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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

This Month’s Newsletter

May 2017: Reshuffle to bring out the differences 

You know the trouble with most meetings? Is that we make almost no use of the differences between people in the room, Apart from the obvious ones based on specialists and job titles. Last week I was running workshop training with a group of young strategists from Belgian ad agencies. The task was to get them to find a place in Brussels to promote to one of 3 audiences: students, businesses and international visitors. To introduce a little randomness, I asked them to line up in order of how far they had travelled to attend that evening. At one end were those who had travelled a few hundred yards. At the other end of the line were those who had travelled the length of Belgium to get to the workshop. This latter group were given the students and asked to estimate the student population in Brussels. The guesses ranged from 3,000 to 70,000. At which point they pointed out it was hardly fair since they didn’t know very much about Brussels.

But you get the point. A simple randomising sort had put those who didn’t know enough into one corner. And those who perhaps knew or assumed too much in the other.  With a third group in the middle. In your meetings, you have all sorts of expertise in your teams. Those who have banked with the same bank all their lives. And those who know nothing. Those who have bought a new car. And those who can’t drive a car. Research reports and Google searches are all very well. But accessing the experience of your own team is just as valuable. But don’t expect to extract it by letting them walk into the meeting room to sit where they want. A well-designed workshop will shuffle and disrupt and energise the participants. To get the most out of them.

Unmarketing and the damage it causes

The Samsung S8 has arrived. There is a huge campaign to persuade us that it is the latest and best. Only the S7 and the S7 Edge are still on sale. I know because I bought one only 6 months ago. With a 2 year contract. This is a classic piece of what I would call unmarketing. You see I LIKE my phone. I am happy with it. I swallowed the sales spiel and bought the product.  Which makes me a great big tick as far as marketing concerned. But in a market driven by new models and sales targets, I need to be unmarketed.  So doubts need to be cast on the specification, and additional memory.Free movie downloads until I run out of bandwidth.  The danger with allowing sales tails to wag the marketing dog is that customers notice that it’s not about them but about the company and the next product they want to sell. Singing the praises of the product in one sales period and talking it down in the next.Cry wolf and you are likely to find that your customers vote with their feet. By staying loyal to products you don’t want them to stay loyal to. Remember the marketing disaster that was Vista Windows? When IT corporate departments bought the licenses for the new operating systems but left XP where it was – to have a  quiet life.  Marketing is about putting your customers at the centre. Put your sales plan at the centre and you train your customers to rebel.   Before you try to hustle your customers, consider listening to them first. To see how wedded they are to the products they already have.  And what it would take for them to move.

What do your customers really think?

This newsletter is a week later than it ought to have been (for which I apologise). Busy week! But at least we are past the French election and an outcome which might have finished off the EU altogether.
Though we still have a UK election to go. With opinion polls discredited and electorates making unpredictable decisions, we have had a very uncertain time these last 12 months. What we need more than anything is a way of consulting public opinion that gives space for people to articulate conflicted points of view. The tools we have at present are too simplistic. but it won’t do to switch off research on the grounds that people don’t do what they say. That means you are going to have to guess what they are up to.  Inevitably we are going to have to return to long form answers – where people explain what is conflicting them. Clicks don’t measure conflict. And it’s the ambivalence of human experience which is the key to understanding the choices we make. Those who voted for Macron this evening weren’t necessarily voting for him but to stop Le Pen. What if your product is the best of a series of trade-offs none of which are ideal?

In other news 

I’ve written a piece about diversity for the AQR’s regular newsletter. Look out for that. Here’s a link to the Slideshare about the talk I gave in Belgium last week about 98% Pure Potato.  It continues to be busy at Griffiths towers. Brand naming, pharma projects and branded content are all themes I am working with at the moment. But I can still find you some time if you need help. Have a good month as we move towards 2017’s halfway point.

Check out the blog at Further and Faster or follow johngriffiths7 on twitter.

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