Tag Archives: proposition development

Unordinary Thinking No. 42 – Cross-selling in the drugs business

I have never quite figured out in my own mind whether I think selling drugs is difficult or easy.  Difficult because of tricky supply side issues such as sourcing, shipping and dealing with unscrupulous characters or easy because of plenty of demand and income which the government chooses not to tax.

Okay, so perhaps I do not mean that sort of narcotic.  I was actually thinking of prescription medication which we all have to buy (hopefully not too often).

I heard a great story from an FMCG seller friend of mine recently.  He told me about the trouble faced by a successful pharmacist client of his when he expanded his store network.

This chap had grown his business from a single shop to four through a combination of hard work, good locations and a forensic understanding of what his customers desired.  With this successful track record behind him, when the opportunity came to acquire a new store location he grasped it.  Why would it not be a success?  After all, he had spent over 12 years running his pharmacies, honing his proposition and working out what worked and what did not.  It was simply a case of taking this expertise and knowledge and applying it at the new location.Pills

Except this time it did not work.  In fact the new pharmacy performed poorly from a sales and profit perspective.  Income from prescriptions was on plan-only to be expected given the new store’s proximity to the town’s general hospital. It was the cross-sales from high margin, impulse purchase areas such as soaps, toothpaste and hair dye which were causing the problem.

The pharmacist could not understand it since he had previously been immensely successful through following the same retail formula in all four of his previous stores.  He was replicating his established model such as store layout, stock selection and staff training.  He looked closely at his customers and confirmed that they were very similar in terms of demographic to those in his other pharmacies a mile away.  But they were simply not buying products in the way he expected or wanted.

So he went back to what had made him successful in the first place.  He went back to his customers and started closely observing and examining what they were doing when they were in the pharmacy.

PharmacyAnd what did he see?  He saw focused, task oriented individuals striding through his front door and to the back of the shop like Usain Bolt striving for the 100m tape.  Because they were coming straight from a hospital appointment, customers were preoccupied with getting their new medication and would march directly to the dispensing counter at the back.  Once they had been served however, their whole demeanour changed as they visibly relaxed and wandered back through the shop, looking at the products on the shelves but not stopping to purchase anything.

He immediately understood.  Once the customers had received their prescriptions they mentally ‘checked out’ of the pharmacy as their mission had been accomplished.  They also physically put their wallets and purses away and, hence, their likelihood to purchase became less.  It was clear to him that he needed to reimagine a new environment, more in tune with this particular customer scenario.

The answer, in common with many unordinary solutions, was simple and obvious in hindsight.  Through the experience of his established stores, he knew how to maximise cross-sales by presenting the right types of product as the customer walked through the door (in a similar way to how supermarkets always have the fruit and vegetables in the first aisle).

So he shut the pharmacy for two days and turned the shop around-both physically and financially.  By mentally envisaging the dispensing counter as the front door, he reconfigured the shop as if a customer had just entered it once they had received their medication.  He placed the products he knew would appeal to customers right in their eye line once they had their prescriptions-or while they were waiting.  Hence he provided a solution more congruent and in tune with how his customers were feeling as they came into this particular pharmacy, with a corresponding increase in cross-sales.

Going back to the customer, applying some creativity, and using the available resources (prior insight about his customers) to help solve the commercial problem.

So perhaps selling the drugs is always the easy bit.  It’s the cross-sell that the drug dealers might want to think about.


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 316548  You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Unordinary Thinking No. 36 – Gestating elephants, mice and Kindles

I found out about gestation periods today. Did you know it takes 19 months for a baby elephant to develop from mummy and daddy elephants doing the business to birth (try not to linger on that image)? Or that it takes a mouse a mere six weeks from sperm and egg making acquaintance to lots of little mice arriving?

Amazon’s Kindle, or more specifically the technology to read on an electronic device, was conceived, in its basic form, in 1973 in Xerox’s Research Centre in Palo Alto, California (incidentally also where the computer mouse was first developed). If we define ‘birth’ as mass adoption and seeing people everywhere with Kindles in their hand, then that occurred in and around 2007. Which means the Kindle was born after a pregnancy of nearly 35 years.

Elephant and babyWhen I first found this out, I was surprised. After all, if the initial technology was available in the 70s, what has taken so long?  But it was not the technology that caused the delay. It was the translation of a cool, clever bit of tech into a proposition that consumers decided they wanted and would buy which has taken the time.

And, where numerous others had tried and failed, it took a clever and charismatic visionary, deploying what we at Lexden would call unordinary thinking, to bring an electronic reading device into all of our lives. That visionary was Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.

If you think about it, an electronic reader was a counter intuitive thing for Bezos to pursue. With an inordinately successful online business based on shipping paper books, a more conventional thinker might well have persuaded himself that people would continue hundreds of years of habit and never switch to electronic books. That analysis would certainly have suited him. Except Bezos did not look at it that way. All he could see was something which could destroy his business. He might have thought “if my customers love getting books delivered in 2 days, what happens if someone can get them the same books in 2 hours?  Or two minutes?” It was a brave call but, if anyone was going to destroy his business, it was going to be him.

There is a secondary element which is at the core of Jeff Bezos and his ethos. He has an obsessive, overwhelming and intrinsic focus on the customer. It is how he built Amazon and is summarised best by the man himself: “Whenever we are facing one of those too-hard problems, where we get into an infinite loop and can’t decide what to do, we try to convert it into a straightforward problem by saying, ‘well, what’s better for the customer?’”. There is a big clue for all of us here and is why so many people love their Kindles.

Finally he knew the limitations of Amazon as an organisation and what would get in the way of launching a successful product. After all, what did they really know about developing a technological product? So he empowered a completely separate and new business unit-Lab 126 in California – hundreds of miles from Head Office in Seattle. By doing this, he knew that the Kindle project team could get on with developing their product without the distractions, potential negativity, office politics and budget pressures that are a feature of all corporates – even one as new as Amazon.

But why has the Kindle succeeded where other attempts, notably Sony’s Librie which had launched three years earlier, failed?Kindle

It was not the technology. In fact, the Librie actually had a better screen with eight different shades of grey rather than the four on the Kindle. Instead the difference was in how the Kindle set out to address, one by one, all of the reasons which would get in the way of consumers falling in love with their reader.

For instance:

  • Being able to wirelessly download books instead of having to link to a PC
  • Tens of thousands of books available through Amazon’s relationship with publishers
  • Leveraging the book reviews and recommendations of 65m existing Amazon shoppers
  • Ability to purchase with one click of a mouse
  • Books sold at a significant discount to their physical counterpart

When you look it at it like this, it seems easy doesn’t it? Of course, it was not. It must have been really hard. But it shows that by following the customer, doing all you can for them, and putting absolutely everything into brilliant execution, there is a road map for all of us who are hoping to launch propositions we hope consumers will, one day, love.

So think of it like this: even if the conception of your idea was over in a flash, your baby is gestating nicely. Just figure out everything you have to do to get down to the maternity ward and give birth.


Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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 sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ Lexden newsletter.

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

Should I stay or should I not go now?

Okay, so the lyrics don’t trip off the tongue as well as the original but, then again, when The Clash wrote their song I suspect they were thinking more of booze, girls and other activities rather than customer loyalty, which is what I have been giving some thought to.

Last week I had the privilege of sitting as one of a panel of experts at BDRC Continental’s Annual Hotels Insight Forum at the Park Plaza in Waterloo.  The event was attended by about 70 people from the world of hotels and hospitality and included representatives from the likes of Hilton, Radisson and Marriott as well as less mainstream niche players.  The theme for the day was “Sprinkle stardust or deliver vanilla-customer engagement and retention”.

Cris Tarrant, CEO and Founder of BDRC Continental (incidentally, the largest independent research agency in the UK), had asked me to sit on the panel because I am specifically not from the world of conferences, hotel loyalty card schemes and occupancy rates.  He wanted to ensure an external perspective about what is actually going on for customers when hoteliers and hospitality professionals think about loyalty, retention and engagement was also included in the discussion.Hotel Cards

The really interesting and unordinary part of the day for me was a section where a live focus group with actual customers was facilitated on stage in front of the delegates.  What the customers said was then subsequently discussed and debated by the attendees and with the expert panel.

Inevitably much of the discussion around engendering customer loyalty was about the rational side of propositions such as card based loyalty programmes, rather than talking of ways to make more emotional connections with customers.   I think this simply reflects the general balance of thinking, activity and resourcing in marketing departments in most companies (not just hotels) who are trying to make their customers feel loyal to them.  I think this balance is wrong.  From a customer’s perspective, the things that will make them truly loyal in the “I love them” sense are the emotive elements of a proposition rather than the rational.  But businesses typically put most of their effort into the rational elements which have less of an influence.  For customers, when we really delve into what it means to be loyal to a brand or organisation, it is so much deeper, more emotive, than it might first appear.  For customers, loyalty-and its extension love-is more about feeling and emotion, than function and rationality.

And this is where the lyrics from The Clash come in.  When customers are thinking ‘should I stay?’ with a brand, it is not quite the same thing as asking themselves ‘should I not go now?’  The difference is subtle but important and I see the distinction as follows.  The first question is answered by the positive, emotionally led and continually constructed reasons which a brand gives for a customer to love them.  The latter question is answered by human beings’ innate inertia and the rational hygiene factors which brands implement and which customers expect.

The reasons for how customers answer the “Should I stay?” question are distinctive, personal and emotive.  They are about surprise and being treated as an individual.  They are about demonstrations of service which go well beyond their expectations.  They are about tangible and personal representations of valuing their custom.  And it is about brands creating an environment which makes the customer say ‘it just feels right with them’.Clash Stay or Go

On the other hand, the “should I not go?” reasons are typically driven by industry norms against which customers assess the proposition in question.  It is about habit.  It is about feeling comfortable with the familiar and the fact that most of the time customers just cannot be bothered with the hassle of switching somewhere else, even if they are unhappy.  These customers are often silent to the brand and the brand can choose to take this silence as glowing contentment or simmering discontentment; genuine loyalty or stunning apathy.

And events invariably arise which will cause a customer to question their relationship with the brand.  When they get an offer from a competitor which is 10% less than their best price.  When their website is down at the precise moment they want to buy.  When they have a bad experience with the brand and the opportunity is not used to deepen the customer relationship.  When they hear, via their social networks and word of mouth, that another organisation treats its customers really well.  When these types of thing happen, the reasons to ‘not go’ within a proposition become largely irrelevant.  It is the extent and quality of the reasons ‘to stay’ which will define whether that customer is loyal to the brand.

Customers have more choice than ever, find it easier to switch and struggle to differentiate the rational elements within most propositions.  If you don’t give them reasons to stay-emotional hooks and memories that enhance their lives in some way-you are not maximising your chances of deserving their loyalty.  As the Claridge’s General Manager says in the brilliant documentary series currently on BBC2, “You have to create a reason for them to come back”.

To get their customers to love them, talk about them, keep returning and spending more money with them, businesses need to stop focusing so much effort and discussion on the reasons to not go and, instead, spend the time creating as many reasons for their customers to stay as they can.  To finish off the Clash’s lyrics….if they don’t, there will be trouble…….


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) 7698 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Choosing to annoy your customers

Making decisions about how you treat your customers, operations, products and marketing is what businesses have to do.  Here are some real life decisions businesses have made from a mini survey of the 6 people who sit around me:

  1. The gym who charges 50p to weigh yourself
  2. The airport operator who charges £1 to buy a ‘pack’ of two plastic bags for liquids
  3. An emergency glazing company who quotes for replacing the glass, comes round as agreed at 10pm at night, and then says they cannot replace it in the dark because of health and safety-but insists that the full cost of the visit is payable
  4. The mobile operator who, after a tariff change, does not mention that you will now have to pay for voicemail which had previously been free
  5. The insurer who increases your premium quotation by 37% despite there having been no claim-and then immediately reduces it when you say you are going to shop around
  6. The weekly lifestyle magazine costing £1.60 which bundles another publication with it and charges you £2

Two things are for sure.  Number one is that these are all deliberate decisions.  Number two is that they will annoy customers.  The business has, presumably, chosen that revenue or cost considerations should trump any effect on the customer (and how many other potential customers they will tell).  These are probably the same types of business who say ‘our customers are important to us’ or ‘we are customer centric’.

Businesses doing things like this should at least make sure they are measuring the original business case for it.  Making sure they add up the masses of incremental revenue they get and what they think it is doing to the bottom line.

Because there are other corresponding, relevant metrics to incorporate into the analysis:

  • Lower customer satisfaction scores
  • Increased customer attrition and lower loyalty
  • Lower net promoter scores and people recommending to others
  • Increased negative conversations about the brand on social media and real life
  • Customers preferring competitors
  • Brand equity dashboards

Much of the energy in proposition development focuses on fixing the hassles which customers have to endure.  This is absolutely right and increases the likelihood of being able to offer something which resonates with customers and they will buy.  However, at least as important-and possibly more emotive-should be a focus on removing the irritants.  At Lexden, when we work with clients to develop customer propositions, we always ensure that there is a separate exercise which concentrates on identifying these annoyance factors and challenging the commercial reasons for them.  There is rarely a credible rationale.  Fixing these are the quintessential low hanging fruit clients love to find.

So annoy your customers by all means if you want.  But at least do it deliberately and for enough financial gain to counteract the inevitable corresponding negative effects on your customer metrics.

And call yourself ‘bottom line focused’ or ‘driven by the numbers’ if you want.

But don’t call yourself customer centric.


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) 7698 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Five Magical Proposition Development Ingredients – No. 2 Liberating ideation techniques

So who has the best ideas within the business? Marketing? Propositions? Customer Services? The Board? They will all make a claim to the prize. And in fact, they would be right to. But equally we have witnessed brilliant new ideas coming from compliance, operations, actuarial, data analysts and HR too.

How can this be so? In our experience at Lexden, which is not insignificant, it’s more to do with how the ideation session is constructed, than who rocks up. If it’s well crafted and focused on the cause in question, the best ideas will shine through. And like all marketing, the making of the success is in the preparation.

We’ve often been commissioned to help clients who are finding their established proposition development process is delivering tired, well-worn or self-fulfilling solutions. When we look at their approaches we tend to find it’s broken in one or more of four places. We’ve listed these below and included some of the suggestions we propose to reinvigorate clients’ approaches.

1) Too much has been rationalised out before the idea build process even begins.

Typically this is driven by IT constraints, resource capacity or speed to market concerns. Whilst all valid, these constraints are simply not relevant until an idea is formed. If the idea is strong enough (e.g. noticeable commercial opportunity + brand aligned + customer appetising + competitive distinction + business vision enabler) it’s amazing how momentum builds and barriers will fall away or be knocked down.

2) Not enough value is placed on the ideation session set-up.

If this is where the magic happens, it needs to be set up that way. Rooms should be selected and dressed. The session programme content and work sheets should be built exclusively in consideration of the purpose of the session and the environment – maximise it’s potential. And of course stimulus should be chosen without compromise and prepared with care – it is your springboard for visually inspiring your creators. If you’ve run an ideation session recently, how much time did you give to this point? Did you compromise? If you did, so will your output be sadly.

3) Restricting attendance.

The guest list should be inclusive and respected. Your attendees are the creative inventive assets. See them as Steve Jobs, James Dyson, Roald Dahl, Tracey Emin and Wayne Hemingway and watch the magic happen. Push beyond the usual set of attendees. Involve individuals typically left on the shelf such as legal and HR. If you can’t see beyond the compliance officers and operational managers in them, neither will they – and you deserve exactly what you get in terms of output from the session (or don’t get as is often the case). However, they are an often untapped source of ideas – so help take their business constraints cuffs off and they will blossom.

4) Starting a session at the wrong point.

Turning attendees into creators does not mean letting them run wild with a ‘what if…blue sky thinking’ unconstrained remit. It’s the opposite in fact. It’s about getting everyone to a very specific unified starting point. And that point is the one at which the customer enters our equation. And then like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, Dorothy waking up in Oz and Alice stepping through the looking glass they too will be transported into a new world. A world where ideation rules are set to be customer centric. This world has its own rules – customer driven rules.

And what you will find is the ideas are new, fresh and bountiful.

Ideas which will resonate with consumers (and if you’ve set the rules correctly at point 4) and the business.

And it’s from here the hard graft of making the ideas work, on a customer’s terms separates the proposition pioneers from the parity pushers.

So good luck. There’s no reason why you can’t create the magic in-house, but if you want a helping hand or advisory inspiration, we are only a click away.

Lexden’s five magical proposition development ingredients 

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

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 , or call us on T: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Customer Experience: The Ultimate Game Changer


I get to spend many of my working days facilitating ideation sessions for marketing clients. The focus is often on finding new ways to encourage consumers to emotionally engage with brands. This can be through value propositions which almost always leads to initiatives around customers experiencing the brand when they are at their best. If the brand gets the opportunity to make a deeper connection with the consumer it gets permission to possibly shift perceptions and encourage behavioural change too.

For these work shops I to use real brand case studies and popular culture examples to illustrate what great or poor  looks like. Borat has often appeared – poor. As has the Flow scene from The Hustler – great. I have a high regard for Dove and B&Q also as beacons of excellence to draw inspiration from. But from now on these example will be on the silver medal place. For I have found a new gold example – and it’s the London 2012 Olympics.

Here is a spectacle which only weeks ago the media frenzy was centered around the unforeseen problems. But over the last 2-3 weeks something quite beautiful has happened. The media has shifted column inches and opinion from a focus on failure to one of fulfillment. Given the way the story can be crafted to suit the journalists viewpoint or publications agenda, that’s no small feat. So what is different about this story which means many commentators are twisting 180 more swiftly than Beth Tweddle? In my opinion, it’s  back to the point I started with. When consumers experience the brand at it’s best, it creates a deeper memory connection than any naysayer can hope to achieve.

I attended the games so have seen how in this instance how the experience was delivered. As we arrived at the Olympic Park with great expectation and some concern about organisation (fed by the media I add), we expected some hiccups. But from the first, “Welcome to the games. This will be a great day in your life” comment from a chirpy (and they were all chirpy) game maker volunteer outside Stratford station, we knew as consumers, this experience would create such a positive impression that all other views held would melt away. In a digitised world, whether you have a retail presence or not, human interaction is key for brands – and here they got it so right. I met a volunteer on Wednesday back in his civvi outfit as a researcher. He was full of praise for the organisers and the training he received. He we also given a new pair of Adidas trainers and a Swatch watch. What a smart move – tipping the odds to ensure the volunteers felt proud and looked together creating an army of brand ambassadors.

So with the mood of the nation euphoric the media had to concede there wasn’t a negative story people would want to read and they had to change direction. These  consecutive issues of The Week illustrate perfectly how quickly media mood shifted. From a ‘can we pull it off?’ headline to a ‘the greatest show on earth?’ and finally to a ‘Britain’s Golden Games’ (note without a question mark).

Looking back why did we ever doubt it? Well because at the time we were being bombarded by messages of pessimism from all media corners. But as soon as we experienced it for ourselves and heard back from friends and family, we as consumers came to our senses and trusted our own judgement again.

The memories of the athletes achievements will linger for a lifetime. The legacy of the Olympics will spread through schools across the land and rejuvenate parts of East London. For me as a marketer, this example reaffirms the ‘power of positive customer experience’ and its ability to overpower other marketing messages. Looking back at the occasion the game makers and the venues were the embodiment of the Olympic brand. It all integrated effortlessly (because of the effort put in) to create a deeper connection than any brand prime time TV ads, gamification apps or PR stories typically deliver. 

As Lord Coe would have put i,t had he been a brand manager, “As a brand, when it came to making a deep emotional connection with the customer; we did it right”.

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 on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on T: +44 (0)1279 902205 or M: +44 (0)7968 316548.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 23 Teaching old markets new tricks

One of the great things about working in Proposition Development at Lexden is that we get to work with a lot of new technologies, explore innovations coming into market and talk to the entrepreneurs involved in these creations. Whether that’s mobile payments, telematics or smart metering it’s always fascinating. We also appreciate that because we work across sectors and borders, we are in a privileged position. We get to be at the leading edge more often than many of those who initiate new ideas and the clients who look for them as solutions to their burning platforms.

The pattern I noticed even in our body of work is the popularity of the technology themes. Commerce is obsessed it seems. That’s good news for us because less than 0.5% people buy technology. Like everything consumer’s buy, it’s because it fulfils one emotional state or another.

And clients value our ability to humanise the emotional benefits of a technological advancement adopted by a brand for its customers. But even we can’t escape a lot of the time a technology is involved in part of, or is the solution to our proposition work. But in a world where Apple, Microsoft, Google and IBM are the best global brands, should I be suprised?

So when we come across a story where an advancement is being made which doesn’t leverage technology, it stands out. And when it’s a passion/need motivated start up taking on some of the biggest brands in an established market…and turning heads, we knew it must be subscribing to the Unordinary approach we preach. We were right, so explored some more.

Friends Vicky Marshall & Jonathan Self were looking for an alternative to processed dog foods. They were new dog owners and alarmed by the stories associated with processed dog food. Ranging from skin infections from ticks in the wheat to plaque in dry foods causing tooth decay. The more they read the more they discovered, such as claimed links between processed food and behavioural problems in dogs and even associations with cancer. They were convinced they would find a better way.

They discovered ‘fresh food’ diets. But it’s not part of the major pet food manufacturers’ product portfolio, so isn’t well known. Even rarer than a vet who would say feeding raw was bad for a dog (after all how did dogs survive before processed tins arrived!), was finding a company that provided raw food for dogs and supporting diet plans to help owners. Supported by a local vet they (and here’s the unordinary bit), without anything more than a belief and desire to do better for their dogs, created a company to produce and distribute Raw Food diets. Darling’s Real Dog Food (which has become Honey’s Real Dog Food) was born. With a new dog each but beyond this no credentials, (Vicky and Jonathan are financial services marketing heavyweights) they knew the learning curve would be steep. But they backed themselves and took the leap.

Armed with a vision for healthier pets and a few recipes Vicky headed off to the local farmer to buy a cow. The farmer explained he was used to the cast off cuts going towards dog food, not prime cuts. These off cuts would be treated and processed before a dog saw them. Vicky and Jonathan heard all they needed to know they could provide a real alternative. And so, with a few years experience under their belts now (and some amusing tales), what was a desire to help their own dogs live healthier lives has become a business involving more than 20 people.

And when you read and see how they approach their work you realise here is a company truly dedicated to its stakeholders: pets and their owners.

Honey’s Manifesto for Success

1. Honey’s will assess every dog individually and tailor a food plan for them (with one woman this meant plans for all 8 dogs!)

2. The food plans contain approximately two-thirds raw meat and ground bone and one-third grated raw vegetables – prepared daily on their premises

3. If a customer wants to take the responsibility of sourcing their own food, Honey’s are happy enough because they have another dog converted to Raw food plans even if not the order

4. Honey’s have no waste products because it’s all quality cuts of meat and they use the bone

5. Everything is 100% organic, locally sourced and farm assured

6. The planning and first week’s food plan are free, so that owners can trial the difference before committing

7. Honey’s supports dog rescue shelters that reach out to them

And are they making a difference at Honey’s?

Absolutely. The raw food is providing a better more healthier option for dogs on the plan, which in turn is making owners feel better about their canine parenting skills. The lady with the 8 dogs (mentioned above) has found that after 6 months the savings on her vet bills significantly outweigh the cost of going raw. Vicky has spoken on BBC Radio London’s ‘Barking at the Moon’ dog programme and has been inundated with follow ups from dog owners thanking Honey’s for improving the weight, the life expectancy and the behaviour of their dogs.

They also now exhibit at Crufts. Vicky recalls that at their first turn out people were saying, ‘what’s this?’ and at the most recent event people were saying, ‘I’ve heard about this. I must switch over’. Coupled with the book, the website, a team of converted influential dog owners spreading the word and a growing number of vets giving the thumbs up, things are moving along nicely.

And with requests from wholesalers to go mainstream (which they won’t because it dilutes the quality), they know they are heading in the right direction.

In fact, when I spoke to Vicky she felt that from a marketing perspective (Vicky was a former senior marketer at Nationwide) this may have been her most successful ‘prospect to new customer acquisition’ and ‘customer retention’ experience so far!

In a billion pound market with clear leaders, it’s great to see a new entrant with a different offer. So the skills Vicky and Jonathan ascertained in their respective marketing roles which taught them to stick by the customer with a differentiated and meaningful offer, have come good. In a market as far removed from financial services as imaginable.

If Honey’s Real Dog Food is anything to go by perhaps you can teach an old dog industry a new trick or two, after all!

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 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.

In search of the unordinaires; Willy Wonka

The Unordinaires are those marketing individuals who decide to take a different path to the conventional types. They believe  ‘better for customers’ is never a strap line nor a project, it’s a way of business life and they pursue it in an authentic and original way others can only aspire to. They put their trust in customers, letting their loyalty repay the shareholders. And whilst their individual stars may shine brighter in bursts rather than constantly their enduring legacy is more than a sonic logo, a witty TV ad or memorable sponsorship. They win a place in their customer’s heart for their brands. Their stories are often well known, but not always. But what is always present is the spark of unordinary thinking we at Lexden celebrate.

In a new series of interviews, we will be inviting a number of Unordinaires (as they are affectionately known)  to share their unordinary marketing stories with us. And, by doing so, they will become honourary members of Lexden’s The Unordinaires Club. We will gather these thought leaders every few months at various locations in London, Edinburgh and beyond to share unordinary stories and help with guest marketer’s challenges.

So without further ado, please show your appreciation for our first member of the Unordinaires Club; Mr Willy Wonka.

If you want to know why or how it came to be Willy Wonka, please read the previous blog.

I caught up with Mr Wonka, now retired and living in a small town in mid America with his wife Biddy and 3 year old son James, earlier this month. Willy once ran his self-created empire Wonka Confectionery. But now when he’s not keeping up with James or tinkering with his glass elevator in his garden stables, he tests the latest new inventions the current CEO of Wonka, Charlie Bucket send him.

Q. Thinking back to when you were in charge of the Wonka brand, if you’d only been allowed to run one marketing activation campaign, which would you have chosen?

A. Mr Wonka replied in a shot, “The Golden Ticket of course. I created a demand for my Wonka bars which outstripped my ability to produce them. In Germany and the United Kingdom we got our numbers wrong and couldn’t keep up. But in other countries we launched a series of new product lines through the promotion which ensured they were established with market share within a week of hitting the shelves. The competition didn’t know what to do. But with each bar at the time containing the new ‘tastelicious’ flavour I knew customers would have to come back for more and more, even when the promotion was over.”

Q. You were the Wonka brand, how concerned were you that it couldn’t last beyond you?

A. “I think that’s where people really did get me wrong. I was simply an exaggeration of the brand. The brand was and is Wonka. I proved that by spending my final years at the factory focusing on a successor. To me brands are there to be handed down to the next generation in a stronger shape than they started. Sadly too many people these days seem to think a brand is there to advance their own careers.

Until they work out that they are nurturing it until someone who can continue the work comes along, they are holding the brand back. Charlie Bucket fulfilled the criteria I was looking for in a brand manager, marketing director, product manager and MD. And he’s managed to continue and grow the work I started. For instance,  I was delighted to see Johnny Depp playing me in the Tim Burton movie. And as fantastical is it may have seemed on film, that dedication to the brand I had is what made me unordinary, not my father or the chocolate river. Which was an idea which came from a customer focus group by the way.”

Q. Finally, we believe in the ‘customer first, profits follow’ model. Did you?

A.  Absolutely. I used a very simple test to see if something was good enough; not a business case nor a profit model but ‘a smile’. We invited people who loved sweets to sample our new tastes. As an entrepreneur I believed in getting things to market in as good a shape as you can manage and then perfect them when you are there, rather than working the hell out of them to find by the time you get to market you are out of fashion. So I found the smile test helped me get that quick response. The only flaw in the approach was most couldn’t help following the smile with a sentence of compliment.  Something I didn’t want to hear, so I always ignored it. In fact, I drowned it out with loud classical music. As long as I could see that smile, that’s all the research I needed. After all that’s what making sweets is all about right? Making people happy. If a sweet doesn’t do that, it shouldn’t exist.”

Thank you Mr Wonka for a magical journey from brand management, to product testing and customer insight through to marketing activation. In our short discussion Mr Wonka highlighted how his unordinary approaches to marketing are actually very sane. If only we all had his confidence we could be making bold decisions that some 40 years later are still being copied and admired by millions across the world.

Thank you Mr Wonka, and we hope to see you at the first The Unordinaires Club to be held in Late June in  London. If you would like more details about the event email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajai.ranawat@lexdengroup.com.

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 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.