Tag Archives: Southern Growth Studio

Innovation Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy

Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy
By Drew Boyd, Executive Director of the Master of
Science in Marketing, University of Cincinnati 

End of Innovation Conference Keynote: 2016

The thesis of this talk is that Creativity is a skill, not a
gift. This practical advice starts with a promise from Boyd: ‘I’m going to
teach you how to use your brain to innovate anyway you want.’
He then discussed the origin story of the ‘think
outside of the box’ mythology. When you send people outside of the box, the
mind suffers anxiety. The mind works better inside the box, he says, with
He then quoted Beatle Paul about ‘templates’ for
songwriting. All artist use patterns, he claims. But the artists don’t want you
to see the patterns. Patterns boost the creative output. ‘Innovators and
inventors use patterns, too, and they are embedded in the products and services
you see everyday.’
The method is Systematic Inventive Thinking’and
there are only five patterns. ‘Innovation follow as set of patterns:
Subtractions, task unification, multiplication, division, attribute

Using these patterns you can move from solution
to problem, rather than problem to solution.
To use this method, start with an existing
situation, and then apply one of the five patterns from above. This thinking
tool will yield a virtual product, then vets if it is desired and feasible. At
this stage, an idea is born.
Let’s we examine the Subtraction technique. Here’s
the method: remove a component, then visualize the new prototype, identify user
needs, and then adapt as needed based on the factors of ‘the closed world.’
Taking each piece out and thinking about the possibilities opens up new paths
of innovation.
This method forces you to create combinations
that you wouldn’t create on your own.
Task Unification is the next method we explored.
Here you assign an additional task to a component and walk through the
remaining steps of can we and should we do it.
We used ‘How we can keep consumers in grocery
stores longer’? as an exercise. We listed all components, chose one, and then
create ideas quickly, with time constraints.
The exercise demonstrated the effectiveness of
the technique. Many new ideas were generated. The constraints forced new
thinking, new potential value.
Boyd then gave many examples of the five
techniques. The book explaining these methods is called Inside the Box.
Many of the innovators were excited about this
technique, which works backwards from the empathy-first methods so popular
today. Boyd claims that these methods improve the efficacy of brainstorming
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric, and also serves as VP Innovation at Hunter Fan. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Capabilities New + Old: Complimentary Practices for Today’s Consumer Reality

Capabilities New +
Old: Complimentary Practices for Today’s Consumer Reality
Sandra Kang, Director, Brand Insights, Digital Insights
& Consumer Affairs, Clorox
Not so long ago, we could take out a TV add, take out a
newspaper add’and win with consumers. Now, it’s all different for the CPG
industry. The, retailers led.
We have moved into the Consumer Led Era. This is the era in
which we compete.
Clorox responds to consumers with a social media team. We
also increasing support our products on many e-tail channels.
We are on a journey to change the way we work. We call it
Sense & Respond marketing.  We have a
cross-functional team that includes a data scientist, an analyst, and insights
person as well as technologists, and others. We are a prototype.
When we came up with the frame work of Sense & Respond,
we saw that we moved from an aggregated, rear-mirror view of consumers, into a
dynamic, predictive, custom view of each consumer.
Change is hard. Innovation can be even harder. The practical
application of this framework means that ‘innovation is hard, you have to be
bold, take risks, and challenge the things we think we know,’ a quote from Carl
Bass, CEO of Autodesk, Inc. 
Lesson one: Back
to basics: Revisit the scope of insights; redefine what it means.
Call-to-action: Redefine what an insight is. Do store
visits. Look at competitors. Play beyond the strategic cloud. Immerse yourself
in what the consumer sees. Next, make allies within the organization. Find
their pain points. Build a rapport.
Lesson two: Research
innovation is not dead. Marketing technology can be a significant enablers of
research innovation.
Call-to-action: Be bold. Be curious. Harness the power of
these new sources of truth, this new world of data.  Turn attitudinal segments on its head. With
big data, they were able to help the Britta brand test four distinct campaigns
to test, then analyze the results. The exercise had the team re-imagine
targeting, segmentation, and attitudinal work.
Lesson three:
Insights, always on.
Call-to-action: Insights is no longer a job for one.
Leverage your business partners. Give them voice. Establish a collaborative
partnership. One-and-done insight creation is a thing of the past. Start with a
hypothesis, and then turn it into a playbook for generating on-going insights. Gather
a team.
Lesson four:
Insight curation, not just creation
Call-to-action: Because three key drivers of change, aim for
customer-centricity. Data is profuse and prolific. The explosion of Martech
means that data is accessible to everyone.
Therefore, we are moving to a three-stage model:
Insight cultivation
Insight curation
Here are the lessons learned:
Let’s be messy
Maintain reasonable expectations
Keep an open mind
Data quality is still a top priority
Make friends internally
Get support of senior leaders
This journey is two to three years old. We are both
unlearning and learning new ways. The goal is to make this the default practice
by 2020.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

2015 TMRE: Seth Godin Question and Answer Session

Seth Godin Question
and Answer Session: TMRE, Orlando 2015
Seth Godin is the author of 18 books. His blog is one of the
most popular in the world.

After a keynote about the Connection Economy, Godin made
time for a Q and A for 50 people.

Q: Companies are risk averse and market researchers are even
more risk averse. What is your advice?
A: Reframe the questions. See how people respond. Companies
aren’t conservative; they are afraid. They all want someone to stand up and
shed light. They mistake their purpose as making the stock rise, instead of
making something meaningful. Take actions on small things, build courage, take
responsibility, give credit. Things will change.
Q: What your view of where marketing will be in five years?
A: This is the next big thing’market to the edges, the
freaks, forget mass’market to individuals. The meta trend is the smartphone.
Most teenagers would rather give up their car than their cell phone’amazing.
Q: Can you talk about scarcity verses Abundance?
A: The source of the scarcity mindset is two fold: 1.
Evolution (not enough food for 1 million years and 2. Limited shelf space. Zero
sum game ‘ the shift is that attention is the scare-est resource. How do you
get more attention? Ideas are abundant. You need to build trust.
Q: What is your view on Twitter?
A: The two stupid things Twitter can do is go public and
sell ads’I wrote this in a post before Twitter went public. Instead, they
should offer a tiered platform with power users who don’t see ads. Twitter will
be less fun to use.
Q: You mentioned about The Weird. Please explain.
A: People move away from the center when given a choice.
Look at people’s browser histories. This was inconceivable 50 years ago when we
had three TV channels to choose from. Now, it is fragmented beyond conception.
Q: When you look at market research, you think about the
push tactics you don’t want. So, what can market research do?
A: Start with reframing the questions, make sense of trends,
not history, but pattern matching. You are charged with taste, not data.
Q. Discuss the art and humanity a little more.
A: Understand patterns. As soon as someone creates an
algorithm, humanity changes, outmodes it. 
It’s the quality of the experience of living, of life, of work.
Q. Thank you for using words like generosity or art in the
realm of marketing. Can you help bring value?
A. I would say you wouldn’t say it yet. But I see it at many
companies. Look at Spotify’the CEO knows that if he hires humans at their edge,
it will bring the company more value. When I say generosity, it doesn’t mean
give it away, it means recognize the humanity of the market.
Q: How do you take it personally when you’re told not to
take it personally.
A: They don’t have to like it, but I made it and I have
proud of it. You can say ‘I made it.’
Q: Turning strangers into friends’can you explain?
A: My book Permission Marketing is about this topic.
Marketing you want to get works better than spam. Would the consumer miss you
if you were gone? Do you have permission. The challenge is how you build a brand
where people want to here from you. It requires humility. Find products for
customers, instead of customers for products. Earn that asset first, and the
other stuff falls into place.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Accelerate Growth Through the Strategic Integration of Research During the Innovation Process

Accelerate Growth
Through the Strategic Integration of Research During the Innovation Process
Stephanie Cunningham, Associate Director, Global Insights
Business Lead’Specialty Division, The Clorox Company
Jody McInerney, Senior Vice President, Burke, Inc.
Stephanie began with crisis, a story about the kitty litter
business. Competitive pressures were high. Market share was being lost. They
needed a new product, in a hurry. From concept to packaging, they needed it all:
RTB, packaging design, product name, name and product fit with top benefits,
and fully baked complete concepts to test against legacy products and
competitive products.
Clorox had five weeks to cram in eight months of work before
the end of the fiscal year and their plan to retailers.
They had limited time and were forced to explore
non-traditional methods.
They called Burke, Inc. for help, and began the Accelerated
Learning Labs??, a methodology designed to shorten the learning curse and allow
teams to get more done in less time.
Accelerated Learning Labs?? focus efforts into a single-day
or real-time learning.
Steps of framing an Accelerated Learning Lab??
Gather Participants
Choose subgroup
Refine Ideas as a Team
This methodology provided a way for the Fresh Start team to
get the results they needed in their timeframe.
The Fresh Step team pushed back at first at this method.
There was fear of the unknown, no proof that it would work, and questions about
the output. This process requires a high-performing team to execute, so it was
critical to get all of the internal stakeholders to suspend disbelief and
deeply participate in the process.
For each of these client fears, there was a solution. There
was the trust of working with a supplier with whom they’ve had a decade-long
relationship. They set expectations about the level of involvement. They also
engaged creative teams and agency partners from the outset.
In the end, the whole Fresh Step group (Innovation manager,
brand manager, designers, consultant team, and marketing manager) all dove in
as a unified cross-functional team.
Once aligned, the team moved forward with
Three-in-person sessions in one market
Total of 102 participants (34 per session)
1.5 hours of quantitative evaluations
1.5 hours of qualitative probing with small
groups of six-eight.
Understanding the most compelling message’the RTB’was the
prime mover in this scenario. The, we moved into package design that needed to
stand out at shelf. We tested a total of 18 names. Then, took the names and
packaging and tested fit with the benefit (RTB).
Consumers provided ways to improve the benefit, the
look-and-feel, the imagery, and the name. They were invaluable in driving
iteration after iteration that made the product more desirable in the market.
They planned the five-week sprint in weekly segments with
things that had to be completed each week.
So, was it a success? Yes. They met the impossible timeline.
Since launch, Clorox has done more rigorous testing and the product that was
launched has tested very well each time. Plus, the market accepted and embraced
the product.
The ability to learn in the moment, given the tight
timelines, was instrumental to hitting the condensed timeline.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Contagious: How to Make Products, Ideas, and Behaviors Catch On

TMRE Keynote Presentation
Contagious: How to Make Products, Ideas, and Behaviors Catch On
By Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School
at the University of Pennsylvania
Berger starts the keynote session by playing a game, Which
is Tastier
? Where two images are shown: broccoli and a cheeseburger.
The vote is cast: the majority vote, you guessed it, for the
cheeseburger. The point is simple. We all know we should eat more broccoli but
the cheeseburger beckons us.
The analogy of tasty then gets turned to ideas. Which ideas
are Tastier?
Some of the ideas are like broccoli’they are good for us,
but not desired, not catching on.
The curse of knowledge plagues the researcher.  We have to overcome what we know and
communicate in a way people will try and spread it. 
As an overview, we will explore these three, key points:
How we make ideas tastier
How we craft our insights that make people more
likely to listen
How we can use word-of-mouth to spread the idea
He asks the audience: What is the science of why people
share? Let’s tour the main points. Let’s learn about the science of social
transmission through storytelling.
Berger showed a slide proving that word-of-mouth is at least
twice as effective as advertising, according to a McKinsey study.
The first hack he shared was based on his experience in
academia. Two copies of the same book were sent to him; the second had a note
encouraging him to pass along to a colleague who may enjoy it. Berger’s point:
find the influencers and give them something to spread, and it comes across as
a recommendation.
So, why do people
? Here are the top driving six factors:
Social currency
Practical Value
One way to get others to share our ideas is to make them
look good, look smarter’this is the basis of social currency.
We share things that send desired signals of who we are, our
ideal self. So do brands. How can you make your brand tribe feel smart and
in-the-know, on the inside track? If people feel special sharing our stuff,
they will.
One facet of social currency is finding the Inner
Remarkability’something surprising, novel, or interesting. Berger used the
Blendtec blending an iPhone example as the Will it Blend campaign. Blenders
sales went up 700% as a result.
The more you can show rather than tell, the more powerful.
So, what is a Trigger: something that is top-of-mind
because it is tip-of-tongue.
Consideration is 80% of purchase, and getting in the
consideration sphere is the most important part of the strategy.
Here are the four questions for getting value from triggers:
Who do we want to triggers?
When do they want to be triggered?
What is in the environment at that time?
How can we connect to the environment?
The last tactic discussed is Stories. Facts and data bore
everyone. Stories are vessels of information, a Trojan Horse, a carrier of
information. Stories imbue the emotional shorthand of a brand. Stories are the currency
of conversation.
Berger’s advice: first, find your kernel. What do you want
to pass on, to share? Then, how can you make others feel special about it,
in-the-know, and share.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

New Frontier of Consumer Research

TMRE 2015 Session
New Frontier of
Consumer Research
Olga Diamandis, Senior Manger, Open Innovation, Mattell
Three key things are happening that are changing research:
Crowdsourcing, big data, and artificial intelligence.  We will mine these dimensions, but first
let’s take a brief look at the history of marketing research.
The field was born in the 1930s with the Likert Scale. This scale becomes
the primary tool to measure consumer attitude. Then, the internet drastically
changed things in the 1990s. Once web sites became dynamic and data was easy to
handle crowdsourcing.
enabled researchers to crowdsource around the globe. Everything from toys, car
design, to a country’s constitution have been crowdsourced.
For Mattell crowdsourcing became a tool for creating new
characters in their Little People line, reducing the time spent in Market
Big Data creates
new opportunities. From behavioral data to predictive analytics, Big Data
shortens the time to generate insights. Every human leaves a digital trail that
can be cross-analyzed. In the Connected Era the amount of data will spike even
What Big Data means for advertising is hyper targeting,
creating meaning and relevance for consumers.
allows us to track everything without consumer reported data,
decreasing consumer biases. AI, in this realm, includes peer reviews (such as
reviews on Amazon.com) and consumer ratings.
AI also helps us understand ourselves better. What movies we
like. We words we use most often. In time, Siri will take a more proactive
role, recommending places to eat and things to do based on our user patterns.
I know I can go online and find an answer to a question
simply now. Then, I’m thinking that machines can handle the search and the
critical thinking. Revolutionary. I get excited and overwhelmed, but so
excited. The future is limitless, but we have to be adaptive to take advantage
of this emerging mode of the market.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Ethnography Alone Cannot Generate Transformative Insights

Consumer Anthropology offers such refreshing
insights into the marketplace, re-humanizing the relationship between people, things,
and stores in very profound and moving ways. This movement has also helped
stores to get their noses out of spreadsheet and theories and keep their eye on
the customer experience.

Whether in-store or online, this ethnographic
sensitivity has positively been leveraged to optimize the present experience or
redeem oversights and chokepoints of history. This type of insight begins by
taking an objective snapshot of the experience, detaching, and seeing how to
make them relatively immediately better.
All of these good things come from the business
discipline of consumer ethnography. These changes make customers happier and
help drive more sales per square foot (or per pixel); a win-win.
Yet, time and time again, we have seen clients who
tried to use a pure consumer ethnographic approach to their innovation programs
who fail. Why? What happened?
The purpose of innovation and the job of pure
ethnography are at odds. The purpose of innovation is to generate new value.
You accomplish this objective with foresight, creativity, and fresh thinking.
The job of ethnography is to give insights about the past or present.
Therefore, innovation aims for the future, and ethnography strives to stay
rooted into either the past or the present. Simply put, it is a different lens,
different ways of seeing.
This is why organizations that first try Design
Thinking often ends up with mediocre results in a program. They approach the
first two phase of the process (Empathy and Define) with an academically
rigorous approach to consumer behavior. This primary field data is potent, but
only half of the story.
The other half revolves around a mix of intention,
strategic prowess, ambition, business acumen, a growth instinct, and the
ability to trend cast into the future. The data from secondary sources,
indirect competitive trends, and exercises around new channels, new markets,
and brand elasticity fuel the conversation, insisting that it is well defined,
vigorously focused, and ultimately measurable.
This other half can be defined as the Project (or
Business) objective. Pure ethnographic work without this other half to temper
it lacks a forward thrust needed to truly innovate.
What is needed for a successful innovation program
is a mix, a vital intersection of ethnographic field insights with an
overarching commercial objective. This marriage of openness to the full context
of history and the present moment to delivering new ways to solve old problems
under a specific banner is the archway of profundity, a vast pipeline of possible
Pure ethnography alone will not get you to the point
of having a transformative business or organization or a wide-ranging portfolio
of value-generating concepts. On the flip side, having a business objective and
no deep context of the market also means having a limited sight of vision of
the opportunities. Together, at the intersection of human context and market
focus, exists the key that unlocks real growth.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Primary Research. Personal Legends. Talking Sticks.

Businesses, organizations, and non-profits grow with the
level of first-hand experiences they have with their prospects,
customers, members, or donors. These entities both know themselves and
also know their audience, their tribe.

This is the Relationship Age ‘ the era of paying attention. Think of it as winning business by paying respect.

To know yourself you have to go through a detailed strategic process
and carefully, consciously create a vibrant culture. To know your
audience, you have to learn to respect people deeply. The primacy of
compassionate and sensitive primary, first-hand, narrative research is
the key that unlocks this world of possibilities.

The hardest thing for organizations to do to accomplish such growth
is to realize that traditional marketing research and segmentation is
outmoded. The reason: it looks at the people with whom it should be
trying to cultivate a relationship as a target, a one-dimensional
object, rather than a fully alive human subject with a treasure trove of
stories, memories, dreams, hopes, and fears. In summary, the old method
edits out the humanity. And, winning the innovation game is about
touching humanity, creating something of value for real people.

When the author of The Alchemist and other books, Paulo
Coelho, was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters, he said,
‘The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our
lives by it, but by the choice we make to follow our personal legend, to
believe in our utopias, and to fight for our dreams.’ And then he
wrote, ‘We are all protagonists of our own lives, and it is often the
anonymous heroes who make the deepest mark.’

By honoring people in this spirit, primary research gets to the heart
of the matter’the human experience with a product, service, or
organization’and taps into the personal legends of each of the people
with whom they are working.

Most of the people working in this field are consumer anthropologists
who have been trained to listen respectfully, probe deeply, and stay
attuned for verbal and non-verbal clues. This tradition goes back to
pre-history days in the legend of the Taking Stick. The Talking Stick
was a method used by Native Americans, to let everyone speak their mind
during a council meeting, a type of tribal meeting. According to the
indigenous Americans’ tradition, the stick was imbued with spiritual
qualities that called up the spirit of their ancestors to guide them in
making good decisions. The stick ensured that all members who wished to
speak had their ideas heard. All members of the circle were valued

The rules of the Talking Stick follow: Whoever holds the talking
stick has within their hands the power of words. Only they can speak
while holding the stick, and the other council members must remain
silent. The eagle feather tied to the stick gives the speaker the
courage and wisdom to speak truthfully and wisely. The rabbit fur on the
end of the stick reminds him that his words must come from his heart.

The history of AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) and other step programs and
the practice of psychotherapy are all based on this awareness: that
speaking the truth is healing. But it is healing for the group as a
whole because as each individual listens, in silence and reverence, a
whole world of understanding opens up.

This world of understanding becomes the basis of innovations that
make lives better and makes organizations more meaningful and

Michael Graber is the founder and managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio. His book on insights and innovation is forthcoming. Michael also serves as the Region Editor of Innovation Excellence and as a founder and mentor at the Memphis Innovation Bootcamp and Atlanta Innovation Bootcamp. He’ll serve as an offical blogger at TMRE.

Consumer Insight :: Go Deep or Go Home

We meet companies and non-profits who have been marketing to the same
lists for years. Often, these lists and the assumptions about the
people on their lists are more than a decade old. These aged lists may
have been scrubbed, but that is simply for those who have fallen off the
grid, one way or another. This point should be obvious: there are major problems with this scenario.

1. First off, organizations marketing to the same list for years lose
the feel of how their buyers make decisions. Their selling instincts
dull, and then they tend to think of names on the list as objects rather
than subjects with rich, full lives, motivations, and choices. In
essence, they lose their hunting impulse, their sense of courtship, and
reduce a possible valuable customer relationship into a vague,
impersonal slot machine, settling for a single transaction with low

2. Second, people are dynamic, not static. If these organizations put
their prospects into a rigid category instead of knowing them on a
deeper level, they will be marketing to a snapshot that is no longer
valid. Think of yourself or your children 10 years ago to demonstrate
this point. People are one of the most progressive species on the
planet. Fortunes can be made, lost, and regained in a decade’and if your
customer information keeps the same basic inputs, you are out of touch
with reality.

3. Third, your weakest competitors are marketing to the exact same list.
Incredibly, they are marketing to them with a similar value
proposition, brand promise, feature and benefit set, and price range
(perhaps with a few incremental differences, but nothing really
discernible to them). They, too, are eking out a living on the after
fumes of cobwebbed insights from a decade ago, and cannot think outside
of the confines of a strategy set when the world was a different place.

4. Fourth, the most egregious sin: They don’t have any actionable
insights about the market, the people in the market, the trends and
forces that shape the market, and they do not renew and transform their
innovation and marketing efforts to position as a leader in their
category. This is the classic deadly sin of sloth. If it exists in your
organization, eradicate it or risk extinction.

Face it: this is the post-industrial world, the economic era of
innovation. These innovations are steeped in human-to-human
valves’offering products, services, causes, and messages that add value
to a person’s life. You have to know a person to go this deep. You must
immerse yourself in their world and get out of your conference room to
comprehend where and how you can really add value.

Call it a deep dive, a voice of the customer, an ethnography,
narrative insight based marketing research, field studies, whatever’just
get out of your own head and your rut-like routines and get inside the
homes, routines, rituals, and hearts of your people. Honor those that
buy from you or give to you, as subjects with dynamic lives.

By investing in them, you create a win-win relationship. You offer
something of value to Joe, Betty, John, Veena, and Amir’and they, in
return, return to your offering as part of the natural course of their
lives. This quid pro quo, these repeat sales, will not happen if you
keep playing the old lists game and never spend time with your prospect

Go deep.

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