R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm


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Understanding, the Bridge Builder Between a Company and Its Audience

Pulling from logo warehouses or crowdsourcing design may sound tremendously appealing for filling in the blank spot on the top of your letterhead.

You want something trendy and cool, even if it’s just to check off a task on your to-do list.

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It doesn’t make sense for a company to use a logo that has an immense lack of understanding. A logo alone isn’t the solution to developing a strong brand. Strength comes from understanding company culture, which is a giant part of a larger brand strategy. Understanding provides an opportunity to develop cohesive and consistent messaging. This requires customization, knowledge and skill. RED has acquired all the skills needed to build you a solid foundation that is not hollow and inauthentic.

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The Essential Marketing Insight That Ford Completely Missed In The 1970s

Today, it seems obvious that business owners should seek input from their customers. But when global marketing and research firm J.D. Power was making a name for itself, that wasn’t always or even frequently the case.

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In “Power: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History,” authors Sarah Morgans and Bill Thorness revisit how the research firm rose to prominence by sticking to a very simple idea: listen to your customers.

J.D. Power discovered exactly what happens when you act on or ignore customer insights with two separate auto companies in 1975.

Ford Motor Company had just decided to try marketing a new type of vehicle — a minivan. The entirely new design would bridge the gap between the station wagon and the passenger van. To test customer reception in Los Angeles (one of three sample cities), Ford contracted J.D. Power.

Tension erupted when Ford outlined how it wanted the study conducted. The auto company planned to recruit drivers who owned large vans, large pickup trucks, or large station wagons to test the minivan. They assumed these were likely buyers of the new product — essentially defining their target market before they’d researched who that might be.

Unless you’re the actual customer, you can’t sit
around a table and come up with what they
want, think, or feel. Avoid groupthink!   – R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

J.D. Power founder Dave Power III disagreed. He argued that owners of large vehicles were unlikely to elect to downsize. Ford would be better served by testing its product on the general car-buying public. “I tried to object to interviewing these people,” he recalls in the book, “because we said they aren’t the ones who will be in the market for it, and never will be.”

Despite their disagreement, J.D. Power went ahead with the study Ford requested and found themselves vindicated: the car flopped with Ford’s selected demographic. Had the auto maker listened to Power, who was basing his ideas on customer research, it could have averted such a failure and executed a far more effective study.

The second moment of truth came when Subaru consulted J.D. Power about a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The model hadn’t been introduced to passenger vehicles, and Subaru’s parent company thought a four-wheel-drive station wagon wouldn’t sell in the U.S.

Subaru’s U.S. chief consulted J.D. Power, which concluded from research that the car would sell a then massive 30,000 to 40,000 units a year. Subaru took the report to their parent company and, this time, the industry listened to J.D. Power’s customer-based research. The car was given the go-ahead, and sales met J.D. Power’s forecasts in the first year.

The simple principle of listening to the customer and weighing consumer research made a significant difference for these auto companies. That principle certainly holds true today as well. Overlooking the “voice of the customer” — “VOC” as the authors term it — can be hugely problematic for any company.

“Ford missed the opportunity to be the trailblazer in a lucrative new market segment because it did not heed Dave’s call for listening to the voice of the customer (VOC) in the most effective way,” the authors write. “Subaru’s success, on the other hand, was utterly defined by acting on Dave’s insights into VOC.”

By Alison Griswold

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Knowledge Sells. Facts Don’t.

Your customer’s buying process has changed. Prospects and customers no longer depend exclusively on your sales person to educate them.

Author: Shelley F. Hall

Business prospects are acting more like “consumers.” We research before we buy. We search the web; we use social media such as Facebook, Yelp, manufacturer’s ratings and so on. We ask friends what they would buy and why. This consumer behavior is being emulated in the business world, and therefore your prospects are educated before even they see a sales person — if they ever do.

So the question becomes, what value does your company representative bring to the table?  The answer is actionable knowledge. Today’s changing sales environment demands salespeople who can take disparate pieces of information and turn them into knowledge that will help their prospects (and thus help the sales person) sell.

As CEO, you know how important it is to do your research. The best salespeople are terrific researchers who learn about a prospect’s industry, market, competition and challenges before they meet with the prospect. They can take data such as…

    • Annual revenue
    • 5 year revenue/profit statistics
    • Number of employees
    • Number of salespeople
    • Industry trends
    • Online ratings from the prospect’s customers
    • LinkedIn interviews with mutual contacts
    • Mystery shopping of the prospect

…and use that data to develop real knowledge about the prospect.  Knowledge refers to the depth of information and the understanding of how these facts all relate – what picture does it paint of the prospect’s situation?

Armed with this knowledge, the sales person’s job is to use that knowledge to:

    • Shine a light on the prospect’s challenges by developing deep discovery questions
    • Position your product or service as the solution to those challenges
    • And most importantly for the sales person, to position themselves as an invaluable resource

Conducting really meaningful research is a skill. It takes intellectual curiosity. I’d bet that intellectual curiosity is not a characteristic you even consider in your sales hiring process. It should be. Becoming skilled at taking research results and turning them into understanding takes practice and patience, but investing time into this expertise is worth it.

To build this skill, create a “treasure hunt” based on finding a deep fact about a prospect. The entire sales team must research the answer; the first one with the correct answer wins. The answer however, is not just a fact but an “understanding” or “insight” into the prospect’s situation and how the sales person would use this information effectively.

Create a contest called “Stump The Sales Person.” Have each member of your sales team give each other a prospect problem or an industry issue to research. Once again, whoever gains the insight first wins. Get your customers involved by asking them to submit their burning questions for the sales team to chase down; your sales team learns great research skills and your customers get tangible, valuable information for free.

Today’s business prospect is savvy and educated thanks to the web and social media.  Adding value to the sales process is becoming harder and harder.  To add value, your sales team must add knowledge for the prospect and use that knowledge to shine a light on their challenges.  Your salespeople must be true consultants who uncover the issues and needs the prospect didn’t know they had — and then show the prospect how your product or service will meet those challenges and/or solve their problems.

Without this real understanding of how to help, your salespeople are wasting their time and that of your prospects.


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Five Reasons to Avoid “Group Think”

First, what is Group Think?

Group Think is the process of gathering your marketing team, designers or executives around a table to discuss what the customer thinks and what they will like.

Here are five reasons to avoid Group Think:

1. If the group around the table isn’t the current customer using the product, it is the wrong group making the decisions. It is the customer who uses and believes in the product. The customer’s perception is vital.

2. With today’s technology, it is easy to gain insight from customers. There is no excuse to exclude them from design decisions.

3. Group Think doesn’t allow you to get into the mind of the consumer. It won’t give you the key insight into what they are thinking. Gathering information from the mind of the consumer is so revealing.

4. Within the trap of Group Think, an individual or the group as a whole might say, “It’s our job to tell the consumer what they think and like.” This thinking trap compares to telling a significant other what is best for them without letting them speak for themselves. This doesn’t work in life and it doesn’t work in business either.

5. In the end, it’s your consumer that is going to see the campaign and decide what works for them, not just the individuals around the table. Why not find out what they think before pushing the product out to them? Doing so is less expensive and success rates are higher. It’s all about ROI and it’s worth the investment.

Jason Budge is one of the founders of Thrive Life. Thrive is the 14th fastest growing company in Utah. Find out what Jason thinks:

Success is all about Customer Clarity and knowing how to get it.