Category Archives: market culture

The 5 Crucial Questions you must answer about your customers

There are 5 crucial questions every leader must answer about their customer base:

1. Which customers are your most valuable and why?

2. Which customers are costing you more time energy and stress than they are worth?

3. Who are your advocates? Customers that are driving new business by referring you to others?

4. Who are your ideal prospects?

5. Which prospects are most likely to become customers and why?

Why are the answers to these questions important? Understanding who your best existing and potential customers are is essential to growth and to the allocation of resources.

By spending more time with your best customers and less time with those that drain your resources you can free up the time necessary to attract new customers.

The answers to these questions should drive your marketing strategy, implementation tactics and ultimately improved return on investment (ROI) from all of these activities.

Do you know the answers?

Zappos knows how to throw a party

Chris Brown and Tony Hsieh at the Zappos Party

Chris Brown and Tony Hsieh at the Zappos Party

I had the good fortune of attending the Zappos Vendor party last week in Vegas. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of the Zappos staff and Zappos Insights customers, plus had the chance to talk with Tony Hsieh the CEO.

Tony was about to embark on an extended book tour to spread the word about connecting delighting customers, happiness and profits in business.

From speaking with many of the Zappos staff it is clear it really is a fun place to work, everyone I spoke with had great things to say and a number felt like it was the job and company they had been waiting to get for their whole lives!

So what is really different about Zappos?

Clearly it is their culture, it is a culture that has been crafted and developed carefully overtime but it is not about Tony Hsieh. Yes as CEO he has significant influence and respect but the culture has been developed and owned by all of the staff that work there. It is not a culture that is imposed but guided by core values that provide direction to policies, processes and how the organization treats people. It is maintained by the energy of the people that work there plus rigorous hiring processes that ensure that new people are a cultural fit and reinforce what Zappos represents.

Zappos has developed a “Wow” culture that inspires employees, delights customers & rewards shareholders….. which happens to be the vision of our company….

Gaining customer insight through pain point mapping

Today’s technology is enabling increasing opportunities to gain insight into how consumers use products and where they can run into problems or “pain points”.

One of the finalists in a recent contest by Knowledge@Wharton has developed a tool that allows consumers to register their pain points online. An excerpt from the article is below:

“With their module, consumers can log entries around the clock, 365 days a year on a website about what their “pain points” are. The site is organized by sectors and sub-sectors, such as retail banking or mobile phone services. A site administrator filters all the pain points, which are then tagged and mapped to identify trends in customer dissatisfaction. Only the consumer and site administrator have access to this information and eliminates the bias inherent in conventional, time-consuming methods used to gauge customer satisfaction, such as surveys or focus groups, says Dhargalkar.

The software’s inventors tested the module for more than two years with a group of 500 students. They collected 54,561 pain points and tagged 229 unique ones.

Some pain points are already being addressed as a result of the module, says Dhargalkar. For example, a student has invented a software patch for mobile phones that magnifies fonts for senior citizens. Another has thought up an insurance product to cover unborn children, which some insurers are considering.”

Social media and new technologies are enabling customer insights to be developed in ever faster more efficient ways. Many leading companies have quickly switched on to similar methods for gaining insight more to come next post…..

CMOs Give Out Poor Grades for Market Centricity

Our partners at the CMO Council just released a report on the level of market centricity of their organizations and it is clear there is a lot of work to do in this area. See the message from Donovan Neale-May, the Executive Director below:

“How do you rate the state of customer and market responsiveness at your company? For CMO Council members who have taken the “Market Sense-Ability Audit,” the combined grade is a “D” or worse. CMO Council members express serious reservations about the level of both customer and competitive readiness in their organizations.

Make sure to read this new paper analyzing the responses of senior marketers who participated in an audit that is used by many companies to benchmark market- and customer-centricity across their organizations.
Visit our Market Sense-Ability Center to download the report, and learn how other senior marketers grade their companies’ performance.”

How to be a “game changer” in your business

We just recently released a new case study on the CMO of Franke, Charles F Lawarence. It tells the story of the impact a “Market Responsiveness Index” survey can have on your company and career.

Charles described the experience best himself:

“This MRI tool was a game changer for Franke and me personally.”

The tool allowed Charles to quickly gain insight into the organization he was leading. It highlighted areas of organizational  strength and weakness as it relates to customers and alignment around the Franke brand and customer experience.

More importantly, it provided a rallying point for change and action planning.

You can download and read more about Charles and the Franke story here.

Jeff Bezos on what we call marketculture, zappos and amazon’s early days

I came across a really great video produced by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon today.

In it he shares some cool stories about Amazon’s early days, a short list of what he knows about business and why he loves Zappos.

What is really interesting from our point of view is his comments on what he knows about business. He mentions a few of the critical components of what we call “MarketCulture” – an obsession with customers, understanding them, listening to them and inventing for them. Take a look:

Jeff if you are listening, we would love to run Amazon through our “Market Responsiveness Index”!

Putting the cart before the horse: Why investing in customer information alone misses the big picture

I came across an interesting chart today showing the ROI of investing in different areas of a business’s operations, it came from John McKean’s book “Information Masters”.

Although I do not have the full context for the chart, my interpretation is that it shows the various levels of investment in the 7 “competencies” identified by John and the various levels of impact each have on a firm’s results. It confirms our own experience and research that show that small investments in skill development (People) and culture can yield substantial ROI for firms.

Something we also agree on is outlined on page 6 of the book:

“The typical firm invests in massive customer databases and networks without investing in the other elements which detemine a true competency in information:

1. Employee skills to apply it.

2. Process by which to efficiently deploy it.

3. Organizational structure and rewards for effective use in and across functional areas.

4. Culture to perpetuate its use and appreciation of its value.

5. Leadership to fully understand and support its role and investment.

6. Information itself relative to its value and accuracy.”

87% of CEOs are not creating adequate value

My business partners, (Sean and Linden) and I recently completed writing a new white paper with the title “The Truth about Profit Trends: What CEOs need to Know and Do” , to date it has been garnering a lot of interest.

It outlines some worrying trends related to company’s return on assets over the past 40 years and identifies some of the reasons behind these.

One of the key findings was that 87% of CEOs are simply not creating enough value. Given the CEO’s role is to drive the organization towards its vision and enable it to fulfill its purpose by creating value for its customers this is a worrying trend. What is stopping CEO’s from creating value?

The short answer is company culture, many firms have lost competitiveness due to an internally focused culture that kills innovation and eats strategy for breakfast. Without addressing culture CEO’s cannot be successful in creating the positive change necessary to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace.

You can access our new whitepaper from our new resources page here.

Why companies must embrace customer complaints

Customer complaints can often be a source of angst and negativity for businesses. What are they complaining about now….can’t we do anything right?

If not managed correctly this can lead to significant drops in employee morale and negative feelings towards customers which creates more customer complaints, a vicious cycle ensues….

So how should companies deal with these issues? They should learn to embrace complaints, bring them to the surface, use them positively to create change and make things better.

A interesting example is a company called Pizza Delphina that have actually used the customer comments from the review site Yelp and placed them on t-shirts worn by their servers.

Customer Complaints from Yelp

Customer Complaints from Yelp

Is this a good idea? It maybe to early to tell… but it is one way to embrace negative feedback. The only question I have is are they really doing anything with the feedback? or is this just entertainment value? Is it valid feedback or just people having a bad day and taking it out on the Pizza place?

The bottom line is that complaints are easier to make and I think on balance that is a good thing. What matters most however is what companies choose to do with that feedback to improve the way they do business.

Finally a breakthrough tool to measure your level of market orientation

Breakthrough MarketCulture Innovation

Breakthrough MarketCulture Innovation

Finally there is a way to measure something we have been working with clients on for the last 30 years. It is what we call market culture or in research circles is referred to as market orientation. This goes beyond the notion of customer centricity although the terms are related. It really is about bringing the outside in and avoiding the pitfalls of working with primarily an internal focus. It is not just about customers but about the external environment, the competitive landscape and how intelligence is distributed and used within the business to create more value.

Why is it important? Because it is a proven driver of business performance, companies that have built a strong market culture have built businesses that are more innovative, profitable and grow faster than their competitors.

Our team is really excited as we have finally completed the development of a new survey tool that will validly and reliably measure market orientation (what we call market culture), connect it to business performance and benchmark our clients against a database of companies from around the world.

For more information see our press release here. We have also set-up a new page on our site dedicated to this new product, we are calling the MarketCulture Benchmark (TM) here.