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Future CMO Commercial Community Introduction

The goal for Future CMO Commercial Community is to create a network of highly capable individuals who can act as supertemps or highly advanced specialists who can act as catalysts for customer centric, marketing and organic growth driven strategic and operational transformation for their clients. Below,  there are directions and requirements for those who would like to join this community and offer their services in Futurecmo.org. Future CMO is a platform for Symbiosis Strategy and I welcome you to join. Futurecmo.com will also be published later in 2014. Join now and we’ll get better service up and running soon. There will also be new and improved FutureCMO.org.

Here’s initial offering description:

Toni Keskinen, Founder and Cheaf Editor of Future CMO
+358 50 5522276
toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen
Located in Helsinki, Finland
Available for speaking engagements and consulting globally

Jarmo Lipiäinen, Co-Founder, Business Director and Consultant
+358 40 525 7289
jarmo.lipiainen(at)asiakkaanmatkassa.fi
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jarmolipiainen
Located in Helsinki, Finland
Available for speaking engagements and consulting engagements

About Future CMO Commercial Community: Anyone can contact Toni Keskinen and request membership in the Future CMO Commercial Community. The only requirement for enlisting is that you have original, fresh, insightful and important insights to share with the members. The best source for such insights and content is your daily client work which is why the most ideal members are people who actually get their hands dirty and do what is required to be done. Experiments and practical work generate the most interesting content. I don’t really think that this community is suitable for academics. The minimum requirement for membership is that you write at least one article in a month. The goal is that Futurecmo.org becomes a service with very high quality content and subsequently serves all members as a marketing & learning platform. Joint effort will increase reach and impact more than anything a single person could do. In case you are accepted as a Commercial Community member, you will get publishing rights to this service. There will be two types of FCMO Commercial Community members a) Supertemps b) Specialists.

Specialists:You should have practical, unique and original thoughts, ideas, insights or cases to share. Specialists should also be capable of connecting their specialist area in to general marketing and management realities.

Some questions that might help you recognize the supertemp inside yourself:

  1. Do you have both breadth and depth in your skillset at practical and strategic levels? Are you the one who recognize what, why and how should be done in order to drive much stronger performance, growth and profits?
  2. Do you have experience from multiple business areas with different business logics and aplications to value creation and competitive advantage?
  3. Do you have difficulties leveraging your full capacity in you current work?
  4. Do you want to practice your skills and learn much faster and more holistically and pragmatically than is possible in a regular specialist role?
  5. Are you happy moving from one company to next without a fixed team and do you feel comfortable facing challenges by your self together with a client’s own internal team changing in each engagement?
  6. Do you have a network of specialists around you, who can fulfill your shortcomings reliably and rapidly so that you can solve any given challenge you come across?
  7. Are you capable of driving co-creation development, designing customer centric operational change, business modeling and -cases and managing projects across corporate silos, levels and specialist ownerships like sales, CRM, online, analytics, BI, customer service, marketing, research or ICT?
  8. Do you impress clients with you skills, accelerate development, drive results and generate strong recommendations for your work?

Typical Must Win Battles that give us direction for relevant content creation:

  1. Best customer experience (Goals: loyalty, LTV, cross & upsell, high NPS)
  2. Innovative solutions: Creation of competitive advantage, distinctive and special offering capable of delivering substantial value, high quality at highly competitive price
  3. Continuous and cost-efficient new business (Goals: new customers, demand generation and stronger conversion)
  4. Lean and effective operations and processes – strong bottomline (Goals: highly productive organisation capable of delivering superb customer experience at comparatively low expences by using new technologies, online environments and automation
  5. Creation of inspired and winning corporate culture: Inspirational and very satisfying workplace capable of understanding and driving development and change. Corporate recognition as very prominent employer for hungry and innovative new talent, Topline growth energize the company’s employees and focus their minds on opportunities, innovation and growth. Growth is a lot more inspiring tool for profitability than trying to save the company to mental death

Admap Best Practice: Mapping the Customer Journey

This is the original non-edited version of the article I wrote for Admap January 2014 issue:

Best Practice in How to Map Customer Journey

by Toni Keskinen

Customer Purchase Journey by definition is the customer’s journey from existing life experiences to initiation, cross-channel consideration and purchase. Customer Journey then continues to using the product or experiencing the service, re-purchases and loyalty or attrition. This article concentrate on Customer decision-making journey to purchase.

Marketing research often looks into the future perspective and ask about awareness, top-of-mind, preference and shortlist of potential brands. The challenge about researching future is that people are quite bad at acting according to their own intentions. Habits, convenience and instincts drive behaviour to unexpected directions that are difficult to predict by research. These studies also often miss a major point. They ask customers which brand they prefer and make them choose one, and consequently fail to recognize the fact that people might have only brand options, not a specific preferred brand.

Example: In a Telco case we learned that 76% of the customers had a pool of options but they didn’t have a specific preferred brand. This result means that most of the market is floating. People only have options and consider brands as equally good. When the time comes the best/ first/nearest/most conveniently available deal will win regardless the brand as long as the brand is within the pool of options.

How to prepare for Customer Journey mapping:

Before you start designing the research or make any assumptions, establish the foundation. You can establish the foundation with two key factors:

a)    Is the category or brand in high intensity position: high involvement, -investment or –interest product or service? Heinz ketchup would be in the low-end, buying a car would be in the high-end. The purchase intensity stands for the depth of consideration and willingness to make an effort to make a considered choice. If the product or service has low intensity, there will be no actual journey but rather spontaneous and habit driven behaviour. High intensity decision-making on the other hand could last a long time and have a lot of touch points in variety of surroundings.

b)    What is the brand’s status in customer’s mind compared to competitors? In case the brand is well-known and preferred brand, the customer journey will have completely different dynamics compared to less known challenger. The key question is; “is the brand being sold or bought”? In case the brand is bought, you can approach the mapping in order to find ways of optimizing conversion rate. For such case tactical marketing will also generate much stronger impact than in case of a brand with less demand. In case the brand is sold, you should find ways how to break into customer’s consideration and prove your brand better than competitors. In case the brand is sold, the burden of proof is on the brand’s shoulders and you need to find ways how to guide customers away from the path leading to market leader purchase.

You can find data for creation of foundation from the company’s brand tracking research, market share report, online analytics and Google Adwords tool or Google Trends tool. When looking for foundation intelligence, consider how the category behaviour reflect the two foundation factors, how the brand in question and it’s competitors position against each others. Draw a map with all competing brands on it (X-axis: Activity share seller vs. buyer, Y-axis: Intensity level. Eg. Heinz = bottom right corner = no or very little advertising, strong sales & market share, low intensity) Do the preparation phase well and you will have a rather good idea about what is happening in the customer behaviour dynamics. Analytics can give very good answers to “what” –questions. However, you need to make in-depth-interviews in order to find answers to “why” –questions.

Discovery phase:

Once you have a high level view on the market place and a lot of “what” ideas to guide you, prepare to make in-depth-interviews with customers and get “why”-answers from them. Choose customers who have made their choice recently. In case of high intensity purchases, people can remember their experiences for a couple of months, in case of low intensity purchases – interview them instantly at the point of purchase or walk them thru the store with the customer again using the customer as a guid for a tour and let the customer tell you what he experienced, noticed or thought along the way (the same approach can be used in online buying by recording customer’s actual journey thru website). This is different from mystery shopping, because the emphasis is on the customer, not on the store personnel.

The point of in-depth-interview is to analyse the customer’s lived experiences with out others’ interference. This information is only available from customers, because you need the full view across all brands, information and shopping touch points in the category – not just the brand you are doing the mapping for. Ask your customer to tell the whole story from what ever got him interested in buying to purchase. Here’s the process:

  • Who is the customer? Get to know his lifestyle and connection to category/brands
  • What made the customer interested (initiation)?
  • What and where did something happened that gave the impulse to initiate consideration: commercial act by the brand or it’s competitors or an event that made customer interest (eg. Moved to new apartment, new need etc.)?
  • Did the customer have a preferred brand in the beginning or not? Were there other options the customer considered?
  • How long was customer’s consideration and learning time before purchase?
  • Go thru all phases: initiation, browsing, configuration, decision, purchase
  • In which channels the customer interacted with your and competing brands in each phase?
  • Did the customer do all phases and what was the main driver and meaning of each of them? Did the customer skip stages? (In case you want to quantify results later, always define stage and ask if the customer did it before asking about it’s content and channels. Skipping stages is quite common)
  • What was the customer’s experience in each engagement like? Which brands performed well? Why?
  • Something led to decision, what was it and in which touch point did it occur?
  • What did the customer eventually buy?
  • What was the reason for choosing the specific brand over others?
  • What was the second best option or was there one? Why did it lose?
  • In case the customer chose competing brand, why did he not buy the one in focus?
  • Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is different brands’ Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied for? Was there dissatisfaction?

I would recommend making at least ten in-depth-interviews/category in order to learn about customers’ behaviour and motives. You should interview both won and lost customers and totally concentrate on their experience and point of view. In case you can study customers who left the brand you are making the customer journey mapping for, you will also find out where the brand failed and how the competitors caught the brand’s customers’ attention. In some markets for example outbound sales is an important influencer which has major impact on behavioral dynamics. While interviewing, keep your mind open. Don’t narrow your consideration, but consider all experiences and thoughts the customers have had. From customer’s point of view marketing, pricing, product design, convenience etc. are all relevant issues. As an outcome you will come across things you can influence and those you can’t. However, you need to understand customer’s behaviour and consideration holistically.

Analysis

This approach to interviews, discovery and analysis goes by the name “interpretative phenomenological analysis” (IPA) in psychology. Once you have the interviews, you can create an analysis about their journey and visualize it. The best way to do this is by visualizing each journey separately. Concentrate especially on chain of events, customer’s journey from one touch point to next, motives and contents steering the customer. Conscious cross-channel purchase journey is most likely in case of high intensity purchase. The behaviour dynamics differ between products, service ranges and between same brands in same category. In your analysis you can divide customer behavior in three major types:

Journey Driven people: These people take pleasure in getting to know their options, their qualities and comparing. They are also more likely to share their experiences in social media as they consider themselves as experts. People who are prepared to make detours and a longer journey require a different approach than destination driven ones and they don’t react on offers as easily, unless they have already got to know their options well in advance.

Journey Driven People are often early adopters. They are especially important in case you are launching new product. They are interested in the products and their qualities. You need to support their needs and change or influence their attitude in order to break in to their awareness. As they search and compare, you need to be able to justify to them why your solution would suit them and guide them to decide and purchase your product/service. These people really consider their user experience and share recommendations in case your performance is beyond expectations. Supporting their needs helps you perform better with other people representing different behaviour type.

Destination driven people: These people don’t really care to learn about products by themselves. They make rapid decisions based on their priorities (e.g. always the best, always the cheapest) or rely on 3rd party recommendations such as test results. An offer for test winner product is an effective proposition for them and generate rapid sales.

Destination driven people also need to be influenced at “need and attitude” -level in order to create better awareness of your offering and it’s qualities. However, this is more about leveraging past reviews and feedback from journey driven people. Destination driven people are more likely to be influenced by e.g. Magazine or social media reviews on your product or other independent sources of information. With such support you can just concentrate on tactical advertising in order to encourage decision and purchase making. Destination driven people are interested in the user experience and reviewing their own experience to others.

Slow movers, public opinion driven people: (also habitual or insignificant purchases). These people don’t take risks. Only after most of the others have already accepted and favoured a certain product or service will they follow. Same behaviour also describes the purchase process of less significant products, like toilet paper or other habitually purchased products. People don’t really pay attention to what they buy; they just buy it like they’ve done before.

Public opinion driven people accept your offering when it’s widely used and they are completely certain that choosing your offering has no risk what so ever. It’s all about tactical advertising, retail promotions and encouraging purchase. They are not likely to share their opinion to others or recommend your products or services actively.

In different product and service categories differences are dramatic. It’s easy to think in terms of travelling. A motorcyclist takes longer and slower routes because the journey is the major part of the travelling experience in itself. On a family holiday the same person takes a direct flight to an all-inclusive hotel. Although this is the same person, different context and different motives lead into completely different behaviour. The point of this analysis is to really understand how people behave in your category towards different brands and find out what is required from you in order to perform better.

Along with behaviour type, analyse:

  • What kind of commonalities and shared phenomena, motives, contexts, choice criteria and channels can be found from customer’s behaviour and what was there that you need to quantify or find more information about. Pay attention to the chain of events.
  • Which of the touch points the brand can control, which you just need to influence
  • What was the customer experience like in competitors different touch points along own ones. Can you learn something from them?
  • Pull all your findings together and have a workshop to discuss about these findings and find out how the internal organization experience these findings and what knowledge do they have about them. Get people who work in direct customer interfaces involved.
  • Also discuss, which ERP, CRM, online analytics or other systems are currently capturing data about the customers? This information can help you further and let you make a decision whether you continue by doing data analysis and workshop or do you need to quantify the results with larger research. I would recommend research every one or every two years in order to map out how the market place works from customer’s point of view and what you can learn from competitors’ practices or whether you can find opportunities for growing market share

Why this approach to mapping and analysing customer journey is imperative

In many cases your own campaign could actually sell competitors’ products. Also, in many cases the customer journey is full of conflicting interests. In case you only analyse the one brand’s journey you will completely lose sight on category dynamics. Here’s an example about my Garmin buying:

There was a home electronics store advertisement promoting TomTom navigator for 75€ with European maps.  I went to buy it, but the store salesman told me there was an error in the ad and that price only included Western European maps. He showed me the product with Full European maps with 105€ price. Next to it was Garmin Nüvi, which had exactly same price. I asked if there was any differences between the two and the salesman told Garmin had better battery life. I bought Garmin. Let’s look at the interests of different players:

Me, the customer:

I was very happy, although I paid 40% more than intended but 105€ wasn’t a problem eventually. I was highly price-oriented customer who was looking for ”good enough” solution and was not interested in more advanced solution or bigger screen. Because of the basic functionality needs I had I was also not interested enough to look in to product specifications online, product reviews or discussion forums. This product will get the job done anyway. I was a perfect example of destination driven buyer. At home, the product exceeded expectations. It had much more functionalities than I was expecting. They had minor meaning compared to the basic functionality, none of them was more important than the battery life, but it was a positive surprise.

Gigantti store:

Closed 40% more sales than I had intended to spend. The experience about the store was positive and the sales person’s advice was good, which means that the store will get more money from me later on. Was their error in the ad intentional? Probably not but they should still analyse how the error influenced their GPS navigator sales in general. What did customers come to buy and what did they actually walk out with?

TomTom:

Complete failure. The brand might have made a special deal for the campaign resulting change in price image. After reading that leaflet customers think, that you can get TomTom with European maps at the price of 75€. It easily becomes the market standard because of nationwide advertising campaign. You are making a bad deal if you pay more for it. Price/value ratio sounds perfect but actually it wasn’t real because of the error in the ad. That’s ok if you go to Gigantti and they tell you about the error. If you don’t you just expect that TomTom’s are now cheap. It’s most likely that TomTom does some kind of post campaign analysis and comes to completely wrong conclusions unless they understand how the purchase dynamics in the low price category GPS really works and how their campaign influenced customer behaviour in general.

Garmin:

Great success. Garmin did nothing but made a deal anyway.  Well, I had positive image about Garmin in advance and the sales person just gave me the last defining fact that led to decision to buy Garmin. Now that Garmin closed a deal with me and got me registered, I am quite likely to buy other stuff on top later on.  Was Garmin’s success intentional? In reality the sales person’s advice could have been founded on her own perception or Garmin had analysed the differences between brands and intentionally launched training for retail sellers which states that their battery life is better than TomTom’s. How much longer? No idea.  It never came up.

Conflicting interests are very important to understand. In another case a laptop brand sold 50% more than their preference rate would suggest. That also was because the sales people preferred that specific brand.

Here’s how Audi did in case of B2B car leasing deals:

  • Preference 14%
  • Alternative to 26 %. Altogether Audi was considered by 40% of all buyers
  • Audi sold 11,2% that is 2,8% below preference which means 80% conversion

Audi was the most sold brand but was also most often the 2nd best and had lowest conversion rate  in the market. Wolkswagen sold 119%, Volvo 117% and Ford 196% compared to preference. Even if you would be number one in sales, you could still be the one losing most.

There is one more thing to consider: Specialist & aggregator influence. In B2B especially customers are using professional consults and agents to compare and make recommendations. The customer journey behaviour and needs of an agent are very different from individual buyer’s needs. In B2C businesses comparison services and aggregators like Hotels.com and eBookers have similar significant influence. In case there are such actors in your category, analyse their journey separately.

Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

In case you quantify your results with larger sample you can calculate Business Dynamics Score.

Those who preferred you originally > How many did you keep?
Those who preferred your competitor > How many did you win?
Those who had no preference > How many did you win?

When you compare won-kept-lost results between brands you can really see how different brands are performing. I would recommend calculating BDS from all market players in order to learn about differences in channel efficiency. This figure will give you very good understanding on how behaviour from one brand to another differs and what you need to do in order to perform better. Such insight has great impact on media- and communications strategy.

Constructing Market Flow

In case you have the larger sample, you can construct entire market flow across stages, channels, motives and behaviour types from spontaneous purchases to considered ones on one page view. This single page view will help tremendously in understanding what kind of factors influence market success most and how for example strong retail strategy performs against strong online emphasis. In one case we found that spontaneous buying was quite strong and outbound calls represented 15% of total market sales. However, we were surprised to learn that more than half of customers buying in the category initiated because of outbound call, didn’t do one stop shopping, but instead started cross-channel consideration journey ending up in a purchase from some other channel.

Check out these articles too:
Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s
Managing Brand – The most profound KPI’s and measures /
From marketing automation to service automation

About Author

Toni Keskinen ,Chief Editor for Future CMO Movement (http://futurecmo.org)

Toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org

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

Paradigm shifts in Marketing 2014

Marketing Paradigm ShiftI believe that in 2014 corporate management and board take action and set new requirements for marketing. This has already been the trend for some time, but I believe that in 2014 a tornado hits marketing function in large-scale. I wish you could give your opinion on these. Please, if you disagree or notice that I missed something, comment below. Here they are:

-From campaigns to systemic growth acceleration
-From advertising to operations
-From brand book to brand experience & corporate culture
-From pre-planned year to realtime
-From one way to collaborative & dialogue
-From corporate led to customer led
-From bought audiences to owned and earned channels
-From guessing to proof driven continuous analytics, data and automation
-From promise marketing to customer excellence
-From online to mobile +
-Personal Anological communications become premium experiences at the digital era of minimizing contact costs and diminishing traditional direct marketing
-From selling to servicing – From outbound- to inbound marketing
-From Solo unit to collaborative accelerator
-From second rate corporate practice to management imperative

Let’s take a look at them in more detail:

From campaigns to systemic growth acceleration & From pre-planned year to realtime
Owned, earned and partner mediums offer means to generate constant customer flow and optimize conversions for sales. On-going constant presence and dialogue increase company’s reach, impact and capacity to communicate brand and offering in the digital environment “for free” (Naturally this kind of work requires a lot of work and high quality, so nothing is completely free). The marketing automation technology and continuous personalized communications with customers enable such influence and effect that their role is currently outranking paid media. On the other hand paid media is becoming personalized too. When customer is searching for something and her digital profile gives a high scoring value for certain offering, it is time to bid higher in the digital eyeball exchange (RTB) and get your message thru. The window of opportunity in Customer journeys to purchase could vary from seconds to months and marketing must be present at the right time with a right message. The era of mass media dominated campaigns and corporate led campaign schedules is over. Mass media has an important role in marketing mix, but it’s dominance is over now and continuous communications have the lead in importance.

From advertising design to operations
Advertising has been a unique discipline in the market and creativity is the core of advertising impact. Advertising is corporate led and scheduled work that takes money to publish. In this day and age the first priority should be to concentrate on your customer interfaces and channel strategy. How well does your customer interface meet with customer’s needs and expectations? It is increasingly difficult to say where marketing stops and product starts, and this is a good thing. Marketing & services are integrating and customer interface communications can use advertising means like videos to help customers further. Creativity has is now more important than ever, but the use of creativity is now more targeted in certain context and encounters with customers instead of mass-media with reach.

From one way to collaborative & dialogue & From promise marketing to customer excellence
One way manifests and promising is dead. People don’t trust advertising anymore and the access to information is present anywhere, anytime. In the connected environment we are now living in the old approach to building a brand with advertising doesn’t apply anymore. Brands are not built they are experienced and shared. The transparency revolution that empowered customers, forces companies to actually do better, not to just look better. The measurement of customer value has been a monetary concept for a very long time. Because there has not been technologies or means to measure anything else, that has been a valid approach. Today, customers have new currencies that can also be measured too. Customers can endorse a brand they like, or they can give very visible and durable critical comments about it. Customers have ideas for improvement, they can help you in your development process by giving their opinions while you are just developing a new approach, they can participate and share and by doing so, expand company’s reach and presence in the eyes of potential customers in a very positive way. Customers can help each others too, like web developers have done since the dawn of internet. Open innovation platforms like My Starbucks Idea, Dell Ideastorm or Innocentive have led the co-created product and solution development for a long time already and new, very cost efficient cloud based services like Ideascale have emerged. Social Media and open dialogue with the customers are really making a major difference and consequently forcing companies to do better.

From corporate led to customer led
Think about your self as a customer, to which brands are you truly committed? Then think the other way: “Which brands are truly committed to you as a customer”? I would guess, there are very few, if any that you can think of. Since the industrialization, society’s chance to specialized roles and growth of cities, the availability of options has steadily increased. Early on, the producers could just produce as much as they could as cheap as they could and that was enough. Now we are living in the world where there is too much of almost everything. Just producing at lower cost and higher quality isn’t enough anymore. We have now entered the experience economy that requires companies to adapt each and every customer’s personal lifestyle and needs. Offering everything to everybody equals spamming, and indifference marketing. Such marketing is a statement: “ We don’t really care about you, but here’s everything we got”.  Oracle Eloqua made a study about how often the sales people are actually contacting customers when the time is right for the customer. Majority of contacts are done at completely wrong time. Just being able to recognize that single thing makes a major difference in customer experience and operational efficiency.

From outbound- to inbound marketing
Previously a seller was looking for a customer, now customers are looking for solutions. The all-knowing Google is the most important route to most products and services and Google’s page rank is the key to the gateway to customers. Because all information is now available all the time, people want to check and make sure that they are making a smart decision or they look for options in general. Regardless which is the case, the company does not exist in the customer’s consideration unless it has very high top-of-mind score or preference rate. Most companies don’t. Once customers actually land at your site, the whole game is about conversion, whether you are capable of creating a connection with the customer or directly closing a deal. However, the fact is that people make their decisions and also transaction online and inbound approach to marketing is really becoming a very meaningful approach.

From guessing to proof driven continuous analytics, data and automation
Right now, pretty much anything you do can be measured. The availability of data has exploded while the cost of technology processing that data and making it possible to act on the data has slumped. The most pressing challenge now, is to educate people who know what to do with this capacity. You can track the customer’s transaction history with CRM, online behavior with marketing automation tools and you can even track potential customers with cookies and adapt to their behavior without them giving you any information apart from their actual behavior. You can track people’s organic journeys, interests, motives and landing sites, actually the entire market logic of preferences and customer flows between different brands and demand driving with online & search analytics. The web should be considered as the world’s largest quantitative research panel that is entirely based on actual behavior instead of opinions. Such access to information that is mostly free is really shaking the marketing and business communities in general.

From online to mobile +
There are now more connected phones to internet than computers. Online is now always on and always available. A computer was mostly used at home or office, but tablets and mobile phones are present where ever you are. The app explosion and location availability are now changing the entire role of internet enabling companies to really adapt to customer, time and location. The rise of HTML5 is making all online assets available in very intuitive and user-friendly way in any given gadget or platform instead of doing everything several times for native solutions. The dawn of “internet of things” is at hand and enable customer to have a “Sixth sense” that helps her to navigate in the actual world with more information, directions and advice than ever.  On the other hand it does enable companies to really become truly customer centric.

From Online back to Analogical (Personal Anological communications become premium experiences at the digital era of minimizing contact costs and diminishing traditional direct marketing)
When ever some major change happen, there will be a counter trend. Although everything is now going online and we love it, personal analogue communications are becoming signs of premium customer care and experiences. A simple letter has become rare approach. I was involved in a case where we approached  CEO’s of stock exchange listed companies. It was difficult to think how to get their attention and get to them directly without becoming cut off by an executive assistant. Eventually the solution was simple, a letter with a hand written address and a real stamp. Everything about such approach communicated intimacy and purpose. Such approach is as far as it gets from mass communications and that was exactly the reason why the campaign got 30% pull rate. The same apply to consumer communications. How would you feel, if you got a letter from Google or Facebook, that had a hand written address and a stamp? That would really be something J The person to person communications and customer service over phone are also having similar impacts, in case the service is working well. Although brand are now living in internet, we are still people who create a trusting relationship with other people.  That is a fact we should never forget.

From selling to servicing
We all have been sold to. That is not really a pleasant experience. When you are looking for something you would appreciate someone who would make your need their interest and do the best they can to get you a best possible solution. Sometimes that solution is not delivering the highest possible profit margin in short-term, but it sure does deliver in so many other levels. The customer is much more likely to come back, endorse the company and deliver much higher life time value. Shortterminism is the plague we need to cure. When ever you communicate with your customers, delivering them honest advice will sell more and increase impact of communications.

From Solo unit to collaborative accelerator & From second-rate corporate practice to management imperative
Marketing has been a solo unit that has been concentrating on promotion, brand awareness, -preference and -attributes. Those days are now behind us. The same measures are still important, but the marketing unit is required to take more commercial responsibility for customer interfaces and customer contacts in general. The very heart of marketing has always been the customer understanding. That is now more important than it has ever been. Customer centric business model demands marketing to spread available customer intelligence people operating in all customer interfaces. Management, corporate strategy and operations are now required to have their foundation on customer understanding. Because of this, the role of marketing is becoming a true management imperative and driver for customer centric corporate transformation. These are truly exciting and inspiring times!
Articles for more insights:

Fjord’s and Accenture’s “Trends impacting Service Design in 2014”

This is a great report about the changes and developments in the digital arena. Enjoy 🙂

Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s

Marketing Mix 4PMarketing used to be about making companies APPEAR to be better, increasing brand appeal etc. Today marketing is about MAKING BETTER COMPANIES

The omni-channel, real-time, everything’s available and traceable environment we are currently living in has changed the marketing fundamentals quite radically. The world is no longer the same place for which The marketer E. Jerome McCarthy proposed the four Ps classification in 1960. This age requires us to re-design them. Actually, in my opinion we should question the old truths and re-define the entire concept, role and meaning of marketing.. go back to the fundamentals and adjust them to this time and age. I hope this article sparks interest and willingness to join in and continue the discussion at Future CMO LinkedIn Group

The new 7P’s

  • Position – in customer’s mind
  • Performance – the user experience, capability to meet expectations
  • Proximity – How close the brand is to it’s customers, Customer intimacy
  • Price  – Price is no longer a fixed figure
  • Presence – instead of Place
  • Perceived product
  • Promotion

POSITION

There is a lot of everything. Customers instinctively make their lives easier by using their mental shortcuts, heuristics, in order to make sense of the surrounding wealth of messages and impulses. The position a brand holds in the customer’s mind connects it to certain attributes, contexts, values, benefits and purposes. Actually, our brain gives an emotional tag to every single piece of information before entering our conscious mind. Branding is about training customers’ brains and winning certain position in their minds. This is why it takes a long time to really gain a meaningful position as a brand. That’s also why brand extensions are not a certain success, as the position the brand has in customer’s mind only consist of certain learned connections.

Because of these reasons I would define Brand as a position in the customers’ minds. During the past decade people have also learned to use brands as their road signs when searching for products, services, solutions, ideas and inspiration. For example in travel and telecommunications markets the number of category searches has dropped, while brand searches have increased. Instead of searching for smartphone or holiday, customers search operators, smartphone manufacturers and travel agencies by brand. To people, brands stand for direct access to information they are looking for. Such behavior makes the top-of-mind position even more important than it has been before. Smartphones or 4G are minimal interests, while Samsung and Apple have strong demand. The data also shows how Android has become a brand on it’s own and has an even stronger demand than Samsung has.

Mobile Google trends

PERFORMANCE

When customers do buy a product or service they have certain expectations for what they bought. Depending on how well the brand meets those expectations, it influences the customer’s personal experience and view on the brand’s performance. Value for money experience is a very important measure for a brand and shared experiences influence the brand’s Net Promoter Score directly. Performance should be measured through the customer’s entire relationship with the brand, across every single experience they share. In my opinion we should include PERSEVERENCE as part of the performance. The customers expect you to stay interested in them and continue to deliver high value. One-shot experience is not enough, no matter how good it is. The real performance must be proved over time also in case of product failure or other unexpected events.

In September 2013 HBR published an article: “The truth about Customer Experience” by Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan, and Conor Jones. In their experience, most companies measure customer experience by touch points or single engagements. Such an approach will tell you how did that single engagement meet customer’s expectations. It does not say anything about customer’s satisfaction over time. In case this is the only mean to measure performance in a corporate KPIs, it will create an illusion of performing well. In their article, they proved the declining customer satisfaction over the length of customer relationship. When you think in terms of performance, you need to continuously improve your service, in order to keep your customers happy. In my Customer Journey studies I have also learned that, the reasons why customers choose to buy a certain product, or a service, are not necessarily the same ones that will keep the customer happy post purchase on a longer term.

Performance measures are also changing the marketing as a practice, changing management and the ways of managing change. Today, everything can be easily tested in small scale, scaled to global level and measured in real time. The marketing practice has been measured with rather elusive figures like top-of-mind, preference, awareness and attributes until recently. Now marketing has become an actual business unit that should have a business plan, revenue forecasts and profit expectations. This is finally something that other members of the board understand. This is why the marketing as a practice is moving up on the corporate power ladder. Corporate management is already expecting CMO’s to take responsibility for corporate digital transformation. In my opinion the creativity factor associated with marketing function has more potential in this new order than ever before when its performance is measured right. When customer understanding, creativity and performance metrics are connected across corporate strategy and operations, possibilities of developing business, competitive advantage and brand become infinite. We just need to follow the path companies like Tesco, Apple, Google and Amazon have opened for us over the past two decades. In that time the technology and ecosystem developed to its current level of sophistication and accessibility allowing us to join in and follow the paths these giants have already proved effective.

PROXIMITY

Proximity is a synonym for distance. In order to create trust and relationship with customers, brands need to get close and personal with their customers. At best, you can talk about customer intimacy and connecting the brand to people’s self image. We have a chance of having a dialogue and become a part of peoples everyday life via different channels like Facebook, apps, online services, even external bought mediums at personal level. Although the Internet and all it’s applications have a lot to offer, PEOPLE belong in this category too. Person-to-person communications are the primary way of connecting and even getting imprinted to the brand. People and corporate culture represent the brand in human form. The old truth about brand being as good as its salesman is still true. Customers meet people while making their choices, have support needs or they want a reclamation taken care of. People are the very core of trust experience and in many businesses customers imprint on people serving them. In such cases the brand experience and loyalty has it’s foundation on personal relationship: it’s not about B2B or B2C, it’s about Human-to-Human. The current view is, that those companies that best connect their physical experience in an omni-channel world will win the hearts and minds of their customers.

In my opinion the Apple Store concept is one of the best examples of creating a strong human interface and online customer relationship together. The experience at Apple store is that all employees are there for you, concentrating on your concerns and help you with your needs. There are often more employees than there are customers, which just stands for Apple’s priorities. The store is a place for brand experience and it is not measured by sheer efficiency like most other stores are.

Apple store

Picture source: http://zerogeekspeak.net/2014/06/16/av-forward-training-customerprofessional-relationship-dynamics/

PRICE

Price used to be a rather fixed figure. In this age price has become a rather elusive measure. The new approaches to pricing are about yielding models and price variety between customer segments or distribution channels. There is one price for me, and another for you, although the product and the seller are the same. There is a price for me right now and another tomorrow.

Online environment has made it possible to democratize offering and make pricing transparent by using aggregators and comparison services that find prices from different sellers and present them in one single view. This kind of approach has democratized the marketplace, because the aggregators only show certain comparable basic functionalities and push the brand further away from the customer. This approach has increased the meaning of pricing volatility and transparency. People on the other hand love such services, because the offering with large selection, customer reviews and low prices can be found and bought from a single location fast and conveniently. Actually these players like Expedia that is offering Hotels.com, expedia.com, Trivago and those alike them, are creating direct relationships with customers and effectively drive prices lower (and their profit margin higher because they effectively own demand). Smaller players, who have less known brands but can offer services and products at lower cost, can access demand and challenge better known brands due to this logic.

The demand for lower prices is growing and now it’s also connected with certain brands known for their low prices. In January 2014 Amazon reported that its’ more than 2 million marketplace sellers sold more than a billion units globally. In their annual report Amazon also reported higher profit margins, because everything they sell in their marketplace generate pure profit. Amazon, like big brands, have the demand, selling other businesses’ products don’t cost virtually anything for them.

Here’s how demand is developing in case of accommodation business:

Travel Google Trends

PRESENCE

I think that presence has replaced place on this list. In the digital era, presence equals availability and direct access to buying. Presence is a more flexible concept than place that is physical. Social media is a method of expanding presence across customers’ peer groups and generating recommendations, participation and coverage in general. Aggregators also scale presence further. Customers will choose a brand among those present. It is to say that expanding presence is likely to directly impact sales. Out of sight – out of mind, is the name of the game.

When I have been studying Customer Journeys and customer’s decision making, I’ve learned that there exists a market segment of people who are at the state of “pending decision” or “pending action” in many categories, especially in case of consumer packaged goods. Let’s say that you, for example, need to buy a new toothbrush and you decide to do so. The decision is already there, but it could take months before you actually make the purchase. In such cases the sheer presence where customer makes the purchase increases sales even without any kind of promotion. The same logic applies in many other cases too. I have personally become completely loyal for a contact lens seller LensOn. They send me an email once my previous order is likely to be nearly consumed and I only need to click once to renew my order. They know me and their presence takes place at the right time inside my personal space. I consider that great service. Their presence is perfect – out of sight and not bothering me at other times, only serving me proactively when they know I need it. LensOn has effectively increased my contact lens spending, because I have not run out of them since my first purchase, almost four years ago.

PERCEIVED PRODUCT

A PRODUCT is too often defined by companies as how they see and envision it. This is naturally flawed/biased and is where many companies make a mistake in the first steps of selling and marketing their product/service. Especially engineer lead organizations that are very product detail focused. In reality this should be PERCEIVED PRODUCT, making an enormous paradigm shift from companies defining a product, to understanding that the PRODUCT is actually only and exactly what we can get the consumer to perceive it to be. This adds the element of communication responsibility and understandability to the 7P’s equation. Most companies think they have the best product, but still fail, because of an enormous perception gap in the definition of the product in their minds and the potential customers minds. Perceived Products is naturally tightly linked to the second P = PERFORMANCE, which is all about (repeatedly) living up to, and exceeding the product perception and quality expectations of the customer (The definition of Perceived Product came from Jarno Aho, OMD Finland.)

What makes the concept of Perceived product especially important, is the fact that customer experience about a product or service is firmly embedded on expectations. When expectations are really high, it is difficult to meet them. On the other hand low expectations are easy to exceed and translate them to endorsements. Perception has a major influence on brand demand and preference. Branding has everything to do with it.

PROMOTION

Here’s the Wikipedia’s definition: “All of the methods of communication that a marketer may use to provide information to different parties about the product. Promotion comprises elements such as: advertising, public relations, sales organisation and sales promotion.[1]” Another way to approach promotion can be divided in four major categories:

  • Owned media (own customer interfaces and direct channels for customer communications)
  • Earned media (social media and PR)
  • Partner media (retailers, resellers, bundling and packaging partners, etc.)
  • Paid media (advertising, SEM, etc.)

Important measures for promotion are reach and impact to brand awareness, preference, willingness to pay premium and convert sales. In the Internet age of overwhelming availability of data, own media has increased it’s capacity to impact sales tremendously. Search engine’s page rank can be improved, own customer data can be leveraged very cost efficiently and the relationship with customers can drive further reach with earned social media and dialogue with customers. In the current online centric customer relationships in which marketing and servicing merge as one single messaging, it’s increasingly difficult to define where the product or service ends and marketing/promotion starts. You could say that the core customer service and customer relationship processes have become promotional activities in the age of open online dialogue. Partnering influence reach and presence very effectively too. These new possibilities have diminished the role of paid mediums and increased promotional capacity and scalability at a low cost. Data driven marketing enable paid media’s role as an extension of customer relationship marketing even if the customer has never left his/her contacts.

These were my 7P’s. In case you can agree with them, I’m sure you can also agree with this. Marketing used to be about making companies APPEAR to be better, increasing brand appeal etc. Today marketing is about MAKING COMPANIES BETTER. The difference between these two roles is so great, that it demands us to open our eyes and re-define marketing as a practice for the needs and opportunities of today.

Further reading:

CMO´s were hit by Tornado

Marketing departments in many companies are currently losing their importance and budgets. The world of commerce and marketing is truly in great turbulence right now.. Tornado really. The change is like force of nature and it is so fierce, because several megatrends are colliding simultaneously:

  1. Customer Experience design and metrics mania (NPS)
  2. Corporate Identity as a holistic concept, not just brandbook but experience
  3. Integration of service & marketing = Business Process Design & LEAN process requirement for efficiency
  4. Design thinking breakout for innovation and business model generation
  5. CRM and automation capabilities increase: Increase CIO’s, Sales director’s and business management’s involvement in marketing
  6. Social brand and open dialogue with customers (rating and feedback is ever present issue + the rise of Open Innovation as part of customer relationships)
  7. Revenue Performance Management requirement and Analytics
  8. Decline in traditional marketing & Own media’s tremendous influence increase
  9. Organisational changes – Torn Silo walls makes marketing everyone’s business > “We are all marketeers now” said McKinsey’s article
  10. Requirement to deliver better results with lower budgets

What I’ve heard and observed is, that business management has already got used to thinking in terms of processes due to ERP and CRM technology development and implementation. They are also very familiar with cost/performance analysis and practical implementation to processes. It is easier for them to think about Customer Journey and CX design pragmatically and apply the ideas in practice. Sadly, CMO’s in many companies are strangers to such consideration and thinking. Branding used to be about doing things according to the brand book and design guidelines. Now brand is both an idea about something great that stands for something and something that you can experience with all your senses. The Corporate brand identity is more about such holistic experience than images, jingle’s or tone of voice. They are still important, but the other factors are increasing their influence exponentially.

This community was created because we wanted CMO’s to take advantage of the turbulence that would enable major increase in their influence and improve productivity in organisations. Now it feels like marketing departments influence and capacity to deliver results is dividing in two and this change is escalating as two roadmaps: a) Marketing becomes the driving force for corporate business development (= CMO’s take the driver’s seat leading the change) or b) Marketing becomes second grade support organisation without power (= CMO’s continue their work as they have done before). I wish more companies and CMO’s would choose the roadmap A.

I participated in DMA event in 2004. There Nectar’s (Loyalty Management UK’s) CEO Robert Giergink presented his case about coalition loyalty management program and their results for the first couple of years. His co-speaker was a University Professor whose name I can’t recall anymore, but he said that loyalty programs might represent the future of Marketing in general. I was deeply impressed, enlightened really, about Nectar’s case and find it still very inspiring. In my opinion that professor hit the point exactly. Currently all marketing is about Customer Journey and Experience management, individualized dialogue and event based, triggered and service oriented communications. That is exactly what loyalty programs are supposed to do. However, until recently such approach was ridiculously expensive or impossible. Right now, the technology is very cost efficient and the ROI capacity is absolutely amazing. While this is true with all recognized customers it’s now becoming possible also for customer’s that have left no identification about them.

Naturally the online revolution and social media storm have made everything above even more important and possible and that is why these things have become management imperatives. I’m looking at the CMO’s position in the light of generic Must Win Battles shared by many companies:

TOPLINE GROWTH:

  • Best customer experience (Goals: loyalty, LTV, cross & upsell, high NPS)
  • Continuous and cost-efficient new business (Goals: new customers, demand generation and stronger conversion)

BOTTOM LINE STRENGHT:

  • Lean and effective operations and processesstrong bottom line (Goals: highly productive organisation capable of delivering superb customer experience at comparatively low expences by using new technologies, self service and help, Social customer service, online environments and automation)

ENERGIZING SUSTAINABILITY:

  • Creation of winning corporate culture: Inspirational and very satisfying workplace capable of understanding and driving development and change. Recognition as very prominent employer for hungry and innovative new talent, Topline growth energize the company’s employees and partners focusing their minds on opportunities, innovation and growth

Such MWB considerations should become the heart of marketing strategy development. I’m currently involved in such cases and I’m witnessing the great change and impact such consideration has on the organisations. Creation of new and exploration of unknown are naturally inspiring and when they also deliver financially measurable success it is certainly worthy of your undivided attention.

Word of encouragement: Very few people are truly experienced in this game. Go ahead and learn by doing. I can promise you it is great!

Also check out:

Managing brand – the most profound kpi’s and measures

Marketing has an identity crisis

Author: Toni Keskinen, Change Catalyst & Executive as a Service

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

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Definition for Customer Experience

Customer Experience is so obvious and yet so complex subject that has multitude of perceptions and views to consider. I try to put it very objectively. What do you think about this definition about:
“Customers approach their experience subjectively and holistically and they form their view of customer experience based on one or multiple engagements with the company’s services, products and interfaces. The company could build great customer experience with multiple engagements and crush the customer’s view with one. The customer has very different approach and expectations for the company along their purchase and customer relationship process and their expectations change along the way. The key to their view on experience is customer’s subjective expectations that the company intentionally or by chance set with advertising, promises, engagements across touch points and via other customer’s shared experiences. This is why same service level deliver’s very different customer experience and Net Promoter Score results from one company to another.”

You can create brand without engagements and the brand is the key to the expectations. The customer experience though is based on personal engagements with the company, it’s products and services.

I recently wrote the article “Beyond HBR’s truth about customer experience” and “Irina” asked what kind of definition I would use for Customer Experience. I wrote that definition before checking other’s opinions. I now listed them below. I often struggle with definitions, because generalizing them to the max reduce other’s capacity to fully understand how many meanings there are behind very few words and suppressed sentence. It’s often true, that we use the same words, but connect very different contexts and views to them. Effectively we could discuss about the same subject and think about completely different issues. This is such a fundamental question, that I’d love to come up with a definition everyone could share from CEO to customer service, marketing, CTO, CFO and well ..The Customer. What is your view on this subject? Have you come across events, in which people have had completely different perception about the issues and events influencing Customer Experience?

Here are some definitions from other thought leaders and players:

Beyond Philosophy: A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact. – See more here

Wikipedia: Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context. – See more here

Adam Richardson, Frog Design: It is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer. – See Mr. Richardson’s article about the subject in HBR blog network here

SAS: Customer experience is defined as your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle. – Article available here

Forrester Research: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” In Mr. Harley Manning’s blog post is available here

In Forrester’s article, there was also great picture about how expectations and meeting them influence customer’s subjective experience about the company.

The truth about Customer Experience has a lot to do with our emotional systems. This Infograph by Forbes makes a great point:

I just found a company “Touchpoint Dashboard” Do you have any experiences about using this tool?

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

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

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

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