Roy's Blog: Marketing

February 20, 2017

The ONE way to create a memorable customer experience

There IS a secret ingredient to mixing a brew of remarkable customer experiences.

And it’s not about your service strategy.

And it’s not about the theory of customer behaviour.

So much is being written about how to build an effective customer experience strategy.

In fact advice and direction is “raining down” on organizations looking to establish “The Experience” as a competitive advantage.

Experience

Here’s my thinking.

I don’t think creating memories with an organization starts with strategy or study of consumer behaviour at all.

In fact I believe you can have a mediocre strategy and know sh*t about consumer behaviour theory and still deliver mind-blowing experiences.

The most common experience is created when two humans engage with one another. Yes, human-meets-technology creates an experience but it pales in comparison with the more frequent human interaction (I would argue in any event that the human - technology interaction should be modelled after the human - human one. It’s the benchmark that people use to set expectations).

The critical ingredient in human-to-human contact is emotion.

Does the server really care about taking care of the customer? Do they have the basic instinct and innate desire to serve others?

Because if they do, they will deliver crazy amazing experiences regardless of the specifics of the strategy.

Customer experience

These types of people would create dazzling experiences even if the strategy merely said “We intend to provide world class customer service” (YUK!).

“Head west” with your experience strategy but be obsessed with recruiting people who are born with the “caring virus”); who are “sick” with it and who naturally spread it to their colleagues.

Ask THEM how the human - technology interaction should look.

A pristine strategy without people who “love” people will go down in flames because execution is not an intellectual exercise; it’s achieved through acts of emotion on the frontline.

A vague strategy fuelled by human being lovers will deliver amazingness involuntarily.

P. S. And it’s NOT a training issue. You can’t train people to “love” other people. You can train ‘em to “grin” but that’s as far as it goes.

Just saying…

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.20.17 at 05:44 am by Roy Osing
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January 23, 2017

Once you create it how do you keep it? 7 factors that will sustain differentiation

A competitive advantage is hard enough to create; it’s even more difficult to keep.

It’s inevitable. Once you carve out your uniqueness in the market, the “competitive hordes” see it and copy what they like.

Everyone loves benchmarking the best, so once you step out and lead the pack, expect others to dissect what you’ve done and pick out their favourite morsel.

There is no preventing this. It’s one of the few things in business that CAN be predicted with certainty.

Once you’re “done” your work, it’s not over. You have to keep your feet moving.

You need to put in motion actions that will sustain your market position.

These 7 tactics will help.

1. Monitor the execution of your strategy monthly. Be obsessed with your performance. Dig into the revenue numbers. If you fall short, determine EXACTLY why. And then take immediate action to resolve (and monitor that).

2. Assess the value you provide. Is your value proposition still relevant? Are you continuing to address a real compelling need your target customer group has expressed?
Many companies have died by becoming complacent and assuming they continue to be relevant. They see margins decline and see it as a cost problem. It rarely is. It’s a revenue problem. They slash and burn their organization but spend no time assessing relevance.
They often cut out service and marketing capabilities that are sorely needed to rebound.

3. Create a strong social media presence to monitor what people are saying. Act immediately on any concerns raised over your performance.

4. Test your competitive claim with both customers and employees. Successful organizations have a clear statement of how they are different than their competitors. They answer the question “Why should I buy from YOU and not your competition?” in a compelling way.
Your positioning statement must meet the test of “Is it relevant?” (does it continue to address the high priority needs of the target group) and “Is it true?” (do you actually do what you claim?).

5. Stay close to your main competitors. Their actions in the market are useful in assessing if there are actions you need to take to sustain your momentum. Look for any activity they have had with your customers.

6. Continue to bear down on delivering memorable experiences for your customers. Competitive advantage is more about how people FEEL about you than the cleverness of your product.
“Emotional” experiences produce unforgettable memories which translate into your customers never wanting the exit door to find someone better.

Feel

7. Review your marketing plans and programs to ensure you are moving inexorably to “ME” and away from flogging to the masses. A focus on the individual drives you to create unique solutions for them personally. Catering to the masses dilutes your customer attention rate and your brand; heroes for people earns the right to do business with them for a long time.
Keep the move to “ME” going!

Driving your competitive stake in the ground is merely the beginning of a never ending journey of continual renewal.

Stay with it.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 1.23.17 at 04:49 am by Roy Osing
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January 6, 2017

Does “sameness” really kill?

BE DiFFERENT or be dead.

The implication is that if you’re NOT DiFFERENT, sooner or later you will be irrelevant and you will “die”.

Sameness kills.

The path to organizational death is predictable.

Sales revenue declines because the value proposition of the organization is limp; it has no distinctive substance.

People stop buying because the company’s offerings are no longer relevant; they no longer serve a compelling need. They lose their “edge” that was the original reason people bought from them and not their competition. Their product portfolio is now common and indistinguishable from that offered by others.

Customers migrate away, looking for more value for their money; to get their specific needs satisfied.

Price cutting is invoked as the salvation, believing that lower prices will increase sales volumes. Footnote: with a limp value proposition, driving prices down also drives revenue down. Most products in the commodity category are price elastic folks!

With revenues going south, management decrees that costs be reduced to preserve operating margins. Across-the-board cost cutting is ordered as a “balanced” approach which means customer serving functions get whacked; fewer frontline people are expected to handle increased volumes of calls (from the price reductions).

Customer service suffers.

Customers look for alternative suppliers. Degenerating service creates an immediate disloyalty response. Customers find it easy to switch suppliers since so many alternatives are in their faces; they are coveted by many other providers.

Revenues spiral downward; margins are squeezed; more costs are sliced from company operations; customers are casualties.

It’s a relentless cycle.

Leadership looks for a short term strategy to reverse the trend; they are forced to abandon a longer term growth view.

The organization looks to acquisitions as a “fast and easy” way to expand their customer base and bolster their revenue line. This process burns valuable time and people resources and is limited by financial capabilities due to shrinking margins and an unhealthy balance sheet.

Acquisition activities shift priorities away from fixing the @home value proposition issues to assessing potential acquisition candidates and determine how to integrate the winner into the buyer’s overall operations and culture.

Revenues continue to decline; confidence erodes.

The cycle becomes entrenched; the organization explores selling off assets to improve financial results.

No investments are made in solving the endemic value proposition issue they face.

It’s not a matter IF they will die; it’s a question of WHEN it will happen - how long can they hang on.

When customers start to leave, they are telling you that you are becoming irrelevant; you don’t have any uniqueness relative to your competitors.

You are the SAME as them.

Fix THAT problem and the revenue line will take care of itself.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 1.6.17 at 06:15 am by Roy Osing
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January 2, 2017

How to create a competitive claim that stands out from others

How do you answer the question “Why should I do business with you given the number of other suppliers I have to choose from?”

This is the killer question for all marketers.

In today’s noisy world with every organization shouting out why they should be chosen, the marketer needs to determine how to get their products, services and solutions noticed in the milieu.

They need to claim a competitive position that is unique and one that stands-out in the crowd.

I would give marketing today a less than satisfactory rating in terms of how well they address this challenge.

Copying

The tendency among most marketers is to go on a copying rampage where the priority is on replicating in some way what someone else is doing in terms of products, services, pricing, distribution and brand positioning. Other players are benchmarked on some capability and the copycat strategy unfolds.

Even a fast follower is a copycat; they just do it faster!

Copying doesn’t create uniqueness and differences; it proliferates sameness.

In fact it dilutes any marginal differences among organizations that might exist and renders them all as look-alikes. And it lowers the bar for each competitor to achieve.

In addition, marketers love to use vague helium-filled attributes and superlatives as the way of claiming how they are different. “We provide excellent customer service”; “We exceed customer expectations”; “We offer the best value”; “We provide the best value for money” have been overused to the point where they are meaningless and communicate nothing to the intended target audience. All they do is add to the message clutter.

A credible competitive claim needs to be simple and specific in terms of how an organization is different from the competitive herd. It needs to address a high priority customer need (claiming to be unique on something a customer doesn’t care about isn’t productive) and it needs to be true (failing to consistently deliver will drive a customer elsewhere).

Jerry Garcia, former leader of the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead, nailed it: “You don’t want merely to be the best of the best. You want to be the only ones who do what you do.”

Only one

The ONLY Statement is the practical way to do it. “We are the only ones that….” is the claim that will cut through the clutter and make it clear why you should be chosen among your competitors.

The ONLY rules:

1. The ONLY statement must speak to the experiences and value you create for people not the products or services you want to push.

2. Keep it brief. It’s a sound bite. If it consumes a page it isn’t a viable claim.

3. Talk to the specific customer group you are targeting not the market in general.

4. Test your ONLY statement with customers and employees to ensure it is relevant and true.

5. Consider your only statement a draft. The reality is you won’t get it right the first time, so take your almost-there only statement and start working with it. Refine it as you go. And stay alert for a response by a competitor who may suddenly come awake when they see your move.

Hard work? You bet!

But necessary if you want to be remarkable and if you want to step away from the crowd.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 1.2.17 at 05:31 am by Roy Osing
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