New location…

2 09 2014

Hi, thanks for visiting, my blog has now moved.

So for all the latest updates on high performing NGBs, customer-led growth and sports business in general please click here or visit www.roberts-sports.com

See you there

Paul

Advertisements




2 simple questions for improving impact

12 08 2014

Many products & services could benefit from someone asking these two simple questions well before any delivery starts being planned… what’s it for, and how will we know if it worked?

  • Asking what’s it for – and by extension who is it for – helps to ensure that the product/service/experience is going to fully meet a clearly defined need
  • Asking how will we know if it’s worked helps ensure that the right measures are in place to monitor and respond to progress

If these two questions can’t be clearly answered – and consistently answered across the team – then it’s unlikely that the desired market impact will be achieved.

For more on this, read Seth Godin’s post What’s it for?





A Winning Culture Keeps Score

26 02 2014

Keeping score is vital to the success of organisations and their staff. But this success hinges on everyone knowing what “winning” looks like and what the priority activities are to achieve it. Done well, an organisation can create a handful of relevant metrics that help everyone see & measure their contribution to the overall goal. However if these key metrics are missing or not clearly aligned to the activities across the business, then it becomes much harder to ‘make the boat go faster’.





Creating actionable insight – if you’re still asking ‘so what’, start asking ‘why’

8 12 2013

Creating actionable insight is the cornerstone of being a customer-centric organisation. And in principle is sounds quite simple – find something insightful within your data and then take action based on what you found. Easy!

Maybe not… recent research by IPSOS MORI for Verint suggests that while nearly all organisations collect some form of customer-related feedback or insight, most are not leveraging this feedback strategically. Those that are doing something with it seem to be focusing on using it to measure their people/processes rather than to improve customer experiences. Some aren’t even doing that much, including many sports organisations.

The reason for this is starting the process with the wrong question. Too often the starting questions are “what data can we easily get” or “what do we already measure”? As a result, its very hard to then find insightful “so what” answers that can inform relevant action.

Instead the starting question needs to be “why do we need the insight” or “what will we to do with the answers”? Knowing what the insight work needs to answer, and how it will be used, provides direction to the work. It defines what data needs to be captured and from who, and it also identifies who will be responsible for acting on the answers.

So let’s look at the process for creating actionable insights, and where the friction points and blockages might be. Creating actionable insights is a simple 4-step process:

Actionable Insight

Collect – source, gather and aggregate raw data about your current or potential customers – who they are and what they are saying, thinking, feeling and doing about your sport. To achieve growth you will need to be capturing both current behaviours (what/how/when) and the influences & motivations driving those behaviours (why).

Analyse – crunch the data to find trends, patterns and potential relevance across the different data sources.

Interpret – review the analysis in the context of your organisation/customers/market, to understand what’s happening and why it may be of significance to you. This “so what” step is what turns data into insight, yet its the one often missed out or rushed. However without being clear about the “so what”, organisations cannot then respond successfully.

Respond – take timely action in response to what the insight is telling you. This response can be both internal – improving plans, processes, delivery etc – and/or external – improving the offer to customers or just letting them know you were listening.

This still looks quite simple, or at least straightforward. So where are the challenges? Three I’ve seen recently are:

Starting in the wrong place – projects are being scoped based on what data can be captured, rather than what insights are required. By not asking why the insight is required, the data subsequently captured might be interesting but doesn’t help drive action and growth.

Losing control – the “so what’ interpretation is being completely outsourced along with the data collection, rather than benefiting from the expertise of people across the organisation. As a result it’s much harder to identify “so what does this mean for us”, and misses the opportunity to engage the organisation in creating customer-centric responses.

Missing in action – the outputs of the “insight work” appear in presentations and newsletters, but don’t subsequently spark any considered action. This maybe because the “so what” is missing, or because the staff aren’t engaged with the work or because the reports weren’t created with actions in mind.

Given these challenges, why bother? Simply put, the opportunities for creating and acting upon improved insights are huge (as are the risks of doing nothing). Sport has a massive opportunity to drive sustainable growth through an improved understanding of how to add more value to current and potential participants. And this improved understanding will improve the focus and effectiveness of delivery, which means this growth can come with an improved return on investment.

Thanks to Michiel Lely and Roula Andari at Verint for prompting this post, with their presentation and subsequent discussion at the Directors Club breakfast.





This week’s top 3 growth articles

11 08 2013

This week’s growth articles help you to:

  • Build an army of loyal customers without paying a fortune to acquire them
  • Improve customer retention by rethinking your acquisition strategy
  • Find ways to get your new ideas to spread (without spoiling the surprise its all about people!)

Building an army of loyal customers

Huge customer loyalty doesn’t need big budgets, just a genuine commitment to create something customers want to be part of. Community site Gentlemint demonstrates that you can swiftly build an insanely loyal community simply by putting your customers first.

How Gentlemint Built a Loyal Customer Base on a $0 Marketing Budget – Glen Stansberry, OpenForum.com

Improving customer retention

Customer acquisition and customer retention are intrinsically linked, and hence customer loyalty is developed or destroyed from the very first interaction. So to improve customer retention, organisations need to ensure their marketing sets expectations that match the typical customer experience, and that the marketing only targets those consumers who will value these experiences.

Customer loyalty should never be your only goal – Don Peppers, LinkedIn blog

Finding ways to spread ideas

Changing people’s behaviour requires more than logic or a good idea. New solutions need to solve visible problems, and need to provide a direct benefit to the people who’s behaviours you’re seeking to change. This is a long but fascinating article about how medical breakthroughs have spread at very different speeds.

Slow ideas – Atul Gawande, newyorker.com

Price v Value

And the quote for the week reflects the role of pricing in the customer value proposition…

“If you tell me that price is the only thing that matters to customers, I’ll respond that nothing about this product matters to them” Seth Godin, Purple Cows & Commodities





3 tips for being a successful customer centric organisation

29 06 2013

The three rules at the heart of customer centric growth for O2 in Slovakia, are equally relevant to developing high performing NGBs.

At this week’s Marketing Week Live, Jonathan Earle from Telefonica O2 shared three rules upon which O2 have built their success in Slovakia. These are:

1) Stand for something
2) Be consistent
3) Trust your people

Given they’ve taken nearly a quarter of the market share on a shoestring budget, and boast very high staff & customer engagement scores, its worth considering how their success could be applied to growing sports participation.

1) Stand for something – be distinctive
What this means: use market and consumer insight to define a clear and distinctive position within the market. Brands that target everybody end up being relevant to nobody, as one size rarely fits all. So instead focus on creating offers and experiences that are aligned to your brand and are relevant to your target market.

What O2 did: O2 choose to shake up the market by being the “fair operator”, and hence don’t make offers that their target customers would think are unfair. They don’t make anyone sign a contract, when they say unlimited there’s no “but…” in the small print, and if they create a more competitive offer for new customers they automatically extend it to existing customers (not when they ask for it, or threaten to leave, but automatically – otherwise its not fair!).

What NGBs could do: standing for something requires understanding the current market for delivering sport and also the wider needs and expectations of target customers. Understanding the customer’s decision making process when they choose sport, and then specific sports within that, is key to defining a position that will be more compelling than the alternatives (which are usually not sports-related). Of course being distinctive and standing for something takes courage. It means choosing not to stand for some other things, and hence not trying to be relevant to everybody. But that’s how growth and customer loyalty is created – by focusing on being the most relevant and compelling choice for your target market.

2) Be consistent – disciplined execution
What this means: Having chosen to stand for something distinctive, maintain this clear water through being very disciplined about communications and delivery. Consistent communications keep reinforcing the key message to stakeholders and customers. Consistent decisions and delivery reinforce the authenticity of the message through the experience of customers. It’s this consistency that creates brand advocates.

What O2 did: A ruthless focus on consistent messages, offers, and in-store experiences has made the brand experience authentic and compelling rather than just a strap line. This includes considering how staff need to be managed and rewarded so that they too feel that O2 is the “fair operator”. Interestingly, in this respect Earle sees their small budget as an advantage, as they can’t afford to be tactical or distracted by unplanned opportunities.

What NGBs could do: the mixed economy of delivery in most sports involves many organisations with different priorities. NGBs need to clearly communicate how their offers add value to their target customers. They also need to be very clear about what aspects of their products and communications are customisable to local needs and what aspects are non-negotiable.

3) Trust your people – give them room to breath

What this means: being customer focused requires agility and responsiveness to customers. This agility comes from empowering staff to take responsibility and make decisions when talking with customers. This agility can be achieved by shifting budget and/or decision-making responsibility locally, and combining it with a consistent approach to communications and measurement. The motto is clearly define expectations and boundaries, then get out of their way.

What O2 did: O2 believe that their people are the experts, and don’t want them bogged down by bureaucracy. So they “treat their people like adults”, giving them clear and consistent direction and then passing down the responsibility for achieving that.

What NGBs could do: many NGBs are good at empowering local staff to make decisions and even to manage budgets. However, in many cases this empowerment is not supported by clear communication of the chosen positioning and/or success measures aren’t consistent and aligned to the overall outcomes.

In summary, one size doesn’t fit all, and therefore every brand needs to stand for something that is relevant and compelling to its chosen target audience. To achieve scale organisations must then be very disciplined in how they execute across all of their touch points. This consistency of experience comes from treating staff the same way that customers are treated, which means they must be trusted to make the right decisions.





Two retail trends that sport can learn from

22 06 2013

Recent articles in FastCompany and AdAge have highlighted some interesting innovations and trends in the retail sector that could also impact sports delivery.

Starbucks has had a go at re imagining the rules for building coffee outlets. It’s designed its new concept store to be a work of art, and deliverable on a truck. The big idea is to find ways to build scale while still being locally relevant. This is the same challenge that the sports sector faces, to drive national scale while reflecting local needs. However I suspect the sports sector has yet to see this as a designer’s problem to solve like Starbucks do?!

Meanwhile some American retailers are working towards a concept of the “omni-channel“. This sounds impressive, but its really just looking at channel strategy from the customer’s perspective. Customers don’t categorise their relationship into bricks and mortar, franchise outlets, call centres and online. They just want to browse, buy and collect a brand’s products in whichever way is most convenient to them at that time. So the big idea with the “omni-channel is that the business re-engineers itself around delivering a consistent customer experience across all its channels. This breaks down silos internally and helps reinforce brand values externally.

Of course behind the scenes neither of these trends are easy to deliver on, in retail or in sport. Achieving scale while being locally relevant requires constantly searching for local needs that are common across the market. Local customisation can then be kept to a minimum and focused on areas of high impact to customers & partners. Likewise delivering a consistent and seamlessly connected customer experience across all touch points will require a whole new way of working and information sharing, both across the business and out through the network of partners.

So will the pain be worth it? Well organic growth comes from engaging more customers more often, and improving the customer experience is a critical part of achieving that. So whether its thorough visible delivery innovations or business model innovations the customer never sees, organisations will need to adopt these principles or risk losing out on the growth they will generate.








%d bloggers like this: