Think Soup

Think Soup

Global Brand Project: You’re Kidding, That’s Not and Insight – PART I

When I meet clients who want to create a global team, or are experiencing challenges over the effectiveness of the global team there is a key action theme that is raised. Develop insights.

It is almost axiomatic with the creation of a global team that the local markets expect that the global team will deliver to them meaningful insights into the category which will help them drive their business.

As I covered in previous posts, I agree: Delivering on insights is one of the four key deliverables that I believe local markets want, and global teams should deliver, but there’s a problem. We all know how critical it is to develop our business and work around compelling consumer insights. It is accepted that it is essential that major marketing and management decisions should have good insights as their foundation. However, all too often what is provided by the global team and what passes for an insight is nothing more than soft platitudes that are essentially useless to the operational teams asked to work with them.

This is a massive cause of frustration for the local teams and can destroy the credibility of the global team. Poor quality insights result in parity performing new product development and the failure to create compelling, behavior changing creative or communication briefs. Pretty disastrous as far as ROI is concerned.

In this two part post I will first look at why I think it is that insight development has become such a hot topic and key deliverable for global markets. In the second post I present a roadmap for the creation of relevant, meaningful and competitive insight generation.

Why have insights become so important?

Call me a cynic, but I believe one reason why local markets ask the global team to come up with insights is because they know how difficult they are to find.

Here’s the scenario: Local marketers don’t want the global team interfering in their market, so they agree to the global team having responsibility to understand global category dynamics and come up with insights that will be game changers for the business. It follows then that the global team can be responsible for global product development and global campaigns.

It’s not a job they were doing themselves anyway. Add to that, the fact they are placing on this team the responsibility for one of the most challenging roles in marketing: That should keep them out of the way for a while.

If the global team comes up with something, the local markets take it and use it to their advantage, if not the standard response would be: “We never saw the value of the global team in the first place”

This means that there is a high degree of risk for the global team even before they start their work, compounded because too few marketers have actually been exposed to truly compelling insights in their careers or been responsible for their identification and development.

This leads to one of the other key reason that I believe insights have increased in importance for all marketers. With greater global competition local marketers are feeling the pinch and see the need for something that will deliver competitive advantage to them in their markets. They know insights can deliver this, but don’t have the skill set to identify these insights.

Due to my role, I have the privilege of focusing only on strategic marketing challenges every single day and gaining experience from multiple categories and industries in the process. There are a large number of marketers who have never been involved in insight development in their whole career.

The result: inexperienced marketers don’t always see how poor the insights are that they are using or the weaknesses in the insights they are developing. Even experienced marketers create ‘insight statements’ that often deliver nothing more than accepted consumer beliefs, describe a need or simply repeat a well-known fact.

Now it’s true, once upon a time, the insight on which an accepted consumer belief is founded might well have been a true insight, but over time, what happens is that the insight gets repeated, rephrased and tweaked so many times that it enters the consciousness of the consumer target group and loses its impact.  It’s like saying that “I know that I should give up smoking. With the restrictions on smoking in public places I feel like a social outcast” is a valid insight. It’s not, that’s an accepted consumer belief.

Likewise, facts are interesting, but it’s simply not an insight to say “42% of all mothers know that children should eat 5 portions of fruit & vegetables a day”.  Excellent, what can I do with that at a local level?

Nor is expressing a consumer need a valid insight. If the best you can come up with is “I need to lose weight because carrying all this extra weight is bad for my health”, it will not be surprising if your marketing investments fail to deliver their planned or projected ROI.

Simply put, I do not think enough marketers have been sufficiently well educated in the discipline of developing ‘insights’ and as a result are prepared to accept something less.

Secondly, most global marketers are not provided with the inputs from the local markets that might help them discover real insights. Yes, they can read the market research and all the other available reports, but it is local market knowledge that holds the triggers to driving consumers to change their behavior.

Local marketers by definition are closer to the market and its drivers – and the global team needs to tap into this if they are going to be successful in identifying compelling insights applicable on a global basis.

So it’s Catch22. Local marketers want insights, but cannot really identify them and do not volunteer the inputs to empower their creation. Global marketers want to provide them, but lack the experience and skill set which offers only mediocrity.

Both agree that they are an essential element for the success of their business.

In my next post I will present a methodology to create the sort of insights that I believe marketers deserve and give some excellent examples of insights at work.

Is this a scenario that resonates with you? How strong are the insights driving your brand?

I look forward to your comments and input.

Global Brand Project: Become the Chief Celebrant of Your Community, Not its Celebrity

In recent posts I have been developing the manifesto for the Global Brand Project and found that my perspective resonates with many marketers working in both global and local roles.

I saw a presentation that really caught my attention this week. I want to share it with you –it endorses much of what I have been saying and more importantly adds qualitative value to the discussion, bringing something new to the table on which I had not focused sufficiently:  The humanizing power of social media on brands and how harnessing this channel is transform our brand landscape.

Let’s look first at Mainwaring’s view of what makes brands successful. He lists 6 keys:

  • Defining purpose and core values
  • Distilling the purpose and values into emotional terms
  • Crafting a manifesto
  • Writing a vision statement
  • Committing to the brand purpose
  • Align internally

Brand purpose is a subject I covered in a previous post []. When brands stand for something it is extremely powerful in defining their future, acting as a compass for all the brand’s activities.

Mainwaring finesses this adding that once the brand has purpose and something we care about, it can build a conversation within its community and make a contribution to the cause. Here’s an example of how Nike is using its community influence to benefit the environment.

Social media so radically democratizes the communication process that brands that are not authentic, transparent or accountable are very quickly found out. Look at the backlash that BP had to deal with once it started advertising again about how it cares for the environment after the Gulf of Mexico spill last year.

What this boils down to is that social media is driving brands to become more human. In the dark old ages of the early 1990’s brands could control communications through three main channels (TV, radio & print). For today’s consumer it is almost inconceivable for them to buy anything without checking peer reviews, blogs, carrying out price comparisons and a multitude of alternatives.

Cut-through in this market means that we really must know like and trust a brand before we will ‘invest’ in it – just like the sort of decisions we make around those human beings with whom we want to interact.

There is a good reason why Dell ( ) the consumer computing company continually receives excellent reviews from its consumers – it’s because it does not talk about itself all the time, but makes sure that it is the loudest cheerleader for its consumers who make up the Dell community.

Social media is transforming the consumer landscape in which brands operate, democratizing the buying process through the interactions of a dynamic focus group of 1.5 billion people active online on a daily basis. Harness this power for good and it will transform the fortunes of your brand, make an error – like trying to control what is being said on line about your brand – and the level of damage will be amplified across multiple platforms and millions of desktops.

The key takeaway from the presentation: The world is moving fast away from the brand of Me to the brand of We.

I think this is a truly important contribution to the Global Brand Project. If you have an hour or so, take a look at the whole of the presentation yourself ( ) there’s a lot more good stuff in there that’s worth the time. It would be really interesting to hear from people how this message resonates with them.

I look forward to your comments and input.

Think About CRM: How to Increase Your Sales By 100%

In my last post I asked whether the CRM industry is ready willing and able to service the many small and medium sized businesses who could be potential customer. This post looks at how businesses should use their own systems and analysis to target clients – because this is something that I think a lot of CRM solutions sellers are failing to do.

You probably know the saying ‘the cobblers children wear the worst shoes’. The same could be applied to any industry, and the CRM business is no different. What’s going on here? When you work day to day in a business, servicing clients, looking for new business or developing enhancements to our offerings we often forget about our own business and to apply the same standards to our business as we would to that of a client. Why? There’s lots of reasons. No-one gets any credit for selling and implementing an internal CRM system; we are the experts so of course it’s already in place; we think we are actually doing this.

Working like this on our own businesses never seems to be a priority. When in fact it should be priority number one. For a start, if I am selling any service what better advertisement do I have for my services than the fact that I used them to attract a new client? Here’s a simple example. As a marketing consultant I advise companies that an effective communication channel they can use is to have something published that presents them as subject matter experts – when other people read your views it increases your profile and reputation making it more likely you look to them for support than someone else from whom you have heard nothing. Do I ‘put my money where my mouth is’? Of course. You are reading this article.

Applying the same to the CRM industry poses an interesting question. If our CRM solutions are so good, should we not be able to ‘prove’ that by demonstrating that we used our own systems and solutions to target and convert our new clients?

I think this is a question that many companies should be asking themselves. If your company, a CRM solutions provider, is finding it challenging to maintain, develop and grow your business ask the question: Are we using our own services and solutions properly and effectively? I think that a lot of companies are not.

So this brings me to the headline – how can you increase your sales by 100%? It really is as simple as using the products and services you offer better and implementing them in the same way that you would advise any of your clients.

Surely, if the solution that you are offering is as good as you promote it as being and as beneficial as promised to your clients and prospects, there could be no better advertisement for your services. You have one great advantage over the organizations that you might target – you really understand how CRM works and what it can bring.

Too many of us get caught in the inertia of dealing with our day to day troubles to see that the easiest of solutions can be the most powerful. Use your service on your business, write up a detailed case study and then explain to the prospect you are sitting across the table to that it was by using your own solutions that you got to them and soon you will see how growing your sales by 100% needs you to do nothing more than truly and passionately live your brand.

What action steps will you take as a result of this article.

It would be great to hear from you with stories of how you used your own services to bring in business.

Think About CRM: Why Small Businesses Don’t Buy CRM Systems, and How to Get Them To

Why small businesses don’t buy CRM systems, and how to get them to.

If you listen to our politicians, the way that we are going to get out of our current tough financial environment will be by small, local businesses becoming more and more successful.

We hear a lot about the banks, high-tech and manufacturing enterprises but the truth is that the mom & pop businesses, the small enterprises that are truly the engines of growth. Once these businesses start to grow, they stimulate demand and from the grass roots our economies start to pull themselves out of the doldrums.

If they are so important to the economy, why do so few of them invest in CRM and what would having a CRM system deliver to them? Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Small businesses do not understand CRM:  There has been such a focus on enterprise solutions in CRM that small businesses do not think that CRM is suitable or relevant to them. They simply do not understand the purpose of a CRM solution, the benefits that it can bring them or the value that it will deliver in their business.  This is an issue for the CRM industry which should be addressed by more emphasis in marketing campaigns on explaining what CRM means for the small business.  As an industry, we need to question if CRM suppliers done enough convince small business owners that CRM is a worthwhile investment for them? Has the CRM industry satisfactorily communicated the benefits that a CRM solution can deliver to small business?
  2. Don’t believe it’s worth it/value it: Money is tight for small businesses. While a big business can wait a few years to get a return on their investments, small businesses generally do not have that luxury. As a result, CRM is not adequately valued by these potential customers. They have their client lists, they generate new business themselves, they keep their key customers happy – so why would they need the investment in a CRM solution. The industry needs to make sure that small businesses do believe that CRM provides a significant return on investment for their businesses. We need to be prepared to provide these potential customers with a reason to believe that the investment in CRM is worth it for them.
  3. Done believe you about the results: Allied to not believing that CRM is worth the investment comes the next problem that they do not believe the results that are promised to them. Have we got enough testimonials to be able to show them that companies just like theirs have benefitted sufficiently from their investment to justify CRM in their business?
  4. Don’t believe it will work for them: OK, so you have shown a potential customer with a small business that CRM has value to them and that other similar businesses created a return on investment on buying a CRM solution – the next problem is helping them understand that a system will also work for them. This is no longer a question of whether they believe that CRM offers benefits, more an issue that the business owner cannot see it being effective in her particular business: Why? The implementation will take too much time and effort, there will not be full compliance – we have all heard these objections before, but has the industry done enough to make CRM implementation manageable for the small business? What more could be done for them?
  5. Don’t believe they can afford it: Of course, any good CRM professional would say that a potential client cannot afford to be without it. Nonetheless, many small businesses will claim that purchasing a CRM solution, or committing to a service is beyond their means. As I said above, money is tight. Are the pricing models we have in the industry sufficiently flexible to attract small business owners? Does it look like any CRM supplier takes an element of risk in their models to compel business owners to part with their cash. In most cases, the business can afford the solution, they just do not have it at the top of their priorities. It’s our job to get it there.
  6. Don’t want it now: You’ve spent hours with the prospect, they like the solution, they love what it can deliver and believe that it will be good for their business and it fits within a budget… just not now because we are dealing with another initiative. Creating urgency is an essential part of any sale, but how do we achieve this with CRM? Last minute offers are not likely to inspire confidence, they already believe that the solution could help them. The response might be “if not now, when?” Creating urgency of the need is an essential part of the sale which is even more important to utilize in the small business scenario. Why? Because these businesses always have something more urgent to do, spend their money on or fire to fight. The industry needs to tap better into the needs of these groups to find out why CRM might become an urgent need.

I have no doubt that there are some great success stories from the industry in working with small to medium sized businesses. It would be great if you can share these within this community.