Tag Archives: marketing solutions

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.

Unordinary Thinking No. 46 – Sweating the small stuff to make a big impact

Often, it seems, brands are less focused on designing coherent marketing strategies but would rather put their efforts into the search for a ‘silver bullet’, ‘magic wand’ or ‘killer app’ instead. And when they find something (often inspired by the technologists), they pin their hopes on it solve their business problems like one neat easy to swallow proposition pill and we can then all retire to the beach. If only!


The reality is that the silver bullet that is sought is often a combination of many smaller elements brought together.  They are the sum of the small things within a business which make a difference for the customer.  They are the things which are not always obvious when companies choose to continually stare inward, rather than observe outwards at their customers.  I recall a brand planner on this subject stating, ‘you always start with the brand’. But we find when marketing energy is liberated to look at the potential of the small things that make a difference to customers, a different variety of more engaging solutions emerge. And when conducted appropriately these have brand differentiation baked in too. These then help to define the brand differentiation created

At Lexden we are big fans of developing small ideas which deliver a BIG impact for customers and the brand. It’s much simpler to getting something delivered when the idea doesn’t involve cross-departmental approval or IT resource prioritisation.

Contact us for a copy of our ‘small ideas | BIG impact’ workshop guidance notes.

Below are two fine examples of what a big impact small ideas can have.  To arrive at these outcomes requires a unordanary approach to idea development.

An inch smaller please

Back in the nineties, Sears and Montgomery Ward, two huge nationwide retailers in the US, were locked head to head in a battle for the hearts and wallets of consumers.  This meant price wars and huge TV advertising campaigns.


However, it was a small move made by Sears which made a disproportionate difference.  They altered the height and width of their home catalogue so that it was smaller than that of Montgomery Ward.  The effect of this was to ensure that, when the two catalogues were stacked on a coffee table in the customer’s home, Sears would always be the one on top.  This increased the chances it would be looked at when a customer was browsing and hence the likelihood of a sale.  Commercial difference from a small place.

Everton on top in the Mersyeside derby

From home shopping to Premiership football.  Selling merchandise for professional football teams is a huge part of their business model and, these days, involves massive sponsorship deals and overseas tours to expand their fan base (and sell more shirts).  For the bigger clubs, retail shops on the high street are the norm.  In 2009, when Everton FC was opening their new retail store in the city centre shopping mall, Liverpool ONE, they spotted an opportunity for a rebrand.  They decided to call their new store Everton Two meaning they had an interesting address-Everton Two, Liverpool One.  Of course, at one level, this is simply a bit of fun in a football mad city.

But, viewed commercially, think of the incremental PR this generated.  Think of the conversations and discussions between people taking place around Liverpool.  Think of the appeal of Everton fans to visit the shop, and discuss out loud the venue they’ve visited. Clients these days are continually asking us about how to use social media to create word of mouth marketing.  Well this buzz was all created without a tweet or facebook ‘like’ in sight.  The story was picked up by the local press and was a topic of conversation in cabs, offices and dinner tables around the city.  So what does this mean commercially?  It meant that the money Everton had allocated for promoting the new store could be used elsewhere.  Probably to the weekly wage of a millionaire player but that’s a whole different story.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the 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 T: +44 (0) 207 036 2968. M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.