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Five Questions To Boost Growth.

by James Needham

4 min read

We all know by now there’s no forecast for chaos: it creates its own weather system, but there are a few prevailing winds in the coming year brands can set sail to in order to boost business growth.

First let’s put behind us a wet summer, dripping in COVID with a strong chance of political posturing, deportations, and rats in the ranks but not on the shelves. And of course, the familiar feel of the home office chair, Zoom pleasantries and the staple WFH menu of lukewarm leftovers for lunch.

So how do we make this year better than the last two for business? We can, and we must.

Here are five questions to consider in order to set your brand on the right path.

1) What’s the most important thing to my customer(s) that my brand can influence?

If you can’t answer this question, you need to be able to — fast.

The answers live in customer reviews, NPS verbatims, website data, brand trackers, social-media commentary and service complaints. In short, they live in your customers ’ minds and there’s probably more than one depending on your most valuable segments.

Find them. Deliver on them. Then watch what happens to your customer satisfaction, engagement, advocacy, retention and sales.

2) If you could only track three metrics other than sales, what would they be and why?

Understanding the signal from the noise is how good brands grow stronger and weaker ones stay in the valley of average. Rather than spending hours poring over the minutia, take a big step back and ask: what’s moving the needle on growing your brand and why?

Reach and awareness are tickets to ride, but who in your category is creating fandom? Who’s looking beyond “I see you” and “I know you”, to more emotional metrics like “I forgive you when you make a mistake,” or “your values reflect mine”.

Reveal the three or four metrics. Understand how they affect the bottom line, nail them to the wall and make them your marketing mantra.

3) What are the best, worst and last experiences your most valuable customers have?

Newsflash: consumers believe 75% of brands could disappear tomorrow and be easily replaced, according to the latest Havas Meaningful brands report.

So that makes most of the world’s brands disposable, forgettable or replaceable. Ouch. Pride swallowed.

However, humans have an innate ability to hold onto only the most impactful and salient moments in their lives — from meetings to relationships to holidays to brand experiences. We filter out the mundane and irrelevant and build our view of people, places and brands in a reductive way that helps us remember.

It all boils down to this: the best, the worst and the last experience they have with you. Once you know this, good strategy and the tactics that achieve it can flow.

How do we amplify the good, nullify the bad and compliment the next engagement?

4) What are the biggest internal and external threats to your success and what are you doing about them?

Knowing where your enemies live makes them easier to find, catch and cuff.

It’s good to look in the mirror first — where is the business vulnerable? Is it customer insight, product and innovation, CRM and retention, resourcing, or delivery? Where are the inefficiencies and how could your competition get a foothold if they knew?

Some of the best D2C brands were built from analysing the competition’s negative customer reviews and then making those their strengths.

Be brutally honest, and turn insights into action.

5) What are the hidden gems in your organisation you need to better surface and how?

Solving the right problems often starts with what you have today that can be better used, it’s not always the shiny new thing.

NASA scientists spent a decade and over $165million developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down. The Russians used a pencil. Or so the story goes.

Marketing might not be intergalactic yet, but the same rule applies. There’s no point launching a rewards program when your returns policy is last century. There’s no point investing in four social media platforms when you can’t optimise one.

Start with what you have, then map it back to customer needs and build from there.

Originally published in SmartCompany.

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James Needham

→ Over 20 years experience across APAC and the UK helping redefine some of the world’s most iconic and effective brands, and leading complex research and segmentation projects from Budget Direct, Big4, Crime Stoppers, RACV and CommBank.

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