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Research for innovation is something like the graal, for companies. They are always tempted by stay in their comfortable position, or try to get out of the box and create a new field of business. But that’s not supposed to be easy…And makable. For most of them, innovation stay a wild dream, where they hope for a new easy start, while employees have not really ways to make it real. If we could resume for a short and simple idea, the concept of innovation, “Innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something, or the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may refer to an incremental emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations”. Something simple, shaping and describing the whole circle of play, for considering a thing, action or process could be considered as an innovation.

As far as we can define it, it seems far more difficult to live an entire story of innovation. Few brands or companies or built-in successfully to achieve such goal. Why? Because Innovation is not something that you can impose to customers. Innovation goes to customers as far it’s been recognized and adopted as such. Innovation meet the needs of a market, a demand, a customer. It has to be devoted to serve a useful value purpose or change with relevance a product, service with significant change to be asked (payed because innovation means business too…) by a whole community. I would underline “whole community”, because innovation is sometimes recognized by early adopters or innovators, but doesn’t cross the chasm and fails to the big hole…

Well it seems so complicated that we understand why it’s so rare and why there is so much “shy” companies to launch anything really “out of the box” that is not only a fake move, test or something aside the “real” business. Innovation is in fact, not a toy, but makes part of the whole company, breathes with it and need a whole change of mindset, but process and operating too.

In this simple picture, see how company is in fact struggled between “forces” (no not Porter’s one…), that bury it into complexity and supply lots of reasons to stay in comfortable positions.

Outside the walls, a certain willingness to move, like a flow that could support innovation and drive motivation…But outside this “river of change”, the hard times with hard competition with tough guys…with the traditional niches with blue oceans, where life is cool and creative…for a while. But seeing inside the walls and considering that this company has motivation and some abilities to innovate, walls keep this whole force inside…Why, how?

1) Process and policies: keeping barriers of justice, legal and rules…Necessary, for sure…but hard to move and make them evolutive and flexible. Managers like them while it’s the best way to say “no”, with no regrets…easy to say no, easier than taking risks and new directions?

2) Fear paralyze anything. And anyone. And there’s no exception that in companies, those ones are built with certainty and are scared with anything that is unknown, troubled or uncertain ; environment of fear or “fear policy” (eg lose his job), doesn’t facilitate the taste for innovation…the only case is to survive, scared by his competitors…

3) unskillness: how could we do if don’t know how? innovation asks for a perfect mindset and behavior, to avoid huge failures. Knowledge to identify real innovation from fake, knowledge to swim among several hurdles: value environment, identify niches, product development, trendsetting…And the ability to answer to question: what premium fee for me if I’m leading the bulk now, with my new product, expensive, full of bug and a whole work of buzz to convince and recruit early adopters? Nerves had to be strong…

4) the “no” school: from any situation, any people will have a defensive reflex saying “no” to unknown. Kind of sport you could fall in love with, a kind of culture for some companies. We can even imagine there’s some hiring programs for “no people” and some training session for those who say “yes” too often…In fact innovation need envy, ambition and positive attitude. Staying beyond the walls, with strong positions only drive to “no”, facing the simple idea of “changing” anything…Chose the “yes” DNA to rise chances of success!

I told you from the start how hard could it be, until a conscious and bright path to innovation could born. Unchain what we know, free ideas, collaborative and social power, people just want to express itself and focus energy on “new”. All you have to do is to lead/drive this awesome energy in doing business and brand building, while you’ll be the king of HR improvement. Yes companies have silent forces they prefer ignore because it’s more comfortable and less dangerous, but standing like this won’t lead to manage talents, skills and innovation mindset. All you’ll generate is a twirl in people turnover…giving the best resources to competitors and losing your innovation workforce.

Time to harvest and educate the best seeds: prolific leaders will get prolific innovation and loyalty mindsets.

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Who knows who came first? brands or customers? What we can say is that none of them can exist and sustain without the other. But brands that want to keep their customers “safe” for a long time, one day started to think: well, what about if I decided to care now more closer, about my customers…;-) ? Yeah, no big deal, in fact. But why?

If we look at several argues that lead a company to do so, we have:

– economics needs: customers are now more than stakeholders but close to “shareholders” – we can say that even having any stocks of the company, they draw the line for the brand by their buyings-; they decide to stop or go with fidelity, and have a strong responsability on brand doom. If the customer changes by consuming a brand (in his habits, social behavior…), the brand can be changed too by customers advises: glory or death?

– social effects: brand needs to play a social role, in the several uses it can provide (new we hope…). Making happiness with a new product needs high skill, but make it real and exploit it in a bulk place is another goal. If the customer reaches such nirvana, he can make it viral to others, changing the face of society

– satisfy a need, that was not until this moment: achievement, success, purposed to targets, and accepted by customers. Brand has skills it can exploit, knows how to do it, knows how to promote it, making a real economic exchange: money against user benefit.

– customers that come from others: virality, buzz, leads brand to sell its products, targeting early adopters: customers to follow-up, by their fidelity will be connected to their real interest for the brand…caught, but not for the whole life…

We learned now that, by individual behaviors that grows far, “acting consumer”, wishes to be THE customer and not A customer among several ones. Rumours, buzz, advises, forums…we see now new shapes for relation between customers and brands, that is growing up each day more.  Beyond classical relation between “brand/agency/targets”. Emergency and likeness to express ourselves create other links, that brands can’t see, out of traditional medias : social sharing, communities, collaboration, equal point-of-view and advices are lots of disguised powers, that without any violence, can burst and shoot down brands, without they see it come.

Customer relationship is born. Because some brands want to keep their customers alive and active (weird isn’t it ;-). Quick growth for call centers, in several countries shows us the attention that has been created to exchanges and advises. Relation is not one way anymore, let the new codes come in, and damn to who can’t see them. Social web changes the value chain about knowledge, experts, official speakers and carry out other speech spaces, and lead to failure traditional behaviors: when you want now an information in the quickest way, who can you trust…web. And who writes on the web? Anyone. And before having a question, there’s now already an answer…Magic isn’t it?

According to IBM global business study about consumers, quest for the best price still works…and a good reason to be advised, guided by other buyers. And by the way, to be fed up with a brand, change and provide infidelity. The central fact for concil, prescription and advice is real: now, everybody knows all about everything, in the same time…What was a strategic advantage, few years ago: “information before everyone”; that was. How can brands can manage with the new situation?
Underlying, comes the sustainable HR concepts…Brands that take care of their customers can change them into “powersellers”: a happy and satisfied consumer is so a salesman who sleeps but can wake up as a brand’s soldier. Convincing neighborhood, circle of friends and family. That is to say as doubtless a high potential leverage of conquest for market share and new customers.
Let’s figure out the two faces of customer relationship: a satisfied customer can talk to average 3 or 4 close leads ; an unsatisfied can do it with more than 10, if he’s really upset…And you would still ignore that?

Let me introduce you to Kano’s model graph, illustrated with 3 concepts: unavoidable attempts of customers, normal ones and unsaid. Each of them have a trigger level.

kanogb

First of all, the basic ones (unavoidable) must be satisfied, supplied to a customer because they are obvious…They are not a real leverage for satisfaction but if you don’t get them…be careful about reactions.
The second ones (performance needs) are explained and requested by the customers, clearly. And satisfaction is directly linked to level of what is supplied: exact proportion. It’s a priority field of development in the consumer satisfaction, for sure.
Finally, last but not least, we go in a psychic face value, because it’s time for surprises! Consumers love to be surprised…and even for a hidden need, the revelation can provide such added satisfaction, that it can improve the brand attraction.

Customers, powersellers when they are satisfied….a real strategic goal if we consider the cost for new consumers. A real aim for fidelity and assets value: not financial ones, but customers, those who write the story of the brand. A strategic key to new markets, with new kind of attention to power of filled and satisfied relations. Are we going to still buy only products or services…?
No more now, we want to buy relation…

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stumbleupon_48x48 How can you say nowadays you’re opened to bring credibility so far to ads and communication, talking about products, you are not ready to buy? How far do you trust to classical tunes and sirens of many brands, even in the best of them, thinking in the same time, they’re gonna give you a former dream of what you don’t really need…? Because you used to be attacked by lots of promotions and messages from outter spaces, by sales machines that don’t necessary laugh. Now you’re deaf, turning the back to boring behaviors leading to a mistrust, going to disinterest for buying anything you don’t absolutely need. Communication break, communication problem of trust. What are next, the main tracks to recover link, warm and demand, for a classical relation between brands – sales aims – and targets, that could refind the sweet and sheltering feeling of consuming?

tweeter_48x48 We all need friends, guides and mentors. So do social media and entourage are. And living their life, those partners can help you, recovering trust and self interest for brands innovation. Here comes the power of “care entourage”, and what we can call “MeCommerce” = Recommendation + e-commerce. This concept, probably coming from “social shopping” links experiences of consumers and potentials goals of buying brands. Aren’t the best advisors, what we usually see in bloggers and influencers, and nearest from you, your entourage, your friends?

The consumer becomes himself a real ambassador of the brand, by consuming and giving others willingness to do the same thing. It’s now a real trend to talk about what we felt, we bought or tried. Posts, pictures, comments, can say often longer than ads. It’s, like all social media behaviors, a matter of trust, of “who believes in you”…The fact is that when times are tough, trust is not obious anymore and it’s more difficult to have all consumers ears and attention. Even you’re not suspicious, we’re fed up with brands that talk about them without anything to say but “buy me”, or any personality in their goodwill. Let’s create brands that speaks about ME, YOU, customers, consumers…a story with taste and flavour. Let’s reinvent the breakthrough, the evangelism of the brands. But it’s a far walk from “here to there”.

When you’ll go to your next dinner, open your ears and listen people who talk about experiences, brands and new boughts they did. You will learn another way of life, another spirit of social warm and share. Then you’ll look at the next ads on TV with a different state of mind…

MeCommerce starts too with stuffs like “market lodge“, application for Facebook, that can make you a potential seller/advisor for products you know/you bought. It’s a more mercantile way we can afford, but as any social shouts of links, runs with the community voice. You can select, grab and share products, in the shape of your tastes and personality, product sized to your mind, according to your values and spirit. And the story begins…whispers around you, that make the tomorrows of the brands, tomorrows influenced by more and more little tiny things, they sometimes don’t see…

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