Conversion rate optimisation, Pay per click, omnichannel, evergreen content, referral marketing, digital marketing, responsive design, call to action, search engine optimisation, lifecycles, inbound, chat bots, sales enablement, lead scoring, content creation, social media schedules, boosts, sales funnels, affiliate marketing, organic reach and ………………….. bbr-eathe.  

The way we communicate (or market) to potential customers certainly isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. We’ve reached new heights in complexity. The bad news is, we are nowhere near the peak and instead we’re more likely to be just at base camp. As the most informed yet distracted consumers that ever existed our focus will only continue to decentralise from the one or two major social media sites to many, many more. As marketers this makes reaching your customers in a timely and cost-efficient manner well, tricky. Not impossible, just trickier, more involved and more demanding of creative new approaches.

Then there is the widening chasm between marketing teams and leaders of organisations. KPI’s for marketing teams demand that we are across all the analytics and every metric we can get our hands on. We can often report these in the most polished spreadsheet and presentation fit for any global audience but what does it all mean, really? We need to make this relevant and this is where at times some teams can struggle. Leaders don’t have time to delve into detail and that’s all that the marketing team know how to provide. This is where as marketers we need the ability to be able to simplify our explanations of what we do and almost act as interpreters for ourselves. We need to constantly question our statement with so what? We increased our reach by 34%… yadda yadda yadda. So what? What result did we have in new customer activity and perceptions?

Make it relevant

Relevant to our business development teams who need insights to make sales. Relevant to our R&D teams to provide clear focus. Relevant to the leaders of the organisations who need to know the big picture and how it relates to their role and influence in the industry.

Most of all what we do, needs to be relevant to customers. We need to analyse the information and go one step further. How about we ….. ok wait for it. Talk to our customers, face to face. Talk to them about their journey why they used you, how they found you, why you and not someone else. Will they come back? Ask why or why not?

Let’s not fear the connection customer centricity brings. It’s the one thing that will give us a breakthrough moment and a better result. Let’s start testing what we put out there and stop making our communications polished one-way messages that we hope they read and understand.

The best brands in the world spends thousands researching how to be relevant and they don’t always hit the mark, but they go to the extra effort to understand their consumers and the reactions of their initiatives.

What I’m suggesting is we start testing small and connect with a customer to gain feedback. We could go the extra mile to co-design if we have a significant project. That’s a whole other blog ;o)

Customer Focus

Customer profiling and journey mapping are now well known in the digital marketing space and it’s a great way of aligning the design of our website and structure of our sales funnel and even knowing the language to use. Here’s my pursuit… let’s take these initiatives off-line. Let’s take this energy, focus and time and look at our entire organisation.

Look at the core problem we are solving for our customers and how well coordinated and aligned our services are to their expectations and needs. You’ll find some of the solutions lie with marketing, but some might not be. What a customer journey mapping session will do is highlight the changes and improvements you can make to keep your organisation true to its brand promise.

Break free of assumptions

We (as marketers) don’t know everything, and we never will from behind a screen. We can analyse the data we can make assumptions we can identify trends we can predict. Heck we can do a lot with data. I love data but I only love it from the insights we gain from it. Without insights and the ability to apply them they are just numbers.

The best marketing comes from authenticity, an ability to connect and heck even a sense of vulnerability. Let’s stop pretending we are the guru who knows it all and instead take the time to talk to a customer. Open our minds and let’s be more curious about why they make the decisions they make. Break down the barriers and let’s get to know our customer. They will help us unlock how to attract more people like them. Without customers innovation, disruption and all things termed success are impossible.  

Hey this is Liv, thanks for taking the time to read my article. I created Liv By Design to help organisations connect with their customers and empower them to create their own marketing strategies.

Digital is important, social is important and we often jump to these tactical solutions to gain new customers without taking the time to really identify and understand your customer and their needs. If you start your marketing strategy with your customer, you’ll have a more refined idea of who you are targeting and the best methods. This will cut your marketing costs and help you stand out amongst the crowd of brands that are grasping for audience attention.

At Liv By Design I ensure the process is simple, developing a marketing strategy in line with all the other conventions of your organisation like culture, customer experience and customer service.

Not sure if you are tackling your marketing, right? Maybe you’re a busy marketing team who just don’t have time to connect with customers? Give me a call I’m always here to offer obligation free advice.

Sticking to our job description and focusing on fulfilling it to perfection can mean that we sacrifice our long-term career potential. Don’t put your job ahead of what you want, ahead of your strengths or ahead of what you believe is right.

The ability to see the wood from the trees is a skill that comes with time in the workforce. Often when we first start working we simply want to prove ourselves in our role and strive for excellence. As time goes on however, we need to examine the countereffect this could have on our own sense of fulfilment and career progression.

Everyone has something to contribute to their workplace and everyone can affect change no matter what your job title is. Unfortunately, the way most organisations are structured means that only a few people are given formal opportunities to effect strategic plans and offer innovative ideas.

Developing human centered strategies is not only of benefit to our customer but there is this very positive by product. The human centered approach thrives off cross functional teams, diversity in thought and benefiting from the ideas of many rather than the ideas of a few within an organisation. It empowers those involved giving them a voice and a platform for their ideas to be heard.

So why not go a step further and take the theories of human centered strategic design and adapt these to our own personal development.

Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t on all of our agendas and it certainly shouldn’t be our primary motivation. Yet, we all want to be content in our roles and belong amongst the environment we work in. To really amplify our sense of achievement and belonging this can mean challenging ourselves to do things out of our comfort zone.

Let’s look at some methods that you can start with.

Look at the bigger picture.

If you’re not involved in board meetings or executive team meetings don’t let this stop you. Have a conversation with the CEO when they’re grabbing a cuppa in the staff room or ask for 5 minutes of their time, so they can share the organisations goals with you and where they see the big opportunities for change. Talk to your manager and ask them what their priorities are and how they want to improve the organisation. Having these conversations isn’t limited to a title. It’s guaranteed to give you new insights to what’s happening around you and it may help you improve efficiencies in your own role. Improve your understanding by knowing how what you do every day affects others in their roles.

Create alliances and strong relationships.

If you’ve done the first step guess what? You’ve already given yourself a head start. Having one on one’s and multiple conversations will help you get to know what’s important to other people and how you can help them. As a result, you’ll become a trusted colleague. If we look at the structure of ‘human centered strategic design’ you would hold a workshop involving a cross functional team from various departments in your business to work towards a solution. What’s stopping you from emulating this and having one on one brainstorming discussions. At the very least you’ll be the most proactive team member they’ve ever seen!

Present new ideas.

Having many conversations with colleagues and managers is going to give you some new ideas. Make sure you communicate these and share these. Bounce ideas off people and gain their insight. Prepare yourself though. You may be way off the mark but as Winston Churchill stated, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. At the very least you’ll have a better understanding of the challenges that exist, and each idea will get you closer to a winner.

Immersion.

So, you’ve done all the above and you’re feeling good. You’ve received positive feedback from your colleagues and you are respected by your managers. What’s next? If you really want to continue furthering your knowledge this step is the scariest yet most rewarding. Ask yourself a couple of quick questions.

  1. Who is your organsiation trying to serve?
  2. How could you as an individual get to understand them better?

To get any true understanding of customers or clients you will need to get out from behind a desk. The narrow focus of most job descriptions will mean that this is likely to be out of the scope of your role but now that you have the organisation behind you, talk to people about what you have in mind, what your objective is and how you think this could help the organisation.

Lastly, be brave ….

These steps can be daunting but take one small action at a time and build up it. You’ll find your confidence grows over time so try to tackle each day with something small that is outside your comfort zone.

“The road to success is still under construction” so disregard your title and give yourself the opportunity to find out what gives you personal satisfaction.

Actress Lily Tomlin

We’ve talked a lot about looking at the bigger picture for your organsiation but the most important thing to keep in mind through these processes is to look at the bigger picture and long term plan for yourself. By taking these steps and challenging yourself you will get a better understanding of your workplace and you will uncover some strengths you never knew you had.

Think about what personally interests you and drives you. Knowing this can help you develop your career and help you examine how to gain personal satisfaction from what you do day in day out.

I get it. The whole idea of a team building day is to get people to collaborates, bond and improve the way they communicate. From my experience these days can be great fun and let’s face it if there is a sun downer or night stay involved then chances are there’s going to be some stories about someone’s dance floor moves and a few sore heads. The banter in the office improves for the next few weeks and then what?

Is there any actual improvement to the culture? If there is my argument is that it isn’t a sustainable one. Sure celebrating success and celebrating learning is a need for any business but if you want sustainable cultural change there needs to be more.

1. Find Purpose

Help employees uncover why they come to work each day. How does what they do for 8 hours of each day contribute to the bigger picture? How does it drive their why?  

Employees with a sense of purpose are going to be more engaged and more willing to go the extra mile when they hit challenges at work.

2. No Customer Focus?

Corporate days can simply cement the ranked importance of the internally focused culture. Instead why not give employees a real sense of what they contribute to and the value they provide to your consumers or clients. Understanding our customers can be one of the most challenging things to do in business and when teams become silo-ed and insular never connecting with a customer then this understanding can be completely lost.

3. Real Common Goals

Sharing a common goal with others in our day to day role can help us be more willing to listen to others, take on feedback and offer new points of view. It’s all for the greater good.

4. Sustainable Collaboration

At the end of the day the collaboration that a team day can bring can add to strengthening bonds but what happens a few month down the track are we still reliving the mud challenge or how we tackled the puzzle in stage 3. No. Collaboration and team support shouldn’t be left to a team day. It should be part of each and every work day. How else do we achieve great heights, and no not literally but figuratively.

Research proves that kindness has a ripple effect. It’s contagious even!

Jamil Zaki a Stanford psychologist documents the concept of “positive conformity”.

“Participants who believed others were more generous became more generous themselves”.

There is always a lot of focus on customer centricity and improving the lives of those we are serving but workplaces also provide an opportunity to create happy people and improve lives. Our working days fill a lot of hours in our week and if your workforce is continually waiting for time to pass, chances are well…. it’s affecting your business.

Negative side effects
The expectation of employees is to go the extra mile for the customer. We know it improves client loyalty, referrals and retention but let’s face it if people aren’t happy at work this is unlikely to occur. Christine Porath Associate Professor at Georgetown University and TED speaker on energising workplaces identified that people exposed to rudeness are three times less likely to help others, and their inclination to share drops by half.

Positive side effects
The opposite happens with kindness. Respectful engagement amongst teams and healthy interactions also allows individuals to feel more comfortable sharing ideas, they are more willing to listen to each other and support each other. This lays solid foundations for creativity and more effective problem solving which dare we say, leads onto innovation. This is again supported with Jane Dutton’s research at the University of Michigan, concluding respectful engagement with individuals and teams does in fact enhance creativity.

Patient Case Study – Mercedes-Benz unleash the contagion
Let’s look at this in action.

The Harvard Business Review conducted an interview with Stephen Cannon then CEO of Mercede’s Benz USA. Cannon recognised that success was about more than just his vehicles. It was about how much the people who sold and serviced the cars cared and how generously they behaved. “Every encounter with the brand,” he declared, “must be as extraordinary as the machine itself.”

It goes on to state examples where staff had acted on their own will to go out of their way. One dealer realised once he’d closed a sale and was filling out forms that it was in fact the customers birthday. The dealer arranged a cake and celebration when the customer came to collect their vehicle. Another is a customer in desperate need of a tyre after getting a flat on her way to her child’s graduation. They were out of stock of the tyre required but the service manager went out of his way by jacking up and removing a tyre from a showroom model.

But why were these employees so happy to go out of their way? Things rapidly evolved when Hendrik Hynekamp became the first-ever general manager for customer experience at Mercedes-Benz. Hynekamp identified that 70% of front-line employees had never driven one of the cars outside of the dealership. For these employees to take pride in the brand he needed them to experience the joy of driving a Mercedes-Benz. So, he developed a program where each dealership employee (23,000) were able to drive a Mercedes-Benz for 48 hours. As you can imagine the reactions were extremely positive but Hynekamp states ….

“Sure, people got to know the cars very well. But the biggest piece was the pride piece.”

Summary
So, whilst there may be no blueprint, no process in place to instil kindness in your workforce you can be assured that kindness can organically disseminate. You can speed up the distribution by leading by example and using recognition to reward examples you find amongst your team. However, small they may be to begin with. Cultivate your contagion by creating the right conditions and watch it spread.

Positive workplace cultures create happier employees which create better experiences and a happier world. Here’s to creating happy workplaces and happy people!

Let’s keep this simple. Branding is about communicating who you are to people who need your product or service. As a small business you may feel like you are under resourced with no marketing budget and no marketing know-how but let’s stop you there. Small businesses are now able to communicate with consumers directly, instantly and intimately. Digital platforms have opened the doors and eroded the barriers for small businesses and we see them doing this in a way that large organisations can only emulate. Undoubtedly, small businesses have more flexibility and agility when it comes to wining the bid for quicker and stronger consumer engagement.

Large corporations spending enough money to feed small nations in the race to find an authentic brand often fall short. Multinational organisations who we think should have the resources to have it all together can be just as unclear as the rest of us. They are fighting their way through saturated markets struggling to get their brand to stand out, struggling to differentiate their product or service from their competitors.

At the end of the day if you have product or service that fulfills a need then you’re on the right track. It sounds so simple but at Liv By Design we are all about simplicity and there is nothing stopping you from developing your own brand strategy.

The key to innovation is uncovering a need and meeting it in new creative ways. The key to a great brand strategy is being able to communicate the benefits of what you provide quickly, consistently and creatively. Let’s start with some critical thinking tasks to get you started.

1. Find your tone.
What’s your emotional connection with your customers and how does your brand make people feel? This can guide you as to your tone of voice and the language you use. Remember to let your personality shine through but be mindful of your audience. The wrong language can isolate you from their selection process quickly.

If your still not sure think about your market positioning in relation to your competitors. What do you offer that’s better or different and how can you tell people that?

2. Define your brand story.
What makes your organisation unique? How did you get started? Why did you start your business? In the famous words of Simon Sinek ‘people buy why you do what you do, not what you do or how you do it’.

3. Make it quick.
Do you have a value proposition? A value proposition will help you succinctly summarise your offering in a few seconds, it’s essentially your elevator pitch. Include this in your marketing collateral, your website and your conversations with clients. The key to an effective value proposition is to maintain the focus on the consumer benefits of what you deliver and try to keep it short and sweet.

4. State your intentions.
Purpose is a buzz word right now but defining your organisations purpose can build trust with potential clients/consumers and help engage them. Create the mission, vision and values for your business and use this as your teams compass in day to day decision making and communicate it to your customers to help them understand who you are and why you exist.

5. Don’t go it alone.
One of the greatest assets you have as a small business is your people. Give them the opportunity to help you brainstorm and workshop your branding strategy. With the right structure you can unlock your team’s creativity and develop a brand strategy that may reignite your business.

We love talking strategy. If you’d like some more guidance and information on how to plan a branding workshop or where to start give us a call we’d love to chat.

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