Almost ten years ago these two – Levitt the iconoclastic economist and Dubner the journalist – published Freakonomics, in which they confronted received wisdom and political correctness. Levitt’s approach is about finding true cause and effect by daring to ask different questions and using data without prejudice.  In a way it’s the precursor of behavioural economics, nudge theory and all that, because it reveals how frequently outcomes are shaped by unseen forces, rather than being conscious choices. Read More

Books | August 2014

“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.”

Warren Buffett, aka the sage of Omaha Read More

Quotes | March 2014

Marketers should not focus on return on investment (ROI) as their key metric. Why not? Because it is not ambitious enough.

ROI is a helpful way to compare media choices, or different creative options, or even different service models. It is an important tool for marketers to make choices, and to improve. But be careful: it’s also a trap.

Sometimes ROI looks like clear proof of money well spent, to justify budgets to others. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | February 2014

Do you find queueing stressful? For me, it’s not the waiting, it’s the uncertainty. Give me an orderly queue with a guaranteed outcome at the end, and I can wait happily. Contrast that with the Apple store at Christmas. The dudes in their red t shirts and beanies are the same as always, chillaxed and cheerful. But in mid December, most people aren’t there for the joyous experience of a browse through all things Apple. Read More

Comment | December 2013

It’s 10 years since the development of the net promoter score by Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain. It’s been widely adopted. Your bonus may be partly dependent on achieving an NPS target. Its promoters say simplicity – boiling everything down to one number – helps people across the business engage with customer satisfaction. Detractors argue that this simplicity obscures the causes of satisfaction and, more importantly, dissatisfaction. Whatever the chosen method, customer satisfaction scores are often one of the measures most tracked and quoted in large service businesses. Read More

Thought leadership | December 2013

It’s all the rage to talk about purpose in business (I’m keen on it myself) but business also has to be about the numbers. The financial results are the ultimate numbers. Targets, KPIs and incentives are management tools to drive and track progress. But, there’s more to the old adage, “what gets measured gets done” than setting KPIs. Not all customer metrics are good for customers; even the best-intentioned metrics can have unintended consequences. Here are a couple of examples. Read More

Thought leadership | October 2013

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.”

Virginia Woolf

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Quotes | September 2013

“People don’t want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter-inch holes.”

Theodore Levitt, legendary marketing professor and writer Read More

Quotes | August 2013

Have you, as a customer, ever had it patiently explained to you by a sales or service person that “it doesn’t work like that”? Don’t you just hate that! To paraphrase Steve Jobs, it’s not the customer’s job to know how it works. On the contrary, it’s the marketer’s job to know how the customer thinks and acts and wants it to be. All the same, it is possible to create customer behaviour that is efficient and smart for your business. Read More

Thought leadership | June 2013

Jeanette Winterson wrote in her autobiography that her mother despaired of her, saying, “Why be happy when you could be normal?” Mrs Winterson saw conformity as a virtue. In her worldview, Jeanette’s job was to fit in rather than be fulfilled by being herself. Jeanette couldn’t help it though – she wasn’t trying to be different, she was different from the sort of girl her mother expected her to be. Accepting the status quo wasn’t an option for her. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | January 2013