10 Challenges for Genius Marketers … Strategies and brands, customers and people

July 7, 2007

The best opportunities for business are outside
not inside, meaning that business needs
marketing more than ever, but not as before.

How can you apply the genius of Einstein a
nd Picasso to your business, or develop the
iPods and waffle soles of your genre?

How do you “apply intelligence in a creative way”
to your strategies and brands, marketing and
innovation, communications and experiences?

Here are 10 challenges which demonstrate the
potential of genius in your business today

1. The Strategy Challenge.

Shape the future, whilst delivering today. Market and product innovation drive future revenue streams, whilst brands and relationships make them more certain.

Define the market context, where and how it is to compete amidst blurred boundaries, evolving regulators, and unpredictable change. Market strategy is the starting point.

Choose where to focus effort amidst the bewildering array of opportunities, as markets and segments fragment, technologies evolve, and ideas proliferate.

Articulate your competitive difference in a compelling brand proposition, the big idea that cuts through all the noise and imitation, convergence and commoditisation.

Make better decisions. Few companies have clear business criteria on which to make the right decisions strategically or tactically.

2. The Brand Challenge. 

Harness your brand in all its manifestations to build awareness and reach, trust and affinity. There are lots of names and logos, but few truly great brands emerging today.

Engage human emotions. Share a passion that matters to your audience, help them define themselves, but recognise you cant be everything to everyone.

Be authentic and transparent. Whatever you say, you must do. In today’s transparent world, words and actions are closely watched for consistency and delivery.

Bring coherence and support to brand architectures. Corporate and operational brands, product and ingredient brands must work better together.

Actively manage your market, brand, and product portfolios, finding and nurturing the value creators, eliminating the value destroyers, not annually but every day.

The Customer Challenge

See your world from where customers stand. Power has shifted from company to customer, from surplus supply to surplus demand. Do business on their terms.

Target with precision. Customers are more different and individual than ever. Segmentation is complex, needs and behaviours change, targeting is hard.

Work out what kind of relationships you really want. Satisfaction is expected. Loyalty is rare. Customers are promiscuous. Few really want a relationship with you.

Tap into passion networks.  Consumers don’t care about products, they care about themselves – babies, sports, work – helping to build new communities.

Make privacy a positive. Communication overload has created of backlash in use of personal information. Permission is the start to a dialogue a customer actually wants.

4. The Communications Challenge

Communicate on customer terms. Campaigns are done by companies promoting what they want when they want. Customers don’t buy them anymore.

Capture disparate customer bases. Broadcast media proliferation has driven audience fragmentation. Customisable and interactive. Complex and expensive.

Sell the benefits clearly. Clear and compelling value propositions must be about customers not you. Targeted and tailored, rather than generic to everyone.

Apply impartial logic to creativity. Marketers are still obsessed with ads. It’s a brave person not to do them. Be more open minded about which media, and what leads.

Find new ways to work with creative agencies. Agencies should work together serving clients, compensated for quality of ideas, more than their implementation.

5. The Channel Challenge

Innovate your routes to market. Channels were not sexy. Warehouses and transport. Technology changed that, and channels are now ripe for innovation

Differentiate through distribution. Channel models are changing with intermediaries needing to add more value, elaborating the customers’ experience.

Design your own channels. Don’t rely upon others. Multi-channel solutions create customer choice and convenience, even better if they fuse the best bits together.

Innovate the business model. How the business works with others, and makes money, can be significantly innovated for market and financial impact

Embrace new technologies in innovative ways. Digital formats are still emergent, and can do much more to improve efficiency and the customer experience.

How are you doing so far?

6. The Pricing Challenge

Add more value to customers, and charge them more for it. Changing the peer group, the customer context to judge value is one way. Clarify who manages price.

Get into customer heads. The perceived value of benefits relative to competitors is in the buyer’s mind. Improve the benefits, change the competitive context.

Price comparison is easy. Prices can be compared online between suppliers and markets. Price becomes a tactical weapon, although discounting reduces margins.

Avoid discounting gimmicks. Seek to incentivise trial and change behaviour. Yet coupons only appeal to discount seekers, and create expectations for the future.

Rethink the whole idea of loyalty.  Loyalty points are fun, but also quite meaningless. Compare a “2 for 1” grocery offer to the 1-2% discount they offer.

7. The Innovation Challenge

Drive innovation in every part of the business, within products but much more too. Innovation is creative problem solving, with commercial results.

Innovate beyond the product launch – innovate the market, the application, the channel and whole customer experience, and continue to do so over the lifecycle.

Don’t use research like a drunk uses a lamppost. Good research stimulates ideas, rather than fuelling prejudice. Everything from anthropology to econometric modelling.

Embrace the power of design in every aspect of business. One of the biggest emotional engagers, yet seen as superficial packaging or an after-thought.

Champion the total customer experience. Products are quickly copied. Experiences are much harder to copy, but also take much more effort to make happen.

8. The Performance Challenge

Engage the city analysts in market thinking. Investors look to the long-term, where cash will come from in future years. Relationships, brands and innovation.

Businesses create long-term value for shareholders through capital growth and dividends. Capital growth depends on investor perceptions, so manage it actively.

Understand where the money is really made. Profits help, particularly if they exceed investor expectations. It is easy to destroy as much economic value as you create.

Don’t rush to delight the customer. Customer satisfaction scores are important, like hygiene, but they are no guarantee of loyalty or profitability.

Find the key measures of success. Lots of data, but few measure the right things. Few connect inputs and outputs, and understand the most important drivers of value.

9. The People Challenge

Get customer and market thinking into the boardroom, and on the dashboard. Execs have a low customer IQ. Strategy and decision-making needs “outside in” thinking.

Approach markets horizontally not vertically. Sales, marketing and customer service, and every other part of the business, all deliver the customer experience.

Make market thinking strategic and commercial. Make customer value the only route to shareholder value, and drive prioritised actions that create both sustainably.

Market-thinking managers need the leadership skills to drive strategy, the innovation skills to catalyse the future, and the commercial skills to prove it works.

Businesses need creative leadership. Management is about making the right decisions, leadership is about inspiring action. Both matter, not easy to be both.

10. The Implementation Challenge 

Leapfrog your way to market. Connect your brand with another already loved by a target audience, fuse the values and value of both through affinity programmes.

Learn to influence customers with permission and without intrusion. Create the background presence – to build awareness and shape preferences. Reputation is key.

Help customers make sense of the world. With limited time, consumers don’t want to be experts, or to work hard, they want advice, support on what is best for them.

Be a guerrilla. Usurp the conventions. Surprise challenge your competitors, such as ambushing the sponsorship of an event, can have big impact at little cost.

Use networks. Be it word of mouth, or email to friends, virality is still the best form of marketing around. Networks have infinite value, and grow exponentially.

Are you ready to make it happen?

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