Archive | November 2012

Digital trends from Business Insider, New York

A deck put together by the BI Intelligence team on the current trends in digital media

 

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Fostering Creativity by Looking in Unlikely Places

CREATIVITY TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES NOVEMBER 23RD, 2012

 PART 1

By Think Jar Collective founder Ben Weinlick

wordcamp edmonton

Recently, Shaun Brandt of ONST Creative and I presented a session on creativity at an event for hackers, creatives and designers. Over the course of 2 days a few hundred people attended Wordcamp to learn about blogging, design, coding, creativity and WordPress. Shaun and I wanted to present something a bit different than what might be expected at an event like Wordcamp and so we gave a session called Fostering Creativity by Looking in Unlikely Places.  

At first glance Shaun and I are an unlikely pairing to present on the subject, but that was in many ways the point; to show what can happen when very different domains collide.  Shaun is a successful entrepreneur who along with his business partner Cam Service launched ONST Creative (pronounced honesty creative) last year and ever since have been uber-busy with international and local clients seeking branding, design and web development.  I asked them a while ago if they wanted to be part of think jar because I noticed their designs, originality and creativity is stellar and I sensed people could learn a lot about creativity and design from them.
For myself, although I come from an art and experimental music background, the area I’ve been applying creativity for the last decade has been in the domain of human services(social services). A number of years ago I saw the value and need for creativity in human services and proceeded to explore what creative processes could be relevantly applied to social service design.  That led tograduate studies and research on what it takes to develop creative organizational cultures that yield better quality work.  For the wordcamp talk I gave more of the background of what creativity is, what blocks it, and my own examples of creatively linking disparate, unlikely ideas and domains.  After I spoke, Shaun came in like a boss and showed how he and his creative team look in unlikely places all the time in their design process.
Below is a recap of the main points I spoke about on Fostering creativity by looking in unlikely places

  • We need to look in the places we normally don’t  look because it is there that we find fresh creative ideas

“Creativity is the ability to connect the seemingly unconnected” William Plommer

  •  Looking in unlikely places provides opportunities for Serendipity: chance events that become beneficial and useful
  • If we want to “think different” then we need to shake up stiff mental habits that keep us locked in the status quo

The danger of habits is that a person can become a prisoner of familiarity.” Roger Von Oech

  • Hard to see new situations we encounter in a fresh way because of our habits
  • Problem is we don’t see new situations as they are, we are clouded by past experiences and assumptions… this hinders a creative perspective
  • We need to balance having experience and breaking the old rules in order to see in new ways
  • There are some things we can do to hack and defeat some of these rigid mental habits

 

 

 

Philo Farnsworth invented television by getting an idea from looking at the rows of neatly spaced crops on his farm. He applied the spacing concept to creating rows of light and dark spots on a cathode ray tube to create images.  So, you could say looking at farming led to the invention of television. 

 

“The creative act: The defeat of habit by originality overcomes everything”

George Lois- American Designer
  • Defeat habits by being curious about interesting ideas and interesting people – seek out and learn from others

Keep on the lookout for novel and interesting ideas others have used successfully.  Your idea needs to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are working on” Thomas Edison

  • Defeat habits by engaging lots of interests and hobbies

Legendary innovators like Franklin and Darwin share a defining attribute, they had a lot of hobbies” -Steven Johnson, Where good ideas come from

  • Defeat habits by consciously shaking up routines
  • Defeat habits by asking the “dumb questions” – The value of beginners mind
  • Defeat habits by hanging out with weird
     
  • Defeat habits by focusing on a problem and then letting go; do something totally different
  • Defeat habits by including people in your projects who are from outside your domain

Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine always brought together men and women from different domains in his think tanks

  • Defeat habits by developing a culture of serious play.  Play fosters trust and when there’s trust you are more likely to share and be open to fresh ideas

     ~ Curated by TME, Pass-the-Idea, November 28, 2012 

 

The Best Business Books Of 2012 from Fast Company

Find Fulfillment, Get Productive, And Create Healthy Habits

These 12 books have shaped not only the way we work this year, but how we think and the conversations we’re having. Authored by luminaries like Nate Silver, Clay Christensen, and Susan Cain, these delightful-to-read tomes offer insight into the power of vulnerability, habit, social media, and more.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
In Quiet, author Susan Cain argues that introverts are a reservoir of untapped talent–and that progressive managers can create environments in which they thrive.

“Any time people come together in a meeting, we’re not necessarily getting the best ideas,” she tells Fast Company, “we’re just getting the ideas of the best talkers.”

Amazon, $15.20.

 

 

2. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
As the author of the disruption-defining Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christensen is one of the most esteemed minds in business. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, he investigates what it means to have a fulfilling career, and finds that it is both a focused and open process.

“I believe that we can, in a deliberate way, articulate the kind of people we want to become,” he says. “As the rest of life happens to you, you can utilize those things to help you become the kind of person you want to be.”

Amazon, $15.98.

 

 

3. Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, by Robert Pozen
Bob Pozen once simultaneously served as president of Fidelity Management, lectured full-time at Harvard Business School, and wrote for the Harvard Business Review–meaning that he’s earned the right to write a book called Extreme Productivity.

“If you want an active schedule,” he tells us in an interview about turning career plans into daily actions, “you have to husband your time so you can act on the things that are important.”

Amazon, $15.97.

 

 

4. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t, by Nate Silver

Nate Silver has become a bespectacled icon for his prediction prowess–as you might of heard, he called every state of the presidential election (and pulled 20+ percent of the New York Times’ web traffic on election night). But as he observes in The Signal and the Noise, we as a culture have grown forecast obsessed–something all businesses would do well to be aware of.

“We need to stop and admit it: we have a prediction problem,” he writes. “We love to predict things–and we aren’t very good at it.”

Amazon, $16.35.

 

 

5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

There’s a myth about how entrepreneurs have to be invulnerable. Brené Brown will have none of it.

“If you are alive and in relationship, you do vulnerability,” she tells us. “If you are alive and in relationship and in business, you do it hourly.”

Amazon, $14.72.

 

 

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores how habits shape our lives–and how savvy businesses can shape them.

Febreeze, for instance, flopped when it launched as an odor killer, because, as Duhigg says, “the people who needed it, who lived with nine cats, had adapted to (it).” After noticing that people look proud after making their beds–a habit to capitalize on–P&G rebranded the spray as a post-cleaning reward, one that now makes $1 billion a year.

Amazon, $15.88

 

 

7. Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate, by Amy Jo Martin

Amy Jo Martin shares her story on how she got the Rock to become a social media machine in Renegades Write the Rules. In our excerpt she argues for why you need to share your life with your followers–whether you’re an an action star or an entrepreneur.

“With more than a billion people using these communication channels,” she writes, “you can’t afford not to have an active role in the conversation.”

Amazon, $15.81

 

 

8. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh

Business takes courage, observe the authors–but don’t confuse courage with fearlessness.

“Guts-driven entrepreneurs aren’t fearless,” they write in our excerpt, “They just know how to cope with, and maybe even thrive in, uncomfortable environments.”

Amazon, $14.75

 

 

9. The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, by Frans Johansson

In every great career, Frans Johansson writes in The Click Moment, there’s a time when talent and luck intersect in a fit of business serendipity.

“If you scratch underneath the glossy exterior of success stories, you’re actually going to find that behind those things you’re going to find an unexpected meeting, a surprising insight, and that’s what’s behind most success,” he tells us. “It follows then that we should court those types of things.”

Amazon, $15.85

 

 

10. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy

When making decisions, Frank Partnoy observes in Wait, you need to be able to understand whether you’re operating at a Twitter or glacial pace–two contexts that might be happening simultaneously.

“What really good leaders are able to do is inspire the rest of the team by their knowledge of the granular,” Partnoy says, “but also be able to step back from the granular and put together the tectonic pieces that need to be placed together.”

Amazon, $16.49

 

 

11. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Thirty years of research into leadership yields impressive results–like The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, now in its fifth edition. Culled from decades of asking leaders what they’re doing when they’re in top form, the authors distill leadership to its essence.

“Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power,” they write. “You become more powerful when you give your own power away.”

Amazon, $19.38

 

 

12. 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, by Nilofer Merchant

Social media is a game changer, yes, but it’s only part of the larger shift of the Social Era, writes Nilofer Merchant. In our excerpt from 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, Nilofer sketches out the new paradigm’s core principles.

What’s at the center of the social era? Connections. “If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas,” she writes. “Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.”

Amazon, $3.03

~ Curated by TME World of Marketing: Fast Company, November 26, 2012

Best Business Books 2012: Marketing (from Strategy + Business)

Brand New

by Shaun Holliday

Jim Stengel
Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies
(Crown Business, 2011)

Laurence Vincent
Brand Real: How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty
(Amacom, 2012)

Doc Searls
The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2012)


There is always a lot of noise around marketing. And marketers listen to it religiously in their search for the new, new thing and the edge it can confer, especially in highly competitive sectors such as consumer packaged goods. But sometimes the noise can drown out core messages about the essence and essentials of a successful product, service, or brand, and obscure our view of its future direction. This year’s best business books on marketing — all from veteran practitioners — rise above the twittering crowd by delivering the kinds of insights that make for compelling listening.

An Ideal Brand

Jim Stengel, whose name is as widely recognized among contemporary marketers as the names of the Procter & Gamble brands he helped build — Pampers and Jif, among others — is a retired executive who is not content to rest on his laurels. His first book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, which took root from ideas seeded during his career, is an ambitious, groundbreaking effort to define the future of brand management, supported by a study of tens of thousands of brands put forth by companies around the world.

In Grow, Stengel examines the extraordinary power and performance that can be harnessed when a brand’s purpose is defined by a distinctive, fitting “ideal.” A brand ideal is focused on improving the lives of customers, and is managed by a company that passionately identifies with the beliefs and values underlying it. Stengel claims that defining and activating a distinctive brand ideal is the most powerful lever a business leader can use to achieve competitive advantage.

Although business scholars may challenge his claim in degree, they are unlikely to challenge it in concept. After all, Peter Drucker pegged marketing as one of only two results-producing functions in a business (the other was innovation). And the importance of aligning organizational design, culture, and capabilities to the company’s vision and strategy is well known, as is the potential of a company pursuing an inspirational ideal to unleash exceptional power and commitment in its employees. Until Grow, however, little had been done to put a value on a brand ideal, and limited practical guidance had been offered on how to identify one and make it central to the company as a driver of focus, growth, and competitive advantage. Stengel addresses these questions directly.

The assumption that brands can make a sizable contribution to shareholder value is foundational to Stengel’s thesis. In fact, brand and business success are synonymous to him because “a brand is what a business is all about in the hearts and minds of the people most important to its future.” To support this thesis, the author cites Millward Brown Optimor’s body of work, which calculated that brand value now accounts for more than 30 percent of the aggregate market capitalization of companies in the S&P 500.

Further, Stengel (in partnership with Millward Brown) designed a new research study of brands, the “Stengel Study of Business Growth,” which analyzed 10 years of data from more than 50,000 brands. It found that the 50 companies whose brands were most strongly associated with improving people’s lives — the “Stengel 50” — generated a return on investment that outpaced the S&P 500 by nearly 400 percent.

Stengel attributes this huge performance differential to ideals — “nothing unites and motivates people’s actions as strongly as ideals,” he writes. He says a brand ideal defines what a brand is and is not, and illuminates its strengths and weaknesses, as well as current and potential points of parity and differentiation. (One of the best lines in the book is a quote from Discovery Channel general manager Clark Bunting, “Great brands say no.”) A brand ideal creates enduring connections, uniting and inspiring everyone a business touches. It enables a leader to articulate and focus on what is most important in a company. It attracts people who are most suited, energized, and committed to delivering what matters most to customers and transforms an enterprise into a “customer-understanding machine.” And it stimulates innovation, in a never-ending quest to better serve the ideal.

How do you develop a brand ideal? Stengel says that first you must discover how your brand is linked to “one of five fields of fundamental human values” (joy, connection to others and the world, the desire to explore new horizons, pride, and social responsibility), and then activate those links in a distinctive, authentic, and purposeful manner. This process of discovery results in an ideal statement, which the author articulates for each of the Stengel 50 brands. Some examples: “Amazon.com exists to enable freedom of choice, exploration, and discovery.” “Dove exists to celebrate every woman’s unique beauty.” “Google exists to immediately satisfy every curiosity.” “Louis Vuitton exists to luxuriously accentuate the journey of life.”

The final question — how do you make the brand ideal the center of the company? — is addressed throughout the book. Stengel breaks his answer into four broadly stated “must-do” tasks: build a culture around the ideal, communicate the ideal to engage employees and customers, deliver a “near-ideal” customer experience, and evaluate your progress and people against the ideal. These four tasks are highlighted with in-depth case studies of various brands, including Discovery Communications, Pampers, and Zappos, as well as with a plethora of shorter examples.

Grow is the year’s best business book on marketing because it leaves us with a better understanding of a brand as the embodiment of a company and its people. It inspires by helping us imagine the great things that could happen if we united our efforts in service of a distinctive higher-order brand ideal aimed at bettering the lives of our customers.

Brand Aid

If you think of a brand ideal as a promise,Brand Real: How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty is a terrific companion volume to Grow. It is a pragmatic and comprehensive guide on how to deliver on a brand promise, which is, writes author Laurence Vincent, head of the Brand Studio at United Talent Agency, “a covenant with consumers” in the form of a commitment to deliver value. Communicating and fulfilling this commitment has always been difficult; today it is more of a challenge than ever — in part, Vincent says, because the millennial generation is populated with “highly skeptical, media savvy, and very vocal” consumers who place a particularly high premium on a brand’s authenticity and credibility.

Brand Real tells us in no uncertain terms how to make a brand promise stand up at every consumer touch point. To achieve this, the book covers the wide territory of brand marketing; focuses in on the key issues, such as brand architecture and communications strategy; and provides practical advice for addressing those issues.

“Real brands” are those that fulfill, and often exceed, customer expectations. These brands, according to Vincent, make promises they intend to keep and make tough strategic decisions about what to offer and not offer customers, and they grow without straying from their sense of purpose. For example, he writes, “Southwest Airlines has prospered by not doing some things that other airlines do: no assigned seats, no first-class cabin, no meal service. These omissions…are fundamental service decisions that drive the business model and they contain memorable attributes that make the brand salient because they support the brand’s promise to deliver great value through low fares and friendly service.”

Vincent thinks that companies should measure a brand’s success by the expectations it creates and the results that it delivers to users. This requires a reality check that mandates answering three simple, but often ignored, questions about a brand: What is it, why does it matter, and how does it create value?

Brand Real is filled with useful lessons for marketers. For example, Vincent clarifies the difference between a brand’s promise and its positioning. A brand’s positioning is the perceptual territory it claims relative to its competitors. A brand promise incorporates its positioning, but also articulates the brand’s reason for existence and defines the benefits of the brand experience in terms of three dimensions: how people think, what they do, and how they feel.

Vincent makes a strong argument for brand simplicity, which is based on his belief that brands exist because consumers hate uncertainty and therefore rely on cues as to what they should expect from products and organizations when making purchase decisions. Thus, brand marketers should not place too much emphasis on symbols, such as a name or logo. Instead, they should seek to clarify the customer’s expectations of the brand experience, and focus their own attention on delivering against those expectations, again and again.

The object is to win what Vincent calls the “memory game,” by creating links in the consumer’s mind between what the brand is and why it matters. He argues that these links among cues, expectations, and experience are fundamentally important, because we all favor brands (such as Apple) that consistently meet or exceed our expectations, and we punish the ones that don’t.

Brand Real mirrors Grow in its strong advocacy of staff engagement as an essential element in brand success. “From the executive suite to the front lines to the investment base,” declares Vincent, “the best way to sustain a real brand is to align the people behind it with the brand promise.” That is, branding begins inside a company, by ensuring that the values and the behaviors of the people working there are a direct reflection of the brand. If they aren’t, Vincent says, it’s because of one or more of five factors: ignorance, doubt, incompetence, poverty (a lack of resources), and a lack of incentive. And if the employees do not reflect the brand, the brand experience will be flawed and the brand promise will be placed at risk.

At a time when many companies are thinking of branding as an exercise in creating a compelling logo, a sticky website, an entertaining advertisement, or an aesthetically pleasing package, Vincent reminds us that branding is first and foremost a strategic act. It requires “purposeful conduct” in the quest to influence how people behave, both customers and employees. And like any other business strategy, branding should serve as a guide for “mission-critical decisions in capital investment, human resources, research, product development, and operations management.” That’s why Brand Real is as relevant to the CEO as it is to the CMO.

A Buyer’s Market

If Doc Searls is right, the discipline of branding — and indeed, marketing itself — could be on the brink of a fundamental shift. Soon, claims the former advertising executive, whose insights into the effects of digitization on markets became the platform for his current career as a highly regarded technology writer, consumers will be managing business-to-consumer (B2C) companies in much the same way as those companies are managing their vendors.

This change will create a new kind of market — the “Intention Economy,” which is vastly different from the current “Attention Economy,” in which marketers vie to be heard. Searls’s The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge envisions a market in which customers are kings: Their orders are followed, their every need is responded to, and they grant sellers an audience only when they want to. In this economy, digitally empowered shoppers will build personal firewalls that block out unwanted marketing solicitations, and instead they will notify their preferred providers about what they want to buy, when they want to buy it, and how much they want to pay, by issuing the personal equivalent of an RFP.

Although digitization has empowered consumers with information and competitively priced goods and services, until now it has likely had a greater influence on the supply side of markets, spawning innovation in manufacturing, supply chain management, marketing, sales, and other business functions. For marketing’s “hunters,” digitization has proven to be a high-powered scope, enabling them to track every move of their consumer prey. It’s no wonder consumers feel more hounded than ever — constantly interrupted by the cacoph-ony of barking from marketers vying for their attention, and disquieted by the not-so-far-fetched suspicion that silent trackers are always sniffing at their heels.

Searls argues that the time is coming when customers will be “emancipated from the systems built to control them.” The instrument of their emancipation will be vendor relationship management (VRM), the consumer equivalent of customer relationship management (CRM). In other words, individuals will adopt the principles, practices, and guidelines that today’s companies follow when interacting with them.

What VRM (yawn) lacks in appeal as a brand name, it makes up for in ambition. Searls envisions it as a digital tool kit that will create value for consumers by allowing them to manage relationships and service requirements with companies on their own terms; by enabling them to collect their own data and control access to it; by giving them the means to express demand in the open market; and by facilitating negotiated outcomes with sellers that, in the best-case scenario, will support value-creating collaborations.

Searls’s dramatic prognostications are supported by ProjectVRM, which he runs and which was launched in September 2006 from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The project’s purpose, he writes, is to “encourage development in an area that has been largely neglected: empowering individuals — especially customers — natively, outside any corporate or organizational framework.” Dozens of companies, mostly startups, have already subscribed to the VRM vision, and they are in the early stages of developing the tools and capabilities that consumers will need to take control of markets. Personal.com, for instance, provides individual users (called “owners”) with a private, fully owned, and fully controlled data vault.

Searls’s vision raises provocative questions for companies and for marketers. Imagine, for example, an elderly woman who wants a computer that is simple enough for her to operate, or a man who wants a wool sweater in a particular style, or a driver seeking a part for an automobile. Instead of searching for suppliers, what if they put their specs online and companies vied to meet their needs? How would your company respond if the clearinghouse for supply meeting demand devolved to the level of the individual customer and was orchestrated by that customer? Could your company survive in a marketplace in which gaining the attention of targeted consumers has given way to paying attention to consumers targeting you?

It’s hard to answer these questions. If the Intention Economy does come to fruition, it will likely render obsolete many of today’s marketing practices, which were designed to capture the attention of consumers. (Searls reminds us that the word branding was borrowed from the cattle industry, and its intention was to burn a product into the customer’s mind — not an image that will appeal to tomorrow’s customer–kings.)

That day is not here yet, however, so read Grow and Brand Real to learn how to build a better connection with customers in today’s markets, and then read The Intention Economy to ponder how you might prepare for the future. 

AUTHOR PROFILE:

  • Shaun Holliday is a senior executive advisor in Booz & Company’s consumer and retail practice. He spent much of his career leading businesses and functions in premier global consumer companies, including Pepsi Bottling Group and Guinness Ireland Group.
  • ~ Curated by TME The World of Marketing – from Strategy + Business, November 27, 2012

Infographic: The Anatomy of a Marketing Executive

We shared an infographic, The New Role of Chief Marketing Technology Officer, a while back that spoke to the recognition that marketing executives needed to be technically savvy as well as have marketing talent.

This infographic is a bit more traditional in its approach of what it takes to be a marketing executive. While I don’t disagree with any of the recommendations below, I was surprised that technology appeared to not make the grade. With resources dwindling as companies trim marketing budgets, marketing executives must be aware of the opportunities to leverage technology. Technology can overcome the resource issues and significantly improve the overall results.

In fact, if you compare the Return on Investment section of the infographic with the actual coursework and knowledge areas, you may notice a bit of a gap! Marketing executives need to build their knowledge where the revenue is. History and finance may help them make it to the executive office, but some classes in new media and online technologies will prepare them for the real world!

Infographic from Pepperdine University Online Master of Business Administration

~ Marketing Tech Blog, by Douglas Karr, November 1, 2012 

Trend Briefing – Presumers

November 2012 Trend Briefing:

PRESUMERS
The product, the story, the status: why consumer involvement with products and services pre-launch is set to go mainstream.

PRESUMERS

Definition:

In today’s EXPECTATION ECONOMY, consumers want the best, they want it now and first, and they want real, human connection, too.

In fact, they demand all that. Thanks to crowdsourcing platforms and new manufacturing technologies that are finally tipping into the mainstream (and a cult of entrepreneurialism at large), consumers are increasingly PRESUMERS; able to satisfy those demands through engagement with products and services pre-launch*.

Whether it’s all about the perfect product, or the excitement of being a passionate supporter, PRESUMERS love to get involved with, push, fund, and promote products and services before they are realized.

* Obviously consumer involvement in products and services pre-launch has been building for years. Think co-creation / CUSTOMER-MADE which is still an active trend. But a consumer engaging in co-creation is often looking to showcase his or her own design or marketing talent, while PRESUMERS are primarily about getting what they want – ideally a great product AND an amazing STATUS STORY – by getting involved early.

Drivers:

So why will PRESUMERS be more numerous, more relevant, more active, and more powerful in the coming years? Here are five drivers turning consumers into PRESUMERS:

1. FIRSTISM:
More, faster, better, special, now

Consumers in developed economies face choice-saturation. Their response? Worshipping the cult of NEWISM, with its (legitimate) promise of newer, more, better, special, faster and so on.

The ultimate in NEWISM? Consuming in the future tense. No wonder PRESUMERS are coming together around pre-launch products or services they love: by helping to make a product become a reality through funding and feedbacking and supporting, they will be the first to have it – preferably with added perks – when it is finally realized. It doesn’t get more ‘newer’ or ‘FIRSTISM’ than that.

2. STORIES:
Great story, great status

Status has always been THE driver deep at the heart of all consumer behavior. When PRESUMERS connect with a pre-launch product or service, and support that project towards launch, it makes for a great STATUS STORY to tell, tweet, post, and otherwise share.

So, PRESUMING puts consumers one step ahead: not only the status of having the right product, but also thestatus of having been involved pre-launch.

3. BELONGING
Come together, right now

STATUS STORIES are even more potent if they’re not simply about a great product or service, but about a broader movement or cause that the consumer believes in, providing a sense of belonging that goes beyond the thrill of possession.

Now, many PRESUMERS are passionate about the products they support, which is why Kickstarter (for example) can claim that a product idea is eight times more likely to be fully funded on Kickstarter than sold and successfully launched through a US corporation.

It also helps explain how US-based Razoo, an early crowdfunding platform focused on non-profits, announced in August 2012 that it had hit USD 100 million raised for projects it hosted on the site.

4. OFF = ON
Online is offline is online…

Consumers LOVE online because when it comes to online consumption, they can act (participate, talk, create, adjust) to get what they want. Now, they expect the same from ‘offline’ consumption.

The pre-launch engagement that defines PRESUMING facilitates that kind of dialogue. PRESUMERS don’t just pre-buy: they also buy into a two-way relationship in which they get to express their desires, and brands get valuable, early feedback.

And thanks to the 2012 Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act – US legislation that eases several federal financial regulations, and for the first time allows unaccredited small investors / consumers to buy equity in startups – PRESUMERS in the US can in the near future purchase equity in the projects they support. That’s how quite a few PRESUMERS will actually become CUSTOWNERS, too. How big could this get? Well, if US citizens would invest one tenth of what they gamble each year, that would equate to USD 55 billion (Source: Fundable, September 2012) ;-) Other countries to follow soon?

5. NEW PLATFORMS:
Disrupted funding, making and selling

A platform for PRESUMERS has been building steadily in the biz world, thanks to the popularity of crowdfunding* and the MAKE IT YOURSELF movement, and to the cult of entrepreneurialism at large.

First, some crowdfunding stats:

  • By April 2012, there were 452 crowdfunding platforms operating globally, up from 100 in 2007 (Source: Massolution/The Economist, May 2012).
  • In 2009, crowdfunded platforms raised a total of USD 530 million. In 2011 that figure was USD 1.4 billion. This year, that’s on track to double to USD 2.8 billion (Source: Massolution/The Economist, May 2012).
  • Between launch in 2009 and February 2012, Kickstarter had no USD 1 million projects. Now, twelve projects have raised more than USD 1 million.

* Now, we need to talk INTENT here, too: while PRESUMERS is about brands/business stating their plans for new products and consumers responding, INTENT is about consumers stating their desires or purchasing intentions, and brands responding. You can think of INTENT and PRESUMERS as two sides of the same coin: brands and customers talking to each other before products and services are launched.

On to MAKE IT YOURSELF, and rampant entrepreneurialism: first of all, there’s a new generation of small-time makers who are using technologies such as 3D printing to manufacture products, that just a few years ago, could only roll off factory lines.

The cost of an industrial printer has fallen dramatically, from around USD 800,000 in 1999, to around USD 15,000 today (Source: The Economist, September 2012). Home versions now cost around USD 1,000 (Source: The Economist, September 2012). Meanwhile, research firm Wohlers Associates says the market for 3D printed products is currently worth USD 1.3 billion a year; they estimate it will rise to USD 3.1 billion by 2016, and USD 5.2 billion by 2020. A sign of the times? In October leading 3D printing platform Shapeways – which provides 3D printing services to its community of designers and PRESUMERS – opened its Factory of the Future in Long Island City, New York. The 25,000 square foot site will host 30 to 50 3D printers, and will have capacity to print 3 to 5 million objects annually.

Add to this the by now countless number of online entrepreneurs and innovators (TEENPRENEURSanyone?), and you’re looking at a true avalanche of small and big initiatives that will forever look for funding from ‘the people’, while appealing to those who want the chance to connect with a ‘special’ product before launch. Indeed, not only do makers allow PRESUMERS to connect with that special product, they let them tailor it to their individual specifications. How’s that for the Long Tail of physical objects? ;-)


So who is PRESUMING?

As you’ll see in the examples below, PRESUMERS are drawn from all over the world and they’re passionate about all kinds of products and services.

But it’s still possible to draw up a bit of a profile, based on September 2012 data on Kickstarter users byQuantcast:

  • Kickstarter users are predominantly (62%) male.
  • 50% are between 18 and 34, and 20% are between 34 to 44.
  • Almost half (48%) are college educated. That’s against 30.4% of Americans aged over 25 having a college degree (Source: US Census Bureau, February 2012).
  • 45% earn more than USD 50,000 a year.

In other words, PRESUMERS are mainstream consumers. If a little better educated than usual ;-)

Remember, more consumers are becoming PRESUMERS every day: we’ll keep tracking the evolution of the PRESUMER profile, and you should too!

Examples

Now, on to the hands-on stuff. Here are just a few examples – drawn from all over the world – of how businesses are already catering to PRESUMERS. Divided into: mass crowdfunding platforms which allow all kinds of projects, niche crowdfunding platforms which focus on a specific type of project, and a number of other innovative PRESUMPTION businesses.


MASS CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS
(+ PROJECTS )

Kickstarter: Platform for creative projects

Probably the best known crowdfunding platform, US-based Kickstarter bills itself as the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for creative projects. Project creators post details of their project, stating a funding target and deadline. Projects are vetted by Kickstarter. Meanwhile, backers pledge money in return for a “reward”: typically a promise of the product or experience in question. From launch, only US residents were allowed by Kickstarter as project creators; in October 2012 the site also opened to UK-based project creators. Backers are only charged if the project achieves its target funding, and goes into production. Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from the funding total of successfully funded projects. By September 2012, Kickstarter had launched 73,065 successful projects (think the Pebble WatchElevation iPhone Dock, and Ouya Games Console), and helped successfully backed projects – ranging from technology, to design and fashion, to film and theatre – raise USD 377 million.

The Porthole: Funded glass infusion vessel

The Porthole is a glass infusion vessel designed by Martin Kastner of the Chicago-based Crucial Detail design studio. Intended to be used to make cocktails, salad dressings, tea, coffee and other infusions, the vessel was inspired by the shape of a submarine porthole, and the way such a porthole offers a, “window on to another world”. A small batch of Porthole vessels were handmade at Crucial Detail, before the design studio took to Kickstarter to raise funds for a first production run. On September 4 2012, funding closed: Crucial Detail had raised USD 736,112 from 4,270 enthusiastic PRESUMERS.

Sedition Wars – Battle for Alabaster Game

Sedition Wars is a horror-themed tactical board game from renowned game designer and figurine maker Mike McVey (Studio McVey). Although already an established name in the games world, in June 2012 McVey used crowdfunding to raise pre-production funds, and build a buzz around the game pre-launch. Sedition Wars raised USD 950,000.

Roominate: Engineering toy for girls

Funded in June 2012 on Kickstarter, Roominate is a new, engineering-themed toy for girls. Motivated by the fact that fewer than 11% of engineers are women, toy startup Maykah designed a kit of wooden building pieces and circuit components with which a child can use her creativity to design, build, wire, and decorate her own unique interactive room. PRESUMERS who shared Maykah’s message of gender equality – and loved the toy – funded the product to the tune of USD 85,000.

MATTER: Start-up funds for long-form journalism mag

Soon to launch, MATTER is a major new UK/US publication, focused on long-form journalism about science, technology and ideas. A community came together on Kickstarter to provide start-up funds, and also build a pre-launch buzz around the magazine. Benefits for these PRESUMERS will include meetings with the editorial team and life-time guaranteed subscription.

ToGather.Asia: Regional Asian portal

Singapore-based ToGather.Asia is the first Asian crowdfunding portal targeted at projects around the region. Launched in July 2012, the site allows creators to submit creative projects, which are approved by the site before being posted. Backers can pledge money to projects, in return for the promise of rewards.

Cashew Chemists: Production for rock band

In September 2012, four-piece Singaporean indie rock band Cashew Chemistssuccessfully crowdfunded SGD 1135 from 40 backers on Togather.Asia, for the production of their debut album. Cashew Chemist’s eponymous debut will be released in Q4 2012.

DemoHour: First Chinese platform

Founded in May 2011 in Beijing, DemoHour is China’s first crowdfunding platform. Operating on the standard crowdfunding model, creators post projects that backers can pledge money to in return for rewards that include products, special experiences, and access to creators. DemoHour takes a 10% cut of funds pledged to successfully funded projects. By July 2012, 70 projects posted on DemoHour had hit their funding target.

One Way Street Library: Beijing bookshop re-location

In June 2012 notable Beijing bookshop the One Way Street Library raised USD 37,000 via DemoHour. The money was used to fund a business re-location to Solana, a centrally-located shopping complex popular as a spot for book launches and literary salons.

Crowdcube: Equity crowdfunding

In February 2011 UK-based Crowdcube launched as “the world’s first equity crowdfunding platform”. Small businesses seeking investment can post on the site, and backers – who can invest as little as GBP 10 – become owners of equity in the companies they invest in. Crowdcube takes a 5% cut of all successful fundraising. By July 2012 it had raised GBP 3.7 million for 21 companies.

Escape the City: Career transition community

Companies that achieved investment via Crowdcube include UK-based Escape the City, an online platform that helps professionals make career transitions. In June 2012 Escape the City raised GBP 600,000 on Crowdcube in two weeks, and now hosts a community of over 87,000 professionals.

Indiegogo: International crowdfunding

US-based Indiegogo was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Intially focused on film, the platform is now open to creative projects of all kinds, ranging from technology, to design, to community and charity projects. Indiegogo allows project creators anywhere in the world to post a project to the site, and projects are not vetted. Money pledged by backers is distributed to project creators immediately, and if a project does not reach its funding target it is up to project creators to refund their backers. Indiegogo takes a 4% funding total fee from successfully funded projects, and 9% from unsuccessful projects.

Free Bread Inc Launch

In October 2011, Free Bread Inc launched, offering fresh gluten, nut, soy and sugar free bread around New York City. The business was founded by celiac disease sufferer Karen Freer, and raised USD 10,771 in start-up funds on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

Who Gives a Crap? Toilet Paper

Launched in Melbourne, Australia in August 2012, Who Gives a Crap is a new brand of toilet paper dedicated to building toilets in the developing world. Motivated by news that 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, founder Simon Griffiths set out to create a use-every-day product that could help change this. Who Gives a Crap will give 50% of all profits to help build new toilets in the developing world, forever. The new brand turned to Indiegogo to raise funds and support. PRESUMERS embraced them, funding USD 50,000 of pre-sales in 50 hours.

Fundable: Equity crowdfunding for start-ups

Launched in May 2012, Fundable is a US-based equity crowdfunding platform for start-up companies. Fundable aims to take advantage of the 2012 JOBS Act legislation in the US, which for the first time will allow non-accredited investors to buy equity in start-ups. Implementation of the law will not be complete until January 2013; until then start-ups on Fundable may only offer “rewards”, such as products or experiences, to investors. Start-ups must provide a business pitch video, and are vetted by Fundable before being hosted on the site.

Lulu Blossom: Beauty & skincare products

Successfully funded start-ups on Fundable include US-based Lulu Blossom, a new range of all-natural beauty and skincare products. Lulu Blossom raised USD 4,050 on Fundable in August 2012.

Idea.me: Leading Latin American platform

Launched in August 2011, Idea.me is Latin America’s leading crowdfunding platform. In August 2012 the Argentina-based site bought Brazilian competitor Movare, consolidating its market lead in Latin America. In its first year, the site grew from an initial base of 250 users to 25,000 users, and 70 project backers to 5,000.

Mi Huerto Urbano (My City Garden) Kit

Mi Huerto Urbano is a Mexico-based startup, offering a kit intended to allow anyone to create their own urban garden. The kit allows users to grow arugula, lettuce, basil, habanero peppers, strawberries and many spices. With busy city-dwellers in mind, the garden is designed to be low-maintenance: growers need only add water and nutrients once a week. By October 2012, Mi Huerto Urbano had raised USD 7,000 of its USD 17,000 funding target on Idea.me.

Rock The Post: Crowdfunding & social networking

Launched in October 2010, US-based Rock The Post combines crowdfunding and social networking, allowing consumers to form communities around a start-up business, and provide funds, time and advice, or materials in return for rewards. Users can also follow one another, and share details on the projects they are supporting.

Villy Custom: Fashion bicycle design

Villy Custom, from Dallas, Texas, is on a mission to bring fashion to the bicycle. Aiming to change the way consumers see and purchase bikes, Villy Custom will allow customers to design their “dream bicycle” online, for assembly in Dallas. In September 2012 Villy Custom reached their USD 10,000 funding target on Rock the Post.

RocketHub: International funding community

US-based RocketHub is a crowdfunding platform open to creators anywhere in the world. Projects submitted can take financial pledges from “fuelers”, who receive perks if their chosen project achieves its funding target. Fuelers can also vote for a project to be put forward for “Launchpad Opportunities”: these are business and marketing assistance schemes offered by RocketHub, such as a chance to work with leading publicists.

Spira Stinger 2 Running Shoe

The Stinger 2 running shoe from US-based Spira Footwear is a lightweight running trainer containing Spira’s special WaveSpring technology. The sole of the shoe contains two small springs in the forefoot and one in the heel: Spira claim this ensures the shoes cushion impact, and return energy more effectively than any other trainer on the market. According to Spira, runners wearing the original Spira trainer won over 150 marathons and major races internationally. The Stinger 2 is currently crowdfunding on RocketHub, and by early October had exceeded its USD 25,000 goal, having raised USD 36,160.


NICHE CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS
(+ PROJECTS )

Lucky Ant: Hyper-local crowdfunding

New-York based Lucky Ant claims to be the world’s first hyper-local crowdfunding site. The site – which aims to let consumers help shape the consumer landscape in their area – features one local business a week for consumers to fund and support. Users of the site can pledge money to their chosen business, in return for rewards such as free products, and VIP access to stores.

Pie Corps: Artisanal pie launch

Pie Corps is an artisanal pie company that sells quality, handmade sweet and savoury pies. In April 2012 the company raised USD 7,150 on Lucky Ant, using the money to fund the launch of their first retail location in Brooklyn. The store opened in June.

A 1 minute summary of trendwatching.com’s Trend Briefing on PRESUMERS »

Gambitious: Crowdfunding for games

Launched in September 2012, Gambitious is a Netherlands-based crowdfunding site connecting devoted gamers to game developers. Gamers can support video game ideas, providing funds and helping to build a pre-launch buzz around their chosen games. Backers in Europe are also able to buy equity in their chosen game idea, turning them from PRESUMERS into CUSTOWNERS.

Tink: Adventure game

Tink, a third person action adventure game from German studio Mimimi Production, is set in a world in which everything is made of paper and glue. The game won the Game Connection Europe Best Project 2012 award. Mimimi Productions started seeking funding for Tink, and by September 2012 had raised EUR 20,700 of their EUR 350,000 target. Mimimi Productions no doubt hope to follow in the footsteps of San Francisco-based games developers Double Fine Productions, who in March 2012 raised USD 3.3 million on Kickstarter for their new point-and-click adventure game, Double Fine Adventure.

Wujudkan.com: Indonesian platform

Launched in March 2012, Jakarta-based Wujudkan is a crowdfunding platform focused on creative projects in Indonesia. The site calls on Indonesian creative talents to post their projects, which backers can fund by pledging money in return for rewards such as special access to live performances, and credits on finished work. In May 2012, film project Atambua 39° Celsius, posted by renowned director Rira Riza, raised USD 32,000 on Wujudkan. The film tells the story of two Atambua refugees.

This Trend Briefing is obviously only the tip of the iceberg

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AppStori: App platform

Launched in April 2012, New-York-based AppStori is a niche crowdfunding and collaborative development platform for smartphone apps. The site takes the standard crowdfunding model and injects more interaction between consumers and makers. App lovers can search for and fund the apps they want; and also make connections with developers to help shape pre-launch ideas, provide feedback on beta versions, and build pre-launch communities around their favourite apps.

Trivi.al: Trivia & social app

Launched August 2012 after achieving its USD 2,000 funding target on Appstori, US-based Trivi.al is a new trivia-based social game for iPhone. Users compete against one another to answer three rounds of trivia questions, and can compare their “IQ Score” with other players. The app achieved 30,000 downloads during its first 30 days after release.

Offbeatr: Adult entertainment platform

Launched in August 2012, Offbeatr is an LA-based crowdfunding platform for the adult entertainment industry. Project directors can post details of proposed adult content, which backers can support by pledging money in return for rewards. All proposed projects must have a reward. Digital downloads available for users are optional, should the project be successfully funded and go into production.

The Importance of Being Open Film

The Importance of Being Open is a 22 minute ‘dramedy’ about a poly-amorous relationship, currently seeking USD 10,000 on Offbeatr. The project creator claims his intention is to produce a film that is sexually explicit, but also contains compelling characters.


INNOVATIVE ‘PRESUMPTION’ BRANDS

ZAOZAO: Social pretailer

Launched in September 2012, Hong Kong based ZAOZAO bills itself “Your social pretailer”. The new online platform allows fashion designers to post pre-launch products and get funds for production via the site’s community of fashion-loving crowdfunders.

App.net: Ad-free social network

In July 2012 US-based App.net founder Dalton Caldwell wrote a blog post entitled “What Twitter Could Have Been”. The positive response prompted him to found App.net, a new, subscription-only, ad-free social network in which users own and control all their content and data. App.net ran its own crowdfunding campaign to raise starting capital, and in the process built an enthusiastic founding community, significant online buzz, and mainstream media attention. By August 2012 – App.net’s self-imposed funding deadline – the site had raised over USD 800,000 from over 12,000 backers. The network is now open, and membership is USD 36 for one year.

Cut on Your Bias
Launched in February 2012, Cut on Your Bias, is an online platform where fashion designers are invited to post product ideas. Site users are then able to gather around posted concepts, customize designs, and vote on their favorites. The most popular customized designs go into production and are made available to buy through the site: lucky PRESUMERS who voted for the winning designs are entitled to a 25% discount on the sale price.

ZIIBRA: Pre-sale music community

Founded in June 2012, music community and pre-selling platform US-basedZIIBRA aims to let up-and-coming and established musicians connect with fans. In the week before release, artists can upload their new music to ZIIBRA – tagline “Play it forward” – and make it available for pre-sale. The more fans who pre-buy the album, the lower the price becomes for everyone: turning fans who have pre-bought into a community motivated to to become ambassadors for the album, share their discovery, and persuade others to buy.

Makeably: Custom-made creative items

Launched in Sept 2012, US-based Makeably, is a new marketplace for custom-made designed objects. Buyers can search through designs in categories ranging from clothes and shoes, to toys, to household goods. Once they have settled on a design, a purchaser can then communicate with the designer to make customization requests, and settle on a price and a delivery date. The designer is then responsible for manufacture and delivery of the item.

MUUSE: Emerging fashion designers platform

Denmark-based MUUSE host designs from the world’s top fashion schools — with a focus on premium and hand-crafted clothing — for users to vote on. Users can express their interest in designs exhibited in the “Concept” area of the website, and the designs that receive the most votes are sent for manufacture, and become available to buy as limited editions through the site.

NEXT

No, not every consumer will want to be a PRESUMER, and those who do want to be one, don’t necessarily want to be one all the time. The mass markets of the future will still be those of zero-consumer-effort-required products and services.

But PRESUMERS have opened the lid on a new kind of consumer experience, one that revolves around getting the best and most relevant products and services, and/or the status that comes with involvement (from self-serving to serving the greater good), and the lid is not going to be put back.

Need / want to get going with PRESUMERS yourself? Why not:

  • Scan the platforms featured in this Trend Briefing for projects, firms, designers, entrepreneurs etc. you can or should partner with. Bring their products and ideas to your customer base.
  • Set up a new community or social network that enables your customers to engage with / support one of your products or services pre-launch.
  • Partner with independent designers / makers. PRESUMERS choose the best design, and you make and sell them. Or, if you’re an independent designer / maker, find a big brand and persuade them to do this!
  • Last but not least, follow the lead of major crowdfunding platforms, and pre-sell at a range of prices. PRESUMERS may actually pay more to get innovative extras, such as limited edition products, or behind-the-scenes meetings / access to you.

Basically, add PRESUMERS to your vocabulary, embrace PREDUCTION, not just production, consider becoming a PRETAILER, and get going!

~ Trendwatching.com, November, 2012

 

How Do You Turn Your Customers Into Brand Evangelists?

IN ORDER TO GET CUSTOMERS TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR BRAND, YOU MUST EXCEED THEIR EXPECTATIONS.

Achieving the buzz that product designers, brand managers, and business strategists so relentlessly chase isn’t easy. The key is in getting consumers to adopt and advocate a brand. But how do companies convince customers not only to use their products but to adopt their brands? What makes consumers advocate for a product and willingly accept and “own” it as part of their individual identities? How do you get people so revved up that they’re willing to slap a sticker on their car out of allegiance to the company, or tattoo their bodies with your brand, as Harley owners frequently do?

Expectations are tricky. You need to understand the aspirations of the target audience.

Adoption

Adoption goes well beyond trial and use, the objective of many product managers and marketers. If a consumer is going to become loyal to a brand, she has to be truly satisfied and impressed. To reach the adoption and advocacy threshold, a product or experience must surpass expectations, which happen to be growing more sophisticated and demanding over time — on a monthly basis in some industries. Expectations are a tricky thing and can only be truly understood after first identifying the needs and aspirations of the target audience. Needs can be relatively easy to address by developing user benefits and ensuring that a product is useful. However, determining aspirations and fulfilling them is best accomplished by inquiry, observation, and translation.

A good shorthand rule I’ve learned is that only products that have true meaningful value for consumers hold the potential for rapid adoption. Meaningful value is a subjective thing, varying among individuals and groups, but it is generally based on having one’s needs or aspirations met, factoring in the value offered by alternative products and customers? expectations about the future. This is not to say that people can always articulate their needs and aspirations, especially in areas of new technology, but an assessment of consumers? ability and willingness to adopt must be gauged alongside their motivations for doing so and their expectations of how the market will look in the future. Because if “armchair expectations” are that 3-D TV prices will halve in 18 months, many will hold off on buying one, despite their desire to have one.

It is also important to remember the following about adoption:

” Both internal motivations (needs, aspirations, and idealized self-image) and external ones (concern over others” perceptions and the universal need for social acceptance) are factors in whether a consumer falls in love with a product.

? Adoption is like high school: What really matters is what the cool kids think. Even in adulthood, popular and trusted tastemakers (e.g., celebrities) influence adoption and advocacy. The good news is that a bull’s-eye hit with key influencers will reverberate through the widening circles, so long as the product maintains its credibility.

? When a product or experience enriches the intended user at every stage of interaction, emotional bonds are built, which lead to loyalty and brand relationships.

Advocacy

For a very long time, I’ve championed the belief that ultimately it’s not how you feel about a design or experience but how the design makes you feel about yourself, in large part because influencing how one feels after adopting a product is an essential component of the advocacy process. Adoption certainly precedes advocacy, but often the latter never materializes. Many who find a solution ideal for their lives fail to spread the news. Why?

It doesn’t matter how you feel about a design, but how it makes you feel about yourself.

Advocacy from a modern product or experience standpoint is like attaching one’s own brand to the discovery, which generally happens when a meaningful improvement or benefit is realized and the advocate wants to help others achieve the same discovery. Conversely, if a customer extremely disappointed, you’ll also get advocacy, in this case against the brand. Again, it is a function of expectations — both disappointment and joy — and, therefore, understanding and managing them is the underlying objective. To drive people to action and advocacy, expectation must often be shattered, not merely surpassed. Needs and aspirations again inform those expectations and should be the root of study. If you still have doubts, ask yourself why Southwest regularly tops airline satisfaction surveys over competitors who offer more dynamic levels of service. It has managed expectations and aligned them with service aspects that its customer base finds most valuable, which translates to satisfaction — and often to advocacy. The reality is that on shorter routes, people are willing to forgo personalized service for a lower-priced ticket.

Southwest Airlines, Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, and Best Western have all achieved impressive levels of consumer adoption and advocacy by creating brands that are reliable and valued, and that convey a sense of community. These aspects provide the basis for leveraging advocacy, which each organization then encourages and supports through various programs and tools. Best Western, the world’s largest hotel chain, with more than 4,000 independent operators in 90 countries, is a leader in guest satisfaction for midscale hotels. Why? The success is due in large part to the time and energy spent discovering insights into what guests most desire, then training staff to exceed guests? expectations in both service and room product. The hotel chain’s “I Care 2” guest-service program continues to increase customer satisfaction across North America. And when people feel understood, appreciated, and rewarded, advocacy is born.

Another reason why advocacy often fails to materialize is that adopters are insufficiently motivated to share. The most powerful motivations to do so derive from self-interest, mutual benefit, and altruism, and there are great examples of each driving advocacy. In my experience, personal benefits are the most motivating, and they don’t necessarily have to take tangible forms: By sharing, people may feel tremendously appreciated, especially knowledgeable, well-connected, or even heroic. Insights derived from people’s underlying motivations help to deliver advocacy.

Finally, for adopters to be truly willing to recommend a brand or experience, typically to people they care about, two things are required. First, there must be a strong level of emotional engagement, and second, they must feel their identification strongly represented or actualized (Does it complete me, or the “me” I wish I were?). Delivering these two aspects — emotional engagement and identification — can be the most reliable and straightforward way to compel advocacy.

[Top image: Noah Cursing the Canaan by Gustave Dore]

RAVI SAWHNEY

As the founder and CEO of RKS Design, Ravi Sawhney has spent more than thirty years at the forefront of product and technology innovation, and has grown his … 

ffrom Co.Design