At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Commercial Intimacy

Who are these people?

John Milmine June 2011

At the end of the day it's not about the numbers. Not even about the conversions. Not about repeat visits. It's about depth. Sure a person may use your service a lot, but if they leave as soon as a rival pops up then their depth of commitment was low. Once you have an engaged customer it's not about telling them your hopes and dreams, it's about listening to theirs. Also while it's nice to hear your grand plans, I also want to know your past times, secrets, fears and embarassing cock-ups. Until then intimacy is still just surface level. If you want customers to flirt with you you're going to have to flirt with them and show them some leg. Not too much too soon though or you'll appear to be some co-dependant attention starved moron who loves long walks on the beach and would you like to move in with me?

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Commercial Intimacy

Social Media and Commercial Intimacy

Noel Brown July 2011

Social media was, as its name suggests, envisaged as a phenomenon of the social rather than commercial sphere. The frenetic adoption of social media for commercial ends belies that vision. But as an immature medium (or at least a still rapidly evolving one) the end, or mature state is not yet clear. So far the bulk of corporate and commercial use of social media seems to treat it as just another channel.

In reality it’s potential to turn the tables on big, one direction marketing is enormous. The interpersonal networks that social media supercharge have enormous, latent commercial clout. Any brand or service that performs well or poorly can and will be instantly outed, for good or ill. What is emerging is a hugely powerful, instant and pervasive referral system. This sort of power in the hands of consumers is new – we are picking it will be a powerful driver towards more personalisation and to greater brand integrity.

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Commercial Intimacy

Data Collection and Commercial Intimacy

Noel Brown July 2011

The deployment of information and communication technology in our lives creates huge amounts of data about our movements, preferences, health, wealth, habits and more. Much of this data is collected and stored sometimes with, and sometimes without our consent. Much of the data collected is used by various organisations to better tune the products and services they offer to us. The potential to collect data will increase over time as technology becomes both more capacious and ever-present. This will make it more and more possible for organisations to use that data to more and more personalise their offers and their service.

Before this can develop to a stage that makes truly individual service the norm, issues of data ownership and access will need to be resolved. For commercial intimacy to be realised in all its glory and potency the data used to personalise the engagement will need to be of a depth and intimacy best gathered with consent.

Equally the organisations most likely to gain that consent and the consequent access to powerful personal data are those who have earned the trust that consent is based on.

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Commercial Intimacy

Customisation and Commercial Intimacy

Noel Brown July 2011

More and more the offers put to us have been in some way tailored to what the supplier perceives as our particular tastes and needs. Some such offers are pertinent and others laughably inept.

As this sort of tailoring becomes ubiquitous it loses its competitive edge, driving the leaders in the field to further refine and deepen the degree of personalisation in their offers. In this way the practice becomes both more pervasive and more acute. Add in increasing power to collect and process personal data and it’s easy to see this trend accelerating. At some point on this progression the pertinence, timeliness, and allure of the offer itself will rank alongside the quality of the product or service and cost in the decision to purchase – or not.

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Commercial Intimacy

The two faces of retail

Martin Grant February 2010

Retail is highly competitive, so its got to be very clear just what benefits a customer focused, multi channel strategy can offer before anyone is going to invest. The evolution in creating value in retail is lead by efficiency, followed by intelligence, and then intimacy. Value innovation around customer intimacy is about  “managing consumer relationships by ‘customerising’ the interface and interaction with individual consumers”. In simple terms that means putting the power in the hands of your customers to shop how and when they like. Do that and they will reward you handsomely.

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Commercial Intimacy

Wanting a better life – stay in New Zealand

Stephen Maskell June 2011

Well on balance anyway – according to the OECD Better Life Index – which currently covers 34 member countries and looks at factors that the OECD has identified as essential to material living conditions and quality of life. New Zealand does well in areas such as Housing, Jobs, Community, Environment, Governance, Health and Safety. We don't do so well in areas such as Income and Work-Life balance – but I guess we already knew that.

If you combine all the factors and place them all at a high level of importance New Zealand comes out generally within the top 5 – a pretty good group that includes Norway, Sweden, Canada and our best mate Australia.

In New Zealand we often beat ourselves up when we get a low rating in the OECD. I have always believed that we should not worry about the individual rankings – while at the same time taking them on board – we need to consider them as part of the overall mix of what makes New Zealand a great place to live. One of the best in fact.

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Commercial Intimacy

Not that long ago this was an oxymoron

Noel Brown April 2011

To be commercial and also to build intimacy – a rich experience, a trusting relationship, one that is always on and always with you – yeah right. A nice notion but for most businesses this was a pipedream, and the cost didn’t really seem that easy to justify the effort. Alongside that, for most customers it was too suffocating – and required a commitment many were less than keen to sign up to. Now – most of that has changed. We believe that commercial intimacy – the approach to serving the viable niche of one – is the context within which we all need to operate in from here on out. We believe the foundation for that will be understanding the trends in economic, societal and demographic change that when married with technology and a consumer power shift define a new way of doing business and providing value to customers.

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Commercial Intimacy

Commercial intimacy and Trade Me

Noel Brown December 2011

I think Trade Me is real live, real life proof of the business potency of commercial intimacy

Very soon you will be able to buy shares in Trade Me on the New Zealand stock exchange. Four years after buying Trade Me for $700m, Fairfax are floating 34% of the company at a price which values the Trade Me business at just over $1 billion.

Four years ago, many wondered if Fairfax had paid way too much for Trade Me and doubted it could grow enough to repay their investment. The price of the new float and the enthusiasm with which it’s being greeted by prospective buyers suggests otherwise.

Trade Me’s on-going growth and success is down to one thing, and I suspect it’s a thing it has always known is the key to its business. Let’s face it, the Trade Me brand wouldn’t win any design awards, but most well-polished brands would gladly trade their gorgeous collateral and clever campaigns for what Trade Me has – a deep, enduring and mutually profitable relationship with its vast community.

Connecting in meaningful ways with each individual in your community, and backing those relationships with performance that does what those individuals want and need, is more important than anything else in your business.

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Commercial Intimacy

Heart on your sleeve or in your pocket?

Gill Coltart July 2011

Like never before, customers are being exposed to the head and heart of the businesses they buy from – or at least the market’s view of it – thanks to the proliferation of communications channels that give equal voice to an individual and an organisation. Beyond specifications or pricing detail of a product, potential buyers are faced with weighing up the opinions of other customers on any manner of related subject – not least the ethics, corporate citizenship, legal history, financial integrity – of the organisation they’re looking to purchase from. The backlash on Adidas by Polish graffiti artists and formation of the Adisucks facebook page is a fantastic example.

All well and good we say – power to those who invest in a clear corporate conscience. Transparency and openness is a good thing.

But the longer term implications are worth pondering. Does the threat of ambush by the masses really encourage greater integrity by corporates – or does it simply stifle innovation and limit boundary pushing? Worse still, does it actually perpetuate a greater propensity for guarded, whitewashed communications by organisations to avoid a social media headache?

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Commercial Intimacy

Can you really get something for nothing?

Graeme Coll July 2011

In a world which is growing ever more filled with messages and 'things' how do you set your product or service apart from the masses? How can you not only create a loyal customer base but have them sell and promote your service to others because they want to? It seems to me that the most compelling communication nowadays is 'nothing', and that's why we believe in Commercial Intimacy where every consumer can have what they want, in the way they'd like it.

If you want a better service experience, should it not be about process refinement rather than process complexity? The same could be said for products you love – they have all the features you need and nothing else.

So the next time you need to achieve 'something', how about focussing on 'nothing'. It just might grant you the success you're after.

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Commercial Intimacy

Your customers are people too…

Donna Maxwell June 2011

Listen to the way people talk to their partner – I want you to know me, listen to and love me. And then about them – I want them to be their best, to feel safe and cherished. 

Compare this to how your business talks to your customers – Dear Sir/Madam your invoice is overdue, please hold to speak to an operator; and about them – cost-to-serve and acquisition / retention strategies.

Why so different? What kind of relationships could you have with your customers if you spoke both to and about them like they were people – I know you, I hear you and I’d miss you if you were gone?

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Commercial Intimacy

Protein Anyone?

Noel Brown July 2011

We became one of the richest countries in the world by twice cashing in on British protein booms. Affluent middle classes emerging from 19th century industrialisation and Second World War austerity were able to eat meat and dairy like never before – and they got it from us. 

In huge developing economies, rising income levels are changing diets to protein again, and in vast numbers. Our meat, dairy and fish exporters need commercial intimacy to cash in on this boom. 

We could treat all Britain as one niche and we had much stronger cultural, social, historical and language linkages there than anywhere else – and the trade was protected. Lacking those advantages, we must get close enough to Brahmins in Bangalore, samba dancers in Rio, apparatchiks in Guangdong and thousands of other groups, to develop products that resonate for them. It’s a big enough opportunity to make us a rich country again.

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Commercial Intimacy

Close to me?

Aaron Carson April 2011

Let’s get one thing straight – the closer you are to your customers, the better your chances of meeting their changing needs and building a positive and enduring relationship. Our existence as a species relies on interaction, so it’s no surprise that when you improve the inputs and grow intimacy, you also improve the output and results. Traditional approaches to marketing are no longer completely effective, and why would we expect them to be when so much has changed? The new reality is that organisations have to engage with their communities on a virtually personal basis. That’s tough – increasingly tailored offers, the tapping of social networks, self service and transparency are becoming the new norm. If I was a betting man (and I am), I’d wager that organisations who really understand and respect their communities and service them accordingly will be more successful.

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