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Storyminers Blog by Mike Wittenstein - 1M ago

A small change in course can change your future. That was the promise of StoryMiners’ PIVOT ON PURPOSE interactive workshop for the Georgia Mentor Protégé Council. The first event was held on April 16, 2019 at AT&T. 

The presentation part of the morning began with an overview of THE SHIFTS THAT SHIFT US TODAY. THE SHIFTS THAT WILL SHIFT US TOMORROW followed. Participants learned the value of pivots and techniques for avoiding bias when trying something new. Proof came from several real-world case studies. 

(Click the arrows above to review the presentation.)

Next, participants and mentors participated in discussions to image how those company CEOs instigated the change, won support, pressed on in spite of skepticism, and redefined priorities for the business, the employees, and the culture. Each group reported on their findings. 

Mike Wittenstein speaks at Georgia’s Mentor Protégé Council. Atlanta, GA  April, 2019. 
Photo by Djaren Photography.

Mike Wittenstein shared his belief that the best designed strategies are those that simultaneously please customers, engage employees, and benefit the bottom line. 

Expressing strategy as a story and/or as an experience is one of the fastest and surest ways to earn alignment throughout any organization. In fact, many of the study companies in the presentation used this or a similar approach to innovate, socialize, decide, design, build, and earn adoption for their ideas. 

Georgia Mentor Protégé Council participants share their pivot stories. Atlanta, GA. April 2019.
Photo by Djaren Photography.

Finally, participants studied their own businesses by choosing a pivot. Next, they expressed it using story and experience design. Two volunteers in this wrap-up interactive session got quick uptake from their colleagues and rave reviews for how they presented their new ideas.

You were incredible! I enjoyed your presentation very much yesterday. After 7 years and sourcing close to 100 speaker, I have to say, you are in the Top 1% group. Thank you for spending time with our group today. I have many people requesting your presentation.

Veronica Maldonado, Program Director, Georgia Mentor Protégé Council

Late-breaking news. Please note that Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, is talking about Twitter’s big PIVOT. Instead of following people, people might follow topics

Imagine how that might make the world different (and better). Imagine how much less polarization there might be. Imagine how much more quickly we could get up to speed on critical topics, by jumping into an ecosystem instead of an ego.

StoryMiners helps leaders and their teams get their stories straight. Everything (strategy, branding, service and product design, customer experience, digital transformation, operations, board communications, etc.) gets easier after that!

The post Pivot on Purpose for GMPC appeared first on StoryMiners.

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Storytelling is the medium through which cultures grow and thrive. From a modern branding perspective, successful storytelling acts as an emotional glue, creating a loyal audience and engaging new customers.

Some of the most iconic brands in history are great ‘story brands’. From legacy brands like Disney and Apple to challenger brands like Warby Parker and Airbnb, a rich blend of history and marketing can create an experience that convinces people to try new things. The duality of story and experience is pure gold for marketers. 

How do brand strategists capture the power of storytelling for the modern age of consumerism and instant gratification? Let’s take a closer look.

They keep story close to the core of the brand; let it evolve to remain relevant to customers

In 1997, the first “Priceless” ad aired from Mastercard. The tagline, “There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Mastercard” was run consistently for 20 years, in over 50 languages across 125 countries. As audiences evolve, however, and alongside the entrance of fintech companies like Venmo, Apple Pay, and PayPal, the legacy company had to make an adjustment to their story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=71KAO_bmc2o

Maintaining a globally consistent brand message is a challenge. But according to Timothy Murphy, current General Counsel and former Chief Product Officer, “Priceless” is a concept that is intrinsically embedded in the company’s history and is applicable to a modern society influenced by the prevalence of social media connectedness. He noted in a recent video for Mastercard News, “The way we’re using ‘Priceless’ is to connect to people’s real passions about giving back. If you share a passion for something, seeing Mastercard connect ‘Priceless’ with that and with you is something you never forget.”

He continued, “When you experience an ad that’s really well done, you see its power in so many different places.” Today, the company embeds ‘Priceless’ into a variety of ad placements. One of the most recent was a February ad spot featuring popular singer Camilla Cabello, with the tagline “Start Something Priceless.” The shift in focus appears to have paid off, with The Motley Fool reporting Mastercard’s retail sales hitting 5.1 percent last year ($850 billion), the strongest growth in six years.

It’s clear that over the last few decades, as internet usage soared and as modes of media consumption changed, brand storytelling has become that much more of an integral core of marketing strategy. Since mobile searches overtook desktop in 2015, according to Google, the need for concise, compelling stories that strike an emotional chord with an increasingly disconnected-yet-plugged-in audience is paramount to longevity. Brands like Mastercard are able to excel because they develop stories that grow with them and help cultivate a newer audience.

They emphasize the backstory; it matters more than you think

As the backbone of a marketing strategy, brands are going to want to search carefully for savvy storytellers to join their team. Storytelling blends equal parts of art and science for an emotive marketing strategy with an eye for audience metrics and analytics. It’s an increasingly specialized role with a central focus on understanding and playing to the customer experience. 

Brands shouldn’t ignore the power of their audience, however. Developing a compelling backstory can inspire brand loyalty amongst the most passionate of consumers. Even ordinary consumers can play a role in helping support a company’s marketing efforts. Take Lush, for example.

Despite the cosmetic brand’s global “no advertising spend” policy, the company has managed to nurture a cult following in the UK and US. Organic reach is notoriously difficult to attain and cultivate, but Lush thrives off natural mentions of their brand on social media from loyal customers, and by turning in-store employees into brand advocates. Their vegan, cruelty-free mission statement resonates with younger consumers who value cause marketing over traditional forms of advertising.

With nearly five million combined followers on their US and UK Instagram sites, they’ve made it abundantly clear that they have their finger firmly on the pulse of their target audience. 

They adjust their storytelling style to get picked, then to get read

Neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak conducted a string of experiments measuring oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relates to prosocial bonding behaviors. His results point to three important phases that outline our relationship with stories:attention, connection, and action. Since attention is a scarce resource, effective marketing needs to first engage its audience, or it will ultimately fail to deliver its message.

Zak found that participants who watched a short video produced more oxytocin as a result of suspense. As characters onscreen worked through conflicts, participants who had remained engaged experienced elevated levels of the neurotransmitter in their bodies. This directly tied into their decision-making behavior; oxytocin levels were positively correlated to a participant’s willingness to donate money to “help”the on-screen character they had empathized with. Thus, the efficacy of an ad is determined by its ability to grab a consumer’s attention, get them to empathize, and convince them to act. In this respect, storytelling can make a conceptual idea appear real to its audience, and translate that into profit.

In the future, storytelling will only become more important. Experts argue that attention spans aren’t necessarily declining as previously believed, and instead are evolving. Nearly 90 percent of surveyed business professionals stated the story behind what’s being presented to their audience is critical to maintaining engagement. That said, the mobile-first movement has changed media consumption. Effective storytelling needs to incorporate engaging visuals (both video and graphic content marketing), great stories, and cause marketing.

Storytelling has emerged as a powerful marketing tool as brand strategists explore ways to reconnect with an audience whose priorities and interests are shifting. Brands that can pivot without losing the ability to tell their story in an authentic, emotive way are the ones who will capture market share going forward.

Guest Post by: Sara Carter, Co-Founder of Enlightened-Digital

The post How Storytelling Has Emerged as a Force in Marketing appeared first on StoryMiners.

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Guest post by Lexie Lu.

Gaining recognition for your brand is a big task. Not only do you have to tie marketing into branding, but you also have to consider every aspect of your reputation in order to manage the way people remember your company. Figuring out what your customers need is one of the strongest ways to steer your brand reputation and grow your company.

About 62 percent of brands state they see the customer experience (CX) as something that differentiates them from their competitors. Meeting customer needs is just one way to enhance the overall CX. Here are nine ways you can figure out what your customer needs are and steer brand image:

1. Ask the Right Questions

Take the time to not only ask questions about your customer needs, but also ask the right questions. Don’t just ask, “What do you need?” Ask, “What problem do you have?” Once you understand the problems your customers face, you’ll be able to come up with solutions. You can also ask more pointed questions, such as what else they’ve tried already to solve the problem. This will tell you what not to provide as well as what you need to offer customers.

2. Study Past Behavior

Take the time to look at patterns in overall customer behavior. Does business pick up every autumn? What items are your customers ordering in the fall and how can you offer even better solutions in these categories? Studying past behavior allows you to stock the inventory you need to get orders out quickly. Customers tend to wait until the last minute to order what they need, so if you can get their order out the door quickly, you’ve met a need that will establish your reputation as a brand.

3. Offer Automation With a Human Touch

The world seems to almost run on autopilot these days. If you go online, you’re as likely to chat with a bot as a real person. If you make a phone call, a computer will guide you to the correct department. However, this is also quite frustrating for consumers, as the answers may not be personalized.

Make sure you offer the ability for the customer to talk to a real person at any point in the process if automation fails. Every scenario is different, so it’s vital that consumers can talk to a human being and get the answers or service they need.

4. Map the Customer Process  

One of the best ways to identify problem areas and meet a need is to map the customer’s process. One example of this is Uber. Before Uber came into being, the customer had to call for or hail a taxi. The customer was unsure when the cab driver might arrive and then had to go through the process of paying the driver.

With services such as Uber, the entire process is simplified and the consumer is given the information up front. The rate is provided for the ride, an estimate of when the driver will arrive is given and payment is made automatically — all through an app. This is a brilliant example of refining a process so the consumer’s needs are met and exceeded.

Your job as a company is to simplify the process for your customers. Take the time to map the typical journey from need to order fulfillment and figure out how to make the process easier or keep the customer more informed.

5. Read Your Own Reviews

Have you ever taken the time to hunt for reviews and complaints against your company? If not, it’s a good exercise for a few reasons. First, it allows you to directly address unhappy customers and try to rectify things. Second, it gives you a lot of insight into where you are failing as a company, even if just for that one customer. This is a great first step in better meeting customer needs.

6. Buy From Your Competitor

Do you have a competitor who sells a similar product? Become their customer. Go through the ordering process and see what it’s like. Pay close attention to the things you like and the things you hate. How can you improve on what they do and better meet your customers’ needs? Obviously, you don’t want to copy your competitor. You’re simply gathering information so you can do this better than they do.

7. Test Focus Groups

Take the time to set up some focus groups and figure out what is working with your product and what could be made better. There are any number of companies that offer this service and can help you find the exact target audience you want to improve your brand and overall image. At the end of the day, the value the consumer receives for the product they purchase is the most important factor involved in meeting your customers’ needs.

8. Offer Value

Have you ever purchased an item thinking it’s going to solve a problem, but then been sorely disappointed in the results? Whether you bought a late-night infomercial boiled egg maker or those knives that were supposed to cut through anything, you likely never purchased anything from that company again. That’s the last thing you want if you’re trying to grow a brand. Instead, you want customers who not only repeatedly buy from you, but also tell their family and friends how great your product is.

The only way to offer value is to make sure your product is high quality and does what you promise. Extensive testing and checking in with customers after they purchase your product are great ways to ensure this. You may want to offer a warranty of some type, too. That forces you to live up to your promises and motivates you to create a quality product.

9. Prepare Your Sales Force

There are some specific things the upper 1 percent of salespeople do, including doing research and preparing for client meetings. Your sales team should be so well trained that they can answer any question the consumer has. On top of that, they should know which products and services will work best in a wide variety of situations, so they can point the customer to the best solution for their needs.

Your Customers Are Your Reputation

What other people hear about your brand is most likely to come from your current customers. Figuring out the best ways to meet their specific needs grows your brand’s reputation in a positive way. Take the time to get to know your target audience and what they require. Once you know their needs, you can meet and hopefully exceed them.

Lexie is a UX designer and software prototyping enthusiast. Most of her mornings are spent writing HTML code with a large cup of coffee in close proximity. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

The post Finding What Your Customers Need Next Is The Best Way To Steer Your Brand appeared first on StoryMiners.

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If the majority of your customers are baby boomers or Gen Zers, then marketing is a simple matter of reaching that generation where they spend the most time and in a way that speaks to them. However, what if your business targets several different generations? How do you customize your customer experience to appeal to various age groups while remaining relevant to all of them?

About 73 percent of traditionalists and 67 percent of baby boomers prefer to interact in a store, while the younger generation takes the opposite approach, with 66 percent of Generation X and 64 percent of millennials preferring to interact online.

If your business is one that needs to appeal to both younger and older consumers, your best bet is to reach out both online and offline in an attempt to cover all your bases. Here are nine ways to customize your in-store and online experience to reach multiple generations:

1. Send Targeted Emails

Most generations are open to receiving emails from brands they already follow. Gen X is less likely to be loyal to a specific brand and open to discounts. On the other hand, baby boomers care less about discounts, so try to reach them on an emotional level instead. Millennials prefer coupons and discounts by about 80 percent, so to customize your customer experience, send emails targeting their love of a good deal.

2. Vary Your Content

If you need to reach multiple generations, understand that the way older people absorb content is different from someone raised on social media. If you want to reach multiple generations, you must vary the length and style of content so it reaches across different ages and preferences.

Scotts Menswear targets men from multiple generations by providing a wide variety of content on its blog. Note how topics include sports highlights, how to dress for rainy days, features of a variety of music festivals and bands, and even ideas for Father’s Day gifts. By offering a range of topics, it reaches multiple generations.

3. Understand Device Preference

Take the time to understand preference in the types of devices different generations utilize. For example, if you currently have a full roster of baby boomer customers and want to also add some Gen Z into the mix, you’ll want a social media presence. Not only that, but you’ll want to target Gen Z where they spend the most time, on Instagram and Snapchat.

Younger generations are most likely to access your site via mobile, so you’ll want to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. On the other hand, baby boomers are more likely to access your site via a PC, so you’ll also want to make sure your site works equally well from a desktop computer.

4. Find Common Ground

When you want to reach multiple generations, find common ground between two or more age groups. For example, is there an interest multiple generations share that you can focus on as a company? How can you tie that common ground into your product or service? Take the time to brainstorm the interests and needs of all your customers, and then figure out what is alike across different generations.

Quincy Compressor finds common ground among multiple generations by focusing on something both old and young enjoy: Hunting. It then takes that topic and relates it to its products through an infographic that explains how to skin a dear with an air compressor. The infographic works equally well for a website or in an email.

5. Plan a Social Media Strategy

When it comes to marketing to multiple generations, don’t overlook social media as a viable platform. More and more people are getting on social media.

About 91 percent of baby boomers have a social media account, but they tend to favor Facebook over Twitter. On the other hand, if you also want to reach Gen Z, you’ll want to be on Instagram. To customize your customer experience, you may need to devise a social media strategy that crosses multiple platforms and has a unique approach for each one.

6. Take Out Print Ads

Print ads are still viable, but you have to know where to reach the age groups you want to target. If you want to reach an older generation, then a magazine geared toward that age group is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want to reach millennials, a free weekly newspaper for a specific area works well.

AARP has launched a print and online advertising campaign geared toward older executives and getting them to invest in their futures. Note the print ad listed above that showcases someone from that generation and talks about age and investment portfolios. This type of highly targeted print advertising works well to reach the age group AARP wants to reach, but also gets younger generations thinking about the future.

7. Create an in-Store App

Does your store have an app? People of all ages enjoy downloading an app that provides a loyalty program, offers discounts or gives other perks to users. Encourage your customers to download the app and then track their purchases. You can offer pings when an item they’d be interested in comes into the store or goes on sale.

8. Engage Generations

Take the time to think through what will engage the typical customer who enters your store. This might mean different things for different generations. For younger people, technology they can interact with, such as an app, might be the best draw. On the other hand, older people might be more appreciative of face-to-face contact and a greeting from an employee.

Cracker Barrel is a good example of an in-store experience targeted to multiple generations. Baby boomers and traditionalists love the greeting from store employees and the ability to sit in rockers on the front porch or play a game of checkers. Millennials and Gen Y can order quickly online and pick their food up, minimizing contact if they prefer. Even the store has items for all age groups, from the very young to the very old.

9. Track Everything

No matter which generations you’re targeting, track their buying habits and how many from each range are interacting on social media or visiting your website. The more information you gather, the better you can market to those people who already love your product and expand your reach further. Test a variety of campaigns and figure out which ones have the best return on investment (ROI).

In-Store and Online Experience

Customer experience should remain consistent no matter where customers visit you, whether online or in-store. Even though you can apply generalizations to each generation, remember that your customers are made up of unique individuals who may or may not fit into those categories.

To customize your customer experience, always listen to your customers and note how they respond to your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a customer is a millennial or a traditionalist. What matters is the specific needs of that individual and how you meet those needs.

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To learn more about StoryMiners’ services, click here.

Lexie is a UX designer and software prototyping enthusiast. Most of her mornings are spent writing HTML code with a large cup of coffee in close proximity. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

The post Customize Your Customer Experience For Each Generation appeared first on StoryMiners.

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This post first appeared in CMO Australia in late 2017. Thanks to Nadia Cameron for a great interview!

Too many organisations are “doing” before “designing” when it comes to digital transformation and customer experience.

As a result, they are not going deep enough into insights analysis and cultural change.

That’s the view of managing principal of Storyminers and experience design expert, Mike Wittenstein. He recently caught up with CMO to discuss the ongoing challenges many marketing leaders and their brands are facing when coping with the rapid organisational change presented by digital disruption and next-generation customer engagement.

Wittenstein agreed that with the arrival of more technology at the front end of engagement, marketing and customer experience are aggressively coming together. “Budgets are shifting a lot and there’s less in the tech camp and more in the revenue generation side of things,” he says.

People management and ways of working need to be overhauled, Wittenstein said. Certainly in Australia, there have been growing examples of CMOs actively partnering with their customer service, operational and people and culture counterparts to make that happen. Extensive investment is being made into reskilling marketing teams to meet the new demands of being more holistically customer focused.

Yet for Wittenstein, there’s nowhere near enough change by design going on when it comes to digital transformation. He identified two fallouts arising as organisations look to digitise everything. The first is too many companies are focusing attention on short-term gain and reacting to market conditions. Instead, they should be putting the emphasis on wholesale business change and sustainable growth.

“Digitisation is usually revenue driven, which means either making the process more efficient, or getting rid of people,” he claimed. “But that’s not looking at the whole company or at growth. I call it a ‘myopic spreadsheet’ mission. One number doesn’t move a business, especially in the long term or if you’re looking at periods of change.

“The objective needs to be about redesigning business. And that’s best done on purpose and by design, rather than by being reactive or trying to get shareholders more of what they had in the past. This is the number one strategy snafu that is killing more value than it’s creating.

“It’s not true for every company, but most investors have been in companies for a long time, and they want more of what they had in the past. In other words, keep things the same, give me more of my return. So you end up taking more resource out of the business, and cost cutting.”

Exactly the opposite recipe is needed to truly harness digital and become a customer-led organisation, Wittenstein said.

“The ones leading in this space recognise the need for making a company more adaptive,” he said. “We are in a period of intense change; you have to be constantly innovating, trying new things, restructuring. That costs money.

“Marketing, HR, CX, many are all driven by this emphasis on financial returns. So they’re putting in tool, systems and approaches that yield short-term benefits that can be measured. But not all the benefits you need for sustainable growth can be measured. It’s not balanced.

“This is the big fear I have from all the exciting things that are going on.”

The other danger Wittenstein spotted was marketers and customer experience leaders being given the responsibility to bring their company along more customer-led lines. Often, they don’t have adequate resources, guidance or frameworks in place to achieve those digital transformation goals.

“I was talking to someone in a CX role recently and within 2 minutes, we were talking about the numbers you need to prove what you’re doing is working,” Wittenstein said. “There was no context given by the CEO or company on all this work.

“I see a lot of scraps left on the table. The necessary context for achieving breakthrough growth that will give you a strategic advantage is missing because people aren’t asking the questions or going deep enough. The bottom line is they’re doing before design.”

Change by design

So what can you do to become digital and customer-led by design? Wittenstein said more talking and cross-functional collaboration is a good first step. He also advocated adopting the same approaches being used to build more adaptive technology to systematically overhaul the way the organisation works.

“Make your business more adaptive, don’t just throw people together and hope great things will happen,” he said. “Agile is all the craze, but I worry that’s led us to a biased belief that if you keep trying, you’ll get it right eventually. I don’t see this as a business solution.

“Look at history: The best things introduced were introduced on purpose by strategies and people who understand more than one discipline at a time. It’s not coming out of incremental gains or luck. You have to put in additional thinking to achieve these sorts of outcomes.”

Marketers are in a good position in orchestrating this sort of systematic change because they’re good at understanding buyer’s needs, implicit and explicit, Wittenstein continued, adding that CMOs should be responsible for injecting the voice of customer and buyer in technology development.

“If marketers really do bring in the voice of customer and they are present at these reviews with customers in the room, not just engineers, then you can get closer to what customers truly want,” he said.

In addition, there should be an overall deepening of customer understanding and what customer need, independent to what is being built by the company, Wittenstein said.

“The other player that has to be in there is leadership,” he said. “A lot of the things you see in sprints are stupid workarounds rather than pivoting the strategy, which is what is needed.  Or look at budgeting – how many companies do agile and still keep traditional budgeting? It blows me away. Why don’t they do zero-based budgeting?”

Wittenstein also suggested people are still going with what’s easy and pushing a lot of responsibility for making trust decisions to the frontline.

“If you’re trying to make seismic shifts in the business, that’s not very smart. You can’t let those experiments run the business,” he said. “From a strategy, operations and finance perspective – there needs to be a push to understand what is it we do that creates value for customers? That has nothing to do with the price of product, but what products and services they use to create value for themselves. How much value they create with each unit they buy from us.

“Without that piece of information, now way to optimise we do versus what they need.”

And when you find a CX problem, use the same research techniques on the inside to find out what’s wrong, Wittenstein advised.

“The quickest way to use agile to get more done and get it done well while having a positive cultural affect, is to do dashboard design in the same fashion. For every four sprints for technology, do one for dashboards to make them better,” he said.

“That’s going to change the information people get to make better decisions together, downstream and upstream. And people will have a better feel for how decisions are going forward.”

As a final note, Wittenstein stressed the importance of agreeing to deliverables around what’s valuable.

“The more and more we all use devices, the better the context and better decisions companies can make,” he added.

Related Content

Interview: Why marketing should be the orchestrator of customer experience design

Customer Retention Strategies from 25 CX Experts

Nadia Cameron is the Publisher and Editor of CMO. She is based out of Sydney, Australia.

The post Don’t Do Digital Transformation, Design It appeared first on StoryMiners.

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If the majority of your customers are baby boomers or Gen Zers, then marketing is a simple matter of reaching that generation where they spend the most time and in a way that speaks to them. However, what if your business targets several different generations? How do you appeal to various age groups while remaining relevant to all of them?

About 73 percent of traditionalists and 67 percent of baby boomers prefer to interact in a store, while the younger generation takes the opposite approach, with 66 percent of Generation X and 64 percent of millennials preferring to interact online.

If your business is one that needs to appeal to both younger and older consumers, your best bet is to reach out both online and offline in an attempt to cover all your bases. Here are nine ways to customize your in-store and online experience to reach multiple generations:

1. Send Targeted Emails

Most generations are open to receiving emails from brands they already follow. Gen X is less likely to be loyal to a specific brand and open to discounts. On the other hand, baby boomers care less about discounts, so try to reach them on an emotional level instead. Millennials prefer coupons and discounts by about 80 percent, so send emails targeting their love of a good deal.

2. Vary Your Content

If you need to reach multiple generations, understand that the way older people absorb content is different from someone raised on social media. If you want to reach multiple generations, you must vary the length and style of content so it reaches across different ages and preferences.

Scotts Menswear targets men from multiple generations by providing a wide variety of content on its blog. Note how topics include sports highlights, how to dress for rainy days, features of a variety of music festivals and bands, and even ideas for Father’s Day gifts. By offering a range of topics, it reaches multiple generations.

3. Understand Device Preference

Take the time to understand preference in the types of devices different generations utilize. For example, if you currently have a full roster of baby boomer customers and want to also add some Gen Z into the mix, you’ll want a social media presence. Not only that, but you’ll want to target Gen Z where they spend the most time, on Instagram and Snapchat.

Younger generations are most likely to access your site via mobile, so you’ll want to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. On the other hand, baby boomers are more likely to access your site via a PC, so you’ll also want to make sure your site works equally well from a desktop computer.

4. Find Common Ground

When you want to reach multiple generations, find common ground between two or more age groups. For example, is there an interest multiple generations share that you can focus on as a company? How can you tie that common ground into your product or service? Take the time to brainstorm the interests and needs of all your customers, and then figure out what is alike across different generations.

Quincy Compressor finds common ground among multiple generations by focusing on something both old and young enjoy: Hunting. It then takes that topic and relates it to its products through an infographic that explains how to skin a dear with an air compressor. The infographic works equally well for a website or in an email.

5. Plan a Social Media Strategy

When it comes to marketing to multiple generations, don’t overlook social media as a viable platform. More and more people are getting on social media.

About 91 percent of baby boomers have a social media account, but they tend to favor Facebook over Twitter. On the other hand, if you also want to reach Gen Z, you’ll want to be on Instagram. You may need to devise a social media strategy that crosses multiple platforms and has a unique approach for each one.

6. Take Out Print Ads

Print ads are still viable, but you have to know where to reach the age groups you want to target. If you want to reach an older generation, then a magazine geared toward that age group is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want to reach millennials, a free weekly newspaper for a specific area works well.

AARP has launched a print and online advertising campaign geared toward older executives and getting them to invest in their futures. Note the print ad listed above that showcases someone from that generation and talks about age and investment portfolios. This type of highly targeted print advertising works well to reach the age group AARP wants to reach, but also gets younger generations thinking about the future.

7. Create an in-Store App

Does your store have an app? People of all ages enjoy downloading an app that provides a loyalty program, offers discounts or gives other perks to users. Encourage your customers to download the app and then track their purchases. You can offer pings when an item they’d be interested in comes into the store or goes on sale.

8. Engage Generations

Take the time to think through what will engage the typical customer who enters your store. This might mean different things for different generations. For younger people, technology they can interact with, such as an app, might be the best draw. On the other hand, older people might be more appreciative of face-to-face contact and a greeting from an employee.

Cracker Barrel is a good example of an in-store experience targeted to multiple generations. Baby boomers and traditionalists love the greeting from store employees and the ability to sit in rockers on the front porch or play a game of checkers. Millennials and Gen Y can order quickly online and pick their food up, minimizing contact if they prefer. Even the store has items for all age groups, from the very young to the very old.

9. Track Everything

No matter which generations you’re targeting, track their buying habits and how many from each range are interacting on social media or visiting your website. The more information you gather, the better you can market to those people who already love your product and expand your reach further. Test a variety of campaigns and figure out which ones have the best return on investment (ROI).

In-Store and Online Experience

Customer experience should remain consistent no matter where customers visit you, whether online or in-store. Even though you can apply generalizations to each generation, remember that your customers are made up of unique individuals who may or may not fit into those categories.

Always listen to your customers and note how they respond to your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a customer is a millennial or a traditionalist. What matters is the specific needs of that individual and how you meet those needs.

Lexie is a UX designer and software prototyping enthusiast. Most of her mornings are spent writing HTML code with a large cup of coffee in close proximity. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

The post How to Customize Your in-Store/Online Customer Experience to Appeal to Different Generations appeared first on StoryMiners.

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This post first appeared in CMO Australia in late 2017. Thanks to Nadia Cameron for a great interview!

Too many organisations are “doing” before “designing” when it comes to digital and customer transformation, and not going deep enough into insights analysis and cultural change.

That’s the view of managing principal of Storyminers and experience design expert, Mike Wittenstein, who caught up with CMO to discuss the ongoing challenges many marketing leaders and their brands are facing when coping with the rapid organisational change presented by digital disruption and next-generation customer engagement.

Wittenstein agreed that with the arrival of more technology at the front end of engagement, marketing and customer experience are aggressively coming together. “Budgets are shifting a lot and there’s less in the tech camp and more in the revenue generation side of things,” he says.

With that is growing realisation that people management and ways of working need to be overhauled, Wittenstein said. Certainly in Australia, there have been growing examples of CMOs actively partnering with their customer service, operational and people and culture counterparts to make that happen, and extensive investment is being made into reskilling marketing teams to meet the new demands of being more holistically customer focused.

Yet for Wittenstein, there’s nowhere near enough change by design going on. He identified two fallouts arising as organisations look to digitise everything. The first is too many companies are focusing attention on short-term gain and react to market conditions. Instead, they should be putting the emphasis on wholesale business change and sustainable growth.

“Digitisation is usually revenue driven, which means either making the process more efficient, or getting rid of people,” he claimed. “But that’s not looking at the whole company or at growth. I call it a ‘myopic spreadsheet’ mission. One number doesn’t move a business, especially in the long term or if you’re looking at periods of change.

“The objective needs to be about redesigning business. And that’s best done on purpose and by design, rather than by being reactive or trying to get shareholders more of what they had in the past. This is the number one strategy snafu that is killing more value than it’s creating.

“It’s not true for every company, but most investors have been in companies for a long time, and they want more of what they had in the past. In other words, keep things the same, give me more of my return. So you end up taking more resource out of the business, and cost cutting.”

Exactly the opposite recipe is needed to truly harness digital and become a customer-led organisation, Wittenstein said.

“The ones leading in this space recognise the need for making a company more adaptive,” he said. “We are in a period of intense change; you have to be constantly innovating, trying new things, restructuring. That costs money.

“Marketing, HR, CX, many are all driven by this emphasis on financial returns. So they’re putting in tool, systems and approaches that yield short-term benefits that can be measured. But not all the benefits you need for sustainable growth can be measured. It’s not balanced.

“This is the big fear I have from all the exciting things that are going on.”

The other danger Wittenstein spotted was marketers and customer experience leaders being given the responsibility to bring their company along more customer-led lines, but not having adequate resource, guidance or frameworks in place to achieve it.

“I was talking to someone in a CX role recently and within 2 minutes, we were talking about the numbers you need to prove what you’re doing is working,” Wittenstein said. “There was no context given by the CEO or company on all this work.

“I see a lot of scraps left on the table. The necessary context for achieving breakthrough growth that will give you a strategic advantage is missing because people aren’t asking the questions or going deep enough. The bottom line is they’re doing before design.”

Change by design

So what can you do to become digital and customer-led by design? Wittenstein said more talking and cross-functional collaboration is a good first step. He also advocated adopting the same approaches being used to build more adaptive technology to systematically overhaul the way the organisation works.

“Make your business more adaptive, don’t just throw people together and hope great things will happen,” he said. “Agile is all the craze, but I worry that’s led us to a biased belief that if you keep trying, you’ll get it right eventually. I don’t see this as a business solution.

“Look at history: The best things introduced were introduced on purpose by strategies and people who understand more than one discipline at a time. It’s not coming out of incremental gains or luck. You have to put in additional thinking to achieve these sorts of outcomes.”

Marketers are in a good position in orchestrating this sort of systematic change because they’re good at understanding buyer’s needs, implicit and explicit, Wittenstein continued, adding that CMOs should be responsible for injecting the voice of customer and buyer in technology development.

“If marketers really do bring in the voice of customer and they are present at these reviews with customers in the room, not just engineers, then you can get closer to what customers truly want,” he said.

In addition, there should be an overall deepening of customer understanding and what customer need, independent to what is being built by the company, Wittenstein said.

“The other player that has to be in there is leadership,” he said. “A lot of the things you see in sprints are stupid workarounds rather than pivoting the strategy, which is what is needed.  Or look at budgeting – how many companies do agile and still keep traditional budgeting? It blows me away. Why don’t they do zero-based budgeting?”

Wittenstein also suggested people are still going with what’s easy and pushing a lot of responsibility for making trust decisions to the frontline.

“If you’re trying to make seismic shifts in the business, that’s not very smart. You can’t let those experiments run the business,” he said. “From a strategy, operations and finance perspective – there needs to be a push to understand what is it we do that creates value for customers? That has nothing to do with the price of product, but what products and services they use to create value for themselves. How much value they create with each unit they buy from us.

“Without that piece of information, now way to optimise we do versus what they need.”

And when you find a CX problem, use the same research techniques on the inside to find out what’s wrong, Wittenstein advised.

“The quickest way to use agile to get more done and get it done well while having a positive cultural affect, is to do dashboard design in the same fashion. For every four sprints for technology, do one for dashboards to make them better,” he said.

“That’s going to change the information people get to make better decisions together, downstream and upstream. And people will have a better feel for how decisions are going forward.”

As a final note, Wittenstein stressed the importance of agreeing to deliverables around what’s valuable.

“The more and more we all use devices, the better the context and better decisions companies can make,” he added.

Related Content

Interview: Why marketing should be the orchestrator of customer experience design

Nadia Cameron is the Publisher and Editor of CMO. She is based out of Sydney, Australia.

The post Why You Need To Design CX Change, Not Just Do It appeared first on StoryMiners.

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This is a Guest Post by Ian Moyse, Sales Director Natterbox

Who would have thought that in 2018, with all the technological evolutions we have already lived through in the past 10-15 years, from Cloud Computing, Smartphones, Social Media, Drones, Big Data, Virtual Reality(VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet Of Things (IOT) that customer experience could still be slow, put work on the customers shoulders and often let customers down.

Take a recent experience of my own involving British Gas, where upon being let down on a maintenance agreement and requesting to lodge a complaint, I entered into their process to be told the complaints team would get back to me within 8, yes 8 weeks! So, a customer who is clearly not satisfied and is requesting it to be dealt with is then put into an 8 week delay cycle, how does that address their complain? Give them confidence that you care as a company for their business. My immediate thoughts were 1 of 3 things; either they were so inundated with complaints that this was the backlog; or they simply didn’t care about that department so understaffed it and hence a similar effect; or the biggie being that they hoped that this would diffuse a portion of clients who would either forget to re-engage or by the time it came around would not care or forget what it was about.  None of which are acceptable approaches!

When raising complaints, the common average I get from speaking to others is that you are informed via email or web response that your enquiry will be dealt with in 10 or 14 days.  Is it no wonder that many resort to the phone to request resolution.

It is easy for a company to fob you off electronically, to defer, delay or perhaps hope your complaint goes away.  If like me when you get these messages you also deliberate on whether they will come back to you (I always now create a diary event with the details to ensure it prompts me when they have missed their SLA and I should be chasing – usually with a phone call as they have now let me down again!).

Is it too much to ask that once I am a ‘let down’ customer, a complainer, that I get to engage and have it at least considered if not resolved quickly. Are businesses that short staffed or that plagued with complaints that they need this buffer?  Is it not a complaining customer that is one you need to deal with quickly to diffuse and stop the spread? The longer it goes on the harder it gets to recover and the more effort and cost to your business!

  • ‘33% say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.’ – (Source : American Express Customer Service Barometer 2017)
  • ‘For every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who don’t say anything.’ – (Source : Lee Resources International)
  • ‘Customers tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience.’ – (Source : American Express Customer Service Barometer 2017)
  • 82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service experience.’ – (Source : Rightnow)

Customer churn is costly and yet customers who have a problem and find its handling is professional and fast, often come back and increase spend, knowing with confidence they can trust this provider and are thus happy to put more into that bucket.

Too often such customer issues are responded to too slowly if at all. They benefit from the personal touch, an email complaint will often be dealt with on email only, which if works and resolves quickly can be okay, but consider offering a phone call to speak. It is easy for the customers true demeanour to be mis-construed on email and you do not get the tonality and feel for the customer (nor they you) over electronic means. Arranging a time to actually ‘speak’ makes it a real engagement, gets the person engaging with a ‘real’ person, your agent and often diffuses the situation far quicker and makes the customer feel loved that they got ‘real’ attention.

(Source – ThinkJar Survey)

Poor service and the feeling of a business that does not care are the top reasons for churning customers. Something in your own control, not something caused by competitors!

  • ‘Customers who cancelled because of price are more likely to come back than those who left because of poor service’  – (Source : Georgia State University Study)
  • ‘70% of customers leave a company because of poor service, which is usually attributed to a salesperson’ – (Source : Peppers & Rogers Group)
  • ‘67% of customer churn is preventable if the customer issue was resolved at the first engagement.’ – (Source – ThinkJar Survey)

Businesses need to invest in technology that enables them to have more time to ‘speak’ to clients, to engage with them and make that human touch still real.

We here all the time of wonderous new technology such as AI, VR, Chatbots and the like, that take us further from customers, pushing customers to self-serve and to not engaging with us as a personal brand, but a faceless automaton. In shops we are forced to self-serve, to in effect work for the shop in scanning our own goods, paying and packing without any payback, be it that the promise is faster service!  All positioned as aiding the customer, not a mention of the cost savings in labour to the retailer.

Yet when something does not work. When a customer feels they need help (rightly or wrongly) the customer perception of service is what is real to that individual and if here you cut corners and let them down, they will churn and pass that ill feeling onto others to influence their possible churn or not coming to you in the 1st place.

Us as customers are more fickle than ever before. Loyalty quickly wains anyway when new world approaches and entrants are on offer – Ask Blockbuster, Toys R’ Us, Taxi Drivers fighting UBER and we could go on. Add to this dissatisfaction in service and it can only stimulate customers receptiveness to change and looking around.

Customers today want and expect service and when needed personal service and engagement with a human. Have you ever tried phoning your own company to find out the process as a customer? Maybe you should Personal Shop inwardly?

  • ‘45% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation of a company in light of an apology, whereas only 23% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation in return for compensation’ – (Source : Nottingham School of Economics)

Find out now how your customers journey is? Is it smooth, fast to get to the destination and without traffic jams, diversions and frustration? Or do you make them want to turn back to take a different route and regret ever setting out on this journey?

The post Which Road is Your Customer Experience On? appeared first on StoryMiners.

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