Has the AIDA Model in the Customer Journey become outdated?

125 years is a long amount of time. The AIDA model was developed by the American businessman, E. St. Elmo Lewis, in 1898. The original purpose was to optimise sales calls, specifically the interaction between seller and buyer concerning the product.

Just to expand on the acronym(and the obvious):

  • A = attract
  • I = interest
  • D = desire
  • A = action
Of course the AIDA model is helpful as it provides focus on each area of the customer journey. That being said, allow me a bit of purposeful provocation.
Let’s look at a few reasons why the AIDA model is up for scrutiny:
– Post the ‘ action ‘ stage, the brand is not engaging or conversing with the customer. There is nothing happening after the purchase. In the context of how important customer retention and loyalty is for marketers, this is a pain point.
– In fact, the majority of actions taken by users on social media when it comes to reaching out to a brand involve experience (aka they’ve already interacted with your brand) and for customer service issues (aka they’re already a customer).
Pl refer to the below infographic from Sprout Social on ‘ why consumers message a brand on social media ‘:
The prognosis is that on social media, nearly 96 percent of people contact a brand beyond AIDA, assuming they’re already a customer.
– The AIDA model was constructed during a phase wherein we were in a  ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘ or Buyer Beware situation. We are now in a ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘ phase or Seller Beware mode. All the more reason for brands to be in continuous engagement and conversation post action/purchase.
 
– In an increasingly commoditised world, Customer Experience is your best product.
– Incredible, always on accessibility has driven consumers to crave experiences that are both instant and convenient.
 
– Experiences are no longer between the company and the customer. Any customer experience can become public news overnight.
– Because it’s easy enough to find a great product for a decent price these days. What’s harder to find is a seamless, customer-centric brand experience.
– Brand Loyalty is on the decline. We are in a ”Switching economy”. 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience(Kolsky).
– The biggest thing missing when brands manage the customer journey? Conversations.
So, how do we look at a model that can replace AIDA? You must have heard of ‘ Conversational Marketing ‘ – this is more on the lines of ACCA:
A: attract
 
C: convert
 
C: close
 
D: delight
The below infographic devised by B Squared Media is self explanatory.
Think of conversational marketing as having real-time conversations with your would-be or actual customers.
Additionally, you might want to check out this feature in BrandKnew on Conversational Marketing at https://www.brandknewmag.com/does-your-2020-marketing-strategy-include-conversational-marketing/
The model is still pretty simple. Each part of the customer journey allows for conversations between you and your would-be (or actual) customers. And if we think about customer experience, that’s what sets the superior brands apart.
Everyone knows when they are dealing with a customer centric brand. It shows. You can feel it. Sure you can go deep and crazy with customer experience but, you can also focus on conversations.
Conversations are the ignored, low hanging fruit of almost every business.
Just to let you in on a little secret: all of the marketing buzzwords(influencers! loyalty ! revenue !) live inside of customer care efforts and for some inexplicable reason, most brands are completely overlooking this part of the journey.
The script to write for brands and marketers in organisations is to move from ROI (in the conventional sense) to ROE( Return on Experience). And any kind of transformative customer experience begins with an engaging employee experience. 
In a culture of immediacy, people are becoming ever-more impatient when it comes to their transactions and brand engagement.
Some Food For Thought

– More than half of consumers (55 percent) have intended to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase, but decided not to because of a poor service experience- American Express

-89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service- RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

-50 percent of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them. – RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

– A 10% increase in customer retention levels increases the value of a company by 30%- Bain & Company
– You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive”- March Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com
Before I sign off, some customer experience benchmarks that are worthy of emulation would include:
Walt Disney: Stooping To Excellence
ACE Hardware: Helpful Hardware People
Ritz Carlton: Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen
Amazon:Building the earth’s most customer centric organisation

 

A contrarian view as I hang up:

The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time: David Bowie

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https:www.brandknewmag.com

https:www.brandknew.groupisd.com

https:www.weeklileaks.com

 

 

Present Forward or Future Back: Strategy or Vision?

The future happens slowly..and then all of a sudden. In his fabulous 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway famously wrote that bankruptcy happens in two ways:  “gradually and then suddenly”.

Some years back Andy Grove( ex-CEO, Intel) had introduced the concept of strategic inflection points in his seminal book Only the Paranoid Survive where he explained that a strategic inflection point is ” a time in the life of a business when it’s fundamentals are about to change “.

A change in the business environment that dramatically shifts some elements of your activities, throwing certain taken-for-granted assumptions into question is an inflection point. Someone, somewhere, sees the implications, but all too often they are not heard. That someone might be you!

Whether you are a powerful CEO or someone far lower down in the pecking order, not seeing the unfolding inflection points(or blind spots ) are dangerous.

What is the case we are making here? Too many managers develop strategy while focusing on problems in the present and that is especially true in the times of a crisis(like the Covid 19 pandemic that we are presently pulverised by). Lets call it ‘ missing the wood for the trees ‘. What I am trying to argue here is that leaders instead should imagine the future and work backward so that they build their organisations and brands for the new(emerging) reality.

Even during a crisis, developing a ” future-back ” mindset can spur innovation and growth.

So, in order to build strategy, start with the future.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of brands and organisations that have used the ” future-back ” approach to stunning effect.

Back in the late 90’s and the turn of the millennium, Intel was ruling the roost. With a market share well over 70%, the brand was well and truly in the driver’s seat(apart from being inside millions of computers) with the Pentium Processor going from strength to strength. At the height of that market dominance, Andy Grove took a visionary punt and launched a brand to compete against its very own Pentium– that was the Celeron range of Processors. What he did was to see the future being dominated by cheaper, faster processors( Moore’s Law ) and he did not want Intel to lose out on the potential opportunity that lay ahead of them. That saying Andy Grove was visionary would be an understatement and how prescient the observation in his book ” When spring comes, snow melts first at the periphery, because that is where it is most exposed “, bears testimony.  Intel Inside. Meets Intelligence and Insight!

Take another example of the ” future-back ” approach that Reed Hastings, Founder/CEO of Netflix adopted to reach where it is today. At the height of their DVD rental business success, they ventured into streaming(encouraging both cannibalisation and migration of their existing subscriber base) anticipating that the medium to long term future of in home entertainment will hinge on that. Not just that, look at their understanding of the competitive landscape- it went well beyond the typical television broadcast networks and cable TV of the day. They distilled the big picture into getting their prospect’s time and attention. Broadened the eco system significantly. Rather made it a category by itself. So, in effect, the competition included time their viewer/s spent going to movie houses, eating out, entertaining friends and family, travel and holidays etc etc. By wearing a different lens and examining a hitherto unseen/untried approach, helped them immensely in becoming the brand they are today.

No conversation about a ” future-back ” model and a vision preceding strategy would be complete without talking about Steve Jobs and Apple. Back in the day, the way they disrupted music consumption and music distribution through iTunes and iPod is now part of folklore. They did not wait for either the market or the customer to tell them what is needed. They took moonshots( it’s in the culture), created highly desirable products that the customer never knew they wanted or would need and generated unprecedented gravitas, and the rest they say is history. Apple as a brand and Steve Jobs as a leader was always seeing around corners, anticipating trends and operated at the intersection of a new future and non articulated consumer need and desire.

Let me add here. ‘ Customer knows best ‘ is a whole load of balderdash. If organisations were to depend on customers to know what is needed, there would not have been any Post It Notes(3M), Fax Machines(Xerox) and many of today’s incredibly successful brands like Amazon, Tesla, Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, Zomato etc. The onus and responsibility of drawing the future and working backward from there is fully on you, your brand, your organisation. So, don’t run away from it. Take it head on.

While we debate the vision vis a vis strategy and the “ future-back ” model to a ” present-forward ” one, do be aware that a vision is like an ‘ impressionist painting ‘ and NOT a ‘ photograph ‘. A photograph captures what there is already, there is NO speculation, hedging, punting and imagining the non existent. A vision on the other hand is similar to an impressionist painting in the sense that it is visualising what could/should be, what will/can be or what may/may not be. It is taking a shot at the future and setting the road to travel back from there.

To be blunt, getting through this tricky process of envisioning the future begins with confusion, experimentation and a touch of chaos followed by a single minded determination to make progress against an overarching goal. And an approach that futurist Paul Saffo recommends as creating as many forecasts as possible, fail as quickly as possible and vitally ” to hold strong opinions weakly “.

Another valuable perspective on this chaotic period of thinking is offered by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. Anything that has more upside than downside from random events(or certain shocks) is anti fragile.

Rita McGrath, Columbia Business School professor and business consultant recommends a ‘ discovery driven approach ‘ to anticipating the future and you can dive deeper into her thinking and recommendations in BrandKnew on these links https://www.brandknewmag.com/thinking-innovation-driving-growth/ and https://www.brandknewmag.com/discovery-driven-digital-transformation/ .

It was the 4th of February, 2014. Satya Nadella was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft, the third chief executive in the company’s history, following Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Recognising that most of Microsoft’s woes at the time were a function of an approach that was ” present forward “, the first thing he did was to tell everyone in the organisation ” We are going to be moving away from a know it all organisation to a learn it all one “. Looking back on how well Microsoft is doing now compared to 2014, bears testimony to the potential for organisations in adopting a ” future-back ” model.

Brands that didn’t heed the  ” future-back ” model and met their fate inspite of being market leaders once upon a time include the likes of Blockbuster, Kodak, Nokia, Toys ‘R’ Us.

There are other industries very ripe for the picking to drive home further the point of vision preceding strategy. The pharmaceutical sector for instance. Based on empirical evidence, learnings from past epidemics like SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu, emerging lifestyle patterns and the accompanying chronic diseases that it helps manifest(diabetes for one), a pharma company can seize opportunities and address customer pain points that will occur in the future. An example that is worth looking at is the pharma giant Roche. Which saw huge potential in the ” future-back ” approach. That helped revive it’s struggling diabetes unit. The company ingeniously paired the mySugr app (which it had acquired in 2017) with Roche’s Accu-Chek Guide glucose meter, thereby allowing diabetics to have a different, gamified experience to managing their condition. By logging in their blood glucose levels, completing tasks and challenges, users can “tame their diabetes monster”. It’s a totally different approach(at least for the pharma sector) which forecasts that “the way forward will mean selling a total experience, not just a product.

Rather than look at Fall of 2020 or Spring of 2021, Universities/Colleges will be best served to go further down the road and see how do we cope, prepare and anticipate learning and training needs in the near distant future and move backward from there. With the current Covid-19 crisis having caught a lot of educational institutions severely under prepared and like a deer in the headlights with no werewithal (and mindset) for virtual/online delivery, the time is now, to graduate, to look into the future.

So, ‘ where do you go from here ‘? Or, rather, I should be asking ‘ where are you coming back from ‘ ?

PS: For leaders and organisations wanting to undertake ‘A back to the future voyage ‘, the video on this link https://www.groupisd.com/phewturecast/ can be a starting point.

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https:www.brandknewmag.com

https:www.weeklileaks.com

https:www.brandknew.groupisd.com

 

 

Is SAD the new HAPPY in Advertising?

Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s an always on world. While being perennially and technologically connected, geography being history and all of that, at no time have humans been so socially disconnected in the real sense.The need (and significantly unmet) desire for human bonding has never been greater. Nuclear existence has stoked the potential that is kinetic in humans. There is a clamour to reach out and brands are bending over backwards to suit the new found relish for the pathos.
It’s a given that sad news travels fast. But, advertising that stokes emotions( or SADvertising as it is being called these days) that strikes a strong emotional piano chord and opens up the tear ducts, travels fast, wide and deep. Empathy meets exponential sharing, opens up a floodgate of brand conversations,triggers otherwise hard to come by response, sustains brand dialogue and keeps all stakeholders be it brand owners, ad agencies or end users, happy (ironic as it may sound!).
Why the sadness?
It is said that sad emotional content has the capacity to make people feel more emotionally connected to one another, especially powerful in our detached digital world. This sad connectedness makes people more likely to take an action such as sharing content, donating money, or buying a product.
Communicating sadness can create behavioral change
Scientifically speaking, when we hear interesting stories, specifically stories that make us feel distress or empathy, our brain produces two chemicals: cortisol, which links with our sense of distress and helps us focus our attention on something, and oxytocin, which is associated with our sense of empathy. When these two chemicals are triggered, studies show that people are more likely to give money to a cause related to the story they’ve heard.
In short, the study reveals that it is possible for a story to change a person’s behaviour by changing their brain chemistry. What does this mean for brands? Sad stories have the potential to move people to make a purchase. This is why we’ll likely see more of these sad ads in the future.
We have moved on from an era of media scarcity to an era of attention
scarcity. Getting people’s attention is what we’re trying to do, and I
think that meaning, something that people can relate to on a very
visceral level, is what drives a lot of the decisions we make when we’re
talking about things. Hyper competition has forced brands to not only
assure customers a good product or service but make it very relatable
and more meaningful than any other good product.
Over time brands have realised that the consumer culture has evolved
and people are more reflective and mindful of their lives. There is a
constant search for deeper layers of meaning once you have all the
things you need and most of the things you don’t need but desire. The
ad industry of the last decade was mean, cynical and celebrated
bitterness. Those were the days when brands wanted to be Sexy,
Swaggering or Sweeping. That showed up in most of the work that was
put up. Don’t blame them as it seemed to work for all concerned. But,
then after a while, people got sick of it and when a voice and tone which
conveyed exactly the opposite stuck in, the positive reaction was
overwhelming.
Lets list a few of the work from yesteryears where brands have stirred up a flood of emotions all over the world and that includes P&G and its commercial released around the Olympics(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUg6s-uIp1w), Honda’s Project Drive In(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kRU9Au-fhk), Coca Cola Life in Argentina(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPb1t3jU3sI), Nestle Good Life commercial in India(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syZju6ui394), Google’s Dear Sophie(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcHV_Dv9tlo), Dove’s Beauty Patch(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk), John Lewis(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9D-uvKih_k), Budweiser’s Puppy Love(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p_3lITiK_Q), the charming tale of a canine equine romance or Expedia’s commercial(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CzSeFHrSfM) about same sex marriage where the father fights his prejudice etc.
The flip side of this (which is worrying) is that it has become a trend. The
word ‘ emotional ‘ is now become the most over used word in client
agency briefs. If you are used to agencies creating a trend which should
ideally be the case(rather than following one), its time to take stock. We
just might be at a tipping point on this one. But, till such time, it sinks in,
it’s cry, cry, cry till you succeed for brands and agencies.
Go, grab your tissues!
ENDS
https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com

Numerology and the Marketing Math!

Numerology and Marketing Math!

Numerology: Definition: The branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers.

​We are all swayed by possibility. As we are swayed by short cuts. Human beings are hardwired to be lazy. So, unless and until there is a by design effort to put in the emotional labour​, routine is the ardently followed also ran. Mundane replaces the potential jugular. It remains that way, because its always been done that way. So why upset the applecart? But what happens when the cart is being toppled?

​I am not a numbers person. Far from it. It somehow just doesn’t add up for me. So, I have almost subtracted it from my life. But, being in the space that I am, and observing the brand marketing communications around me, I am tempted to do a deeper dive and know more.

25 to 70% off: Most of you would have seen these numbers ​scream out at us day in and day out from newspapers, billboards, radio ads, digital ads etc. In fact, some of us were mistaking the 25 to 70% off to be a tourist destination(considering how many of them sprout all over the city)- One cannot miss it because leading brands across industry verticals with the support and ‘ advise ‘ of big ticket advertising agencies make sure such campaigns are run 13 months in a year. So, that makes it 24X7X395. A different numerology this!

The ever lasting love affair of brand and marketing experts with 25 to 70% off remains a mystery. Or by now, it should not be. Considering the amount of time ‘ the practice ‘ has come to root. And the practice has been perfected beyond question. And ably aided by ‘ brand guardians ‘ who toe the line willingly as this ‘ ad vise ‘ is coming from senior czars at the big ticket ad agencies– how can they get their ‘ numbers ‘ wrong? They use ‘ fancy ‘ calculators!!!!

I have heard somewhere that ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘. Very recently, a very senior brand and business head of a market leading brand called me saying that they are in troubled times. They were losing market share and from being a clear category leader with over 65% retail market share, it was time for store closures, downsizing(or rightsizing to make it sound sweeter) and market share dipping to below 40% – all that in a matter of about 18 months. Inspite of increased marketing spends as advised by the ‘ experts ‘. My question to him was to understand what were they doing different to what was being done and not surprisingly the answer remained ‘ we have aggressively started doing deep discounting and instead of doing it 4 times a year, we remain committed to doing it through the year ‘…so there you go, enough said – ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘.

​So, do these brand owners and guardians take their coveted ad agencies to task? I’m afraid not. If that were to happen, how can they make ‘ interesting, cerebral conversation ‘ saying that our brand works with XXXX agency – they are in the Top 5…and walk around with a chip on their shoulder​. And be ranked among ‘ Top 50 ‘ Marketing Professionals in XXXX. To be flagged on their Linked In profile. 

Customers buy only on price and the more you deep discount, more loyalty they bring to the equation is still the belief(believe it or not). We can keep bribing them and they will keep flocking like bees to honey. But, what happened? The numbers are not adding up. ​​The 25 to 70% off numerology chapter needs to turn the page. The strategy is now clearly a ‘ has BEEn ‘! And still being tried Bees Saal Baad( Twenty Years Hence for those not familiar with Hindi).

So, where are they headed? To me the writing is on the wall- or is it on the palm?

​Palmistry, anyone?​ Could be easier. Palm off your responsibility to someone or something else! Enough suckers around.

As for me, I am calling up my Mom(God Bless Her) to know more about the occult practice..you guessed it: Numerology!

Disclaimer: She is a retired Math teacher.

ENDS

https://bit.ly/31my0L1

https://www.groupisd.com

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

Comfortably numb inside the Golden Cage?

The Golden Cage? Probably yes.

Intrusion capitalism paves the way for what has been called the ‘ convenience economy ‘. And like billions around the world, we are almost comatosed into not only acceptance but to dig deep and stay there. The numbness of convenience, shall we say? And apart from the occasional murmur or a sporadic protest, life goes on.

We don’t have to go very far but look at a few examples. Let’s begin with one of the usual suspects-brands like Amazon, Amazon Prime and their accompanying eco system that touches the lives of millions of customers around the world every day. For about US$ 10 a month( if you are in the US), you get a vast pool of content, priority door step delivery at the most economical value for zillions of products. And with Alexa(another Amazon wonder) taking root as a serious tool for search and e commerce, the cesspool of dependence has only gone deeper and broader. Since there is no better reason( or a better alternative by far), we as customers are happy to be remain comfortably domiciled.

With 2.2 billion users every day around the world, Facebook is a monster drug(combining its repertoire of Whats App, Instagram users) and there is no saturation in sight as the time spent on these platforms seem to be only increasing. Data theft, brand safety, privacy intrusions etc have not stopped the eccentric growth of this juggernaut. Sometime back, the powers that be at Facebook actually mentioned that they are addressing the privacy and data theft concerns and they are prepared for a 95% success. Very recently, under pressure from several quarters, the commitment went up to 99%!!! It’s akin to an airline saying that we are 99% sure of our landings. 1% can be seriously debilitating and you don’t have to look further than the New Zealand shooting which went live to understand what I am trying to say. But, just like the case of Amazon, there is no mass exodus. On the contrary, the clamour to get in is only increasing. The absence of a viable, palatable alternative definitely helps the cause. People are staying put!


As Steven Van Belleghem espouses in his book Automation, AI and the Customer Experience , just as there is a mandatory audit of all corporations’ financial statements both internally & externally, there has to be a regulation in place calling for ‘ algorithm transparency ‘. Because, presently only the outcomes are understandable while there is no clarity on the inputs- especially the bias and the prejudice that gets fed into the codes to manipulate outcomes. I think this is a clarion call for a basic ‘ code of conduct ‘ and the earlier it gets put into place, surveillance capitalism will have some guard rails.

Till then, the (algo)rithm is going to get you! And it’s quite possible that you go blue in the Face(book).

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

Mediocrity is never an accident,it’s by design,so,watch out!

“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”

-Tim Ferriss

Ironical isn’t it that we are knowingly ultra competitive when we are striving for mediocrity. And, ironically, the fiercest competition is for the second-class prizes. And we still don’t get it!

It’s a long never ending tirade. Justifications that are shallow, hollow and mere escapism. I am referring to the reasons why we endorse and end up doing mediocre work. Let’s look at the usual suspects..

The brief was lousy..

I hardly had any time..

The customer does not value quality..

We never get the right price..

It’s a one way street, we are always the one being short changed..

Does it really matter? As nobody ever notices..

You are always critical..

This market never appreciates high quality..

The management will never understand..

I have always done it this way..

My boss is a jerk..

I don’t want to fail..I rather play safe..

Half hearted, half baked, short cuts, excuses. Period. Nothing else. They are all sad facades, masking the real issue. The outcome where sub optimal emotional labour is committed will always reflect a huge gap between what could have been and what is.

If you’re not willing to fail, you guarantee you’ll stay average-at-best.

If you want to grow into an extraordinary version of yourself, you must be willing to fail — a lot.

“Stay in your lane.” Focus on you. Learn all you can. Experiment, fail, discover what works.

When you see the 25 to 70% off ad screaming from every second billboard in town for every second brand, that is when you come to realise the often heard ‘ herd mentality ‘. Find safety in numbers. Conform, adhere, comply, fit in, exist, survive, get along, pass by. By design, the quest for supreme mediocrity(read comfort food) is perennial and offers perpetual succour. Or so it seems considering the seriousness with which it is latched onto. And there is no letting go.  And that, amongst a community of really bright minds who came into the profession with a clarion call to make their own little dents in the universe. And what are they managing to do- drive people away from the profession.

You have to decide to opt either for the wood or for the trees. Do you want to care enough to create something better? Introspect and the answer will be very close at hand.

Most people will stay in mediocrity.They’ll continue fighting with the majority for average, subpar prizes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The road that leads to an incredibly exciting, fulfilling life is waiting for you. It’s free and open, and there are no crowds. And pay no heed to the ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘ narrative- it’s just a more sophisticated coinage for finding solace in the average, the sub par, the mediocre.

You can either take a ‘ leap of faith ‘ or retire to a ‘ sleep of fate ‘. What got you here is not going to get you there. As Todd Henry so beautifully captured in his book ” Die Empty ‘- Unleash your best work every day. Practice the art of non-conformity! That’s what we preach and practice at ISD Global. And we get to do that every day. Gratitude!!

ENDS

groupisd.com/story

brandknewmag.com

weeklileaks.com

brandknew.groupisd.com

 

 

 

The ‘ Expertise Burden ‘

The X Factor might make you an ‘ ex not to be factored ‘.

Contradicting yes. Certainly so. How can expertise ever be a burden? It is what gets normally equated with leadership abilities and high performance. But when we look around, you will find instances where expertise comes across as unwanted baggage, thereby halting progress, impeding momentum.

Look around and you will scores of cases where expertise has been a trap for many an organisation and individuals alike. Kodak was at the frontier of imaging technology and photography and remained glued to the thought that things would remain the same.

” You press the button. We do the rest “, quoted George Eastman. Steve Sasson was the engineer at Kodak who invented the digital camera in 1975. US$ 10 billion in sales way back in 1981. However, Kodak failed to recognise the rise of digital photography, decline in analog camera sales and the rise in digital camera sales. Eventually, the brand filed for bankruptcy in 1992. The ‘ expertise trap ‘ played its part. The hunter became the hunted.

Let’s move onto Microsoft for a bit. When Apple introduced the iPhone(without the conventional Qwerty keypad), then CEO Steve Ballmer(steeped deep in PC and connected computing business), never gave it a chance. The legacy of expertise has played its part and things didn’t look too ‘ smart’ for Microsoft as iPhone made history. Windows had shut the door on a big opportunity as the Explorer stopped exploring.

And so goes the case with stalwart retail brands who stuck to the coat tails of merchandise, brick and mortar, store design and alterations to the marketing mix- erstwhile pillars of retail success till such time Amazon came in and broke the mould completely.

While expertise has several ticks in the box, it can also lead to individual thinking that is narrow( Why upset the applecart, we have always done it that way), resting on past laurels, ignoring the dynamics of the market place, the emergence of new thinking and technology( AI, the power of algorithms that replace rote tasks very easily) and behaviours that leave a gaping distance between colleagues and business partners, causing loss of confidence and trust. Over time the very expertise that led to our success can leave us feeling unhappy, unsatisfied, and stuck.

Some examples that might trigger counter intuitive thinking is when ‘ experts ‘ realise the need of the hour and wake up to smell the coffee. Who would have thought that automobile technology, ones exemplified by brands like Mercedes, BMW and their ilk would ever get upended. And how. Till such time Tesla disrupted the space with a vengeance and driverless, autonomous technology hit the road and put them in a MUSK DO situation. Real soon, the established brands were investing their billions into the new self driving technology to keep up, send out a signal and get ready for their future. They didn’t hang on to the ‘ expert ‘ in the field narrative. They let the new rubber hit the road. Good for them.

Some warning signs that you may have fallen prey to the expertise trap:

Have you fallen into a creative rut?

Do you feel “old” and out of touch in your job?

Do others seem uncomfortable challenging your assumptions and ideas?

Are market developments beginning to take you by surprise?

These are just a few of the warning signs.

All hope is not lost. Rediscover the path to new thinking, new learning and growth. Embark on a new journey and as the Buddhists call it ‘ embrace a beginner’s mind ‘.

That’s why we are happy with our ethos at ISD Global where I work. Be hungry, be foolish. The more you know, the more you realise how much more there is to know. Changing for the better and bettering the change go hand in hand. And all the ‘ trappings ‘ be blown!

ENDS

groupisd.com/story

brandknewmag.com

brandknew.groupisd.com

weeklileaks.com

 

A case for brands and business to be more ‘visible’?

Visible not in the conventional sense of the term. Visible here means the value that can be derived by keeping your processes and efforts(emotional labour included) being made clear and visible to your customer universe. Seeing is believing the saying goes.

Imagine you are at your favourite restaurant. And ordered their to die for stake. 30 minutes (with nothing at stake and meaningless multiple up and down scrolling on the smartphone later), you see the restaurant attendant bring your order swinging in through the kitchen doors and sashaying to your table and placing it on your table. Voila! You are a sizzling hot stakeholder now.

Now, lets visit the same situation wherein once you have placed your order for your favourite stake, you get to see what is happening in the kitchen and the team of chefs and kitchen staff doing what they need to get your stake ready. You see the intensity, the passion, the precision, the effort and the collaborative energy that is being invested to get your order to the table. You recognise the emotional labour that has gone into the making and delivering of your order.

So what is the prognosis from the above two scenarios. In situation one, you the customer has no idea of what is happening behind the scenes. Your order comes in and there is almost a sense of deja vu- ” I expected this “. You are not according any additional value to the experience. On the contrary, the opaqueness of the experience, takes away the true potential value proposition.

What happens in situation two? As you see what is happening behind the scenes, the labour , the effort, the commitment that is going into your order being processed, subliminally you begin to value the experience far better. Respect for the brand grows. Not just that. In the context of the team that put the order together, they begin to take greater pride in what they are doing as their effort is being showcased to the end user and the chain reaction of getting better continues.

When CEO Teruo Yabe came aboard Tessei( the Facilities Management company that cleans Japan’s Bullet Trains), the perception of the company was at an all time low. The work was considered 3D: dirty, difficult, dangerous. Yabe wanted to change this into the 3K : it stands for “kansha,” “kangeki” and “kando” (gratitude, drama and strong impressions). How did he do it? Read on..

Firstly, he changed the colours of the workers uniforms from a pale blue to flaming red. Attract attention, yes! On any day, in Tokyo Central Station, a work unit clad in the red uniforms of Tessei Co line up with military precision. A bullet train on the Tohoku shinkansen pulls in, and the workers, at the given signal, step aboard and hastily go about their work. They have a total of 12 minutes(gap between train pulling in and departing) of which 5 minutes must be set aside for passengers disembarking. So, effectively time available to them is just 7 minutes to complete their tasks.

Normally (to quote the  Shukan Post), two to three workers are assigned to a first-class car, as opposed to one to clean up a regular car. In addition to checking for items left behind on the overhead racks and seats, they must flip the 100 seat backs in each car to make them face the front of the train, and while doing this, they scan the aisles and floor for any refuse, a task generally performed in roughly one minute, 30 seconds.

They then proceed to wipe off the table tops in front of each seat and adjust the window blinds. If any of the white covers on seat backs appear begrimed, these are exchanged for clean ones.

At the two-minute warning, they turn their attention to emptying the waste receptacles between cars. They also team up with other staff, whose task is to tend to the lavatories and washrooms. After a final check of all assigned jobs on their list, they assemble outside on the platform and bow in unison toward the passengers awaiting boarding.

1000 seat train, 22 team members, 7 minutes turnaround. Visible : Very. The CNN Crew called it the ‘ 7 Minute Miracle ‘. Their efforts have even inspired a bestselling book, “Shinkansen osoji no tenshi-tachi” (Shinkansen’s cleanup angels) by Isao Endo (published by Asa Shuppan).

Now, lets move onto another brand that hopped onto the visibility bandwagaon. Domino’s Pizza. About 10 or so years ago, Domino’s decided that they will throw open to their customers an interface(Dominos Tracker) wherein they are able to track what is happening to their order right from order received, dough prepared, toppings gathered, gone inside the oven, packed and on the way to delivered. The image quotient for the brand skyrocketed. Not surprising that this has become case studies in many business schools.

As I write this, I am tempted to share what we should have done when at ISD Global(the Dubai based branding agency where I work) delivered the ExceLENS Awards for Photography( sponsored by Toshiba) a couple of weeks ago. Over 10 weeks, a talented, passionate, committed ISD Global team of more than 10 members(apart from a number of equally committed external partners) clocked really long hours to make the event a resounding success. Am trying to make a case for visibility which helps improve and transform experiences, outcomes and business objectives for all stakeholders.

Till the next, VISIBLY Yours!

ENDS

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Marketing is having a Listening Problem!

Is Marketing having a Listening Problem?
Yes, you heard that right. Marketing has a listening problem…definitely looks like- but the problem isn’t a matter of not hearing the voice of the customer. The problem is understanding what all the noise actually means.
An unintentional tone-deafness has led marketers to realise that they are not just struggling to aggregate the right data or struggling to identify the moments of opportunity to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers. Marketers admit that the biggest challenge the organisation faces while working to develop lasting customer relationships is actually remembering the relationship itself and not solely focusing on getting campaigns out the door.
 
Organisations have settled for passive hearing instead of active listening.
When it comes to aggregating the true voice of the customer, many marketers continue to rely on passive channels bringing in reactionary signals intentionally sent to the organisation. This leaves little opportunity to aggregate, let alone understand, real-time behaviours and cues being left behind by the customer across the omni-channel landscape. Consider where marketers believe insights, cues and indicators are being left: Email, Social, Sales Rep Interactions, Forms, Service & Support. While this list seems reasonable and an appropriate collection of customer signal sources, when sorted into categories of active, realtime, customer-driven signals versus post-engagement, reactionary or company-controlled environments, the picture of where marketers listen for signals begins to point to channels of known, structured comfort.
Where do customers actually leave cues?
Not in the known, structured comfort but in places like Social Media, User Generated Content, IoT Sensors, Chatbot sessions, Mobile Device detection etc
Data doubts are holding back advancement of the omni-channel experience. 
Without question, marketing has spent the past decade (or more) actively investing in expanding the omni-channel toolkit, identifying new ways to reach and engage with the connected customer. Each experience advancement heightens the need for actionable insights and a clear signal based on customer voice and data. But few marketers feel they are able to unlock the opportunity in the channels and the data already in use. This doubt is contributing to a hesitancy to expand and further explore what is new in omni-channel engagement.
Getting small could get us back to the customer.
 
The criticality of small data sits with the insights that reveal the “why” – why is the customer here today, why are they searching, why are the buying, why are they NOT buying? 
Marketers are waiting for complaints or opportunities to improve experiences through answering issues or questions rather than leveraging more complex data to proactively meet the customer with experiences that add value and delight. But marketers are also looking to get a better view of what the customer actually wants. Marketers need to understand the “why.”
Are they most prepared to take advantage of small data to turn noise into signals from the customer. Marketers are also confident they will finally reach the “why” behind customer’s actions and behaviours.
“Why” is also fuelling the marketer’s aspirations. When you try to identify brands across any industry that customers admired for their ability to deliver on real-time, personalised customer engagements, some key brands consistently rose to the top: Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nike. 
What these brands also do well is connect with people and engage with customers like individuals, not just transact with campaigns.The biggest differentiator of these leading brands is their ability to treat every individual like a friend or confidante.The ability to initiate conversations in a manner that reflects the customers needs helps differentiate the brand. In essence, these brands never loose sight of the fact that their customers are core to their business…and that their customers are people first, buyers second.
It is time for marketing to lead the charge to treat people like people. It is time for marketing to champion being human. It sounds fundamental…that our customers are people. But as we have already seen, marketers admit that remembering that the organisation is engaging with people and not just data sets or individual records can be challenging.
The tools and technology are available. The data is abundant. The missing piece has been the voice of the customer. It is time for Marketing to champion the shift back to human…driving profit and opportunity along the way.
ENDS
 
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Your call (isn’t) important to us and will(not) be attended to shortly!

Customer journey. Customer experience. Customer expectation.Customer delight. Customer service. All old wine in new bottles but as should have naturally been the case, things have not matured with age. On the contrary, getting genuine attention(just like paying attention) in an attention starved economy is becoming increasingly difficult and going from bad to worse.
As ordinary mortals, often times we have to deal with banks, financial services, utility companies, car rental brands etc. And we reluctantly take a call on making a call to the epicentre of under delivery– the omni present but care absent  ‘ call centre ‘.
Technology has made rapid strides and from a security perspective ‘ voice recognition ‘ is the harbinger of hope( or so we hoped) for customers expecting to avoid the seven and a half minute hold listening to tastelessly chosen recorded music. And you thought your voice will be heard– tough luck- once you are past that process, you go back in time(yes, literally) and field the 5 security questions to ensure that you are who you are and you are not from a different mother as originally envisaged. And you are left wondering why was the voice recognition used in the first place if the process was to lead to further questioning and endless hold. A lot of questions and certainly no convincing answers.
Pardon my sequencing here- I overlooked to mention the two biggest lies floating around that brands have been propagating blatantly, namely:-
– Your call is important to us and will be attended to shortly
 
– This call maybe recorded for quality and assurance purposes
I say these are the biggest lies for a couple of reasons:
– When was the last time you actually found a call centre personnel sufficiently empowered to resolve your problem? Even if your imagination runs riot, you will be chasing a mirage only.
– On multiple occasions we have put forth our suggestions, frustrations etc on these ‘ recorded for quality & assurance purposes ‘ calls and the customer experience slide has only degenerated further south. Maybe it was ‘ just for the record ‘.
– Have you ever received from a ‘ Relationship Manager ‘ of your bank based in a distant call centre(who is clueless about where you are based) on a Friday afternoon when you have just settled into your afternoon weekend siesta? I have, many times over. This after copious amount of information has been shared to them in the KYC(Know Your Customer!). It should be more like NO, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!
– Have you received calls from an over enthusiastic telecom provider calling you three times in a day(atleast) to ask you for payment(which falls due two weeks hence)? I have. It leaves you wondering ‘ Do(I let phonetics play its part here in let you deciphering who) they have to do that? ‘
Of course there are exceptions and we have heard about the experiences that the likes of Zappos etc provide to their customers that is now part of folklore. But all that seem to be happening on a different planet.
A caveat here before you may misinterpret my vitriol: I don’t belong to that tribe who echoes the sentiment ‘ The customer is always right ‘- its certainly not the case.
The sanctum mantra that brand owners, marketing heads and guardians have been acting on endlessly has been ‘ call to action ‘. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, it seems more like a ‘ call to inaction ‘. And you just can’t seem to shoe that away!
ENDS
 
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