Thursday, December 29, 2011

4 key elements that make N-of-8 story development different

Right after the first of 2012, I’ll be embarking on a series of N-of-8 groups in several European markets.

So I thought it might be an appropriate time to post the highlights of how this process is different.

 N-of-8 brand story development process helps you develop and communicate compelling and persuasive stories, and can help craft memorable brand messages that customers can easily relate to and recall.

In essence, N-of-8 story development is a tool that helps you listen to your customers and translate how to persuasively and effectively communicate your story.

Unlike other research, story development is:

  1. A narrative story, not just claims
  2. Development, not just simple testing
  3. Iterative, not reactive
  4. Seeks customer input, not just feedback

As with any good story, a strong narrative flow is key.  By understanding the structure and components of the story, its narration becomes more effective, leaving the customer with powerful messages that can be easily retrieved.

N-of-8 is deliberately interactive, allowing us to establish a dialogue with customers and hear the story in their own words.  It is a qualitative, iterative process, presenting stories in customer listening groups of eight participants.  Customer response and participation is paramount in this process and we relay the raw, unpackaged stories in order to gain the most valuable customer input.

Initial stories are purposefully crafted to be provocative in order to give the customer something to push against.  This allows them the opportunity to provide their suggestions on language, story flow and content, giving them a sense of “ownership” of the developing messages. 

This is a key point:  you are not testing for their approval on messaging, but rather probing for the customer’s direction in creating a meaningful and relevant final story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Art of Customer Experience: Planning for Success

As I look back on memorable engagements of 2011, I really enjoyed my workshop with Maria Moran at the Ed Hoy’s International Premier Customer Weekend event.  Here's an excerpt of my talk with the group.

 Any conversation about customer service always generates personal stories about a memorable experience you’ve had – at a restaurant, hotel, store, or airline.  While they might stick in our minds because of how bad the experience was, but just as often we recall some wonderful moment when we were made to feel special and cared for.

If you take the time to study these experiences, you can learn from them – and even more important, learn how to replicate positive customer service in your art glass business.  Whether you sell at a studio, store, gallery, online, or any combination of these, you can apply proven principles to improve your success.

Let me share with you an excellent reference on this subject.  A practical book entitled, DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value, by Colin Shaw.  In his book, Shaw summarizes the underlying reasons to elevate your level of service, plus why it makes financial sense: 

I have spent nearly two decades studying, creating, evaluating, and training on customer brand experiences.  So, I appreciate the rigor of research conducted by the London Business School, which outlines four clusters of emotions that can impair value – or, if addressed, can actually add value. 
First let’s look at the customer feelings that can be destructive. These emotions are evoked in customers typically because their experience is “inside out”. This means the business focuses more on what is good for it and less on the experience of the customer.  The customers will describe feeling stressed, neglected, frustrated, disappointed, hurried, or irritated. 
As you improve service, you can start with simply engaging customers’ attention.  The research shows that you can encourage customers to explore your offerings – and boost their short-term spending – by doing things that make them feel stimulated, creative, energetic, and indulgent. 
Moving up to the next level, customers will recommend your business if they feel valued, cared for, trusted. That you focus on them more. Consider your own personal experience; something nice that someone might have done for you at home, at your child’s school, or at a place you volunteer. What did the person do and why did you feel valued? It’s probably because you know they spent time thinking about you, listening to you, understanding you, and personalizing a note or gift for you. Now flip this to the experience in your business, and think about what you could do for your best customers.
At the top of the pyramid are happy customers who become advocates.   These are customers who feel happy, pleased, and even thrilled with their experience.  They go beyond being the most loyal to proactively telling people about your business without prompting.
Examples of Great Customer Experiences
In our training workshops, we benchmark several successful brands that are design customer experience we can aspire to.  These include:
  • Lego – giving children the opportunity to plan with their toys in shops and, even more so, letting parents experience their children having fun with Lego toys
  • Zara – creating a sense of anticipation in their clothing shops, driving customers to repeat visits 17 times per year, compare to the 3-4 visits per year for regular stores
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop – building a brand experience with fun and unforgettable memories in a dramatic, highly interactive theme-park-esque environment.  Bright colors, larger-than-life fixtures, and customized music.  All to encourage people to stay and interact with the products and the associates.
  • My M&M’s Website – customizing the popular chocolate candies is a great way to add a personal touch to wedding and event favors, add some color to a birthday party, or give as a creative gift.

Improving the experience for your art glass business
So, what are some actions you could take to plan your customer experience?  In our training for art glass businesses, we proposed 3 areas of specific steps to take:
1. Educate Yourself on What Your Customers Value
Conduct a survey to learn how customers perceive your business.  The survey would profile what most interests your customers, their desire for new offerings or services, and things they think you could improve.
2. Lead with Service to Stand Out from Competitors
Send a personal, handwritten note to 10 recent customers and offer them a ‘refer a friend’ coupon.  Review your customer list to determine the Top 5; then contact them personally to thank them. Review the second 5 customers; then contact them to ask, “what can we do for you?” or “how was your experience with us?”
3. Inspire Customers with Creativity
Update your website homepage with a new attention-getting element.  Add energy to your displays or web site with color, lighting, sound/music, or hands-on element.  Create a new display or webpage that engages customers (activity, puzzle, imagination, etc.).  Create a Facebook fan page and post something personal or inspirational weekly.
In conclusion, the science of great customer experience can be applied to your art glass business in a variety of creative ways.  When you replicate these positive service enhancements, you will see a difference in business.  And soon, you can be the one customers remember when they tell their friends about a memorable customer experience they enjoyed.
You can read more by clicking to the Ed Hoy quarterly newsletter

Monday, December 26, 2011

HEALTH MEGA-TREND #7: Appearance consciousness

We certainly live in a visual culture.  So, it’s no wonder that “appearance consciousness” continues to characterize an our image conscious society.

I’m continuing my series of updates from Datamonitor’s report on New Developments in Global Consumer Trends.

Here are the key learnings, implications, and actions suggested by Mega-Trend #7.

  • The high prevalence of appearance and body shape anxiety is at the core of "appearance based wellbeing" (or lack of it)
  • A more holistic pursuit of beauty through more diverse appearance management tactics is occurring
  • More consumers are adopting structured and sustained beauty regimes
  • There is a polarization of beauty ideals/attitudes that reflects the conflict between natural beauty and more ‘manufactured appearances’

  • Appearance concerns impact consumers’ emotional and physical wellbeing.  So, looking good has arguably never been more important
  • Health, wellbeing and beauty are becoming inextricably linked in consumers’ minds

  • Consumers globally attach considerable importance on their oral, skin and hair health which drives spend and the adopting of beauty regimes
  • Manufacturers are retailers must adopt diverse product portfolios on order to meet the polarized beauty ideals among global consumers

Friday, December 23, 2011

40% readmission for CHF: the challenge and a novel innovation

“Sometimes a simple idea floods the room with light,” wrote Ross Weaver in a note to me recently.  

Ross Weaver, PharmD, MBA joined Adjility Consulting earlier this year.  In this blog, I want to share his innovation inspiration.

Here is the challenge:

Nationally, about 40% of hospitalized congestive heart failure patients were readmitted to a hospital within 120 days.

This was an interesting and medically relevant finding, but it had no negative financial implications to hospitals.  Actually, hospitals profited from readmissions because it meant more beds were filled.

However, the PPACA legislation changes all of that.  Now, the legislation allows CMS to withhold a portion of the total Medicare payments to hospitals with excessive CHF re-admissions within 30 days.

Now, there’s a financial incentive to avoid hospital readmissions!

Lots and lots of programs are being instituted to decrease the 30-day readmission rate.  Complicated approaches.  “We know best” approaches.  Intrusive approaches.  Approaches that seem good on paper, but are doomed to failure – because people are people. 

Here’s a novel idea:

Instead of reengineering the whole cardiology department, how about providing a simple IT-based solution?  How about have patients weigh themselves every day and while on the scale answer a few simple questions?  Here is the neat part.  How about have the scales submit the data daily to the appropriate medical practice, with software that identifies outliers who might need medical intervention? 

Well, that is what the Montefiore hospital is doing.  Kris Becker, RN and clinical care manager, monitors 120 heart failure patients daily.   She works with cardiologists to modify drug therapy when required, gets transportation for a patient to go to a physician’s office, and refers acutely ill patients to the emergency department.

This approach, using ‘telescales’, helps keeps small issues small.

At Adjility, we too focus on keeping small issues small.  Give us a try.

You can find contact information for Ross at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

N-of-8 case study: how to look at the same brand hallmarks in new ways

Here’s a case study that exemplifies seeing the same hallmarks in new ways – in other words, looking at the same product attributes, and applying them a new ways.

 N-of-8 Brand Story Development played an early role in the market preparation for Advicor, a combination of time-release niacin and lovastatin in once-a-night dosage.  It provides stronger cholesterol modulation by increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL, triglycerides (TG), and lipoprotein-a.

The innovator was Kos Pharmaceuticals, which filed its New Drug Application for the product in September 2000. In preparation for product launch, Kos signed a marketing agreement with DuPont Pharmaceuticals. DuPont agreed to invest up to $80 million in Kos, beginning with an initial equity investment of $30 million plus $20 million for product development. Kos and DuPont agreed to share equally in Advicor promotional costs as well as profits, less initial royalties paid to Kos.

They engaged the N-of-8 process to create a core brand story and launch branding program for Advicor.  In reviewing the data, we found that clinical trials showed that Advicor increased HDL cholesterol up to 30 percent while it lowered LDL as much as 42 percent, TG down 44 percent, and lipoprotein-a down 22 percent.

During our N-of-8 story groups, physicians recognized the feature of combination therapy in a single tablet.  They helped us coin Advicor as “dual-component therapy for cholesterol modulation.”

Further, the N-of-8 brand development groups created a story of “multidimensional lipid management” and a visual identity of a 4-D gyroscope.  The ad testing documented the Advicor launch insert as achieving the highest recall and relevance of any cardiovascular product ad to date.

Kos received final marketing clearance for Advicor on December 18, 2001 and entered the fast-growing $10 billion cholesterol market with its innovative new medicine backed by a well-established clinical profile, a well-developed story, and a well-tested brand.

This reinforced Kos’ confidence to launch Advicor with a force of 300 sales representatives – more than five times the resources for marketing than for its first product, Niaspan.  The company expanded its market base to primary care physicians and incorporated a medical education program. A two-year marketing agreement with Quintiles Transnational added 150 more sales representatives specially trained in cardiovascular health to Kos' sales efforts. Sales of Advicor reached $27 million in 2002 and seemed to benefit sales of Niaspan, which rose 73 percent to $146 million.

Initial international expansion focused on Europe and Canada. Kos applied to the European Union to market Advicor in July 2002 and, a few months later, signed an agreement with Merck KGaA to market Niaspan and Advicor outside of North America and Japan. Kos received an initial payment of $15 million to be supplemented with licensing and milestone fees, expected to add up to $46 million in revenues, as well as royalties of 25 percent of net sales. In August 2003 Kos signed an agreement with Oryx Pharmaceuticals to market Niaspan and Advicor in Canada, granting Oryx exclusive rights. Kos expected the drugs to be approved by late 2005.

Kos continued to advance its sales efforts within the United States. Kos signed a comarketing agreement with Takeda Pharmaceuticals-North America to market Niaspan and Advicor to 48,000 physicians. More than 1,000 Takeda sales representatives sold the products as a complement to Takeda's ACTOS, used by patients with type 2 diabetes associated with cardiovascular disease. Kos expected 10 percent revenue growth from the association with Takeda during 2004.

In order to better compete with large pharmaceutical companies, Kos continued to approach health insurance providers to advocate for coverage of Niaspan and Advicor. Kos emphasized its role as a specialty manufacturer providing a lower-priced option. Price comparisons illustrated the difference. For instance one published report showed that a bottle of 60 tablets of 500 mg Niaspan sold at Walgreen’s for $79.99, while 30 tablets of 40 mg of Pfizer's Lipitor sold for $95.99; 500 mg Advicor was priced at $55.99. Comparatively, the daily dose was $1.70 for Niaspan, $1.97 for Advicor, and $2.42 for Lipitor.

Kos continuously sought to expand medical applications for Advicor, maintaining the foundation of “multidimensional lipid management” we had created in N-of-8 brand development.  An independent study proved it to be an effective treatment for cholesterol modulation in patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome involves more than one contributing factor in coronary heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar, in combination with a high level of bad cholesterol and a low level of good cholesterol.

I’m often asked, “What’s a good story worth?”  Well, here is one measure of value.

In 2006, Abbott Laboratories acquired Kos Pharma for $3.7 billion in order to add Advicor and Niaspan to its arsenal. Abbott also gained the rights to another cholesterol-lowering medication Simcor, a new combination pill. Later, the FDA cleared Abbott's cholesterol drug TriLipix, the first fibrate to be combined with a statin for treating unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Abbott and AstraZeneca were working together to develop a fixed-dose combination of TriLipix and Crestor, AZ's blockbuster cholesterol drug. The companies announced plans to submit an NDA for the combo drug to the FDA in the second half of 2009. The companies also had an agreement to co-promote Crestor in the U.S.

All these innovations are based on the concept of “dual-component therapy for cholesterol modulation” shaped in the N-of-8 brand story development process.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011's favorite international trip: Dubai

My favorite international trip of 2011 was Dubai, UAE.

And when this photo was selected as one of the year's best by National Geographic, it brought back some great memories.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

XM-A5: the cheer-spreading virus

Enjoy some fun holiday cheer -- and get infected with the Holidemic.

Monday, December 19, 2011

HEALTH MEGA-TREND #6: Overcoming fatigue and lethargy

In our jaded society, many individuals across the globe lack energy and vitality in their day-to-day lives.

That’s the topic today on one of the 10 mega-trends reported by Datamonitor.  Its recent study outlines the most important issues shaping global consumers' buying behavior both now and in the future. 

The reason I’m sharing it is the belief that good trend-watching is about taking the bigger-picture approach. Adopting a broader global perspective to trend-tracking facilitates better decision making by overcoming “category myopia.”

“Pick-me-up consumerism” captures the situation whereby consumers are increasingly attentive about their alertness and are opting for products that deliver energy and performance benefits.

Research indicates that consumers across the globe are highly interested in functional products that boost mental and physical wellbeing. 

Therefore, consumers are open to brand innovation of energy-boosting products that can help offset their diminishing energy levels caused by hectic lifestyles.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Starbucks in Bexley: a warm, safe place for coffee in a renovated bank

I always loved my Roscoe Village Starbucks that was in a renovated drug store -- complete with the old soda fountain counter and bar stools.

Well, now in Columbus, I've found my favorite Starbucks. It's built inside a former bank in Bexley, OH.  
It has an unexpected amount of character.  The exterior is all white with massive pillars. There is a spacious patio with plenty of seating for warm weather. Inside you find a roomy dining area, a fireplace, a splendid chandelier and a gigantic steel vault. 

Oh yeah, that's right, a vault. This location used to be an old bank, and embracing that history they turned the interior of the vault into a cozy seating area.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1,200 artists online -- a select few on-display at the OOVAR Juried Show

I enjoyed my Saturday afternoon at Columbus Metropolitan Main Library, viewing works from the annual Ohio Online Visual Artist Registry Juried Art Show.

The library's Carnegie Gallery featured original works by Ohio artists.

Here are a few of the pieces I admired:

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 Days of Christmas (Good News): here's a "nice" list

With the holidays upon us, and the media already having cornered the market for sharing bad news (call it the “naughty list”), I was really glad to get a “nice list” of the good news I may have missed.

(Thanks to Jennifer Wilken, my longtime trusted economic advisor, for sharing this.)

1.    The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in November, reaching a 21⁄2-year low, while the September and October reports were revised to show more job creation than originally reported.

2.    The ADP employment survey showed the biggest gain in eight months. Small businesses (under 50 workers) added the most jobs in five years.

3.    Over the past year, 1.6 million jobs have been created.

4.    The private sector has added jobs for 21 consecutive months.

5.    An average of 150,000 private sector jobs have been created each month for the past year.

6.    The unemployment rate has dropped by 1% in the past year.

7.    Manufacturing – November’s Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index increased to a five-month high, while the new orders component rebounded to a seven-month high.

8.    Home Sales – Sales of existing single-family homes rose 1.6% in October compared to September, versus expectations for a 2.2% decline.2 Sales were up 13.5% versus a year ago. Total housing starts also grew 16.5%, while building permits increased 17.7%.

9.    Consumer Confidence – The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 56 in November versus 40.9 in October. This exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts and marked the biggest one-month increase since April 2003.

10.  Auto Sales – U.S. vehicle sales grew 14% in November, the sixth consecutive month of growth and the highest level since August 2009.

11.  Black Friday – Retail sales rose 16% over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, topping off improving retail sales in general over the last several months.

12.  Dividend Increases – Through the end of November, 312 companies in the S&P 500 increased or initiated a dividend for 2011, up from 232 in 2010 and just 143 in 2009.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

N-of-8 case study: telling a brand story consistently

My involvement in the Berinert brand began in 2005 when CSL Behring engaged my team to help on a rare disease called Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). 

This led to the development of the award-winning disease awareness print and web-based educational branding.

In the last half of 2008, we moved into the next phase of Berinert brand development – global hallmarks. 

To ensure a worldwide perspective throughout the process, my team collaborated with its global network partners beginning with the RFP process, right through to launch. We tapped into diverse agency talent to generate initial thinking, drive discussion, and gain insights. 

Along the way, Stinson worked closely with the client and more than a dozen country marketing managers to refine the brief and advance the global strategy.  

All while applying our proprietary tool, Action Shoes®, to structure our creative development.

But before our visual identity group began its exploration – through extensive color and typography audits, creating a design framework – we used the N-of-8 process to create a strong foundational story. 

Our main objectives for story development were to ensure that all developed materials are on-target and persuasive to physicians and patients, to create compelling messages that connected directly with the customers, to conveys CSL Behring total brand value proposition, and to evaluate creative concepts and promotional pieces to identify areas for needed refinement in telling the story in multiple media.

That was the starting point. 

At the completion of the process, we could then engage the wide variety of design audits and design studies to uncover trends and identify opportunities for visual branding.  The logo, logotype, and colors were developed for the Berinert branding to better tell the story of speed.  In addition the N-of-8 process channeled our verbal brand team in writing a clinical monograph, a product highlights brochure, and the brand standards guidelines book. Finally, we executed market-specific brand launch campaigns including sales materials, patient literature, support programs, and journal advertising.

Together, these elements worked together to tell the Berinert story consistently in verbal, visual, and scientific terms. 

Ultimately, a global brand was forged.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NACA campaign to promote child abuse intervention in Native American communities

One of my most rewarding and meaningful projects of 2011 has surely been the public service campaign for Native American Children’s Alliance. 
NACA is an inter-tribal membership organization whose mission is to promote excellence in child abuse prevention and intervention in Native American and Alaska Native communities through training, mentoring and information.
We helped to develop and execute a pilot initiative among key American Indian healthcare clinics.  The goals were to:
  • Better understand the current circumstances around child abuse
  • Develop culturally appropriate key messaging
  • Develop appropriate and usable training and awareness kits for distribution
  • Create key findings that can apply to a broader tactical awareness media campaign
My creative design partner, Katie Pendlay, developed three wonderful and touching concepts.  Each leverages the NACA brand symbol of the drum.
Working through the executive director of NACA, Linda Logan, we evaluated these platforms at the Indian Health Service clinic in Chicago.  They helped us determine which tools were most needed.
The result was a disk of customizable promotional assets:  a poster, a tear-pad easel, and a brochure.
The campaign has been launched with tribes in rural New Mexico and in urban Detroit.  Linda also recently presented the campaign to an Indian Nation conference in Montana.