A study published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics confirms what every business executive knows: If you don’t grow, bankruptcy is practically certain. With the economy suffering from years of sluggishness, marketers are under pressure to drive growth more than ever before. It’s why most every company’s strategic plan calls for more new innovations to be developed, launched, and marketed.
However, the track record of success is abysmal. One reason? Those responsible for growth don’t realize how quickly they’re expected to make it happen. The standard by which investors, analysts, boards, and bosses all judge growth is the degree to which it’s happening faster than their peers. You see this driving performance assessments across every category, from P&G to Facebook. Today, a brand’s performance is considered a failure if it doesn’t grow as fast as expected. There’s also the presumption that since technology has enabled communications and commerce to be conducted at the speed of light, that growth can be dramatically sped up as well.
This technology-based race to fame and fortune is like the space race of 50 years ago. And as computing speeds increase exponentially, we’ll all be expected to perform even faster in years to come. In a marketplace obsessed with speed, rocket science is a helpful metaphor for five lessons on how to grow at accelerated rates.
1. Obsess Over How To Go Faster: Some companies are operationalizing for speed by embracing faster methods of innovation, such as crowdsourcing, consumer co-creation, and online research. Many are obsessing over how to increase the velocity of every element of the marketing mix in an effort to shorten the time it takes to make the sale and book the income. Those experiencing the greatest success have adopted business models designed for speed—incorporating new capabilities and embracing a more agile, entrepreneurial culture.
Increasingly, one of the biggest drags on a company’s speed is out of date know-how. So, despite being well-intentioned, marketers are actually stalling their brands, or worse. To remedy this, one need only turn to sound science. In the same way that rocket scientists count on proven principles of physics like E=mc2, those who want their brand to grow . . .
2. Learn The Principles Of Marketing Science Proved To Make A Brand Lift Off And Soar: A critical mass of people in your company should know them so well that they’re able to apply them even when flying at the speed of today’s commerce, when you have only a split second to make the right decision.
From the most robust marketing research and our own 34 years of experience, Lindsay, Stone & Briggs has identified, vetted, and detailed in a whitepaper 13 principles critical to marketing success. For example, #7: Get new customers, as many new customers—even light, occasional users—as quickly as possible. It is statistically unrealistic to expect to grow by trying to get current loyal and heavy users to buy more. Heavy users are always a small percentage of overall sales. What marketing science does find true is that more new customers mean more sales, share, and, with that, numerically more customers that become loyal, heavy users. Marketing science also tells us that one of the most predictable ways to get more new customers quickly is to increase share of voice in excess of one’s market share. The more you nudge people compared to how often others nudge them, the more people buy from you.
Do the math, and you’ll quickly conclude that it is unlikely you’ll get sufficient numbers of new, quality customers quickly relying only on online marketing and social networks. Mass reach from traditional media—TV especially—proves to still be the most effective way to grow a customer base. It also proves to be the quickest way to jump-start online search, online relationships, and e-commerce. Even the “most viewed” YouTube videos get their start with a mention in mass media.
NEXT PAGE Download our whitepaper and you’ll find another of its principles advises you to. . .
3. Have An Easy To Read Dashboard Of Leading Indicators Of Your Growth: In a marketplace operating at warp speed, data that tells you where you’ve been is less important than data that tells you the direction in which you’re flying. Too much data on any dashboard obfuscates insights, paralyzes decision-making, and prompts one to slow down in an effort to figure out what’s there. Meanwhile, you’ve lost the race.
If you know how to quickly organize and analyze the right data, then you can make huge advances faster than competitors. With computing power, proprietary algorithms, and artificial intelligence, specialists can help you dramatically speed up the rate at which you. . .
4. Test, Learn And Optimize Relentlessly. As the famous rocket scientist Werner Von Braun said: “It takes 65,000 errors before you’re even qualified to make a rocket.”
The reality we all face in the race to get better and faster is that nothing we do will ever be final or settled again. We’ll forever work to perfect our trajectory with fast prototyping and by designing experiments that generate insights in days or hours instead of weeks or months. We’ll need to work with an agility that reacts to market conditions faster than the competition.
Finally. . .
5. Have A Definition Of “Fast” To Which Everyone On Your Team Is Aligned: To achieve the end they have in mind, rocket scientists agree on success metrics, such as to achieve a velocity sufficient to escape the bonds of gravity or reach the speed of light. What success metrics can you set your sights on? Apple has aligned behind a definition of fast as being first to launch and claim category benefit, and first to gather the behavioral data and leverage its insights to speed far ahead of competitors.
Apple knows full well that as tough a standard as it is, “faster than one’s peers” is the metric for which we are all now judged. In the past, when faced with such a challenge, we could joke, “It can’t be that hard. After all, it’s not rocket science.” But it’s not such a joke anymore. Our odds of faster growth will increase if we think more like rocket scientists. But don’t wait. The countdown clock on your performance has already begun.