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Branding = Change Management and Operational Excellence

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in the development processes of SME’s and some major companies with hundreds of millions or billions in turnover. These processes are about change:

  • The emphasis is moving from advertising and external media to own touchpoints and communications with own customers
  • The marketing as such is becoming more and more targeted and measurable. Marketing has a business case and acts more and more like a business unit
  • The view is moving from products and services to customers and customer centric insight driven development
  • The development requires companies to change the way they operate and how they are organized
  • Big data about customers, their behavior and their needs is required in order to enable the change
  • The change requires companies to re-consider their KPI’s and what data do they use in order to increase transparency and enhance and empower internal innovation and cross-silo collaboration
  • This change must be managed and management must change in order to enable the change for better

I recently published my view on the new and re-designed 7P’s for marketing. In this article I already underlined the fact that marketing has changed profoundly. Brands are no longer created – they are earned. Brands live in customers’ minds and they grow from experiences.. own and peer experiences. In my opinion CMO’s are at the very core of corporate Must Win Battles like:

CMO and corporate must win battles

This is why I would say rather confidently that the path from good to great brand includes these stages:

branding, marketing, operational excellence

First: You need to have goals and vision. They act as a unifying master plan that everyone in the company can understand and accept. What kind of brand are we trying to create? What kind of customer experience and and relationship are we trying to deliver and earn? What kind of impacts are we trying to get?

Second: When you analyse the customer journey accross all touchpoints and channels, you get to see how are you currently performing, what and where do you need to improve. This is where the magic happens between your brand and customers

Third: You need to take a look at how does your company actually operate and how is it managed. Does your current ways support and enable the customer interface operations that you are trying to achieve. Are you organized right, do you have right kind of KPI’s, are different diciplines and silos working together or do you lose insights between gaps and inevitably cause corporate autism?

Fourth: Does your corporate infrastructure enable everything mentioned and planned above? Do you have legacy systems and technology, disconnected data etc. In case the technology and infrastructure doesn’t enable the change, how do you take action? What kind of roadmap and investments are required? What can be done fast, what takes more time and effort? What can be piloted and can you start the learning curve growth with some manual work that enable more effective technology implementation?

This same approach to change management can also be seen as work that moves from practical customer interfaces insights and understanding to top – not top-down. This is how it works:

upside down strategy workWhen I have been running these cases I have learned that this approach works very, very well. The reason is that everyone is involved and the process in it self actually enhances the learning and feeling of unity, shared goals and willingness to change. This is because the process inspires, makes difficult theory work feel practical and easy to adopt. Very often the process generates several small victories and improvements that can be implemented immediately. The good experiences start building up and people get the feeling that these things are really happening and we are really doing something meaningful. Once the plan is ready, the organisation has already moved several steps to the right direction and has become excited about the development. For the management this is extremely valuable situation, because they can just enable what the organisation is asking for instead of trying to order and manage changes top-down.

The reality is that the use of data and data driven operations are requiring new approach to technology and companies need to adopt it some how. Here’s an example about the use of external data ecosystem along with own data

Internal and external data use in marketing

The role of internal and external data:

the role of internal and external data in marketing and customer services

This is how I see the brand development in this day and age. Do you agree/disagree? Would you have any cases, experiences or hints how I could develop this approach further?

See also:

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Marketing has an identity crisis – Blue Ocean dashboard

I just found Dr. Rod King’s Blue Ocean dashboard and process tools from SlideShare today and thought about how necessary it is to understand the whole value creation process in order to manage brand effectively. The number one branding responsible inside the company is actually the CEO, as he is often the only person in a company responsible for the total experience.

Brand identity is a reflection of the company, it has to be real and true. False promises and wrong kind of identity only generate dissatisfaction and distrust. You are what you are and you can improve, but you can’t stretch too far. Marketing is often responsible for the identity design, business managers are responsible for the experience. This approach doesn’t work anymore – The brand from the customer’s perspective is one single entity and the experience and perception must be a solid combination.

Mr. Graham Hill, well-known and great CRM and customer experience expert whom I respect very much just published an article: How Stupidity, Short-termism and Immorality Ruined Marketing in Customer Think -blog. Here’s a quote:

“If you take a step back you will see that the ethos of marketing has changed over the past 50 or so years. It used to be the driver of a three-step process of 1. understanding what customers want, 2. organising to give it to them profitably and 3. telling them all about it.

Today, this has been changed so that marketing is now the driver of a much more intrumental three-step process of 1. create more stuff that we already make or that competitors make, 2. tell customers about it over and over again, and 3. manage away the customer queries, complaints and returns as cheaply as possible.”

In my opinion the article just emphasized how important it is to act now and change the way how companies organize for marketing and define the role marketing has within the organization. (Below the article there is also great dialogue about the matter.) Read here

The CMO’s should have the best view on how the customers both perceive and experience the company and translate that reality for business owners and the CEO. Mandate for this position comes from the customers. The CMO’s role is to understand how the product/service range and customer experience influence the overall value experience, brand perception and preference, demand and capacity to generate premium pricing. CMO should define how the company should position different products and services in order to optimize the overall growth, sales and profit margin.

Dr. Rod King’s tools for Blue Ocean dashboard tool felt like rather easy and rapid tool for over all view creation, opening eyes for the whole. Here it is:

Naturally branding and brand identity has a lot to do with subconscious and emotions along with rational mind. The business owners are  rational, which doesn’t guarantee success and most certainly doesn’t drive willingness to pay premium. Business owners often demand rapid results, which easily leads to tactical marketing emphasis, which only decline people’s willingness to pay for quality and drives opportunistic customer behavior. This is where marketing must bring the magic in. Creativity has more demand now than it has ever had due to the cluttered market and overwhelming amount of marketing messages everywhere.
Marketing has a strategic role inside the corporate hierarchy, it’s time to act and wipe away the perception of marketing, that is now dominating business owners minds.
Let’s face it. Marketing has an identity crisis and Marketing as a “brand” is suffering from wrong “brand perception” and customer experience defects. Lets re-define the meaning of marketing, polish the “brand” and it’s value for other corporate board members. This is why Future CMO Movement was founded!
I hope this community could become a place for game changers to exchange ideas and share experiences. In case you think you would have great material to share, please contact me and I’ll grant you author rights for this blog. Contact me via toni.keskinen(at)gmail.com
Also check out these articles:

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

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

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