Marketing Strategy

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Should You Use Net Promoter Score as a Metric?

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The net promoter score (NPS) has become one of the most widely used marketing metrics. Consumers answer a simple question (How likely is it that you would recommend X?) on a scale from 0 to 10. Customers who answer 9 or 10 are considered promoters; those who answer 6 or less are rated as detractors. The score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. One of the strongest selling points of NPS is its simplicity. But the value of NPS may depend upon whether a manager sees it as a metric or as a system.

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Should You Use Market Share as a Metric?

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Market share is a hugely popular metric. But is it really useful? Companies with superior products tend to have high market share and high profitability because product superiority causes both. This means that the two metrics are correlated — but it does not necessarily mean that increasing market share will increase profits. Using market share as a metric of success simply because other companies do can be counterproductive.

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Why Great New Products Fail

Many innovative new products don’t succeed. One common reason: Companies don’t focus on understanding how customers make purchase decisions. But paying attention to how customers search for information about what to buy, and how they make guesses about details they can’t easily find, helps predict whether customers will embrace certain product innovations. Companies need to focus on innovations that customers will easily recognize or find ways to alert them to innovations they may not detect on their own.

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The Metrics That Marketers Muddle

Well-defined metrics are critical to effective marketing. However, despite their widely acknowledged importance, five of the best-known marketing metrics — market share, net promoter score, the value of a “like,” customer lifetime value, and ROI — are regularly misunderstood and misused. This confusion undermines the marketing discipline’s reputation for delivering results. The authors present Do’s and Don’ts for using these metrics and flow charts with detailed advice for developing each metric.

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How Transparency Changes Business

The Winter 2016 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review explores how increased transparency — and, in particular, the ready flow of information in a digital world — is changing the environment in which corporations operate. Transparency also is changing the distribution of power between large organizations and those who challenge them. Executives need to anticipate the possibility that any issues related to their company could someday be public knowledge.

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When Customers Become Fans

Beijing-based smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. has actively involved enthusiastic customers — known as “Mi Fans” — in both software and hardware development processes. Tech-savvy users test interfaces and products as volunteers, doing much of their communication on the Internet. Customer involvement in the product development life cycle has not only helped Xiaomi reduce R&D costs but also enabled the company to cultivate a sense of participation and pride among lead users.

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Marketing In Five Dimensions

Computers, scanners, mobile and wearable technology have made it both easier and harder for companies to find their customers. Easier, because there’s so much more data about consumer behavior; harder, because analyzing that data is a significant challenge (never mind deciding how to act on the analytics). Companies like Epsilon are stepping up to help businesses to figure out what the data tell them about their customers — and what to do with that knowledge. In a Q&A, Epsilon’s CEO Andy Frawley describes some of the challenges his company works through on a daily basis.

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One Critical Strategy New Products Often Overlook

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“New industries are characterized by an early period of confusion and uncertainty about use and meaning, which brings about a proliferation of category labels that attempt to describe the new products,” write Fernando F. Suarez and Stine Grodal, both of Boston University School of Management. Ideally, companies want to time their entry into a new industry to when a dominant category label emerges, but not every product can enter the market at the ideal time. Three strategies identified by Suarez and Grodal can help new products make the most of any timing.

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The Case for ‘Benevolent’ Mobile Apps

Smartphone apps that provide consumers with helpful information — instead of simply pushing product sales — can improve users’ preference for a company. As well, mobile apps that are about useful information, what the authors call “benevelance,” can significantly impact sales at a low cost and thus improve profitability. “A benevolent app can build trust, which in turn can lead people to consider purchasing your product,” write authors Glen L. Urban and Fareena Sultan.

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Customizing Social Media Marketing

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media marketing. Instead, companies need to tailor campaigns to fit their products. Recent research suggests that one key question that can guide the approach is whether a company’s products are primarily useful or fun. For instance, consumers expect to encounter messages about fun products on platforms like Facebook. In contrast, they will only glance over recommendations for useful products. Because reactions differ, so too should the social sharing mechanisms used to promote these products.

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How to Win in an Omnichannel World

Retail customers now readily use both online and offline retail channels. To thrive in this new environment, retailers need to reexamine their strategies for delivering information and products. Companies that are successful at navigating the omnichannel environment take a customer perspective and view the activities of the company through two core functions: information and fulfillment. They also consider hybrid online-offline approaches, including inventory-only showrooms and “buy online, pick up in store” options.

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The Upside to Large Competitors

New research suggests that a smaller company can benefit by making consumers aware that it competes against bigger corporations. In six lab and field studies, the authors explored the effects of having a large, dominant competitor and found advantages in highlighting a competitor’s size and proximity. “Small brands see consumer support go up when they are faced with a competitive threat from large brands,” write the authors. “This support translates into higher purchase intention, more purchases and more favorable online reviews.”

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Finding the Value in Social Business

A recent survey by MIT SMR and Deloitte shows that companies are starting to derive real value from social business — with the payoff concentrated most strongly in companies that have reached a certain level of sophistication in relation to their social business initiatives. The higher a respondent rated his or her company on a “social business maturity” scale, the more likely he or she was to report that the company is deriving business value from its social business initiatives.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Peyri Herrera.
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The Big Upside of Customer Participation

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Encouraging customers to provide feedback and recommendations directly to a company engages them in valuable ways. Researchers looked at customers of a global bank who engaged in either positive word of mouth, or provided suggestions, or both. They found that customers who ranked high in participation tended to purchase more products and services. In other words, participation was more closely associated with customer spending than word of mouth was.

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The Untapped Opportunity of Visual Logos

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Research shows that corporate logos can have a significant positive effect on customer commitment to a brand: “separate visual symbols used as logos tend to be more effective than brand names at creating a sense of emotional connection with consumers,” write C. Whan Park (University of Southern California Marshall School of Business), Andreas B. Eisingerich (Imperial College Business School at Imperial College London) and Gratiana Pol (Marshall School of Business).

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Stories That Deliver Business Insights

Companies are gaining value from ethnography, the in-person study of how people actually use a product or service. Through its attention to the details of people’s lives, ethnography can be a powerful tool to help executives gain insights into their markets. Ethnographic stories can also be indispensable in helping executives rethink their assumptions about what customers care about and about overall strategic direction.

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Why Customer Participation Matters

These days, many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation — such as providing feedback or suggestions — may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business. As one COO said, “Levels of feedback is a way we identify our most profitable customers. Those that bother to write to us do care. And they do spend money with us.”

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The Power of a Good Logo

The authors’ research found that corporate logos that express a brand’s symbolic, functional or sensory benefits, have a significant positive effect on customer commitment to a brand — and thereby a significant impact on company performance in terms of revenues and profits. The research also indicated that separate visual symbols used as logos tend to be more effective than brand names at creating a sense of emotional connection with consumers.

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Does Your Company Seem Socially Irresponsible?

Public perceptions of corporate irresponsibility are shaped in subjective, yet predictable, ways. “People like tidy stories with a clear villain,” write Nathan T. Washburn of Thunderbird School of Global Management and Donald Lange of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “We lose interest when there are too many factors, extra complexity or too much ambiguity.” That means that powerful negative images can be hard to respond to.

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Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing

Recent technology advances in mobile computing and augmented reality are blurring the boundaries between traditional and Internet retailing, enabling retailers to interact with consumers through multiple touch points and expose them to a rich blend of offline sensory information and online content. In response to these changes, retailers and their supply-chain partners will need to rethink their competitive strategies.

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