When the pandemic hit, most businesses recalibrated quickly. In many industries, this meant a lot of retrenching: cutting back on services, or for retailers, focusing on basic staples. So while there was plenty of innovation in terms of how companies served customers, there was a lull in the development of new products.
This trend is reaching its limit, according to Paul Earle. Earle, an adjunct lecturer of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School with deep experience in new brand and business development, believes the year ahead holds a lot of promise for companies looking to innovate—thanks to a confluence of new needs, new habits, and a sense of relief and openness.
“The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and ’19 was followed by the roaring twenties,” he says. “I think we’re going to see, again, a massive appetite for new experiences, for things that are fun, that are social, that bring us together.”
What exactly might this look like? Earle points to three predictions for the year ahead. Read More >>
Q. I’m a first-time founder with zero sales experience, but I know I have to get good at it. How can I build my skills and confidence in this area?
—Founder in the enterprise software space
We’ve often backed founders who are product-centered and would like to offload sales ASAP. However, CEOs should invest in getting good at sales, because they are always selling. Not only are they selling to customers in the beginning, but they are selling their vision when attracting new hires, motivating employees, and captivating journalists.
Oftentimes, founders are also the best salespeople the company can ever have. They are the one who had the idea, who knows the product, and knows how to solve for the problem it is addressing. Most companies don’t start out with a sales team, which means that a founder has no choice other than to get used to selling. The good news is that you will learn by doing it. You will get feedback from customers that will help you hone your product as well as hone your pitch. Read More >>
This year — 2020 — was a year for the books, with COVID-19 throwing a gigantic monkey wrench into our personal and professional lives as marketers. As we look into 2021, we have to ask: Which changes in consumer behaviors and associated marketing strategies will have a lasting impact, once a vaccine is readily available?
There is reason, for example, to be somewhat optimistic about digital advertising’s future. While ad spend decreased overall in 2020, some ad channels (like podcasting) have already rebounded, while popular channels (like search) are estimated by eMarketer to benefit in the long-term from the pandemic.
Other digital channels also have benefitted from coronavirus (see Zoom’s stock price as a reference point). But what of the rest of marketing? This article takes a broader look at trends we predict will dramatically alter digital marketing in 2021 and beyond. Read More>>
What makes a great brand name so … great? Why are names like “Joy” and “Tide” so successful—and how the heck does a name like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” break all the rules, but still manage to win us over? Names, of course, matter. The name should tell a story that directly or at least indirectly ties to the product itself, its reason for being, and consumer needs/wants. A great example is Peloton, the new home exercise equipment company best known for its digitally connected stationary bike. In cycling parlance, a “peloton” is a group of cyclists at the front of the pack. This name is obviously relevant to cycling and leadership, but also speaks to the fact that via the online community, home cyclists are connected to each other—a “virtual pack.” “Form follows function, but both report to emotion,” said Willie Davidson, superstar designer and grandson of the founder of a certain motorcycle company. Emotion is the king of the jungle in marketing and innovation, and it certainly wins in naming. A great name is essentially a short ad for the product, evoking feeling and inspiring some kind of action (consciously or unconsciously). Generally speaking, names should be as short as possible and roll off the tongue. Brevity is important not just because short names tend to be more memorable, but also because they make it easier for your design team, which has precious limited real estate to work with when creating packaging labels and other elements. Read More >>
In sales, face-to-face interactions have long been the gold standard for building relationships and closing deals. But, as with so much of business today, the pandemic has upended that routine. o how do people looking to sell something—be it their ideas in a meeting or their company’s products and services—survive, even excel in our newly virtual world? Craig Wortmann, a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Kellogg, shared his advice for making sales meetings lively and productive during a recent webinar from Kellogg Executive Education. “If we treat this as a slog,” he says, “that’s going to show up in our behaviors.” To start, you’ll need to prepare for your virtual meetings differently. And because even minor technology hiccups can eat into a presentation’s allotted time, he encourages people to cut 20 percent out of what they intend to cover. Worst case scenario, you spend that time walking people through their Zoom settings; best case scenario, you have more time left over at the end for questions and conversation. He says that “99.9 percent of the time, people say, ‘no problem,’” and give their home address. If you are worried that you did not shine during a meeting, your follow-up could be a message or voicemail that conveys that. You can say, “I’ve been reflecting on something I said and it wasn’t quite right. Could I have another go at that?” The answer might be “no,” and that’s OK. But you have little to lose, and you stand to gain a stronger and more trusting relationship with that other person. Read More >>
Leaders in industries from healthcare to casual dining are fast-tracking changes to the customer experience. Despite the different circumstances facing each company, some consistent themes emerged from these conversations: First, rather than putting their foot on the brakes, companies are going all-in with new ways of serving and staying relevant to their customers. Second, some are viewing COVID-19 as an opportunity to gain quick traction on longstanding internal challenges. And third, everyone is actively preparing for a very different future. In some areas, providers have had to find some very creative ways to deliver care. For instance, pediatric ophthalmologists, unable to see children for routine eye care, started emailing PDF eye charts to parents, along with instructions to print and hang the chart, measure the requisite distance, and have them test from home. Decision-making in large companies can be deliberate in the best of times, with leaders weighing the advantages of change against tried-and-true approaches. But the fallout from the pandemic, as difficult as it has been, offers the opportunity to set aside some of the hurdles and take chances. Read More >>
When the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2009, companies across industries came to a harsh realization. Years of researching, maneuvering, marketing, and investing to create the perfect customer products and services suddenly fell flat. The economy dramatically shifted consumer habits, with many focused on reducing spending amid the uncertainty of the economy, and a loss of trust in many institutions. Similar to the recession in 2009, customer needs and preferences are evolving at light speed as customers grapple with the impacts of the current situation. With many states reopening, companies need to quickly identify who their customers have become and how to fit into their new purchasing portfolios. The 2009 recession taught brands some hard lessons about relearning and reengaging their customer bases, and some of the changes and impacts were long-lasting. The pandemic has created an unprecedented situation of its own, but companies that act quickly and proactively to take the necessary steps will increase their chances of hanging onto their loyal customers long-term and avoiding the enduring consequences of failing to do so. Read More >>
Much of the classic market research advice applies to consumer neuroscience as well – but the emerging field also features unique challenges. Companies once viewed neuromarketing as a risky, perhaps overhyped proposition. But scepticism is now retreating in the face of mounting research evidence. A raft of recent studies confirm that, used properly, brain-scan technology (e.g. fMRI, EEG, fNRIS) is capable of revealing the reasons for consumers’ preferences, capturing their emotional reactions to ads and products, and (in some cases) predicting their behaviour, with greater accuracy than conventional focus groups and surveys. A good neuromarketing study will be aimed at answering a few key questions, at most. More than that will require an excess of statistical comparisons that will bias your results and call for multiple comparison corrections. Neuromarketing studies are especially prone to technical glitches and random mischance, such as EEG sensors coming loose or excessive head motion distorting electromagnetic signals. To spot any mutant data before they influence results, it is crucial to visualise distributions before performing any data analysis. When it comes to the replicability and reliability of your results, don’t rely on assumptions. You should have a method for ascertaining the validity of your data-set. It is important to be sceptical of companies making overly simplistic claims about how the human brain works, or touting “secret sauce” analytical techniques or offering a single solution for every problem. Read More >>
Website visitors usually take five seconds to decide whether to leave a website or not. Website designs must be engaging to encourage visitors to stay. One way of doing this is to optimize load speed. When we land on a webpage, we expect it to load within 2 seconds. If it takes longer than that, we may get impatient. Anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection should be able to visit your website, regardless of their circumstances and abilities. To cater to everyone, you should design a website that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act so that people with a wide array of disabilities can browse. This will also help you avoid any lawsuit connected to a non-compliant web design. A call-to-action is how you get your clients through the sales funnel. Without clear CTAs, your visitors have no idea where they are supposed to click next. Among your top priorities when you think website design is the ease of navigation. Your visitors will use the navigation to find any relevant information they are looking for. Without clear navigation, you end up with disappointed visitors that exit your website for better alternatives. The responsiveness of a well-designed website needs to be fluid and adjustable to all devices. It is especially critical to make it mobile-responsive as the number of users on mobile continues to increase annually. The importance of SEO is well established. Without it, search engines cannot find you. Technical SEO involves optimizing your website and servers so search engine spiders crawl to index your website better for improved organic results. While it mainly concerns on-page ranking factors, it also involves several off-page SEO ranking factors as well. Your website design has as a primary function to be the initial hook for your visitors. When best practices are correctly implemented, the user experience is elevated to create an emotional connection between your brand and the visitor. Read More >>
It’s hard to imagine a more challenging environment for marketers than the current moment. With a global pandemic affecting the way nearly everyone in the world works and lives, nothing feels certain anymore. And even the uncertainties are shifting rapidly. If you’re a marketing leader, one of the first things you want to do is pause everything that you can. This is easier said than done, however. These days many campaigns are automated, run by algorithms without a lot of human direction. This can make it challenging to even know which campaigns are even running. So before you can press pause, you need to figure out everything you’re doing across every channel. While some companies are dealing with an unexpected wave of demand, most are crippled with the opposite problem: business has dried up, and it’s dried up quickly. Even if you had a lot of money to spend on advertising, people are not feeling inspired to go spend a lot of money. For brands that do want to move forward with a campaign in the current environment, they need to ask whether their current message is still relevant and appropriate. Ultimately, brands need to make sure that whatever messaging they engage in, it is consistent with who they are and what their brand stands for. Read More >>