Monday, June 28, 2010

Bust the Silos
Hastings and Saperstein

One of the major barriers to growth that we have found is internal organizational barriers. Companies are not organized to meet customer needs but around functions, brands, major customers, etc. A great book titled “Bust the Silos” by Hastings and Saperstein offers insight how to break down these barriers for Demand Generation:

"We all now operate in a highly connected, rapidly evolving, customer-centric and
knowledge-driven environment. Yet, most of our current management practices,
organizational models and job functions are not effective in serving our
customers. Value is created through relationships with customers; this drives
loyalty. Companies need to adopt principles and practices that encourage their
diverse groups of employees to have a shared sense of purpose to engage in more
effective ways of working together to build customer intimacy and loyalty….

…Customers value relationships over efficiency, yet service and support
organizations are driven by efficiency. Furthermore, while customer service
and support systems are usually constructed around predictability (think about
FAQ), business problems, particularly with complex business-to-business products
and services, are more akin to chaos with natural patterns than predictable

Monday, June 21, 2010

Using Appeals to Emotions to Sell Paint
WSJ, June 8, 2010

This is an interesting article that highlights efforts to get to the emotive component of a Value Proposition as part of the total Business Design as we define it to create real competitive separation for the Valspar paint company:

From the article it is clear most paint advertising targets the functionality and economics:

"Paint advertising typically emphasizes quality and color selection, and depicts homeowners applying paint to walls.

“What you see in almost every paint commercial is couples in blue jeans and flannel shirts holding rollers and going up and down on the wall and whistling while they work, and Valspar didn’t need to go there,” said Steffan Postaer, chief creative officer at Euro RSCG Chicago…..
…“Everyone’s fighting over the same features and benefits,” Ms. Champ of Valspar said, rattling off typical claims. “ ‘I have 3,500 colors,’ ‘No, I have 4,000 colors,’ ‘Mine’s a paint and primer in one.’ Everyone is working on the same benefits — and showing people rolling paint on the wall.”"

Valspar found a very different scenario when they studied their customers:

"But Ms. Champ said that when Valspar surveyed consumers, “they told us that painting is an emotional journey with lots of highs and lows,” and that applying paint itself was certainly not the high point.

“They enjoy the first roll on the wall, but they don’t want to be reminded of all that work,” Ms. Champ said. “Consumers talk about what they feel when they finish the project, and that’s a sense of pride and accomplishment. They say, ‘I feel like an artist,’ and ‘I feel a sense of freedom and joy.’ They ladder up to a lot of high-level emotional benefits, and that’s what we’re trying to tap into through this campaign.”

They thus created a new form of advertising targeting the emotive component they found:

"Now a new television commercial by the paint company Valspar is taking an unusual approach to selling interior paint: it never shows an interior, or consumers painting. The spot, by Euro RSCG Chicago, opens with a couple walking on white sand toward a white wall, which resembles a drive-in movie screen, as a voice-over begins, “To some, a wall is just a wall — a divider between here and there.” The couple begins to guide the wall through various spectacular landscapes, and the wall assumes the color of the backdrops, from the incandescent green of flora near a waterfall to the warm tan of a hayfield to the reddish brown of a mountain setting.
“To others, a wall is a canvas, an invitation, a blank slate,” the voice-over continues to a lush soundtrack. “The right color can turn any wall into so much more.”

You cannot create sustainable competitive separation if you and your competitors keep chasing the same economic and functional attributes. Start with the Customer Segmentation and create real differences and get to the emotive state whenever you can.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rethinking Gospel of the Web
April 11, 2010

Under our banner of Ideas, we talked about the power of open platforms and “idea fairs” to stimulate innovation and growth. This article has a different slant and I think touches on important considerations of the classic make/buy, outsource/in source, control/leverage type decisions. I think the key in consumer markets and to a growing degree in B to B situations is that customer experiences are driving factors in influencing these decisions and how to best create and manage these experiences are determinative.

"For about a decade now, ever since it became clear that the jungle of the World Wide Web would triumph over the walled gardens of CompuServe, AOL and MSN, a general consensus has solidified......
....That unifying creed is this: Open platforms promote innovation and diversity more effectively than proprietary ones.

In the words of one of the Web’s brightest theorists, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard, the Web displays the “generative” power of a platform where you don’t have to ask permission to create and share new ideas. If you want democratic media, where small, innovative start-ups can compete with giant multinationals, open platforms are the way to go.....

....Over the last two years, however, that story has grown far more complicated, thanks to the runaway success of the iPhone (and now iPad ) developers platform — known as the App Store to consumers.

The App Store must rank among the most carefully policed software platforms in history. Every single application has to be approved by Apple before it can be offered to consumers, and all software purchases are routed through Apple’s cash register. Most of the development tools are created inside Apple, in conditions of C.I.A. -level secrecy. Next to the iPhone platform, Microsoft’s Windows platform looks like a Berkeley commune from the late 60s.

And yet, by just about any measure, the iPhone software platform has been, out of the gate, the most innovative in the history of computing.....
.....Perhaps more impressively, the iPhone has been a boon for small developers. As of now, more than half the top-grossing iPad apps were created by small shops.
Those of us who have championed open platforms cannot ignore these facts. It’s conceivable that, had Apple loosened the restrictions surrounding the App Store, the iPhone ecosystem would have been even more innovative, even more democratic. But I suspect that this view is too simplistic. The more complicated reality is that the closed architecture of the iPhone platform has contributed to its generativity in important ways.

The decision to route all purchases through a single payment mechanism makes great sense for Apple, which takes 30 percent of all sales, but it has also helped nurture the ecosystem by making it easier for consumers to buy small apps impulsively with one-click ordering. People don’t want to thumb-type credit card information into their phones each time they download a game to distract the kids during a long drive in the car. One-click purchase also supports lightweight, inexpensive apps, the revenue from which can support small software teams.
Consumers are also willing to experiment with new apps because they know that they have been screened for viruses, malware and other stability problems as part of the App Store’s approval process.

The fact that the iPhone platform runs exclusively on Apple hardware helps developers innovate, because it means they have a finite number of hardware configurations to surmount.....
.....But whatever Apple chooses to do with its platform in the coming years, it has made one thing clear: sometimes, if you get the conditions right, a walled garden can turn into a rain forest."

Monday, June 07, 2010

Microsoft Weighs In on Flash Debate
By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries
WSJ, April 30, 2010

In an earlier posting ( we discussed the “battle” between Apple and Adobe on the deployment of Flash, Adobe’s video system. Although Apple claims technical issues are the driving force behind their concerns, one has to believe it is a power play between these two giants. Well now Microsoft is getting into the fray and I am sure we’ll see Google some time soon.

"Not to be left out, Microsoft has weighed in on the latest big tech debate — whether Flash should be the dominant player for video on the Web.
Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs came out with a striking critique of Flash in an essay on Thursday, saying that Flash causes problems with security and battery life and is responsible for crashes on Macs. CEO Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, which makes Flash, responded in an interview with the Journal, calling some of the accusations untrue and blaming other problems on Apple’s policies.......

.......Whatever decisions Microsoft makes in this area are important because the vast majority of Internet surfers use some version of Internet Explorer.

Microsoft backed some of Apple’s argument, saying that “Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance.” But it isn’t abandoning Flash altogether, the way Apple has done on its mobile devices. “Today, video on the web is predominantly Flash-based,” Mr. Hachamovitch, GM of Micrsosoft’s internet explorer, wrote in the post, adding that “Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web.”

But note the repeated use of the word “today.” It’s clear that the Web is moving in a direction that could spell trouble for Flash. In the post, Microsoft reiterated its support of HTML5 as the standard for the coding that makes up Web pages. Apple also backs HTML5, a standard that supports video within the browser without requiring plug-ins like Flash. (Microsoft’s own video plug-in, Sliverlight, also would likely be hurt by the adoption of HTML5.)"