Register  |   Contact Us  | 

Posts from December 2011

When the Price Isn’t Right

Posted on  21 December 11  by 


Americans (and maybe some of our non-American friends) all know the familiar gameshow scene of the Price is Right: Bob Barker (or Drew Carey, if you prefer the new guy) inviting crazed contestants to guess the price of everything from oatmeal to cars to exotic trips to Fiji.  And as the title says, the focal point is price, price, price.

Outside of the gameshow arena, consumers are arguably just as obsessed with price, and this attitude has become a pain point for many a sales representative.  How does a sales rep keep the conversation away from price when that’s all that a customer is thinking about?

Teach them something else that’s right.

Let’s look at a case on truck driver engagement and retention to see how Marketing at Volvo was able to deal with this issue.

Initially, no matter what sales reps went in with…

“We have a better product!  We have more features!  We can address your needs!”

… the customer always brought the conversation back to price.

“Well… a truck is a truck, but hey maybe you can throw in some free chrome bumpers!”

Volvo convened a small group of mid- to upper-level directors in a workshop to brainstorm and develop a new message for the sales reps.  MLC members, read more about the key elements to this workshop here.

They recognized an opportunity to improve driver management for their customers…

“Customers are underestimating how much unsatisfied drivers are costing them.”

… and crafted a pitch that teaches customers the value of Volvo solutions.

“Instead of telling them how our 2,092 square inch windshield will reduce the likelihood of an accident, let’s talk to them about the costs associated with driver turnover.”

Notice that instead of leading with the value of product features and focusing on known customer needs, the new approach leads with issue(s) costing customers money and telling them something they don’t already know about themselves.

And voila, you’ve shown your customers that the price is not the only thing that’s right when it comes to your business!

MLC members, read the full case study here.

4 Keys to Analytics Success in Financial Services

(from guest blogger Jonathan Rudick, VP of Customer Experience at HSBC)

Good use of analytics is the only way to know what transactions are happening on a large scale.  Especially with financial services, data measures both transactions and behaviors, and leveraging this data can aggregate these trends and analyze them, providing a better understanding of the customer.  This deep customer understanding can help improve service across time, allowing the customer to develop a deeper and more loyal relationship with the brand.

Many marketers understand that analytics are creating more possibilities to understand the customer than before, but a recent IBM study found that 71% of CMOs aren’t prepared to use this data to help their business.  There are four main keys to getting the most out of data: Read More »

Four Social Trends to Watch in 2012

Looking ahead on the year to come, I thought I’d take a look at one of the most dynamic areas in marketing – social media – and try and project out changes in social media marketing in the coming year. Here are four thoughts I have – two things that are cool, two things that are maybe a little overhyped. What do you think? Let us know in comments.

Read More »

Marketing with Consumer Genetics in Mind

Posted on  21 December 11  by 


B2C Marketing-consumer geneticsWhat if genetic factors counted for more than quality of marketing efforts in driving consumer engagement and loyalty?

From all of our conversations with marketers over the years, I think it’s safe to say that most marketers behave as if it’s 90% nurture and 10% nature.  In other words, most marketers believe that, if only their marketing were good enough, they could get most consumers to engage with the brand and be loyal.

I believe there’s a case to be made that genetics accounts for far more of consumer behavior than marketers appreciate.  I’d guess it’s more like 50/50 nature vs. nurture.  And if that is true, it ought to dramatically change who we market to and how we market to them.

So let me share some of what I’m seeing by way of evidence, and I’d love to get your reaction via comments below.  The evidence is by no means conclusive, but it is certainly provocative.

I’ll start with some fascinating empirical work that David Lykken and Auke Tellegen conducted back in the 1990s.  The study is called Happiness is a Stochastic Phenomenon (catchy, eh?).  The authors looked at pairs of identical twins (who by definition share the same genetic makeup) to understand how much of happiness is driven by nature vs. nurture. Read More »

Automating Marketing Success

Posted on  20 December 11  by 


Marketing AutomationDespite increasing pressure to provide Sales with a robust pipeline of qualified leads, most B2B marketers admit they don’t have formalized processes in place for things like lead generation, qualification, scoring, or nurturing.  Many are turning to marketing automation – the use of technology to systematize and automate many marketing tasks and processes – to add a little method to their madness.  It is a hot topic in the marketing trade press and a solution space crowded with vendors (all of whom promise extremely impressive returns).  We first saw marketing automation emerge at the top of marketers’ lists about a year ago when we fielded a short poll asking members where they were planning to make investments in the coming year.  In response, we decided to do a deep dive on the topic and help our members figure out the ins and outs of success.

Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research we discovered a few key lessons that everyone considering, implementing, or optimizing marketing automation tools should know.  Our findings, ideas, tips, and best practices (including data from a benchmarking survey of 161 B2B marketers) are all collected on a dedicated Marketing Automation Key Findings page on our website.  Top takeaways include: Read More »

Building a Better Marketer

marketing talentMLC’s B2C team is in the midst of its annual research project, and this year we’re focusing on Big Data. In the process of figuring out why organizations have trouble making sense of unstructured data streams, one of the biggest themes is “marketer skill”. We’re hearing time and again from marketing and analytics leaders that decision-making processes are biased against the inclusion of data, in part because individual marketers aren’t comfortable with it – they place too little weight on it, for instance, or they endow it with magical properties and expect it to remove all the subjectivity from their work. The result is sub-optimal decisions.

That got me generally interested in the idea of marketing training – how do you teach a group of marketers, whose job is notoriously nuanced and imprecise, to do their jobs better? To see more of the market, and in a more detailed way?

In any case, it might turn out that training marketers to handle data better won’t make marketing organizations more fact-based – we’re not sure, and it’ll take a lot more interviews and thought on our part to figure out the challenges here. But I wanted to highlight some of our most popular marketing training and development resources, just in case you’re on the same path. Here are a few steps to building a better marketer: Read More »

The Dead-Simple Guide to Channel Selection

Posted on  14 December 11  by 


The main benefit of advertising via mass media –its broad reach– is also its downside: a high percentage of wasted impressions on non-target customers. The precision that marketers can now achieve in targeting has far outgrown traditional media planning and media buys.

Marketing at Kimberly-Clark found a way to create a more effective communications plan by making principled shifts in media spend.  The secret?  Rather than beginning with mass media and then making other investments if budget allows, they plan media touchpoints outward from the consumer first.

Kimberly-Clark begins by identifying a clear overarching creative concept called an “Engagement Idea” that drives touchpoint selection.  A well-developed Engagement Idea also provides necessary support and rationale for initial budget allocation into nontraditional media channels.  It develops the “Engagement Idea” through four steps:

  1. Understand the brand – Ensure comprehensive knowledge of the brand’s positioning and the consumer-centric rationale behind it.
  2. Brainstorm ways to drive engagement around the brand– Use consumer feedback to find potentially resonant ways to represent the brand.
  3. Screen potential ideas for flexibility – Test the Engagement Idea for flexibility (i.e. it can last for two to three years’ worth of campaigns) and breadth (i.e. it doesn’t directly prescribe specific touchpoints)
  4. Identify touchpoint roles – Determine which touchpoints are best suited to conveying the Engagement Idea as well as any others needed to drive people towards those touchpoints.

To get Marketing to accept this new approach and the ideas produced, Marketing also takes an aggressive sales approach to convince internal audiences to accept nontraditional touchpoint mixes.

In Jack Johnson’s first US hit, he sang “I want to turn the whole thing upside down… I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found.”  Turn your media planning upside-down, and maybe you’ll find a more efficient media mix.

MLC members, read in detail how Kimberly-Clark reversed its media marketing strategy and earned positive returns in brand revenue, cost-effeciency and resonance.

Getting Global Marketing Right in India

Posted on  14 December 11  by 


International MarketingThe Indian Retail market—ranked the fourth most attractive amongst 30 emerging markets—has caught the global market attention by storm in the last few years. Still heavily tilted towards traditional retail, times seem to be changing with the introduction of 100% FDI for single-brand retail and 51% (currently under debate) FDI in multi-brand retail. In fact, the organized retail market in India is expected to grow at 25% and reach a size of US$200 billion by 2020.

India’s retail boom is driven by a plethora of reasons–from increasing disposable incomes and changing lifestyles, to growing demand in rural areas and smaller towns, and the rise of the global consumer. Indeed, global retail giants are trying to tap into this vibrant market but their core business model seems to be failing their aspirations.

The reason behind this change—the unique purchase drivers of the Indian consumer. Think–Value for money (through deals and bargain-hunting), convenience (e.g., deep rooted system of home delivery of purchases) and relationship based customer service (legacy of “kirana” or corner stores).

So, to survive and grow in such a consumer market what are retailers doing? Tweaking their business models and making their stores locally relevant. Take a look at how global and local companies are adapting and innovating their consumer marketing strategy for the Indian consumer in the organized market. Read More »

5 B2C Marketing Trends for 2012

Posted on  14 December 11  by 


B2C Marketing TrendsFor the last few months, we’ve been surveying leading marketers on the future of marketing – canvassing their views on potential trends and their likely impact.   The results were pretty interesting.  Below is a quick look at the most imminent trends – those that are likely to hit next year.

1. Expanded Span of Control: This is perhaps the most fundamental shift that marketers see happening.  Consumer Marketing’s primary role will no longer be marcomms or branding, but rather end-to-end experience management.  With fierce competition and more demanding consumers than ever before, Marketing needs to focus on providing real value – not just driving short-term sales. This shift requires greater cross-functional collaboration and ideally greater control over product/service innovation and non-Marketing touchpoints, such as call centers or retailers.  (IBM’s latest data suggests there’s still work to do here – currently, only half of CMOs have good influence over innovation or experience).

2. Marcomm Campaigns Designed to Produce Insights: Accurate insight is critical to boosting Marketing’s credibility and thus influence over non-traditional customer-facing activities.  As such, insight generation loomed large in marketers’ view of the future.  Marketers see themselves becoming producers of insight – not just users of insight produced by Market Research.  Indeed, many marketers already plan campaigns with the dual aims of attitude/behavior change AND data capture.

3. Data-Driven Decision Making: Marketers currently rely on their own judgment/intuition for about 50% of decisions, according to research by our sister program – the Market Research Executive Board. Judgment enables fast, principled decision making in many cases, but often results in biased decisions based on false assumptions.  In 2012, marketers plan to take advantage of newly available data to infuse more science into decision making.

4. Agile Planning: Instead of one-off planning sessions once or twice a year, marketing functions are shifting towards iterative, ongoing planning.  This relies on better use of real-time data and quick feedback.  Many leading companies now review marketing performance on a weekly basis and adjust their marketing strategy as often – if needed.  Some companies (including P&G) also send out automated alerts as soon as key metrics hit a predetermined high/low threshold, enabling the project owner to learn and take quick action.

5. Hyper-Targeting: Marketers plan to target more than 50% (!) of messages based on context (time, place, local weather, likely mood etc.) as well as static demographics and pscychographics.  It’s a shift from “Jane, working mom” to “Jane, working mom, at the gas station on her way to work.”  Better tracking and automation will enable this.

The common thread through these trends?  Big data.  Easier, faster access to customer/market data is the enabler of pretty much every trend above.  Given this growing importance, MLC’s major research next year will explore marketing analytics best practices.  Email me to learn more about this research.

10 Sales Trends for 2012

(the following is a guest post from Nick Toman, head of the Sales Executive Council, our sister program for heads of sales. It originally appeared on their blog, The Sales Challenger.)

We hope you’ll read and share this.

It’s a unique occasion when we get to step back from the day-to-day of supporting our members’ decisions and reflect on where we believe the world of sales is headed. In 2011, the Sales Executive Council had thousands of interactions with sales executives around the globe, held dozens of conferences, examined hundreds of thousands data points, and we ended the year with a series of intimate roundtable discussions with leading CSOs.

Given this, we’d like to share the fundamental shifts we expect to play out in increasingly significant ways in 2012.

Granted, it’s not a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive list – there is overlap and implications shared throughout these trends, but we hope you’ll take a minute and reflect on how these trends are manifesting in your own organization, disagree if appropriate, and highlight trends you expect to see that we missed. It’s meant to be a reflective, but fun list. We look forward to your input! Read More »