Tag Archives: insight

Five Magical Proposition Development Ingredients – No. 3 Expert Insight Interpretation

Unlike advertising campaigns or systems improvements, which happen all the time in a business, customer value proposition development happens a lot less frequently. There are fewer products and services to promote and therefore fewer propositions to create or evolve. Which means those clients involved in this important process are working across – at best – a few proposition developments each year.

Picture1At Lexden our team has developed over 50 propositions in different sectors, across more than 10 countries, to all segments of society. That’s not us wanting to crow, but what it does mean is that we have probably spent between 500 and 1,000 days searching for or commissioning and interrogating customer insight to unearth the compelling proposition territory to build from. We find this frequency and variety allows us to reach out, identify and blend a wider pallet of attributes and techniques than the biggest proposition departments have access too. The reason being If you are only in the space once in a while how do you know your proposition is truly different? The more you do it the less you are prepared to compromise. But if you don’t do it often enough  you won’t realise you are compromising in the first place.

Drayton Bird used to talk about there being 121 things to get wrong when running a mailing campaign. Proposition development is the same. Until you’ve attacked it from all angles you won’t know what you’ve missed until it’s too late.

And it couldn’t be more apparent than during the insight interpretation phase. I was recently involved in a large CX project where one of the big management consultancy companies said, “You’ll get most of the answers from 60% of the insight”. God help the client who appoints them on proposition development – our experience is that it’s that last 10% when it comes good.

blue reseachWhen the insight is 100% reviewed, the thorough synthesis allows you to find territories which need to represent a combination of the consumer’s rational needs fulfilled, an improvement made to the customer life (typically connected to an emotional driver) and competitive advantage through leveraged brand assets. And the balance varies between products and markets. We’ve learnt that.

There are no short cuts to the answers. But there are smart ways to interrogate the insight to arrive at territories earlier to build the propositions from. It’s also important to put a credibility rating on insight.

We once found that a client’s competitors public domain research was more reliable than their own. Not an easy pill to swallow, but one we got past in order to use this external richer insight to develop a super car credit card proposition. To do this you need a clear head. A clear head means keeping the customer as a number one priority.

The more you work across industry sectors the easier it is to accept that a client’s proposition will occupy such a small proposition of that customer’s life – either at purchase or usage stage. Having this awareness inspires us to work harder for even more compelling propositions. 

Finding and interpreting the insight for us is like finding the right spring board and getting a perfect take off. Hit it right and the rest falls in to place. Get a poor trajectory and everything thereafter will be a lesser version of what could have been. If your responsibility is comms, your head is full of, ‘how do we communicate this to the chosen audience?’ Which is why Brand and Comms agencies’ CVP models can seem very one-dimensional in their approach as they railroad other elements in order to get to the comms. 

Having worked for agencies in the past, I understand the drivers behind their thinking. A former comms agency MD I worked for, where I was building a customer consultancy service, believed that proposition development was a waste of time. He felt it kept the agency from feeding the creative teams back at the agency with briefs to generate revenues. His view was that the planners should do a lesser job for the client so we could jump to the ad campaign – and let the ad sell the idea. 

Needless to say I didn’t agree. I also didn’t buckle to this warped model and left to set up Lexden as a independent Customer Strategy Agency to avoid such compromises of integrity. 

So the key to a successful proposition is to ensure the interrogation and interpretation of the customer insight is thorough and is conducted by those who understand and look to fulfill the consumer motivations, how to trigger these through marketing assets and complete this exercise on a regular basis – meaning they know the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly,

In isolation, this is useful. When applied as one of the Lexden’s five magical proposition development ingredients, it’s powerful stuff:

1. Clients ‘inspired by customers

2. Liberating ideation techniques

3. Expert insight synthesis and interpretation analysis

4. Sharp commercial and viability alertness

5. Energising approach with a ‘go-to-market’ attitude

Points 4 and 5 to follow.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter.

Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44  (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

When it comes to success in customer experience, what makes the difference?


At Lexden we are specialist in all things customer strategy; customer insight, customer experience and customer propositions.

For our next ‘Customer First’ newsletter we would like to find out what you think is most important when it comes to building a winning Customer Experience Strategy.

We’d really appreciate your views. Please take the time to complete the short poll. If you subscribe to our newsletter we will forward you a copy of the complete results along with a new release, ‘Lexden’s Guide to Building a Successful Customer Experience Programme’.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

At Lexden we work with clients to help their brands attract and retain customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, build memorable customer experience strategies and create engaging value propositions.

Don’t forget to view our new Lexden Newsletter Putting Customers First

For more information about how we can help your customer strategy please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com, or call us on M +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

A star is born. Introducing ZMET, the real star of the new Morgan Spurlock movie

I’m not a film critic, and this is not a film review although I will be referring to a new film. A film that, when it is panned by the press and ignored by the brands it set out to attract, even I start to question whether it is worth the admission fee. However, I am a fan of the unordinary and truly believe every experience presents learning if you look deep enough (which is how I justify Rik Mayall’s ‘Drop Dead Fred’ in my DVD collection incidentally). So I decided to watch Morgan Spurlock’s latest outing, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

And once again, I’ve been rewarded. I did find something of significance, quite unexpectedly, in an otherwise bearable film (Sorry Morgan. There are a few amusing interviews, but not much more). As a production, it’s a simple concept which should have stayed as the unfulfilled pub bet from where it was no doubt spawned.

However, Mr S loves blurring brand extremes with mainstream everyday life and to his credit has managed to get a film production into our cinemas, through ‘corporate underwriting’ alone. So it doesn’t even matter if the crowds don’t flock to it since he’s paid for it with the sponsor’s money already. What was the point of it then?

As a yet to be discovered screen writer (classic ex-planner), I take my hat off to him. He is there, I am not. But like a Man City fan must feel about success, I can’t help thinking that how you get there is more important than just getting there.

So I won’t review it for its cinematic quality or depth of meaning, as I am sure that is not Spurlock’s criteria for a good film anyway. This very light entertainment outing makes a small point about the unhealthy importance of product placement in order to finance films, albeit in a pointless way.

BUT FORGET ALL THAT. Hidden in the film is an absolute gem, which is worth the admission fee alone; A ZMET interview. And that is what I want to bring your attention to.

What the @#&! I hear you say, a research interview?! No, it’s a ZMET interview. If you don’t know what ZMET is and you are in customer insight, shame on you. ZMET is growing in popularity and getting ahead of the curve on this one will only enhance CV’s later. If you have heard of it here’s your chance to see this powerful technique live at work in this film.

ZMET first entered ours lives at Lexden last year and it has left a permanent impression of what research findings can achieve for a brand. We get involved with research because, as a company, Lexden collaborate with clients to solve their marketing strategy challenges. And in my time that’s involved a whole lot of insight. In fact, I estimate I’ve been sitting behind the one way mirror at focus groups for nearly 20 years. Ouch. Should I even admit to that?

During that time my love affair with customer insight has put me behind the viewing glass, facilitating in front of the glass, recruiting the groups, buying the research, analysing the findings and interpreting their impact for clients’ businesses. I’ve been understanding what keeps people awake, what helps them to sleep, uncovering what makes them do what they do, knowing what prevents them doing what we want them to do, identifying what they love about a brand and concluding why they hate a brand. I’ve seen research from business owners in Rome to parents in Istanbul; from gamblers in Glasgow to sports stars in Surrey.

But, like an insight junkie, I think I’d become a little numb to many research techniques. They all do their job, but I guess I needed a new high. In my qualified opinion this ZMET stuff is the powerful hit I’d been seeking. In marketing terms, it’s the most effective approach I have found to answer the big question; “why are we emotionally motivated to do what we do?” Think about it, you often want the ‘why’ but end up with the no more than the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ or at best rational attitudinal presumptions coaxed out of consumers, rather than emotional life goals.

We had the good fortune to work with BDRC (who are the only qualified agency in the UK to conduct ZMET) on a soul seeking ZMET study for a financial services brand. We managed to get a deeper understanding of the real drivers of choice for their audiences than had been achieved before. And by translating these findings into language the client understood (that’s where Lexden came in), we were able to exploit them against areas such as customer strategies, commercial imperatives and create new opportunities previously unseen. The true potential was unlocked.

So we had a powerful emotional insight tool with findings transferable across various areas of their business; segment understanding, brand positioning, proposition development, channel marketing, communications and more. Such is the versatility of the ZMET technique and the strength of the BDRC researchers.

If great insight is like a bright light bulb being switched on, ZMET is like Regent Street at Christmas time.

In the Spurlock film, Morgan asks to get ZMETTED (I am sure it will catch on as a verb) to understand what his own brand is about. When you see it, try to visualise beyond the interview in terms of its potential. A bit like when you view a house to buy and have to see the potential of the bedroom beyond the aubergine and lime paisley wallpaper the owners are so proud of; you need to imagine how you’d use it in your business.

If you are into insight, get interested in this technique.  It’s being used more here, in the US and the Far East. But one piece of advice; be brave. It’s not conventional. You need to see the bigger picture before getting tied up in the detail of how you change what you’ve always believed in. Traditional thinking about how research works or is applied will limit the potential application of ZMET.

Oh and one more piece of advice; if you want to catch a Morgan Spurlock film, rent SupersizeMe.

There’s a demo on how ZMET works here http://www.bdrc-continental.com/zmet/

Posted by Christopher Brooks, 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 or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on  T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.