Delta’s Most Recent Announcement

Recently, Delta announced plans to prioritize comfort with a “refreshed Boeing 777.”  As highlighted in their official press release, they will be making significant improvements to each of their seat segmentation categories: Delta One, Delta One Premium Suite, and the Delta Main Cabinet.

From what I have read online, this created quite a stir in the industry as it was unprecedented for an airline carrier — especially a major one — to prioritize customer comfort.

My immediate reactions to this announcement:

  1. It’s about time!
  2. This is a great reminder that organizations must be customer first.
  3. As customers, this is something that we should come to expect.

For Delta to make this bold statement underscores that they are putting the customer first.  As we all know, when flying overseas for 10+ hours, every extra inch that we can get we would welcome with open arms.  For Delta to take this big step sends a message that they are focused on providing a quality experience all of their customers who fly on this aircraft (albeit at different levels depending on the area in the cabinet).

We often think that a customer first organization is one that provides simply a great service or fantastic product but it does not stop there.  Regardless of industry, product, or service, the customer experience is wide and deep and organizations have to think creatively end-to-end as well as listen to the voice of the customer.   By doing so they will be able to identify pain points that they can then prioritize.  Focusing on the ones that significantly impact customers’ decisions to buy is the key.  This is fundamental not only to foster customer loyalty but because it’s just good business practice.

Time will tell if this customer first strategy will be a source of differentiation for Delta but for now, I believe they are a role-model in the industry.

Go Big or Go Home: Is Your Marketing in “FullEffect?”

The main reason why I have always been passionate about marketing is because I believe that when it is done well, it can be an engine for sustained growth for an organization, large or small. This is why I started my own marketing company, FullEffect International, Inc., where we strive to empower the small and medium sized business with outcome-driven marketing solutions. As Peter Drucker insightfully suggested, when repurposed and / or reimagined, marketing should create value for the organization.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

— Peter Drucker

But what does “FullEffect” even mean? One of the reasons why I used this play with words was to to create a new term that could capture when marketing was producing outcome-driven results. In an effort to break this down further, below are 4 key areas that we examine when talking to new and existing clients. We believe these to be the building blocks of “FullEffect” marketing .

The “3 Rs” Effect: You have customers who not only keep coming back and repeat purchasing your product but also recommend it to others. And finally, customers rave about it in their social and / professional circles online.

Data to Measure: Percent of Repeat Business

The Profitability Effect: After all is said in done with your marketing programs, you are consistently operating profitably. This is attained because you have smart efficiencies in place to keep your cost per customer acquisition low. Furthermore, you are constantly looking at ways to creatively reduce your marketing expense where you can while not compromising value. Moreover, your best customers are compelled to buy your most profitable products driving a higher average selling price.

Data to Measure: Customer Acquisition Cost (Average Revenue per Customer)

The Quality Top Funnel Effect: You are able to bring in quality leads at the top of the funnel such that your sales teams are able to be more efficient at closing deals in less time.

Data to Measure: Sales Win Ratio (Converted Leads)

The Global Scale Effect: Assuming your product or service has been tested and their is a product market fit overseas, your company has successfully entered a new market with a strategic, tailored go-to-market plan for that geography. As a result, your product has achieved scale that generates incremental value for your business, brand, and company culture.

Data to Measure: Market Segment Share Trends by Geography

In conclusion, how is your marketing performing today? Is it creating value for your bottom line? Are you satisfied with the outcomes that your marketing team is delivering? To answer these questions thoughtfully, one would be remiss not to look at the above areas thoroughly. This is why I believe these to be the most critical areas when evaluating a company’s marketing performance. Of course there are other areas such as brand equity, but when it comes to creating sustained value for an organization, the aforementioned 4 factors can do so fairly quickly.

About Michael A. Campbell

Michael A. Campbell is the Founder and Managing Director of FullEffect International, Inc., a consulting firm that provides small and medium size businesses outcome-driven marketing services focused on growth in less time and at less cost.  You can contact him here if you have an inquiry: info@fulleffectinsiliconvalley.com

Japan Market Entry: If You’re a Startup, Read This

I have met a lot of startups who have the admirable ambition to enter the 3rd largest economy in the world, Japan. Japan’s innovation hub, business friendly infrastructure, economic re-emergence, and high living standards are just some of the well-documented reasons why it is an attractive country for foreign direct investment.  But all of these reasons are futile without a tailored-made market entry strategy that understand and/or appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Japan.

In an effort to save lost time and avoid losing a lot of money,  you can read my 7 keys for launching a new product or service here.  But, in addition to that, assuming you do NOT have a presence in Japan, below are 5 fundamental keys that I strongly recommend you to consider if you want to bring your company to the land of the rising sun.

Service and Support: Regardless of what you are selling, be sure you put enough energy in your customer service and support. In many cases, customers base their buying decision on the reliability (i.e., service and support) of the company.  They need to have reassurance that if something goes wrong that they can pick up the phone and receive high quality support.  Indisputably, corners cannot be cut here to be successful in Japan.

Product Marketing: As with any  country, how you market you product  to customers will  determine your success. Messaging  has to resonate with customers and  also connect with the  brand you are trying to convey.  This is  why I believe it is critical to have product marketing experts who are native Japanese speakers who can correctly tweak and tailor messaging for the local market effectively.   Relying on messaging that was created in the home country and then using Google translation will not work.

Route to Market Strategy:  If you plan to use a local partner to bring your product or service to market, spend ample time finding the right partner(s).  They will be an extension of you and your company’s brand so it is very important to meet them and discuss and define what is success in the first 6 months.

Hiring:   As with any business, hiring the right talent is fundamental to keeping an organization moving in the right direction.  And, naturally, Japan is no exception.  Be sure the local people you hire fully share your vision, values, and expectations.

Exit Strategy:  I have always believed that in business it is alwaysabest to plan for a worst case scenario and in parallel prepare for the best case scenario.  Having an exit strategy is a prudent exercise to clarify as an organization what is important and what is success for this unique market.  As communicated previouslu, be sure that this is well understood by your partners as well.

It is my humble opinion that If your strategy takes these 5 factors into account then you will have a much better chance of successfully bringing your business to Japan.

 

Michael Campbell is founder and managing partner of FullEffect International.  His company specializes in helping small to medium sized companies go big in their marketing with an effect-driven approach.  If you have any plans to launch your business in Japan or overseas, contact his company at info@fulleffectinsiliconvalley.com

 

Launching a New Product in Japan? 6 Questions You Ought to Consider

After living and working in Japan, I have been able to see what works and what does not when launching products or services in this market. For the international companies who have done well in Japan, I believe there are several reasons for their sustainable market success. The 6 factors described herein are based on my own professional experience working in the IT industry. If you are looking to enter Japan for the first time or considering to make tweaks to your existing strategy, perhaps the below will provide you some invaluable insight.

1. But why should global organizations even bother focusing on Japan?

Of course one can argue that the size of the market and the economic reemergence as viable reasons for why a company should invest in Japan. But these alone are not enough to justify the significance of focusing on Japan. Perhaps one important reason that is not underscored enough is that it is just smart for your overall business. What this means is that if you can succeed in Japan you will likely enhance your business around the world given Japan’s high demand for quality. The old adage that ‘if Japan customers are happy than an organization is very likely to make other customers happy around the world’ is not a fallacy.

So, what are the 6 questions you should ask before launching a product or service?

Does your product or service appreciate that “less is more” in Japan?
Simply put, bigger is not always better and Japan is certainly a country where this reigns true. People prefer products that are thin, lightweight, and easy to carry around in their pocket or purse. Moreover, just because something may be heavy does not mean it is perceived to be of high quality by Japanese consumers. In my own experience, working in the mobile arena, companies from the telecommunication industry would tell me they would only market smart phones that could easily fit into the hands of teenage high school students. This is because they wanted to ensure they had devices that would allow end-users to type with one hand while grabbing onto a strap handle with the other. If your product has to be carried around, be sure to recognize this and if you have a compelling “less is more” story, be sure to include this in your end-user messaging.

2. Do you have a “Win-Win” Partner Strategy?

Of course before you ask this question you need to throughly understand the competitive landscape and the key relationships you need to do business. Japan is a high-context society and places a high priority in having deep relationships with anyone they do business with. Organizations have to seriously take steps to invest in these relationships to cultivate trust and credibility before expecting business agreements and business results. Once you have a good grip about the landscape, you will be able to determine who are the best partners to engage with for your business. GE, for example, who already had a strong competitive advantage in the Internet of Things space, understood that they had to have a domestic partner to take advantage of the increasing infrastructure development in Japan. Hence, they teamed up with the #1 carrier in Japan, docomo, to effectively provide remote monitoring of structures using LTE. A win-win scenario for both sides.

3. Are you Embracing “Omotenashi?”

Omotenashi is all about providing unwavering service to the customer throughout their experience with the product or service. No matter the industry you are in, organizations need to prioritize a high attention to customer service and support in order to pull people to your brand. This is the baseline but the companies that provide value-added service are the ones who — I believe — can have a competitive advantage. Perhaps one of the reasons why Uniqlo — a Japanese company — has and continues to dominate the retailing industry is because of free in-store tailoring for any pair of ~$20 jeans. This is a great example of omotenashi. Indeed, there are other factors but this value-added service certainly helps to get people in the store, spend, and repeat.

4. Are your Prioritizing Cost and Quality Equally?

This is of course is much easier said than done but it cannot be emphasized enough that organizations have to prioritize cost and quality equally. From my experience, Japanese consumers care about the quality but they are not always willing to dig deep into their pockets to get it. Of course, there are luxurious brands that do very well despite their steep prices but generally speaking, if competing products have the same quality then naturally the decision to buy will come down to the price. One of the reasons for Old Navy’s demise in Japan was they did not have a fine balance between cost and quality. Cost was prioritized more than quality and, consequently, consumers gravitated to other retailers such as Uniqlo. So, if you are launching a product in Japan, be sure you are managing this challenge well. Perhaps doing a test of how the two are perceived by your customer segmentation is a good place to start.

5. Are you Addressing a Japan Social Opportunity?

Even though Japan is a developed country, there are immense opportunities for further growth and development. I will not list them all here but 3 areas that I am seeing are 1) Transformation in Education, 2) Smart City Infrastructure Development and 3) Japan’s Aging Population. Each of these areas have their challenges due to barriers to entry but also offer great opportunities for global companies who have a competitive advantage and to align with the right partner. For example in education, the Japan government is investing in school districts to ensure that every student from K12 will have their own mobile device by 2020. This is a significant opportunity for the entire tech industry who has any involvement in education to grow their footprint in a market that is fully committed to advancing how students learn.

6. Are You Listening to the Locals?

Finally if you want to have sustainable and meaningful growth in Japan you have to bring in the best people. There is a wealth of knowledge and talent out there to make an impact, hence, companies have to know where to look to find the right people. If you are only bringing people from the headquarters to make decisions that basically replicate what has worked in other markets then you are doomed to fail. Indisputably, having the right local talent will ensure an organization is balancing speed (i.e., getting this done quickly) with reality (i.e., being aware of the idiosyncrasies of Japan market).

Final Thoughts…

By no means can one over simplify a market as complex as Japan but for for those companies — large or small — who are struggling to figure out a working Japan strategy, perhaps the above questions may be a good place to start. If you are an expert of Japan market, what has been your experience about cultivating a country strategy for your organization? Please share in the comments below and thanks for reading.