With the World Cup over for another four years (occassional) sports nuts like myself are turning to the Tour de France for their daily fix of action and men in tears.
It is race of 3600km and of millimeters. Most teams have spent millions to put their team on the track and the race can be won or lost in a heartbeat.
Team Sky is a UK entrant with the backing of the global satellite TV giant. They aim to have a winner in the next five years. They take the tour very seriously.
They adhere to the theory of an 'aggregation of marginal gains'. They believe that if they closely examine every aspect of what they do and make small improvements in every area it can lead to one big advantage over the other teams.
They have a sleep coach, they have a dedicated 'head of apparel' to get the best from their kit and like F1 teams their workshop floors are painted a specific colour to spot any components that fall off the machines.
I guess like me you have seen a few organisations with one or two components rolling around on the floor. So what could a review of your marketing mean if you wanted to 'aggregate marginal gains' to find a big advantage over your competition?
The most important step is to continually review and test everything you have in use in the market.
Benign considerations like keeping the call centre up to the minute, keeping your POS material looking fresh and interesting or finding the best ISP for your business to give you that extra megabyte of performance can be the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign. Imagine the Old Spice campaign without the rapid-fire responses to questions. It just wouldn't get the same traction.
Here are a few tips for finding some small gains your competitors may not pursue...
1. Comb through your product feedback and reviews and look at some of the less prominent requests or complaints. You may find a particular segment has a burning issue that you think is insignificant. Listen to them and show them that you have. That segment could be a 'sleeper' and become one of your most profitable.
2. Set up regular meetings with your sales team or call centre that go outside the hierarchy. Provide an incentive to get honest feedback and constructive ideas from anyone and everyone.
Managers will not always find the best solutions (!?)
3. Borrow from other industries. If everybody is doing the same thing be the one that doesn't (within reason). For loyal customers go the extra mile. Be the one Dry Cleaner who delivers.
4. Look at what works well in other parts of your business and apply learning to multiple campaigns. You don't need to reinvent the wheel each time. Knowledge and wisdom about how people behave and what they like is transferable (Duh).
5. Train hard. George Orwell would suggest you 'skill up' your peeps often. It can't be assumed that planting a large daily workload on people will keep them in top shape.
Often people find the easiest way to work, not the most effective way.
Give them new challenges, expose them to fresh thinking, send them on a work trip to somewhere they like.
Do you want a team that gets the job done each week or a team that will climb any hill with ease and win the race in style?