March 2012

The marketplace has never been more dynamic, and it’s forcing the need for new perspectives, fresh thinking, more relevant offers and customer experiences, and expanded capabilities among those organizations that intend to keep pace – if not get ahead of the game.

Nowhere has the call for transformation been more urgent than in the marketing suite. In this issue of our newsletter, we examine many of the facets of change that are recasting marketing and marketers’ roles.

Customer 'Must-Haves' Make Competition Irrelevant

Change Agents: How Great Companies Stay Great

Ensuring Marketing Capabilities Match Changing Needs

Analytics: Creative Force and Decision Support Tool

Customer Experience and the B2B Player

Museum Mentality

Recommended Reading

In the News

Spotlight on Speaking

Customer ‘Must-Haves’ Make Competition Irrelevant

As Prophet Vice Chairman David Aaker will tell you, creating a marketplace with weak or nonexistent competition has a huge potential payoff. It is Economics 101 and the ticket to real growth in sales and profits. Consider the Chrysler minivan introduced in 1982 as the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan, which sold 200,000 during its first year, 12.5 million since then, and enjoyed 16 years with no viable competitors. It literally carried Chrysler for nearly two decades.

The relevance factor – creating offers that are so “must-have” for consumers that they lock competitors out of the playing field – is not the common marketing strategy. Brand preference is. But, Aaker argues, it’s far less effective. To learn how businesses have successfully taken the relevance route, and his best practice guidelines, read on.

Change Agents: How Great Companies Stay Great

Great companies are facile. They’re durable. Their vision is expansive and rooted in the mission of providing an unparalleled customer experience. This drive powers their relentless reinvention and ability to stay relevant no matter the economic, cultural, and business climate.

Importantly, they also have great change agents to lead the way – leaders who have transformed the work and role of marketing to effectively create impact for their organizations.

Prophet celebrates these successes through our periodic Change Agent webinars, where select leaders share their stories, challenges, and lessons learned. Click here to listen to a replay of our most recent webinar, featuring Stephen Quinn, EVP & CMO of Walmart.

Ensuring Marketing Capabilities Match Changing Needs

Many business leaders are making important strides in transforming their marketing strategies to address changing competitive environments, emerging product and service categories, and evolving customer needs. They're thinking in terms of solutions rather than products, stakeholders rather than customers, and redefining rather than upgrading.

But unfortunately, leaders often expect new marketing strategies to be successfully executed with old marketing capabilities. However, even the greatest strategic plans have failed in the absence of capability shifts.

With the right building blocks, business leaders can advance their companies' marketing capabilities to give promising strategies the support needed to succeed. Learn more through this article published March 19th on

Analytics: Creative Force and Decision Support Tool

Meet James Walker. Prophet’s newest senior partner will be spending the foreseeable future hopping between his home in the U.K. and the States as he helps bring analytics to life for savvy marketers.

He’s spent the last 20 years in the marketing sciences, on the big agency (J. Walter Thompson), big consultancy (Accenture), and entrepreneurial sides. He recently shared his views of the new practice area he’s leading, and a peek at other interests that occupy his time.

Why is analytics important to you?
Analytics unveils truth and beauty. It's like a sculptor chipping away at marble and revealing the hidden art beneath. Is he revealing it or creating it? That's an interesting question for analytics. I see analytics as being quite a fun and creative thing to do.

How do you view analytics?
It's about harnessing data to make more effective and more fundamental marketing decisions. And by more fundamental, I mean analytics as a creative force, not just a decision support tool – one that helps marketers see the world through new eyes. It’s important in light of the marketing communications revolution of the last decade, which has created the need to look at ecosystems of brands and to better reflect real consumer behavior. We see it as bridging the gap between marketing and CRM-type activities to really harness customer data for marketing.

Why is Prophet breaking out analytics as a stand-alone practice?
We're reflecting the fact that clients are framing their questions as distinct analytics questions. Also, by creating a separate analytics business, we can focus on our offering, develop the tools, hire staff, etc. We are giving it the level of attention and focus that our clients are giving it. But what’s really powerful about our analytics is the connection with the other practices. Obviously a brand architecture project can lead into channel strategy, SKU pricing, etc. Or brand portfolio work can be activated by marketing mix and allocation models. Less obviously, I see a lot of connectivity with innovation, e.g., using PLAYSTUDIO to kick off a project by exploring potential marketing drivers, and design, e.g., using infographics to make the output of the models come to life.

Click here to read the rest of our interview with James.

Customer Experience and the B2B Player

Consumer brands have invested billions to create experiences built upon distinctive combinations of products, services and people. That’s been less the case on the business-to-business (B2B) side, however, perhaps because success in B2B categories often depends on achieving operational excellence and delivering on “behind the scenes” needs of business customers.

Yet a closer look shows that the attributes describing B2B winners – reliability, accuracy, quality, ease – are often the hallmarks of a great customer experience. In fact, a few B2B “trailblazers” developed experiences that both strengthened their brands and drove competitive advantage in challenging markets.

In this article, authors Jennifer Barron, Jesse Purewal, and Nancy Lu show how three leading B2B companies have done “customer experience” right.

The Museum Mentality

When you walk into a museum, says Prophet’s Andy Stefanovich, you are paying for the privilege of opening yourself to a world of inspiration. The trick to fostering an innovation culture, he suggests, is to imbue that same kind of museum mentality in a new setting – your own organization. Watch his video on the topic that he did prior to a recent event here.

Recommended Reading

Partnerships With Staying Power
By Simon Thun and Julie Purser
Read about best and worst practices when it comes to marketing partnerships.

JCPenney's Brand-Building: Out Of The Vortex
By Paul Schrimpf
Why JCPenney’s new rebranding initiative brings fresh air to today’s merchandising strategies.

Optimizing Marketing at the Point of Sale: A Shopper-Centric Approach
By Joseph Gelman and Markus Koch
Learn a more pragmatic and strategic approach to effectively connect with customers at this critical touchpoint.

In the News

Prophet for Non-Profit
One year ago, Prophet raised $14,000 in order to build a kindergarten in Vietnam with Citizen Effect. Take a look at the thriving success of the school and its students in this one year recap!

Ad Age Cites Two Prophet Books in Top Ten List
Two books published in the last year by members of Prophet’s senior management team continue to score accolades.

Spotlight on Speaking

Corporate Reputation Webinar
April 3 — Webinar
Join Jeff Smith, Partner at Prophet, as he outlines our latest research and uncovers who’s leading the reputation race. Jeff will discuss why many companies saw decline and what Prophet sees as drivers of success for the companies and industries that are leading the ranks. He’ll also outline Prophet’s Reputation Management Index and illustrate how you can use it to uncover insights about your own company.

Look at More - A getAbstract Webinar
April 17 — Webinar
Prophet's Chief Curator and Provocateur Andy Stefanovich teams up with getAbstract for a one hour webinar to discuss the discipline of inspiration and why real innovation eludes so many companies.

April 27 — London, UK
James Walker is keynoting this event at London Business School.

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Consultants’ Corner

Target, because it makes even the most mundane shopping chore fun. TOMS Shoes, because you’re doing good for others while taking care of your own needs. Kanye West, who makes inspirational music. These are among the favorite brands shared by our colleagues in New York. See all of their picks – and why! Click here.

David Aaker's Latest Blog Post

Why Companies Under-Invest in "Big" Innovations

Firms over-invest in incremental innovation and under-invest in innovations that create “must haves.” These “must haves” would define new subcategories, which, with rare exceptions, are the only innovations that create real growth.

Scott Davis' Latest Blog Post

Toyota Gets Drivers – Of Reputation, and Cars

Toyota’s attention to personal relevance has helped aid its successful rebound in reputation. This is among the highlights from Prophet’s 3rd annual Corporate Reputation Study.


Where the discipline of inspiration meets the practice of business. 
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