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Do you know what the altitude effect is? I’ve coined this term to signify the misalignment in decision making that exists between the layers in organization. Those standing on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder often make decisions that are misaligned with the priorities, musts and wants of the top leadership.

I am not going to cite any examples because if you think carefully, you should be able to come up with at least a few. But here are the top three recommendations on getting rid of the altitude effect in your organization:

  1. Disabuse yourself from the fallacy that decisions are made entirely at the top, while other layers merely execute them.
  2. Lay a foundation for distributed decision making by adopting a corporate vision and values and ensure they are known and subscribed to at all levels of the organization.
  3. Act as the exemplar by adhering to the set vision and values in all decisions and actions, not merely in words.

“Fudge!” exclaimed I when I saw the present that my wife’s parents brought for us from their recent cruise.

It was, indeed, excellent vanilla fudge in an ornate tin box. While no fudge can sneak into the close proximity of yours truly unscathed, and despite this particular fudge’s superior quality, it is not really the main actor of this post. But the tin box, which contained it, is.

How do customers make a decision to purchase (or, not purchase) your products or services? Why do they choose you over your competitors? If you understand their decision making process, you can influence it, improving the likelihood of the outcome you prefer. This is the point of intelligent marketing. Businesses that do it well, do well.

It is customary to bring little gifts from a trip, especially for friends and family who enabled your happy travels by looking after your kids, house, garden, or pets. The choice of souvenirs is infinite on the one hand and difficult on the other. Knickknacks, confectionary, alcohol, art, books, and small kitchen implements are ubiquitous, yet the choice is often paralyzing as no one wants to appear obvious (shot glasses, anyone?). Then, there is a chance that you forget altogether until you about to board the return flight. This is why airport shops are overpriced.

The fudge people did something very cool – take a look at the picture of the tin below. When you see it on the shelf, you are guaranteed to remember that someone back home is looking after your cat and that a box of fudge is as about a perfect of a gift, not too big and not too small. A simple message jogs the memory and, unless the kitty-sitter is anti-fudge (or a dentist), you cannot help to reach for the wallet.

Then, it is a clear differentiator. Without the box, it competes with a wide array if like products. In the box, it is pretty much the only logical choice. Great marketing at work.

Fudge box

If you run a retail business frequented by tourists, order nice packaging which reads “Thank you for looking after my cat /dog /iguana / garden /plants /house.” Display it prominently in your store.

If you run any other business, take this as an idea of precise market segmentation for your products or services. No, it does not create a sustainable competitive advantage, but it can make a great deal of a difference.

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