THE FUTURE OF MARKETING

What is the Future of Marketing? It is a question that has, and does, vex me considerably.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Marketing Leadership prompted by Mark Choueke’s call for leadership in Marketing Week. He got a good reception for his article, and rightly so, and he followed it up with “Join the Marketing Plan for Marketers” which is worth reading.

The need for credibility is undoubtedly crucial and we need to avoid our industry turning inwards and defaulting to the seemingly age old, “we’re not wrong, we are just misunderstood” excuses. We must not default to the position that the solution to any lack of standing as a profession is solved by just needing to “market” marketing within businesses and “to the board”. We need new ideas and a vision for marketing’s role with the organisation.

As I mused on this I turned to my almost untouched (shame on me!) copy of “The Future of Marketing” for inspiration. This beautifully produced book was recently published by the Marketing Society for its 50th Anniversary. My depression deepened as I read the collected thoughts of 50 CEOs, from the “world’s most successful companies”, no less, in answering the question “What role will marketing play in the future success of your business?”

Guess what the answer is? A lot of “consumer is boss”, a truck load of “digital”, some “it’s all about growth” and shockingly little on sustainability (apart from good old Unilever). Andrew Marsden’s introduction boils it all down to “absolute agreement about one thing that will not change” – the battle for consumer’s trust.

What’s interesting about these snippets from these CEOs is that, by definition, what these CEOs think is the status quo. They extrapolate from the current trajectory of the world and their businesses to predict the future. Envisioning a radical future is hard for anyone but it is impossible for them. Incidentally this is compounded by the shocking lack of diversity in the group. Strikingly there were only 2 women and 2 non-white males in the group of 50!

I think marketing is on a collision course with the future. Our current marketing paradigm is inextricably linked to the driving of consumption and the creation of habits of consumption. This is the economic purpose of marketing: to ensure that demand outstrips supply permanently and profitably in a world of plentiful energy and resources. Economic growth has been the single minded outcome upon which we have built our brands, our marketing models and our rasion d’etre.

But unabated growth cannot continue. Rising populations, increasingly “middle class” and consumerist, means that there will be increasing competition for scarce resources. And marketing is already at some level becoming the thing to blame.

My hunch is that the future of marketing is not merely, or even, a “more consumer focused / digital / growth oriented / sustainable” (delete as appropriate) future but a complete reversal of the current paradigm:

We’ve been used to selling more stuff, the future will be about selling less stuff.

We’ve got great at creating new propositions, the future will be making things last.

We’ve become expert at making people value “goods”, the future will be helping people value what is “good” in every facet of their lives.

We’ve used advanced techniques to satisfy consumer wants, the future will be balancing outcomes for the common good.

Just big boned

And lastly we’ve become hooked on helping our businesses, our economies, often our customers, and in turn our wallets grow “fat”. The future of marketing will be helping people enjoy being “thin” by consuming less and conserving more.

This is an exciting opportunity for those businesses and brands, and their marketers, to move into a completely new and fundamentally more future oriented landscape.

How do we get there? I’ll tackle this in my next blog posting which you can get by signing up to my RSS or email feed – click here.

What do you think is the Future of Marketing? Have your say below.

Thanks for reading.

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website & the RE:Thinking Marketing & Brands blog:http://www.basini.com/
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DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN’T DELIVER

I'm a Natwest customer of long standing, around 30 years in fact, ever since I took out my first bank account. Together with their stable mate, RBS, they have launched to much fanfare of posters and advertising their "Customer Charter – 14 commitments to make them Britain's most helpful bank". I blogged about it here.  Yesterday in a comedy of errors I spent 25 minutes in a Natwest branch in London. So let's see whether my experience and those of my fellow customers matches up to their commitments:

  • We will extend our opening hours in our busiest branches: well this branch on the Strand was busy but their closing time was 4.30pm so no change there. In fact this caused one of the situations which impacted my experience – see the friendly service point below.
  • We will aim to serve the majority of our customers within 5 minutes in our branches. I love this commitment because I can hear the meeting in my head when marketing took the Charter to the retail operations guys – you can bet the result of this meeting was the insertion of "aim" and "majority" in this commitment. Well yesterday Natwest might have taken aim but I was waiting in line for 18 minutes to pay in a cheque.
  • We will provide you with friendly, helpful, service whenever you deal with us. The teller who deposited my cheque wasn't exactly brimming with the joys of summer but he wasn't that bad. However the man next to me got a shocking service. He turned up queued his 10 or so minutes and then presented the Natwest employee sitting on the other side of the glass with piles of cash. Her response, "Why are you here so late?" whilst rolling her eyes to heaven. I thought to myself why do you close at 4.30pm when every other shop on the Strand won't close until at least 6pm? This is a classic example of bank attitude: apparently the bank was doing the customer a favour by dealing with the cash. When will banks understand they work for us, especially true in the case of Natwest/RBS, rather than the other way round?
  • We will actively seek your thoughts and suggestions on how we can become more helpful. Having depositing my cheque I thought I would seek to understand the Customer Charter a little more by asking the lady at the desk about these commitments. Perhaps she would actively seek my thoughts. So I asked "What is this customer charter all about then?" Given these commitments we might have expected her to engage enthusiastically with me about the journey the bank were on to provide helpful banking. Her response "Here's a leaflet". 
Any member of the Natwest/RBS team reading this, especially those responsible for the Customer Charter initiative, is likely fuming. Their anger will come from a sense of injustice that "this is a journey" and that the advertising is as much to their employees helping to set expectations, as it is to their customers. They will  be upset that the internal communications they so lovingly created haven't been filtered down as they would have liked. They might be frustrated that the operational leadership "don't get it". But overall it won't really matter: the data will  be made to look like service is getting better, the campaign is out there, and the initiative done. The next step on careers will have been made and if the commitments don't really make a difference then most likely the key people responsible will have moved on.

Don't get me wrong, we need better banks. We desperately need retail banks to deliver on their core function which is to take deposits, lend to businesses and individuals, do this courteously, and make a fair margin. I make the point in this presentation that the case for innovation in banking at the moment is weak. Conceptually much of the Customer Charter is to be applauded. What is unforgivable is falling into the classic trap of promising before you can deliver. The customer experience reality is far from meeting these commitments; and until it is Natwest/RBS should shout a little less externally and focus internally a little more. They need to build trust and that is not done by making promises you can't deliver.

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Justin

UK General election Brand Analysis WEEK 2: Dis-engage or Re-engage?


I wanted to leave this blog until after the manifestos were published. I haven’t had time to read them all in detail but is seems to me there is a genuine left-right difference emerging and I, for one, think that is a good thing.

As Mark Ritson pointed out in his new Marketing Week column entitled “Why democracy is poor man’s marketing” one of the major problems with politics is a recent lack of quality and differentiated thinking. (By the way what’s happening with Mark moving from Marketing to Marketing Week? Feels like Man Utd have just poached a star striker from Chelsea!)

Ritson’s response to this situation, as a free market advocate, is that we follow his suggestion to bow out of engaging in this election and even democracy itself. He justifies this based on the democratic process producing the current stodgy undifferentiated and unexciting cartel of parties.

This opting out response is wrong and dangerous. Democracy is simply too important and different to apply the same market based logic to it. Not everything should be run by free markets and that includes vital public services and our political system.

Politics is complex and much, much more important than persuading someone to buy a flight or a coffee. It requires a deeper level of engagement and effort from both communicator and receiver. Much of the trouble with politics over the past couple of decades has been the commercial marketers moving in imposing a flawed assumption that politics could, and should, be reduced to a single minded insight, benefit and reason to believe. That “we the people” could not be trusted or weren’t even capable of making an informed choice. The political elite became convinced that we were stupid, and guess what….we disengaged. Turnout in the 2001 election reaching a low of 59%.

The challenge of this coming election is whether I, you, and we, dis-engage or re-engage. This is an important election not because this MP or that MP fighting for thier seat tells us so. This is important because the only way we will get a better, more differentiated, more exciting system is by getting involved and demanding change. Our response to scandal and lack of trust must be to understand now more than ever that “they work for us” not the other way round.

That is why the differences that seem to be emerging are exciting. If you believe in a strong central government which will spend more and give the average person more state protection then you’ve got a choice in Labour. If you believe in less central power and smaller government then the choice is Conservative.

At last, and somewhat ironically given that we have retrenched to the traditional left-right big/small government dynamic, the third way, of Blair, Mandelson, Campbell and Gould, a marketing flim-flam if ever there was one, is dying back and we have a seemingly clearer choice.

When the election stays at the surface level, as it surely will for people who opt out, then all you hear is the focus grouped messages of “fairness”. The reality is that there is emerging differentiation. The leaders are showing their colours. We have greater access to information and content than ever before with information rich websites and televised debates.  The more we engage, and debate, the greater sense of where the real differences lie. “Stuffing the election”, opting-out and throwing our hands up in the air is the surest way to ensure that nothing changes. 

The choices maybe becoming somewhat clearer but they are far from easy and that’s the difference between democracy and Tesco, Ryannair, Starbucks and Facebook. Engage and we have the chance to influence and demand better. Dis-engage and we deserve what we get.

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Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
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PUNK YOUR BRAND

Malcolm McLaren, one of the major forces behind the Punk movement died last week.

He’d probably hate this blog I’m about to write but here goes anyway – it’s meant as a tribute to the many things we can learn from “unreasonable” people like McLaren.

Malcolm McLaren was the marketing genius that propelled the punk movement into the spotlight and amplified its effect on our society and consciousness. He did such a good job that even now we all still hold a visceral understanding of the feelings and motivations behind the punk movement.

So how do you Punk your brand?

1. Be unreasonable.

Malcolm McLaren said: ‘There are two rules I’ve always tried to live by: turn left, if you’re supposed to turn right; go through any door that you’re not supposed to enter.”

It’s said progress is only made through the actions of the unreasonable. That’s the same with businesses and brands although sometimes it’s a little harder to see than black eyeliner and a mohican haircut.

But at the time it wasn’t reasonable for Henry Ford to say “I will make a car for the great multitude” or for Sergy Brin, founder of Google, to say “We had a simple idea, that not all pages are created equal. Some are more important,” or my favorite from Steve Jobs who said  “I want to put a ding in the universe.”

All the greatest businesses and brands have been built from unreasonable people fighting against the system, seeing a better way and creating something extraordinary. Malcolm McLaren wanted to fight back against the mainstream which he saw as pallid and restricting. His ideas and vision connected with what young people were feeling and changed their lives, it gave others pause for thought about the direction of travel. Above all it got him noticed.

How unreasonable are you?

2. Connect with radical ideas and people

True game changing insight doesn’t come from sitting behind glass listening to Mr and Mrs Average tell you why they want a new car or like an advert. The really different thinkers are, almost by definition, at the edges, in the fringes of society.

Malcolm McLaren found ideas that sparked his imagination at the art colleges of the Sixties including Harrow, St Martin’s and even Croydon. He connected with talented, wild thinkers. He married one of his most powerful connections a young Vivienne Westwood. This undercurrent of youth and ideas demanded an outlet which created society changing content.

Great business and organisations look for true diversity and seek out ideas in different places. They collaborate in new and exciting ways.

Have you talked to your local university or art college recently about what they are thinking? Have you stopped to get together with people who have radically different points of view from you or look very different?

Where do you hunt for game changing ideas?

3. Develop content that fires the imagination.

McLaren was an ideas man and he had an intuition for developing content which through its medium and message had an impact. When McLaren and Westwood opened their shop in 1971 on the Kings Road they first called it “Let it Rock” then “Too fast to live, too young to die” then finally “Sex”. The constant re-development as the shop changed allowed it to continue to be a magnet for punk and background to the formation of the Sex Pistols. McLaren knew that linking sex and subversion was both incredibly attractive to the younger generations and incredibly challenging to the establishment.

“God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
Potential H-bomb”

God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols


McLaren understood the media as well as the message. The message of God Save the Queen was amplified onto a national stage when McLaren hired a boat and got the Sex Pistols to play it opposite the Houses of Parliament and then got the boat raided by the police. This was what ensured that it was a hit in the same week as the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

McLaren created and moulded content which truly captured the imagination and took over the consciousness. It was so daring in its conception that it demanded attention.

How about putting this as an example to emulate in your next campaign?

4. Social aims give you greater permission.

If you do put into action the recommendation above of emulating McLaren’s approach to creating and moulding content that demands attention – you are most likely to fail.

Why? Because if you’re a marketer or brand owner reading this you’re probably trying to sell stuff. What that means is that people will give you little latitude or room to maneuver. Punk, for all its aggression and bile against the state, and claims to anarchy, had the energy, naivety and pureness of a youthful desire for a different, and hopefully better way. A way that was more accepting, less controlling and more liberal.

This social aim lent Punk permission to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.

The landscape of brand and business is rapidly becoming one where businesses that develop their social impact as well as delivering against their commercial aims will be the leaders. Adopting social imperatives starts a different conversation, it widens the scope of engagement, and creates space for new ideas and change to happen.

5. Success is a consequence of your strike rate.

Malcolm McLaren produced ideas most of which didn’t work but he had endurance and a belief in himself and what he was doing. Even the Sex Pistols, perhaps his most successful idea, crumbled because he didn’t realise the talent and opportunity that he had created.

But he got up and gave it another go. As the state re-established control in the 1980s and, as a consequence of the result of the social breakdown of the 1970s, the free market mantra of Reagan and Thatcher emerged, he continued to be disruptive and flamboyant. He worked with new bands and artists including Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow. He was responsible for the infamous “See Jungle” album cover where an underage Annabella Lwin posed nude in a recreation Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. In 2006 he even co-produced the film Fast Food Nation.

McLaren was comfortable with failure and just kept on developing ideas. Punk was about keeping the energy and momentum of change alive.

It’s only those businesses that embrace failure and keep swinging that succeed over the long term. The creative process is not easy, it’s not smooth. We’ve all read the books and analysis – most products and new launches don’t work – accept it, move on and keep creating. Until you do, you won’t get to your success.

May Malcolm McLaren rest in anarchy…

What do you think? Got a view on Malcolm McLaren and punk – leave a comment below – its easy and I reply to all of them!

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Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
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DID BRANDING KILL THE MARKETING STAR?

Ask most people in and out of business about branding and they will tell you its the name, colours, and logos of a company. Ask them about marketing and they say it is about flogging more stuff. But surely CEOs and other senior managers don't think this do they? They must understand the strategic importance of positioning and segmentation as we brand a company. Or the complexities of consumer insight, proposition development, and pricing as we create consideration and preference, generating ROMI, as we market.

Actually in most businesses I think the strategic understanding of these opportunities and processes is poor even at the highest levels. And we, as marketers, do a bad job of communicating these differences; we are supposed to be experts at getting ideas to spread – yet we can't even do it with our own profession. This is compounded by the modern obsession with branding and brand value.

Go back to the 1930s and marketing was a pretty basic process of simple advertising shifting more product. Sure Procter & Gamble were "managing brands" but most marketers were just flogging stuff that they didn't have much of a hand in developing. Most of the interesting work was happening in PR. Following the Second World War and strategic marketing starts to take off. I insisted that anyone who worked for me read the classic Theodore Levitt HBR paper Marketing Myopia (if you work in marketing and haven't read it shame on you). Levitt made the case for marketing to move beyond a sales stimulation function to one that created value through owning the process by which a company could tap into consumer needs and create branded propositions which became long term profitable assets.

Marketing was doing OK during the 1950s and 60s. The post war growth in consumerism proved the case day after day that this strategic approach to marketing worked. The marketer was a respected member of the team. But then something started to breakdown. Whether it was the oil crises of the 1970s putting the break on consumption or cost cutting in the 1980s, or the rise of the services sector in the 1990s, marketers seemed to lose the strategic agenda. Suddenly brand was the asset we were all managing. The marketing process seemed to lose its magic at creating tangible value and was replaced by intangible value. Companies started investing in their brands – there was money to be made, and value to be built, through the name and logo. Run a few workshops, develop a few names and designs, and then implement. Even better that the CEO was prepared to attend some of the workshops! This was much easier than working in the strategic marketing salt mines. This focus on the surface was conveniently supported by the prevailing Zeitgeist of the 1990s and 2000s. Fashion and celebrity was what caught people's attention.

I think we are at a turning point once more. The worst recession since the 1930s has broken something again. We are still in the eye of the storm but opportunity comes from thinking about the long term impacts. It's ironic that in all major recessions innovation and entrepreneurship actually increase despite the economy tanking. Talent comes out of big businesses and capital chases new ideas as returns wither elsewhere. The successful innovative start-ups disrupt markets and steal share from incumbents. They are closer to their customers, deliver better value and find profitable niches.  In turn this means that the incumbents need to raise their game. Richard Lambert, the Director General of the CBI, said at the RSA on Monday night that the last 20 years had been an aberration of business and capitalism. The link between access to capital and risk was weakened and seemingly "leverage" (or debt to you and me) was seen as an almost guaranteed way to make money. The broader impact of businesses on society and humanity was subsumed by the out of control growth obsessed markets. We now see it was all so unsustainable.

Forgetting humanity when humanity is your route to productivity, customer satisfaction, and even investment was clearly never a long term winner. This gives marketers the biggest opportunity for decades to re-engage and move away from the surface obsession with branding and go back to creating extraordinary value by leading the charge of putting humanity back into business. That's what a marketer has the potential to deliver on the board. Combine this with creative vision and an ability to communicate and we might just see the re-emergence of strategic marketing and marketers as long term value creators.

What do you think? Do you think that marketing needs to reclaim a strategic agenda? What's your experience?

Please comment and share your view below. 

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Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com

My website and blog: http://www.basini.com/

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ENGAGING WITH THE WEB 2.0 CONSUMER

Yesterday I took part in the Institute of Economic Affairs Future of Consumer Finance Conference.

I gave a presentation in the afternoon about engaging with the Web 2.0 Consumer.

Here is the presentation.

If you have any views or thoughts please comment below and share the presentation if you think its useful.

Thanks

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
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….and stretch: How far will O2 be able to stretch it’s brand?

Last week Ronan Dunne the thrusting CEO of O2 UK proclaimed a bold vision to create a lifestyle superbrand selling financial products, health and education as well as just plain old mobile phones.
I love a good vision, even more than the next man, but it’s always an idea to keep one’s weather eye alert when a CEO makes these sort of proclamations.
Stretching a brand convincingly and with commercial success is a real challenge. Many attempt it but few succeed. Those that pull it off usually have a powerful structural source of competitive advantage that they can use to ensure that the stretching delivers value to the customer. Rarely is this competitive advantage the brand.
Tesco have a retail distribution network that ensures that customers get a significant convenience benefit from the co-location of goods and services. Add their now legendary scale and they can provide aggressive pricing. The Tesco brand helps because it promises the customer these benefits but, to be clear, it isn’t the reason why the customer buys from them. 
Apple have created technology platforms that have allowed them to develop lucrative content delivery businesses in addition to the hardware sales. These revenue streams are based on providing access, integration and ease of use benefits to their customers. Their brand surely helps but for most of us the reason we use iTunes is because it’s easy rather than Apple.
Virgin is somewhat the exception that proves the rule. The Virgin brand has stretched across multiple products and services with the brand promise of something different, younger and more entertaining. Oh and Richard Branson to carry it through. These benefits create stretches that work for them in the service space where the customer gets a better experience: Virgin Atlantic, VirginMedia, to a certain extent VirginMobile, and even (when they work) VirginTrains. Many of Virgin’s stretches haven’t worked; VirginVie, VirginBride, VirginWine, VirginBooks are much less convincing.
Stretching too far has even taken the scalps of some of the best management companies in the world. Anyone remember Saatchi’s red balls falling onto shopping baskets that heralded Procter & Gamble’s stretch of Olay into Cosmetics? That lasted only a few years and made no money.
So where does that leave the Mr. Dunne’s superbrand vision? Well I think O2 are still searching for their stretchable competitive advantage. The best they’ve come up with so far is “the mobile phone is the remote control for your life”. What this means is a bit of a mystery to me apart from a dangerous throw back to one of the worst movies of 2006 – Adam Sandler’s Click (no -don’t see it).
Maybe they mean that the mobile phone is a portal to other aspects of your life. Well that maybe true but that doesn’t provide a compelling reason to buy home insurance from my mobile phone provider.
Given it’s sounding all a bit unconvincing so far Mr. Dunne then tries to persuade us that O2 is (or will be) a trusted brand; that in a world of low-trust brands this will have us flocking to buy health and education from O2. This is dangerous territory – a word to the wise – anyone, CEO or not, who tells you “trust me it will be alright” is almost always, car-salesman-like, clutching at straws. Trust is built within a specific context of delivery and doesn’t easily transfer to other non-similar product categories.
However on the plus side the move to introduce member rewards such as free concert tickets at the O2 arena starts the notion of O2 being a “members club” which enables the stretching idea. The significant £5m investment O2 is making into social innovation in local communities through the “Think Big” campaign is also laudable and has the potential to add another dimension to the brand.
But are these advantages enough? I doubt it unless O2 can go back to the basics and clarify for their customers what real, tangible benefit O2 can consistently deliver as it moves from phones to finance to education.
Do you want O2 to stretch its brand? What risks and opportunities do you think they should take?

What do you think? Please comment below. 

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
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JUST HOW SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT ARE FINANCIAL SERVICES BRANDS?

This morning I took part in a lively debate organised by the Financial Services Forum and their newly formed Brand Strategy group chaired by the inestimable Lucian Camp.

I shared the floor with Tim Pile who is CEO of Cogent Elliott and has a long and distinguished career in marketing including being CEO of Sainsburys Bank and the insightful Mike Hoban who is now running marketing for DirectGov and has had successful stints at Scottish Widows and Barclaycard.

We were each asked by Lucian to describe the essence of brand building in either Packaged goods (Tim took this on), Services (excluding financial services – Mike took this one) and Financial Services (this was mine).

My key point was that I believe many of the principles of brand building are common irrespective of category because essentially we are dealing with human psychology but that the context of these principles within financial services does make it "special and different".

Three context differences in financial services:

1. Financial services companies are hard wired around product and P&L analysis rather than brand and customer.

This means that the power within financial services companies almost always resides within commercial product owners rather than marketing. These leaders are trained in P&L, balance sheet risk, regulatory compliance, operational effectiveness not marketing, brand, experience and customer.

The very logic of brand building, positioning for strategic competitive advantage, customer segmentation, product development based on consumer need are all more difficult concepts in a financial services organisation. The result is an industry that in general creates me-too products which are overly complex, often game the consumer, provide a poor overall experience and are communicated in complex jargon.

2. Financial services are delivered through people. And people are much harder to manage than a shampoo formulation.

Certainly in most product categories especially the FMCG companies, brands are entities created to effectively penetrate the customer mind and form associations with product performance rather than being a set of associations about a group of people doing something. In most cases in FMCG companies the brand you are marketing is not the brand you work for. Given most financial services organisations have one or only a few brand the internal service and brand alignment challenge in these brands is core and material to their success. From the Indian call centre agent to the CEO in a financial organisation each needs to understand the brand and how it applies to their job.

3. Financial services products tend to be more risky and complex than many other types of products or services. They require much more effort from the consumer and the provider.

An irony of financial services businesses is that the organisation often believes they are the most commoditised of products. I used to be told all the time at Capital One – credit cards are a “low involvement” business. Consumers take a product and then want us to disappear into the background.

But having spent lots of time obsessing about how to make white gloop in a bottle exciting to consumers, I don’t think that financial services products are or should be low involvement – they have a massive impact on people’s lives and well being.

If they low involvement its probably because they are difficult and complex to communicate and understand. This combines with the terrible mess we are in from a regulatory perspective, defaulting to complete, unedited exposure of all information, to make it extremely difficult for the consumer to make an informed and empowered decision.

And finally (as Lucian called it the "Basini bombshell") I ended up questioning one of the core purposes of brand building:

4. Financial services brands – it's not about being different but about making a difference

The strategic goal of marketing in many businesses is to create a differentiated position in the market that gives you competitive advantage through cheaper cost of sales or price premium for example. Of the many principles that we could consider this is perhaps one of the most fundamental.

Actually I’m not sure this has been proven effective for the main stream brands in financial services. If we look at our banks for example. A highly consolidated and inert market with very little to split apart the businesses products, performance or promise.  Certainly not enough to encourage mass switching to occur except maybe in those more liquid and more easily gamed products like credit cards.

In highly competitive and easily switched categories there is definite advantage to creating new ideas that better match and deliver against the consumer’s myriad needs. But the difference in financial services given their complex, impactful and long term nature is that aim shouldn’t be to create the new, new thing to gain share at the expense of customer loyalty but to focus on superior product reliability and partnership as a route to extracting competitive advantage and value. This is how our organisations and products can make a difference.

As marketers, we may not be in the right job to get to the CEO spot, we might be wired a little differently from the mainstream in our organisations but given our products are difficult and risky, and are built through human relationships and service, we have myriad opportunities to build great brands which have lasting value for our organisations and customers.

Lucian's blog on the session can be read here. 
 

Here is my presentation as a slidecast:

 

Thanks for reading. As always please share and comment if you've got a view.

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website & Blog: http://www.basini.com/
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Trendhunter Pro – cutting edge trend hunting from around the globe


Last year I recommended the best selling book – Exploiting Chaos – by a friend of mine Jeremy Gutsche.

Jeremy’s website Trend Hunter continues to go from strength to strength. His model is fascinating. He has thousands of “trend hunters” posting interesting content about stuff happening all over the world. But what I really love is the way that they are exploiting and developing insight from this content.

The guys have launched a new service called TrendHunter Pro Trend Reports. These are great syntheses of what is hot from all the content posted on Trend Hunter. If you are in consumer insight or want to know about the real cutting edge trends happening now then they are worth looking at. Trend Hunter is great example of how powerful the democratisation of the creation of content is to delivering insight and value.

Click here to visit Trend Hunter.

[Disclosure: If you buy through the above link then I receive a commission on this sale. This does not affect my recommendation of what I think is a good product. If you prefer not to recognise my recommendation through a commission then you can use this link: www.trendhunter.com]

Have fun exploiting what’s hot and what’s not!

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
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INNOVATION THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT


I’ve been thinking about the new stuff that companies do.

Innovation. Too many projects in businesses are given that title. It devalues the word and what it should really mean. It leads to that sad statistic that 80% of new products launched don’t survive….which given companies are generally very risk adverse is a pretty pathetic hit rate.

Unfortunately most companies believe that implementing anything new is innovation, which is more a reflection of how difficult they make it to get stuff done rather than anything that would make a real person go “wow – that’s neat”.

That’s not to say that a whole range of things can’t build your business but if we are honest with each other most of it isn’t innovation. Try this simple categorisation test for the new stuff you or your company are working on:

CATEGORY 1Stuff your customers think you already do because you are behind the curve or is so obvious that you should do like….

  • An innovation CRM project that allows your company to know when a customer has called (all service companies want this and most don’t have it covered yet)
  • An innovation IT system that allows your company to see a single view of a customer (i.e. you know what products I have from you) (all the big banks want this but most don’t have it)
  • Servicing your account online or opting for e-statements (Barclaycard have been pushing this to their customers in the last year or so as they played catch up)

CATEGORY 2: Stuff your customers think you should do already like…..

CATEGORY 3: Stuff which customers recognise is new but don’t really care that much about like….

 

and finally if you have any left….

CATEGORY 4: Stuff which customers recognize is new and really want like…

  • A truly easy to use fusion mobile smartphone that moulds to your needs (the iPhone)
  • A drink which is 2 of your 5 day and tastes great (Innocent Smoothies)
  • Off-set mortgages (Virgin One Account – this was a real financial product innovation which gave a real benefit to some)
  • Hybrid cars (Toyota and Honda – true technological innovations)
  • LED lightbulbs (which replace 50W halogens with 4W almost never ending bulbs)
  • Widgets which gave a smooth pour from a can (can’t remember who launched this first Guinness? Boddingtons? – but it was an innovation that delivered a real benefit)
  • Wash and Go 2 in 1 shampoos (yes – even this was a true innovation which solved a customer need that of simplicity)

It’s the last category of course that are real innovations requiring significant investments and creative thinking rather than battling with internal restrictions and bureaucracy.

How much of what you are working on that is called “innovation” could really be placed in the last category? If it’s lots that’s great – I can’t wait for these new breakthroughs to get to market! If it’s lots in the other categories (as I suspect it will be) that’s not necessarily a bad thing but make sure you don’t believe your own “innovation hype”- because it’s your customers that really know whether what you’ve just launched is new, truly different and worthy of lasting.

As ever I would love to hear what you think. Get involved, share your ideas, comment below – every comment wins a personal thank you from me!

Hope “The Teenies” are treating you well!

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
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