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Amid the Super Bowl advertising hype, one theme receiving significant attention the past few years is the concept of crowdsourced advertising. At a surface level, crowdsourcing advertising seems to engage a broader audience, break the creative chokehold of advertising agencies, and cost less. The question is, are any of those presumptions about crowdsourcing advertising true?

With that question in mind, I’m excited to introduce Steve Wood of Boom Ideanet to the Brainzooming blog. Steve provides an insider’s perspective AND is introducing a new eBook on crowdsourcing advertising today. 

You can download the FREE eBook right here or at the bottom of Steve’s guest post and be ready with smart answers and strategies on crowdsourcing advertising when your CEO comes knocking with the idea to crowdsource your next advertising campaign.

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Crash Course – Everything You Need to Know About Crowdsourcing Advertising – Before Your CEO Asks by Steve Wood

Crash-The-Crowd-eBookThis weekend, it’s the Super Bowl® and The Ad Bowl, all wrapped up in one super-hyped package of anticipation. Regardless of how the game goes, the Super Bowl advertising will stir attention and conversation. Doritos®’ “Crash the SuperBowl” campaign will be part of the conversation, in particular because it is crowdsourced. And Doritos is not alone. Lincoln, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Pizza-Hut and others are spinning crowdsourcing, too.

So how does Doritos use a crowd to make its Super Bowl advertising?

Frito-Lay® invests a great deal of time, money and operational structure to mobilize its fan base.

Beginning in 2006, Doritos established a contest for a “fan-made” commercial. They used advertising and other channels to assemble the crowd, which is renewed each year. Crowd members are self-selected. Fans invest in an idea and a finished video. A secondary crowd of voters determines how far an idea goes in the contest.

In year nine, “Crash the Super Bowl” is far more a marketing strategy than a creative strategy. The brand likely spends as much assembling each contest’s crowd as they do airing the winning-spot. They  are promoting participation in 29 countries, hosting a website, polling and paying out prize money and benefits totaling over $1M for 30 finalists.

Is this the only way to approach crowdsourcing advertising?

Chances are your company doesn’t have those kinds of resources to apply to one advertising event. You think, “Our company will never do a Super Bowl spot. Maybe it works for Doritos, but how could it work for my brand, or retailers, even B2B companies?” Can crowdsourcing advertising really produce useful results? Is it more trouble than it’s worth? Why would I share my business challenges with a bunch of people we don’t even know? All good questions.

So on the Monday morning after the Super Bowl your CEO will likely ask, “What is this crowdsourcing thing?

Are you prepared to respond?

To get you ready to steer the CEO toward a smart strategy, we’re sharing “Everything You Need to Know About Crowdsourced Advertising Before Your CEO Asks.”

Boom-Ideanet-Download

While Doritos has been tapping the crowd one way for years, it’s still anyone’s game out there in crowdsourcing country.

Read the paper. Be the MVP. And at least be ready to play when your CEO asks, “Should we be using “the crowd?” We say Yes! – Steve Wood, Boom Ideanet

 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It’s the first post of 2015 from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. Today, Woody takes on performance metrics and a strategic look at how the measures you use with dramatically new and different strategies need to also be dramatically new and different themselves. Here’s Woody!

Performance Metrics – What Gets Measured? by Woody Bendle

woody-bendleWe’ve all heard the axiom, “What gets measured gets _________.

You can fill in the blank: done, fixed, improved, managed.

The point is if you want to accomplish (fix, improve, manage) something, you need to:

  • Have some idea about the desired outcome you’re seeking (vision or objective)
  • Establish an identifiable target – or series of targets (goals)
  • Do things that help you move toward the goals and desired outcome (activities and processes)
  • Have ways to determine if you are making progress toward achieving your identifiable target(s) and/or desired outcome (measures)

If you’ve spent any time in the business world, you know there is certainly no lack of performance metrics (or measures) for determining how a business or unit is performing and whether or not you are making progress toward your desired goals or objectives.

Most of these performance metrics – or “Key Performance Indicators,” aka KPI – are tried and true and have been around for decades.  And, many businesses have achieved success by adopting standard measures and employing well-known programs, processes and procedures for collecting, reporting, and monitoring activities and progress.

The more familiar or standard your desired outcome (or end state), the easier it is to be successful by employing standard activities, processes and measures.  But if your desired end state is very different from your current state, it is highly unlikely that standard activities, processes, and measures will suffice.  If you want to be very different, you need to do things very differently and you probably also need very different measures (or metrics) to get you there.

To help make my point, let’s take a look at these four illustrative “current state / end state” scenarios.

Woody-current-end-state

The current state, represented by the yellow “Here” circle, is identical for scenarios A through D but the end state varies in how different it is from the original yellow circle.

Scenario A is understandable for many in business. The end state here is basically the same as we currently are, but bigger.  In the business world this might be analogous to growing by selling more of our existing products to existing customers or to new customers in new territories.

Scenario B also isn’t much of a stretch. The end state remains a circle, gets a little bigger, and becomes a little more different by  doing something different (i.e., adding blue) to turn the circle green. In business, this may be growing by adding a new product line and selling more to new and existing customers.

Scenario C is clearly a different end state. The end state is bigger, changed color, completely changed shape, and added a new dimension.  The business analogy might be a combination of Scenario B as well as an acquisition of a business either up or downstream in the value chain and/or possibly even another totally unrelated business.

For Scenarios A-C, there are thousands of real world examples (or business cases) managers can leverage for how an organization can get from here to there.  These suggest the types of things you need to do, and what the types of measures you need to employ in order to monitor and ensure your progress.

For Scenario D, however, all bets are off.

In Scenario D the desired end-state is frankly something that bears no resemblance to the current state. Think Apple Computers in the 1980s vs. the Apple we know today.  Scenario D’s end state looks pretty unique, complex, hard to describe and quite possibly, very difficult to duplicate.  Scenario D is actually illustrative of the types of conversations occurring at many companies today with business model innovation or business transformation.

To achieve the transformative end state in Scenario D, you will likely have to do many things very very differently.  And, you will also likely need to create and utilize completely different measures or performance metrics to help get you there.

So yes, what gets measured gets done, fixed, improved, managed, and possibly changed.  But allow me to modify the oft mis-attributed Einstein quote on insanity:

“If you are expecting to achieve radical transformational results by employing (or tweaking) existing processes, procedures, measures or metrics, you’re completely nuts!   

If your desire is to transform your business or organization, do yourself, your shareholders and your entire organization a favor. Clearly envision, define and articulate:

  • Where / what you want to be
  • All the possible paths you might take to get there
  • How long it might take to arrive at different points along the path
  • What you need to do to know if you are making progress, and if you are nearing your desired end state

If you are having a hard time getting started with this, I’m betting Mike and the folks of The Brainzooming Group have well over 100 articles that can help you out! – Woody Bendle

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! 

For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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AEIB-GraphicAs we do occasionally, we’re featuring an excerpt today from the Armada Corporate Intelligence publication,  “Inside the Executive Suite.” This article was about succession planning best practices IF your organization has no formal succession planning and a team member resigns.

Based on surveys suggesting many organizations lack formal succession planning or don’t follow it closely, their informal strategy for succession planning best practices is a good stop gap. This is especially true early in the year when some people resign after staying around long enough to qualify for year-end bonuses.

These four quick steps for an informal strategy for succession planning could be just what you need to do this week!

Succession Planning Best Practices – 4 Quick Steps for an Informal Strategy

(From Armada Corporate Intelligence – “Inside the Executive Suite”)

Based on the particular survey you find in a quick online search, perhaps 1/3 of organizations don’t have succession planning in place – although the number could be much higher, or slightly lower!

Suffice it to say, even if succession planning is completed, the same surveys report many organizations don’t employ the individuals they would need to implement the succession plans they have.

This absence of succession planning best practices can be a particular issue right after the New Year. Employees that have stuck around only to satisfy the date for an annual bonus often turn in their resignations immediately afterward. Seeing this happen many times, it’s worthwhile to share these steps to take right now, just in case you lack succession plans.

090724-Computer-on-Desk

1. Start your informal succession planning by compiling a very short list of employees you’ll fight to keep

If you do nothing else toward succession planning before January 1, decide which employees you’d make a concerted effort to keep should they announce they are departing.

We recommend making a VERY short list because when most people resign, they have made a mental break they’ll never completely mend – even if they stay because you countered successfully. As a result, the only names on the list should be those absolutely critical to current operations or whose specialized knowledge or expertise would leave a gaping hole.

Also jot down names of employees you’d be happy to see leave, should they do so. Everyone else falls into the, “Not looking to lose them, but it might happen” category.

With this list, you’re in a much better position to implement step 2 if someone announces he or she is leaving.

2. If someone resigns, stay calm, ask questions, and listen

Suppose, it’s January 2nd or February 1st (or whatever date after which bonuses are set) and a key employee resigns. You need to stay calm since this is your opportunity to ask smart questions and listen intently. If the person resigning is on your “fight to keep” list, ask:

  • Are you willing to reconsider?
  • Have you thought about what might make you reconsider?
  • What timing commitments have you made to the new organization?

Understanding these answers begins framing your response for an employee you’re trying to keep since you should have a better idea of what a counter-offer will have to include.

Even for employees on the “not looking to lose them” list, however, asking the last question leads to Step 3

3. Negotiate more transition time if you think it is valuable

For employees not on your “fight to keep” list you’d like in place longer than the two weeks typically offered as a transition period, ask what types of flexibility they have to alter start dates with new employers.

If you think an individual would handle a longer transition period in a constructive, productive way, you may want to negotiate for three or four weeks instead of two. In so doing, you’re not trying to keep them for an extended period; you are, however, trying to buy more time to advance your succession planning and implementation.

4. Find a confidant to vent, then use alone time to think and plan

After asking questions and listening, conclude your meeting. Then go ahead and vent, if you need to do that. Contact a confidant to vent privately without concern for your venting getting back to the office. If you’re frustrated, apprehensive, or even excited, none of these are appropriate emotions to display publicly. Get them out, and return to your calm state quickly.

At that point, begin thinking about what moves you could make to replace the person leaving from among internal candidates. Even if you don’t have someone completely prepared for the job, do you have someone ready for an opportunity that challenges them in dramatically different or more significant ways? If so, there might be no better time to grow them than through stepping into a much bigger role.

Are you ready for people changes with an informal strategy for succession planning?

These steps certainly don’t constitute a full succession planning strategy. If you don’t have one, however, it’s a solid checklist to work through should any staff members announce their departures after the first of the year. - Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It’s fantastic to have Woody Bendle back on the Brainzooming blog after too long away with an admonition to consider going opposite with your new product innovation strategy. Here’s Woody! 

New Product Innovation Strategy – Go Opposite by Woody Bendle

If you are a student or practitioner of new product innovation strategy, you are undoubtedly familiar with the “Go Opposite” strategy.  If you are neither however, the Go Opposite new product innovation strategy is a specific example of an innovation technique sometimes called “Challenge Existing Conventions” that seeks innovation opportunities by going after sacred cows – or purposefully diverging from the herd.

I have recently come across a terrific example that really drives home the Go Opposite new product innovation strategy in running shoes. Consider this depiction of 40 years of running shoes:

Running-Shoe-Trends

From the 1970s through the late 2000s, the prevailing trend in running shoes was the evolution and advancement of materials and technologies.  Shoes became more constructed with better out and midsoles that were designed for runners with different gates and foot-strike patterns.

In 2009, Christopher MacDougall’s book Born to Run (affiliate link) unleashed the “Go Opposite” trend of minimalism and for the next five or so years, nearly every running shoe company introduced an array of minimalism innovations that were designed to emulate the feeling of being barefoot – without actually being barefoot.

Right about the same time as the release of Born to Run, a completely different type of running shoe company started up called Hoka One One.  Rather than following the prevailing trend of minimalism, Hoka (affiliate link) innovated by Going Opposite and produced running shoes with maximal cushioning.  And, for going opposite when it comes to its new product innovation strategy, they have been rewarded with a ton of awards and accolades.

Regardless of the market that you happen to compete in, it is always important to understand the prevailing trends driving your industry.  But just remember, chasing the prevailing trend is usually a pretty crowded space and some terrific innovative opportunities regularly exist by exploring the opposite direction! Woody Bendle

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
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Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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Today’s Brainzooming article is courtesy of our friends at Armada Corporate Intelligence and their weekly “Inside the Executive Suite” feature.

Last week’s article highlighted a Fast Company story on Oreo, its global head of media, Bonin Bough, and the Oreo transformation as a brand that’s more than a century old. “Inside the Executive Suite” featured five strategic thinking lessons from the story to highlight innovation opportunities for any well-established brand. 

Strategic Thinking Lessons – Keeping Your Company Fresh via Armada Corporate Intelligence

1. Start innovating with what “can’t” change

AEIB-GraphicAt Oreo (AO): An advertising executive previously on the Oreo account reports, “Every (Oreo) commercial had to have two generations of people . . . over a cookie and a glass of milk” leading to a feel-good experience. After thirty years of the same ad, the brand now describes its marketing approach as coming “from the side and-boom!” That translates to reaching consumers in dramatically different ways and well beyond the brand’s traditional TV advertising.

For Your Brand (FYB): When modernizing a tired brand, don’t rope off a list of people, processes, and other elements to protect them from change. Instead, start by addressing the things you might be tempted to put on a protected list. We use a strategy-setting exercise that asks participants to list everything integral to a stale brand’s characteristics and market position. The group then classifies each item on how aggressively management should consider changing it. With the exercise’s built-in bias to leave very few “sacred cows” at the conclusion, it is a valuable technique to get management to address difficult, but positive change opportunities.

2. Generalize your organization and discover new possibilities

AO: The familiar way to eat an Oreo (as celebrated in decades of ads) is to twist, lick, and dunk it in milk. That verbal threesome sounded to Bough like the title of the popular video game, “Slam Dunk King.” As a result, Oreo worked with the game’s creator to develop an Oreo-centric game called Twist, Lick, Dunk. It was a top game in 15 countries and turned a profit through outside advertisers participating.

FYB: We employ a question-based exercise to help management teams generalize organizational activities and identify comparable situations for inspiration. It involves asking, “How does our business _____ like _____?” The first blank is filled with sense words (feel, look, sound, smell) and goal words (accomplish, serve audiences, communicate), among others. Just a few rounds of this exercise generate an ample list of innovation-inducing comparisons to fill the question’s second blank.

3. Watch Customers for Ideas

AO: One Oreo fan posted a video demonstrating how to dunk an Oreo without getting milk on your fingers. Oreo’s digital agency used that inspiration for a series of short videos on how to “hack” an Oreo. This included using Oreos in new ways (frozen in milk as an iced coffee addition) or as a cooking ingredient (breading for fried chicken). Coincidentally, we saw a photo recently of Oreos baked inside chocolate chip cookies.

FYB: Do you REALLY understand how customers use your product or service? Ask customers what types of hacks they use to get your product to work better, and ask employees what customer-precipitated work-arounds they see, deal with, or enable. This is a valuable line of questions to identify innovation opportunities to increase your value to customers.

4. Look for radically different parties targeting your customers

AO: Oreo realized that as an impulse item at grocery and convenience stores, it faced new competition. Rather than snack products, Oreo was competing against online games and apps, both for attention (since people are focusing on mobile devices instead of snack items while standing in line) and for available dollars spent on online games. This insight helped precipitate the headlong Oreo dive into digital.

FYB: Any company thinking its competition all looks like it does is wildly mistaken. We encourage executives to focus on the benefits their brands provide. They can then identify other, often very different brands delivering comparable benefits. The Oreo example also suggests examining what else customers may be doing with the time, attention, and resources that have typically led them to buy from your company. You can also explore how other brands, in or out of your market, are inserting themselves and disrupting traditional buying processes.

5. Figure out metrics before you innovate

AO: The Fast Company article underscores the troublesome inability for Oreo to link its digital activities to business results. While Oreo has experienced revenue increases, these are attributed to expansion into new Asian markets, not more tweets turning into sales.

FYB: When innovating, developing metrics must be closely integrated with developing the innovation strategy. Tackling metrics early helps identify gaps while there is still time to adapt strategies to ensure collecting relevant data throughout the innovation process. All the metrics, however, may not be quantitative. As you implement innovation initiatives, you should accumulate a mix of metrics that are:

  • Activity-based (i.e., “We’ve done this many”)
  • Indicative of early reactions (i.e., “We see this many more customers inquiring about the product”)
  • Business return-based (i.e., “We see this increase in sales revenue”)

Planning for varied metrics at the start helps set expectations within the management team for key progress indicators. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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In reponse to a re-share for a Brainzooming post on the negative impact on the creative process of 29 phrases used in business, Ying Ying Shi reached out to expand on the idea, mentioning the starkly different impacts of periods and commas on the creative process.

Her ideas expanding on the creative process impact of  punctuation intrigued the heck out of me, and I asked her to share her thinking for Brainzooming readers, which we’re featuring today.

Ying Ying Shi is a multilingual international manager currently working at Clueda AG, a big data start-up. Previously, she was an M&A and strategy advisor to small, medium and transnational companies. She shares her experiences and musings on leadership, business and self-improvement at www.yingyingshi.com

Here’s Ying Ying!

 

Creative Process – How Using Periods Harms You by Ying Ying Shi

Ying-Ying-ShiIn a previous Brainzooming post on the creative process, Mike listed 29 phrases blocking innovative ideas. The phrases listed are necessary, but not sufficient conditions to block our creativity. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging limitations or existing problems; this is part of life and the improvement process. It is how you deal with these observations subsequently that has an irrepressible consequence: either halting you from solutions or opening new roads and views.

Language is our main tool of thought. When you speak out loud or write things down, you organize your thoughts and bestow them with power. Care is, however, needed. The words you speak cannot be retrieved; there is no ctrl+z. The words you think and write have an impact on your brain; there is no escape from that.

Psychology has been telling us that positive words have a positive effect on us and that we can be primed by these. Some psychological studies even point out to the fact that our genes are modified by positive words.

The other language constituent (besides words) that is often neglected is punctuation marks. These are essential in our communication. Had I used not punctuation until now in this post, you would have probably had a hard time understanding it.

Punctuation assigns a certain meaning to our expressions. Is this a question? Or perhaps just a wonderful example! You can know that this sentence hasn’t come to an end, unless you see a period.

As opposed to the mere grammatical function of punctuation marks, they can also trigger different thought channels. Periods define the end of our thought process, whereas commas or even ellipsis leave us open to different options and ideas.

The phrases on Mike’s creative process post were written without punctuation marks. It is up to you to decide which ones to use.

Compare the following (the original number of the phrase in parenthesis):

  • Initial observation (3): We don’t know how to do that
  • Period: We don’t know how to do that.
  • Comma: We don’t know how to do that, but we can hire an expert.
  • Initial observation (7): We’ve done something similar before
  • Period: We’ve done something similar before.
  • Comma: We’ve done something similar before, but the circumstances are different now, and we should try again.
  • Initial observation (13): I don’t know anything about that
  • Period: I don’t know anything about that.
  • Comma: I don’t know anything about that, and I am willing to take this challenge.
  • Initial observation (15): It’s too new for our market
  • Period: It’s too new for our market.
  • Comma: It’s too new for our market, and we know it’s a great opportunity.
  • Initial observation (29): We don’t have time for that
  • Period: We don’t have time for that.
  • Comma: We don’t have time for that, though we could prioritize it for the next period.

While the phrases with periods killed a creative thought process, blocking creativity, the commas have given way to limitless possibilities of which I have only written one.

Remember when you were disappointed or feeling down? You were most probably using a period. Maybe you thought: “I failed.” Yet it really should have been “I failed, I learned, and I moved forward.”

Try replacing periods more often in your thoughts, especially when you are identifying a problem.

While the correct punctuation usage might not yet modify your creative genius, it will certainly prevent your thoughts from being stopped by a period. With the right use of punctuation marks in life, your options can be infinite . . .

Ying Ying Shi

We-Create-Innovative-Ideas-Brainzooming

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Data-savvy marketing & innovation expert, Woody Bendle takes a look in this guest post at the relationship between customer centricity and growth, or more specifically the lack of both among a select group of traditional retailers.

And just so you know, beyond being a fantastic resource on brand strategy and innovation, Woody has set a new high bar for guest contributors at Brainzooming. He delivered this most recent guest blog post along with a slab of his homebbqed ribs! So, for all the people who send us emails about wanting to guest post with “incredible, unique content,” the question is, “How good are you at grilling?”

Now, here’s Woody!  

 

Brand Strategy – Customer Centricity and Growth by Woody Bendle

Many of America’s largest retailers recently reported financial results falling short of analysts’ (and undoubtedly their own) expectations.  The table below recaps the highlights (or low lights) among select national retailers.

Retail-Q1-2014

Many of them attributed this winter’s unusually cold weather and continuing economic struggles among core customers for their economic shortfalls.  But digging deeper into their numbers shows more to the story. Many of America’s largest retailers are finding it much harder to generate profitable growth in the traditional manner, which has been opening stores in new (domestic and international) markets, expanding product assortments, and becoming more effective and efficient through operational and executional improvements.  Or as I like to say, just getting bigger and better.

The graphic below, which I use when discussing business growth strategy, illustrates the concept of growing a business is pretty straight forward. As the businesses above demonstrated this past quarter, however, it isn’t always easy.

Growth-Framework

To grow any business, you have four options:

  1. Get existing customers to buy more of current products or services
  2. Get new customers (i.e., in different markets) to buy current products or services
  3. Develop or find new products or services for existing customers
  4. Develop or find new products or services for entirely new customers

For roughly fifty years, growth path for nearly all of the retailers above has focused on cells A, B, and to some extent C (i.e.,  Walmart and Target expansions into grocery).  For much of this time, most of these businesses have had incredible success, but growth has become harder the past several years.

What’s changed?

Two things that are fundamentally different about today’s business environment:

1. Market power has shifted away from many businesses to the consumer, due to radical decreases in the costs associated with information and geography.

The internet and mobile technologies have greatly improved the consumer’s ability to be better informed (about alternatives and competitive prices globally) and have enabled disruptive businesses to emerge (i.e., amazon.com – note its 26% growth in North America this past quarter). These have diminished the need for customers to travel to a physical store to make a purchase.

2. The great recession fundamentally changed the consumer mindset, resulting in a “new normal” in consumer behavior.

This is best summed up by The Future’s Company:“Consumers everywhere … are working from a new orientation about what they want and how they buy… [They] are now battle hardened, having found ways to survive and even thrive on the new opportunities a more competitive market has yielded.”

The result is the traditional path to growth – getting bigger and/or getting better – is nearing its limit for many businesses.  This necessitates businesses rethinking their growth strategies, with adopting customer-centric business practices as one avenue for new growth!

Growth through Customer Centricity

Something fascinating about the Strategic Business Growth Framework is the customer/consumer is actually present in every cell.  Through my own consumer experiences, however, it doesn’t often feel like many businesses realize this.  How many of you have heard a store associate say something like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get my job done with all of these customers in here”?

Many businesses are either product or operationally focused.  Nearly every decision they make starts with what they sell (or plan on selling), or how they go about doing what they do.  These businesses put what they do and how they do it in front of whom they do it for.

This is a primary reason why it has taken so long for many traditional businesses to embrace fully integrated multi-channel or omni-channel practices.  While most understand it makes sense to the consumer, they haven’t figured out how to make it make (financial) sense given what they already do, how they currently do it, and how they currently measure all of it.

A customer centric business, however, thinks exactly opposite.  Its decisions start with the customer. Activities (and incentives) are aligned to profitably deliver goods or services maximizing value for customers – and, in turn, their shareholders.  Once they identify an opportunity to create more net value over time, they systematically figure it out, sometimes at the expense (temporarily or permanently) of existing business.

It’s all about creating new customer and shareholder value!

The Next Customer Centricity Step Is Yours

My intent is to shine a light on a different path, not provide the playbook for becoming a customer centric organization.

If you want to become more customer centric, here are eleven questions to help decide if customer centricity is right for you and to help on your journey:

  1. Why do my customers come to us vs. the competition?
  2. What value do we provide to our customers today?
  3. What are all our customers’ needs?
  4. Have our customers’ needs changed? How and why?
  5. What customer needs do we currently meet / exceed today?
  6. How well are all of their needs being met by the marketplace today?
  7. Are there new competitors who are satisfying some of our customers’ needs in a different way?
  8. What can we do better (or differently) to uniquely meet and exceed those needs today and tomorrow?
  9. What else can we do to create even more value for our customers?
  10. Are we willing to put customer’s interests at the center of our decisions and processes?
  11. How much are we willing to change?  Really?

And as you answer question 11, don’t confuse how much change you are willing to undergo with how much that change is noticed by customers and whether they value it.

Those are three separate questions for all you operationally focused people. There’s no “extra credit for efficiency” in trying to answer them all together. To the contrary, you’ll definitely be penalized for thinking efficiency at the expense of thinking about your customer! Woody Bendle

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