Tag Archives: 2012

Unordinary Thinking No.33 – Customer Satisfaction based pricing

Ever since I heard that Radiohead allowed fans to determine the price of their music downloads I wondered if the model could be applied to the professional services market. With a mass offering like music, the advantage is that volume and time allow for the remuneration to build to recoup the costs to produce it; an unending opportunity to eventually break even. With a professional service such as marketing strategy support to a time critical defined problem from a specific client, the model is a little less forgiving.

IMG_6330I buried the idea as nonsense until I was in St Katharines Dock in London recently where I saw the Honesty Shop Bus. It’s a double-decker which contains tourist type items for sale. There is an honesty box inside where customers make a self-imposed contribution in line with what you feel is right to pay. Those on the bus that day made what I regarded as reasonable payment gestures.

I decided if Radiohead and an unattended London bus can elicit purchasers without naming a price, surely Lexden can.

Earlier this year I got my chance to try out the idea. We received a request to provide PR strategy support to a well-known agency who were pitching for a slice of a media owner’s budget. The brief was familiar to us; get under the skin of the consumer audience and unearth their emotive drivers and motivations to help a brand connect in a meaningful way.

We were asked what we would charge for insight, analysis and presentation. At this point, as in most pitches, we appreciated our fee may be beyond the pitch support budget of the client. Normally I would propose a number of days based on an established day rate. However, on this occasion I suggested our client decided what the piece of work was worth to them when we had submitted it. We both accepted the risk (with pitch support there is no second chance to get it right, so like Radiohead, this was a calculated risk because of our reputation to deliver).

We completed the work. The client loved it. 

The client then proposed an amount. It was coincidentally similar to the amount of time I spent on the work. So what’s the advantage you may ask?

Using the traditional model, the client pays and we are paid, the client values the work and we value the business. A very transactional affair. Not to be sniffed at but less inspiring.

However, under the new model, we produced the work, the client valued our work, the client decides on an appropriate fee (so they are more engaged in the assessment of the quality of the work), we are rewarded for our craft and we both feel valued equally in the equation. It becomes more of an emotional engagement rather than just a supply and demand contract.

In an era where crowd sourcing, community collective schemes and credit unions are emerging to stimulate economic growth. It shows specialist B2B providers can participate too.

And how did it all turn out? They won the pitch. 

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Guest Blog – Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number

We had record numbers of views of a blog we published a few weeks ago: Three cheers for Wonga 

I was really happy to subsequently be asked by Wonga to write a guest post about “anything I wanted”.  Never had that before.

It really feels that the marketing success story of Wonga is being drowned in the hyperbole and groupthink perpetrated by MPs and the like.

The fact that 92% of existing customers would recommend Wonga to their friends is, I feel, an important part of the debate.

So that’s what I wrote about-a financial services customer proposition which gives customers what they want and the type of thing which the banks and existing players should be emulating.

Here it is…(sorry about the scary picture)

http://www.openwonga.com/blog/view/sorry-youve-got-the-wrong-number

 

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com , or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Three cheers for Wonga

A round of applause for Wonga please.  Seriously.  They have bought the concept of borrowing relatively small sums of money for relatively small amounts of time into the mainstream through their brilliant advertising and sponsorship of one of the most popular football clubs in the country.  And with this, they have put the issue of how so many people in this country have to live their (financial) lives on a week to week and sometimes day to day basis onto the football pitch both metaphorically and literally.  That’s not just something which should interest Wonga or Newcastle United-it should interest us all.

From a customer proposition point of view Wonga have used technology effectively, communicated smartly and executed brilliantly.  If someone chooses to use Wonga, they can get money into their account in 15 minutes if they are approved.  Since speed of access to funds is often a key consideration for all customers, including Wonga’s, they have delivered on that promise very effectively.  Financial providers such as our high street banks and insurers could learn plenty.

Errol Damelin and his team provide a needed service which people can choose to use and which forces us to confront an important aspect of living in Britain today: for many people, it is about living their life by cashflow rather than interest rate.

But the whole Wonga debate is boring.  And that’s because it has not been a debate.  All I see and hear is masses of sanctimonious, bandwagon jumping dialogue, tweets and discussion.  I don’t have a problem with people thinking, if they desire, that the product and service Wonga offers is dodgy/wrong/immoral/evil.  Not at all.  It’s just that nearly all the commentary has taken this standpoint and centred around the three letter acronym APR (I’m not going to bother to explain it because, it seems, we all know exactly what it means) which Wonga must quote to comply with existing consumer credit laws.  Even aside from the fact that nobody ever pays the 4000% APR people bandy about, the debate has been depressingly one dimensional.

If people have a problem with Wonga’s (completely legal) product and services, where’s their corresponding discussion about the market failure which means thousands of people are using this, apparently devil inspired, company’s loans?  Why are they choosing to use Wonga instead of going to their thoroughly trustworthy high street bank for a thoroughly reasonably priced overdraft with thoroughly reasonable penalty fees?  Could it be because Wonga provides a realistic (and whisper it) valued alternative for these people?

Where’s the discussion and reasoning about why one of Wonga’s predecessors as sponsor of Newcastle United, Northern Rock, was different to them?  Who is explaining why offering a 120% mortgage (at oh so reasonable APRs of 5 or 6 per cent) to thousands of people who now have homes worth less than they paid and who struggle to make their monthly payments has caused so much less damage to society than a £300 loan will cause?

Where’s the discussion about the fact that hardly anyone (that includes us, Guardian readers) really understands what an APR is, how it is calculated and what compound interest really means?  Where’s the discussion about how we need to come up with different, innovative ways for all lenders to clearly communicate how much a loan is likely to cost in terms that people actually understand rather than percentages which they don’t?

Where’s the discussion about why Newcastle United have to suffer the moral indignation of signing a deal with an organisation who legally lends money whereas it is perfectly fine for Aston Villa to have Genting Casinos on their shirts?  Is it because people going into these gambling establishments only ever walk out having made a tidy sum for themselves?  Or do some lose money they did not have and end up getting into financial difficulties?

The problem of debt and its associated knock on effects is a very serious one for our society, as is evidenced by the work of people such as the MP Stella Creasy.  It’s a serious issue and it requires a serious, measured, rounded debate which goes beyond the groupthink and opproprium of ‘legalised loan sharks’, ‘scum’ and ‘disgraceful APRs of more than 4000%’.  A discussion which does not progress beyond the hanging, drawing and quartering of Wonga and into the related issues and about the availability of realistic, fair options for people who, every single day, have to live a life of constraints (not just financial) is not a worthy one.

So come on Stella et al.  Wonga have kicked the ball to you.  Pass it back and have a proper debate.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com , or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Unordinary Thinking No. 26 – Doing it backwards

I don’t think I am being too controversial if I say that London 2012 has captured the imagination of the country.  Sure it helps that Team GB has done so outstandingly well (and not just in the ‘sitting down’ sports) but if you eavesdrop on the conversations going on in offices and bars, it is the way people are talking about sports which they previously had no interest in-the demure girl in my office explaining the intricacies of the boxing scoring system or my mother in law talking about triathlons.

My equivalent is the men’s high jump which I was captivated by last night.  I knew, with their slightly odd, bouncy run ups, that the bars they were clearing were pretty high. However it was only when the commentators explained that the heights these athletes were jumping over were the equivalent of an average house ceiling (take a look up) that it really struck me.

But it was not always this way.  Robert Grabarz, Team GB’s brilliant bronze medal winner, and his fellow competitors have a gangly, courageous, trailblazing American to thank for the heights they can now clear.

In the early sixties in Oregon, Dick Fosbury was a 16 year old high school athlete who was good, but certainly not outstanding at his chosen event of the high jump.  In those days, the status quo method of clearing the bar was known as the ‘straddle’, whereby the competitor cleared the bar by jumping facing forwards and downwards and where slightly shorter, more explosive athletes tended to have success.  With landing areas of sand or sawdust the jumper also needed to land on their feet in order to prevent injury.

Fosbury knew that if he wanted to fulfil his dreams and compete at the highest level he would have to do something different.  He could not effectively co-ordinate the movements needed for the straddle to clear the heights he needed to.  If he carried on doing the same thing everyone else was doing, he would fade into mediocrity.

So he began experimenting with his own technique.  Something which meant he decided to go over backwards when everyone else always went over forward.  Something which went totally against what his coaches had told him and which the leading athletes in the world were using at the time.  Something which leveraged his own skills, physique and attributes.  Something which invited ridicule from those around him, where he was labelled ‘the world’s laziest high jumper’ and like a ‘fish flopping into a boat’.  Something which leveraged the fact that American schools and colleges were starting to use rubber mats, enabling Fosbury to land on his back.  Something which became known as the Fosbury Flop and led to him setting an Olympic record, whilst winning the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics.

The Fosbury Flop is now the established and best technique for all high jump competitors.  But imagine going back to the early sixties where a young Fosbury was being told by established people that it was not possible and that he should keep practising harder on the way it had always been done.  Imagine his bravery, his hard work, his conviction, and the doubts he had to overcome.  It is something to be celebrated.  Just like the Fosbury Flop, many things in our daily lives that are taken for granted now, simply did not exist previously.  It took just one man with some unordinary thinking, using his own skills, and leveraging the latest technology to allow him to do something that was simply not possible before.  Imagine what such thinking could mean for us in our worlds.

I am off to the stadium tonight to watch the athletics.  Lucky me.  What chances that I will be able to say that I was there when Usain Bolt ran his 200m semi-final backwards?

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary (May 2012)

In April we completed our first year of Marketers Diary posts. So we owe you a 2011/2012 end of year results post. This will follow later this month billed as The Marketers 2011/2012 Diary Awards. We will also be bringing you our Jubilee brand bandwagon post observations.

But for now, in time honoured tradition, we’ve stuck with picking our favourite marketing communications from the best brand activation examples out there from May 2012. Or as Ricky Martin might put it the Thor amongst the lesser competitors in the process.

This month we have seen the poster sites and TV screens blasted with a mish-mash of Jubilee, Olympic and Euro 2012 event leveraging ads. Some good, some bad, some just on a different (weird rather than wired) planet. It has almost felt that to not be topical, is to stand out at the moment! So with commendations to Direct Line, Emirates and City of Westminster who didn’t quite make the grade this month, we bring you the winners.

Best Campaign Idea – Wed 2nd May – Stella Cidre

First we had, ‘it’s not cider, it’s cidre’ and now we have, ‘into a chalice, not a glass’. So we move from an execution to a campaign. Nice work agency suit for turning one-off into a campaign with legs (or perhaps it was always meant to be). And congrats to planners and creative too for finding more content to make interesting within campaign theme. Although you might get stuck on ‘bar’ and ‘beer mat’ doesn’t have the glamour that glace commands. This whole package is just popcorn perfect and is doing a brilliant job in detaching the provincial perception of stella with this chic offer. Great all over. Not that I’m a cidre drinker – but I may just be tempted. and then art direction creates a great european art film effect too, adding to the romantic allure.

Best Brand Activation – Wednesday 9th May – P&G

This looks like a very interesting brand activation campaign. And one where I can look at the streets of London to see whether it has had impact – because they should be cleaner. On paper (or rather at the ad agency SPARK session), this idea looks like a perfect leverage of the Olympic sponsorship by P&G….let’s see how it works out in reality – hopefully it lives up to its promise and is more than just extra litter on the streets for the PGCapitalCleanup team to manage. I am sure it will. And will probably sign up myself to experience how it all works….and do my bit.

Best demonstration of an App in print – Thu 24th May – Halifax

This Halifax ad caught my eye initially because it didn’t have a member of staff in it! And then I realised it couldn’t as it’s a remote service. That must have been an interesting ‘brand identity police’ discussion because they are a brand you think about for their personal service, and personal has always meant ‘people’ to them.

But what I really liked about the ad was it’s simplicity, which will undoubtedly have a high perceived value to those in the market shopping for a new home (sadly a segment only slightly larger than The Eldorada Fan Club currently). But as a brand ‘innovator’ and a ‘we do mortgages’ message it stands out. Good work. Most are focusing on the technological wow of smartphone capability, especially in FS. The winners here will be those that move from technological to psychological propositions – because whether its tech or not, that’s what always gets consumers engagement.

I hope you’ve seen these ads and they caught your eye too. And if you haven’t I hope you see sense in our wildly inferred interpretations.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Founder Lexden

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. 

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com orajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 21– Gold Medal Thinking

Readers seem to like it when people fight back.  I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about a story of a small businessman taking on the might of P & G and winning by virtue of his audacity and unordinary thinking.  Thanks for your positive feedback.

More recently, I came across a similar anecdote (courtesy of ‘Have I Got News For You’) but with an even bigger discrepancy between the size of David and Goliath.

The Olympic Games, both as a spectacle and as a brand, long ago ceased to be about competitors simply being the best in their chosen field and participating in an event which is the pinnacle of their careers.  The Olympics are a commercial machine.  With London 2012 forecast to cost anywhere between £9 and £11 billion, private sector funding in the form of sponsors is a hugely important component of this.  And these sponsors, because they are paying very large sums of money for the exclusive right to associate their brand with the Games, want to make sure their investment is protected.  This means they do not want other brands muscling in and compromising their objectives.  This makes sense.

What it means is that, legally and officially, there are defined guidelines and rules about what a business can and cannot do with regard making any type of reference to the 2012 Olympics within their own marketing or business operations.  These guidelines are detailed, specific and enforced with the might of the IOC and Acts of Parliament and apply no matter whether you are a multi-national competitor to the lead sponsors or the lady with a small business on the corner near the site.  Whoever you are, you cannot use the Olympic rings, the number ‘2012’ alongside ‘London’, the mascot, the Latin motto: Citius Altius Fortius….the list goes on and on.

But this post is not about that they whys and wherefores of this.  It is not about whether the IOC has problems with corruption of whether the ‘Zil’ traffic lanes will cause chaos and confusion in the summer.  It’s not even about how many medals Team GB (another term which cannot be used) will win.

It is in fact about how a tiny established business has dealt with being impacted by the biggest travelling show in the world. It is a story of what the owner of Café Olympic in Stratford, on the doorstep of the Games, has done in response to the enforcement order they were served with by the authorities looking after the interests of the Olympics sponsors. This ordered the cafe to change the name of their establishment for the duration of the Games, since it infringed the rule which means the words Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’ or ‘Olympian’ cannot be used.  The owner estimated that it would cost £3000 to alter the name, signage and related material.  Or maybe more to refuse, which would then make a contribution towards the funds to cover the £9-11 billion.

So what does someone do when they are faced with something which would, in all likelihood, force the closure of the business and the loss of their livelihood?

Well it forces them to think differently. Which in turn enables them to create an unexpected solution.

This is what they have done:  they have covered up the ‘O’ on their sign so that the establishment is now called Café Lympic.  Given the location of the Games in the east end of London, the solution gets better if you imagine, in your mind’s voice, how the owner might say it.  Think someone like Bianca in Eastenders and you can see why it is the perfect victory.  Worthy of a Gold medal in fact.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Best of ‘A Marketer’s Diary’ (January 2012)

The Marketer’s Diary looks to find and capture one memorable marketing communication each day from the hundreds we supposedly consume.

And 2012 starts with a bang in the marketing communication stakes. Less reliance on ‘new years resolution’ than normal and even less future planning (summer holidays) than previous years too.

I found some great communication executions and placements this month with work from the four contenders featured below and worthy mentions for Tesco Bank, Lurpak and enjoyEngland. 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Tuesday 10th Jan – The Science Museum

Great poster – very striking. And because it’s an exhibition on small every day objects that have been so important in our lives, it’s very smart to achieve the same effect through the design. Where ever I’ve been in London recently, as soon as I’ve seen this shape, I knew what it was promoting.

BEST MEDIA PLACEMENT

Friday 27th January – Madagascar 3

When you are half way up the mountain and about to get on a ski lift, you dont expect to see a lion, a giraffe and a hippo. But that’s exactly what did hit me with this brilliantly media placed poster for Madagascar 3. I noted I must take my 5 year old to see this, even though I was away with the chaps. I think I was probably their primary target audience because of that too.

BEST TV PRODUCTION

Sunday 1st January – Weightwatchers

This ad proves the execution can live up to the concept. Brilliant production. And with a cast of hundreds of ‘brand demonstrators’ too. Every one of the women (and one man) in the ad have used this platform to demonstrate how confidence returns when you feel good about yourself. And because there are so many people celebrating their achievement, if you are considering Weight Watchers it creates a healthy perception that so many actually achieve, as opposed to one or two as normally portrayed in the weight loss ad genre. It also celebrates the ‘after’ and steers clear of the before comparison – breaking another rule of the category. And finally a new track from Alesha Dixon is an inspired ‘role model’ choice. Buzzy track (not memorable, but very relevant) which adds stature (in an offbeat way) to Weight Watchers brand. Love it. Even though a number of commentators have had a pop at this one, it still works for me.

BEST EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT COMMUNICATION

Sunday 8th Jan – Clarks shoes

Magic moment for me – this is my youngest’s first pair of shoes. And Clarks mark it with a memory pack, which is very sweet. And as my 2nd is now 5 and a half and has (with the exception of a pair of football boots) only ever worn Clarks, it’s more than a little sweet; it’s connected me and my wife’s happiness to their brand.

Running since May 2011, to view the full diary with over 200 marketing communication examples and write ups and over 4,000 views, visit the flickr page at http://bit.ly/mArsPV

Posted by Christopher Brooks http://www.twitter.com/@consultingchris

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.