Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Channel Execution

Doing More of What Works

Are you consistently doing what works?

Last week we talked about the Law of Subtraction – how subtracting things, and doing less, is often more effective than adding things, and doing more.  When you do less, it allows you to focus on the important things, the things that really matter and work.

A lot of success in life is about identifying what works and then doing more of it.  Whether that is surgeons reducing the risk of infection by washing their hands between patients, which amazingly only became common practice in the late 1800’s.  Or the extra hour David Beckham used to spend after training to practice free kicks.  Once you know something works, why wouldn’t you do more of it?  It will probably work even more.

Yet consider how organisations, and many people within them, spend their time and resource.  A disproportionate amount of time and money is spent on doing new things.   For example, developing and launching innovation, trying to get shoppers to buy new products.  Whereas a surprisingly small amount of time and money is spent getting shoppers to buy more of what we already know, sells.

Who wants to spend their time trying to sell more of a product that has been around for 30 years when they could be developing something shiny and new?  Who wants to create a POS display that follows a simple set of rules when they could come up with something that has never been done before?  New is exciting.  Existing is boring.

But are winners – companies and people – the ones who get less bored?  The ones who are quite happy doing the simple things, if they work?  There are probably a few ex Man Utd youth team players who wished they had stayed behind after training now.

So, how does this apply to the FMCG world?  How do we do more of what already works?

Back the Winners.  Are you maximising the opportunity with winning products?  Can you go deeper with distribution of these – in existing channels and new ones?  Are you backing them with enough shelf space and visibility in store?  How much advertising budget is spent on the core vs NPD?

Shoppers are consistently giving clues on what your winning products are, through what they buy and the rate at which they buy them.  Following those clues with resource and investment is key.  Coke never get tired of selling more Coke.

Reapply don’t Reinvent.  Everyone who works on a category, retailer or channel, thinks theirs is different.  Sure, there are differences, but there are also a lot of commonalities.  The skill is often taking core principles and then applying them in the most relevant way for a category, brand or store format.  The fundamental rules for designing packs or POS don’t change according to which category you are in.  How you apply them does.

Have a ‘Way’ of Doing Things.  Walk around any supermarket and you will often see the same core things (signage, promotions, NPD communication) being done in different ways.  This can’t be good for the shopper and it can’t be good for the retailer or brands.  The more consistently things are done, the more effectively you train shoppers.  They implicitly know what to look for.  This makes the shopping task easier.  The easier the task, the more shoppers are likely to buy.  And buy more.  Plus if you have 1 way of doing something rather than 5, you will probably save a lot of money.

In our world, we might not be saving lives or winning football titles, but the basic principle of doing what works and then doing more of it, absolutely holds.

Do you know what works in your area?  And are you doing enough of it?

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.