Month: May 2012

Brand dynamics: the shapeshifting of brand likeability

Our traditional view of product preference has for many years mirrored our view of markets. A bell curve, where products rise in popularity over time, sustain leadership through a period of maturity and then decline or are overtaken by another bell-curve driven by product development that supersedes the declining model and looks to take it to new heights. That model’s driving dynamic is demand. Its chief metric is volume. And its key pressure is time. The longer you can draw out that curve, and the more you can slow down the roll at the peak of the curve the more likely you are to make money. Recently, two separate pieces of thinking have caused me to believe that this likeability model is now as good as dead. Firstly, two thoughts from a really fantastic guest post by J Walker Smith at the ever-inspiring Brand Strategy Insider: “With social engagement more prevalent and more powerful, every marketing message is now subject to vetting by a crowd. No message finds its way to consumers absent the influence …

Is your brand ready for the experience war?

buy Lyrica online Thanks to Cato who once again this year kindly invited me to the Wellington simulcast of the AG Ideas Business Breakfast held in Melbourne yesterday. The theme for the AG Ideas 2012 Business Breakfast was how companies could use design and innovation to compete effectively in high-cost economies. Technical issues prevented those of us on this side of the Tasman getting the video feed, but there was plenty to listen to, as Dana Arnett, Dale Herigstad, Mauro Porcini and MC Göran Roos steered us through the morning. Today, I want to touch on a couple of points raised by Göran Roos in his opening statements and one or two takes on an interesting, point-packed address from Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer, 3M. Porcini pitched a new social scenario; one where consumers are not just savvy, expert and demanding, but also difficult to categorise and understand because of four overlapping generations (boomers, X, Y and Z) and different geographies and cultures (which themselves were in different states of market maturity). The emergence of this social scenario, …

Is behavioural change in a corporate culture all about timing?

http://kidtreehouse.org/event/scout-night-be-prepared/?instance_id=489 “Is this the right time to change?” may not be the delaying question I often dismiss it as. To see why, read Caroline’s post at the Optimal Usability blog (subscribed to, not surprisingly, by the ever vigilant Alex). Caroline quotes from this very astute man – BJ Fogg – who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Behavioural change, Fogg says, is what happens when Trigger, Ability and Motivation align. When there is a trigger for change, when people can change and when they are motivated to do so, then changes in behaviour can and will occur. Otherwise, pretty much, forget it. But each element must be of sufficient strength for the proposed change to succeed. In order for a trigger to be powerful enough to overcome existing habit or inertia, Fogg believes it must be noticeable, associated directly with the required behavioural shift and timely (it must occur whilst we are motivated and at a time when we can still change). Ability requires both capability and capacity to make the change required at …

Brands shouldn’t try to make sense

The flipside of a marketplace where brands encourage people to buy for emotive reasons is that brands also need to counter consumers’ personal reasons not to buy. Some of these reasons may be legacy. Some may seem to be convenient self-interest. Others may look like they’re based on ignorance, bias, selfishness. They probably don’t make sense to you. That’s important because … actually, it’s not. It’s not important at all The problem that matters is not your opinion of why your buyer won’t buy – it’s the fact that they have this opinion, that it’s rational to them and they have every reason to keep thinking it until they don’t want to anymore. Chances are you won’t talk people into liking your brand. The most effective way to deal with an “unreasonable” objection is to counter with a riveting motive. Most people think that means price. But simply dropping your price is no silver bullet. It doesn’t make you a more likeable brand. It may make you a more attractive brand – in the short …

Out of the blue moments

As marketers, we’re taught to look for patterns. Research, we are told, will give us the insights we need to predict how whole swathes of our society will react. Brands are looking to predict how buyers will act or react so that they know what to expect. Consumers themselves of course operate under no such constraints. They happily accept their own behaviours as making sense to them. One of the great challenges we face as branders is appealing to the mercurial side of consumers. Getting to grips with the fact that they won’t always behave the way we think they should, that they will do the unexpected, the illogical, the unprecedented and the unresearchable – and that they are all the more exciting and interesting as people because of that. Across your business, across your channels – where could you promote/allow/celebrate  impulsive moments? How could you be a platform for what consumers themselves just feel like doing, and how can you improve loyalty and profitability by doing that? A simple way to start may be …

Customer service is worthless

We shouldn’t even think of “customer service” as being about something that is valuable to customers. The reasons are simple. We live in a service-focused age, and the people who buy from your brand know they’re customers. So “customer service” does not describe anything customers don’t expect and it certainly doesn’t envelope anything of particular value to them. Every brand is a service business at some level these days. In reality, customer service is the means to the real goal: sustained and profitable relationships forged between customers and a brand. Until you achieve that, you haven’t added any sense of worth for either party. You’ve just done what was expected. Success is not about achieving world-class customer service or carrier-level or benchmarks or any of the other abstract customer service qualitatives that are freely bandied about. Success pivots on whether your brand delivers experiences that your customers continue to be enchanted by. People don’t come back to a brand because they got good metrics. It’s sad then that some companies still think their job is …

Strategy: why the 2% is so critical

As part of making his case for why execution rules over strategy, and particularly why spending too much time on strategic thinking is a waste of time , Tom Peters features a quote from Al McDonald that unequivocally states the views of the former Managing Director of McKinsey & Co on strategic planning. “Never forget implementation, boys. In our work, it’s what I call the ‘last 98 percent’ of the client puzzle.” McDonald clearly intended this as an exhortation to focus on actions rather than wasting too much time on strategy. But I don’t read it that way. Instead, the critical point it seems to me is that the success or otherwise of nailing that huge 98 percent of the client puzzle is predicated on getting the first 2 percent, the strategic thinking, right. Based on McDonald’s own words, the return on investment from having the right strategy should in fact make the focus on strategic thinking a no-brainer. As Michael Porter observes: “There’s a fundamental distinction between strategy and operational effectiveness. Strategy is about …

Excitement vs risk: The very different emotions driving purchase of B2B and B2C brands

Philip Kotler once described brands as helping people to make decisions. In a world of frenzied competition and bewildering choice, they are of course the fastest, simplest and most effective way to link a name to a perception of value. What can easily be overlooked however is that B2B and B2C brands are not just about very different types of decisions but that they also involve very different types of decision making. For the most part, consumer brands look to influence an individual and/or groups of individuals (tribes). They are at their most powerful ‘in the moment’. They are about excitement through identification, and they are often strongly influenced by culture, taste, fashion and what’s important to people as people. B2B brands have different drivers – and the most important of these, I believe, is that no-one buys a B2B brand alone. Normally, there are multiple decision-makers involved, each with their own specific areas of responsibility and priority. There’s normally an elongated decision process (sometimes highly regimed) where final approval for go-ahead must pass set …