Category Archives: Strategy & innovation

Assumptions, your hidden but very painful growth killers

One of the most stunning things we encounter when we run workshops about strategy, is the confidence managers usually have with respect to knowing their customers well. When we confront them with questions such as “how do you  know this is exactly what your customers want?”, “how do you know this is the way to go?”,  they answer, almost by design, that they know “because we have been working together for so long”, or “because sales have very good contacts with the customer base” or “because we’ve been around for so long in the industry”, and so on.

 

Phantom facts are hard to manage. They can destroy what you cherish most.

Phantom facts are like castles built in the air, with assumptions being the little building blocks of the master plan.  And assumptions are growth killers. They kill painlessly slow. But the result is very painful.

How can we bring ourselves to making fewer assumptions?

In order to know what your customers need (what they need is not necessarily the same as what they want), you must have a thorough understanding of their way of thinking, their challenges, their problems, their dreams, their goals. You will not find out by asking, because people do not necessarily tell you what they need. They sometimes even can’t know because they are not always aware of all the possibilities around.

So, what do you have to do as a supplier or a manufacturer?
Watch, follow and listen carefully. Give the customers the floor. Give them the opportunity to show you things and to learn from them.  And close the gap between “thinking you know” and “getting to know”. When you talk, you can only repeat what you already knew. But when you listen, you may learn something new.

There is a popular saying in the United States, based on a very simple idea that when you take assumptions for facts, chances are you are going to make a fool of yourself and the people you are taking along with you.

ASSUME = making an ASS out of U and ME.

So, to summarise,  stop assuming. Instead, start on a journey to find out what really matters to your customers by keeping the dialogue open all the time. And finally, by developing your listening skills, you will gradually master the art of catching the difference between what they say they want and what they really need.

Competition: forget about the usual suspects!

When we talk to CEO’s and marketing & sales directors about competition, we often feel they are most worried about their closest competitors. Competitors that do exactly the same stuff as they do. Virtually every company gathers loads of information on direct competitors.

At first sight, there is nothing wrong with that. Following up on what your main competitors do is just fine. But only “just” fine, because it is the Olympic minimum. You will hardly find out more than the things you already knew. In the first place, it will give you a good understanding of what decisions or actions brought other players to the point where they are today. Secondly, it may help you to see your assumptions being confirmed.  In other words, you are looking into data of the past. Whereas the future of your company is… ahead of you. In the future. Exactly.

Stop focussing on the competition you know
Why? Because analyzing the past and analyzing the things you are more or less aware of,  will in no way show you your competitors’ next steps.

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Every visitor a homepage

Web Analytics are great, they produce a lot of valuable data. But what you really need are actionable insights in what brings people to your site. What you need to know is what drives conversations, what motivates people to stay on your site, what makes them come back, or what tells them to leave or never come back altogether.

Far too often, companies and marketers see their homepage as their most important webpage. They see it as the virtual front door of their company. Which it is, up to a certain extent.
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The irreversible effects of digital disruption

Digital newcomers have changed business drastically. Think of the newspaper and magazine business,  the music or travel industry, where small new players succeed in turning established markets upside down. This will not stop. New digital players keep on coming on a daily basis to change uncountable businesses and their rules of the game forever.

So, the question is not whether digital disruption can hit your business. The question is when digital disruption will hit your business. It may be sooner than you think.

In this workshop, you will get answers on the following questions:

• How fast can the digital reality irrevocably overthrow your current business model?
• How vulnerable is your business to digital newcomers and how to react, even in case you are the market leader today?
• How to recognise digital newcomers in your market or industry?
• How to adapt your business model to the changed market situation, and how to find an alternative before someone else does (and makes you obsolete altogether…)?

“If you don’t cannibalise yourself, someone else will” Steve Jobs used to say. Indeed, “cannibalising yourself” is one of the keys to success if you are in a business that is to be taken over by digital newcomers. But there is more to it.

We will discuss why digital reality has a thorough impact on the way we do business today, and why it also matters to you.

Digital strategy today is more than having a website, investing in online advertising, SEO/SEA and activating your social media. That is a no-brainer. What really matters in strategy and marketing today, is  full focus on content, context, personalisation, engagement and collaboration. That is why we elaborate on the essence of digital disruptive ideas and models, by means of examples such as the long tail, freemium, crowd funding, peer-to-peer commerce, 3D printing, etc … so that it becomes crystal clear why digital disruption is no longer to be ignored.

This workshop (which can also be booked as a tailor-made in-company training) is an eye-opener for every CEO,  manager or team leader who understands that quick fixes to a digital strategy is no longer an option, but that adapting your business model is a bare necessity to survive and thrive in times of digital disruption.

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Gallandbe_Marketing_Jaarboek_2012“Word of mouth”: nieuw of van alle tijden?

Word of mouth is de snelste en meest persoonlijke vorm van communicatie tussen individuen. We denken aan buzz, consumer-generated content, referrals, social media, brand ambassadors en influencers. Nieuw? Integendeel, word of mouth is des mensen, zo oud als de straat, maar staat weer volop in de belangstelling doordat deze beproefde communicatievorm het ongelooflijke voordeel heeft geloofwaardig te zijn.
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Decision making and its silent killers

How to optimize strategic decision-making in your organization

Over time, we have all become masters in making assumptions as a result of our education, our interaction with others and our personal experiences. Assumptions are not necessarily bad. They simply act as “filters” through which information passes, and hence influence our behavior.

Assumptions have a double function: on the one hand they help us take decisions swiftly (“I have seen that before”, and “I know what to do with this”), and on the other hand, they make us become passive thinkers (“when X says so, that’ll be the case”).

Not only people make assumptions. Organisations do so too. Think of expressions like “we are different because…”, “that is due the our corporate culture”, “that’s the way we do things over here”, all things you often and without questioning  take for granted, without exactly knowing why. In that way, assumptions live their own life and even become “holy cows”.

Regular questioning of your activities (how and why you do what you do) is of prime importance in any type of business, but it is usually postponed until it really becomes urgent… When? When a crisis arises. That is what we call the “knowing doing” gap.

Don’t wait until a crisis hits your business, but be prepared with the insights and many examples this seminar offers. After attending the seminar you will more clearly see the pitfalls in doing business and decision making that otherwise would go unnoticed. You will learn why and how you have to question things on a regular basis to better manage the “knowing-doing” gap, and thus be better prepared to prevent or face a hidden crisis.

Who should attend?

This workshop is mainly intended for CEOs, managers and teamleaders who do not want their strategic decision making process to be compromised. It is meant for everyone who wants to make maximum use of  “critical out of the box thinking” in their organizaitons in order to develop and support strong and inspiring strategic minds.

More info

If you would like to receive more information on the content, the different formats (in-company training sessions, brainstorms, hands-on workshops, individual coaching, or lectures), language options or anything else you have questions about, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

Why brand-being exceeds brand-building

Ann Galland in de tijdBrand being starts from within. It starts with being the one you really are. It starts with being and living your brand throughout all levels in the company. With passion because brand being is about people. Only people can make the difference. People with an interesting and honest story. People who thrive on enthusiasm and who always have the customer in mind when they listen and talk. If the customer cannot connect with the story, who else will?

Brand being is also about being different and relevant. Being relevantly different to your audience. And being different from the brands you tend to compare yourself with. They are struggling with the same restrictions and set ideas as you anyway.  Be a brand that surprises, but don’t surprise for surprise’s sake.

Brand being, or being relevantly different, is the key to conquer people’s hearts and minds. Or as Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. That is exactly what we wish Belfius today, tomorrow, and all the days that follow.

Success will depend on “why and how they do what they do” and not on “how they are called”.

Zoals verschenen in De Tijd  (zaterdag 3 Maart 2012)

Waarom zijn  BELgen zo FurIeUS?
Belfius is een feit. Topman Jos Clijsters heeft deze week komaf gemaakt met de verwarring rond de Franse Dexia Holding. Of een nieuwe naam al dan niet nodig was, is niet meer aan de orde. Done deal. Een naam is maar een naam.

Een niet te onderschatten neveneffect van de naamsverandering, was de snelheid waarmee een hechte band werd gesmeed tussen noord en zuid. Plots waren de BELgen het, over anders torenhoge taalbarrières heen, roerend eens met elkaar. De ene uitlating was al wat cassanter dan de andere, vooral op Twitter, uitlaatklep bij uitstek voor iedereen met een mening. Allemaal heel normaal. Veranderingen van welke aard ook roepen sowieso weerstand op. Dat is menselijk. Geen paniek. Eigenlijk is het een blijk van interesse en betrokkenheid. Van zodra er eerder deze week namen uit de shortlist gelekt waren, werd er wild gespeculeerd over de kanshebbers. Vooral Bebank kon op heel wat sympathie rekenen om zijn eenvoud. Toen Bebank de duimen moest leggen voor Belfius, brak een storm van reacties los, en dat uitgerekend op complimentendag. We zagen tal van woordspelingen en afkortingen, gaande van “Belfiscus”, “Belfiasco”, “Belgium finances us”, “yoghurt met actieve belfius”, Harry Potter grappen en losse flodders over geneesmiddelen en vieze ziektes. In het gif spuwen zat een flinke dosis Belgische creativiteit. 

Gif spuwen is niet aardig. Niet iedereen krijgt van zijn ouders een elegante naam mee. Soms is het een veeg teken als ze je Alexander noemen, hoewel er ook zijn die het ver geschopt hebben met die naam. Laten we dus de flair hebben om Belfius een kans te geven. ZE – jawel, bank is vrouwelijk – moet alle kansen krijgen om te kunnen groeien tot een mooie degelijke bank, ook al zit ze met een jongensnaam opgescheept. Belfius is een filius.

Bij deze: welkom Belfius. We rekenen erop dat je een correcte en eerlijke ”game changer” wordt in plaats van een simpele “name changer”.  Je zal in de komende maanden vooral moeten bewijzen dat je een geloofwaardig verhaal met toekomstvisie hebt. En dat je bezielers met z’n allen hetzelfde verhaal vertellen. Want Belfius, je zal dubbel zo hard moeten werken om het verloren vertrouwen weer op te bouwen. Mensen willen vooral weten wat ze van je kunnen verwachten. Geef ze een tastbare reden waarom ze je kunnen vertrouwen. Het is dan aan hen om hun ervaringen te delen met anderen. You win some, you lose some.

Wat goed ging ter voorbereiding van je geboorte, was betrokkenheid creëren bij het personeel voor het vinden van jouw naam. Er kwamen zowaar 6000 reacties, waarvan 4000 unieke; een flinke graadmeter voor de kracht van het merk. Wat een potentieel. Geef die mensen nu een verhaal. Vertel ze waar je als bank voor staat. Dat is de essentie. Ook daar zat bij de aankondiging een schoonheidsfoutje. Clijsters licht toe dat BEL staat voor Belgie en FIUS voor vertrouwen, terwijl woordvoerster Delvou zegt Bel voor België, fi voor financiën en us voor wij.  Het is een associatieve naam, alleen moet iedereen hetzelfde vertellen.

En om de launch zowaar nog lastier te maken, werden op dezelfde dag de resultaten van annus horribilis 2011 aangekondigd: 1,37 miljard Euro in het rood… een verlies dat te wijten is aan eenmalige posten zoals waardeverminderingen op Griekenland en verliezen op de afbouw van risico’s. Zonder dat zou er winst zijn geboekt. Al bij al goed nieuws dus. Maar rood. 

Ook het logo en de kosten die daarmee gepaard gingen, werden niet gespaard op sociale netwerken: 35 miljoen Euro voor de operatie van de naamsverandering. Normaal of een  smak geld? Voor een rood blokje als bijna schaamteloze kopie van een ander Bel-20 bedrijf, namelijk Delhaize, voelt dat duur aan. Ook markante gelijkenissen met Ava en Lockerz werden gespot. En de font van Belfius heeft een Delhaize-folder-gevoel. Van besparingen gesproken. Of anorexia in de creatieve sector?

En toch, ik hou van rode logo’s: ze stralen passie uit. Nu nog uitkijken naar hoe de mannen van Club Brugge straks vlotjes op het veld verschijnen. In blauw-zwart. Mét witte versie van het rode blokje.

Ann
www.galland.be

Strategic innovation

From doing things better or faster to doing things differently

Strategic innovation is about creating an unexpected growth strategy by daring to change the current rules of the game in your market, and discovering new business you didn’t think of before (e.g. a new niche, a new customer, a new channel).

Dare to be different

Good, better, best… is not necessarily what keeps you ahead of others. Many companies innovate in terms of products or technology. They focus on making better products and faster technologies and thus believe themselves to be highly innovative. Sometimes their products or technology becomes so superior that there is no realistic use for the added features. It becomes even worse when new entrants in the market, which usually are smaller and more agile, offer cheaper alternatives that are good enough to do the job. By doing so, this type of “innovators” price themselves out of the market, which is a situation to be avoided.

In our strategic innovation workshop, we do not brainstorm about how to make products better or processes faster, but about your business model and the hidden potential to change the rules of the game in your market.

The workshop is about how to become “relevantly different in a sustainable way”. It is about creating a framework to find new or additional opportunities at the right time for your company. It is also about “being disruptive” (breaking the rules) in order to find a completely new approach that fits amazingly well into your business model, but that you did not yet detect because the energy of your company mainly goes into doing things better and faster.

Who could benefit from this workshop?

This seminar is ideally suited for general managers and decision makers who want to escape from “doing business as usual” and who are eager to grow their business by applying strategic insights that already work in industries different from theirs.

More info

If you would like to receive more information on the content, the different formats (in-company training sessions, brainstorms, hands-on workshops, individual coaching, or lectures), language options or anything else you have questions about, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

Customer experience

From push/pull to experiences that last

Consumers are much more demanding and well informed than ever. They like to connect with friends and peers, and share their beliefs and interest with anyone they come across. They trust ideas and experiences from friends and peers much more than any type of push mass media.

Companies that understand that traditional advertising doesn’t work anymore, are eager to bring customer experience at the heart of their company strategy. These companies understand that the better you know your customers, the better you can offer them the solutions they really need (and that may be something completely different from what they initially asked for). Companies that work along these lines do not market just another product or service, but understand that a product is meant to be part of an experience people share with others. They use every moment of interaction and turn it into a brand experience, thus creating extra value for their company.

In this seminar, you will find out that unique experiences do not just happen. You can create them. In this seminar, you will gain detailed insight in all the different steps it takes to leverage your brand into unique customer experiences. We also line up all the moments of customer truth and all customer touchpoints that really matter in the brand experience.

What exactly are the crucial moments that make customers turn into brand advocates or brand bashers and why? What is the effect of Word of Mouth in both groups? And what can you do as a marketer? These are also some of the questions that will get answered.

Who should attend?

This seminar is mainly intended for Marketing managers and Sales managers with marketing responsibilities from companies with the ambition to grow through customer centricity.
It is for marketers who want to build a premium brand through making effective use of all customer touchpoints to turn them into unforgettable experiences for their customer base.

More info

If you would like to receive more information on the content, the different formats (in-company training sessions, brainstorms, hands-on workshops, individual coaching, or lectures), language options or anything else you have questions about, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.