Monday, February 23, 2009

The Good Ship Value

The cynic, they say, knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I’d like to think, given the extraordinary enthusiasm inspired by the election of Barack Obama and his first days in office, that there is potential for important shifts in global attitudes. Obama is certainly giving the right signals. This is a man who takes listening seriously and listens intently and with focus. Most of us could learn something from that. Of all the tools at our disposal, listening is the secret weapon that can create the most value. Whether you’re playing for global stakes or selling hotdogs, the only way to work out what to do next is by listening. Who should you be listening to? You know who. Consumers. While your colleagues, competitors, and advisors are all important sources of advice and information, the Consumer is Boss and the source of ultimate insight.

Here’s another variant of the Love/Respect Axis. We created it by looking at the four quadrants through the eyes of consumers. The question I asked was simple. What do consumers feel about this commodity, this brand, this fad, their Lovemark?

Value is created in the minds of consumers when they feel they are getting a good deal, and in the hearts of consumers when they feel a deep emotional connection with a product, service, or brand. True value demands both high Respect and high Love together because people are taking control of value for themselves. They are prepared to experiment with fresh ideas and opportunities as they redefine what value can mean to them. At this moment we need new ways to recognize and create value.

I mentioned last week the two key initiatives needed to create true value: creativity and effectiveness. Creativity to discover motivating and relevant insight so we can connect more deeply and emotionally with consumers, and effectiveness to improve margins, gain share, and increase sales. Cutting, backing off, and reducing are not going to take you anywhere apart from backwards. When the storm winds are blowing – and they’re picking up even as I write – it is not the time to head for a safe haven. If you really want to create value that will take your business through this storm, the better strategy is to see the winds as an opportunity and fill your sails. It will be one hell of a ride, but you’ll get there first. And that will make you a winner.

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