The Kano Model as a Means of Individual and Brand Culture

The Kano Model is a theory of defining what customers value in a product or service. It is “complex” but not “complicated” in that it ultimately stems from first understanding “simple” expectations of the customer.

Some of the basic elements of the Kano Model include:

· Delight Features: Features that are not expected and that when successfully delivered can exponentially increase the customer’s perception of the brand, product, or service.

· Performance Features: The features that are expected to perform in a way that provides a competitive advantage, or why the customer selected the product over a competitive product.

· Minimum Features: These are minimum expected features, the lack of which can exponentially decrease the perceived value of the brand, product, or service.

· Undesired Features: While not common, these are features whereby their existence would lead to negative perception — that is the customer does not want these features to be present.

“There is a scientific and mathematical approach to engaging with customers to understand subjective desires and shape overall product and service direction.”

So, how does all this relate to individual team members and overall brand culture?

The Kano Model contains factors that not only encompass the product and service features — but *how* successfully those products and services are delivered. The same factors of delight, performance, minimum, and undesired can be mapped to the physical interaction with our brand in the delivery of the products or services.

“Given the importance of customer service and customer engagement, as leaders we should also work to define those brand and team member attributes which contribute to success.”

Other aspects of the Kano Model is that it can be used to help define and prioritize new products and services that should be offered by the brand. There is a scientific and mathematical approach to engaging with customers to understand desires and shape product and service direction. Given the importance of customer service and engagement, as leaders we should also work to define those brand and team member attributes which contribute to success.

What are the minimum expectations of the brand and team as it relates to the customer experience? What can be done to provide a competitive advantage? And what would our engagement look like if we really wanted to generate delight? And what should we *not* be doing? These subjective qualities can also be mapped to customer satisfaction surveys. We also develop and use associated metrics to reward employees and team members for performance that delights our customers.

5 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Disrupt Your Business

The social and mobile web are transforming business models. Here are 5 digital marketing trends that will disrupt your business:

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.jeffbullas.com

At Idea Spring we’ve found three main issues common to most organizations:

  1. Not enough time
  2. Not enough resources
  3. Frustration from rapid change

Online marketing seems to hit almost all of those categories.

Today, it takes  diverse skillets to launch, run, and manage effective marketing campaigns.  And just as you’ve tuned your marketing strategy, and everything is humming along — the rules suddenly change.  What worked as a best practice yesterday, could tank your results tomorrow.

Since marketing and marketing automation are no longer just something the “big businesses” do… it is something that everyone needs. I’d even argue that is more true for the small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs. Marketing automation is vital for companies with limited time and resources.

Idea Spring has worked with a number of the leading platforms, and our consensus is that it’s really a function of finding the right tool for the right job.  However, none of the platforms are a good choice if you don’t have a solid marketing and content strategy developed first.

The more integrated the platform, the less agile those systems are at dealing with both strategic and technological change. That’s why our platform takes a modular approach to content management and automation. We look at the functionality of each component and wire them together to build the right solution based on budget and need. As the technology or rules change, we can then substitute for a different individual tool instead of the entire system.

As a result, our tip to anyone needing to maximize time and resources, and considering making the important move to marketing automation — the best first investment you can make is to start with your marketing strategy and content strategy.  Finally, when you know your game plan, you find the right platform.

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Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.martechadvisor.com

It’s interesting to look at the percentage breakdown of investment dollars by category (marketing analytics, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.) While perhaps not in all categories, I think the breakdown does in some ways reflect the relative importance one should place on their own marketing spend – especially for small and mid-size businesses.

For example, marketing analytics is relatively more important than predictive analytics and just slightly behind business intelligence platforms. However, analytics is less important than content marketing.  Common sense will tell you that if you’re doing content marketing well you’ll see results, even if you’re not tracking them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that marketing analytics isn’t important, just relatively less so.

This chart makes for a nice breakdown of categories to consider what and how your business is investing in marketing efforts.

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In doing some client research I stumbled onto an article that presented 196 questions that business owners should ask themselves when planning a marketing strategy. Yet, there wasn’t a single question related to the business owner asking their customers anything at all, let alone asking the customer what they wanted from the business owner. In previous posts we’ve discussed the importance of differentiation, and how that process should start with asking why you do what you do, and why should anyone care.

Creating a good marketing strategy includes a value proposition that directly maps your points of differentiation (that is, your why) to the client’s needs and desires (their why.)  In fact, every marketing optimization strategy emphasizes understanding customer motivation as the most critical factor to success. And the best way to understand client motivation is to ask them.

Marketing Strategies that Go Beyond the Data

In a world of big data and marketing technology solutions, it is so easy to get caught up in the science of marketing strategies and market research, that it is easy to forget the humanity that lies behind the data. But while data can tell you what someone did, it can rarely (if ever) tell you why they did it. Sometimes it is much more powerful (and even easier) to simply ask what the market wants and why.

One of the best techniques, and admittedly sometimes easiest to skip, is actually picking up the phone to talk to real people. It doesn’t have to be a huge focus group. In fact, there are some downsides to doing more formal focus groups, or even informally as a group.  Group dynamics introduce a whole set of other factors that need to be accounted for.

Instead, talking to individuals, even if it is just one person is valuable. By taking a personal interest, using dialogue instead of a survey, develops a much more nuanced understanding of the client’s goals, experienced pains, and desired gains. While it must remain in context of being a sample size of one, at minimum the feedback presents a picture of “people like this” which is what developing a marketing persona is about. The other upside is, it create a more intimate knowledge, understanding, and connection with the person you are brainstorming with.

Do you know your customers?

Talk to a Real Persona

While market research and persona development is something that Idea Spring does when helping construct marketing strategies for our clients, the concept of understanding client motivation and asking questions is something business owners should do throughout on-going client interactions.

Successful marketing strategies depend on knowing more than the logical client jobs, goals and tasks. It is equally important, if not more so, to really understand the emotional drivers that underlie those needs. Truly knowing your target audience is a critical key to both gaining and keeping clients.

So how can business owners know what those emotional drivers are? Ask. Develop open-ended questions that help uncover what really matters to your client. Ask questions that expand beyond a direct connection to your business products or services. Often times new opportunities for adding value and differentiating your business and yourself emerge as you gain a more holistic picture of what matters most to your clients.

Start asking why

Example Questions

Below are some questions that can as starting points. The questions should be modified to better reflect your specific business, and the person you are brainstorming with. Frame the questions in context, and in a way that reflects your authentic interest in learning more about the person and their motivation. If you aren’t authentically interested in your clients, it may be time to consider a different line of work.

Go beyond the business-transaction level, and dig deeper to understand the experienced pains and desired gains. Be sure to dig deeper by asking follow-on questions.  For example, if someone answers “I don’t know… I guess because we trust you.” Then ask why they trust you. And if they respond with why they trust you, ask what it is about those actions that they correlate with trust.

Some Starter Questions

  • There are obviously other choices out there, so why do you do business with me / us?
  • If you could picture us sharing our office space with another firm or type of service that would meet your needs in one place, what would it be?
  • If I wanted to put on an educational event for my clients, what topics do you think would be interesting enough for you to attend?
  • What is one thing you’d change about our industry to make doing business with someone like you even easier?
  • Everyone gets inundated with email these days – what could I provide that would actually be of use to you – that you would actually look forward to getting?

When your value proposition is clear, and it connects with client need, then the odds of that client selecting you, your firm, or your product increases.  When the value proposition is both clear, and experienced (i.e., you deliver what the value proposition promised) then your clients are more likely to share and champion your business.

I spend a lot of time focusing on differentiation. Differentiation is certainly not the only factor for success. Timing, team, business model, and funding are all important to a greater and/or lesser extent.  Differentiation is incredibly important for all businesses, but especially so for service businesses that rely heavily on referral and word-of-mouth.

Here are some main principles and beliefs I hold about differentiation:

  1. Differentiation must be authentic and aligned with your core values.
  2. Differentiation must be both articulated in a way that aligns with client need.
  3. Differentiation must be aligned with the client experience.
  4. Both the articulated and experienced differentiation needs to be easy to share.

Aligned with Values

To be briefly philosophical, I personally believe that this starts at the very personal level of an individual owner or entrepreneur. In other words the exploration of one’s purpose on this planet. It may sound a bit cliche, but reflecting on those ‘meaning of life’ questions often influence the decisions about the type of business we run, and the corporate culture we establish.

Having authentic and sustainable points of differentiation requires serious and honest reflection of one’s self and the corporate culture. Unfortunately, these are tasks often left undone because they fall into the “Important but Not-Urgent” quadrant of time.

As an aside, this is one advantages that startups have over larger mature organizations. For existing organizations, changing corporate culture is one of the hardest feats to undertake.  It is far easier for new organizations to do the work upfront to define the desired and authentic culture. Once defined, it is easier to hire the right cultural fit, instead of trying to get existing personnel to bend to a new culture.

What is your purpose?
What’s Your Purpose?

Aligned With Client Motivation

When it comes to articulating value-proposition, understanding client motivation is critical. I am still occasionally surprised when we have clients that want help with their marketing and strategy, but they don’t want to spend time in discussion or discovery about what really motives their clients.

Often these clients are looking for silver-bullet solutions, or jumping straight into the technical aspects of marketing tactics or creative design elements. For example, looking for the “magic” frequency of social media posting, or the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) approach, etc.  However, as important as mapping out client values and motivators is — it is still only one part of a much larger equation.

Aligned with Client Experience

The first part of having corporate-client aligned value propositions is then to take both the branding and messaging, and incorporate that into every aspect of the client experience. Any physical item that the customer sees, hears, touches, smells, or tastes should all be thought of as “marketing.”  Every customer ‘touch-point’ or interaction should be evaluated and aligned to maximize customer value.

If your points of differentiation do not genuinely flow out of your personal and corporate values, then at best those “unique” attributes will not be sustainable. At worst they will be uncovered as inauthentic. When you have a deeper understanding of “why” you do what you do, then your clients will experience your points of differentiation because they will flow naturally from your core values.

Articulated Easily

The last part to touch on, but no less important, is the ‘communicability’ or clarity of your value proposition statement.  There are a number of scientific reasons why this is so important, but that is likely the topic of a different post.  However, the point here is that if you cannot articulate your value proposition clearly, neither can your clients.

Of course the definition of ‘articulated easily’ can be expanded to include not just the clarity of wording – but how easy it is for your clients to share. Some of the other factors of custom decision include attributes such as friction, incentive, and anxiety. From a conversion optimization perspective, these attributes are applied to getting the customer to take initial action.  However, you can apply the same evaluation to the sharing of your business or product.  Find ways to increase incentive, decrease the friction (how easy it is to easily share your business or refer clients), and reduce the anxiety related to doing so.

Creating a positive client experience

Summary
I believe that some of the philosophical questions we have with our clients are equally important (if not sometimes more so), as the actual marketing materials, logos, and websites we create. Of course it can be easy to get too caught up in the altruistic and romanticized version of who we think we are and what we want to be.  At some point these efforts have to surface into tangible branding, messaging, and processes.  But when points of differentiation are authentic, and those points connect with authentic client need, then branding, messaging, and strategy comes much easier.

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