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Our 3 most popular lessons from 2022

Summary page showing our most popular articles in 2022 on market attractiveness, creative thinking barriers and an online store profit and loss

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Why read this? : We share our 3 most popular lessons from 2022. Learn which of our marketing, creative and e-Commerce articles attracted the most readers, and our thoughts on why. Read this to see what sparked other Three-Brains readers’ interest last year.

Hard to believe another year is almost at an end. Another busy year filled with new information, insights and ideas about our favourite topics, marketing, creativity and e-Commerce.

Our last 2022 post is a little Christmas “gift”. It looks at what’s caught our readers’ attention the most this year, as we share our 3 most popular lessons from 2022. 

These marketing, creativity and e-Commerce articles drove the most visits and engagement. We’ll recap the lessons from each and share our thoughts on what made them popular. 

Key lessons from 2022 - marketing

Our most popular marketing article came in June and was all about market attractiveness and targeting. Our overall segmentation, targeting and positioning guide briefly touches on this topic. But this article gets into the more specific detail of how you choose between segments. 

We suspect this specificity is part of its appeal.

Deciding which segment to go after is hard. Broad principles don’t always help with hard decisions. Sometimes, you have to get into the details. Plus, deciding to go after one segment means giving others up. Giving something up is hard. 

Market segment attractiveness - pizza shop example

Ever been out for a meal, and got food envy? You look at someone else’s plate and wish you’d chosen that instead. That’s what it feels like when you choose a target segment. Marketers get segment envy. You look at other segments and think, what if we’d gone after that one instead?

And you know what? That’s fine. Totally natural to feel like this. 

But the market attractiveness approach is a good way to help you get past this feeling. It helps you feel you’ve made the right segment choice. The detail and effort of the decision-making makes you feel more confident. That’s why we think this article was so popular.

A well-thought-out choice

The market attractiveness approach forces you to think deeply about your targeting decision.

There are 7 steps. You gather lots of data. You plug in numbers, weigh up variables and run calculations.

All this feels very logical. Very rational.

It’s all very System 1 / Slow thinking as Nobel-Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. (See our article on emotions for more on System 1 and 2 thinking). 

Your man looking up towards the ceiling

Doing an attractiveness model is deliberate. Analytical. Considered. It’s not something you do on gut instinct. You’ve got a spreadsheet with numbers and you list the rationale for your decision. All that work makes you feel committed to your decision. You’re unlikely to do the work again as you feel confident you’ve made a well-thought-out choice.

A defensible choice

The logical approach also serves you well when you need to justify your decision. When you need to explain why you chose that segment over another. It’s hard to argue with logic and facts. 

Having the numbers and being able to show a thought process makes your decision more defensible. If someone wants to challenge it, they also need to get into the data and process. Not many want to do that. 

Logical decisions give people confidence. As Rory Sutherland points out in his book Alchemy, people rarely get fired for being logical. The market attractiveness model is clearly a logical way to decide which segments to target. 

However, bear in mind, that it’s not 100% guaranteed to be the right decision. Logic isn’t always right. There are always market factors which can’t be captured in numbers. A competitor move. A change in customer preferences. Some random event which changes how people think. Plus, if you get deep into it, you realise the market attractiveness approach isn’t totally logical anyway. 

For example, when you choose the weightings for each score, it’s easy to let some bias and emotion creep in. To unconsciously adjust them to get the segment you want to come out on top. And that’s OK, as long as you recognise that’s what you’re doing. Because you’ll be spending a lot of time thinking about that segment. You must choose a segment you feel motivated to serve. And motivation brings us neatly to the next of our lessons from 2022. 

Key lessons from 2022 - creativity

Motivation is a big part of creativity. Coming up with new ideas and putting them into action takes lots of energy. Motivation gives you that energy. 

But creative motivation can be hard. Some businesses just aren’t set up to be creative. And that’s why our most popular creativity article (also from June), talked about how to overcome some of those creative barriers you run into. 

It described 3 types of people whose behaviour regularly kills creative motivation.

Man with hand in front of camera and the words creativity stores here on his hand

We reckon this one was popular because many people recognise these “characters”. You find these types in many businesses. They’re emotionally draining. People read the article to find ideas on how to handle them.

We’ve all met a Controlling Chris. Someone who feels they have to have an opinion on everything. Even if that opinion steamrollers over your much more informed, expert view. 

We’ve also all met a Devious Dan. The office politician and wheeler-dealer. Driven by building his reputation and influencing, not doing what’s right for the brand and the team. 

And lastly, every office has at least one Interfering Ivan. The guy who should mind his own business. But who can’t help sticking his nose into yours.

An emotional solution

If our top marketing article focussed on logic, we believe this creativity article was popular because it talked more about the emotional part of the brain. And how we use this to interact with others. 

Getting creative ideas away depends a lot on how you deal with difficult people who don’t see the world your way. We all need ideas on how to deal with difficult types.

It’s part of the creative thinking process to work out how to get difficult people on your side. To help them see the right creative solution. 

White round badge with a read heart symbol against a dark grey background

So this article talked about how to engage them. How to listen to them. How to make sense of where their opinions and ideas are coming from. But also how to help them see the most important thing is the idea itself, not whose idea it was.

The article shares lots of examples of how to work with, rather than against these types. How to help them understand what good creative looks like by sharing examples. How to help them understand their role in the creative process. And how to get them to support an idea, and butt out when they’re in the way. 

Of course, if you get the creative idea right, you see the benefits of that in the impact it has on the business. And impact takes us to the last of our lessons from 2022.

Key lessons from 2022 - e-Commerce

For many of us, the most important business impact of all is the money

Now we know some leadership and HR types like to say it’s not about the money. They say the company’s purpose is more important, for example. Or the company’s people growth and development. And yes, those are important. But you can’t deliver them if the business doesn’t make money. 

Managing the business’s money has to be the first priority. It enables you to do all those other things. That’s basic business common sense.

Close up of woman's hands holding a bunch of dollar bills and in the process of counting them

Money’s why we think our most popular e-Commerce article stood out. You have to go back to January to read our case study of an online store profit and loss. It went through line by line, month by month what a typical first-year e-Commerce profit and loss looks like, based on the first e-Commerce store we ever set up. (Which we also discuss in other articles). 

We included our volume forecast and looked at how that drove sales value at the top of the P&L. We shared all the variable costs like cost of goods, warehousing and delivery. And then we gave examples of fixed costs like advertising, development and overheads. We showed the different phases of the plan, and what it looked like at the end of the year. 

The challenge of money in e-Commerce

One of the challenges in e-Commerce is that the people most likely to understand all the finances – accountants – are the least likely to get or do e-Commerce. 

In most cases, e-Commerce tends to freak accountants out. There are so many unpredictable variables. So much change. Particularly when you just launched your store and have so many issues to deal with. Finance people like certainty. And e-Commerce is often very uncertain. 

We think this article was popular because it gave anyone thinking of setting up, or managing an online store a benchmark to compare themselves with. To see what a realistic first 12 months of a D2C store’s finances look like. To see where all their costs were likely to come from. There’s not much content out there which covers this. We think it was popular because it gives people a peak behind the scenes of an actual e-Commerce store. 

Money is often the biggest worry for people in e-Commerce. It’s critical to get it right. Because when you do, everything else clicks into place. When you get more sales flowing into the top of the P&L, you can pay for everything else which sits below that top line. 

The opportunity of money in e-Commerce

We also think you should look at the upside of money in e-Commerce.

For us, it’s a very interesting and different business model from what most people are used to. 

No more being locked into only selling through third-party retailers, for example.

You’ve got lots of new channel options like marketplaces, print on demand and direct-to-consumer (D2C). 

lady with arms up in the air and happy smiley face

These are channels where you connect directly to your customers. Channels where you can control key parts of the customer journey like your store website, and your payment and delivery systems. 

These are all about the opportunity. The commercial opportunity to grow using e-Commerce.

Conclusion - our 3 most popular lessons from 2022

And there you have it. Growth feels like a good note to end on.

A big part of why we share information, insights and ideas is to help people grow by learning.

We’ve learned a lot from what we’ve done in 2022. And we look forward to learning more in 2023. 

We hope you’ve found these learning “gifts” helpful. And you’ve managed to grow your own business in 2022 using some of these lessons. 

An Amazon cardboard box with Christmas icons on it sitting in a hallway with a Christmas tree in the background

But for now, our Three-Brains team will be going on a short break. To recharge the batteries, and refill our mental juices.

We hope you have a great Christmas and New Year, and look forward to connecting again early in 2023.

Photo credits

Man looking at ceiling : Photo by Anton Danilov on Unsplash

Hand / Stop (adapted) : Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Heart Button Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Counting cash : Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Happy woman : Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Amazon Christmas package : Photo by Wicked Monday on Unsplash

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