Vantage Blog

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02
Nov
2016

Time to break some rules...

Why is so much marketing bland and plain uninspiring? Are we trying to bore customers into buying? Lists of services masquerading as advertising. Images that make clip art look good. Websites that if you blanked out the logo would read exactly the same as all the others.


It seems to me that many businesses play by a set of unspoken category rules. Rules that restrict and contain, rather than excite and enthuse potential customers. 


If you are a services business you’d better list each and every one of your individual offerings – much like a restaurant does on its menu.  If you are a car company you’re more than likely to show shots of your pride and joy only in beautiful or rugged landscapes (sedan or 4WD respectively!).  Copy that sounds and looks the same.  Emails, proposals, business cards, newsletters and brochures all from a cookie cutter template. 


I am not arguing creativity for creativity’s sake.  Marketing needs to be targeted and relevant - and hopefully hit the sweet spot.  But with over 300 commercial messages bombarding customers every day sometimes you need to be really clever to make a memorable impression.  One that will engage and hopefully cause a reaction (like clicking through, picking up the phone or even buying!). 


Here’s a great example... 


SKF is a Swedish company selling such things as bearings, seals, and lubrication systems. 


Not very exciting right? Looks like they play by the category rules of using well lit product shots with reams of technical information (though obviously there is a place for that in the mix). 


Not much opportunity to stand out?



Well here’s what they sent to some of their customers on Valentine’s Day...


Certainly not playing by the rules! I can just imagine that even the most conservative of procurement managers cracking the faintest of smiles on receiving this post card. Connecting on an emotional level in a sea of sameness.

So are you playing by the category rules? If so time to break some and cut through the clutter.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile



Why is so much marketing bland and plain uninspiring? Are we trying to bore customers into buying? Lists of services masquerading as advertising. Images that make clip art look good. Websites that if you blanked out the logo would read exactly the same as all the others. ..

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15
Oct
2016

Can it fit on one page?

It seems to me that many business consultants and so called strategy experts try to make things complex. This really comes to the fore when the challenge of planning is on the agenda.

SWOT, PESTLE, 5 Forces, etc. Lots of acronyms, not much clarity.

Don’t get me wrong these are all good tools that can be used to uncover insights and develop strategy. However without a clear framework they can end up making things more complex – lots of data not much information.

I have found the most sensible approach is the idea around one page planning. Yes one page.


The one page planning approach is based on the tried and true Now-Where-How framework.

Being clear on where you are NOW as a business (across all the key factors that drive value). Determining WHERE you want to be and then finally starting to develop strategies on HOW you are going to get there.

The beauty is that using this simple framework and then consolidating onto one page can be provide real focus.

But more importantly it enables you to cascade your plans throughout the organisation as per below. 


One of the biggest failures in strategic planning is not the qualities of the strategies developed but the lack of effective implementation.

One page planning enables a line of sight to be developed from the overall business strategic plan though to teams, projects and individuals. All aligned and easily verified that you are on track.

Add to this regular reviews and updates on progress and you have a simple process that can engage your teams and be easily monitored.

And the gold – you can run this internally without the need for expensive annual strategic offsites – yes it becomes part of how you do business!

And what if it’s more than one page? It’s a concept not a rule. Though focusing on a smaller number of strategies will mean increased likelihood of successful implementation – both organisationally and individually.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

It seems to me that many business consultants and so called strategy experts try to make things complex. This really comes to the fore when the challenge of planning is on the agenda.

SWOT, PESTLE, 5 Forces, etc. Lots of acronyms, not much clarity.

Don’t get me wrong these are all good tools that can be used to uncover insights and develop strategy. However without a clear framework they can end up making things more complex – lots of data not much information.

I have found the most sensible approach is the idea around one page planning. Yes one page. ..

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19
Aug
2016

Vantage August 2016 Newsletter Out Now

I recently reacquainted myself with Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. From reciprocity, to social proof, through to likeablity I was struck how they can be applied beyond their initial focus on marketing.



Great sales people apply many of theses principles, as do managers who are able to lead and inspire their teams to excel.


Based on 30 years of research Cialdini’s seminal work is worth a quick refresher – and with a little focus can easily be applied in multiple ways. Read more.



Also in this edition:
We hope you find something of interest. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how any of these issues may impact your business.

Best wishes,
Vantage Strategy & Marketing

I recently reacquainted myself with Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. From reciprocity, to social proof, through to likeablity I was struck how they can be applied beyond their initial focus on marketing. ..

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08
Jul
2016

6 Principles of Persuasion - how you can influence people to buy!

I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion.


Cialdini believes that most people can’t explain why they made a particular decision. But once you can understand the underlying factors your ability to influence decisions and get more positive responses can really have a large impact on the effectiveness of your sales and marketing activities. It also can have real value when coaching others.

The six principles are:

  1. Reciprocation: At a basic level when you do something for someone else they will feel indebted. For marketers, Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something...". There's a logic behind when in a restaurant you often will be given a chocolate or biscuit when presented with the bill - they are effectively prompting reciprocation at the point of the meal where tipping is encouraged!

  2. Social Proof: “Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says. Whilst often annoying (especially if patently not funny!) they do impact viewers impression of what they are watching. A number of studies have shown this factor in play in social media. Sharing and liking products and services has a significant impact on purchase intention for both the 'liker' and their followers.

  3. Commitment & Consistency: People generally like to stay true to their word, or their actions. If we agree to a course of action or proposition - either in action or words - we're likely to follow through. For sales people getting potential customers to make a series of small "yeses" as part of the sales process leverages this principle so as to get the desired end outcome.

  4. Likability: There is no doubt that we prefer working with people we like and this can play a valuable role in a sales and marketing context. Cialdini's research indicates that in fact being physically attractive, or similar in some way to the person selling to you, impacts our decision process. The challenge for marketers is to how best to position and market products so they connect with their target audience's values and preferences - making what they sell attractive and connected is key.

  5. Authority. We all remember the ads with the faux laboratory. White coats on every actor! What the marketer is trying to do is ascribe some authority on their product. It may work (for some) but I think the authority needs to be genuine. The question is how best to utilise authority and legitimacy in the context of the product, and the proof points customers need to help them buy. In many markets generating real reviews and testimonials from legitimate, recognised authorities can help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases.

  6. Scarcity sells: "Only 10 left", " Offer end June 30". FOMO i.e. fear of missing out, has become even more prevalent since Cialdini undertook his seminal research. We appear to be wired to being more concerned about losing something (we didn't have) than gaining it. One way to create scarcity is to be genuinely unique - to have a point of difference. Click here to read more about the one question you need to be able to answer.
So when next crafting a marketing campaign or sales strategy think about how you can best apply some of Cialdini's principles to impact persuasion.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile







I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion. ..

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10
Jun
2016

STRATEGY IS ALL ABOUT CHOICE – 5 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU MAKE THOSE CHOICES

Strategy is the most overused word in business. It is often applied in describing tactics, less so in making clear how a business intends to grow in its market.


I recently re-read “Playing to Win – how strategy really works” by A.G. Lafley (ex CEO of Proctor & Gamble) and Roger L. Martin (Academic and Strategy Consultant). Lafley and Martin have a long standing relationship working on strategy at P&G. Built off the strategic thinking of Michael Porter they paint a compelling picture of how they made strategy come alive and deliver real growth for P&G.

At a high level they describe strategy as the need to win; and to win you need to make clear choices across five key areas – a strategic choice cascade:

  1. What is our winning aspiration?
  2. Where will we play?
  3. How will we win?
  4. What capabilities must be in place?
  5. What management systems are required?

In their framework, your strategy is the choices you make across these five questions; and the core is in the answers to question 2 and 3 – the where and the how. It is also a highly iterative process with continual loop back and refinement.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The book almost solely uses their experience at P&G which, on the face of it, has been very successful in driving profit and growth well above market over the first decade of this century. The hard metrics outlined in the appendix certainly back this up. 

I wondered though how it would apply outside of P&G. Over the last six months we have used these ‘strategy choice’ questions with several clients – both in the development of strategy, but also as a challenge to their current strategic thinking. It has worked well wherever I have applied it (B2B, services and retail markets for instance) because it has forced people to decide what they do and, importantly, what they don’t do. 

In addition to the choices framework, the authors outline a number of valuable approaches in thinking about the where and how options – because there is obviously more than one set of strategic choices that can win. They have what they call a strategy logic flow. This flow enables you to understand across four dimensions (industry, customers, relative position and competition) the context, challenges and opportunities to help you develop strategic options to debate and analyse.

In analysing different strategic “where to play” and “how to win” options they take a reverse engineering approach. Rather than setting up participants to advocate from their point of view they pose a question against each scenario: what would have to be true across each of the strategy logic flow elements for us to pursue this possibility? This enables even the most ardent sceptic to engage and sets the bar as to what is critical for success. From that point, you can decide the most important factors and start to undertake a deeper analysis of those aspects that will determine what is truly worth pursuing. This reverse engineering approach not only does away a with a lot of the angst in what I would call strategic advocacy by individuals, it also enables you to not spend wasted time up front overanalyzing; you only focus on those aspects you really need to know to make strategic choices.

So despite its P&G focus there are a number of elements in Martin and Lafley’s approach that can be of real value in developing strategy. It forces you to focus on making the critical choices to define “winning” for your business. Well worth a read but also as a framework or challenge to your next strategic planning session. 

if you would like to discuss how you could use this in your business please contact me by clicking here.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile 






Strategy is the most overused word in business. It is often applied in describing tactics, less so in making clear how a business intends to grow in its market. ..


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