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posted by Cathy Monetti Apr 28,2009 @ 04:39AM

The Power of Need

The first in a series analyzing seven new economy trends

In homes and businesses across America, decisions are being made with a heavy emphasis on “need” rather than “want.” This dynamic is impacting the marketplace so significantly it should be the first consideration in any strategic business decision, be it product development, realignment or marketing. What does this really mean? Begin every conversation in your organization with this question:

What does our customer need from us?

The answer must come from your customer’s point of view, which is—quite honestly—180 degrees from a corporate point of view. And if you haven’t conducted consumer research since—say, January—you can’t know the answer because I promise you, it has changed in the last four months.

Spend the money to work with a good researcher. It’s one of the most important investments you can make in your marketing program. Today’s great researchers engage the right people, and they do it in an environment or a circumstance that results in truly meaningful (and potentially differentiating) intelligence. (The days of relying on focus groups and telephone surveys are over, thank heavens.) This rather tall order requires working close to the ground, using new methodologies that result in honest and open communication uninfluenced by preconceived ideas or peer group dynamics. And it needn’t take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Once you have hired the researcher, mined the insight(s) and put them in the proper context, begin every meeting with those realities in the forefront. Write them on the wall; make them a part of your organization’s vernacular. Then use the insights as your North Star as you develop new products/programs/promotions. You’ll wonder how you ever made a good business decision without them.

Up Next: The Power of Simplicity
The second in a series analyzing seven new economy trends

posted by Cathy Monetti Apr 21,2009 @ 03:47AM

The Power of Seven

I can’t think of a more interesting chair to sit in today than that of CMO of a financial institution. Every customer is in play, and that means opportunity abounds around every corner, at soccer games, and in boardrooms across the country.

The surprising thing is—the response so many institutions have had to this turn of events is to hunker down, freeze the marketing budget and hope against hope things get back to “normal” before significant damage is done. Meanwhile, they’ve missed out on the greatest opportunity to gain market share in 20 years.

Instead, consider the reality of the new economy:

  1. Brand loyalty is fragile.
  2. The marketplace is quiet. Speak now and your voice will ring across the landscape.
  3. Customers are looking for alternate solutions and will make a move if properly incented. (We’re not talking toasters here. It’s about meeting real customer needs in a time of economic uncertainty.)
  4. The opportunity won’t last forever.

In the next seven postings on, we’ll dissect today’s seven hottest market trends and offer strategic counsel for how to best capitalize on them. I look forward to meeting you right here. (Or if you want a preview, drop me an email and I’ll send you the series in its entirety.)

Coming April 28: The Power of Need

posted by Kevin Smith Apr 06,2009 @ 10:29AM

Tell Me More

It’s hardly news that everyone is spending less. There is a new normal, and it involves each of us being more mindful of what and how we spend. From vacations closer to home, to house brands, to buying locally grown food, we’re making more deliberate, smarter choices about what and how we consume.

These more informed choices require more information.

Recent legislation requires that grocers tell us where our produce is grown. Yet the smartest most successful supermarkets go much further. They tell us not just where our asparagus comes from, but how to prepare it. Recipe cards are offered alongside samples cooked at a station in the produce aisle.

Whatever your business, you need to do the same. Far too often, service businesses —healthcare and banking in particular — fail horribly at this. Few HMOs or hospitals offer adequate information about the doctors in their networks. Although research clearly shows the most important component of healthcare delivery is not what, where or how, but who is delivering their care. Banks push rates and products despite the fact that their customers crave relationships, advice and counsel.

This is an easy fix. Don’t shy away from explanation, particularly on the web. Instead of mortgages at 4 percent shown alongside a banker’s contact information, include something personal or philosophical about the person offering the mortgage. In the past, a doctor’s office wall filled with diplomas told us something about the doctor. We need that information (often delivered digitally) now more than ever.

It pays to get back to basics. The split-second decision-making that drove expensive image messaging is over. Take the time to communicate completely with your customers. Those who do will do more than emerge from the current economy intact, they’ll find themselves with a fiercely loyal customer base that will ensure their prosperity for years to come.




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