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Managing brand – the most profound KPI’s and their impact

Brand as a roadsign

If your brand was a road sign and didn’t have context, emotions and expectations attached to it, it’s like there was no sign at all and the road to destination wouldn’t look comfortable or secure. If the sign does have a meaning for the customer but you are trying to sell something that is out of that world, it’s likely that you face difficulties creating interest, demand and closing deals. Brand extensions are not an easy game either and you should be prepared to work a long time to change and expand your brand perception before making money. Brand can be associated with very narrow specialty or more generic qualities. However, brand is not brand if it’s not recognized and it doesn’t stand for something. Virgin is a great example for a branding of attitude and founder’s mindset more than specific product or service range or Apple, which has done usability and design profile along with technology. Technology isn’t why people pay more for Apple than PC though. You can become a mini brand having all qualities of the brand in smaller area or niche business and then expanding that area. That’s the most likely way of actually succeeding in brand building profitably. (Check another article: Brand as a roadsign)

Real brands can emphasize optimisation of buying when they are considering customer journey. People pay attention to their signs and are likely to consider them when choosing a solution from the brands context. It’s about keeping the customer’s attention and closing the deal. For labels, it’s about selling.. and selling cost money. No one will buy a label unless it’s much cheaper or someone actively sells it to the customers. This is a major challenge when trying to penetrate a market and getting your product or service noticed and approved. Gillette is a great example of using brand as a defensive force. When new brands have tried to enter a market, Gillette has issued 3 at the price of 2 offers and stuffed people with their products for a year resulting zero sales for the newcomer.

The most profound brand related KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that influence the customer journey and commercial success most are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Top-of-mind
  3. Preference
  4. Brand perception = attributes that translate as customer perception of context, value and personality
  5. Liking

Brand awareness

Brand awareness, spontaneous and aided, are profound figures. A roughly acceptable brand heuristic is that awareness often equals trust. If the brand is well-known, it is likely to be considered and trusted also. However, there are eg. Car brands that are very well-known but don’t have appeal resulting sloping sales regardless of their brand awareness. If the brand is un-known it doesn’t exist in customer’s consideration and therefore has no way of making major sales without very pro-active sales activities or increasing the awareness of their brand. Even if a customer would notice the brand, he is likely to ignore it.

Top-of-mind is a figure telling which brand people first think of, when asked to tell which brands they would consider. In many cases top-of-mind is very important. Especially, in fast-moving consumer goods and e.g. Phone services in which people call to ask for advice. 911 must have almost 100% awareness and a top-of-mind position in order to be able to help people when they need it.

Preference rate could be considered as a GPS device that takes the driver to the right destination. When you are driving with a GPS on, you don’t actually pay attention to alternative options and act on the directions the GPS is giving for you. Strong habit and strong preference rate have very similar behavioural influence. Preference is often asked from customers before they actually initiate buying process. It’s a measure telling what brand people think they would most likely buy. It’s an important indicator of brand health and should be treated that way. It is a meaningful KPI figure. However, it can also be misused. In most brand-tracking cases that we have seen people have been told to choose the most preferred brand even if they didn’t have one. We have allowed customers to give none as an answer. No preference combined with potential brand options has been a very efficient way of capturing business dynamics. In some businesses we have analysed 76% of customers had no preference but a majority had three brand options that were equally good in customer’s eyes. There is no GPS to consider in those markets. No preference percentage gives a meaningful indication of customers consideration but it requires from the tracking that it also track brands that customer consider as option for the most preferred brand.  If the brand you are working for is not in top three as a preferred brand or is not considered as an option, your brand doesn’t exist in the customer’s consideration. The very first thing to do in case of any business is to become considered! If you are not considered, no one will buy you unless you sell the brand in actively.

Let’s consider a practical case in travel for example. TNS and Kantar Group are offering national and international studies that have very large sample size and concentrate on customers’ perception of brands, their most recent purchases and lifestyle. In case of travel you can share customers to roughly three groups:

  1. People preferring your brand (Lower distraction sensitivity – driving on GPS)
  2. Neutral customers, who consider you as an option along others (no GPS) and
  3. Those who wouldn’t even consider you or would certainly not buy

Based on such data, mostly used by media agencies for their clients, you can tell how many people are in each group nationally, what have they purchased most recently and what are they like, demographics, lifestyles and behavioural preferences. Having this knowledge is a great eye opener and really supports management work in defining priorities and how to engage with people. Behavioural differences between preferring customers and neutral are very important. Considering sales the ratio of preferring customers is around 2/3 most recent purchases and in case of neutral customers around 1/3 or less.  Customers who are neutral let all competing brands to their consideration and check all available offers or use comparison platforms, which narrow comparison and democratize brands to same level of information. In such environment brands lose their opportunity to create unique experience and services in a meaningful way. Preferring customers on the other hand come directly to company’s website or directly contact their customer service and thus allow direct service experience by the brand.

BRAND PERCEPTION

Brand perception has to do with people’s heuristics of the brand. What the brand means for them? What is it related to? What is the context? In different businesses there are clear factors in brand perception that have a clear connection to sales. Such factors could be eg. Trust and security, technically advanced, great design, cool, fun, high quality, leader in trends, most durable, etc. In each business it is important to leverage qualities that influence decision-making most and stay in touch with the market and what kind of qualities drive it. The change of drivers could be fast and profound like it was in case of Nokia. Nokia is no longer the most appreciated mobile technology brand it used to be. Apple’s iPhone and Google Android are shaking the business profoundly. Understanding which attributes drive sales, marketshare and preference should guide the priorities in brand development.. in all customer interfaces and communications.

BRAND LIKING

Preference often require conscious consideration, comparison and decision making. It is best suitable for product and service areas where you make “bigger” decision. Liking is more subconscious and spontaneous emotional reaction to the brand. Liking could also be the first step to preference, an opportunity to become noticed and considered.

Liking the brand is a figure that has become more and more important due to digital influence. You can have high preference without liking because of superb product price/quality without being liked very much, but liking the brand has direct influence in preference even if your qualities were not quite that superb. There’s more to liking though. People have more currencies than the content of their wallet. They can speak their mind, write blogs, rate your product, influence your search results or offer you very important feedback or ideas for improvement.

Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement, resulting a perception, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other party. Brand is social by nature. Still, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the biggest disruptive force along the customer journey.

In current automated communications and self-service oriented world where customers are made responsible for servicing themselves there are many practices that don’t really support brand’s emotional development. Majority of companies consider customers as mass medium, measure “cost to serve” and try to push cost down, build loyalty programs that ask you to buy more and show loyalty in order to get higher discounts and benefits or offer time based commitments as agreements for discount. It’s very much a world of rational thinking. Rational is good but also neglect customer’s social currencies as value. You could call this approach “the indifference marketing”.

In social mediums people interact with their peers. It’s often, but not necessarily, a private space. In this space a brand could gain enormous value if customers would accept it within this context. A customer has enormous social capital. He can judge the brand as stupid or embrace the brand and support it. Customers are actively using their capital and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal just to practice this capital to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced trust-rating of websites and brands has currently almost 60 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online.

WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company act unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, >30 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand . As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company?  How likely are you to do business with a company like that has bad trustworthiness?

Social influence online has an enormous steering power. As people treat brands and companies as entities anything and everything the company does also influence their trust rating. If a brand is misusing child labour or employees, has unfair practices, questionable ethics or doesn’t respect environment, it shows in their trustworthiness score. Customers currently rely very much on other online users feedback, even if they are complete strangers. As companies have noticed that people love to rate products and brands and are interested in comparing them, new companies and services emerge constantly. The power is moving a way from institutions like traditional mediums, which have made product reviews and thus defined which products sell and which don’t. Currently smart brands are turning customers to their ambassadors and creating same effect, only it’s completely dependent on people, the customers, which make it feel very interesting and trustworthy.

Currently customers are taking the ultimate power and becoming sellers them selves by turning blog pictures in to online retail channel with Kiosked –service (kiosked.com). E.g. A fashion blog can sell every single garment or accessory represented in photos appearing in the blog. People are creating their own audiences and creating their own image by blogging and making their bellowed products available for followers and readers. Brands are just chips in customers’ games, which they can endorse or decline. Again, liking the brand is the number one thing driving such endorsement.

Liking influence all currencies the Customers have:

  • His personal detailed information
  • Promise to record purchase history (loyalty card)
  • Decision power to all his own purchases
  • Freedom of speech and opinion
  • His own time
  • His personal peers and personal status amongst them
  • Endorsement
  • Own creativity, experiences and ideas.

Of all the currencies above, I argue that most are not rationally driven and liking the brand influence them all!  You can’t tell people to tell others they love your brand or tell them to recommend your products and services to others. Also, you can’t expect people to help you make your products and services better unless they do it with their own free will. It’s all about liking.

The most advanced brands have understood that these emotionally driven assets could prove to be extremely valuable and find ways of harnessing them. Open innovation and customer boards are great examples of just that. The good companies will win. Forget about the Adam Smith’s invisible hand, it’s become very visible and very effective. Blogs, ratings, discussion forums, Twitter, Facebook.. It’s written all over the digital canvas.

SEE NEXT:

How segmenting 3.0 changes marketing and management https://futurecmo.org/2016/03/16/segmentation-3-0-disrupting-marketing-media-and-management/

How to take advantage of Brand’s position very fast with Behavioral Economics Making millions with pennies – Behavioral Economics approach

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

The beginning of customer journey – Initiation

Image

The customer comes to a crossing and stops because the brand successfully engages with him or something changes in the customer’s situation. In most customer journeys there is a defining moment when a person gets actively interested in buying, initiated. That moment can be identified rather reliably. Something makes a person actively start considering about buying something. Active purchasing consideration does create memories because it’s done.. well, actively in your conscious consideration. Active consideration could take years in some cases or it can spark purchase spontaneously. Depending on the category, differences are huge but also within a single product group customers’ behaviour have vast differences. In many smaller decisions the consideration is less profound but still, when ever you are breaking a habit or really considering about doing something, you can recall doing so when specifically asked about it. In fact the customer is the specialist in his own experience and we can learn from him. Best way of getting to know the dynamics and learning about the reasons for people to get interested is by doing one-to-one interviews. Interviews are actually for discovery, expedition trip to customer behaviour and drivers, differences and variety. Group discussions easily make people indicate rational behaviour although it was not. We would suggest one-on-one in-depth interviews or questionnaire before a group discussion asking person’s own thinking. In the group discussion some of the key findings could be thoroughly opened. This kind of approach enables capturing human behaviour more reliably.

There is a methodology in Psychology called Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (The Psychologist, vol 18, No1, January 2005) It has been developed for analysing people’s lived experiences. The methodology avoid making assumptions and does not test hypothesis. The person’s experience should be recorded as authentic as possible. They are done in one-on-one meeting. Interpretative means that the researcher looks for things that are distinct (i.e. idiographic studies), but will also attempt to balance this against an account of what is shared (i.e. commonalities across a group of participants). Researcher reduces the complexity of experiential data through rigorous and systematic analysis. Analysis relies on the process of people making sense of the world and their experiences. I use this methodology in Insight interviews and then create quantitative study based on these findings in order to quantify which phenomena has most meaning and can these phenomena related to specific business and brand be segmented in some way or result difference between segments and brands.

The best way we could come up when working on One Experience cross-channel buying behaviour mapping tool, was to start with one-on-one interviews and learning about the people’s reasons to get initiated in the first place and continue to map out the cross-channel purchase behaviour.

The initiation of the active consideration is often a result of certain drivers and motives in certain context being prompted to active consideration by certain touch point in certain channel. These reasons, channels, motives, contexts and drivers should be recognized and quantified in different target groups. They are the very foundation of profitable marketing operation.

You can roughly divide reasons to initiate in commercial and non-commercial reasons. Commercial reasons have to do with advertising, direct marketing, outbound telemarketing, retail, point-of-sale promotions, sales people and so on. Non-commercial reasons have to do with magazine reviews, word-of-mouth, actual need because of losing or breaking the old product, tradition based behaviour (e.g. in travelling every year at the same time), change in a living situation (e.g. moving) and so on.

Further, initiation can be divided in initiation in general and initiation to the brand. Initiation in general is about how the customer became interested in acquiring certain product or service in general and these reasons are often non-commercial when asked from the customers directly. This is not completely true because something has created the need in the first place. That’s why it’s also important to ask about their initiation to a purchased brand. Becoming initiated to certain brand is more likely to be commercial. In most cases you can narrow these reasons to a few major ones per segment. This information will help you decide where and what to do in marketing. How to effectively reach people and how to choose the message and content in most appealing way.

The Apple iPod is a great example of a product, which had  ”a long activation” period. The iPods were originally too expensive for many people who would have loved to get one. After some time, the price of the iPod reached tippin’ point, level which enabled most people to get one. At that point iPod rose from most wanted niche product to dominant brand. The MP3 format, iTunes and making CD digitization easy were the enablers of MP3 revolution. ITunes and buying music online were Apple’s strengths. However, the product design and user experience made it the most wanted brand and later on dominant market driver leading the way. Currently it has been predicted that when eye surgery costs come down to the level of 1500€, people choose surgery over new classes. Markets could change profoundly and rapidly.

We have learned from several cases that the brands often don’t know why and from who’s initiative customers got activated. In one case our client, advertiser, was wondering why their demand had suddenly increased dramatically and they made record sales without doing anything specifically. This company had very effective sales process delivering superb customer experience and consequently very high sales conversion. After running customer journey study for them we found out these people were originally activated by a competing company, which had launched a major direct mail campaign. The product was expensive and people wanted to take another offer just to be certain. This incident delivered record sales for the competitor. It’s likely that the active brand also sold more than in average but it’s absolutely certain that they also lost major part of their potential sales.

When you are concentrating on customer perspective you are simultaneously doing very effective competitor benchmarking and learning from their success too. In best case the competitor becomes your best salesman without knowing about it. You can also learn from competitor’s success.

In retail store you can roughly share products in two categories: must have and nice to have products. These products life cycle could vary greatly. In one CPG case that we analyzed we found three most common patterns in getting initiated. The first one was planned. People wrote on their shopping list that they will buy this product. The second was buying in stock when the product was in discount. The third was the biggest one… People who had made a mental note they should buy the product. However, this product was not in the priority list, which resulted ”pending activation”. These people were activated to purchase by just seeing the product in store or seeing an offer about it. The major sales increase for promotion was due to the fact that they had promotional spots that prompted people’s attention and activation by just being there. The sales would have increased even if there were no discounts because people just forgot to act on their decision. In many cases there is latent behaviour that must be recognized in order to optimize profits. There’s no need to offer major discounts if just being there does the job or offer smaller discount or on-top offer in order to justify the extra visibility in store and also activate stock buyers. It also has major indication in the media strategy. If the brand’s awareness and other KPI’s are in order, the most important goal is to have continuous activation going on generating faster re-purchases and increase in the market value. Depending on the product’s role in customer’s life there would also be possibility of creating CRM or social relationship management (SRM) approach that would keep customers active and engaged with them in product and service development.

Testing in the real environment is the only way to get a true business case

Making people move is a fundamental marketing goal. In order to optimize marketing effect, you must study, test and learn what kind of trigger and content create most response. You should also learn in which context or medium people would be most likely to act on the advertising and which interaction channels deliver best results. Consider, what is the role of your own mediums like website, retail or CRM. How can you leverage earned media like discussions online and press or other PR. Are there ways of collaboration with partners that would result synergy and low-cost leads? Where and how much should you invest in paid media like TV, print, radio, outdoor and online. You can manage what you measure and optimizing the mix takes a lot of learning, trial and error to make it right.

The second equally important issue is to learn where you should steer people post activation: online, mobile, customer service, retail or create a first action which help you support customer thru out the journey and purchase. Again, there are good learning’s available but each business is unique.

Consumers want to have control

Today’s consumer want to control the process of choosing and avoid being sold at. Pushing is irritating and considered as a bad customer experience. When customer has a medium in which there is a lot of choice he has the control. Customers choose what to concentrate on, and how much time they are willing to use in learning about product. Customers can choose to continue shopping online, in retail, mail order or to go and see the product live or choose not to do anything.

Advertisers have an opportunity to increase communications to own customers and creating own mediums in print and online. Previously marketing focus was mostly about finding new customers, although majority of the sales came from existing customers. Customer magazines and catalogues are part of customer loyalty, mobilisation marketing. The respondents consider the magazine or catalogue as respect of customers own space, time and consideration.

Buying is not easy

Marketers often assume that selling is hard and buying easy. For customers it is not easy to really understand the scale of offering and relevancy of it. At personal level they have ways of learning in their own time. Often the retail experience is too hectic and nervous for learning at own speed. Online services and catalogues allow people to have their own time and space. In one case outbound represented majority of initiation, but fraction of the transactions.  Banner ads are often judged wrongly due to this – people initiate but make transactions elsewhere.

Consumers consider concrete pricing, product pictures and good presentation of products as valuable service that makes buying easier. It’s easy to see for example how much catalogues and online travel advice decrease the need of personal advice from travel agencies and enable online buying.

The difference between emotional brand advertising with very little information and buying information sources is obvious.

Conclusions about Initiation

Initiation and getting activated is about prompting attention and making the person move. No matter how long there has been a latent interest, there’s always something that changes in offering, customers situation or the market that gets people activated. What is that, what is the motivation behind, what is the customer’s mindset at that point, which brands customer considers as options, which does he prefer if he does? Understanding this has a major influence in the overall marketing strategy.

In order to understand how customers are best reached it’s also important to understand the need of advertising and shopping consideration. For many brands there would be possibilities in helping customers learn about their value proposition by really making great product descriptions and photos for shopping medium use. Although the customers would not buy from these sources, they still learn from them. That’s free media that really hit the target. Brand’s own online service should be the source of ultimate information that really answer customer’s questions and engage with the customer resulting action.

When we were studying the different mediums capability to influence customers and how brands currently work, we came to conclusion that when brands are rapidly learning new, they are simultaneously forgetting old. Customer’s behaviour does change but when competing retail brands e.g. drop catalogue and go purely online, the other brand might gain advantage.

When measuring success brands should concentrate on how much did the advertising change customers perception of the brand positively, did the advertising justify higher price or increase the interest in wider audience with current price or did the advertising just activate people with discounts, which is good in the short run but could damage the brand in the long run. Which mediums performed best compared to the investment? If some mediums under performed was it due to the medium or advertising content? If you can answer all these questions post campaign, your capability to improve further is much better and you can actually predict outcome much better than previously which justify the spending.

What do you think? I’d love to get some comments :)

If you liked this one, check out how to manage customer interfaces and pre-initiation stage along the customer journey Brand-as-a-roadsign.

An article about the next stage in Customer Journey here: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

More advice about how to map and stury customer journey is available at https://futurecmo.org/2012/12/01/how-to-map-and-study-customer-journey/

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

CMO challenge – How to organize marketing for success?

This time this article is more about a question, than an answer. We do need to change but to what? Earlier on I wrote an article about how the creative work and marketing planning will transform in to something new.  As we do know the brand’s own customer interfaces are becoming more and more important as a media and amazing tools for continuous relationships and engagement. Customer interface management is becoming do or die for CMOs. Understanding Customer Journey and the dynamics around it are becoming the new black in planning process. Altogether the priorities are rapidly changing as well as the the organization and world around CMO. Forbes just published an article about “The end of Expert – Why no one in marketing knows what they are doing?” 

“It’s a stark verdict from a prominent source. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who were trained and mentored, and studied classical marketing, and they got good at it,” says Clark Kokich, chairman of digital agency Razorfish. Unfortunately, the world has changed – and that education is no longer relevant. “If your self-worth and your confidence is based on you being an expert, you’re in deep trouble, because there aren’t any experts,” says Kokich, author of Do or Die: Surviving and Thriving in a World Where the Old Ways of Marketing Aren’t Getting It Done. “Sure, there are experts in some fields. Someone may be really good in SEO or in mobile. But there aren’t any experts in making this transition”

So, how should CMO arrange his/her internal organization and how should creative work be a) created b)produced and c) measured. How should the marketing overall work flow internally and externally? What kind of partner structure would be ideal? What to in-source and outsource?

There are several task to take care of:

  • Define who are your customers, what kind of behavior do you want from them and what kind of actions actually deliver such behavior?
  • Define how do you reach them and how do you communicate with them
  • How do you create and manage own web interface, social media interfaces, customer service, retail, sales,..
  • How do you create big ideas that inspire and contribute to the corporate overall image as well as turn these inspirational ideas in to customer experiences?
  • How do you measure and quantify, learn and implement continuous change?

Earlier on you had one agency for above the line creative design. These guys were the kings of the hill and everything else was less important. Then you had below the line agencies for Direct marketing, email marketing, in-store promotion, promotions in general, marketing PR, SEO and SEM agency, media agency, research agency, online agency,… Well, you had all these agencies and you had internal organization and a person to run each agency or discipline along with budget allocated for that specific purpose. eg. Direct marketing. This kind of world view has died over the past five years.

The new world is still under construction. You have now creativity in media agencies and analytics people in creative agencies. The new ways of organizing and sharing responsibility  are just emerging. This is why I hope you could participate and share your best working practices and experiences for collaboration.

SEE ALSO

“The CMO 2013 Study insights and what CMO’s should do now”

Lost insights and Corporate Blind Spots

Business Design with customer centricity

How to enable smart company and avoid corporate autism

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Planning 3.0 – combining Creative, Communications, Experience and Business planning = Customer Journey Management

Admap published a writing competition results – best articles about “Planning 3.0”– How will we be planning in 2020? The winner, Nick Hirst said “We need to transcend the often polar disciplines of ‘conceptual’ (creative agency) and ‘practical’ (media agency) planning to deliver, not communications, but great brand experiences.”

I couldn’t agree more! Although mr. Nick Hirst’s and other rewarded articles were great, what really made an impression to me was the pre-words the judges wrote. They analyzed the articles they received and came to conclusion that the future of planning looks like… ‘We don’t know’, or at least, ‘we don’t agree’.

According to judges the most striking theme about the entries was not about how the entries were presented but how they represented a clear new chapter of planning, not necessarily a consistent chapter, but a new one nonetheless. This new era could be dubbed the, ‘the post-specialist era of planning’. 

Planning has grown around specialists in data and analytics, user experience, information architecture, trend analysts, digital strategy search optimizers, social media and crm gurus… Until now, the dominant conversation about strategy has been about the need for these specialists, and for them to be distinct and separate from what has gone before.

Entries to this Admap Prize competition no longer championed the specialists as skill sets that deserve their unique place. Instead, they argued that they should be the very future of planning in its entirety; the planning specialism becomes the planning mainstream.  According to judges, authors wrote of the data and analytics skill as simply becoming planning – all tasks of planning would become measurable and, therefore, the measurement/analytic skill would become planning. Or, the specialist skills of social media strategy would become the fundamental of brand planning, given the very social future that brands face.

According to main judge, JWT’s Guy Murphy two things will happen

1. There will be a sense of planning returning to be a more singular and holistic way of working. Certain planning tools will become the norm for all planners – just as the notion of ‘paid, earned and owned’ seems to have become standard currency for media thinking today.

2. Planning will become more influential. The assimilation of its new-found specialists skills will make it a richer, more effective and more confident force. It will make a decent fist of managing the huge and growing complexity that faces brand building and communication. This will shift the role it has been playing.

In my opinion 2020 is far far away and everything mentioned above is already happening. Planning is rapidly facing new requirements for its effectiveness and moving towards more holistic view. Actually this holistic approach is gaining momentum in general.

Last week IBM organized “Smarter business day 2012” event in Helsinki. Data analytics was an issue there too. What IBM’s director for Analytics division Juha Teljo presented that the whole analytics business is moving from application centered approach to analytics centered approach by 2020:

So, along with planning, also the whole infrastructure is becoming analytics – that is planning – centered.  Once I search about this matter, I also found IBM’s view on how to create Analytics Center of Excellence inside your own organisation. The 150-page material is attached here: 5Keys to BA Program Success

The winning article by Nick Hirst agreed with this idea of holistic planning. He recognized User Experience planners as the first breed of future planners: “User experience goes way beyond Information Architechture. While the latter is a specific discipline concerned with the organisation of information to ensure its swift, intuitive navigation, User Experience considers the experince of the user as a whole: their expectations, their level of interest, their attitudes  even how they feel. Concepts like surprise of disruption, or even entertainment – all proven tools for affective and effective communications – are anathema to a classical Information Architect, but entirely within the imaginative realm of the User Experience Architect.

Even now they think about both the effect of an indivicual, small experience – a piece of copy, a picture, the way a button workds – and the overall journey. Even now, some agencies are recognizsing the ‘planneriness’ of what they do, and reconceiving them as Experience Planners. But just imagine what would happen if we unleashed that kind of thinking on everything else that comms agencies do now.”

I think the future of planning will be even more amazing than expected and I do think that Nick Hirst’s dream is becoming reality. Here’s what I think:

  1. Planning marketing will be about planning competitive advantage, that is corporate strategy and operations. see Forbes article here
  2. Corporate Image will be more and more about actual experiences and shared opinions – planning will be about designing and managing customer interfaces and experience. Article here https://futurecmo.org/2012/11/10/marketing-do-or-die-managing-customer-interfaces/
  3. Comms and marketing to customers will become service experiences – event based automatic communications that integrate with the customer’s situation and needs in any given location or interface. Marketing automation becomes service automation along the customer’s journey. The center of gravity will be the Customer Journey understanding and design.
  4. Planning will become more holistic than ever – we are moving towards business design. At this point planners will become the McKinsey’s consultants of tomorrow or McKinsey’s consultant will take care of the business design on behalf of marketing planners of today. McKinsey is already moving towards customer journey and experience planning, see this article http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/article/winning-the-consumer-decision-journey#.UIOLl_Mukic.email I would take it even further, here’s why https://futurecmo.org/2012/10/21/customer-decision-making-journey-flow/

Companies that are taking analytics and planning seriously are already doing much better than their peers. By 2020 you really have to be great in order to survive. And let’s not forget – analytics is useless without understanding and decisions (generate corporate autism) – planning and management. I thinks this means the dawn for customer journey planning and management as the new breed of holistic planning work!

SEE ALSO:

“The CMO 2013 Study insights and what CMO’s should do now”

Lost insights and Corporate Blind Spots

Business Design with customer centricity

How to enable smart company and avoid corporate autism

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Brand as a road sign – foundation for a Customer Journey

Branding is a quite debated management prioritization area right now. In a challenging financial environment companies are often looking for rapid payoff instead of long-term profitability. These two approaches used to be considered as opposites and in some cases they still are. In my opinion it is just ignorance. The communications scene has changed so dramatically over the past decade that former rules no longer apply.

One thing has not changed: Brand is the No1 contributor  to the customer journey dynamics.

Brand = demand (or the lack of it) 

The importance of the brand has not diminished, it has been amplified in the border-less global economy. What has been changed is the way how you create great brands. Mass-media advertising used to be the only way, that is no longer true.

Brand demand or sales

If we consider the brand from the customer’s perspective, it is a road sign. Well known and respected brand equals the highway to destination and un-known brand is a detour without a map. Brand is a very strong heuristic tool and has a lot of things attached to it. Take a look at this road sign:

Cities are very good example of how brands work. You can imagine these cities, what kind of contexts you connect them with, who you would travel there with etc. The one below is a little village I am coming from. To the world this city is just a label without anything attached to it. Only thing interesting about it is the reason it has been listed with the others above it. To me it represents home.

Your current Brand health and status as a road sign determine how you should allocate your marketing investments and budget. The stronger your brand is, the more you should invest in your own channels and experiences. On the other hand, if you are representing a weak brand, you need to deliver such experience that your brand becomes home to those who choose it against all odds. They can then tell others how great your brand is to the others living oblivious of your amazing brand. That is how you can deliver optimal return on marketing investments (ROMI)

See next:

The most meaningful Brand KPI’s https://futurecmo.org/2013/02/01/managing-brand-the-most-profound-kpis-and-measures/

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

How to map and study Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

 

Forecast for marketing planning and ecosystem evolution

The high frequency trading (HFT) stands for machine based stock exchange trading. HFT model leverages price differences in variety of stock exchanges, buy and sell in a fraction of a second. If there is 0,01% price difference in two stock exchanges,  you can make 100 profit with a 1M investment in a millisecond. HFT is based on algorithms and data and it’s increasing it’s share of trading steadily against traditional trading. HFT is very much like trained limbic system in human decision making: rapid, based on heuristics and rules from learned experiences and blind to events that have not been pre-coded in to the system. Traditional trading is based on rational thinking, analysis, luck, intuition.. well human intelligence and conscious decision making, even creativity. Traditional trading is much slower and more vulnerable to human emotional flaws but also allow long-term consideration. There is a lot of money involved in stock trading with instantly measureable success. It is also the most developed trading environment in the world.

Well, let’s look at marketing then. If you consider the fact that the CMO has liquid cash worth several percentages of corporate annual turnover, in case of P&G 9-11%, it is quite a considerable liquid asset too. Actually, in many cases it is the largest liquid asset the companies have and spend. The others are for long-term strategic Merger & Acquisition purposes, infrastructure investments and salaries.  Marketing is also the only investment that has difficulties in defining ROI, instant and long-term. Well, this will change quite soon and create tectonic changes in the foundations of marketing industry. The data explosion due to multi device Internet and inter-connectivity of mediums and customers combined with regulatory changes in privacy will result complete make over of the marketing industry.

Let’s consider Facebook for a moment. Facebook is a vehicle designed to enable personal communications and community. It is a yielding platform in which the user is the product for sale. The basic idea is that the advertisers will fund the business model and the consumers will allow data capturing in return for using the Facebook as their communications platform and vehicle representing their identity and social relationships.  Effectively Facebook knows more about us than we even realize. The question is, how does Facebook capitalize this knowledge? Facebook could become the world’s most effective advertising targeting and RTB business operator outside Facebook’s own touchpoints in case they decide to pursue this goal. We should expect black swans like that to appear and change the way the marketing ecosystem operates and challenging the balance of power. Big players will enter new areas and small players will emerge and grow big faster than ever (like Pinterest) and we will surely see new symbiotic business models created from combinations of existing players creating new value propositions and services.

If we consider the development of media buying and spending then, it is starting to look more and more like HFT due to the increasing level of Real Time Bidding (RTB) inventory and media business model. RTB is about getting the best price available for advertising inventory. The ecosystem is feeding advertisers willingness to pay for contacts and is trying to increase the willingness to bid higher. RTB is the new “share of voice”. The drivers of this business model have been Google Ads and Facebook but the model has been adopted by other media companies widely and will be adopted by majority of mediums over the next couple of years. The advertisers willingness to pay for each contact is based on data and the decision to bid is made based on the rules defined in the Demand Side Platforms (DSP’s) within milliseconds, exactly like in the case of HFT. As the business model is based on engagement or acquisition, also the rewards can be easily tracked which drives transparency and corporate management acceptable investment model in marketing.

The key here is the corporate management acceptable investment model. Marketing has been a rogue spending area in corporations without direct accountability for financial results. This will change. Every single business investment area has been made liable for profitability and accountability apart from advertising. It is not going to be acceptable anymore. Because it is becoming possible, it will be demanded. Period. Just like in case of the HFT also the liquid resources will become almost infinite and marketing budget will become flexible when the accountability is made possible. There is no limit in spending if every single cent invested result 10 cents in return. Well, in future markets such disproportional returns will be balanced but the main rule will still be valid. Groupon is a thriving example of corporate willingness to pay disproportional costs for easiness and accountability. The change is inevitable but will happen gradually. The wheel of change is already turning and it will spin wilder and wilder before we reach the new normal.

Investment sector has been in great turbulence and HFT has changed trading volume based market shares rapidly. In Helsinki Stock Exchange March 2010 the top three traders were SEB, Nordea, Handelsbanken and FIM. They were all local or Fennoscandic players. In January 2012 the top three were Morgan Stanley, Nordea and Credit Suisse. Along with those three there were newcomers like Citadel, Getco and Spire. The newcomers are all specialized in robot managed HFT. Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley represent the same phenomena by selling others the rights to use their HFT technology. Local players are losing ground.

The change is happening at increasingly rapid speed and will eventually escalate. At that point within apr. 5 years media agencies don’t call to mediums and ask quotes for their mediums, media buyers and sellers in current meaning will vanish. Media planning is no longer about choosing media and negotiating price for it. Media agency will be impossible to distinguish from stock exchange trading company by sight. The tools, technology, algorithms and productivity goals will be very similar. The competition will be about measureable ROI of marketing portfolio management. Like in the stock trading it will be driven by analysts who are specializing in short term instant ROI and long-term profit expectations. 

What about creative agencies then?

IBM did a major study in 2010 and interviewed over 1500 CEO’s around the world. Mr. Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM Corporation captured the findings in three major issues in his pre-words of the study report:

  1. The World’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them. They expect it to continue – indeed, to accelerate – in the coming years
  2. They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment
  3. Finally, they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.

Well, creativity is a human trait and a profession. Creative agencies will have major role in the change and they are trusted partners for CMO. Creative agencies will remain true to their creativity but the demand for creativity will be far more diverse than just advertising message creativity now. Customer experience design, advertising, product- and service design all serve the same common goals; creation of competitive advantage, brand and relationship value. CMO’s responsibility is going to be about exactly that, creation of competitive advantage. CMO should be already responsible for insights on customer behavior change and delivering them to other members of the board influencing strategy and operations. CMO’s key role is to practice strategic sensitivity of the market and customers. The best CMO’s will earn a new role closer to COO’s current role as they start carrying more accountable and strategic responsibility. The CMO position will also become number one route to CEO position. Sir Terry Leahy, former CMO and later CEO of Tesco Plc has already shown the way. Tesco is also one of the premier examples world wide in customer data driven strategic and operational management, behavioral economics research and service design. Tesco’s growth and profitability also prove the point rather well. Creativity in the Tesco way will become mainstream now that we are reaching tippin’ point.

There is another reason why Tesco is such a great example of future marketing planning. Tesco is one of the first companies using customer behavior data to personalization and individual customization of offering and messaging in massive scale. Today we recognize this as marketing automatization and customer experience management. Each individual customer has offering scoring attached to their data and this scoring model define what and how should be offered in order to turn push marketing and sales in to inspirational service experience. People are looking for advice, inspiration and great deals. Giving all three in one package with great customer experience in any given customer interface create trust and relationship.

Customers are becoming another portfolio for CMO to manage; who, what, when and how are the questions that need an answer. The answer is another case of trading mechanism. The company has an inventory of products and services. This inventory is the other subject to yield management and the customer base is another portfolio. The perfect combination of both enhances loyalty and lifetime value with optimal profitability.

Well, let’s go back to Facebook and consider that the product they have, are their customers, the users. The product and service portfolio they are managing is not actually their own but their clients, the advertisers. The two way yield management means optimizing the profits from the customer base they have. Facebook must consider overall profitability of their users against the price different product & service vendors are prepared to pay for them. Yield management will differentiate products and services in to categories:

  1. Easy to activate mass categories which deliver small but high volume transactions
  2. More difficult to activate categories which deliver less but bigger transactions

Well, that’s not the end of it. There are known brands with stronger demand creating also high volume and less known brands that are more difficult to yield but deliver higher revenue/transaction. In this game brands, creativity and quality of creative work are subject to instant and continuous pricing. If the creative work is highly appealing and works very well, it will result transactions at lower costs and higher margins for advertisers. If the creative work is not working the price you need to pay for each transaction will cost much more. When we reach this point, you don’t need to question what is the value of your brand. You will know the difference… Painfully well. The same apply to advertising in any other mediums, which will still be impossible to directly measure. The measures will be based on direct increase in sales compared to the base line without marketing and it’s effect in real time bidding costs. Currently the same ideology works well in businesses requiring outbound selling. In case advertising works outbound sales conversion will increase and cost per transaction will be less expensive. Same mechanism will work much faster in the real time bidding environment.

The media companies’ capability to invoice consumers’ subscription fees will erode steadily and the requirement for advertising profitability will grow. The media trading could well learn from retail category management and yielding optimization of shelf space. The media inventory is made of certain media placements, which will develop but still exist in the near future. Every single placement will be subject to yielding methodology. Facebook, Google and most media companies will not really care where the money is coming from as long as their yield management drives strong profits. Statistical analytics, scoring models, algorithms, richer and richer data combinations and continuous optimization will be the name of the game. They have the data and they can re-create their business models. There are only so many people on this planet and in any given country. The media which have the best data and the best tools to create multi client lead nurturing methodologies delivering strongest rate of acquisition will win. Just like in case of HFT, the balance will shift and the global players will take larger share of the business. The smaller but local and trusted media companies are now in a do or die situation and by the end of this decade we will know how if and how they survived.

The role of mediums as the data owners will also change. The services they deliver could vary from x amount for introduction, y amount for acquisition to z amount or percentage for the profitability e.g. during the first three years. The data holders will become capable of working as headhunters for advertisers. They will just hunt customers, not employees. The stakeholders in this game can be anything from media companies to large loyalty programs, telecoms, Apple like manufacturers (e.g. Siri) and global social mediums and data capturing platforms like Facebook and Google. The most rapidly growing market sector is currently services that come between the producers of products and services and the customers. Travelzoo.com and Groupon are good examples of such. All players mentioned above have direct customer relationship to consumers and consumers are using their services to make their choices and living easier and better. In a very complex world these players offer advice, the solution to customer’s needs. They can inspire and serve and they can gain a trusted partner status with consumers. The key word is trust. Trust is also the key word in yield management.  The increasing transparency will become another management imperative. Bad companies stand for, bad customer experiences and effectively bad advice for consumers. It means lost trust and less effective yielding for mediums. If the company cannot deliver what they promised, they will face increasing costs again.

The world has become extremely interconnected and transparent. The market price for a customer engagement or customer acquisition will be determined by trading environment. The market value of data will deliver steady revenue and the big players will become bigger than ever but we will also witness unexpected newcomers. The competition will be about the game of trust and relationships in the consumer markets and extremely efficient trading tools and data based intelligence delivering accountability in the B2B markets and planning. The value of existing customers will become imperative and corporations will implement marketing automatization technologies in order to enable individual care models and increase in customer lifetime value. The tools will become smarter but creativity will flourish as human trait, profession and specialty.

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Great future for creative agencies

Creative agencies have been under siege for a long time. The business has changed completely within relatively short time and the balance of power between disciplines within agencies has shifted tremendously. Agencies must have changed a lot by now, but they need to change a lot more in order to meet the demands Future CMO will require from them. I would consider that challenge a great inspiration though, it can be an amazing adventure. Let’s look at where agencies stand now:

1. Creative agencies key asset is.. well creativity. People trained to open up their minds, simplify and recognize what is the thing that makes people (customers) move. The challenge is that advertising agencies have limited their use of creativity in communication and doesn’t have a credibility or position to use that creativity for more general business development, which would be very natural. In the very heart of creativity is customer insight. Using that insight to new purposes is much easier to do than teach non-creative people to become creative

2. Data is now available and media agencies have a long history of analysing it. In the current environment and the direction we are heading, corporate own channels, CRM and business data allready meet media data at media agencies. This will become standard practice over the next couple of years if it hasn’t been done yet. Media agencies are trained to measure and predict impact of different actions. Their role will be also to analyse different options in product portfolio scenarios and pricing, distribution etc. CRM and marketing automatatization will be a natural next step after people have already become professionals in making real time bidding online marketing, direct marketing, direct response advertising and managing revenue/cost ratios and communication portfolios

In my opinion the creative communication ecosystem will have to grow-up and take responsibility more than they have used to. Once agencies really take responsibility they can earn their way to the business development and real corporate management. As Future CMO has already cracked the door open, the CMO’s ecosystem must prepare to take the heat and meet the demands that should be seen as the new brave world with tremendous opportunities.

IBM CEO study was crystallized as three major change drivers by Mr. Samuel Palmisano, CEO and Chairman of IBM

1.The World’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them. They expect it to continue – indeed, to accelerate – in the coming years
2.They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment
3.Finally, they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.

Well, let’s consider creative agencies and the CEO challenges. The complexity of the world is clearly a challenge when you look at it top-down. If you look at the company from customer’s point of view, that complexity becomes much easier to handle. Creative agencies should really be capable of both reducing the complexity to the minimum AND help coping with it. Media agencies with their capability to analyze markets and customer behaviour should certainly become very handy. The third challenge, creativity, is the bread and butter for creative agencies. So, why wouldn’t agencies start meeting these challenges.

Actually, the new breed of agencies have started doing exactly that. They are just called Service design agencies and their methodology is based on Design Thinking. The basic value proposition is to offer companies a) very clear customer insight b) services that meet the customers’ needs in new ways driving growth and profitability. They are actually changing marketing in to service. Pushy communications no longer work, making communications that inspire, entertain and serve customers are relevant and interesting.. and they sell better.

Dear former colleague, Adman and thinker who has inspired me more than any other person in the world, Rory Sutherland, has made a case of meeting the challenges with one single concept: Behavioral Economics. His case below is a great eye opener for any Ad exec or CMO. There is a great future for creative and media agencies if they just embrace the opportunities, take responsibility and are prepared to unleash their capacity to more meaningful purpose:

“IPA President Rory Sutherland explains why he is championing behavioural economics We need to broaden the definition of what we do to reflect the new reality of the market place because if we don’t create a new model based on human understanding, then we are in danger of using 1950s packaged goods persuasive techniques to solve todays communications problems! With behavioural economics we can align ourselves to a recognizable science and not be held hostage to the media budget. It gives us a framework that will refresh our thinking and our talent pool and with it we can use ideas to turn human understanding into business and social advantage.”

 

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

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