Thursday, August 4, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Customer discovery must run deep. You need to talk with a lot of people and you need to probe deeply with each of them. That means understanding their hopes, fears, aspirations, anxieties, beliefs, attitudes, values and more. While a highly trained marketing research moderator may use a variety of qualitative research techniques (including projection, ideation, guided imagery, sorting exercises, etc.) to discover these motivations and behavioral drivers, you can do much of this yourself by asking open-ended response questions and spending more time listening than talking.
The types of questions that can elicit deeper responses include the following:
- What keeps you up at night?
- What is your most pressing need right now?
- If this product or brand were a movie/book/car/party/musical genre/food/etc., what type of movie/book/car/party/musical genre/food/etc. would it be and why?
- How does it make you feel?
- What is missing?
- Do you think the product says anything about you, about who you are?
- Would you recommend this to a friend or colleague? Why or why not?
- What about this appeals to you?
- What is the most important need this would fulfill?
- Teslas are the coolest cars on the road. They are really fun to drive and they are good for the environment.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Mostly, when people talk about brands and branding they are thinking about the brand's name, identity system, positioning, and marketing messaging. They are not thinking about its underlying order fulfillment, customer service, technical support, crisis management and other systems and policies that create the overall customer experience. And yet, a brand's reputation can be enhanced or tarnished by these systems and policies.
Think of a surly customer service representative that you have interacted with. Or, alternatively, think about a particularly empathetic and helpful customer service representative.
Think about someone who hung up on you when you were seeking help versus one who stayed on the phone with you for hours until your problem was completely solved.
Think about an order that took dozens of screens and multiple inputs to complete versus one that was completed with one click.
Think about a hotel employee who personally saw to it that your request was fulfilled versus one who passed it on to someone else, or worse yet, one who never followed through on your request.
Think about input screens that were very confusing or that timed out versus those that were simple and intuitive.
Think about brands that create a huge series of walls so that you can never reach a live person versus those in which a real person answers the phone.
Think about systems that anticipate your needs versus those that can't seem to to help you find what you are looking for.
Think about the FAQs that never seem to address the question you have versus those that are thorough and help you solve your problem.
Think about an order that arrived overnight versus one that took weeks and weeks to arrive.
Think about brands that surprise you by including unexpected product enhancements after your purchase versus those that surprise you by including unexpected hidden costs and surcharges.
Think about assembly instructions that were incomplete and impossible to follow versus assemblies that were so intuitively obvious that you didn't even need instructions.
Think about retail establishments in which you were immediately greeted in a friendly but unobtrusive way versus those that didn't even acknowledge you.
And think about warm and welcoming brand environments versus sterile or off-putting environments.
These systems, processes, policies and constructs all contribute to the brand experience. It doesn't matter how cool the brand's identity or marketing messages are. If your interaction with the brand frustrates you or makes you angry versus putting a smile on your face, your perception of and loyalty to the brand will suffer.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Sometimes it’s useful for marketers to understand trends that may affect their businesses. Here are some of the current trends that I am monitoring:
- 5G technology
- The Internet of Things
- Mobile Internet
- Cloud technology and distributed infrastructure
- Democratization of technology
- The world becomes hyperconnected
- Move toward all media consumed through the Internet
- Seamless language translation, making the world even smaller
- Exploration of more direct human-computer interfaces (HCI)
- Electric vehicles (EVs)
- Autonomous vehicles
- Battery technology
- Grid-connected renewable energy systems
- All forms of clean tech
- Software defined vehicles (SDVs)
- AI & machine learning
- Autonomic systems
- Generative AI
- Big data analytics
- Edge computing
- Quantum computing
- Next generation materials including honeycomb lattice
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Advanced robotics
- 3-D printing
- Process automation and hyper-automation
- Explosion of smart devices
- Genomics/genetic engineering
- Health care data analytics
- Personal medical devices
- Telehealth and mobile medicine
- Hyper-personalized medicines
- Social determinants of health (SDOH) receive greater attention
- Mental health becomes a larger priority
- Unbundling of health care
- Web 3.0
- Blockchain (distributed ledger) technology
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- A cashless society
- Privacy and cybersecurity
- Biometric technology (face, voice, eye, hand and signature security)
- Redesign of supply chains
- Increased self-service
- Recurring revenue streams
- Distributed enterprises and remote employees
- Increased flexible work
- Continued growth in the gig economy
- Huge need for retraining for new economy jobs
- Minimum living wages as an alternative to job loss
- Increased time sharing of all things
- Extreme personal profiling
- Hyper-targeting and hyper-geofencing
- On-demand personalized customer experiences
- Move from retail stores to Internet distribution centers and home delivery
- Move toward unique and boutique in retail
- Increasing use of personal digital assistants
- Cameras, cameras everywhere
- Struggle for personal privacy
- Increasing popularity of veganism and vegetarianism
- Increased focus on personal health
- Decrease in romantic relationships
- Increasing acceptance of sexual freedom
- Decrease in organized religion, increase in personal spirituality
- Continued decreasing trust in traditional institutions, especially government
- Shift from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal society
- More focus on the home
- Increasing self-care and compassion toward others
- Increasing importance of pets as family
- Increased frequency and severity of natural disasters due to climate change
- More eco-friendly lifestyles
- The private sector steps up its support of social and environmental issues
- Distributed localized agriculture through hydroponics and aeroponics
- Increased “fake news” and disinformation
- Increased sophistication of deep fakes
- Increased botnet activity
- More censorship, less free speech
- Increased public awareness of and pressure to address economic inequality
- Less capitalism, more socialism
- Continued urbanization
- Continued population shifts to less expensive states
- Less abundance thinking, more scarcity thinking
- The blurring of war and crime with the emergence of terrorism
- Rethinking of the criminal justice system
If you aren’t familiar with some of these, I would recommend that you search on and read about those that most interest you.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Here are some of the effects of the digital world on brands:
- A brand’s online presence can improve brand awareness.
- A brand’s website is critical to the perception of that brand because most people investigate a brand by going to its website.
- Blogs can create thought leadership and emotional connection for a brand. But consistent new content over time is required to activate these effects.
- If a picture is worth a thousand words, then videos are worth ten thousand words. Consider creating a YouTube channel for your brand.
- For thought leadership, consider podcasts too.
- SEO is still important.
- A third (older) to a half (younger) of people investigate brands through social media before they purchase.
- Advertising in social media makes it easier for people to become aware of and try new brands, including brands that could not break though in the analog world because of lack of marketing funds. This, to some degree, levels the playing field for smaller brands.
- More and more product offerings are delivered through social media feeds.
- Low follows, likes, views and shares can reflect negatively on a brand.
- If you are just starting with your brand’s online presence, use Facebook and Instagram first.
- Consumer targeting is significantly improved through Facebook and Google ads. Data analytics can result in highly targeted or even tailored product offerings to individuals.
- Brands would do well to set up pages on Facebook and Instagram as a way to interact with customers.
- The Internet provides many forums for people to provide feedback on brands, including negative feedback. It would behoove brand advocates to monitor as many of those forums as possible and respond as appropriate. It is important to respond as quickly as possible.
- Online forums can increase consumer engagement with brands.
- The Internet leads to greater brand transparency, but skilled marketing can also make a brand seem bigger or more popular than it actually is.
- Marketing automation can generate quality leads.
- Marketing automation makes it easier for people to respond to offers without prior awareness of the brands behind the offers.
- One needs to be extremely careful about how the marketing automation is set up or it can backfire on the brand. This is very similar to how automated telephonic customer service can backfire on the brand.
- Geofencing can encourage immediate purchase when a consumer is near a retail outlet.
- Geofence in the places that your target customers are at the times when they are there. Think this through carefully
- Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Venmo, PayPal and Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering make it easier for people to purchase things online with fewer clicks.
- The online presence of brands makes price comparison much easier, which can drive down prices or at least direct the consumer to the cheapest source of the brand.
- Online clothing brand sales are still tricky. Several approaches have been implemented to help with sizing and visualizing the clothes when worn but there still are issues with tactile qualities of the fabric, quality of the construction and fit. This may lead to more returns for online purchased clothing brands than store purchased clothing brands.
- The younger the consumer, the more everything is transacted on the smart phone. All brand interactions must be optimized for mobile.
- To some degree, the digital world has made people more savvy and cynical about brands, mostly due to increased transparency.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
I have always been a fan of proactive publicity. In 2011, my local Boy Scout council decided to enlist the services of Over the Edge Global (https://overtheedgeglobal.com) to create a fundraising event in which people donated $1,000 each to rappel down the side of a 21-story building. I was on the committee that helped pull this together. It was a novel idea at the time and no one had tried it before, especially as a big well-publicized event, in downtown Rochester.
We created a PR plan that enlisted the support of local news anchors and talk show hosts on television and radio. We invited those people to rappel down the building the day before the actual public event. And we set it up as a competition in which those local celebrities competed against each other for who could raise the most money.
Not only did we get people to pay $1,000 apiece to rappel down the side of the building. We had people raising far more than that from friends, family and co-workers to sponsor their rappelling. One guy, “Little Joe” Aiello, who was in his eighties, alone raised tens of thousands of dollars of sponsorships each year for his rappel down the side of buildings, which he did several years in a row until he was 93. But there were also event sponsors. The event itself was covered by almost every local media outlet. And even better – the media people couldn’t stop talking about the event days before it occurred and weeks after it occurred. Our local Boy Scout council received over a half a million dollars in free publicity the first year alone.
And the best part is the event tied into a real Scouting activity that reinforced “fun” and “adventure,” two key components of the Scout program.
This is just one example of the power of proactive publicity. These blog posts list some others:
- Proactive Publicity
- Proactive Publicity
- Colonel Sanders in New York
- Genesee Brewing Company
- HEB Brand the Big Winner in the Texas Energy Outage
- Brand Benefit Cues
- Out-of-the-Box Marketing Techniques