5 Innovative Ways to Drive Growth and Profitability

What the bee girl knew – brand leadership in the Age of the Customer

Her face beamed. The bee girl in Blind Melon’s video for “No Rain” felt a sudden sense of belonging when she realized there were other people like her in the world.

They all danced the same bee dance and sang the same bee song. For the first time in a long time, she felt respected and accepted.

Turns out, those special moments can be a boon to brands and bee girls alike.

While wearing wings might be a bit much, the notion of a retail brand building a dream store for their highest value customers certainly isn’t crazy. The rush of conquering the climbing wall at the REI Boston store for example has been known to inspire camaraderie among customers (self included) and a sense of belonging with the brand.

Not surprisingly, camped atop the C Space 2016 list of most customer inspired brands, we find REI.

REI knows what their customers love and isn’t afraid to take risks that power positive customer experiences.

According to the C Space report “The Most Customer Inspired Brands in 2016” when a customer feels understood and respected, they have a stronger relationship with the brand overall. REI exemplifies this through their in-store and digital experiences along with a passion for all things adventure.

REI closed its stores on Black Friday (the busiest shopping day of the year) and told their customers to go for a hike — literally. A risk that paid off, revenues rose 9.3% from 2015 to 2016.

The C Space Customer Quotient ™ framework (CQ) quantifiably correlates revenue and profitability growth to brand behaviors that customers value. Those special moments are are especially important.

The fuzzy logic of customer experience analysis has long depended on a range of disconnected observational metrics. C Space’s CQ approach generates insight from customer perspective, a first in the industry.

The C Space Customer Quotient ™ is comprised of five attributes measured from the customer’s perspective: customer experience, emotional rewards, relevance, openness and empathy.

1. Customer Experience — In an omnichannel world, every touch point shapes brand perception. Brands scoring high in CQ include leaders like Marriott and Wegmans who both deliver on creating meaningful experiences. It’s all about going beyond a good experience and delivering great every time.

2. Emotional Rewards — When a high-touch brand makes you feel good, you remember it. Those witty signs at Trader Joe’s that inspire a subtle chuckle make the brand more personable. Those collective good vibes build up over time and deliver emotional rewards that strengthen brand relationships driving growth, profitability, return on assets (ROA) and likelihood to recommend.

3. Relevance — Brands that understand customer needs and deliver on them in novel ways score high in relevance. Being relatable and sharing your values matters. REI’s #OptOutside campaign is a prime example.

4. Openness — Brands scoring high in openness are perceived as accessible and being genuinely interested in what customers have to say. Being open also means being clear and being real. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty featured non-models and elevated the brand in the minds of many women. Oil of Olay engages older women in a similar tone that speaks to their unique needs.

5. Empathy — Brands that are empathetic have stronger customer intuition. They really “get” their customers, and it shows. Through internalizing customer needs, firms scoring high in CQ like Chick-fil-A, integrate their values as source of competitive advantage. Brands with this strong connection enjoy a distinct advantage — Chik-fil-A for example is the restaurant industry leader across CQ dimensions.

So if the bee girl is your customer, and your brand is the dance — how do you get things moving?

To truly connect, brands need to put in the effort and cultivate a two-way relationship with customers, beyond the typical social media channels. The reward? A profound and now quantifiable link to growth. Thought leaders like C Space hosts 100,000 conversations a day between brands and their customers, extracting innumerable insights along the way.

What does it all mean?

C Space’s CQ framework allows brands to measure the bottom line benefits associated with a customer first model — growth in both revenue and profit.

Be it brand or bee girl, being empathetic, open, and showing genuine interest builds stronger relationships.

Done well, there may also be dancing.

– Anthony Cospito is Director of Digital Strategy at Popbox Digital, Co-founder of the digital collective Brooklyn Art Project, and a consumer insights contractor with C Space (An Omnicom Agency).

5 innovative marketing strategies – mapped along the customer journey

Some brands see the omnichannel marketing challenge before them and quake in fear. Others are crushing it. We’ll focus on the latter. 

Mapping the best of these efforts along the customer journey demonstrates how important timing and trust are when planning, implementing and optimizing digital strategy. Be not afraid.

rm 1

1 – First things first, does anyone know who you are? / AWARENESS

Breaking through the clutter is tough, but when you can leverage new technology to spark an innovative form of brand engagement, it’s a good thing. Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff did exactly that when the highly popular brand created a VR based runway show, complete with a Rebecca Minkoff branded cardboard viewer. 

Through commoditizing access to the brand, this strategy brings what was previously reserved for fashion royalty, to the regulars. This also reflects a larger trend of fashion designers eschewing the “status quo fashion show” and going direct to consumers.


amazon baby

2 – Building trust is all about knowing what matters most, and delivering it. / CONSIDERATION

Millennials are known for their passion around sustainability, including things like knowing where products come from. Amazon is speaking directly to that need with Amazon Elements, a tool that allows customers to track items from creation to expiration through the Amazon app.

The more comfortable people are with all aspects of your product, the more likely they are to make a purchase – a critical next step in the customer journey.


all recipes instacart

3 – Once they know you, and believe in you, it’s time to make the sale. / PURCHASE

Instacart and All Recipes teamed up to make sales happen faster and at greater value. Customers can add an entire recipe’s ingredients to Instacart from AllRecipes in one click. The strategy adds more value collectively than either brand could have alone. 

This solution drives revenue and allows both Instacart and Allrecipes to bask in the glow of delighted customers. Customers use a matrix of brands in their daily life, understanding which ones they love and exploring partnerships, shows you understand them, and know how to make their lives better.



4 – Welcome to the honeymoon phase. Sale is made. Everyone is happy – until they’re not. / ADVOCATE

Sooner or later you hit the “What have you done for me lately?” problem. Best advice is to act before customers even ask the question. Patagonia picked up on their customer’s passion for the brand and rolled out a pickup truck destined to tour the nation on an apparel mending mission.

This strategy puts Patagonia face to face with customers, reinforces the brand messaging that they stand behind their products, and creates social media value through sparking conversations online, and on the road.



5 – No one knows your brand better than your best customers. / INNOVATE

Customers who love your brand are much more likely to help you grow. MIT professor Eric Von Hippel led the research that popularized the “lead-user” approach that engages customers who care deeply about the brand to co-create new product ideas. I’ve personally seen this strategy work well with CPG brand clients testing new product concepts.

Brandy Melville is a top fashion brand for teenage girls taking a similar approach. The brand (with 3.3 million Instagram followers) has a team of about 20 “Brandy Girls” who “work paid shifts in the back room of the brand’s Santa Monica store, where they brainstorm new concepts and consult on existing ones,” according to Racked.com.

“Let’s say there’s a cut of a T-shirt that’s doing really well, they’ll ask our opinion on it. Do we like it? Should we make more? If so, what colors?” – Kjerstin Skorge, a 16-year-old from Malibu

Strategically, mapping marketing strategy against each stage of the customer journey helps to more effectively transform browsers into buyers, and buyers into innovators. Increasingly in client projects we’re using the customer journey as a timeline to map messaging against, and it’s been an invaluable process for stronger conversions and recall.


Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Driving revenue – it’s all about the journey

Popbox Digital Customer Journey


Every customer interaction sparks a data point that brands can learn from. 

CMOS, agencies and brand managers are now mapping these insights against the customer journey as a strategy to drive conversions and deepen brand loyalty. Fine tuning the signal-to-noise ratio is the tough part.

Three trends are converging to help brands know what to focus on including: rising value of customer service data, context driving conversions, and the rising importance of customer journey mapping in a channel and device agnostic world.

Call centers get more respect

As a source of brand engagement data that quite literally defines the customer experience, call centers top the list. The speed and efficacy of customer service in most organizations will improve significantly in the next few years powered by more customer-centric algorithms. 

The push to a customer-obsessed model is quite real according to Forrester Research and can bring measurable ROI. Insights that improve critical touchpoints benefit the entire organization. 2016 will likely be the year consumer brands start diving a little deeper here.

“In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. Leaders will tackle the hard work of shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model; laggards will aimlessly push forward with flawed digital priorities and disjointed operations. ” – FORRESTER RESEARCH

Customer experiences will be further enhanced as tools like IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, that uses natural language and understands context, get smarter with each use. 


Context drives conversations, conversations drive conversions

Given the rise in content marketing, the time, place and tone in which messaging is delivered is even more critical. Understanding “mobile moments” in context allows for the right content to reach the right person at the right time.

Since the ultimate test of context is conversation – Facebook’s new digital concierge service called M is spot-on for how Millennials want to engage with brands.

Guided by David Marcus, Messenger flew past the 800 million user mark in 2015, adding real time customer service integration for firms like FedEx, Everlane and the USPS. The notion of “conversation as interface” has many brands re-thinking how they engage and serve customers. Messaging platforms like Snapchat and What’sApp will expand their efforts towards brand engagement. Emerging media like Periscope will enter the mix more often in 2016, especially for entertainment and youth brands. 

Artifical intelligence offerings like Amy, a digital assistant birthed by impressive NYC startup, X.ai and bot platforms built on messaging apps like Telegram are powered by context seeking algorithims. Mark Zuckerberg has another dog in this fight, he’s racing to build a real world version of Iron Man’s sidekick, Jarvis. The race for human-like engagement across channels is on – so make sure your brand can carry a conversation.

Customer journey mapping becomes foundational for marketing

Customer journey mapping is not new, but when powered by a range of emerging mobile and social data points, the tool is more powerful than ever – especially for brands seeking rapid growth.

The process starts with mapping and optimizing marketing efforts for each phase of the customer journey (i.e. Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Influence). Messaging must then be mapped by channel and synchronized to drive conversions along the path to purchase. A/B testing creative along the customer journey speeds optimization.

In 2016 we expect advertisers to map marketing contexts to an integrated consumer journey so that sales and brand-building content complement rather than compete with each other. – Duncan Southgate, global brand director for Digital at Millward Brown

At each of the four stages, customer journey maps outline actions, motivations, questions and barriers to overcome in the path to purchase. Knowing what prospects are thinking, and targeting creative by stage, drives higher conversions and customer lifetime value.

Insight driven efforts to improve the customer experience will be a growing narrative in 2016. Brands taking the extra step of optimizing their messaging along the customer journey are likely to lead in revenue and innovate ahead of the competition.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

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