Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Marketers underestimate the value of customer insights from sales teams. I’ve seen countless go to market strategies fail because the customer insight from the consulting or agency research was not vetted and integrated with feedback from one of the most valuable sources of customer data – sales people.

I had the rare opportunity to start in sales. I carried a bag. I was the ‘feet on the street’ for several CPG companies. That early experience taught me that not everything made by corporate headquarters is ready for consumers. I did a lot of work tailoring materials to either my retailer, my region or my customer base. Bootleg marketing.

And I’ve sat in countless strategy planning sessions in the ‘glass palace’ headquarters of multiple fortune 100 companies. We comb through really good customer research data. From behind the glass, to intercepts, to digital surveys, to looking at heat maps of eye tracking and brain waves. All GREAT data. Yet, if it is not balanced with ‘real world’ customer feedback from sales teams it will fall flat.

Think of it this way. Both marketing and sales identify customer pain points but at very different mind sets in the sales cycle.
  • Customer insights from marketing research is obtained when a consumer is not under the pressure of a sale. They are either thinking about buying a product or reflecting on a past purchase, interaction or experience.
  • Customer insights from sales teams is obtained when a consumer is under the pressure of a sale. Raw, in the moment and tangible.
Combine the two and you have magic. Suddenly messaging, copy and pricing strategies are clear. Have definitive impact. Are measureable. And importantly, brings marketing and sales together.

How do you achieve this nirvana state? Deploy a consistent two-pronged approach:
  1. Build a foundation of owned customer insight research. Use a combination of traditional and cutting edge technologies. To include:
    • Path to Purchase – this is foundational and a must have. You have to fundamentally understand the journey (that is never linear) that your customer goes on from awareness, consideration, preference, purchase and loyalty (ACPPL). Consumers demand. Shoppers buy. This research will identify the critical customer pain points of your category and product. And will also pin point the critical touch points and channels that make or break a sale.
    • Define & Claim an Archetype– behind the glass, one on one interviews that get to the emotional purchase drivers. This is critical. We all buy on emotion. Always. The issue is our rational mind can never tell you what the emotion was that drove the purchase. This is essential to getting messaging right. And should identify your archetype of which to build all messaging and branding from. 
    • Segmentation – customer data is not the issue, it’s the amount of data we all have. You have to get good at being able to segment the data in meaningful ways. That requires combining the quantitative data (HH income, basket size, frequency) with qualitative data (demographic and psychographic). It’s the RFM methodology (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) on steroids. And in most cases, one of the RFM pillars needs to be replaced in your business based on your unique psychographic (attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria) data sets. You really want to know your TAM (Total Addressable Market)… and leave behind those that just simply won’t be your consumer.
    • Digital – digital gives you the ability to get a larger sample size to deliver quantitative metrics. It’s the proof for your qualitative research.
    •  Eye tracking – great for ecommerce and heavy educational purchases. Enables your design and copy writing teams to get really good at being simple. High scan value is the goal. With easy drill downs, if and when, a customer wants more information.
  2. Curate and integrate sales customer insight.
    • Talk to them – In person. Don’t be scared. Sales people don’t bite. In fact, sales is one of the most passionate advocates for customers.
    • Go on sales calls – get out in the field, on the phones and in the customer service & support center. You will hear things that are tangible customer pain points. I will never forget my days working with Walmart and the ‘eat what you cook’ quarterly bus rides. Displays don’t always look, set up or sell as great as in the pristine ‘mock store’ at headquarters. Especially when executed in a store that gets +23,000 customers per week.
    • Surveys… if you ask the right questions. I look at surveys as your sales customer insights qualitative phase. Your quantitative phase is talking and getting out with the teams.
    • Inform and collaborate early and often – most importantly, bring the sales team along in key research milestones. We can all relate to the customer experience. Unveiling anything never works. And you will receive valuable feedback that will avoid execution pitfalls.
The customer is always right. And my advice as a marketer is that you remember you serve two masters (customers):

  1. Your consumer
  2. Your sales team

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Apple Watch: Epic Fail - Why I’m Taking It Back After 3 Days


Epic fail, Apple. After three days of wearing my apple watch, I’m taking it back. Why? You broke every customer experience rule you have worked so hard to build up.

The ease of use (no directions needed). The design. The out of box experience. The seamless set up. Delightful and fun user surprises (Siri anyone?). Battery life for days. Limitless customization (background, lock screen, organization of apps). Customer service (texts at every shipping stage for your new product). Where you stayed true: customer service, out of box experience and ease of set up. But that is table stakes now. You set the standard… and you just broke the standard.

Let me caveat this entire post by stating that I did no research before buying. Post purchase, I watched one video. And yesterday while visiting the ladies room during a meeting, a staffer stopped me and said, ‘how do you like your smart watch?’ To my surprise, with no hesitation I said, ‘I hate it!’ And then proceeded to list all of the reasons:
  1. I can’t manually input health data (i.e. workouts, nutrition). I wasted at least 30 minutes of my day using the new ‘force touch’ technology hoping that it would deliver a different result other than ‘change daily goal.’ The only positive – I burned 10 more calories using ‘force touch.’
  2. I can’t type texts. Sure, there is a voice activated feature. Do you know how ridiculous I looked talking into a watch?
  3. I opened my Starbucks app and… no scan bar. Yes, I was the dork showing the barista my wrist so she could enter in my account number off the watch face.
  4. The charge held for less than 24 hours.
  5. Customization of the watch face was very limited. From design to quick views. And a Mickey Mouse version is not delightful and fun. Did I mention it took me 10 minutes of ‘force touch’ tapping to figure it out? I’ve NEVER taken more than 10 seconds to figure something out on any Apple UI.
  6. Apple created the app category. They make money off the apps. Apps are utilitarian and fun. $17,000 for a gold rose watch band? Apple just stooped to the PC manufacturing world they have spent so many years differentiating themselves from. It’s clear the margin is coming from the ‘attach’ of different watch band styles. Big mistake.
  7. The final straw… there I was at 24 hour fitness. I had exactly 30 minutes to work out before my 7:30am meeting start time. I put my bags (and iPhone) in the gym locker and proceeded to the treadmill. I put on my Powerbeats wireless headphones, touched the Pandora music icon and… spinning wheel of nothing. OK, maybe it was a wireless issue. I touched the iTunes app and… nothing. And to top it off? My wireless headphones didn’t pair. Turns out my phone (you know, the thing that I thought the watch would replace for certain activities) was too far away so lost it’s pairing with the watch.

Why would I need a watch replica of my phone – with much less functionality – when I still needed my phone with me to operate it?

One positive? I met my stand goal of 12 hours on day one.

A side note. The woman who stopped me in the bathroom laughed hysterically after my rant. She asked me if I’d seen the front page of the New York Times that morning. Apparently someone else is breaking up with their apple watch, too.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Words Matter: Three Words Not To Use in Leadership and Life


From the moment we utter our first words as babies to the first impressions we leave when meeting someone for the first time. Words matter. With over a million words in the English language, word choice can make or break relationships.

In my experience there are three words I have worked hard to banish from my own language. It took time and focus. And it's made me a better leader, wife and parent.

Starting today, here are three words to never utter again and the three words to replace them with.

  1. "But"... negates everything you say before it. Replace 'but' with 'and.' I learned this from an incredibly intense workshop from the leaders at Breakthrough Thinking and vividly remember the example. "I love you but..." versus, "I love you and.. " Using 'and' softens the response. It actually makes you pause and think about what you want to say.
  2. "I"... there is no 'i' in team. Replace 'I' with 'we.' Underscored via a live performance from John Legend, "Collaborate. I'm under no illusion I can do all of this on my own." It's cringe worthy when you hear "I did this" or "I thought of this" or "I built this." This goes for personal relationships as well.
  3. "@!#$"... or any other four letter word. Replace it with silence. Leaders don't curse. Dictators curse. Using expletives for emphasis only makes you look like an idiot. Using expletives to show you're in charge? You've just thrown loyalty, respect and collaboration out the door. A long pregnant pause is much more effective.

If you find your inside voice saying,

"@!#$, Tia! I admire this utopian view on word choice but I've used these words my entire life. Trying to change my habits while I run a multi-billion dollar company where I deliver results 24/7 is going to be challenging." Try this version...

"[pause]...Tia, I admire this utopian view on word choice and I've used these words my entire life. Trying to change my habits while we run a multi-billion dollar company where we deliver results 24/7 is going to be challenging."

Sounds a bit more like collaboration and openness, doesn't it?