Category Archives: Marketing Innovation

Look Inside a Woman’s Purse

By: Tom Ewing, Senior Director, System1 Group

Purse“First I look at the purse” sang Motown’s The Countours. Kelley Styring, principal of InsightFarm, would sympathise. In 2006, then again in 2016, she asked hundreds of women to empty out their purses in the name of science. Her project, “an archaeology of the American handbag”, explores the meaning both personal and practical of purses – and, er, ‘murses’, since men are carrying them too: one of the big shifts between waves of the study. (The men themselves might prefer the term ‘satchels’.)

Between them, the purse-carrying women and men of America are toting an astonishing 271 million bags: “homes away from home” which are a remarkable commercial opportunity for any company making things that might find their way into them. But this opportunity is poorly understood, and manufacturers of both purses and purse contents are failing their customers, according to Styring. The interior of a purse is an extremely hostile environment, halfway between a tumble-dryer and a lucky dip, and the lipsticks, coupons, receipts, and headphone cords which find their way in are prone to gradually degrade into either trash or “digital hairballs”. The purse is both beautifully practical – a little bag you can carry your life’s essentials in – and desperately unwieldy during the precious seconds when you’re trying to get something out of it.

Styring’s entertaining presentation married survey research and ethnography to explore not just what’s in America’s purses (1 in 10 contains a weapon, though the main categories are money, cards, phones, personal care, and keys) but what they mean. She explored the Circle of Preparedness – the way the contents of a purse enable its carrier to be ready to help herself, her family, her friends and often complete strangers who need a band-aid, a pen, or a light. The purse is an entry point into adulthood for women in their early teens for whom it becomes a mobile resource for their newfound independence, carrying money, phones and sanitary items. Gain entry to a purse in these formative years and categories and brands can make a customer for life.

But the purse is also a kind of limbo, into which items are placed and forgotten: one woman Styring surveyed turned out to be carrying 17 different pens, mostly promotional ones liberated from stores and banks. Unwanted receipts, degraded tissues, and forgotten gewgaws fight for space with genuine essentials. And into this behavioural melting pot, an unexpected interloper has found its way between 2006 and now: the smartphone.

Behaviours around smartphones both complement and duplicate behaviours around purses. Both are connectors – bridges between home (where needs are made) and the store (where needs are satisfied). Both are also ways of organising and making portable one’s everyday life – the purse content categories which dropped off between ways are things like coupons, which are increasingly being replaced by e-commerce and m-commerce offers. Despite this, the weight and the number of items in purses remained constant over the last decade – for every obsolete category, some new item comes to take their place.

Smartphones and purses may overlap in function, but purses are also where you put your phone. This integration between digital order and physical mess is where Strying sees some of the billions of dollars of innovation potential in the world of the purse. What will smart purses look like – ones that respond to being opened with useful information, or which establish a cone of RFID silence to protect their bearer? There are also plenty of purely physical problems still to solve – there must be a way of designing purse contents for the dangerous environments they are placed in.

Styring’s presentation was a delight –rich in insights and stories: her firm InsightFarm has published a book detailing the results of the second wave. You came away feeling that her study was rather like a purse itself: elegantly designed, compact, and full of both useful stuff and unexpected surprises.

Article reposted by permission of KNect365. View original article here.

KNect365, the Knowledge & Networking Division of Informa, organizes high-quality, content-driven events and programs that enable specialist communities to meet, connect, network and share knowledge. KNect365 provides digital content, memorable face to face experiences, networking and professional development and learning for customers in key industry verticals, including Finance, Life Sciences and Technology.

How a Creative Legal Leap Helped Create Vast Wealth

In 1911, someone asked Butler to name the most important invention of the industrial era.

Steam, perhaps? Electricity?

"No," he said. They would both "be reduced to comparative impotence" without "the greatest single discovery of modern times" - the limited liability corporation.

It seems odd to say the corporation was "discovered". But it didn't just appear from nowhere.

Creative legal leap

The word "incorporate" means take on bodily form - not a physical body, but a legal one.

In the law's eyes, a corporation is something different from the people who own it, or run it, or work for it.

And that's a concept lawmakers had to dream up.

Without laws saying that a corporation can do certain things - such as own assets, or enter into contracts - the word would be meaningless.

The legal ingredients that comprise a corporation came together in a form we would recognise in England, on New Year's Eve, in 1600.

Back then, creating a corporation didn't simply involve filing in some routine forms - you needed a royal charter.

And you couldn't incorporate with the general aim of doing business and making profits - a corporation's charter specifically said what it was allowed to do, and often also stipulated that nobody else was allowed to do it.

The headquarters of the powerful East India Company, Leadenhall Street, London pictured in 1800Image copyright ALAMY

The legal body created that New Year's Eve was the Honourable East India Company, charged with handling all of England's shipping trade east of the Cape of Good Hope.

Liability liberation

Its shareholders were 218 merchants. Crucially - and unusually - the charter granted those merchants limited liability for the company's actions.

Why was that so important? Because otherwise, investors were personally liable for everything the business did.

If you partnered in a business that ran up debts it couldn't pay, its debtors could come after you - not just for the value of your investment, but for everything you owned.

That's worth thinking about: whose business might you be willing to invest in, if you knew that it could lose you your home, and even land you in prison?

Perhaps a close family member's? At a push, a trusted friend's?

The way we invest today - buying shares in companies whose managers we will never meet - would be unthinkable. And that would severely limit the amount of capital a business venture could raise.

The first fleet of the East India Company leaving Woolwich in 1601, pictured in Cassell's Illustrated Universal History' in 1882Image copyrightALAMY

Back in the 1500s, perhaps that wasn't much of a problem. Most business was local, and personal. But handling England's trade with half the world was a weighty undertaking.

Over the next two centuries, the East India Company grew to look less like a trading business than a colonial government.

At its peak, it ruled 90 million Indians and employed an army of 200,000 soldiers. It had a meritocratic civil service and issued its own coins.

Half Anna East India Company coins of 1818Image copyright ALAMY

Meanwhile, the idea of limited liability caught on.

In 1811, New York state introduced it, not as a royal privilege, but for any manufacturing company. Other states and countries followed, including the world's leading economy, Britain, in 1854.

Industrial growth

Not everyone approved. The Economist magazine was initially sniffy, pointing out that if people wanted limited liability they could agree it through private contracts.

But the limited liability company would prove its worth. The new industrial technologies of the 19th Century needed lots of capital.

A railway company, for example, needed to raise large sums to lay tracks before it could make a penny in profit. How many investors would risk everything on its success? Not many.

Soon, The Economist was gushing that the unknown inventors of limited liability deserved "a place of honour with Watt, Stephenson and other pioneers of the industrial revolution".

But the limited liability corporation has its problems, one of which was obvious to the father of modern economic thought, Adam Smith.

Adam SmithImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

In The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, Smith dismissed the idea that professional managers would do a good job of looking after shareholders' money.

"It cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which partners in a private co-partnery frequently watch over their own," he wrote.

In principle, Smith was right. There's always a temptation for managers to play fast and loose with investors' money.

Maximising profit

We've evolved corporate governance laws to try to protect shareholders, but they haven't always succeeded, as investors in Enron or Lehman Brothers might tell you.

And they generate their own tensions.

Enron logoImage copyright AFP

Consider the fashionable idea of "corporate social responsibility" - where a company might donate to charity, or decide to embrace higher labour or environmental standards than those stipulated in law.

It can be clever brand-building, and in some cases may result in higher sales. In others, managers may be using shareholders' money to buy social status or a quiet life.

For that reason, the economist Milton Friedman argued that "the social responsibility of business is to maximise its profits". If it's legal, and it makes money, they should do it. And if people don't like it, don't blame the company - change the law.

The trouble is that companies can influence the law, too. They can fund lobbyists. They can donate to electoral candidates' campaigns.

Short-sighted?

The East India Company quickly learned the value of maintaining cosy relationships with British politicians, who duly bailed it out whenever it got into trouble.

In 1770, for example, a famine in Bengal clobbered the company's revenue. British legislators saved it from bankruptcy, by exempting it from tariffs on tea exports to the American colonies, which was, perhaps, short-sighted on their part: it eventually led to the Boston Tea Party, and the American Declaration of Independence.

A copy of the American Declaration of IndependenceImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

You could say the United States owes its existence to excessive corporate influence on politicians.

And arguably, corporate power is even greater today, for a simple reason: in a global economy, corporations can threaten to move offshore.

When Britain's lawmakers eventually grew tired of the East India Company's demands, they had the ultimate sanction: in 1874, they revoked its charter.

For multinationals with opaque ownership structures, that threat is effectively off the table.

Power of hierarchy

We often think of ourselves as living in a world where free market capitalism is the dominant force. Few want a return to the command economies of Mao or Stalin, where hierarchies, not markets, decided what to produce.

And yet hierarchies, not markets, are exactly how decisions are taken within companies.

When a receptionist or an accounts payable clerk makes a decision, they're not doing so because the price of soy beans has risen. They're following orders from the boss.

In the US, bastion of free-market capitalism, about half of all private sector employees work for companies with a payroll of at least 500.

Some argue that companies have grown too big, too influential.

In 2016, Pew Research asked Americans if they thought the economic system was "generally fair", or "unfairly favours powerful interests". By two to one, unfair won. Even The Economist worries that regulators are now too timid about exposing market-dominating companies to a blast of healthy competition.

But let's not forget what the limited liability company has done for us.

By helping investors pool their capital without taking unacceptable risks, it enabled big industrial projects, stock markets and index funds. It played a foundational role in creating the modern economy.

Tim Harford writes the Financial Times's Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme's sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

Article from BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40674240

How a Case of Laryngitis Helped Me Find My Voice and Grow as a Leader

By Deb Gabor
 
As a brand strategist, author, and public speaker, I rely upon my voice and storytelling ability to make a living. I’ve observed that my interpersonal communication style is less 1:1 and more “broadcast” in nature. I get in a room full of people, position myself directly in the center, and hold court. At a leadership conference featuring 10-hour days of training and intense strategy sessions for 1500 member leaders and staffers of a global organization of chief executives of private companies, I lost my voice…and at the same time found it. Along the way, I learned how developing deep emotional connections with individuals and practicing the art of followership can contribute to my growth as a leader.
 
About two days into the conference, I conceded defeat to a case of laryngitis that rendered me mute. Unable to speak above a whisper, I carried around a handwritten sign detailing my name, my role, and my hometown. Without my voice, I could no longer rely upon my trademark extrovert friendliness and ability to get a conversation going among strangers. I couldn’t raise my hand to ask questions that make me look smart to the rest of the room. I couldn’t make insightful observations that position me as an expert in my field. Instead of the center of attention, I was an audience member, skirting the fringes of conversational groups. Instead of a speaker, I was a listener. Instead of a leader, I was a follower.
 
Throughout my career, managers have recognized me for my brusque and direct communication style and tough-but-fair management approach, which typify what the Chinese call the masculine “yang” side of my energy. However, abundance, emotional closeness, and nurturing come from our feminine “yin” side. While I value these qualities in my personal life, I never knew the potential they could have for me in business.
 
During my unintentional silent retreat, I came face to face – or rather mouth to ear – with fascinating people with whom I may have never had a conversation. I whispered in people’s ears, drawing them into my personal space so I could get my points across. Even though I could hear them fine, my new acquaintances reciprocated by leaning in and whispering in my ear, instantly forming intimate bonds. There’s something about feeling a stranger’s breath on your face that makes you dispense with traditional pleasantries and small talk. Through these deep, one on one conversations, I learned about other CEOs’ joys, fears, and vulnerabilities. I listened closely to their observations about the frenzied conference activity going on around us. We talked about global politics, employees, taxes, our kids, relationships. We formed bonds that normally take business people years to nurture. I listened; I learned, and I was inspired.
 
For about four days I practiced a type of leadership I’ll call “followership.” The business world has validated my compulsion to speak up and assume responsibility for the strategies and tasks that I ignorantly thought everyone else was incapable of. As a result of my unrelenting desire to assert my authority over everything, I missed the fact that there are others who are capable and desirous of owning and doing things. Most of them are smarter and better than I.
 
In my life as an extrovert with a loud, confident voice and a healthy ego, I did most of the talking – closing off conversational threads and ideas coming from others. I learned that much of my leadership style is based upon being a hero and feeding my own ego. And that has been at the expense of some really worthwhile relationships and ideas.
 
I had two big ah-hahs from my voice loss:
 
1) My assumption that the state of leadership is a lonely existence is largely incorrect. It really doesn’t have to be. Any loneliness I have felt as a leader has been self-inflicted. The “holding court” style of communication has blocked me from developing vital and meaningful relationships with other humans (employees, colleagues, clients, mentors, friends) that have the power to inspire and nourish me in ways I never thought possible.
 
2) No one can (or should) lead all the time. Followership is the other side of leadership. Followership is the ability to take direction, to enthusiastically support a program, to be part of a team, and to deliver on promises. The concept of followership doesn’t get a lot of airtime because being a follower isn’t fun or sexy. They don’t really teach it in business school, and it certainly isn’t trumpeted as a key to sustainable business success. But followership delivers great rewards. Sitting back and letting others share their ideas, strategies, and responsibility for executing lets creativity flourish and empowers other people to grow as leaders themselves.
 
I have since returned to my day job and regained my speaking voice. I am consciously letting others hold court - although, this is really difficult for me. I am letting others speak up, and I am actively and attentively listening. I am peeling off individuals to connect with them more on a one-on-one basis so I can really understand what drives and scares them. Perhaps most importantly, I am letting others step up to be in charge, putting my voice and my ego in check, with great positive impact in my business.
 
Deb Gabor is the author of Branding is Sex: Get Your Customers Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything. She is the founder of Sol Marketing which has led brand strategy engagements for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Microsoft, and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger, HomeAway and RetailMeNot, and dozens of early-stage tech and digital media titans. For more information, please visit www.solmarketing.com and connect with Deb on Twitter, @deb_sol.

Innovation Leadership: Managing Your Resources

BudgetAs an innovation leader, you are now responsible for a bundle of resources that you’ll need to get the job done. Those resources include human resources - your team - and also include financial resources in the form of a budget.

But a good leader thinks about resources beyond just human and financial. You may have tangible resources like physical products and distribution outlets. You may have intangible resources like brand reputations. And you have resources in the form of relationships. You have internal relationships like with your peers, and you have plenty of external relationships, with your customers, your suppliers, and your marketing services firms.

So, start your new role by taking a careful inventory of your resources and commit to being a responsible steward of them. Ask yourself, what exactly do I have on hand? What condition are they in? Do I have the right resources and enough to accomplish my goals?

Now, you may not be able to answer those questions right away, but you have to keep them in mind now so you don’t lose sight of them later. Let’s explore some issues you may face when managing your marketing resources.

In terms of human resources, you need to build a competent team. So keep these guiding principles in mind. Ask yourself, who are my A players, who are my B players that can developed into A players, and who are my C players that need to be moved off the team...as soon as possible? You’ll want to work closely with your HR partner, beginning Day One.

Now look at financial resources. You probably got some direction from your boss, but now it’s time to dig a little deeper. Meet with your financial partners and learn as much as you can about your budget. What is the process to set the budget? What is the process to spend it? How is it allocated? What have been the trends in spending? What areas of spending are getting the most bang for the buck?

Now, take a close look at your products and services. How are old are they, and when were they last updated? How do they perform, feature by feature, versus the competition? What needs to be improved? And, which ones may need to be retired to free up resources for new opportunities?

How do you sell your products and services? Examine your channels of distribution. What assets are there like warehouses and distribution centers? What channel partners do you have, and what role do they play? Most importantly, what information about your customers is being collected and who has it? How is that information being used?

Finally, what is your brand equity? Are customers loyal? What is your rate of retention? How satisfied are your customers?

This resource - your base of customers - may be your most important. You need to understand what gives you the right to win in the marketplace. THAT is your golden egg as we call it, and you want to take very good care of it.

 

Learn more about Leading a Marketing Team.

Segmentation is Killing Your Brand: Five Reasons To Find Your Unicorn Customer

by Deb Gabor

Brand deadA store is a place you go to buy stuff, usually out of convenience or habit. In contrast, brands inspire irrational loyalty and yes, even love. How does a company build itself into a brand that people can fall deeply, madly in
love with? The old model says segmentation is the key to business success. This involves strategically dividing your potential customers into groups based on who they are and why/how they’re buying. Segmentation is a fine marketing tactic, but it won’t help build a brand people can wholeheartedly rally behind. In fact, segmentation can even work against a brand by diluting the brand identity. In order to build the type of brand that customers can fall in love with, you must first create a detailed picture of your ideal "unicorn" customer.

Let me start with a real-world example of one brand that I personally worked with. This company is one of the world’s largest retailers of hookahs and hookah supplies. When I asked them who they thought their ideal customer was, they described an older Middle-Eastern man. In fact, their ideal customer – the person most likely to bring in the most amount of revenue for this company over time – was a young guy between the ages of 18-28, who wants to bring people together around the hookah. He is a discerning, curious, fun-loving hookah enthusiast who knows that the most memorable and fun hookah experiences start with the right equipment, accessories, and shisha tobacco. He wants to be the life of the hookah party. You can see why he’s the ideal customer.

This example clearly demonstrates how to define this ideal customer. First, start by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Who is the customer who will be worth the most over the long haul?
  2. Who will be the customer who is the most profitable and delightful to serve?
  3. Who will not only keep buying from you again and again but will recommend you to others?

Then, create an in-depth profile of this customer – the person who is most highly predictive of your brand’s success. Imagine the ideal customer in excruciating detail: What kind of car do they drive? What clothing do they wear? What’s their perfume? Every minute detail must be worked out in your mind so this person becomes as real as possible. To help you fill in the details, consider doing the opposite of segmentation. Think about what unites your customers, and create a singular brand that is for a singular customer archetype.

What are the benefits of identifying the ideal “unicorn” customer?

  • Build a stronger brand identity. If a brand can clearly define who its biggest brand champion is, then more doors will open than previously imaginable. The creative process will become easier, and everything the brand does will be more thoroughly informed by this one anchoring concept. The brand purpose becomes unified and less fragmented, making it stronger and more appealing to customers.
  • Create a brand that your team can rally behind and be truly passionate about. When you build a brand with a strong identity and purpose, you can then recruit people to be part of the team who also feel strongly about the brand purpose. It’s much easier to inspire the team to put in extra work when they feel like the brand is something worth working for. In fact, it starts to feel less like work and more like plain old fun.
  • Make the brand more human. Thinking about the ideal customer as an actual person will help you think about the brand in more emotional terms. The result is a brand that people can relate to on an emotional level.
  • Inspire irrational customer loyalty. A strong brand identity makes for a strong company that instills customers with confidence. This means that people come back even if they’re dissatisfied simply because they love the brand and they know the brand will redeem itself.
  • Help to better inform segmentation. Without a clear brand identity, segment marketing is like driving around without a clear destination in mind. You might find some interesting things along the way, but you’ll waste time and gas, and you will probably find yourself getting a bit lost. Build a brand first, and then use segmentation to help spread your awesome brand identity far and wide.

Is Segmentation Dead?

Segment marketing has its place, and identifying the ideal customer archetype shouldn’t replace segmentation practices. But if your boss has asked you to go out and segment the market, you are probably putting the cart before the horse. First you have to identify the ideal customer, and then you can think about segmentation. Remember, you’re building a brand for ONE and segmenting the market to get your actual product or service in front of many.

If you want to make yourself more attractive to the man or woman of your dreams, you don’t start off by researching all the people in the world who might find you attractive. You focus in on that one person – your ideal mate – and learn everything you can about them – their favorite flowers, what TV shows they like, what they do on Friday nights. In order to build a brand, you have to approach your customers in a similar way. Learn more about the ideal customer and let those insights inform the brand identity. Segmentation can help in marketing, but it’s not going to help build a brand that customers can fall in love with. Finding your "unicorn" customer will.

 

Deb Gabor is the author of Branding is Sex: Get Your Customers Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything. She is the founder of Sol Marketing which has led brand strategy engagements for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Microsoft, and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger, HomeAway and RetailMeNot, and dozens of early-stage tech and digital media titans. For more information, please visit www.solmarketing.com and connect with Deb on Twitter, @deb_sol.

Getting the Right Talent for Innovation

TeamPerhaps the most important role of the innovation leader is creating a competent team. For that reason alone, it’s one of the most challenging. It’s a constant fight for talent. You may have the best products and services in the market, but without a strong, talented marketing team behind them, you’ll start losing ground to the competition.

Building a competent team begins with recruiting and hiring the right people. But it takes much more than just telling your human resources department to go fill open slots. Top innovation leaders get actively involved. When is the best time to recruit marketing people? All the time! What I mean by that is you should think of recruiting as an ongoing activity. You need a pipeline of potential marketers ready to step in when a position opens up.

When I hire innovation team member, I always look for certain characteristics beyond just job experience and track record. I look for people who are competitive by nature, who have a high tolerance for ambiguity, who are great at networking, and who have a good head for numbers. Creating new products and services is a cash generating activity, so you’ve got to have solid financial skills.

Notice I didn’t mention specific commercial skills like branding or marketing research. That’s because innovation can be learned like any skill. You, as the marketing leader, need to establish a strong, well-defined training and development program for your entire organization. Be sure to make it an annual, on-going activity, not just a one time event. Training is an investment. For some examples, check out my other fundamentals courses on marketing, innovation, and branding. They’ll give you a good head start.

Innovators like to perform at high levels, but they have to be motivated. You, as the innovation leader, play the key role in doing that. Innovators are at their best when they feel a sense of purpose. They have to feel good that the products and services they put into the marketplace are valued by their customers. Innovators need to feel appreciated for the work they do and the risks they take. And they need to be rewarded and recognized for their accomplishments.

Be sure to use a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and do it throughout the year, not just at the annual meeting. Now here’s a tip. A great way to recognize innovators is to have one of your key customers present an award in front of their peers. That really ties it all together - a sense of purpose, a sense of appreciation, and a sense of recognition.

Creating a competent teams means getting the right talent, but also dealing with under performers. The mistake you can make is thinking that just hiring a few superstars will make up for the weaker talent. Just the opposite will occur. The superstars will get frustrated, demotivated, and they’ll eventually leave if they don’t think you’re dealing with the poor performers.

Your under performers either lack the skill to do the job or the will to do it. You have to have clear conversations with them to understand why they’re not performing, then set clear expectations and deadlines when they need to turn things around. If they don’t improve, they’re a liability to you and your team. You’ll lose credibility inside and outside the department if you don’t take action.

So take a look at your talent pool. Understand your team’s strengths and weakness, then put the right hiring, training, and motivational programs in place to keep upgrading your team year after year. That way, you’ll keep winning the fight for talent.

Getting the Right Talent for Innovation

TeamPerhaps the most important role of the innovation leader is creating a competent team. For that reason alone, it’s one of the most challenging. It’s a constant fight for talent. You may have the best products and services in the market, but without a strong, talented marketing team behind them, you’ll start losing ground to the competition.

Building a competent team begins with recruiting and hiring the right people. But it takes much more than just telling your human resources department to go fill open slots. Top innovation leaders get actively involved. When is the best time to recruit marketing people? All the time! What I mean by that is you should think of recruiting as an ongoing activity. You need a pipeline of potential marketers ready to step in when a position opens up.

When I hire innovation team member, I always look for certain characteristics beyond just job experience and track record. I look for people who are competitive by nature, who have a high tolerance for ambiguity, who are great at networking, and who have a good head for numbers. Creating new products and services is a cash generating activity, so you’ve got to have solid financial skills.

Notice I didn’t mention specific commercial skills like branding or marketing research. That’s because innovation can be learned like any skill. You, as the marketing leader, need to establish a strong, well-defined training and development program for your entire organization. Be sure to make it an annual, on-going activity, not just a one time event. Training is an investment. For some examples, check out my other fundamentals courses on marketing, innovation, and branding. They’ll give you a good head start.

Innovators like to perform at high levels, but they have to be motivated. You, as the innovation leader, play the key role in doing that. Innovators are at their best when they feel a sense of purpose. They have to feel good that the products and services they put into the marketplace are valued by their customers. Innovators need to feel appreciated for the work they do and the risks they take. And they need to be rewarded and recognized for their accomplishments.

Be sure to use a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and do it throughout the year, not just at the annual meeting. Now here’s a tip. A great way to recognize innovators is to have one of your key customers present an award in front of their peers. That really ties it all together - a sense of purpose, a sense of appreciation, and a sense of recognition.

Creating a competent teams means getting the right talent, but also dealing with under performers. The mistake you can make is thinking that just hiring a few superstars will make up for the weaker talent. Just the opposite will occur. The superstars will get frustrated, demotivated, and they’ll eventually leave if they don’t think you’re dealing with the poor performers.

Your under performers either lack the skill to do the job or the will to do it. You have to have clear conversations with them to understand why they’re not performing, then set clear expectations and deadlines when they need to turn things around. If they don’t improve, they’re a liability to you and your team. You’ll lose credibility inside and outside the department if you don’t take action.

So take a look at your talent pool. Understand your team’s strengths and weakness, then put the right hiring, training, and motivational programs in place to keep upgrading your team year after year. That way, you’ll keep winning the fight for talent.

How Innovation Affects Brand Loyalty

Brand loyaltyA company that retains a high percentage of its customers must be doing a lot of things right. That’s why Retention Rate is the best indicator of a company’s long term viability.

But keeping customers can be very challenging. To succeed, you need to understand how and why your customers buy your products and how innovating can affect their type of loyalty they have. There are four types of purchasing styles.

First is Brand Laziness. That’s when customers want to exert minimal buying effort. They don’t want to be bogged down with a lot of information. They just want to buy something.

Consumers use this style with old, familiar products and services that have worked well in the past, so they buy them out of habit without even thinking about it. They have no commitment to the brand. Think about how you buy flour, for example. This approach is highly efficient for low risk, simple products because it saves time and effort.

The key here is to be careful not to disrupt anything about your customers’ purchase flow. If you change the shelf location, packaging, or anything that makes them have to think too much about the purchase, you may lose them to another brand.

Next is Brand Loyalty. Truly brand-loyal customers are highly involved with the brand. They’ve had a good experience with it, and they know a lot about it. Instead of buying it out of habit, they buy it because they’re emotionally attached to it.

The key here is to continue to deliver high levels of quality and service. Consistency is the name of the game. If you let them down, they start drifting away.

Next are the Variety Seekers; people who shop for new alternatives over more familiar ones. Variety Seeking is the opposite of Brand Loyalty. Consumers use this style because they have yet to fall in love with a particular brand.

Try to get your customers out of this style as quickly as possible; otherwise, they’ll keep switching back and forth between you and competing brands. Try to lock them in with free trials, follow-up service, discounts, and loyalty programs.

And finally are the Problem Solvers. As the name implies, consumers use this style when dealing with complex products involving a lot of risk and uncertainty. They need to be highly involved, and they need to gather lots of information, especially if the product or service is expensive and purchased infrequently.

Think about buying a car, for example, or shopping for a plastic surgeon. It takes time and information to make a good decision.

As an innovator, you have to help customers when they’re using this style. First, provide as much information about the product as you can. Make sure it's where people can find it—in your stores, online, or with your salespeople. And, show comparisons between your product and the competition.

Loyalty drives high retention rates. The best innovators are those that understand each type of loyalty so they can continue to give their customers exactly what they want.

Marketing Innovation: Don’t Fight Water and the Inversion Tool

Jacob Goldenberg, in his book, "Cracking the Ad Code," describes eight creative patterns that are embedded in most innovative, award- winning commercials. The tools are:
   1. Unification
   2. Activation
   3. Metaphor
   4. Subtraction
   5. Extreme Consequence
   6. Absurd Alternative
   7. Inversion
   8. Extreme Effort

Out of these eight, the one that gives my students the most trouble is the Inversion tool. It conveys what would happen if you didn’t have the product…in an extreme way. It shows the benefits “lost” by not using the product. It is best used when the brand and its central benefits are well understood by the viewer. The advertiser is showing the viewer what bad things may happen if you don't use their brand. It's clever and memorable.

Here's a great example from Mr. Rooter Plumbing that is so simple and effective:

To use the Inversion technique, start with the components of the brand promise. Take each one away one at a time and envision in what ways the consumer would be affected...in an extreme way...if it did not have this aspect of the promise. Make sure that the "bad thing" that happens is so far fetched that viewers understand it's a joke. Otherwise, they'll get confused.

As Goldeberg notes, an important tactic of Inversion is to show unlimited generosity, understanding, and empathy for the poor consumer who does not use your product. The idea is to convey your product as having great understanding for your dilemma and generously suggesting assistance.

Here's another from Kayak:

Now THAT would be bad!

 

 

Marketing Innovation: Don’t Fight Water and the Inversion Tool

Jacob Goldenberg, in his book, "Cracking the Ad Code," describes eight creative patterns that are embedded in most innovative, award- winning commercials. The tools are:
   1. Unification
   2. Activation
   3. Metaphor
   4. Subtraction
   5. Extreme Consequence
   6. Absurd Alternative
   7. Inversion
   8. Extreme Effort

Out of these eight, the one that gives my students the most trouble is the Inversion tool. It conveys what would happen if you didn’t have the product…in an extreme way. It shows the benefits “lost” by not using the product. It is best used when the brand and its central benefits are well understood by the viewer. The advertiser is showing the viewer what bad things may happen if you don't use their brand. It's clever and memorable.

Here's a great example from Mr. Rooter Plumbing that is so simple and effective:

To use the Inversion technique, start with the components of the brand promise. Take each one away one at a time and envision in what ways the consumer would be affected...in an extreme way...if it did not have this aspect of the promise. Make sure that the "bad thing" that happens is so far fetched that viewers understand it's a joke. Otherwise, they'll get confused.

As Goldeberg notes, an important tactic of Inversion is to show unlimited generosity, understanding, and empathy for the poor consumer who does not use your product. The idea is to convey your product as having great understanding for your dilemma and generously suggesting assistance.

Here's another from Kayak:

Now THAT would be bad!