How to Scale Using Motivation and Accountability


Many organisations scale effectively by hiring promising people and then teaching and motivating them to do exceptional work.

The following example shows how important is to hiring and developing people.

Tamago-Ya is a Japanese company that produces fresh box lunches and sell them to Tokyo office employees. The typical order comes from a office that buys lunches every weekday. Each lunch box contains six or more items and customers have a fairly long list of options to choose from stir-fried beef with oyster sauce, boiled spinach, etc.

Beef-and-Asian-Greens-Stir-Fry-Wide

The company takes orders between 9am and 10:30am, prepares the food with fresh ingredients each day and assembles the lunches near Haneda Airport a 60 to 90 minutes drive from their customers in downtown Tokyo.

The lunches are delivered by 12 noon the same day, so there is little margin error in assemble or delivery. From the 70,000+ lunches Tamago-Ya delivers every day, late orders are very rare and fewer than 50 are wasted.

Without a doubt, the company needs to have a sophisticated procurement and forecast system, but his founder Isatsugu Sugahara explained that they are decidedly low-tech.

The company relies on market intelligence from van drivers, mostly high school dropouts many of whom were arrested in their youth.

These drivers interview and choose their customers in their territories, they also reject customers when it will be too difficult to deliver lunches on time, each driver own his or her route. The driver’s compensation depends on how many lunches their customers buy and weather they can keep waste low.

Boxed lunches are delivered in reusable containers that drivers collect about 2pm, this give them the chance to find out what customers like and didn’t like and to get an idea of what customers will order next day.

Every evening, each driver talks to the area manager who oversees his or her team. Forecasts from these conversations are sent to the central office so they can plan next day’s production.

Suppliers deliver raw materials by 5am, this order is an educated guess based on previous day report from the drivers. Tamago-Ya also relies on these estimates to start preparing food and loading vans even before orders start coming in at 9am.

Tamago-Ya founder knows that the methods his company uses to motivate and ensure accountability are the reason for the success of the business.

Tamago-Ya case illustrate how people make the place, the drivers reciprocate Sugahara’s faith in them by achieving superior performance, feel and act like owners because they choose customers and routes and at the same time they feel obliged to customers, peers, area manager and the CEO who gave them a chance to rebuild their lives.

Read more: Robert I. Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao Scaling up Excellence. Random House Business and Tamago-ya of Japan: Delivering Lunch Boxes to Your Work. Harvard Business Review Case Study.

Customer Experience Having the Customer at the Center of Your Business


Customer experience (also known as CX) is the single greatest predictor of whether customers will return or defect to a competitor to do business.

Customer Experience

What is customer experience? 

It is how your customers perceive their interactions with your organisation and how well the interaction:

  • helped them achieve their goals
  • how much effort they had to invest in the interaction
  • how much they enjoyed the interaction

Benefits of customer experience:

  • It is source of both decreased costs and increased revenue, for instance by having leaner and more efficient processes that affect customers (both external and internal) and by increasing recurring revenue
  • It correlates to loyalty

Customer experience and the business ecosystem:

Customer experience is not a program or a way to increase revenues, it is a lot more than that and it clearly reflects in every single functional department. Organisations need to create a customer experience that best aligns with the corporate vision the executive team has put envisage, the company’s target market, value proposition, unique strengths, financial objectives, and core values.

Customer Experience is “journey, not a project. It has a beginning but it doesn’t have an end

The company’s corporate objectives and brand attributes are the foundation of any customer experience strategy.

If you want to embark in this journey, you need to start with a complete picture of your clients, who they are and what they want from you.

6 Steps to Implement a Customer Experience Program:

  1. internalise the fact that you need your customers more than they need you
  2. examine the reason why your company exists in the first place
  3. spend time learning what it feels like to be your customer
  4. talk to your customers
  5. talk to your frontline employees
  6. try mapping a customer experience ecosystem for one of your company’s most important customer journeys

5 Steps to do a Customer Experience Mapping:

  1. pick an important target customer and think of a problematic journey for that customer
  2. write down the series of actions that the customer takes as part of that problematic journey
  3. write down all the people and groups that your customer interacts with at each step
  4. draw a horizontal line across the middle, below the notes you’ve placed on it so far. This is the “line of visibility.” Everything you’re about to put below the line is completely invisible to your customer
  5. put green dots on each part of your ecosystem that is working well from the perspective of the person who was touching it. Tag and define parts of the ecosystem that are making people unhappy with yellow dots, and parts of the ecosystem that are making people very unhappy with red dots

Rolling out the Customer Experience program

Systematically:

  • Measure customer experience
  • Identify the drivers of customer experience quality
  • Correlates customer experience quality with business results
  • Shares findings across the enterprise

You cannot afford to ignore the measurement discipline unless you want your efforts to run out of gas and die.

It drives interest in your programs by demonstrating results, and keeps people on track by connecting them to hard data about the effectiveness of what they’re doing.

Read more: Harley Manning, Kerry Bodine. Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business“. Amazon Publishing.

Top Components of an Elevator Pitch


The elevator pitch is as important as the business plan, some people call it twitter pitch (but I think 140 characters might be too short).

Bplans explain what components a perfect elevator pitch must have; every single angle of a business plan in a short visionary version is laid out.

Top components of an elevator pitch:

1) Problem:

First you need to be clear about what problem your business will solve; without this there is simple no business. People require solutions to the challenges and issues they face. The definition must be simple and straight forward, so everyone can simply see the pain point:

  • “communication with remote teams can be complex”
  • “completing paperwork for a A&E doctor is time-consuming”
  • “filling out your tax return is difficult”

2) Solution:

When you have defined the problem, the solution needs to be explained. This also needs to be simple and focused.

3) Market:

Who is experiencing the problem you described?; it’s critical that you always keep in mind the persona you are targeting, their problem points, what pressing issues keep this person up at night. If your market is too big, then follow the divide and conquer strategy, segment you target market and prioritise the same.

4) Competition:

To have competition means that there is a market for the problem you are trying to solve, you also need to think not only on direct competition but alternatives. Like a wristwatch company competing with mobile phones, also think how well they solve your target market and which opportunities you have to differentiate your value proposition and positioning yourself differently.

5) Team 

People is far more important that ideas, people is what make ideas work. You need to explain how well this team can work together, what skills are they bringing to your company. You don’t need to have all the team in place but you need to understand what gaps you have and how you plan to close those gaps and when.

6) Financial summary

In here you basically need to clarify your business model; how you create value and how you convert that value into profit. Remember numbers never lie, be hard with your numbers, you need to do sales forecast and expense budget (these are based on assumptions).

7) Milestones

In here you present a high level plan, no need to enter in details but clearly identify large milestones / phases; their ordering, dependencies and when these will happen. This is the operational plan and it will picture your business as real as possible.

This great infographic from Bplans explains each component of an elevator pitch.

7 key components of a perfect elevator pitch

Source: The 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch [with infographic]

Agile Product Development


In agile product development is very hard to have the best product right away, so commit to rapid and continuous improvements is the way to go. Of course, the messiness of trial and error may seem uncomfortable, but action allows us to learn at a faster rate.

In agile product development avoid the paralysis by analysis
In agile product development avoid the paralysis by analysis

The following insightful story comes from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles  and Ted Orland.

A clever ceramics instructor divided his pottery class into 2 groups. One half of the students would be graded on quality and the other half would be grade on quantity.

Thought out the course, the “quality” students funnelled all the energy into crafting the perfect ceramic piece, they studied the right mix of materials, the correct measures, weight, optimal temperature, did an extensive research and produced one “perfect” product.

While the second half students do not care about the “perfect” product, but produced pots in every session non stop.

At the end, although it was counterintuitive to his students, you can guess how his experiment came out at the end of the course, the best pieces all came from students whose goal was quantity, the ones who spent the most time actually practicing their craft.

This lesson is applicable to a much broader view, if you want to make something great, you need to start making. Looking for perfection can get in the way during the early stages of the creative process. Do not get stuck in planing and start acting.

All the over-planing, talking are sings that we are afraid, that we don’t just feel ready;  that tendency leads us to wait rather than act, to perfect rather than launch.

* Image credit istock.com

Strategy and Customer Understanding


Your customer experience must support your corporate strategy. You need to work and focus on defining the customer experience that best aligns with:

  1. corporate vision,
  2. target market
  3. value proposition, your products & services
  4. unique strengths (competitive advantage)
  5. financial objectives
  6. core values

Be aware that the wrong customer experience would confuse your customers and send them to a competitor.

In addition to the strategy alignment, your customer experience must align with your brand attributes, you need to guide the activities and decision-making of employees at every level of your organisation, so that they can deliver on your company’s brand promises.

Companies need to understand and get a complete picture of what their customers really need, want and aspire.

Practices to understand client needs:

  1. mining unsolicited customer feedback, customers constantly provide unsolicited feedback about their experiences via emails, call, chats, social media, etc.
  2. conducting ethnographic research, this is simply observing your customer’s behaviour in a natural setting
  3. gathering input from employees, each of frontline employees interact with dozen or hundreds of individual customers and routinely witnesses with good and bad customer experiences.
  4. companies can create “Voice of the employees programs

As an example of a low tech approach, you can place whiteboards in prominent locations for employees to share ideas for improving the customer experience and track ideas from submission to implementation.

Thinking you know what customers want is risky. Most companies neglect to build a foundation of customer understanding before they develop products, services and experiences strategies, and then proceed with costly initiatives.

Employees and managers very often fall into the trap of assuming that what they want is what customers want.

To avoid this trap, you can:

  1. use personas to document who your customers are. Unlike market segmentations, which typically remain nameless and faceless, personas come to life with names, photos and vivid narratives that describe real life scenarios.
  2. once you have developed your personas, you create journey maps that visually illustrate a particular persona’s activities over time. You can plot the entire course of a customer’s relationship with a company or zoom in to just one particular part of the journey

But remember, you end goal is not the personas and journey maps themselves, your end goal is deep customer insights.

Once you complete this part, share your customer insight early and often, use all channels available and meet regularly with employees and business functions for all the company to be in the same page.

Read more: Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Harley Manning, Kerry Bodine and Josh Bernoff. Forrester Research.

Personal Touch of Innovation


There are plenty of organisations that have fully embrace innovation as the essence of their business model. An example is 3M defines innovation as “New ideas plus action or implementation which results in an improvement, a gain or a profit“. It is not enough to have a good idea only when you act, implement and execute you really innovate.

People is the most important factor of innovation not only the idea or the execution, innovation not only happen, people make it happen. Innovation Network definition of innovation is a lot more complete: “People creating value trough the implementation of new ideas“.

Tom Kelley from IDEO defines 10 personas to give the personal touch of innovation:

1. The Anthropologist learns by observing other people, how they behave and interact physically and emotional with products, services and other people. They do not judge, they observe, they empathise.

2. The Experimenter prototypes new ideas by experimenting, learning, improving based on a process of trial and error. They are best in to take words to sketch, to model and new offering.

3. The Cross-Polinator brings experiences from other environments like organisations, industries, cultures, countries then translate those into innovative solutions. Organisations can hire lots of people with diverse background, cultures and geographies.

4. The Hurdler knows that the path of innovation is not only one step but a journey that takes time and resources, there will be obstacles that need to be need overcome, this persona understands the importance of perseverance and is willing the bend the rules. This person does more with less.

5. The Collaborator helps to bring cross functional teams together and get things done, he often leads from the middle. You can collaborate working not only within the organisation but with clients and customers

6.The Director brings people together, sparks their creative talent, guide them with a great destination postcard and motivate them. There is an old adage in Hollywood “Directing is 90% casting”, great directors build a team of people who need little direction and can lead by example.

7. The Experience Architect designs experiences that go beyond the functionality and act also the emotional part to connect deeper with people. When companies can copy products and services, the price is not the truly differentiator but the experience created around.

8. The Set Designer creates the environment where innovation is created, where teams can do their best. This environment is the physical space that influence behaviour and space.

9. The Caregiver anticipate customer needs and are ready to go to look after them. They always go beyond the mere basic service.

10. The Storyteller builds credibility, triggers emotional connections, good stories help make order out of chaos.

Read more: Tom, Kelley. “The Ten Faces of Innovation: Strategies for Heightening Creativity” Doubleday

Google Analytics to Optimise Landing Pages


This video from Google Analytics explains the importance to know your customers and create an experience that matches their needs. The more you know your market the better solutions you give.

Analytics help to improve the online customer experience, by indicating how users find your site, navigate and from where they leave. Also it gives data of preferred content offering and where this can be displayed for better results.

The following video is a metaphor that shows frictions that customers face while interacting with a site (e.g. buying products). Effective Landing pages are key to improve conversions and generate ROI for marketing campaigns

What is the Difference Between Mission and Vision?


Everyone has been in long meetings polishing and negotiating missions and visions, the result very often is utterly generic (just change the name of the company and the result is the same) with a total lack of passion and of no real value to anyone.

The mission and vision have to be simple, relatively comprehensive and with passion.

The mission is a statement of your reason of being, why you exist for and why it matters. In the context of digital marketing, you define what it is you do online and why, what customers problems you are solving “at a profit” and how your online activities will add value. To facilitate the understanding of the mission, think of it through the eyes of your customers.

The vision is not a set of goals, it is not a fantasy wishful thinking, it is a clear, specific model of what it is you tend to build. Simply, the vision is a description of what the business looks like at a specific time in the future. In the context of digital marketing, the best is to elaborate 2 visions one for 18 months and one for 3 years away. Talk about things that matter most, how will you interact with your customers and what they will think of you and your competitors.

But remember:

If you are unable to articulate what your desired future looks like, then how can anyone else contribute to achieving it?

Digital Marketing Best Practices


The following rules can apply no matter the size, budget or scale your digital strategy may be.

  • Do not start if you don’t have a clear strategy

I have seen too many companies waste money by embarking on poorly conceived initiatives, they always want to see the “tree” without understanding the “forest”. So the advise here is resist the urgency to leap into action until you have a clear strategy. To establish a strategy you can read 7 steps to create your business strategy.

  • Be customer centric

View everything you do through the eyes of your customers. Marketing is all about solving people’s problem at a profit. Regard usability as non-negotiable characteristic of the design of your user experience.

  • Don’t radically change or eradicate  your old marketing approach 

Start with the initiatives that let you achieve your business goals, learn from them. Introduce new approaches in parallel with your existing programmes. The digital revolution is not in the tools, but in the processes that they improve.

  • Do not let technology dictate your marketing strategy

I have seen a couple of marketing managers to abdicate decision-making to the IT team, particularly because they feel a bit unsure of their own technical expertise. The capabilities of the technology should not be allowed to define the customer processes or limit the functionality. The technical solution must be defined by business and marketing objectives and not the other way around.

  •  Match your customers’ preferred way of interacting with you

If you want to be customer centric, you need to find out how your customers would like to interact with you and structure your process accordingly. To map this out you can use buyer personas to define the best way to interact with each of the segments you are reaching.

  • Do not treat your digital strategy like one-time investment

If you do not budget your main digital channel (e.g. website, media portal, e-commerce portal) and its associated marketing as an ongoing investment, you might as well not considering digital as part of your business strategy.

  • Use project management

No matter how small the project is, it is essential to use the disciplines, methodologies and tools of project management to ensure that it comes on time, within budget and the quality required. Project management, help you to quantify the implications of proposed changes and to make informed decisions.

dibert-on-marketing

Content Marketing in Few Lines


  1. The content is more important than the offer
  2. A customer relationship doesn’t end with the payment
  3. Interruption isn’t valued, but engagement is
  4. A blog can be, and should be, a core part of communicating with and marketing to your customers
  5. Focusing on what the customer wants is more important than what you have to sell
  6. A news release isn’t meant to be picked up by the press, but rather to help customers find your great content on the web
  7. Communicating directly with customers is the best choice
  8. Marketers can and should be publishers
  9. Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible
  10. Lead generation is only one small part of the marketing picture
  11. The long tail of search engine optimisation is driven by consistent content on your corporate blog or website
  12. Buyers are in control, the traditional sales process has changed, and relevant content lets organisations into the buying process
  13. Long-form branded content can be created anywhere your customers work, live, or play
  14. There is no one right way to do content marketing. Be willing to experiment
  15. In-person events continue to be one of the best ways to connect with your audience
  16. Never overlook the power of simplicity
  17. Don’t rely too much on Google to bring traffic to your site