally bringing some fresh air to the dark and dusty halls of their Vevey offices. However, cutting costs, selling less attractive business units (such as US candy to Ferrero) to upgrade their image will not bring sufficient change that consumers demand of large corporations today.

Compare this to the efforts Unilever’s now former CEO Paul Polman made and which brought well-deserved admiration from consumers and shareholders alike. As they say on their website

“Our Purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace.”

Bold words indeed! And they can only do it with the help of data and metrics to measure and follow their progress. They have produced a detailed infographic that outlines all the different areas in which they are making changes. You can download it for free here. 
The appeal of this alternative approach is confirmed by the results of SalesForce’s recent research findings reported in the “State of the Connected Consumer.” To summarise their six conclusions:

  1. Information-Savvy Customers Now Control the Marketplace. 70% of consumers agree technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
  2. The Culture of Immediacy Drives Mobile-First Expectations. 64% of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real time.
  3. Customers Still Value Human Connections in a Tech-Driven World. Two-thirds of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if they’re treated like a number instead of an individual.
  4. New Data-Sharing Attitudes Spark Next Era of Marketing Personalization. 63% of millennial consumers agree they’re
    willing to share data with companies that send personalized offers and discounts.
  5. Smarter Use of Customer Information Expands Opportunities for Sales.More than three-quarters of consumers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to work with a salesperson who is focused on achieving customer needs instead of making a quick sale.
  6. Fast, Personal Service Is Directly Linked to Customer Loyalty. 71% of consumers say that customer service provided on any day at any time has an influence on loyalty, and almost as many (69%) say the same about personalised customer care. 

Looking at these findings, it gives me hope for a more human approach to customer connections by manufacturers and retailers alike. I believe that those which fail to take this informed customer into account is unlikely to survive the next decade.

 

Making Data Analysis the Beginning and Not the End

I mentioned above and also dedicated a whole post to the topic of technology being an enabler not a disruptor of businesses. (Check out “Technology is the Enabler not the Disruptor (So Stop Using it as an Excuse)”)

Many organisations think that their problems with data will end when they get the latest technology platform installed or start using the newest system for analysing it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology enables improved analysis perhaps, but as previously mentioned, data is only as good as the questions you ask of it. That’s why data is the beginning of your business solution, not the end.

Data is only as good as the questions you ask of it. #BigData #Analysis #Information #CEX Click To Tweet

In addition, in “The Impact Of Changing Consumer Expectations On Manufacturers” Steve Smith spells out the situation very clearly for manufacturers:

“With new consumer expectations being set by companies that disrupted their respective markets — Uber, Amazon, Netflix — the previously accepted levels of customer service are no longer good enough.”

What these three companies demonstrate perfectly is that technology has merely enabled the consumer to get more of what they want, whether that is travel, retail or entertainment. Although these are three very different industries, they have attracted a growing number of customers because what they offer is a trustworthy service. Or rather they offer few surprises, and when there is disillusion, they sort it out quickly, and usually far above and beyond the customers’ expectations. Surprise and delight are the table stakes of today’s world of customer service.

Surprise and delight are the table stakes of today's world of customer service. #CEX #CRM #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

 

 

In Conclusion

Coming back to the title of this post, as you can see there is a lot to do before analysing all the data you have. And probably it’s a lot more than you even know about at present, at least from my experience!

You can’t go wrong if you start with the customer and identify what you need to know and understand in order to go beyond their expectations.

You can't go wrong if you start with the customer & identify what you need to know & understand. #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

Make a list of all the things you want to know and then see if you have the information to answer them. In many cases you do, it just hasn’t been analysed in a way that makes the solution obvious. That’s when you should review and eventually update your platform and systems.

Doing this any earlier will be like buying a fancy new hammer to crack a nut! What you need to understand is the best way to crack the nut; often times the hammer is fine for cracking if you use it correctly.

 

If you’re drowning in data and thirsting for insights, then we should talk. Contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

and I’ll give you some ideas on how to crack your own nut!

How Your Business Can Quickly Adopt a Customer First Strategy

Every few days there seems to be another customer service disaster that fills the newspapers and goes viral on social media. Amongst the most notable recent examples include United’s Flight 3411 incident disembarking passengers by force and Walmart refusing to match their online prices in-store. These types of incidents almost only ever happen when an organisation doesn’t adopt a customer first strategy, so the solution is relatively easy.

Every single organisation, big or small, recognises the importance of their customers today. They talk about customer centricity but very few actually go beyond voicing their opinions. Perhaps yours is one of these? Do you know why this is? What’s stopping you from taking the necessary actions?

A customer first strategy is not that difficult to implement. Just think customer first in everything you do! So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong?

I think one reason, and probably the most common, is because they don’t see an immediate return on their investment. You see, it costs money to make changes in internal processes and procedures.

Another possible reason is because some organisations have hesitated to start for so long, they now feel that they have been left so far behind that they don’t know where to start. What do you think?

The good news is that if you’re in one of these situations, then help is at hand. Read on because this article shares some of the most useful tips I’ve seen on the topic of adopting a customer first strategy.

A customer first strategy is not that difficult to implement. Just think customer first in everything you do! #CEX #CRM #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

 

REASONS TO ADOPT A CUSTOMER FIRST STRATEGY

There has been enough research done to prove that the return on a customer-first strategy is significant. Here are just a few of the most noteworthy numbers I found during my research online; if you are still not sure it’s worth it, then this data will no doubt convince you.

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. (Source: CEI Survey)
  • 74% of consumers have spent more due to good customer service (Source: Entechus.com)
  • 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.  (Source: RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)
  • 49% of consumers have left a brand in the past year due to poor customer experience. (Source: Emplifi)
  • Companies earning $1 billion+ can expect to earn an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in CEX. (Temkin Group now Qualtrics)
  • A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Source: Bain & Co)

Those are numbers that would make any CEO sit up and take notice! But will it make them act? What’s holding yours back from investing in your customers rather than (just) in developing and marketing the products and services you offer?

I believe that those numbers can no longer be ignored. It’s time every CEO started to adopt a customer first strategy. NO more excuses! This has to be (one of) your organisation’s top priorities!

It’s time every CEO started to adopt a customer first strategy. NO more excuses! This has to be (one of) your organisations top priorities! #CustomerFirst #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

MARKETING IS TOO BUSY BUILDING BRANDS

With so much information available today, marketing is being challenged to demonstrate its ROI. This might explain why marketers are still putting their efforts into brand building, sometimes to the detriment of their customers, consumers and clients.

However, an analysis by IBM on some research carried out in the UK by the Callcredit Information Group gives a different reason. They found that the majority of marketers are feeling overwhelmed by all this data. Their explanation for this is that

“only 29% of marketers believe they have the necessary skills to analyse data, with 44% planning on investing in further training over the next two years to boost confidence within their organisations around the handling of information.” 

According to a Forrester report, 44% of B2C marketers are using big data and analytics to improve responsiveness to customer interactions. But of equal importance in terms of top two mentions, is the desire to generate insights. ( Source)

Top 3 critical factors to marketing program success

 

It surprises me that despite the constant flow of data into companies they still lack insights into their customers. As I’m often quoted as saying:

“We’re drowning in data but thirsting for insights.”

Marketing is clearly so busy using data to manage such things as pricing, distribution and communication, that they are forgetting that they could be using the information to get to know their customers better. This conclusion is confirmed by a Forbes article which mentions that marketing is using big data to provide answers to

“which content is the most effective, how to increase conversion rates and customer lifetime value.”

It would be good if they (also) used it to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, no?

Big data has actually done customer understanding a disfavour, since organisations continue to increase their advertising budgets far faster than that for market research.

According to the latest numbers the global market research industry is expected to grow 8.1% in 2022, from $76.42 billion in 2021 to $82.62 billion. This growth is mainly due to companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the impact of covid, since previous year’s growth had been significantly lower around the 2-3% level.

However, organisations continue to grow the advertising budgets faster. Ad spend rose by a whopping 11.2% in 2021, although as you can see in the graph below, traditional advertising fell by 15.7% as companies transfer the lion’s share of their budgets to digital.

Global ad spend

 

But there is some hope. A recent report on the KPIs used by marketing showed that Marketers are using a variety of metrics to measure the impact of their brand marketing activities. (OnBrand Magazine study) In surveying more than 560 global brand managers and CMOs, the analysis concludes that new customer acquisition (75%) and social media engagement (72%) are the two primary ways they use to determine the success of their brand marketing efforts.

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. A 2016 Spencer Stuart Survey showed data analysis and insights are one of the three main areas where CMOs need the most development as a leader. Unfortunately, they are also the skills which more than a half of them say are most difficult to find when building a team!

 

CMOs need more analytical skills

Marketing team skills needed

So if CMOs can’t develop insight about their customers, shouldn’t market research be more not less important to them? After all, it’s the one profession that spends its whole time trying to understand the market and customers. So what’s going wrong?

If CMOs claim they can't develop insights about their customers, shouldn't market research be more not less important to them? So why do they continue to increase advertising budgets faster than MRX's? #MRX #MarketResearch #Advertising Click To Tweet

MARKET RESEARCH IS SEEN AS A COST, NOT AN INVESTMENT

Companies still need market research to understand their customers. Yes, there is a wealth of information flooding into organisations with the IoT, but those numbers don’t tell you their “why.” That’s where market research comes into its own. It needs to provide more “why” answers and not just the mere statistics they still seem comfortable dropping on the laps of executives and marketers alike.

I believe that (a large?) part of the issue is also the researchers themselves. They’re not sociable, speak a language others don’t understand and seem afraid to voice their own opinion in meetings, let alone make recommendations.

This was confirmed in The Vermeer Millward Brown Insights 2020 research. It clearly showed the advantages of a senior market research position at board level. But to get there, most researchers need new skills. The critical capabilities which were said to highlight the biggest differences between leaders and laggards were in business acumen, creative solution thinking, storytelling and direction setting.

It seems a real pity to me that the very people who should benefit from the explosion in data availability are not profiting from it. As if their skills that are so highly valued today are not enough, there is also a real opportunity for them to lead the customer first strategy adoption in many organisations.

 

CUSTOMER SERVICES ARE SEEN AS COMPLAINT HANDLERS

When I was first hired to head up the global consumer excellence division for Nestle, I found a group of siloed departments which rarely shared information. Even worse, the customer care centre was seen as mere complaint handlers. Their image was of a group of women who spent their days on the phone talking to other women!

I don’t think Nestle were the only ones who had this negative image at that time. I still find similar perceptions in many organisations which thankfully become my clients through a desire to make changes.

Customer care centres are often seen as mere complaint handlers; just a group of women who spend their days on the phone talking to other women! #CRM #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

You only have to take a look at companies that excel at customer care to realise the business benefits of putting the customer first: Amazon, Southwest, Zappos to name but a few. And research consistently proves the benefit of such a strategy to a company’s bottom line.

An excellent article by Shep Hyken called “Ten customer service and customer experience trends for 2017” details the essentials of a forward-thinking customer-first strategy and what it means today. In it, he mentions that

“According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. No company can afford to be a customer service laggard.”

The Forrester report from which Shep drew these quotes was from an ongoing analysis that has been run each year since 2010. Although it is a couple of years old now, the conclusions are still just as valid. The key findings from the 2016 report showed:

  • In all five sectors they covered, companies with higher customer experience (CX) scores outperformed their rivals in revenue growth
  • CX leaders showed an annual growth rate of 17% compared to just 3% for the others.
  • The cable and retail industries beat the field in CX by 24% and 26%, which is a huge boost to the bottom line.
  • Even in the sector with the smallest range (airlines), there was a 5% difference between companies.
  • This also translated into subscriber growth – in the cable industry leaders grew internet subscribers by 23.9% more than others and video subscribers by 13.9%

Along with the previously mentioned statistics, I can see no reason for a company not to invest in a customer-first strategy. If you can think of any yourself, then I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

According to Forrester CX leaders showed an annual growth rate of 17% compared to just 3% for the others. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCare #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

IN CONCLUSION

So to answer the title of this article, a customer first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind this as a company-wide objective. It can make a real difference in terms of both sales and profits to those who follow this direction. But it is essential to have executive support and true commitment from every employee to think customer first.
It will take skill upgrades for both marketing and market research departments to translate the data and information gathered into actionable insights. And it will mean every employee having the chance to get up close and personal with customers on a regular basis. This is the only way for them to understand the role they play in satisfying and delighting them.
A customer first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind its adoption as a company-wide objective. #CEX #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

Are you ready to adopt a customer-first strategy? If so, then it’s time to identify the priority changes you should make by answering our proprietary C3C Evaluator tool. Complete it now and then book a free half-hour strategy session so we can go through the results together.

 

This post is based upon and is an updated version of one first published on C3Centricity in 2016.

The Exciting Future of Brand Building comes from 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! Marketing had to find ways to stimulate more inbound engagements, but how?

However, after trying multiple inbound marketing strategies, they find that 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. At least those will soon be a thing of the past!

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 that you leave your position when you want to and not on your CEO’s terms.

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.

A more recent change is bringing more marketing tasks in-house, as P&G has done. Read more here. While this certainly saves a considerable part of their budget, the biggest advantage from my perspective, is that these companies automatically learn more about their customers’ behaviour. When you are planning communication campaigns and deciding on ad spend, you need to understand where your customers are and when they are most open to receiving your messages. That for me is far more valuable than any savings on agency costs. What do you think?

Even without making such a drastic move, many other consumer goods companies have 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 businesses. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey where you are accompanying your customers with the aim to satisfy and delight them, however they change.

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. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

One of the issues that has been created by marketing is that I believe 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, all too often repeated with few changes from one year to the next. As a result they have regular promotions, so our customers understand this and just wait for the next price offs before buying, whenever they can.

Our customers also realise that advertising highlights changes that in reality don’t exist between brands other than in terms of image. In today’s world, products and services have become more and more similar from one company to another. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance and benefits.

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. Just take a look at these statistics from the US.

 

Consumers changing behaviour

What this research also highlights is a change in shopping behaviour, far more complex than just moving purchases online. Customers are open to changing and have become far more comfortable with adapting to new ideas.

They now expect constant innovation which becomes difficult to satisfy, since they quickly adjust 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!

Customer Centricity

In response to these ever more savvy customers, marketing has to change. In the  2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it confirmed that marketers need new skills and can no longer rely on creativity alone.

Brand building needs new skills for marketers
Source: Korn Ferry 2015

 

In their 2020 update, they mention that their biggest challenge is the gap in talent, especially when it comes to analytics and marketing operations. Data is vital to customer understanding so if they can’t turn their customer information into knowledge and insight, they will never become truly customer centric.

Marketing team's skills gap
Source Korn Ferry 2020

If you’re interested in up-skilling your own team, then C3Centricity provides fun training course, both online and in-person, on many areas of customer centricity. Download our training brochure and then contact us so we can discuss your precise needs.

All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; unlike most other training organisations, C3Centricity NEVER delivers off-the-shelf, standardised trainings!


Are You Customer Centric?

Companies that place their customers at the heart of their business, are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and engaging games. Their contact pages provide many alternative ways for customers to reach out to them, rather than the less appealing reason menu and message box that seems to disappears into hyperspace!  Their advertising is emotional, with the customer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their customers in many aspects of their business.

If you would like to start involving your customers more in your own business then the post “The exceptionally easy and profitable uses of co-creation” is a popular and highly recommended read.

And if you’re not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website and then complete our free quiz C3C Evaluator™.

Moving Beyond Brand Building

Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are some ideas that you can use to help you quickly move forward on your journey to greater customer centricity:

1. Place pictures of consumers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be in your office reception, on the lift doors, other places where many employees spend time like the coffee machine or water fountain, or restaurant waiting and eating areas. You can also add representative images of real customer photos to the front of your reports, and at the beginning and end of presentations. The more employees see pictures of the customer, the more they will think about them and what it takes to delight them.

2. Whenever you take a decision, ask yourself this one magic question: “What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken?” If you believe that they would disagree, then you should reconsider your options.

Asking this simple question and check after every decision will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the consumer. Or asking credit card details for the use of a “free” trial, in the hope that the customer will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want. For more examples of how companies “cheat” their customers read “How to cheat the customer-or not!”

What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken? If they wouldn't like it, reconsider your options. #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerExcellence #CustomerService #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

3. Review the structure and content of your website in minute detail. If there are more “we’s” than “you’s” then you know what to do. And while you’re online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above. Is there a reason for your customers to stay longer and return, or will their visit be a fleeting connection unable to build a relationship?

Review the content of your website. If there are more we's than you's then you know what to do. Customer centric companies talk about their customers more than themselves. #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerExcellence #CustomerService… Click To Tweet

4. Take a look at your target consumer description or persona / avatar. When was it last updated? Customers are changing opinions and behaviours at an ever increasing rate, so you need to be with them if not ahead of them, if you want to satisfy their changing needs. If you don’t even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C3Centricity’s 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free HERE)

5. Examine your advertising and communications. Who is the hero in them, your brand or your customer? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.

Review your current advertising campaign. Who is the hero? If it's not your customer, consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers. Click To Tweet

6. If you are lucky enough to have retail outlets, spend time with your front-line staff and talk to them as well as to your customers. Make use of call centres, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know. Then add all the information to your persona description and review your future promotions for any improvements you could make to better satisfy and even delight your customers.

7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with everyone in the company. This can be through weekly or monthly newsletters with up-to-date learnings from research projects. Or summaries of what your customers are reaching out to your customer services department about. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2 above.


These are your seven starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building, to a more customer centric approach to customer satisfaction and delight. Every single one of them has your customer at the heart of them. Are they any others that you’d like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can on my own, so please share them below in the comments and let your knowledge shine!

If you’d like more suggestions about moving to a new-age, customer-first marketing approach, please check out my book “Winning Customer Centricity“. You’ll see it’s like no other business book you have ever seen! Then you will understand why numerous major CPG / FMCG companies follow its roadmap annually. It’s fun, inspiring and a useful way to track your customer centric journey. 

And as I said earlier, if you’re interested in up-skilling your team, then we can provide fun course on many areas of customer centricity, both online and offline. Download our training brochure now and contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our trainings are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.

5 Rules for Rolling Out a Successful Local Brand into Global Markets

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a few years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer.

Now 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.

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. #GlobalMarketing #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

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 customers 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 is required, including a comparison of the similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets. 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.

  • Conscious consumerism: Consumers have become much more thoughtful about what and where they purchase.  They support companies that demonstrate the same values that they have and brands are tapping into this trend with campaigns showing their position on various topics. Check out these examples of latest campaigns:
  • 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.

It is essential to understand why your local consumers purchase your product or service, and then compare their sensitivities to those in your new target market. For example, if individualisation and personalisation are important in your local market, are they important in the new market? If they aren’t, then you may risk an uphill struggle to gain acceptance and interest in your new offer.

If you’re new to trend following on a global basis, then a great place to start is with the annual Euromonitor International’s Consumer Trends Report. Their early 2022 report highlights trends revolving around two key themes – access and action. As they mention “Resilience and adaptability were tested in 2021, forcing consumers to relinquish control and embrace ambiguity. This year, consumers are taking back the reins and paving a path forward based on their passions and values.” However, the war between Russia and Ukraine, that is happening as I write this, will have long-reaching impacts on all countries and consumers. So I believe that we will continue to see last year’s trends of resilience and adaptability playing out. 

For global rollouts information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must be considered. This is where trend following can be useful. #GlobalMarketing #Trends Click To Tweet

 

2. Understand the Customers’ Perception

What does your brand stand for in the eyes and minds of your customers? Will the consumers in the new target market perceive the same benefits in the same way as your current customers?

If not, is this really a potential market, or are you just rolling-out there due to geographic proximity?

I am still amazed how many organisations base their expansion strategy on geography rather than the customer! It usually proves to be a big and often very costly error! Even large multinationals get it wrong, as the following examples show:

  • P&G’s Pampers was launched in Japan with the image of a stork which confused consumers. Whereas a stork is fabled to bring babies to parents in the west, this is not the case in Japan.
  • Mitsubishi (Pajero), Mazda (LaPuta) and Chevrolet (Nova) all had issues when rolling out their cars into Spanish speaking countries. Had they bothered to check the meaning of the model names in the local language, they would have avoided the negative connotations and the need to change the names of their vehicles after launch.
  • Ford (Pinto) had a similar issue with Portuguese in Brazil. The launch of the model was met with hilarity and mocking. Pinto is often used as slang for a man with tiny genitalia. Ford quickly changed the name from Pinto to “Corcel”, which translates to “stallion” clearly an attempt to (over?) compensate!

As already mentioned we are living in a global community today, so even if you don’t plan (for now) to launch in other markets, your image can still be impacted across the globe by a badly-chosen name.

The second issue concerning customer perceptions is the importance of particular traits in certain markets. For example, the actual price may be more important than quality in some markets. It may therefore make sense to offer a product in smaller sizes, such as individual sachets for shampoos or low count contents for dry products like stock cubes or confectionery. In some markets, value can be perceived as a consequence of packaging or after-sales service, in others not at all. It is therefore vital to understand the components of value in your current as well as the future markets.

The third area you will want to pay attention to is the image of both the brand and your corporation. Table stakes of categories can vary by country and what is important in one market can have no influence on purchase in another. In addition, the corporate image is at least partly based upon your company’s current category presence. If you have a reputation for cheap products, then you may struggle in launching a premium product, even if it is in a new category. Understanding a brand’s image from both perspectives is important to successfully rolling it out in other markets.

So you see just how much information you need to gather about your brand’s image and even your organisation’s before thinking about launching in new markets. Not doing your homework could cost the business a lot in terms of both a damaged image, as the above examples show, or worse still a costly failed launch.

Table stakes of categories can vary by country and what is important in one market can have no influence on purchase in another. #Brand #Marketing #LocalBrand #GlobalBrand Click To Tweet

 

3. Position Based on Insight and Human Truths

Local brands need a human truth to go globalEvery brand should have a positioning based upon an insight. And that insight should include a human truth. I write a lot of articles on insight development; just search on the blog homepage for a review of them all if you’re interested in learning more.

One of the most complete posts is “How the Best Marketers are Getting More Actionable Insights” and I would highly recommend reading it if you’re not totally at ease with what an insight is and how to develop one. And if you need more ideas, then why not take our short course on insight development?

One of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human needs. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children, used by many, many brands, including Nestlé’s Nido and Unilever’s Omo / Persil.

Or what about women and their frustration with not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models they see in their magazines, which is very successfully used by Unilever’s Dove?

And how about men and their need to charm women, to affirm their appeal and attractiveness, that is used by Lynx / Axe from – you’ve guessed it – Unilever, again. (They really do know their consumers better than any other brand builder today and develop actionable insights for all their brands!)

Interestingly, Unilever is now tapping into the same concerns they used for Dove, for Axe. In addition to charming women, Axe now explains that men too want to look after themselves and their bodies. They have even coined a new word “bathsculinity” which they define as “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of young men who take pride in their appearance and feel confident in expressing their most attractive selves, inside and outside of the bathroom.” Check out one of their latest ads, quite different from their previous ones: “Axe Ice Chill – bathe on the wild side.”

Insights and human truths are used the world over in marketing and form the basis of many very successful roll-out communication strategies. Before you dream of taking your local brand’s success to global stardom, think about what human truth you are using to build it. If you can’t identify it, there is a far lesser chance of your repeating its local success in other markets.

Every brand should have a positioning based upon an insight. And that insight should include a human truth. #Brand #Marketing #Insight #HumanTruth Click To Tweet

 

4. Can You Use Your Local Heritage?

Many countries and regions have strong, stereotyped images that can play to inherent qualities associated with certain product categories coming from them. Examples of these include French perfume, Swiss watches, Russian Vodka, Italian fashion, German or American cars and Japanese technology.

If your brand has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it. Even if consumers in the new market may be less aware, authenticity and tradition will still be strong sensitivities on which you can build your brand in new markets. (Just make sure you check trend levels of them before choosing the new countries into which you want to launch!)

IKEA brand logoIkea is one brand that has grown thanks to its Swedish heritage of clean, modern and uncluttered lifestyle that appeals to many around the world. It offers cheaper, flat-packed furniture and home accessories particularly popular for starter homes. They built their business on the global need of people for a secure and welcoming home.

By making their products in kit form, they could keep prices low and transport and storage were far less challenging than for traditional furniture. This also had the additional benefit of involving the customer in the construction of the furniture which made the article more appreciated than shop-bought articles, even if they were of higher quality.

Jysk logoAlthough Ikea is the best known Scandinavian furniture store, and a popular franchise that operates in over 25 countries, it’s not the only one. Jysk from Denmark was opened over 30 years after Ikea and today operates in 27 countries. It has not been as successful as Ikea and I believe there are several obvious reasons for this, starting with its name which many still struggle to pronounce – including myself!

Then there are the products which are bought rather than being made by Jysk as Ikea does, so the quality tends to be far more variable and generally lower. Denmark’s image is not as strong as Sweden’s either, although it is riding on the Scandinavian wave started by Ikea. And lastly, there is the Ikea Family. Jysk hasn’t tried to build a relationship with its customers, so there are no memberships or clubs, no cafes or restaurants to keep customers coming back. It is just a store like any other, whereas Ikea is an experience – even if we do all hate the forced in-store path!

In order to successfully roll out products and services across regions, it is important to know what local image you are portraying and whether it will have the same appeal in new markets or whether it will need to be adapted.  

 

5. Understand the Category

Many companies get their rollout strategy wrong because they look at geographical or linguistic proximity, rather than the closeness of the customers’ social sensitivities or behaviours in them. Just because countries are geographically close, doesn’t mean their populations are similar when it comes to category image and usage.

Kellogg's logoOne clear example of this is Kellogg’s Cornflakes launch into India. It failed because they ignored the Indian habit of having a boiled & sweetened milk rather than using cold milk for their cereals. Therefore the flakes went soggy and the consumers didn’t appreciate what had promised to be a crunchy breakfast cereal.

When planning product roll-outs, we also need to consider how alike the customers are in terms of behaviour, as well as the category trends, compared to the home market. This will help avoid disasters such as Kellogg’s Cornflakes in India. This could have so easily been avoided if marketers had taken the time to observe the Indian breakfast tradition. But they didn’t. They were a large brand and thought that consumer observation wasn’t needed; they paid heavily for this mistake.

Red Bull logo

In contrast, the Austrian brand Red Bull got its global campaign right – by not really having one, other than aiming, at first, for extreme sports and today moving more into elite sports! It adapts its advertising and promotions to fit each local market while still having the foundation of sports, adventure and risk-taking clearly integrated. In the beginning, most of their activities were focused around extreme sports, sponsoring flying, cliff diving, skiing and skateboarding.

Since those early days, Red Bull has expanded its activities well beyond sponsorship alone, starting its own events such as Soap Box Races and the record-breaking Red Bull Stratos programme, in which they funded the exploits of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. It also has teams active in both Formula 1 racing and champion football with two teams in the first and three clubs in the latter.

 

So there you have five rules to increase the chances of succeeding as you roll out brands into new markets. Many companies have effectively rolled-out successful local brand into other countries in the region, if not the world. But many more have failed. What would you add to the above list to increase the odds in favour of a regional or global roll-out? I would love to read your own thoughts in the comments below.

This post is regularly adapted and updated, the last publication being in December 2020 on C3Centricity.

You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are! (The 5 Steps to Category Identification)

If you’re a regular reader here – and if not, then please sign up below so you don’t miss future posts – you’ll know my 7-step CatSight™ Process for Insight Development.

The first step of the process is to identify the category in which you are competing. If you don’t know the process, that may surprise you, but you’d be amazed just how many brands are not in the category they think they are. When was the last time you checked?

Just think about the consequences of an incorrect attribution; you would be concentrating on competitors that your customers never compare you with! And you would waste resources defending yourself against the wrong brands. Talk about squandering valuable resources! That’s why I decided to dedicate a whole post to this important topic.

But before I get started, I suggest you first read the post (Customer Centricity is Today’s Business Disruptor, Insights its Foundation) as background information. In it you’ll discover the full description of the seven steps of the CATSIGHT™ process, which I know will also be useful to you. In the article, I summarise the very first step of Insight development, that of category definition, like this:

C = Category

Whenever you want to develop an insight, the first task is to decide on the category you want to study. This may seem obvious to you, but in many cases, it isn’t as clear as you might have thought.

For instance, suppose you are planning on launching a new fruit-flavoured soft drink. You may think that you are competing with other juices or perhaps other soft drinks. But rather than just assuming the category in which you are competing, I highly recommend that you check; you may be very surprised.

Identify the category by zooming in

In working with one client who was in this exact situation, we actually found that their main competitor was an energy drink!

The reason for this was because this category is seen as being for lively, energetic, fun-loving people who need a boost. Whether this comes from the caffeine of an energy drink, or from the added vitamins and minerals of real fruit juices, which was my client’s offer, it didn’t seem to matter.
If we’d only looked at other fruit-flavoured soft drinks, we would have missed a whole – and much larger – segment of potential category consumers. By starting our analysis as wide as possible by looking at all beverages, and then slowly zooming in as we learnt more, we were quickly able to discover this perhaps surprising positioning for the new drink.
This shows the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. But more about that in a moment. 
The above example is a great start. But so many clients ask me to help them with their own category definitions, that I decided to detail the five most important steps in defining your category, so that you can do it for yourself for each of your brands and products.
Never underestimate the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. #Brand #Segment #Marketing #Segmentation Click To Tweet

 

Step 1. What is the category definition you are currently using? 

In any process, we should always start by identifying where we are today. In the case of your category definition, it should be the one you think you are competing in at the moment. Depending upon whether you are offering a product or service, you might define it as:

All hot beverage consumers …….. or …….. users of a particular insurance service.

All consumers of coffee …….. or …….. people who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

All consumers of instant coffee powder …….. or …….. house owners in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

All consumers of instant coffee powder costing less than US$ 2.50 per 100 gms …….. or …….. owners of houses valued over US$2 million in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

As you can see from just these four examples, the bottom definitions are far more focused than the top ones. Hopefully you can appreciate why targeting such precise groups of customers is more likely to meet with greater success, than the wider, less specific groups first mentioned.

In any process, we should always start by identifying where we are today. #Process #Category #Business Click To Tweet

The Zoom tool you decide to use (in or out), will depend upon whether you are looking to grow your brand through your marketing activities or planning to develop a new product or service offer.

I call this zooming in and zooming out of the category. In general, understanding the category by zooming in is best for growth and precise targeting, whereas zooming out provides more opportunities for considering innovative new products and services.

Now take a look at your own current category definition. I bet it’s too broad for successful use isn’t it? This is the mistake that most businesses make, big and small. They want to attract the largest number of consumers or users of a category, but as is often quoted:

“If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one”

The more precise you are in defining the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused will be your actions and communications, and the more successful you will be. In addition, the tactics and strategies you use are more likely to resonate with your target audience.

The more precise you are in defining the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused your actions and communications will be. #Segment #Category #Marketing #CEX Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Going through these five steps will give you the very best possible understanding of the category in which you are currently competing, as well as of the customers who make up the sub-segment you decide to target.

Have you successfully mastered every suggested step? What have you forgotten?

Is there something I myself have forgotten or that you would add? If so, then please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks

If you’re still struggling with your own category definition or identifying the very best customers you should be targeting for your brand, then let’s talk. Book a complimentary call with me – I call them Happiness Sessions because that’s how you’ll feel after we talk!

This post is an update of the article that was last published on C3Centricity in 2020.

[button_1 text=”Don’t%20Forget%2C%20Book%20your%20Training%20NOW!” text_size=”30″ text_color=”#274660″ text_bold=”Y” text_letter_spacing=”0″ subtext_panel=”N” text_shadow_panel=”Y” text_shadow_vertical=”2″ text_shadow_horizontal=”0″ text_shadow_color=”#38b9f0″ text_shadow_blur=”0″ styling_width=”40″ styling_height=”30″ styling_border_color=”#274660″ styling_border_size=”7″ styling_border_radius=”6″ styling_border_opacity=”100″ styling_gradient=”Y” styling_shine=”Y” styling_gradient_start_color=”#38b9f0″ styling_gradient_end_color=”#64bce2″ drop_shadow_panel=”Y” drop_shadow_vertical=”1″ drop_shadow_horizontal=”0″ drop_shadow_blur=”1″ drop_shadow_spread=”0″ drop_shadow_color=”#38b9f0″ drop_shadow_opacity=”50″ inset_shadow_panel=”Y” inset_shadow_vertical=”0″ inset_shadow_horizontal=”0″ inset_shadow_blur=”0″ inset_shadow_spread=”1″ inset_shadow_color=”#274660″ inset_shadow_opacity=”50″ align=”center”/]

How People Recognise Brands: I Can Guarantee It’s Not What You’re Thinking!

How do you think people recognise your brand? Is it by its logo, its colour, its pack, its jingle? Well, you may be surprised to learn these are all only pieces of the puzzle. A brand is a combination of elements, that together make it recognisable. But consistency and compatibility are often the two missing parts that are most often forgotten in building a brand.

Before I get started, I would like to suggest that you read a highly popular post on the topic of brand image here on C3Centricity, if you missed it before. It’s called “What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Brand Image, Equity, Personality & Archetypes” and will give you some great background information.

It covers the topic of brand image metrics in quite some depth, so is a great primer. But I feel that there is so much more to brand recognition that needs to be considered, than the elements that I mentioned in that post.

For example, more and more brands today additionally rely on a face, a voice, an aroma, a unique packaging style, a slogan or a sound that immediately identifies them. And when they do, their brand image gains in depth as well as emotional engagement.

In fact I believe that brands that lack connection with their customers are missing these powerful additions. They rely on mere basics to build their brand’s image, but they are no longer sufficient in today’s online -dare I say virtual? – world.

So here is my very personal perspective on some of the best examples in each of the additional areas I just mentioned. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

FACE

Progressive’s Flo and Dr Rick

Some of the faces which represent brands are of celebrities, while others are of unknown people who become celebrities thanks to the brand’s advertising.

One of the first faces I think of for a brand is Flo from Progressive. She won the hearts of Americans, ever since she was first introduced in 2008, with her helpful but quirky discussions with potential customers.

Flo made insurance less confusing and more friendly through her “girl next door” looks and sparky attitude.

In 2012, an animated box was added to their campaign concepts, to represent the company’s products in what was hoped to be a more fun and young-spirited way. Apparently, the vast number of ads with Flo – over 100 – had resulted in a “love her or hate her” relationship, but the box didn’t have the success of Flo.

About five years ago Progressive finally found the answer to attracting younger adults, coming out in 2017 with the “Group session” ads, one of which you can watch below. These were later morphed into self-help sessions with a group leader called Rick, who comes back in 2021 as Dr Rick (see more below). 

Dr Rick claimed to help the younger adult target group Progressive wanted to attract by claiming to help them from becoming their parents. The “On call” campaign was born and appears to have succeeded where the animated box didn’t.

 

With the replacement of long-standing, award-winning CMO Jeff Charney by Remi Kent, former senior VP and global CMO of the consumer business group at 3M, we’ll have to see where Kent takes the brand going forward.

 

Nespresso

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for many, many years, in fact since 2006. He started off as a smooth and superior man-about-town; the type of man many women would love to be with and men would love to be. But over the years he has become far more approachable, even funny.

This new style means that the ads are always entertaining, even for non-Nespresso drinkers. In one of the latest, a Game of Thrones-inspired commercial featuring Nathalie Dormer, Clooney plays a knight who slays the dreaded dragon. When the medieval queen asks what he wants for saving the kingdom, he doesn’t reply but heads off to New York. “Tis all I desire,” he says as he returns to the palace with a cup of Nespresso in his hand. (See video below, thanks to Madame Figaro)

I wonder if like Progressive, Nestle is trying to open the appeal of its Nespresso brand to younger coffee drinkers through the use of more humour. Perhaps they are (also) hoping that the videos get shared on social media. Can we expect cats too in the future?!!

But humour is only one way to attract younger adults. Today they are very sensitive to such themes as eco-friendly, sustainability and recycling. For this reason, Nespresso also uses its advertising time to address these hot topics. Here is a recent example where they created a short series on being carbon neutral:

 

There are many other examples of “faces” that we now immediately recognise and associate with their brands. Even if some have been dropped over the years, they still maintain their strong connection:

SC Johnson’s Mr Clean and the muscle man

Quaker Oats and the Quaker.

Coca-Cola and the Polar Bear

Marlboro and the Cowboy – Darrell

Duracell / Energiser and the Pink Bunny

 

Each face is chosen to represent the brand because it fits with the values with which it wants to be linked. For example:

The Muscle man suggests toughness, never tired, perfect for house cleaning when you want the quickest and easiest solution to difficult jobs.

The Quaker implies integrity, harmony, simplicity, perfect for natural products.

The Polar Bear is associated with cold, stimulating, refreshing liquid (ocean), perfect for a carbonated soft drink.

The Cowboy suggests independence, freedom, strength, perfect for a masculine brand.

The Bunny implies endurance. never-ending energy, perfect for a long-lasting battery.

You will notice that more and more “faces” are now cartoon characters, rather than real people. The advantage of doing this is that associations are unlikely to change, unlike people. Just consider some of the recent sporting disasters which resulted in brands firing their “faces”.

Almost all celebrity spokespeople are required to sign an agreement containing certain moral or behavioural clauses. These give the brands the right to cancel a contract if the celebrity does something which could be damaging to the brand.  Nike has done this with Maria Sharapova, Manny Pacquiao, Michael Vick and Lance Armstrong.  Tiger Woods was apparently dropped by Gillette, Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer. Wow, that must have lowered his income somewhat!

Find out more about the challenges of choosing a face for a brand in this article on advertising law, and this one on the top 15 athletes who were dropped by their sponsors.

 

SOUND / VOICE / TONE OF VOICE

Besides the faces of celebrities, some brands have adopted a very individual voice or sound as well. This adds more personality to a brand and further helps it to stand out.

 

The sounds can be actual voices, such as the infamous Budweiser’s Wassup campaign that was first aired in 1999. (yes really that long ago!) Or the tones used in print advertising, which have become even more important with the rise of social media.

Both Coke and Pepsi use sound to great effect. For Coke, it is the ice being dropped into a glass and then fizzing Coke being poured over it. For Pepsi, although it may have started by using the sound of the ring pull releasing the fizzing bubbles from the can, the brand now introduces unknown music performers with their “sound drop” campaign.

Kellogg’s believed that the reason for their success was the sound their cornflakes made when they were being eaten. In fact, they hired a Danish sound lab to recreate the Kellogg’s crunch for inclusion in their advertising. It became so identifiable and uniquely Kellogg’s Cornflakes that the company went on to patent it.

Unilever’s Magnum is another brand with a distinctive sound. The ice cream is instantly recognised today from the cracking as the model bites into the chocolate coating. This sound is used at the beginning and at the end of the ads for their bars and more recently for their chocolate topped tubs too. Here is one of their recent ads showing the sound being used for both ice cream versions.

 

 

Moving on to the tone of voice on social media, some of the best examples I’ve come across include:

Innocent: Would you be interested in following a Twitter account that posted about natural fruit drinks all day? Probably not, and Innocent Drinks clearly understands that. Instead of simply advertising its juice products, Innocent posts chuckle-inducing, highly relatable content. Innocent comes across as being just a friend who is always coming out with random, yet spot-on observations of life. Who wouldn’t want to follow them on Twitter for this daily dose of fun?

Innocent twitter

Tiffany: This heritage brand was recently acquired by LVMH and has shown remarkable growth following a daring change in its communications strategy. Its ‘Not Your Mother’s‘ campaign experienced significant backlash for offending its longtime customers, the older luxury customers. While it was certainly a risky move for Tiffany, they do say that the age group they are targeting is not as young as their critics believe it is.

Their tweets have always been more product related than in the past, but in line with their new positioning efforts, they include younger models wearing pieces in normal day-to-day situations. It relies far less than before on the elegant, cool sophistication of its physical presence in luxury surroundings and the use of its signature colour has also been stripped way back. I wonder if this will weaken or reposition its image in the longer-term? What do you think?

Tiffany Tweet

 

Old Spice: Having been successfully relaunched with its “Man your man could smell like” campaign, which was directed at females, it then moved to a more irreverent and fun tone which was designed to appeal to younger men. At least that’s what I think, but let me know what you think in the comments. I feel they lost their advantage over Axe (Lynx) during that time, so I’m glad to see that they are once again showing a real man’s man, but with a nice twist – even men need skin products. Here’s one of their latest ads, that personally reminds me of that earliest campaign.

 

AROMA

Smell is the only one of the five senses which connects with the right-hand side of the brain – did you know that? This is the area of the brain where creativity, emotion and hunger are processed, and memories of pleasurable experiences are stored there. Because of this, smell is the sense that can trigger an impulse reaction in someone.

As you know, branding is about creating an emotional connection with users and therefore aroma is a powerful ally in doing this. There is little logic involved in impulse purchases! We see it, we want it, we buy it. Aroma is being increasingly used these days to build brand attraction even further.

It is a powerful yet subtle way to gain customer loyalty, especially in such industries as retail, travel, hospitality, healthcare, finance or any business operating in a closed and controlled environments. You find yourself feeling good in certain places without really knowing why.

But aroma is so powerful, that some consumer products have been created or relaunched using it as their USP. Anyone remember the “green apple” scent that was all the rage back in the seventies?

Herbal Essences is a more modern example. It was originally launched as a single shampoo. But in the 1990s it was relaunched using commercials featuring women moaning with pleasure while using the fragrant product. The shampoos offered “a totally organic experience” thanks to their unique and luxurious perfumes.

Interestingly, and just like Nespresso, it too has joined the sustainable, eco-friendly and bio interests of recent years. Here is one of its more recent ads:

Coffee is an obvious choice for marketing on scent as a priority, even if taste is what will probably keep customers loyal. But in the past it was impossible for customers to test new brands before purchasing. The recent introduction therefore of the one-way degassing valves on coffee packaging, both grain and ground, is a welcome addition.

One-way degassing valve on coffee packaging

While scratch and sniff stamps have made a timid return on some personal and home care items, other brands have been launched in the past few years that are positioned almost exclusively on aroma, such as P&G’s Lenor Unstoppables™.

So you see the retail examples of the past are rapidly being joined by numerous consumer goods brands.

 

PACKAGING

Colour and shape are important elements of brand pack recognition. But packaging goes way beyond this today, as the above coffee example shows. A pack can become a brand’s signature, whether through its unique form, touch or sound. Yes, a pack can have a sound too – see the numerous examples below.

When thinking shape, Coke obviously springs to mind first, but Toblerone chocolate, Perrier water and Pringles chips also have distinctive packs. Their success can be witnessed by the copy-cat look-alike packs that have been launched by competitors ever since. In some cases even the pack’s colour is similar, making brand identification on-shelf more of a challenge. Go into any discounter outlet of Lidl and Aldi and you will be frequently confused by the brand they are actually offering.

Unique packaging forms have also become important in a number of industries as a way of combating market saturation or stagnation. These include cigarettes, candies, condiments and perfumes. In the later, product shape plays a vital role since the bottles are transparent and the majority are colourless too. Luxury can therefore only be suggested through the caps’ materials and by its form as well as that of its bottles.

Shape can also be used as a differentiator in providing additional benefits to the user. Think about the Heinz Ketchup squeeze bottle or the pump dispensers offered on products from cosmetics to liquid hand wash.

Companies are paying more attention to the sound their products’ packaging makes too. There is the well-known clunk of a luxury car door (not sure if we would call it a pack!), but also of the lid closing on a Pantene shampoo bottle. The click of a pen cap or mascara wand when closed are studied and evaluated so that they give just the right sound for associations with luxury or safety.

Branding is becoming ever more challenging with the explosion of line extensions, as well as all the new product offers that continue to be launched every year. But customers are demanding novelty, even as they also become ever more confused by the vast range of choice in some categories Therefore to stand out from the competition, a brand needs more elements to highlight its image and personality.

As I have shared in this article, a brand’s face, voice, sound, tone, aroma and pack all increase its differentiation and enhance brand recognition.

In addition, research shows that stimulating more of a user’s senses significantly increases loyalty. What does that mean for your business? Well it could mean an estimated 25-30% of your brand’s revenue just from better stimulating your customers’ senses! So what are you waiting for?  

For more ideas about improving your Brand Building, check out our other content. And if you need more support then contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

The Risks of Not Knowing All 12 Essential Elements of Your Target Customer

I think it’s pretty clear to everyone in business that NOT knowing your target customers costs a lot – sometimes the business itself! (Think Kodak, Nokia, Borders)

 

So let me ask you this; how well do you really know your own target customers? Are they men, women, younger, older, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses? If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more should you know about them?

Well I can help you there, with these 12 essential elements of a customer persona or avatar. 

 

 

Background

I was recently working with a local service provider that was looking to improve their online presence. They were keen to have more impact on social media and had asked for advice about the best platforms, optimal frequency of publishing and possible content ideas.

They are a new client for me, so I think they were a little surprised when I didn’t get straight into the “sexy” topic of social media. Instead, I started by taking them through the basics of target customer identification. Lucky for them that I did!

When we had finished the exercise, we had actually found five different targets for them to address, rather than just the two they had been addressing until now. This clearly would have an impact on both where, what and how they communicated online.

It is for this reason that I always recommend that every brand and business completes a target persona and regularly updates it every time they learn something new about their customers. I also encourage you to keep it handy, ideally always visible on or around your desk. That way you will always be thinking customer first whenever you are working on a new project.

So let’s imagine that we’re having our first meeting together and I’m asking a few (well 12 actually!) questions about your customers. How many can you immediately answer?

 

The 12 Essential Elements of a Customer Persona

C3Centricity has designed a simple template that helps clients have all the essential information about their customers in one place, summarised on one page. It’s called the 4W™ Persona Template and if you haven’t already done so, you can download for free, together with a detailed workbook explaining exactly how to complete it. Just click on the image below.

I would highly recommend you download it right now, before continuing to read, so that you can follow along with the one-pager in front of you.

Here are the 12 essential elements you need to have at hand in order to complete the template:

Customer persona template
Click the image to learn more about the 4W™ Persona Template & download the FREE workbook.

1. WHO – DEMOGRAPHICS: This is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. However it’s not really original and definitely not competitive, although they are an essential foundation.

But there is so much more you should and absolutely must know about your customers, so read on.

2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or providing a service, you need to know what your customers are currently using. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too.

In some categories, customers can replace a brand by another in a different category. Think about food or beverages. A customer could replace a cola by a still fruit drink, or a pasta dish by a pie. You therefore need to understand what your customers would use, if anything, when your product or category is unavailable.

Whether you offer a product or provide a service, you need to know what your customers are currently using. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too. #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

3. WHAT THEY CONSUME: Here we need to understand what types of information and media your customers are consuming. What do they read, watch, listen to, both in work and in their spare time?

Which social media platforms do they use, and what websites do they consult on a regular basis? Which are their favourite influencers, the companies, brands or people that they follow online?

4. WHAT THEY DO: How do your customers spend their time? What type of lifestyle do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they do all day, and in the evening, and at weekends?

It would be ideal if you can create a detailed timeline of their average day, so you have a feel for their moments of stress, boredom or relaxation. This makes it much easier to see how your brand might fit into their lives.

Create a detailed timeline of your customers' average day, so you have a feel for their moments of stress, boredom or relaxation. This makes it easier to see how your brand might fit into their lives. #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

5. WHAT THEY BUY: This is where you describe their current category purchasing habits. How frequently and what quantity do they buy? Are they loyal to your brand or do have a portfolio of brands from which they choose?

Do they have regular daily, weekly or monthly buying habits? Do they do research before buying or repurchasing? Do they compare and if so how, where, and why?

6. WHERE THEY CONSUME: Is the category consumed in home, in work, during leisure activities? Is it used locally, regionally or is it more used on vacation?

Are your customer with friends, with their partner, with colleagues when they consume the brand? Are there certain surroundings more conducive to consumption? If so, what makes it so?

7. WHERE THEY BUY: Do your target customers have certain places and times when they tend to buy? Is it an habitual or impulse purchase? Is it seasonal? Are they buying at a certain place at certain times of the day, as they go about their daily lives?

Are there only a certain number or style of outlets where your brand is available, or can your customers buy it wherever they are? Do you limit distribution to particular retail types, like supermarkets, specialty stores, or professional service stores? Are they the same ones your customers frequent? And what about the category in general? Do some brands limit distribution?

8. WHERE THEY READ/WATCH/HEAR: From where do your customers get information about the products and services they consumer? Is it from manufacturers, from friends, their family or their colleagues?

Do they access it online, in print, on radio or via TV? Are your customers at home, in work or on the road?

Remember that today “read” covers not just traditional media but new media as well. Which websites, social media channels and people do they follow, like, listen to and value the opinion of?

9. WHERE THEY SEE: One reason to target a specific group of customers is so that you can better and more effectively  communicate with them. Where are they most likely to be open to receiving your messages? What media, at what times, on which days?

Do they use different media for different purposes? For example, do they review websites in work for information, then look at other sites in the evenings and at weekends for entertainment? How does this difference impact your brand?

10. WHY VALUES: What values do your customers have that you are addressing with your product or service, and which explain why they are using your brand rather than another? Do they have other values that are not currently being addressed, either by you or your competitors?

If so, could they be highlighted in communications to attract more customers? In other words, do these values offer the possibility of a differentiated communications platform or even product / service concept? What resonates with them in particular about the category, your brand, your competitors’ brands?

11. WHY EMOTIONS: What is the emotional state of your customers when they are considering a purchase or use, both of the category and your brand?

Clearly identified emotional states enable you to more easily resonate with your customers through empathising with their current situation. You are also more likely to propose a solution that will satisfy their need or desire when their emotional state is precisely as you have identified.

12. WHY MOTIVATIONS: What motivates the customer to consider, buy and use the category and their brand choice? Emotions and motivations are closely linked, both to each other and to the customer’s need state.

By identifying the need-state you want to address, you will  be better able to understand your customers and increase the resonance of your communications with them.

What motivates your customers to consider, buy and use the category and their brand choice? Emotions and motivations are closely linked, both to each other and to the customer’s need state. #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

 

Final recommendations

If you can answer all twelve of these questions in detail, then you certainly know your customers intimately. But I have a word of warning before you sit back and relax on your laurels.

Remember that people are constantly changing and what satisfies them today, is unlikely to satisfy them tomorrow. Therefore you need to keep track on all four layers of your customer description, to stay ahead of the competition, as well as to satisfy and hopefully delight your customers just as much going forward.

People are constantly changing & what satisfies them today, is unlikely to satisfy them tomorrow. Track the changes to stay ahead of the competition, & satisfy, delight your customers. #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

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

The 4W™ Persona Template is one of the best ways to develop an avatar or persona for your brand. Our clients love it, so I know you will too. It can be downloaded together with a detailed workbook explaining how to complete it, by clicking the button below.

Download 4W template

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it with your peers and colleagues. They will thank you for it, especially since it includes a link to a free workbook on developing brand personas / avatars!

13 Most Inspiring Marketing Quotes and Questions to Live By in 2022

Are you like most businesses? Do you have a plan you are following that will (hopefully) enable you to reach your goals?

In order to meet them, we are often looking to make changes, large or small, in our organisation. At times like these I find it useful to motivate with some inspiring quotes from people much wiser than I. If you are looking for ways to motivate and inspire your own team, then I am sure you too will enjoy these.

This is my selection of great quotes from some of the best marketers around, together with a relevant question to ask yourself for each. If your favourite quote is not included, then please add it to the comments below the post.

 

#1.  “Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills” Al Ries 

This quote refers to the Catskills, a province of the Appalachian Mountains, located in southeastern New York and only 1270m high. It compares them to the Himalayas, a range that includes some of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest (8,849m).

It uses this comparison to suggest that to succeed in marketing you have to afront the highest peaks of strategy and timing, and not be satisfied with scaling simple hills. In other words, be in the right place at the right time with the right offer. Simple!

QUESTION: Are you going to upgrade your marketing this year to meet this lofty challenge?

Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills. Al Ries #Strategy #Marketing #Brand Click To Tweet

 

#2.  “In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last” John Romero

I love this quote because it refers to knowing and understanding your customers. The best ones, however you define that, come first and your best prospects come second. If you’d like to know if you’re targeting your very best customers and best prospects, then check out the following post: How Well Do you Know Your Customers? 13 Questions your Boss Expects you to Answer

QUESTION: Do you know who your best customers are and everything you should about them?

In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss - and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. John Romero #Marketing #Brand #Customer Click To Tweet

 

#3. “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation”  Milan Kundera

This post shows the often forgotten importance of marketing to business. I know those of you in sales or operations etc will complain, but if customers don’t know and love your brands then you don’t have a business. It really is as simple as that. I also like that innovation is included, because especially today, customers have become so demanding that we need to constantly upgrade our offers to them.

QUESTION: Does your business value marketing? If not, how can you help them to recognise its value?

Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation. Milan Kundera #Business #Marketing #Innovation Click To Tweet

 

#4. “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions” Claude Levi-Strauss

Are you better at asking questions or answering them? Which is more important in your job? Why? A leader doesn’t have all the answers but should surround himself with people who do.

QUESTION: How often do you ask the right questions? What more could you ask and of whom?

The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions. Claude Levi-Strauss #Leadership #Business Click To Tweet

 

#5. “People Do Not Buy Goods And Services. They Buy Relations, Stories, And Magic” Seth Godin

As products and services get ever more similar, the brands that win are those that understand, engage and entertain their customers. Build relationships with your customers by telling stories about your brand origin, and weave in some magic that only your brand can deliver.

QUESTION: What are you doing to share your own stories and brand magic?  

People Do Not Buy Goods And Services. They Buy Relations, Stories, And Magic. Seth Godin #Quote #CEX #CRM Click To Tweet

 

#6. “A Brand Is No Longer What We Tell The Consumer It Is — It Is What Consumers Tell Each Other It Is” Scott Cook

Following on from the last quote, we need to be careful between sharing and telling. Brands should share interesting anecdotes and stories, things their customers are interested in.

QUESTION: How much of your website is made up of things you want to tell the customer? How much of it’s content are stories and information the customer is interested in knowing?

A Brand Is No Longer What We Tell The Consumer It Is — It Is What Consumers Tell Each Other It Is. Scott Cook #Brand #BrandImage #Marketing Click To Tweet

 

#7. “Make Your Marketing So Useful People Would Pay For It” Jay Baer 

The next phase of upgrading your marketing, once you are telling stories and building relationships, is to make it so useful that people would actually pay to have it. Today this includes eBooks, checklists, games, articles and memberships.

QUESTION: How useful is your marketing to your customers? Are you building loyalty by recognising and showing appreciation for their purchases?

Make Your Marketing So Useful People Would Pay For It. Jay Baer #Quote #Marketing #Customers Click To Tweet

 

#8. “Awareness Is Fine, But Advocacy Will Take Your Business To The Next Level”  Joe Tripodi

Awareness today comes in many forms. Awareness of your advertising, activities and promotions, social media posts. Is that what you measure? The problem is that all these metrics mean little if you are not resonating emotionally with your customers. And the only way you’ll know this is when people start supporting, advocating, recommending your brand.

QUESTION: What metrics do you follow to measure your marketing? When and how do your customers recommend you? 

Awareness Is Fine, But Advocacy Will Take Your Business To The Next Level. Joe Tripodi #Quote #Awareness #Advocacy #CRM #CEX #Business Click To Tweet

#9. “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be” May Sarton

No-one is like you. No-one in the past was like you. No-one in the future will be like you. You are unique with your own unique gifts and talents. So why not use them to make your business better? Treat your customers as if they were you.

QUESTION: How do you like to be treated? Use that as your guiding light for how you treat your own customers. Your business will be better off for it.

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. May Sarton #Quote #BeOurself #Self Click To Tweet

 


If you’d like to know who you are and what gifts and talents you should be using to succeed in your career, then sign up for our free training. 


#10. “We see things as we are, not as they are” Leo Rosten

One of the biggest challenges in business is to see our brands as our customers do. Most of the time we make what we like, advertise and promote in a way that we like and develop new products and services that we like. What we like has no importance, only your customers’ opinion matters when you want to grow your business. So listen to them.

QUESTION: How often do you watch and listen to your customers? Whatever the frequency is, it’s not enough. Do more. 

We see things as we are, not as they are. Leo Rosten #Quote #Realism #Understanding #Perception #SelfAwareness Click To Tweet

 

#11. “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life” Avinash Kaushik

Too many websites are filled with information that the brand wants to tell the customer. The best websites do the opposite. They are filled with content the customer wants or needs, and entertains along the way.

QUESTION: How good is your website at giving your customers what they want. If you’re not sure check out this article: From a Good to a Great Website: 9 Ways to Engage More Successfully

Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life. Avinash Kaushik #WebDesign #Website #ContentStrategy #Content Click To Tweet

 

#12. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Charles Darwin

You know the world is changing and changing faster every day. The same goes for our customers. What attracted them yesterday only satisfies them today and disappoints them tomorrow. People want novelty and innovation. Make sure you are constantly upgrading your offer, but be careful to do so by adding what your customers want or desire. If you innovate based on your internal skills rather than external needs, your innovations will remain in the 95% that fail.

QUESTION: Is your portfolio filled with winners? Use Pareto’s principle (the 80/20 rule) to continuously evaluate your offers and eliminate the bottom 20%. Then add new offers that respond to customers’ needs of today, or ideally tomorrow.   

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin #Change #Intelligence #Survival Click To Tweet

 

#13. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new” Steve Jobs

A golden oldie to finish with. This is reminder that asking customers what they want it not the best way to know what they want. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, as another os Steve’s quotes says, customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them. However, they do know very well what they don’t want and what problems they are facing when using the category.

The second reason is that people are changing so fast that by the time you make what the customer has asked for, they’re already in need of something else.

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new. Steve Jobs #Quote #CRM #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

 

For even more inspiring quotes, do check out C3Centricity’s resources. There you can find hundreds more quotes, classified by the four foundational areas of a customer-first strategy, namely company, customer, brands and processes: https://bit.ly/3qwTFQa

Top 10 Most Popular Articles on Customer Centricity of 2021

Happy New Year to all you Customer-first strategists. May your year by bright and your customers surprised and delighted!

Each January we like to celebrate our most popular posts on customer centricity that were published on C3Centricity during the year. Just like 2020, covid has forced all of us to be a little more creative and a little less demanding in our work.

Here at C3Centricity, we reviewed and updated many of our cornerstone, evergreen articles, so you may recognise a few of them from last year in this list. However, they still make great reading and a reminder that we’re all in business to satisfy and delight our customers. And if you’d like a surprise too, then I have one for you at the end of the post. Enjoy!

 

#1. The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

Show you respect your customersThis is another evergreen post that has been popular amongst our readers for several years. It has moved from second position, to take the top spot in 2021. The article shows you how to connect with your customers and gather their information.

It also has some tips on how to build a good relationship with them and respectfully let them leave if they no longer want to connect with you. Making it hard for them just makes you lose image.

If you’re ready to adopt a customer-first strategy, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#2. Five Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Success

Measure your company image

This post has been amongst the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is regularly updated so it remains highly relevant in today’s marketplace.

Its popularity clearly shows the need we all have to understand how to get up close and personal with our customers – the right way.

The 5 rules it includes are easy to follow and will make every occasion to watch and listen to your customers so much more interesting and valuable.

And if you want to learn how to watch and listen more effectively to your customers, then check out our training courses HERE

 

#3. Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost your Insight Development

Boost your insight developmentThis post remains the third most popular one on C3Centricity. Ever wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights? This post shares some of the main reasons why even large companies fail at this essential art.

Insights are the foundation on which every single successful brand is built. If your brands are lacking strong positive growth, they are probably missing that insight that will make them powerhouses.

So it is vital that you learn how to develop them and then how to action them in your communications and innovation. Again, if you struggle to action your insights, you’re most certainly missing one of the steps covered in this post.

To stimulate your thinking, the article includes many real-world examples of how great insights can be turned into powerful ad campaigns that connect with customers and motivate them to buy.

If you’re ready to finally learn how to develop actionable business insights, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#4. How to Map Your Customer Journey & Overlay their Emotions

Customer journey map

The popularity of this post highlights the importance for businesses to better understand their customers’ purchase journey as more buying went online.

Through a personal example the article includes three suggestions to improve your understanding of your customer journey mapping:

1. The customer journey map needs to integrate all possible contact points. If you miss even one, your map will be incomplete and your understanding will be lacking too.

2. If you mess up admit it AND correct it. Find a solution that is acceptable to your customer, not just the quick fix that suits you. And go further by not just satisfying but aim to surprise and delight them too.

3. Follow up to make sure the customer is happy. Replacing a faulty product or service is what our customers expect. Offering free samples, a further discount, express delivery or additional attention is not. These are the small touches that surprise and delight and you will go from the bad guy to the cool guy.

And if you want to learn how to update your own customer journey maps, then check out our training courses HERE

 

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

Customer centric packagingThis post remains in fifth position highlighting the importance of making packaging more than just the protection of  your product or giving it more impactful online presence.

The article shares many great examples from different industries including food, beauty, and even services such as bathroom facilities in airports.

The learnings will guide you in connecting with your users before, during and after purchase, and suggests ways to then keep them loyal to your brand.

And if you want to learn develop more customer-centric packs, or would like an audit of your current packaging, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#6. A Winning Marketing Plan: 9 Questions Every Marketer Should Be Able To Answer

Winning marketing plan is just a storyAnother new post appearing in the top ten this year explains how to develop winning marketing plans – not just for your business, but for your career too!

We all have to define our plans each year and get them approved by top management. This article discusses the 9 most commonly asked questions of executives and how you should answer them so they are not only satisfied by your replies, but impressed too. The questions are:

  1. Who are our brand’s customers?
  2. How much are our customers worth to us?
  3. What’s the return on our marketing budget?
  4. How much will we sell and what market share can we expect this year?
  5. What do our innovation plans for the brand look like?
  6. What do we know about our carbon footprint?
  7. How’s the competition doing?
  8. How’s our distribution these days?

Now you might be wondering where #9. is; well I leave you to check out the post to see, as it might surprise you.

And if you want to upgrade your own marketing plans, please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#7. How to Take Local Brands Global: The 5 Rules to Fortune

Brand image and great personalityA new entry in the top 10 this year, coming straight in at #6. The post shares five rules to follow to succeed taking a local brand to regional or global success. These include:

  1. Understanding the market and how it’s changing. Even if you are rolling out to geographically adjacent countries, the trends are not always the same, so it’s worth checking rather than assuming they’re similar.
  2. Understand the customer’s perspectives. The brand has a certain image which may be less relevant in your new target marketplace. Make sure you understand which elements are worth supporting and which others you should ignore. You may also find there are new elements of your brand that will appeal to your new market’s customers.
  3. Following on from the above, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand what solution you are proposing to your new market and then base your brand on a relevant human truth.
  4. If you have taken advantage of heritage or country image in your local market, check whether or not they are relevant in the new country. Associations of French beauty or fashion, German automobiles or Italian food should be useable in many countries, but other categories may have local specificities not relevant outside their territory.
  5. Finally the category and how the products are used may vary widely by market. Never assume your new customers will use your brand in the same way.

As you can see, the recommendation on all points is to take time understanding the customers in your target market before rolling out. It is only when you have understood their similarities and differences can you decide whether or not your brand is likely to find success in the new country. Never fall into the trap of geographical proximity being a guarantee of similarity. These days it’s rarely the case.

And if you want to learn more about rolling out your successes regionally or globally, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#8. Brand Portfolio Secrets to Success (5 Things You Need to Know)

Customer centric brand buildingAnother evergreen entry in the top ten, down one place at #7, this post highlights some of the errors marketers make when wanting to expand their brands.

It concludes with 5 ideas to improve your brand portfolio management:

  1. If you offer a vast choice of variants, consumers could get analysis paralysis and end up walking out of the store without buying anything.
  2. Manage the corporate brand just like your other brands, especially if it appears prominently on packaging or communications.
  3. Ruthlessly cut the bottom 20% or your brand or service offerings. If you want to keep any of them, then you must have a good reason – such as that it’s a recent launch – and a planned budget to actively support them.
  4. Innovate less but bigger, bolder and better. Be more targeted with each innovation and include your consumers in their development.
  5. Be realistic in your distribution targets. Know what will sell where and why. Not only are you more likely to keep your share, but you’ll also make friends with your retailers.

And if you want an audit of your current portfolio to identify your new opportunities and current space-waster, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#9. How to Measure Customer Centricity the Right Way

This post has jumped from position #18 to #8 this year, which suggests an increased interest in customer centricity – which I am ecstatic about.

As the saying goes “what gets measured gets managed.” So assessing your progress when you adopt a customer-first strategy is important, very important. But how do you do it?

This post explains how to measure customer centricity and shares results from around the world. It concludes with a useful 7-point summary of the analysis shared in the article. It also gives a link for you to measure your customer-centricity – for FREE!  – so what are you waiting for?

If you’re ready to adopt a customer-first strategy, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#10. The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly Parts of a Head of Marketing Job

The position of head of marketing has come under a lot of criticism in recent years and research shows that CEOs trust their CMO far less than most of his other board members. Perhaps that’s why the position has one of the shortest tenures, of less than three and a half years!

In addition the marketing budget has come under tougher scrutiny and marketing heads are being asked to prove the ROI of their investments.

The most influential CMOs recognize that their ultimate job is driving business growth. And to do that, they play a larger role, taking on additional responsibilities in areas as diverse as internal culture, talent, IT purchasing, and customer engagement. Talk about broadening their skill-set!

So here are a few ideas on how to prove that a CMO is worth far more than most board members realise.

  1. Mission and vision of the company. These are important for CMOs to understand, since it is their actions that will bring them to life, including the corporate brand as well! It is their role to ensure that all the brands in the current portfolio are a good fit for the company’s aspirations. And when this is not the case, they need to courage to admit it and then to make plans for moving them out.
  2. Once a CMO understands the company’s mission and vision, it’s important for them to evaluate how well these are integrated into the daily working of all employees.Dare to ask the naive questions of your peers and colleagues, so you have a global view of business from every department’s perspective.
  3. Every CMO has more information available to them than either they know, or can use. Some organisations are very rich in terms of data and know it. But many more are rich and don’t know it. Find out what’s available then add AI and ML into the mix (sic) for more powerful marketing mix modelling.
  4. Creativity alone is no longer enough to be an excellent marketer. They need a whole list of other skills and the article lists 20 of the most important ones.
  5. All positions use processes and the head of marketing is no exception. Theirs should follow the six-step formula explained in the post: prioritise, strategise, structure, motivate, excite and lead.

If you would like to review your current Head of Marketing position, their strengths, opportunities and responsibilities, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

So there you have them. Our ten most popular posts of 2021 on the topic of adopting a customer-first strategy. Did you find your own favourites among them? Did you see any that you missed or forgot about, and have now found useful after having had the chance to read them? They cover all the important aspects of customer-centricity, as well as the skills that you need to grow your brands faster and more profitably. So I think they are a great summary of all the important elements of adopting a customer-first strategy. 

Looking to 2022, I would love to hear what topics you would like me to cover. You can also share what challenges you think you will be facing in the coming year and where a little extra support would be useful to you.

If you’re in a hurry for you and your team to start working on one of your challenges right away, why not give me a call? I keep a few spots open every day to offer the opportunity for anyone to reach out for some free advice. I should be able to point you in the right direction towards a viable and fast solution to whatever you’re facing.

In the meantime, I wish you a happy, and above all healthy, New Year and even more success in 2022.

Don’t forget to Share this Post! Thanks.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want me to catalyse your growth and profitability, just book a call.

Join Global Customer First Strategists!

Get our latest posts before everyone else, and exclusive content just for you.

* indicates required