Amidst the clang of cheap plastic at the company party, we are a bit queasy and it’s not because of the microwave artichoke dip.
How would you handle this based on what we’ve learned to date about our shoe company?
If you whispered, “go back to the research” – you’re right.
We start by asking:
- Why is the customer no longer purchasing with such frequency?
- Do we have a sudden consumer shift in the marketplace? Did design miss the boat?
- Who is eating our lunch as a competitor?
- Are we failing to deliver a remarkable customer service experience?
- Is there a deeper reason customers are not recommend us to their friends and family?
Next, we get out of the building or at least on the phone. We seek answers by speaking with our best customers that are showing fatigue. We don’t argue with the feedback when speaking with customers. We simply approach it as an impartial scientist conducting a lab experiment.
Bear in mind, there could be a million variables on why this brand is grinding to halt. But for simplicity’s sake to better explain strategy, let’s say we uncover a couple alarming trends by researching and testing a significant sample pool.
Perhaps we find:
- Competitors have come up with innovative ways to deliver value. They use online tools to preview shoes and make it easy to share this on social networks. And they are offering free shipping both ways with an optional video chat with a trained shoe stylist 24/7. Okay, that’s all technology enabled experiences and we might be able to match it, if our research shows the consumer finds value in these offerings.
- Our ongoing digital marketing campaigns show lack of engagement. In short, it looks like our content has lost its zest and is perceived as a bit boring and irrelevant. Hey, the truth hurts sometimes right?
- This year’s designs were edgy and fell flat. Further investigation by segmenting sales figures out by these styles reveals we are down almost 50% compared to our traditional lines. Uh oh.
We gather up all our data and call a meeting with management and the company founders because we need to course-correct our strategy. And fast.
Using our POST framework, we already started with People now on to OST.
Objectives: We must change the existing business reality and seek to do the following:
- Somehow get back to customers recommending us to 2 or 3 of their friends again and keep our acquisition costs under control. The next six months we must continue to research and understand how to get word of mouth moving again in this direction. Do we have problems with customer service? What is awry in the entire customer experience? We’ll formulate a plan and set about collecting a decent sample set.
- The digital marketing experience must be more valuable and worthy of customers’ time. We would like to see an increase in social sharing of 20% across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
- Our designs must resonate better with customers. Building buzz and hype is one thing but getting closer to the customer and delivering product that they want will help us drop our purchase time again to 10 weeks and increase the Customer’s Lifetime Value (CLV).
Strategy: How can we change our relationship with our customers to achieve the above objectives? Remember, we are still just trying to get back to where we were before we started to drift, so it can be helpful at this stage to reexamine the vision on where the brand should go as well. Are we looking to become the shoe company? Or are we content with gearing up for a buy-out? Or do we want to become a legacy brand?
Technology: We hinted at it in #2 but here is where we define specifically what technology we will be using and also what tools embedded in them will let us measure engagement. For example, we can use Facebook Insights and compare how often different types of content gets shared. We might look at “tell a friend” tools for email marketing to help us achieve objective #1 and explore different incentives. Finally, we can set up a wiki to help us get closer to understanding what our customers want in our designs. We tap their expertise and feedback to make sure the next season’s look hits the mark.