It’s all a matter of trust: towards unguarded interaction with consumers

A 'global implosion' of trust is fuelling rising levels of distrust of government, business, media and non-governmental organisations, reveals Edelman's 2017 Trust Barometer.

The findings of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, reinforces the view that the collapse in trust helps to explain political events such as last year's Brexit vote and the Trump election victory.

These findings also echo our long-held view at ClickTell, our evidence-based consulting firm, that one of the foundation-rocking damages inflicted by the recent financial and ecological turbulences has been a catastrophic breakdown of trust.

As far as the world of brands, PRs, and advertising firms is concerned, our analysis pointed towards the need to establish an evidence-based methodology addressing such clear consumer messages.

Consequently, last week we launched ‘ClickTell Reveal’ with the aim of providing our PR, advertising and brand partners with the diverse and evolving scientific knowledge, insight and evidence required for authoritative and persuasive storytelling - something that clearly the consumers of today are and will continue to demand.


When in China, do as the Chinese do.

In recent weeks Apple has been reacting to some of the serious and inevitable challenges facing not only its sales, but also the company itself in China.

Apple’s total sales for all products in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, slid a whopping 26% in the first three months of this year.

Additionally, Chinese regulators recently shut down Apple’s online book and film services and earlier in May Apple also lost its trademark fight over 'iPhone' name in China.

Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing is a sign that Apple has at last initiated the process of developing a deep understanding of the Chinese business environment and the sort of strategy required to navigate it.

Our observations clearly indicate that as far as the Chinese market is concerned Uber will most definitely lose out to Didi Chuxing.

Leadership lessons from Sir Alec Ferguson & Sir Michael Moritz

Recently I had the great pleasure to spend time with and benefit from the refreshing no-frills business wisdom of Sir Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital.

With a net worth of $2.8 billion, Sir Michael, as an early investor in companies such as Apple, Google, YouTube, Airbnb, Dropbox and WhatsApp has a clear view of the essential ingredients for making a billion-dollar company.

Full of fascinating insights, Sir Michael’s new book “Leading” penned together with Sir Alex Ferguson is a must for anyone in the management or leadership role wanting to know what it takes to lead a team to unparalleled success over a sustained period of time.

Sepe Sehati


The Secret Of Innovation

"The secret of innovation?
Learn how to drop pebbles of wisdom into the ocean of thought, creating ripples of imagination which will lead into waves of innovation."

~ Sepe Sehati


Pomegranate: The Celestial Fruit?

Which of the following medical organizations would you say features the pomegranate in its coat of arms?

  • The British Medical Association
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

The answer?  - Not just one, but all of them. Such is the reverence with which the world of medicine has and continues to embrace this crowned jewel of the fruit kingdom.

"we are just beginning to fully understand why pomegranates have been venerated for millennia for their wide ranging medicinal properties."

As if the endorsement of such esteemed medical institutions was not enough - way before the medicinal properties of the pomegranate were described it was also held sacred by many of the world’s religions including; Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity & Islam.

Centuries have passed and today using the most expensive & sophisticated tools and procedures we are just beginning to fully understand why pomegranates have been venerated for millennia for their wide ranging medicinal properties.

Protocols designed for demonstrating the effectiveness of man made pharmaceutical drugs (the cost of bringing a new drug to market has been estimated between $500million to $2billion1) are being used to provide an evidence base for the effectiveness of pomegranates (effectively freely available from the drug cabinet of nature) in treating various ailments.

In January 2000, the British Medical Association launched the Millennium Festival of Medicine. Using the theme “Celebrating the past, shaping the future” many of the events looked at changes in medical practice over the centuries. When it came to designing the logo for the Festival, the committee had a short list of some very strong contenders to choose from - namely; the human body, DNA, a heart beat and the pomegranate2.

How was the Millennium Festival of Medicine to be branded? What was more pivotal to the message of “celebrating the past” and “shaping the future” of medicine, healthcare and wellness?

You guessed correctly, in a further astonishing endorsement of the pomegranate, it was chosen as the logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine.

In Persian* mythology Isfandyiar having eaten a pomegranate becomes invincible. Arguably the medal for invincibility has to be awarded to the pomegranate itself. Anything able to stand the test of time in the way the humble pomegranate has deserves the respect and adoration with which civilizations and clinicians of the past and present embrace this celestial fruit.

Dr Sepe Sehati, Co-founder, ClickTell Consulting

1.  Health Aff (Millwood) 2006, 25 (2): 420–8
2.  BMJ 2000, 3214:1153-4
*. Pomegranates originated in Persia (modern day Iran).


The Chief Thought Officer: The Missing Chief

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.” 
~ Warren Buffett

Chief Thinking Officer
So here is the most successful investor of the 20th century; a “sage” who has consistently ranked amongst the world’s wealthiest people (he was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008) insisting on the uncommon exercise of thinking.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is"

At ClickTell Consulting, through our work with companies large or small, in the West or the East, we have identified the root cause of most problems facing corporations of today to be a lack of critical and timely thinking. Lack of thinking and the ensuing uninformed decision making is ultimately a major contributor to corporation funerals or near death incidents.

Indeed as Henry Ford put it; “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” However, our observations show that, even in the case of CEOs and senior managers fully conversant with the practice of thinking there is another problem. They often find it simply impossible to be dealing with the day to day issues of running a corporation at the same time as finding the time to think. What they need is a “thinking buddy” in the form of a Chief Thought Officer (CTO).

Business is all about continuously developing strategies that have a greater chance of success. Since identifying the need for CTOs and coining the term Chief Thought Officer, we have seen a vibrant demand for our insight in this field. Acting as our clients’ CTO we support them to out-think, out-plan and out-manoeuvre competitors and other forces.

What do you think?

Dr Sepe Sehati, Co-founder, ClickTell Consulting


Creative “Need Marketing”: The Missing Link In The New Age Of Marketing

How best does an empire extend and retain its sphere of influence? Apart from the use of brute force are there any other means to “conquer” and do so through “friendship” and “attraction” rather than hostility?

An important factor in the Roman Empire’s successful expansion was their principle of inclusion for conquered peoples. Another strategy was to allow quasi-autonomy for the conquered without crushing them with taxes and tribute demands. The Romans therefore not only led through military and economic means but also had the ability to use strategy, diplomacy, culture and history in a way to shape the preferences of others – ironically, at times even those being conquered.

Long after the Romans had exploited their ability to achieve desired outcomes in international affairs through attraction rather than coercion, scholars branded such policy “soft power” and highlighted its importance in world affairs.

"Lecturing the Chinese on the merits of soft power
is not dissimilar to that of informing the Pope of the merits of Catholicism"

The phrase soft power - coined by Harvard’s Joseph S Nye  - refers to the ability to receive favourable treatments (based upon the general attractiveness of a country’s culture, ideals and policies) through attraction rather than coercion or payments. Having gained widespread currency soft power is now regarded as an important and comprehensive indicator of national strength.  Simply put, soft power is essential in raising and reinforcing a nation’s brand.

If the soft power approach can have such a huge impact on a nation’s brand then why not apply the same principles to benefit an organisation’s marketing and branding initiatives? In recent years some of the world’s largest marketing communications corporations have been discussing this very issue and exploring how soft power can shelter and grow brands and businesses.

In early 2011, Ogilvy & Mather chose Beijing as the venue to host the inaugural OgilvyForum, themed “Hard Talk on Soft Power”.  The main conclusion of the gathering was that, “The soft power opportunity is there to be taken, for Chinese brands and for China as a brand…”.

"Why aren’t the multinational corporations of this world 
such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s properly exploiting the ginormous opportunities that need marketing offers?"

It is tempting to submit that lecturing the Chinese on the merits of soft power is not dissimilar to that of informing the Pope of the merits of Catholicism. What the creative brains at Ogilvy may have overlooked is China’s activity in this very field for more than half a century. During this period China has identified and set out to implement a set of highly creative and targeted nation branding foreign policy strategies capable of winning the hearts and minds of strategically selected nations, governments and their citizens collectively.

At the heart of this sustainable strategy lies the simple definition of marketing – that of “getting someone who has a need, to know, like and trust you”. What China has done is to take this one significant step further by actually providing real tangible solutions addressing critical “needs” and doing so without direct payment.

Take for example the so called “health diplomacy”, where China has been providing much needed medical aid to African countries. The level of this commitment and the way it has been carried out is quite different to that of, say sponsoring a cause (such as malaria) and paying third parties such as a charities for the work they carry out in Africa.

"Poor African families in desperate need of 
healthcare could be forgiven for thinking 
angels originate from China"

As a part of this strategy, having paid for and built hospitals in Africa, China then ingeniously sends government-paid Chinese medical workers to work and stay in Africa for extended periods of time.

Poor African families in desperate need of healthcare could be forgiven for thinking angels originate from China. After all, they have Chinese designed and built hospitals, manned by Chinese staff and paid for by China. If that does not pull all the right heart strings then most likely no other form of marketing or branding is likely to win your heart and mind as far as Brand China is concerned.

Apart from winning the hearts and minds of the citizens this “gift” is often also of critical importance to the stability and survival of the receiving governments. According to China’s Ministry of health, by the end of 2010, China had sent 17,000 medical workers to 48 African countries, treating 200 million patients.

"The answer we believe lies in the inadequate structure and working of today’s marketing agencies who insist upon continuing to address problems that are no longer 
amenable to single subject focus"

Although this type of marketing may fall within the realm of soft power marketing it is far too powerful a tool not to have its own identity. At ClickTell Consulting we have coined the term “Need Marketing” to describe such a strategy.

Apart from being hugely beneficial to nations, need marketing (the process of identifying a critical need in a population and providing hands-on tangible solutions for that need at no cost to the recipients) offers corporations a smart way to connect at a deep emotional level with consumers and societies.

You may rightly ask the question; why aren’t the multinational corporations of this world such as Coca-Cola* or McDonald’s properly exploiting the ginormous opportunities that need marketing offers? Surely, should not such an opportunity appear as a huge red blinking dot on the radar screen of large marketing and communication agencies in charge of promoting such corporations? And if it doesn’t, why?

"Having identified and defined the term “need marketing”
we believe it offers enviable opportunities to some of the largest global brands in existence today"

The answer we believe lies in the inadequate structure and working of today’s marketing agencies who insist upon continuing to address problems that are no longer amenable to single subject focus.

We are beginning to see more awareness and support for the notion that marketing agencies must evolve to survive. A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article supports this by identifying five missing attributes critical to the survival of marketing agencies and their clients.

Having identified and defined the term “need marketing” we believe it offers enviable opportunities to some of the largest global brands in existence today. However, as we have pointed out in response to the above HBR articlebefore this can happen “marketing agencies must, as a matter of urgency, restructure and re-engineer their culture and affairs so as to deliver solutions – real tangible solutions -  at a level to truly win the hearts and minds of their clients’ customers.”

* Although a step in the right direction Coca-Cola’s creative 2012 “Happiness Refill” project can at best be described as Utilitarianism Marketing.

Sepe Sehati,