Ten Things I wish I knew when I was a Brand Manager

I’m a pure marketing guy, with 20 years in brand management in consumer packaged goods companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, General Mills and Coke.  I loved marketing, yet many times my ambitious got the best of me and I tried to get ahead too fast.  I was a make it happen type guy sometimes pushing too hard to go too fast and leaving a debris of casualties along the way.  I wanted people to know I was smart, so I suffered the “smartest the room” syndrome where I talked more than I listened.  Here the the 10 things I wish I knew when I was in the hot seat of the Brand Manager role.  

  1. I wish I knew that leadership was more about follower-ship.  Too many Brand Managers, myself included think that leadership must be a visible person charging out in front of everyone.  The problem for many is when you turn around, no one is following you.  The power of leadership is when you are able to motivate, inspire and challenge everyone to be as great as they can be.  Realize that everyone on your team wants to do a good job, the leader taps in the personal pride to enable them to reach the full potential of their greatness.
  2. I wish I understood that brand was more than just about messaging to the consumer.  I didn’t realize then that brand did as much work internally as it did externally.  Now, i see the connection internally how the brand idea guides the culture which helps add to the brand experience.  Brand should also guide the R&D team to create new products that fit with the brand idea, rather than just random innovations that we have to figure out how to market.  A beloved brand is based on an idea worth loving and then all the connections of promise, strategy, story, innovation and culture should deliver behind that brand idea.
  3. I wish I listened to my experts more.  At times,  I always thought I had to be the smartest person in the room.  Many Brand Managers face the same issue as they confuse ownership of a brand with dictatorship.  As I moved up and gained experienced, I would actually tell myself im the least knowledgeable person in the room and spent more time listening than talking.  I tell marketers that the subject matter experts you are trying to lead will teach you more than any of your managers.  Listen and learn.
  4. I wish I relied on my own team more.   Many Brand Managers are actually bad managers.  Those poor ABM’s who get some rookie manager that is still thinking more about impressing others than helping the ABM get better.  We all come across that moment when we know it would only take us 15 minutes, but an hour to explain.  While it gets done, no one got better.  Challenge yourself to make your direct reports better.  You have to realize that better people means better work and that means better results.  And I’m a big believer in getting people trained so they have the fundamentals to enable them to perform at their highest potential.
  5. I wish I started with my brand’s consumer and not the product I worked on. When you are assigned to work on a brand, it’s so easy to fall in love with that brand.   And you think more about your product, than you think about you consumer.   I now like to start the other way around, thinking about consumer needs and insights and trying to match them up to what I do best.  Walking in the shoes of the consumer and answering the question of “so what do I get” forces you to shift from features to real benefits.  I also wish I believed more in the balance of building an emotional connection rather than just the rational messaging and strategy choices.  Finding the emotional benefits answers the question “so how does that make me feel?”
  6. I wish I was more grounded in the fundamentals rather than just instincts.  When I came in as an Assistant Brand Manager, I was told that “most of the learning is on the job”.   My first manager was unable to teach me anything so I learned on my own, rather than “on the job”.  I only spent 20 months at the ABM level and with that little training, now I was given an ABM to manage.  Just imagine how little I knew in helping them to get better. The  idea of learning “on the job” is a myth that we need to stop.  There has to be a balance of learning the fundamentals so that Brand Managers are taught how to write brand positioning statements, creative briefs and brand plans, as well as how to judge advertising and media plans.  At Beloved Brands, we run brand training sessions in everything a Brand Manager needs to know:  
  7. I wish I focused more.  As a Brand Manager we all try to do too much.  I wish I tried to do a few things really well, rather than trying to do too many things. Focus is one of the most important things you can learn–you have to take your limited resources (money, people and time) and place all of them against those programs that drive the highest return.  I’m a believer in 3 strategies per brand with 3 tactics per strategy, keeping you focused on the top 9 things you have to do to be successful.
  8. I wish I was able to handle conflict better.  A marketer meets conflict on a daily basis whether it’s with sales, ad agencies or subject matter experts.  One of my best bosses always said “likely, you are both half right” and you need to start from there to figure out where to go next.  I love that idea because not only does it force you to look for compromise, but it forces you to hear out the other person.  Too many times, conflict starts with a failure to listen.  
  9. I wish I wasn’t such an ivory tower marketer.  Time is an easy thing to blame for staying in the office.  But, I should have gotten out more, get in the stores, to the plant, to see customers and to talk directly with consumers. Look at the world through your consumers eyes, walk in their shoes and speak in their voice.  Marketers get caught up in writing the next presentation and working in their office that they turn into the classic ivory tower marketer. And in today’s modern media world, they should be getting on twitter and Facebook to see what people are talking about on-line.  
  10. I wish i wasn’t in such a hurry to move up.  Before I got into marketing, I wanted to be a Brand Manager.  Technically i was only a brand manager for 36 months.  I loved it.  Every part of that job.  And yet i still wanted to move up.  I got my wish, but i think another 2 years at that level would have been ideal.  Be patient with your career, and as long as you are learning, that matters most.  

I hope that you find something in common with this list and that you can challenge yourself to get better rather than just get ahead.  If you have any words of wisdom or tips, please comment below.  

Invest in Your People:  Better Brand Leaders leads to better work and that leads to better Results 

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  gr bbi picOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands how we can help train your team to be better brand leaders.

While CPG led the way on TV advertising, they trail dramatically on Social Media

From the 1950s to the 1990s, CPG brand marketing teams had perfected the 30 second TV commercial.  Advertising was all about awareness and creating purchase intent by taking what you do better than your competitor and shouting it at consumers over and over again until you could gain market share.   Now in this new world of social media, the CPG brands seem to be struggling the most.   The CPG brands were starting to master that 30 second TV ad, with positioning work, a creative brief, animatic copy testing, full-scale production and then a steady media plan of GRPs.  

But, with digital media and social media, the CPG brands are the brands that are struggling the most.  

I grew up in the CPG space, working for J&J, Coke and General Mills, and I love CPG marketing because in that space the brands aren’t all that exciting so it always took marketing genius to make the most of them and bring a bit of magic to them.  

But as the media mix has dramatically changed over the last decade, CPG Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school marketing, CPG Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.
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But that’s where the problem lays:  how do you get consumers to talk about brands that have very little talk value?  Yes, doing social media for Apple, Whole Foods or Mercedes relies on the fact that consumers are already talking about these brands at the lunch table.  

Types of Brands

But the reason why CPG brands used the type of interruptive style marketing style is because it suited the type of brand it is:  low involvement and low importance.   Looking at the chart below, I call this a COMMODITY type brand.  The other three types of brands are:  Essentials which are lower on involvement but high on importance like banking, pharma or insurance. Indulgence brands, like beer, chocolate or bubble gum, are the opposite of essentials as they have high involvement but really little importance.  And finally, there are high-profile brands, which are high on importance and involvement.  These brands are your favorite part of you every day life such as your iPhone, your latte from Starbucks, the restaurant you want to go or the latest movie coming this weekend.  These brands are the opposite of CPG, they are talked about at lunch constantly and they find it easy to work social media with a huge following and constant news.

Slide1

With CPG brands, the tendency is to put the effort into the brand messaging more than the effort into the creative/media.  However, if you think about it, maybe it should be the opposite.  Yes, messaging is always safer and more predictive, but if you need to counter the lack of involvement by making it a higher involvement brand, then it might have to come from the creative.  

Take the Dove brand for example.  For years, they did a good job behind the litmus test and talking about not being a soap.  They were a good brand, still relatively lost in sea of crowded soaps and hand creams.  Dove’s “real beauty” campaign took the brand to a new level far beyond what anyone could expect and is no longer just a soap but a brand that stands for the modern woman.   The real beauty TV campaign is one of the biggest viral ads in history.  And they have been able to get consumers to keep talking about the brand, through social media vehicles mainly through Facebook with 19 million consumers following the Dove brand.   Ten years later Dove is a legendary CPG brand.   While it’s still just a soap, that didn’t prevent the marketers at Dove from creating an idea for the brand.  

What is your Brand IDEA?

I define a Beloved Brand as “an idea worth loving”.  It’s no longer about a product, but an idea you can convey into the marketplace.  If you can’t get anyone talking about you, maybe the problem is It’s all too easy to sit there with your brand and say “who would ever want to talk about us?”.  That’s a cop-out if you ask me.  The challenge for CPG Brand Leaders is to re-think your brand.  Can you create an idea, a brand purpose and find ways to drive up involvement and importance for what your brand stands for.  Here are three challenges for you:

  • How do you stop trying to make a big deal out of your little points of difference and try to create a Brand Idea for your brand that connects with consumers?   Start with the consumer and find real benefits, both rational and emotional that you can stand behind, rather than just shouting out your product features through the TV.  
  • How do you drive up involvement and importance for what you stand for so that your get talked about at the lunch room table?    You have to understand who are your most influential consumers, the respected mavens within their circle of friends, and allow them to project your brand to their following.  
  • Can you build a Brand Purpose so that you can leverage that purpose as an idea to elevate your brand?   Purpose driven brands (The why) are a growing phenomena and a perfect fit for connecting with consumers through social media.  

While your product might not generate talk value at the lunch table, maybe your idea can be big enough that it will. And when it’s no longer about just your product, maybe your own idea will inspire you in the social media space. 

Maybe the issue isn’t just media.  But have you created an IDEA for your brand to stand behind?  

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

  

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How good do your Brand Plans look for next year?

BBI Learning LogoAs many of you hit Q4 and pushing as hard as you can to drive sales as hard as you can to make the year or at least make your latest estimate,  it might be time to wonder how good your plans are for next year.  

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.

The questions you should be asking when you look at your plan: 

Are you trying to do too much?  

The biggest flaw of most plans is they try to do everything, which just spreads your limited resources–both financial and people resources–across too many projects.  You end up doing OK in everything, yet never great at anything.   So you never really see a return on that investment.  If you went to Vegas and put a chip on every number, you’d walk away broke.  With your plan, you have to make the choices on those activities that will drive the biggest return on your limited resources.    My rule of thumb for a one year plan is to have a maximum of 3 strategies with 3 tactics per strategy, which means you’ve got only 9 key projects you need to do next year to be successful.  Contrary to that, if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per,  you’d now have 25 projects that just deplete your resources and exhaust your team’s efforts.  One of the biggest flaws in a plan is trying to drive both penetration for new customers and getting current customers to use more.  Of course you want that, but getting that in the same brand plan will never happen.  

How aligned is your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.   The vision helps guide where you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years.  You should brainstorm things that are getting in the way of that vision, which helps align you around the top key issues your business is facing.  Your strategies should directly line up to these key issues and then have tactics line up to your strategies.  There should be a flow to a well-written plan so that everything sings to the same song-sheet.   Every part of that plan that is not aligned to that flow, should stand out as a sore thumb.  The importance of good flow to a plan is more pronounced when you realize the entire organization has to align behind the plan, not just the marketing team, but every functional area–especially sales, product development, executional agencies and every employee working on that plan.  

How Deep was the Thinking?

I’m a big believer in using my instincts.  But equally so, I’m a big believer in digging in deep and uncovering the real issues on the brand.  My biggest pet peeve is when we make too many assumptions.   A great analysis you should be doing before writing a plan is to figure out the drivers and inhibitors that are happening now on your business as well as the risks and opportunities that could happen in the future on your business.  Look at your market data, listen to your customers and consumers, do the needed market research and challenge everything.  I love doing Brand Funnels because it helps you see what’s slightly beneath the surface on your business.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol where you can–the health measures in our body you can’t see.  The same thing with Brand Funnels where you can see how well you’re doing on converting your awareness into purchase and your purchase into repeat business–relative to how you were doing last year and relative to your competitors.  

How many B.S. Buzz words are in your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.  As a brand leader, you should be the first to call B.S. when you see “drive awareness” and “be relevant” and “create more loyalty”.   All those are great ideas, but let’s be real.  Driving awareness gets you no revenue.  What do you get when you drive awareness?   You get in the consideration set to purchase.  Put that instead. Every brand should be trying to be relevant, but that is the fattest word in marketing.  It’s like saying “nice”.  My best friend is “nice” but Jessica Alba is “nice”.  But not the same type of nice.  I banned the use of the word relevant because once a marketer uses that word, their brain shuts off.  Drill down beyond the buzz word and tell me what your type of relevant you want is, and then put that in your plan.   Loyalty takes more than just marketing–you have to align your entire organization to delivering a brand promise, a story, innovation and an experience.  It goes beyond a marketing tactic, so yes it’s good to have as part of your plan, but if its just a program then I call “BS”.

If you are not happy with your plan, what do you plan to do about it?

Here are some tips to help you to get to a better plan.  

Writing the Plan

Most people get stuck in writing a Brand Plan, because they sit at the computer frozen with writers cramp, over-thinking what to put down, uncertain how to frame it all and unsure how to even write. In the most simplistic of terms, here are the main elements of a Brand Plan and how simple you should keep it:

  • We have some long-term thoughts on where the brand can go (vision) and the special assignment to get us on our way. (mission) And that help shape the things we want to achieve with our brand. (goals) To get started, the brand has different options (strategies) for how to get there and programs that most effectively deliver the choice you make (tactics)
  • We try to find a slice of the population (target) to get them to take an action (expected result) that makes our brand bigger. We then find out what to say and how to talk to them to trigger that action (main message) We need to re-enforce why we can do it and others can’t (support)
  • We then create the most motivating stimulus (product, advertising, sales promotion etc.) to get them to take action and put it in part of their life where they are most likely to hear it and act on it (the medium, launch or channel etc.)

If it is that easy, why do we struggle and how do we screw it up. Maybe it is the fancy buzz words that get in our way of our intention. Instead, start with what you want to do in the plan, not the buzz words of vision, mission or strategy, because those words can get in your way.

One thing I like to do is use 5 key questions to help frame the Brand Plan, the answers help frame everything you need in a brand plan. The five questions to ask yourself are: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be? 4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we need to do to get ready?  With these 5 questions answered, it can get you on your way towards a situation analysis, mapping of the key issues, statements of vision, mission and goals, choices around strategies and tactics as well as the execution and measurements:

From there, you could easily write a Brand Plan as matched up and outlined below:

In terms of analysis, there are so many ways to do it but my preference is to use a force-field analysis of Drivers and Inhibitors. Basically, drivers are what is pushing the brand and inhibitors is what’s holding it back. These are happening NOW.  Then add in the a future looking analysis of Risks and Opportunities.  These could happen in the future.  The simplicity of this analysis helps the next stage of your brand plan, and set up the Key Issues which are focused on finding ways to continue/enhance the growth drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, avoid the risks and take advantage of the opportunities.

I like to put the Key Issues into question format, as a rhetorical question (eg. Key Issue: How do I drive more distribution for Listerine?), because the answer to these questions becomes my strategies (Leverage New products to gain added Distribution in the Food channel).  The better the questions, the better the strategies.  

Not enough plans use a vision and mission statement. They are essential in helping to frame the direction of the brand. Think of the Vision Statement as the end in Mind Achievement, thinking 5-10 years out of what do you want your brand to become. It can be a balance of qualitative and quantitative. And it should be motivating and enticing enough to motivate people to get behind it. The Mission Statement becomes the “special assignment” and is tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is a major milestone on the path towards that vision. While a vision focuses on the future state, the mission focuses on the movement the brand must undertake to go from present day to future state.

In terms of writing of the Brand Plan, my recommendation is focus on the top 3 strategies and then map out 3 tactics per strategy. That’s a total of 9 tactics per year, which is plenty to put all your money behind. Having only 9, allows you to do a great job at each of the tactics, focuses your money on the top tactics that will drive the highest return on investment and effort. Just imagine if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per–you’ve just gone from the top 9 tactics up to the top 25 tactics. It might feel like you are covering more, but really you’re just spreading your money too thin and not really doing a great job at any of them. Too many brands end up with a “To Do” list that’s long at the start of the year and mysteriously unfinished at the end of the year.

A good brand plan should have a consistency from the vision all the way down to the execution. It should flow. Think of a band playing in perfect harmony. When you write something that does not fit, it should stand out like a “Tuba” player, trying to play his own song. It’s misfit to the plan. As you near completion of your plan, go through your document and see if you can spot misfits. Find the Tubas!

Lastly, I recommend organizations come up with a common format for plans across all plans. Freedom in formats just forces Brand Managers to try to come up with the coolest of power point slides. I’d rather have my Brand Managers putting their creative juices into tactics that get into the marketplace rather than doing cool slides. And while Brand Plans might use 10 or 20 slides (no more than that) ideally you can find a way to get your entire “Plan on one page” making it easier for everyone to follow along.

Use the Plan to Guide Everyone, including Yourself

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to do your Brand Plan or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to Prioritize your Portfolio of Brands

BBI Learning LogoWhen you have a group of brands and you need to sort through the focus, the temptation is to try to hedge your bets and spread a little love to each brand.  As I managed 15 brands at Johnson and Johnson, I finally came up with a very simple rule that I affectionately called “a third, a third, a third”.  No matter how good the year was, a third of the brands would do amazing, a third would do ok and a third would struggle.  To win in the market, and hit my plan, I had to make sure the third that did amazing out-paced the third that struggled.

Some leaders would see that situation and want to spread their resources to that bottom performing brands, just in case the high performing brands didn’t come through.  But hedging your bet just means you never fully realize the full potential of those high performers.  Here’s the rule:  Focus your resources on those brands that can offer the fastest growth and allow them to outpace those that are slower growth.  

First Look Externally at the Market

For decades, people used the BCG priority grid, BCG-Matrixa simple two by two matrix with market growth on one axis and market share on the other.  The simplicity of the grid works:  how healthy is where you play and what is the opportunity to win where you play?  Stars are where you want to invest and dogs are you want to divest.

A very simple improvement on this grid was to go to a 3×3 version of the grid that gives you more flexibility in choices.  Plus calling it market attractiveness goes beyond just growth and competitive strength goes beyond just market share.  If you want to go deep, I’d encourage you to come up with 3-5 criteria for what each axes can mean.  Market Attractiveness can be a combination of growth, size, profitability, ease of servicing, future growth, manageable barriers to entry.  Your competitive strength could be a combination of growth, size, aligned resources and assets, competitive advantage (technology, patents, positioning), brand loyalty and strength of the connection to consumers.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation for either increasing the market attractiveness or increasing your own brand power.  

Slide1

From the grid, you can see three green investment boxes.  Where you have high competitive strength but in a moderately attractive category, it might be worth your while to invest to grow the category.  Conversely, where you have moderate strength in a highly attractive category, you want to invest to strengthen your brand.   The yellow boxes are moderate investment options and the red boxes represent minimal investment or divest situation.  

Then Look Internally at the Market

Once you feel comfortable with how the brands line up externally, it might be worth a second look to compare how they look internally.  As you line up your portfolio, the goal is to maximize the longer term profitability of those brands.  Here you want to look at Brand Growth rates and Margin percentages.  And for each box, there is a recommended action.  For instance if you are a high growth brand with lower margins you want to find a way to take the power associated with the growth and look to increase prices where possible either through a price increase or by trading them up to a premium version of the offering.  Conversely, a medium growth brand in the same low margin box might have less brand power to warrant the price increase, so you should be looking at reducing COGs or marketing spend.  Slide1

You’ll see the same colour combinations, greening meaning invest in growth, yellow is maintain and red means divest.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation of how to optimize the P&L for that brand and the overall portfolio.

To read more about Brand Analysis, I’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

Focus on the growth Brands and they’ll outpace the decline of the weaker brands

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 
 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 Ask Beloved Brands to run a deep dive brand analysis or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader 

Six Key Principles of Good Analytics for Brand Leaders to Follow

BBI Learning LogoFor Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing.  When I’m assessing talent, I break it up into skills, behaviors and experiences.  As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each.  Yes, we all end up with leader behavior gaps even as we make the highest levels, but you can’t or at least you shouldn’t have a skill gap.  You have to be solid in all aspects of strategic thinking and planning, all types of implementation whether thats advertising, new product innovation or working through the sales channels, you have to be able to manage and run your business including budgeting, forecasting and running the projects.  

People generally advance in marketing careers through one of four means: 

      1. great at thinking 
      2. great at doing 
      3. great at presenting their thinking or doing 
      4. great at leading others to think, do or present. 

But eventually, at some level, you have to be good at all four. And that’s what makes you a great marketing leader.  

As people move up, the biggest skill gap I see is Analytics. They either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from all the data they’ve gathered.

To challenge you on your Analytical Skills, here are some key principles that might help you to close that gap.  

Principle #1:  Opinions without fact to back them up are just opinions and can leave a room divided.

A great tool to Ask yourself 5 times “so what does this mean” and you’ll get a little deeper and start to see the opinion turn into a fact based insight that can align a team and drive action. 

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Principle #2:  Absolute Numbers by themselves are Useless

 Back in the early 1900s, there was a famous baseball player whose name was Frank “Home Run” Baker.  Yet, oddly enough, the most Home Runs he ever hit in a year was 12.  So how the heck can he get the nickname “Home Run”.  Because in a relative dead ball era of baseball, he won the home run crown four consecutive seasons with 11 home runs in 1911, 10 in 1912, 12 in 1913 and nine in 1914.  Yes Babe Ruth would hit 54 and 60 home runs less than 10 years later but the ball had changed. The absolute number of home runs does not matter–relatively speaking, Frank Baker was the best home run hitter of his generation and deserves to be called “Home Run” Baker.  

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story.  You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded:  vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share.  Is it up down, or flat?  Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.

Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. 

Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show.   This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Example of Finding the point where the data breaks

  • Distribution overall held at 82% throughout the year.   At the macro level, it looks like there is no issue at distribution at all.
  • Distribution on 16 count fell only a little bit over the year going from 74% to 71%.  Even at one layer down—the count size—there’s still very little break in the data
  • Distribution on 16 count at Convenience stores went from 84% to 38% in the last 2 months.  As we are starting to twist the data, it shows a dramatic and quick drop at the Convenience channel.  As you start to dig around you might find out that the biggest Convenience Customer, 7-11, delisted the brand recently.

You need to keep breaking the data points down to see if they start to tell a story. 

Principle #4:  Like an Old School Reporter, two source of data help frame the story.
Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy.  Make sure it’s a real trend.  Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer.  Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion.    The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion. 
Principle #5:  Deep Analysis requires thinking time

One of the best ways to separate your analysis is to divide things into:

      1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
      2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
      3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
      4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
      5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

One of the best analysis you can do is the simple “where are we” page.  It has 5 simple questions that make you think:

      1. Where are we?
      2. Why are we  here? 
      3. Where could we be?
      4. How can we get there?
      5. What do we need to do to get there?
This page can be very useful at the start of your brand planning—while it forces your thinking, it also focuses your writing of the document.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually alter where we are?
Principle #6: Use Tools that can help organize and force Deep Dive thinking in Key Areas. 

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box.  Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now.  You can see the impact in the current year.   Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen.  Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

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The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats.  It’s a great simple management tool.

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To read more about Brand Analysis, i’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

The Final Principle is that Good Analysis Only Gets you to the point “So what do you think”

 

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 Ask Beloved Brands to run a deep dive brand analysis or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

What comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?

slide15When I started in marketing, way back in the mid 90s, life was a little simpler because the media and the creative were both under one agency roof.  The meetings were simple:  you’d see your various TV script options, give some feedback and then the room would go silent and the account person would say “now let’s look at the media plan” and the media person would take you through a 15 page presentation on where else the idea of your TV script could go. You’d see some magazine, OOH and even some sampling idea.  There was no internet advertising yet.  

Then one day, our media folks from our agency were spun off, had a new name, moved offices and had a new President.  But still owned by WPP.  It now just meant we had two presentations and the Brand Leader now had to make sense of things and try to piece it together. About a year into that new relationship, I was sitting there confused and asked the question: “So what comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?”  The room went silent for about 5 minutes.  Then of course both sides talked over each other, both saying it was them that came first.  

Media is an investment against your strategy and creative is an expression of your strategy.  But both media and creative are only useful if they connect with consumers.  Great advertising must connect through very insightful creative that expresses the brand’s positioning and told in a way that matters to those who care the most. And yet, great advertising must be placed within the consumers’ life where it will capture their attention and motivate them in the expressed desired way to meet the strategy.  So really, the consumer comes first and strategy comes second.  But media and creative need to work to jointly capture the consumer and deliver the strategy.  

The Problem now rests with Brand Leaders.  While one could theoretically argue that if the Big Idea of the advertising is so big, it should work in every medium, that’s just not true in reality.  Some ideas just work better in certain mediums.  And yet the media people could also theoretically argue that if you go for the most efficient and effective media option, the media will do the work for you. That’s also not true. It’s too bad that ad agencies broke apart.  Because agencies could make a lot more money if they continued to answer this question on behalf of their clients. 

Here’s a solution for Brand Leaders 

The three questions you always need to keep in your head at all times:  1) where is your consumer 2) where is your brand and 3) how does the creative idea work? 

1.  Where is your consumer?

You should really understand who your consumer is, and who they are not.  You need to make sure you understand the insights about them, because it’s those insights within your creative that allow you to connect with them.  They’ll say “they get me”.  You should always be mapping out a day in the life of your consumer.  Get in their shoes and say “what does my consumer’s day look like and how will my message fit or interrupt their life?”  Take a “be where they are approach” to your media. 

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2.  Where is the Brand?

First thing you have to do is consider where your brand is on the Brand Love Curve where brands go from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved.  At INDIFFERENT, it’s about announcement style such as mass media, LIKE IT becomes about separating yourself from the competition while LOVE IT and BELOVED you’ll start to see the growing importance of event marketing to core users or social media as a badge of honor to share with others.

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3.  How does the Creative work?

The best advertising should draw ATTENTION, be about the BRAND, COMMUNICATE the main message and STICK in the consumers head long beyond the ad.

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 

slide16But in the reality of advertising, not every ad execution will be able to do all four of the ABC’S.  When I’m in the creative room, I try to think about which of the two ABC’S are the most critical to my strategy.  If it’s a new product, I need Attention and Communication, if it’s in a competitive battle I need Brand and Communication, and if I’m the leader with a beloved brand, I need to make sure it’s about the Brand and it Sticks.   

What I recommend you do:

I hold off on making any media decisions until I see the creative idea and how it is expressed in a few media options.  With all the potential media now available, I ask for 3 executions of each big idea.  I want to see it in:

        1. Video Version
        2. Billboard 
        3. Long Copy Print

Sounds simple, but once I see all 3, it helps me to know that the idea has legs beyond one medium.  It also enables me to begin matching up creative elements to the most optimized media options on the table. 

The “Video” ask would work in TV, movie theatre, viral video or even on a website.  The “Billboard” could be traditional billboard on on-line billboard, website cover or even on the back of a magazine.  The “Long Print” would help with a print ad, social media stories or even a blog on your website.  

With 3 simple asks against each creative idea, I would cover off most of the traditional media options.  Now I can engage with the Media Agency, knowing how the creative idea would work against any of their recommendations.  I’ve done the work that the agency would have done back in the 1990s before they broke apart.  

Client Media Math

While the media agency owns the media math that blows your mind, here is some simple client side media math.  

  • Your production budget should be around 5-10% of your overall advertising plan.  If you have small budgets, that may creep up to 20%, but that’s it.  Every time you do a new piece of creative, the production dollars go up and the media dollars go down.  I’d recommend you focus on one main traditional media and have only one secondary option.  This keeps your spend focused. 
  • When it comes to social media, keep in mind there is no free media options.  Instead of financial capital, you are now exhausting people capital.  Just like the traditional options, I would recommend one lead social media and one secondary focus.  Do not try to be all things to all people.  
  • The other reason to focus is to ensure you do great executions and not just “ok”.  Pick the media that maximizes the power of the creative.  And don’t exhaust the team by spreading them against too many activities.   
  • Allow 80 to 90% of your media spend be on the highly effective highly efficient media plan.  That means 10-20% of your media spend can now go against high IMPACT creative ideas that you know will break through.  
Ask your creative team to deliver a Video, Billboard and Long Copy Print  

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 Ask Beloved Brands to help you with your advertising or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader

How to work the Five types of Media to your advantage

 

Slide1Back in the 1990s, we would have thought the 5 types of media would have been TV, newspaper, magazine, out of home and radio.  Life was simpler back then.  But since 2000, media has exploded and shifted dramatically.  Now Brand Leaders are confused as to what to do and how to leverage media to drive their brands. 

New way to think about the 5 types of media:  Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media.

 

PAID media is the Traditional (TV, Print, OOH, Radio) and the new Digital options. While paid might look like an equal opportunity to the equal spender, its not always the case. The more Beloved brands win in this space because they get asked first, they get better slots, lower rates, and more integrations.

With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs.  Beloved Brands are newsworthy and new Products are a story.  My own belief is that every brand should have a PR plan.  News is such a ubiquitous part of our current lives–you need to be part of that news cycle.

SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search.  Being a famous Beloved Brand helps to bypass paid SEO.  So if you are fighting against the power of those beloved brands, you need to leverage search as a way to break through.  On more complicated purchases (cars, electronics, travel) search is an essential tool for the consumer to gain more information before they get comfortable with the purchase options.

For SOCIAL media, we need to first stop thinking that it’s free.  It’s not.  It’s resource intensive to do it right.  And the more Beloved Brands have advocates that follow, put their views forward and share news on the brand that creates positive interactions that helps to influence others.  While you can build up your social, you might need to first build your brand so that the effort you do via social media pays off.  Nothing worse than an embarrassing social following.  I drove past a gravel pit last year that said “Like us on Facebook”.  What a waste of effort to get 19 people–mostly employees and friends.  How about “Rocks $9 a pound” would have been a better option.

HOME media is your landing page.  It’s a destination for some brands or could be a complete waste of time for others.  Depends on the type of brand you have.  Your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.  If e-commerce makes sense for your business. 

Where is your Brand?

Before deciding what type of media you want, you need to first understand where your brand is.  I’m a big believer in the Brand Love Curve where brands go from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved.  If you start to look at how media might match up to that love curve and framed through a consumer buying system, we can see that when your brand is INDIFFERENT, your main focus should be using awareness and consideration to drive trial for your brand.  That would mean announcement style media (mass, targeted digital, event) as well as starting to play in the search area so you can help facilitate consumers looking for more information.

Slide1As you move to the LIKE IT stage, you want to begin separating yourself at the store level.  Yes, you still need the awareness, but you want to make sure that you drive at the crowded retail level to separate yourself from your competitors.  This could mean point of sale signage or even the influence of experts at the store level.  If consumers are satisfied, you should be pushing them to share that positive experience with others. Here’s where social media plays a large role, whether it’s traditional social media (Facebook or twitter) or the more influential social media such as YELP or IMDB.  As you move along the curve to LOVED and BELOVED brands as well as matching to the buying system, you’ll start to see the growing importance of event marketing to core users or social media as a badge of honor to share with others.

The problem I have with many media options, is people at the INDIFFERENT stage think they need a Facebook page.  Well, once all your relatives like that page, you might have 46 followers, which might expose how little people care about you.  On the flip side, I still am seeing LOVED brands pounding out 30 second TV ads that tell the consumers what they already know, all but forgetting the other media options available to them.

What Type of Brand are you?

When it comes to brands, you should understand where your brand sits on the degree of involvement vs importance.

For instance if your brand sits in the low involvement, low importance quadrant, it would be a COMMODITY brands.  This is where many of the CPG brands fit, always trying extra hard to take a marginal point of difference and making it a huge deal.  With commodity brands, the tendency is to put the effort into messaging more than creative/media.  However, if you think about it, maybe it should be the opposite.  Yes, messaging is always safer, but if you need to counter the lack of involvement by making it a higher involvement brand.  Dove has done an amazing job in taking a basic soap and making it stand for the modern woman.  It’s still likely a mass play, but you can begin using social and earned media here to break through the clutter.  The best marketers reside in these areas, because the work they do is essential to driving increased involvement and increased importance in a category that doesn’t naturally warrant either.

Slide1ESSENTIALS are high importance but still lower on the involvement side.  With my experience in healthcare and banking, we’ve looked at ways to drive up the involvement through Search, Earned and Social Media that’s targeted to influencers as well as those who might motivate others.  Many of these brands need routine to help substitute for the falling involvement.  For instance, the biggest issue with getting people to take life-saving heart medication is getting them to take it as prescribed.  The more work the marketer can do against routine here, the better.

Slide1INDULGENCE brands have high involvement but really little importance.  This is where beer, chocolate, and bubble gum reside.  The problem with this category is you’ve got rather large budgets driving against some of the most loved brands in the world.  (Coke, Bud, Mars).   You need concentrated and heavy mass media to break through the clutter.  In the new world, earned and social can be ways to break through, high on creativity to keep consumers engaged.

HIGH PROFILE brands are those that are high on importance and involvement.  These brands are your favorite part of you every day life.  Your iPhone, your latte from Starbucks, the restaurant you want to go or the latest movie coming this weekend.  With these brands, you should be perfecting all five of the media:  paid, earned, search, social and home.

Where is Your Consumer?

I know I know.  Everyone is so excited about the new media options, we tend to forget about the consumer.  But call me old-school, but I still like to start with the consumer.  The fundamentals of marketing always start with where the consumer is before you look at where the media is.  You can see how the buying system above might match up to where the consumer is on that Love Curve.  But even more so, you should always be mapping out a day in the life of your consumer.  Get in their shoes and say “what does my consumers day look like and how will my message fit or interrupt their life?”Slide1

In the spirit of “Be Where They Are”, you need to think about a Total Branding experience to the “Many Me’s of Me”.  While we are the same person, we do have various moods through the day, and your brand needs to fit my mood.  For instance, that rock quarry example of “Like Us on Facebook”, I was out for a nice drive in the country with my wife, in a mood to relax with no pen and no paper.  I might not be back to my computer for six more hours.  How would I remember to like a rock quarry on Facebook?   Not a chance. This is a great tool for putting you into the shoes of your consumer and maybe seeing how your brand’s messaging might fit into their busy lives.    I see ads and signs all day long that really showcase how little Brand Leaders are thinking about how the consumer lives their busy lives.   

As a brand leader, are you using the five types of media to your full advantage?  Use the tools above to begin mapping out your choices, based on where your brand sits, what type of brand you have and how your consumer’s life might influence your choices.  To read more on media planning, click on this link:  How to Build Your Media Plans

Are you Using the Five types of media your Brand’s full advantage?

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

 

  

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Building from Porter’s 5 Forces, up to 13 Sources of Brand Power

I remember 20 years ago when I was in business school and I learned Michael Porter’s 5 forces model as a way to understand the industry attractiveness and competitive intensity. It’s a great starting point for thinking strategically.  But, by any means, I’m not an economist, academic or even analytics junkie. I’m just a simple brand guy, who sees Porter’s Model as a great starting point to assess the power of your brand.  I’m not here to debate the model, just use it.

Using Porter’s Model for Brands

First of all, Brands can be anywhere from Indifferent to Like It to Love It all the way to being a Beloved Brand.  They sit somewhere on a made up mythical Brand Love curve. At Indifferent, you’re basically a commodity and you are only picked when your “product” is in front of the consumer.  Margins are low, price goes with the market and all off your marketing effort is around distribution and price.  As you move to Like It, you become competitive but the consumer only usually picks you if they see something logical in your offering that makes you appear to fit their needs.  At this point, brands should be trying to figure out:  are you better, different or cheaper?  Because while you might be playing in the mix of the other brands, if you’re not one of those three, then you might not be around for very long.  As you get more into the Loved and Beloved stages, the consumer starts to feel more and possibly think less.  You have a connection and bond with your consumer.  They are a fan, your brand is becoming a favourite part of their life and they build you into their normal routines.  They defend you, sell you and crave you at times.

The challenge for Brand Leaders is to start seeing that love as a source of power.  And that source of power as a means to making more money than if you had no love.  Marketers that “get it” see the connection between Love and Power and Profits.

Looking at Porter’s Model of the 5 Forces, we can see that a Beloved Brand can leverage all 5 forces as a competitive strategy to beat down on the less loved brands.  McDonald’s beats down on Burger King, Wendy’s and Hardee’s with such a force those brands now find themselves confused and suffering.

A Beloved Brand starts with a certain power over the buyer–whether that’s consumers or the channel.  In terms of CONSUMERS, they feel more and think less. It’s a part of them. They are fans, craving the brand and build it into their life. They can’t live without the brand.  And the CHANNEL needs the brand, caters to them, cannot stand up to them.  People would switch customers before switching brands.  The channel finds themselves Powerless in negotiations. They need the brand.  Slide1

Once the Beloved Brand has a power over the two main buyers–consumers and channel, they can use it over the other forces.  No real SUBSTITUTES can match the Beloved Brand.   It becomes less about product and more about connection and how consumer feels though the brand.  You end up with a Monopoly on feelings which then takes away ability to substitute.  Unless it is “better” what really can the substitute do.  It is Hard for NEW BRANDS to break through.  New brand starts in the rational position difficult to break the emotional bond.  And SUPPLIERS are at the mercy of the brand.  High volumes drive down costs and margins.  Suppliers build completely around brand. Can’t get out.

The Beloved Brand commands a power over their competitors in relative terms to their competitors whether it is Buyers, Substitutes Suppliers or New Entrants.  If you look at the love consumers have for a brand like Apple, you can start to see how it becomes a power. Apple uses the love to replicate the power of a monopoly.

Going Beyond Porter

Porter is a great starting point for assessing brand power.  But Brands are in the midst of a huge change on a few fronts. The obvious one people can see and touch is Media.  But don’t forget to look beneath the surface and you’ll start to see a bigger change in brands than media and that’s the Brand Culture and the Conversations.

Slide1There are now 5 types of media:  paid, earned, social, search and home media. Back in the 1970s, it was all about advertising through PAID MEDIA, with 30 second TV, print and out of home ads.  Even with Paid media, the Beloved Brand can get Better slots, lower rates and more integrations.  The first social media I would argue is PR, capturing EARNED MEDIA and becoming part of the conversation at home or at the lunch table at work.  A Beloved Brand is more newsworthy and their New Products are lead story. Look at the amount of positive press Apple gets from the news media.  HOME MEDIA would be how you use your home page–whether to influence or sell.  For a Beloved Brand, the website can  engage inform, design and sell.  As part of the SEARCH process it can be the destination.  For a Beloved Brand, search is a winner, because Being a famous brand beats paid SEO.  For SOCIAL MEDIA, a Beloved Brand has an easier time generating social spins, where advocates follow, share and spread the news.

As we take all that influence of media, we can start to see the influence of others can have on brand choices.  KEY INFLUENCERS are more likely to actively recommend a Beloved Brand they feel emotionally connected. Look how Apple uses key influencers.   And what is a growing area for Brand is CONVERSATIONS and the influence of popularity on our decisions.  Beloved Brands know that a line up attracts a line.

Brand = Culture.  Brand and Culture are one.  Advocates want to work there. Fully Engaged on Day 1. The area many brand leaders are missing is the influence of CULTURE as a source of brand power.  Brand Leaders should look to Culture as an Asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  Brand Values should come from the DNA, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise. Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right  people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences.  Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values.  Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall.  Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results.  Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your R&D.

So with these 13 sources of Power, the Beloved Brand can leverage this power to drive higher growth and deeper profits.  The Beloved Brand commands a premium price, lower costs, better shares and the ability to move into new categories.  Each of these drives profit for the brand.

The more LOVED the brand, the more POWERFUL the brand.  

 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

To read more on this subject, read the following presentation:

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

World Vision TV Ads: Do you think these are highly effective or disgusting?

9765065_origIt’s obvious that World Vision does amazing work.  And it’s an incredibly important cause.  In fact, my wife and I have been donating to World Vision for the past 15 year.  But these ads are very disturbing to me.   I’m not sure the tone of these ads convey what I’m supporting.  Yes, they are arresting and will capture attention, but it feels like the attempt at shock value humor could turn consumers away rather than connect with the cause.  

world_visionLike any charity the goal should to raise more money to support the cause and related work.  These ads are likely trying to raise more money from those who already support the cause.  While the ad community will love the creativity of the ads, I’m worried the tone is wrong and will cause even less donations.  Not more.  

Creatively, do you make people feel really bad about the problem, or do you make people feel good about the progress you are making? 

Here are the two Ads

 

 

I do not like these at all.  The tone feels way off.  What’s your view?  
Poll: Will these ads raise MORE or LESS money for World Vision?

 

 

Follow me on twitter @grayrobertson1

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

10 Annoying Things that give Marketers a Bad Reputation. STOP IT!

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I’m a marketer at heart.  In terms of career, it’s all I know and all I am.  I claim to love everything about marketing.   Well, nearly everything.  Here are 10 things i despise and even more importantly I believe give us marketers a bad reputation.  As Mike Ditka would say “STOP IT”.

  1. The price of popcorn at the Movie Theatre.  At the grocery store, a single bag of Orville’s popcorn goes for 29 cents a bag.  Yet at the movie theatre, it costs $5.99.  I get that the movie is using popcorn to cover the overhead.  But it really is blatantly treating your consumer like a hostage.  “Combos” (popcorn plus pop or candy) are even worse.  At my theatre, one night while I was 9th in line, I added them up and there is zero savings.   So I asked the kid at the front.  And the answer the poor kid had to give was “the combos are more convenience than savings”.   Wow.
  2. Freight and PDI on a New Car.  If you’ve ever bought a car, you have to pay something called freight and PDI.  It’s really an admin fee for shipping and preparing the car.   What’s frustrating is the negotiation process in buying a car.  This is just one more tool at the disposal of the sales people.  I know Saturn tried the “no price negotiation” strategy and it backfired.  Negotiations with so many moving parts can be a brutal experience.  And many times, you start off day 1 with such a negative experience that you’re mad at the brand. Why would you want that?
  3. That’s not all, if you call now…’   Yes, telemarketing is a necessary evil of the marketing game.  I’m not a fan.  shamwow-ad-tbiThe worst line ever invented is “that’s not all”.  That just means we’ve taken this low-cost item we’re trying to sell you and give you a second one for free.  But the rip-off is the “you just pay the shipping and handling” line.  You’re likely paying an extra $8=10 in shipping and handling, where the company makes a huge profit on that amount.  It’s never double the price to ship two items in the same parcel.  And the handling?   I wish these guys would stop preying on the defense-less consumer.  These techniques make us look bad.
  4. 100% Money Back Warranty…’except for’:   Last year, I decided to buy a Toshiba Ultrabook, as it was slightly cheaper than the Mac version.  While the Toshiba was a bit flimsy, I decided to buy the 3 year extra service plan from Best Buy.  I was told “don’t worry, this warranty covers everything, and while it’s being repaired, we’ll even give you a loaner version”.  I figured OK, I”m covered.  Six months in, the flimsy screen caught up to me and all of a sudden I couldn’t see anything.   Confidently, I took it back to Best Buy.  They gave me a loaner and a week later said “we can fix it, but the cost to you will be $400”  I said “but I have the full warranty”.  And they said “yes, but the warranty does not cover software, hardware or battery”.  HUH?   What else is there?   There is nothing else but software, hardware or battery to a computer.  Anyway, I bought the Mac.  No wonder Apple does so well in an industry like this.
  5. Paying $3 for headphones on the Airplane.   I know pretty much every airline is nearly bankrupt.  And I’d never invest a penny into an airline.  But the shift to charging the consumer for everything seems like the wrong way to go.  There have to be more creative ways than charging $3 for headphones.  I was recently on a flight that cost me $1700, which makes that headphone fee about 0.18% of the overall price.  Is it really making a dent in the balance sheet of your airline?  Or is giving the consumer a small token a bad thing?
  6. Email Lists you didn’t know you signed up for.  I manage my email as best I can.  For about 2 months now, I’m getting weekly Hilton Honors email blasts.  UnknownI finally un-subscribed.  Some of the un-subscribes are easy.  But others are painful with 3 or 4 steps to confirm I really want to un-subscribe and I’m not “mistaken”.  Email marketing is just the new form of junk mail.  I guess it works for 3% of customers so to get the money from those guys, let’s bug the 97% of customers who don’t want emails cluttering up their inbox.  Let’s make it so hard to tick off that “no email thank you” box that we can annoy our most loyal consumers.
  7. Paying more for a large hot tea versus a Small:  There are 3 component costs in hot tea.  The cup, the bag and the water.  The only thing that changes with a larger size is more water.  Any chance to rip-off the consumer.
  8. 3-year Cell Phone Contracts: When the technology changes every six months and you’re teenager drops (or throws) their phone at least once a week, having that long contract feels like a prison sentence.  I get the whole it’s the only way we can cover the cost.  But it puts all these phone companies into a position where they get the sale but lose the customer’s loyalty.  it’s not a way to build a long-term love affair but rather a growing hatred for one another.
  9. Gas Price Games.  I want one simple rule for gas prices.  You have to set them on the first day of the month and leave that price the entire month.   Have you ever noticed that the price of gas goes up immediately at the start of a crisis–in anticipation of prices going up.  So a hurricane hits, prices jump up that day just in case the oil industry is affected.  Not because it’s been affected.  Just in case.  Yet the prices don’t come down in anticipation of the world crisis ending,
  10. Call Center Cold Calls at home.  Even worse than junk email cluttering up my inbox are the phone calls coming from overseas.  I’ve signed up for the “Do Not Call”, but I guess the loophole is to now call from overseas.  You’re in the middle of cooking dinner and the phone rings.   And there is some 7 second delay before someone says “Hi Mr Robertson”.

These 10 things are very common to most consumers causing great frustration but also lack of respect for the marketing profession.  And yes, it is a profession.  What are the things about marketing that annoy you and damage our reputation?

How do we Get these guys to “Stop It”?

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Why does “My” University Keeps Changing Their Name?


UnknownAlmost 20 years ago, I graduated from the Western Business School, at the time is was clearly ranked in the Top 20 in the world for Business Schools.
 At one point, I remember reading we were the top ranked non-US school.  At the time, Western positioned itself as the “Harvard of Canada” and it was clearly the best business school in Canada.  Harvard was HBS, Western was WBS.  Harvard was the #1 publisher of cases, Western was the #2 publisher.  It was the hardest to get into and the easiest to get out of, with a high paying, upwardly mobile job.  The alumni were the who’s who of Canadian business and was infiltrating the US business landscape as well.  The most miraculous thing is the tuition was only $2,300 per year, with over 90% of the tuition funded by the government.  But students now pay $70,000 for an MBA, and some the most recent rankings have Western #78 in the world.  

What Went Wrong?

There were two major trends in business schools that happened in the 1980s and 1990s.

  1. The first was the trend of putting a cute little name on the school.   Dartmouth became Tuck, Duke became Fuqua, Virginia became Darden and so on.  Yet, Harvard remained the Harvard Business School.   Coincidently, sports arenas followed a similar annoying trend.  
  2. Business Schools started to become obsessed with Magazine rankings.  The rankings forced business schools to move from “Sweat Shop B-School” to “Adventure Camp B-School”.  Instead of the dreaded 48 finance assignment, schools were sending students on white water rafting trips.

Western looked at these two trends and said “we’ll do just one of these” but they picked the wrong one.  They re-named the school, yet remained a sweat shop for a few years past the trend.  

Western took a $16 Million cheque from a wealthy family and changed the name from the Western Business School (WBS) to The Richard Ivey School of Business.   (TRISOB–actually no one every used the acronym)  When you are the clear #1 brand in your market, does i it make sense to change your name?  I’d bet my beloved Marketing Professor Roger Moore would have convinced our class that it was a crazy thing to do. I’m not sure if they were happy with the last name of “Ivey” finally getting them in to the “Ivy” league, but the spelling difference does make it just plain weird.  

At the same time, Western decided to ignore the whole rankings trend. Who needs rankings when you’re the clear #1 in your market?  imagesFor a few years, Western decided not to even submit data to the magazines, figuring they didn’t need them.  I remember reading the top 10 Canadian Business Schools and didn’t even see Western.  There was a little asterisk at the bottom that said “Western did not participate in this survey”.  Western also ignored the “adventure camp” style MBA, opting for the hard edge case study method.  Even up to the early 1990’s, Western used to give students up to twelve 48-hour assignments in first year, only reducing it when they saw how many nervous break-downs they were causing.  I was lucky in 1994, that we only had 4 of these 48-hour assignments and my wife even pitched in on one of them.

Strategy is all about choices, and Western made the wrong choices.  

The naming of Western University

Like most business schools, Western Business School was just a part of the University of Western Ontario.  The University has been around since 1878, educating many of the great Canadians of business, politics and sports as well as both Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize Winners.  With that richness in history, changing the name should not be taken lightly.

Unknown-1How did they decide on the new name?  They started with the wrong question.  They did a survey where they asked the students “what do you call the school” and overwhelmingly the students answered “Western”.  With that little information, they said “that’s it, we’re changing the name to Western University”.  Well, not quite, but sort of.  The legal name and the diplomas still say University of Western Ontario.  And if you go to uwo.com you can read about Western University.

The real question they should have asked was: “do you want to change the name of your school?”   Just because we like to call it Western, doesn’t mean we want to change the name.  I grew up with a friend who we called “Bubba” who is now a lawyer and goes by the name James.  He doesn’t have “Bubba” on his business card. The point being: just because people called it “Western” doesn’t mean you have to change the name of a 125 year old institution.  Yes, you can put “Western” on the sweatshirts you sell or the Football Jersey’s.  Yes, people will still answer “Western” when you ask them “where do you go to school?” 

Richard Ivey Becomes Ivey

I just received an email saying that The Richard Ivey School of Business has become the Ivey Business School.  While Western has been purple for 125 years, everything is purple, somehow Ivey decided to go with green.  Now the University has convinced (or forced) Ivey to add in the new purple shield, now giving the logo a combination of green and purple.  Hey Ivey, why not just put Ivey in purple?

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I guess it’s too late, but I might still beg the Ivey family to say:

“You know what, it’s been a bumpy 13 year ride, keep the cheque, but let’s just go back to the Western Business School”

 

And maybe to University of Western Ontario while you’re at it.

 

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

Apple: What Goes Up, Might Come Down

UnknownAs I write this, the stock price for Apple is exactly $500.00  As my old Finance professor would say, that means there is a 50% chance it will go above that price and a 50% chance it will go below.  It has been quite the roller coaster since Tim Cook took over the reigns of the Apple brand–the good news is that stock price is still $125 higher than when he took office 18 months ago, but it’s down $200 in the last 4 month.  What started out for Cook as a Sustaining Success might have quickly turned into a Re-Alignment.  

The Apple brand of today is still healthy, the stores are still packed and sales are still strong.  But the fear is that if Apple’s innovation over the next 18 months looks like Apple’s innovation of the past 18 months, then the Apple brand may be at its peak, no longer on the climb.

A year from now, do you think Apple’s stock will be higher or lower than $500.00?       

My hope is that Apple finds their way and regains the momentum of the brand that has surprised and delighted us like no other brand.  But my fear is they become another Sony that rests on their laurels and coasts for the next decade.  I’m a big Apple fan, typing away on my MacBook Air with my iPad mini and iPhone close by and my iMac sitting on my desk. But it sure does feel like Sony of the early 1990’s.   There’s talk of geographic expansion into China, but that might take their eyes off the real need: we need to see real innovation.  Enough of the incremental BS.  What do you have that will surprise me beyond my wildest dreams?

Five Connectors of a Beloved Brand

To be a Beloved Brand, you must have an idea that’s worth loving.  Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity (see diagram below) that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

  1. Brand promise
  2. Strategic choices
  3. Ability to tell their story
  4. Freshness of the product or service
  5. Overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising or the experience.   It is not just one or the other, but the collective connection of all five that make a brand beloved.  If one of them weakens against the brand promise, it puts the entire brand at risk.

Slide1

The big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple.  Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology.  The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are.  

Problem #1:  Has Apple Broken their Promise? 

Over the last decade, Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it.  Apple takes the technology out of technology so we can all benefit.  That’s right–“so we can all benefit”.  Apple is now a brand owned by the Masses.  Yes, the masses rely on the innovators for advice, but Apple caters as much to my 70-something mother (iPad owner) as it does to my 14-year old daughter (iPhone user).  

There are 4 instances in the past 18 months where Apple has gotten off track:  

  1. Apple Maps were a disaster in more ways than one.  The first week of iPhone 5 owners was largely filled with the most loyal Apple users, the innovators who will influence the rest of us.  And the maps disaster was the first major flaw of the post-jobs era that people were waiting for.   
  2. Siri remains a disaster.  Siri does not deliver the promise as it adds frustration, not solves it.  Siri is a nice little toy that combined with Apple’s auto-correct takes my enunciation and turns into words I’ve never dreamed of saying.  I end up having to re-type the mistakes of Siri, which defeats the whole purpose behind voice recognition.  If these were brakes on a car, it would be re-called for the safety of society.  It’s unlike Apple to release such a bad product.   
  3. Retina Display is not a mass play.  The launch of iPad 3 feels odd..  They kept the iPad 2 out in the market and didn’t even put the #3 on the iPad 3.    It feels like something the niche Apple brand would have done, but now that you are a mass brand, you must cater to your consumer.  
  4. Apple TV has done nothing really.  While a few friends have it, I hear no one talking about it.  A quiet Fizzle.  

USP 2.0

Strategically, these 4 innovations were some of the big plays by Apple in the past 18 months.  And where do they fall on the test of uniqueness?  The Maps puts you in the losing zone where you are competing with Google Maps in the zone where they kick your ass.  Retina Display ends up being a niche play for photographers or fussy consumers, but for the rest of us it is in the “who cares”, certainly not worth an extra $150 compared to the iPad 2.  And Siri is not on the map, because it’s just an under-delivery that while it’s an innovation that leads the consumer, it only ends up frustrating them even more.   

Problem #2:  Is Apple Still Making a Dent in the Universe?

What caused Apple to rise so fast during the first decade of the century was innovation–the iPod followed by iTunes, the iMac vs the PC, the iPhone and then the iPad revolutionized the way we interact socially.   In many cases, Apps have replaced software.   Wow, Wow and Wow!!!

Slide1

But, the last 15 months has been a period of incrementalism.  In 2012, we saw iPad 3, iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and the fear among investors is that 2013 might be iPad 4, iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 2.  Slightly better, slightly lighter, but just as expensive.  There becomes less and less of a reason to trade up.  And sadly, at risk, less and less of a reason to love the brand.  Technology is about leap-frog.  And the world will not stand still in the next year.  Brands like Google and Samsung are ready to leap.  

Steve Jobs always talked about “Making a dent in the Universe” and people bought in and followed. Apple’s beauty has always been to give us what we never imagined.  And yet, now we are starting to not only imagine it, but predict it.  Everyone saw the iPad Mini coming.  In fact, we asked for it and Apple merely succumbed to our request.  Technology is supposed to surprise us with advances that not only meet our needs but cater to the needs we didn’t even know we had.  Apple has to get that back.  

Is Apple still making a dent in the Universe?  

Problem #3:  Apple must quiet the “Anti” Apple Segment

Haters are always going to hate.  In the technology space, the innovators and early adopters are those who tell the rest of us what to think and do.  These consumers are constantly looking for the “technology fraud” and it feels as though some are starting to call Apple on it.  The Samsung advertising has capitalized on this insight, openly mocking the iPhone5 launch.  The only way Apple can shut this down is with action on the technology front.  If Apple’s next product is the iPad Mini with Retina display or  the iPad4 comes with a better battery life than this group will become even more outspoken.

There are so many parodies of Apple being shared by millions that not only mock the technique of the advertising but the incrementalism of their technology.  This only fuels the haters.  

Problem #4:  Leadership Style

When Tim Cook took on the Apple brand, people worried but became re-assured that he had been running the Apple brand fora  while.  The brand was on a high after an amazing decade under Steve Jobs, and as a leader he faced a “sustaining success” leadership challenge.  Keep the momentum going.  Can anyone re-live that visionary relentless pursuit of perfection that Jobs brought to the role.  

Now it appears that Cook faces a “re-alignment” challenge.  Cook needs to re-invigorate the R&D at Apple to push for innovation that goes beyond expectations.  Making a dent in the Universe means pushing for greatness, not settling for OK incremental-ism.  Cook has quickly fired all those connected to the Maps fiasco.  But, he has to look at himself in the mirror for wondering how it got out past him.  The pressure is definitely on.   The questions of 18 months ago are back:  

Can Tim Cook do it?   
The World and the stock market are watching Apple.

HAVE YOUR SAY:  A year from now:  do you think Apple’s stock price will be higher or lower than $500?

To read How to Create and Run a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:  Brand Leadership Learning Center

To read other stories on Brand Leadership, click on any of the topics below:

There is a Facebook page called Brand Leadership Learning Center” at 

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If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1 or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BrandLeadership

Brand = Culture: How Culture can Help Your Brand Win

Slide1Most people think that that Brand is what the Marketers do.  And Culture should be left to the Human Resources department.  But in reality, everyone is responsible for both Brand and Culture. Creating a Branded Culture might be a great chance for Marketing and HR to be working together, and find ways to involve everyone from the Brand.  The new Brand Leader has to understand that marketing is more than just TV ads and more than just Facebook likes.  Brand is about the experience that consumers walk away with.  If I am going through the drive-through at 4am or on the phone with customer service or getting an email with a Visa “special offer” from the Bank where I have my Visa, I am in constant judgment of your brand.  

5 Ways that Brands Connect

Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers.  Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise.  For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability.  It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise.  To ensure the Innovation is aligned, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise.   You don’t create a new brand promise based on what you invent.  If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari.  Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, rather than trying to change people’s minds.  As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise.  As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.      

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It starts with the Brand DNA

Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA.  The Brand DNA (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”.  The Tool I use to determine a Brand’s DNA revolves around the Brand’s personality, the products and services the brand provides, the internal beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and consumer views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s DNA with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.  

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The DNA helps Guide the Brand’s Management

The Brand DNA should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money.   Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

The DNA sets up the Brand Values

Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place.  No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.

Managing organizational culture is very challenging.  The DNA should provide an internal beacon for all the People in the organization to follow and deliver the brand promise.  As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is. 

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While the DNA can provide the internal beacon, it might not be enough to capture all the behaviors.  Brand Values should come from the DNA, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise.  How do you want your people to show up?   What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation?   What type of people do you want to hire?  What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions.   The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for.

A great example of Brand Values is the Virgin Group of Companies defines what  each value is, but also what it shouldn’t be.  I love that Fun means enjoyment but not incompetent and Value means simple but not cheap.

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The Right People Leadership Matters

Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right  people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences.  Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values.  Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall.  Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results.  Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your R&D.   

Every communication to employees, whether in a speech or memo, should touch upon the Brand Values, by highlighting great examples of when employees have delivered upon a Brand Value.  Leverage values, with inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.  The culture will only change when everyone makes the decision to make the change.  

Brand Leaders should look to Culture as an Asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  

 

To download a copy of this article and share with your team, you can find a pdf version at (good for airplane reading): 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Starbucks creates Magic at Christmas

starbucks 8If you have been into a Starbucks the last few weeks, you’ll certainly feel the magic of the holiday season.   Every Starbucks feels well-decorated but never over stated.   You can smell peppermint and ginger as soon as you walk in.

If you want to add some flavor to your regular Latte, you can go for a Caramel Brûlé, Eggnog or Peppermint.  And if you want to try one of the Christmas deserts, there’s Gingerbread loafs, Frosted Snowman cookies or the Cranberry Bliss Bar.   Better yet, have you had one of those incredible Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops?

starbucks

 

Starbucks came up with a 12 days of Christmas campaign that started on December 1st, which included special offers on ceramic mugs, gifts and free coffee.

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When you reach the Beloved stage like Starbucks, it becomes all about the experience.  While you can continue to attack yourself before others can attack you, it’s also about maintaining the love by creating a bit of magic to surprise and delight your most loyal consumers.  For a brand that taps into routine, having a regular set of drinks and desserts around Christmas gives the consumers some festive favorites to liven up the routine a little bit.

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From a pure business point of view, Christmas starts November 1st all the way to December 31st, which means one-sixth of your annual sales.   On top of that Starbucks now has captured the entire calendar with specials around Valentines, St Patty’s day, Easter, Summer Drinks and Halloween.

To read on how to make your brand into a Beloved and Powerful brand, view the following presentation:

 

For all those who have followed the Beloved Brands blog, I want to thank you for reading and I want to wish you each of you Happy Holidays and I hope that you have an amazing year in 2013.

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If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

grAbout Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

How to ask Big Questions that get to Big Strategic Answers

Slide1In our marketing careers, we start off in a doing-role and get completely swamped in execution.   We think “if only I had a higher level job, I’d actually have time to think, rather than just do”.   The problem for many of us, is not only do we get good at the doing, we get so good that we can’t get past it and we never end getting to the real strategic thinking.  We just become a do-er at a higher level and drive everyone crazy beneath us.

When I talk to many of the senior Brand Leaders, at the VP and Director level, I hear 3 common things:

  1. “I am too busy and I have no time for strategic thinking”
  2. “My team lacks the experience so I have to jump in resolve issues myself”
  3. “If I didn’t jump in, it just wouldn’t get done right”
Are you really Strategic?

Everyone out there claims to be a strategic thinker, but I would guess that really only half of us really are strategic.

  • Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act.   They are thinkers and planning who can see connections.   This is PLANNING!
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.   They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking.   They think doing something is better  then doing nothing.   They opt for action over thinking.    They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They are frustrated by strategic thinkers.  This is EXECUTING!

As a senior Brand Leader, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the details of the execution that you’re making the non-strategic decisions on behalf of the team.   You have just really become the “senior” Senior Brand Manager that really annoys your team.   Instead of providing the team with a vision, challenging on strategy or teaching the team, you’re telling them to make the flash bigger and change the sell sheet to purple.

If you speak in a telling voice, you leave your team with one answer:  YES.   If you speak in an asking voice you leave your team with 3 answers:  YES, NO or let me dig in a bit more and find out.  

Instead of telling people what to do, why not challenge yourself to sit back slightly and ask the really tough challenging questions.  You’ll know you’ve asked a really tough question when you don’t even know the answer.   There’s nothing wrong with stumping the team, because you’re even stumping yourself in the process.

So What are the Tough Questions to Ask?  

As your team might be at the beginning stage of digging in on analysis, here’s are 10 great questions to ask your team:

  1. How do we make money?   This focuses them on figuring out the pathway from the activities on the brand to the results in the market and the profitability on the balance sheets.   The most beloved brands use the consumer connection to create a source of power that they can use on various areas of the market and then use that power to drive the brand’s profitability.   Your team should be able to map this out and use it as a roadmap for the brand’s future.   If you’re not focused on power and profit, then you’re not strategic.  
  2. What is it that makes us different?  USP 2.0The best of brands are either better, different or cheaper.   Or not around for very long.   If you can’t answer this question, then how do you expect your consumer to be able to answer.   You’re likely just a me-too brand and once that’s discovered, you’ll be on a downward spiral.   
  3. Why are we here?  How did we get here?  Where could we be?    It’s great for getting to the vision, without writing the word “vision” up on the board and saying to everyone “ok go”.  That gets you no-where.   Pick a magical date of 5-10 years from now and say “if you got everything you wanted, what would the brand look like in 5 years?”  Push them hard on the where to, because that’s when the brand starts to transform itself.  
  4. What’s holding us back from being where we want to be?   Once you get the team focused on the vision of 5 to 10 years from now.  This allows you to start attacking your brand, to find the inhibitors that you can try to unleash or course correct.  
  5. Which would be easier:   getting our most loyal users to use more, moving up those who have already bought into the brand to start using regularly or getting a new user?    This is pushing them towards a strategic choice, whether to focus on base users or new users–penetration or usage frequency.  It also should start to force you to look at your brand funnel to see where you have strength and where you have gaps.   Every brand should be utilizing a brand funnel.   It’s almost negligent to not use one.   Slide1That’s like working out at the gym and not knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores.  When you layer in What would make us more Money, you might start to see the ROI impact of the same decision.  
  6. What would our consumer say about our brand?  This shifts the focus of the discussion from a myopic brand focus into thinking about the consumer first.   Everything you do should be start and end with the consumer in mind.  After all, if you figure out how to win over the consumer, you become more powerfully connected and can drive greater growth and profits through that power   
  7. For Strategy, what choices are on the table that helps you gain a foothold into the market but also helps to drive the long-term win? A test for any great strategy is whether it has all 4 key elements.   FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.   Pick a tight target market of those who can love you, and pick a unique position that you can stand behind and win.   You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Find that connection with your consumer—moving them along the love curve.  LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Your brand finds a way to turn the consumer connectivity into a source of power the brand can leverage.Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort, where you can translate all the power you’ve earned into profits and brand value.
  8. For any choice related to brand positioning and go-to-market, whether it’s target market, main message, media choices or activities, force their hand by asking a few questions to ask:  1) which one gets us on our way to vision faster?    2) which one helps us grow faster  3) which one makes us more money?   Always push your team to focus by making them use the word “or” instead of “and”. If you think you are a strategic decision maker, then whenever you choose both, you’ve failed.   When you go into a casino, and put one chip on each of the 38 choices on the roulette wheel, it might be fun, but you’ll never win.    By targeting everyone then you’re not making the choice, you’re just depleting your resources.   And you run the risk that no consumer ever says “wow, that brand is really speaking to me.”
  9. When seeing new creative execution of anything, ask “DO YOU LOVE IT?” and then watch their eyes.  Do you think our costumer will love it?  Is this connected to personal pride or are they just passing the buck filling in forms.  not okGetting something to market, big or small takes a herculean effort to overcome obstacles.   I want to know on day 1, will they fight for it?   A great idea that falls on the vine is worth less than an OK idea executed with passion.  If we don’t love the work we do, then how do we expect the consumer to love the brand?    OK is the enemy of greatness.  
  10. Why do you want to spend this money?    If you are about to spend millions of dollars, I want to hear the reason why you think it’s crucial, why it will pay back even greater than the resources we put forward.   Understanding and aligning to one key objective allows everyone to focus on the outcome.   

And finally, the most important question of all:  What do your instincts think we should do?   And then listen.  You might be surprised by the good thinking on your team and you might be surprised that their answer is better than the one that is in your head.  

This might be most obvious of questions, but how many times per week do you ask this?   Imagine the responses you might get from that.  Imagine how motivated your team would be.  As a leader, I want you to start exhibiting more patience.  You have to learn the art of questioning that sets up the listening.  If you learn this skill you’ll start to realize that you can still control the direction of the brand through questions, even more than through direction.  On the plus side, you’ll have a fully engaged, motivated team that’s ready to deliver.

As a Brand Leader at the executive level, you should walk into every meeting telling yourself “I know less about this than anyone in the room” and that puts you in the most powerful position to ask the right strategic questions and listen for the right strategic answers.

The bigger the question, the bigger the answer.

To help improve your strategic thinking, read the following presentation:

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

grAbout Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

10 “Stop It’s” to avoid failing on the Customer Experience

The most Beloved Brands create a brand experience that lives up to even over-delivers against the brand’s promise.  I always like to remind myself that the customer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and deservedly so, because they have given you their hard-earned money.  Brand Leaders are always fixated on driving demand to increase share and sales.  Yet they usually only reach for marketing tactics like advertising, special promotion or new products.  It takes years to get customers to change their behavior and move away from their favorite brand and try yours.  Yet it takes seconds of bad service for you to lose a customer for life.

There are five sources of connection for a brand 1) Brand Promise:  Positioning 2) Strategy:  Plan  3) The Brand Story:  Communication 4) Freshness:  Innovation and finally 5) The Experience:  impacted by the culture and operations. As Brand Leaders, we tend to think someone else is managing the customer experience.  But it’s all part of the brand and you should be constantly managing the customer experience so it over-delivers against the brand promise.  The brand promise is not just for great external communication.  It equally acts as an internal beacon for the company’s culture to look to for how to behave and so the organization is set up to deliver.

Here’s 10 things you can Stop Doing:

Bad Service Rule #1:  Stop It with the attitude of “I’m in shirts not ties”.  It can be extremely frustrating walking up to an employee of a store who has no clue about anything but their own little world.  And even worse when they just point and say “go over there”.  The better service is those who take the extra step by jumping in and helping and those know what’s going on in every part of the brand–not just their own world.   Try asking someone at Whole Foods where something is and they will walk you right over to the product you’re asking about and ask if you need anything else.

Bad Service Rule #2:  Stop It when you make the customer do the work.  The airlines have been shifting all their work over to customers for years–boarding pass, bag tag and now even lifting your suitcase up onto the conveyor belt.  While it might help you control your costs in the short-term, you’ll never be a Beloved Brand and you’ll never be able to charge a premium price for your services.  Instead, in a highly price competitive marketplace, you just end up passing those cost savings onto to the customer in lower prices.  No wonder most airlines are going bankrupt.

Bad Service Rule #3:  Stop It when you feel compelled to bring up the fine print when dealing with a customer problem.  Last week I had a computer problem, but I felt extra confident because I had paid extra money to get the TOTAL service plan.  Yet with my first computer problem I was told the TOTAL service plan did not include hardware,software, water damage or physical damage.  With a computer, what else is there?   As a consumer, I had gone through the brand funnel–from consideration to purchase–and made a choice to buy your brand.  Yet, at the first sign of my frustration with your brand you are deciding to say to me “don’t come back”.  I had a problem with my iPod a few years ago and returned it to the Apple store.  They went into the back room and got a new iPod for me and said “would you like us to transfer all your songs over?”.  I was stunned.  Apple took a problem and turned me into a happy customer who wanted to spend even more money with them.

Bad Service Rule #4:  Stop It when you send a phone call to an answering machine.  We’ve all experienced this and secretly many of us have done this.  Now if you know you’re going to get a machine, it’s OK to say “is it OK if you get their machine”.   But willingly sending a caller into a machine is just plain lazy and it says you just don’t care.  Treat them with the respect that a paying customer has earned with you and make sure there is a human on the other line.

Bad Service Rule #5:  Stop It with processes that make it look like you’ve never been a customer before.  While brand leaders tend to think they own the strategy and advertising, it is equally important that you also own the customer experience.  While the positive view of the purchase process is driven by a brand funnel, you should also use a “Leaky Bucket” analysis to understand where and why you are losing customers.   It is hard work to get a customer into your brand funnel, it is great discipline to move them through that brand funnel by ensuring that every stage is set up to make it easy for the customer to keep giving you money.  Step into the shoes of your customers and experience the brand through their eyes on a regular basis so you can effectively manage the experience.  When you find leaks to the brand funnel, find ways to close them so you can hang on to the customers you’ve worked so hard to get into the doors.

Bad Service Rule #6:  Stop It with the trying to win every customer interaction.  Last year after Christmas I was lucky enough to be 34th in the return line.  For some reason they put the most angry person they could find to manage the returns line.  With every customer, this guy was hell-bent on trying to break the customer’s spirit so they’d avoid returning the product.   As I watched, I felt like I was headed into a police interrogation.  On the other hand, if you want to see a comfortable returns policy, try returning something at Costco.  They take the stance that they are on the side of their “members” and help you go up against the big bad manufacturers.  If you don’t have your receipt, they’ll print it out for you.  At Costco, the returns process is where they earn that $50-100 membership price.  Just maybe you should start treating your customers like members and see if it forces you to see things differently.

Bad Service Rule #7:  Stop It when you are explaining your problems instead of listening to the customer’s problems.  When a place is completely messed up, some people feel compelled to tell you how stupid they think this is. Unfortunately, this constantly complaining ‘why me’ attitude can quickly become systemic and contagious within the culture.  It takes an effort to turn the culture around–laying in service values, driving process that helps reward good service, and driving personal accountability within everyone.

Bad Service Rule #8:  Stop It with the hollow apologies that seems like you are reading from a manual.  No one wants to deal with people who just feel like they are going through the motions.  It’s crucial that you set up a culture that is filled with authentic people who have a true passion for customers.  TD Bank retail staff does an exceptional job in being real with customers.  When you consider that they hire from the same pool of talent as all the other banks, it’s obviously the culture of caring about their customers that really makes the difference in separating their customer experience from others.

Bad Service Rule #9:  Stop It when you try using my complaint call as a chance to up-sell me  The only up-sell is to get me to come back again.   Last month, I had an issue with my internet being way too slow.  When I called my local service provider, instead of addressing how bad their current service was, the first response was to try selling me a better service plan that with a higher monthly fee and a higher priced modem.  And then all of a sudden, they tried to sell me a home security system.   If a customer is a point of frustration, why would they want to pay you even more money for a bad service.  You haven’t earned my business.  The best in class service is the Ritz Carlton who proactively look to turn customer problems into a chance to WOW the customer.  It’s built right into the culture as employees are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and empowered with up to $2,000.  Instead of up-selling, the Ritz spends the extra effort to ensure you’re satisfied with the service you’ve already paid for.

Bad Service Rule #10:  Stop It when it just becomes a job for you and you forget the passion you have for the business.  When your team starts to feel like they have no power, they just start to show up as pencil-pushing bureaucrats.  There’s no passion left–as it’s been sucked out by a culture with a complacent attitude and a bunch of check in-check out types who follow the job description and never do anything beyond it.  Ask yourself “why do you come to work” and if the answer doesn’t show up in your work, then you know that the culture needs a complete overhaul.  If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your customer to love the brand?  

Brand = Culture

Beloved Brands create an exceptional customer experience.  They know it’s not just about advertising and innovation.  As a consumer, I’ve become spoiled by the best of the brands who raise the bar and continue to surprise and delight me.  Think of how special you feel when you are dealing with Disney, Starbucks and Apple.  And compare that to how demoralized you feel when dealing with the airlines, utilities and electronics shops.  For the Beloved Brands, they understand that Culture and Brand are One.  The Brand becomes an internal beacon for the culture—and the brand’s people have to genuinely be the strongest most outspoken fans who spread the brand’s virtues.

As you look at your own customer experience, take a walk in your customers shoes and see where your customer would rate you.   Are they with you because they love you and want to be with you or because they have to be with you?  Even though they like the product, they may be indifferent to your brand.  And they’ll be gone at the first chance at an alternative.  And as a brand leader, your brand is likely stuck on a rational promise, unable to separate yourself from competitors and instead you are left competing on price and promotion.

  • Begin by holding the culture up the lens of the brand DNA and ensure the right team in place to deliver against the needs of the brand.
  • Start finding ways to create a culture that is more consumer centric (customer first)
  • Begin to push the culture to create a unique delivery of the product experience.  Use Leaky Bucket analysis to take a walk in yoru customers shoes and to address weaknesses.
  • Set up forums for innovation—that create an energy through the culture and one that starts to take risks on the best ideas.
  • Use a purpose driven vision, with a set of beliefs and values to challenge the team to create and deliver that experience.
  • Begin using power of a loved brand to attract and retain the best.  Find fans of the brand who will become your front line spokespeople.  They bring that passion for the brand.  Just ask the guys in the blue shirts at the Apple stores.

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

 

To read How Beloved Brands fall from grace, follow this link:  how-beloved-brands-fall-from-grace

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

Volvo Brand in One Word: Safety

“If you want to build a brand, you must focus your efforts on owning a word in the prospects’ mind.  A word nobody else owns”     – Al Ries

I went to see Al Ries speak a few years ago and he challenged all marketers to get your brand down to one word.  It sounded great, until I went back to my desk and started trying it out on my brands.  At best I was able to get it down to a few words or a quick catch phrase.  As I sat there frustrated, I realized that the effort to try to get it down to one word is a great catalyst that gets you down to a few words.  That’s a hell of a lot better than the excessively long-winded 5-page briefs or the long list of RTB’s (Reason to Believe) people want to jam in a TV ad.

For a long time, we’ve thought that brands just exist to convey a degree of consistency in the consumers mind.  Yes, that helps to own a position in the marketplace.  But more and more, we are also starting to realize that consistency of message acts as an internal beacon for everyone in the organization to follow.

I am always pushing everyone to focus:  focus on a tight target,  own one main benefit area that no one else can own and then shout it from the mountain top.  The challenge here of getting what your brand stands down to one word would be the ultimate.  I’d encourage you to take this on a test run and see where you get.  But the bigger point is to, learn from how obsessed Volvo is around safety.

When you ask consumers one word to describe Volvo, without hesitation they say “Safety”.  

I am yet to see any other brand that is so focused against one word like Volvo is with safety.   For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do.   But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety.

  • Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace.  Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts.  But the market place has since caught up.  This year, Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car.
  • Volvo’s purpose in making safety a priority.  In 1958, Volvo came up with the 3-point seat belt.  Even with a patent they could have enforced and made millions, Volvo decided to share the technology with all the other car manufacturers because they believed so strongly in it.   That really speaks to Volvo’s conviction and authenticity.
  • Volvo has always been way ahead of car safety regulations.  In fact, as safety became a priority with consumers, regulators looked at what Volvo was doing as the standard and then made Volvo’s advancements mandatory across other companies.  In the 1990s, Volvo was ahead of the curve on the introduction of air bags and side-air bags.  In TV ads, we got so used to seeing the crash test dummy ads re-enforcing Volvo’s ownership over safety.
  • Volvo continues to set the standard for safety today.  The 2012 IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) had 3 Volvo models in the 10 Top Safety Picks, the most of any car brand.  The Euro NCAP collision test has recognize 2012 Volvo V40 as the best car they’ve ever tested, giving it the top rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP collision test.

Most impressive to me that highlights Volvo’s obsession with safety is to look internally at the long list of R&D advancements over the past 70 years.

  • 1944 Safety cage
  • 1944 Laminated windscreen
  • 1957 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts front
  • 1958 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts rear
  • 1959 3–point front safety belts standard
  • 1964 First rearward–facing child safety seat prototype tested
  • 1966 Crumple zones front and rear
  • 1966 Safety door–locks
  • 1969 Inertia reel safety belts
  • 1971 Reminder safety belt
  • 1972 3–point safety belts – rear
  • 1972 Rearward–facing child safety seat
  • 1974 Multi-stage impact absorbing steering column
  • 1974 Bulb integrity sensor
  • 1975 Braking system with stepped bore master cylinder
  • 1978 Child safety booster cushion
  • 1982 “Anti–submarining” protection
  • 1986 Three–point safety belt centre rear seat
  • 1990 Integrated child safety cushion in centre rear seat
  • 1991 Side Impact Protection System
  • 1991 Automatic height adjusting safety belt
  • 1992 Reinforced rear seats in estate models
  • 1995 Integrated child safety cushion outer rear seats
  • 1997 Roll Over Protection System
  • 1998 Whiplash Protection System
  • 1998 Inflatable Curtain
  • 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car
  • 2002 Roll Stability Control
  • 2003 New Front Structure called Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture
  • 2003 Rear seat belt reminders
  • 2003 Intelligent Driver Information System
  • 2003 Inauguration of Volvo’s Traffic Accident Research Team in Bangkok
  • 2004 Blind Spot Information System
  • 2005 Door Mounted Inflatable Curtain
  • 2006 Personal Car Communicator
  • 2006 Collision Warning with Brake Support
  • 2007 Power Park Brake
  • 2007 Driver Alert Control
  • 2009 City Safety – Automatically stop car at speeds below 19 mph (31 km/h) if obstruction is detected in front of car
  • 2010 Pedestrian Detection with auto brake
  • 2012 Pedestrian airbag

True leader push themselves by attacking the brand even before competitors have a chance. Volvo is continuing to push themselves with a very visionary challenge for the year 2020 that’s squarely directed internally within Volvo. 

Nobody should die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.  

That speaks volumes to the obsession they’ve had for the past 70 years and to the obsessive focus for the future of Volvo!

What can you learn from this for your brand?

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands. I do executive training and coaching of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc.  and can help you find the love for your brand. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

Five Questions about Media in the Future

I’m not a media expert at all.  So there will be no answers here, just questions about where I might be confused about the future or where I might see an impact to my media thinking.  I come at everything through the lens of the Brand Leader.  My questions are more about the impact on consumer behaviour and how the brand can win through media in the future.  If you’re a media expert, feel free to add solutions.  At this point, I just have questions!

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future? 

I love asking this question because it usually confuses people, because of the expected downward trend of TV viewership over the last 10 years.  At first, this question might sound crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access everywhere, we should expect a shift to watching more TV, not less.  This year, books are up 13% due to increased readership via tablets.  Will we see that impact to TV?   More access means more use.  If you’re on the subway, an airplane, waiting to pick up your kids or on your lunch hour, wouldn’t it be great just to catch an episode of Modern Family?  Now you can.  And while this is at the early stages with early adopters, we’ll quickly see it going mass over the next few years.  But the TV model will have to change.  Consumers won’t want to be watching 8 minutes of TV ads.  It seems people see their computer as their personal space and they find intrusive advertising even more annoying on their computer than they do their TV.   We need a new model for TV advertising–I haven’t seen it yet.

As a Brand Leader, I recommend that you don’t give up on TV just yet.  Maybe it will be on a tablet or a phone.  Just be a bit more creative.  Maybe you need to make your spots more interesting to take advantage of viral shares.  Make sure your spots are more engaging so people want to watch rather than just tolerate.  Be open to integrating your brand right into the shows, or maybe go back to the past when  brand sponsorship kicked off every 1950s TV show.

2. How can Advertisers Capture the Internet Babies (12-22 years old) as they move into adulthood?

As someone said, this segment never “goes on-line” because they are “always on-line”.   They are never “off-line”.  Last year, my 14-year-old daughter had 3 friends over and when teens visit, you have to expect a bit of excess noise.  All of a sudden, there was silence for 20 minutes.  I thought they must have left but then I see four teenagers all sitting at the kitchen table texting away, not a word being said.  Complete silence.  This generation lives on-line and put their lives on-line.  It remains confusing as to their true view of privacy–do they want more or do they just figure their lives are an open book.

This group has their priorities shaped by the age of instant access. They want everything now–sports scores, rumours, or videos of what they just saw on TV.  They are multi-tasking so much it’s arguable they never give anything complete focus.  When they watch TV, they have the laptop up, their cell phone in hand–navigating Facebook, twitter, texting, instagram and Skype all at once.  No wonder ADD is growing.  They choose Apps over software, expecting an App solution for any problem they have.  They see advertising as completely ubiquitous and are more open to brands than other generations.  But how they consume media is completely different.  E-Commerce is an expectation, as they buy songs, games and movies or a new phone case at a whim.

As a Brand Leader, we need help to figure out how to win with this group when they turn 25?  I know as a parent of this age group, I have no wisdom I can pass on.  Maybe someone in this age group can help us out, because I’m utterly confused.

3. Can Newspapers even Survive? 

So far, newspapers haven’t figured out the profit model between the traditional broadsheet and the on-line versions.  Making it free was likely a mistake, and makes it hard to turn back.  If your newspaper has been free on-line since 1997, I’ll be pissed off if you now expect me to pay for it.  If I’m interested in the topic, I’ll just Google the same headline and find a free version.  As long as newspaper publishers see a direct link between the actual broadsheet and the newspaper they run the risk of extinction.  If you think a newspaper is a collection of amazing journalists, you’re off to a good start.  But if you think it has to be a broadsheet, then you’re completely lost. 

News now is instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social.  The tweeting that went on during the US presidential debate (e.g. Big Bird) is evidence of how social media drives the story.  I don’t need to read a journalists take on it.  I already know.  By the time the broadsheet version of the newspaper is ready, this story is now old news and even has had 12-18 more hours to evolve into a completely new story line. The broadsheet can’t keep up.  I love the business model for the Huffington Post.  What started as on-line political opinion is becoming a source for broader news–entertainment, sports and lifestyle stories.  With more publishers going without a printed version (e.g. Newsweek just announced they’re cancelling their printed version), this has to be the future.    

As a Brand Leader, I’d recommend moving your Newspaper spend on-line or even choose other mainstream media options.  You’ve put up with the bad production quality for 100 years–is there really anyone under 50 still reading.

4. Can Advertisers Figure Out how to Win in the New World?  

The Commodity Brands that have funded mainstream media remain completely confused. 

Traditional media has always been funded by advertisers whether that means TV ads for 8-12 minutes per hour, newspapers and magazines with 25-40% of the space for ads and radio with ads every second song.   Traditional Media has been free as long as you were willing to put up with advertising interrupting your usage of the media.  That ability to interrupt consumers allowed the Commodity Brands (dish soap, diapers, toothpaste, razor blades and batteries) to break through to consumers, as they sat captive and watching their favourite TV show.

But New Media is free, unbridled and fairly commercial free.  In general, a lot of the advertising still just sits there along the sidelines where we don’t click.  While the high interest and high involvement brands have started to figure out how to use the New Media, the Commodities remain in a state of confusion.  If you want to see what confusion looks like, go see Head and Shoulder’s twitter page with 320 followers or Bounce’s Facebook page “where they talk about fresh laundry” (their words, not mine)

These Commodity brands need to either get people more involved, which Dove is the best in class brand, or they need dial-up the potential importance for a core target which Tide has done a good job.  As we see many of the new media companies (Facebook) struggling to figure out how to make more money from Advertisers, there needs to be a step up in creativity to find new solutions.  Banner ads that just sit along the side aren’t going to do much for the advertiser or the media owner.  If social media sites want to win over these commodity brands, they need find that right balance of interrupting consumers without annoying their membership.

5.  Are there too many Social Media Options?

I know there are still new social media options every month, but most of these feel fairly niche.  In the mainstream social media sites, we are seeing that winners have emerged and they are turning into leaders as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In and Wikipedia all now dominant in their given area.  It looks impossible for a new entrant to really challenge them.  If a new entrant were to try for leap-frog strategy, these leaders would just duplicate the innovation and kill the challenger.  Every industry has gone through a similar pattern:  early innovation, divergence of brand options, then a few power brands emerge, and then a power play where the strong squeeze out the weak through mergers and acquisitions until there are a handful of brand owners remaining.

As these Social Media sites look to turn their power into wealth, we will see a shift from fighting for members to fighting for advertiser dollars.  This will likely force a convergence of social media options where the strongest brands try to squeeze out the smaller sites.  There are already small signs in Google’s strategy they are thinking this way–trying to be the one stop shop.  Mergers are always tend to surprise us, almost the unimaginable.  Can you imagine Facebook buying LinkedIn?    Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a merger between social media brands and mainstream networks. AOL already tried it with Time-Warner.  But can you imagine Google buying CNN, Facebook buying MTV or NBC buying the Huffington Post?   If you’re an Advertiser, expect some uncertainty in the next few years and expect a few mergers.

If you have any solutions to these questions or if you have other questions, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

For a Media Overview that can help Brand Leaders get better media plans by learning more about both traditional and digital options, read the following presentation:

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

How to get an Assistant Brand Manager job

I got my first ABM job twenty years ago.  I remember how excited I was that first day and how frustrated I was the first few months at my true incompetence as I went through the Idiot Curve.  While things have changed tremendously over those twenty years, many of the same principles for landing that job remain the same.

To start with here is the job you’ll be Applying for How to a Great ABM   If that’s how you’ll be judged in the few months, than that’s how you’ll be judged in the Interview Process.

The first lesson I can tell you is there are more people who want to be an Assistant Brand Manager than there are jobs.   And that’s continuing to tighten in the tough economy as many places are going without.  So how bad do you really want this job?   Do you want it more than everyone else?   And will you do what it takes to get that job.  I remember interviewing so many times and not getting the job–I must have gone through 100 interviews before I finally landed the right job.   I remember one time, after 3 minutes the hiring manager looked at my resume and said “you have zero marketing experience, this won’t work”.  That one still stings after twenty years, but made me want it even more.  Persistence has to be the key.  If you are only half trying, then I have very little sympathy.   If you are completely immersed in the effort, trust me, you will eventually break through.

In this article, it will be filled with my biases, but at least you’ll get a vantage from a former CPG executive who was heavily involved in the recruiting of ABMs.

How do I get in?

There are five ways you can get in:

  1. MBA:  This was the #1 source of our ABMs.  It gave us the chance to have a consistency in our recruiting efforts, allowed us to have a focused timing for the hiring and even a consistency in starting dates so we could measure and compare ABMs.  One of the silent secrets no one can say is that an MBA ensures that ABMs are late 20s, rather than 22–which makes it easier for them to work with the sales teams.  Now, people always ask me:  “Do I need an MBA?”  My answer is “No, but it sure helps”.  It allows you to be part of the formal recruiting process, get in front door and be judged by that very process, rather than just a one-off hiring manager who is in a panic and doesn’t know what they want.  My question to you is “Can you do an MBA?” because if you can, I’d recommend it.
  2. Head Hunter and Recruiters: This was our second source for ABMs, especially when we needed ABMs outside of the formal recruiting process.  There are some Headhunters that specifically fill ABM roles and you should make sure you are connected with them.   If you are lucky, you can get a head hunter who gives you tips on your resume or feedback on your interview.  Ask for the feedback.  Stay in touch regularly.
  3. Networking:  As the economy has gotten worse, some companies have cut back on the use of Head Hunters and opted for using a “finder’s fee” to employees that recommend someone. So if you can connect with ABMs that already work at the company, they have an incentive to actually get you hired.  The advantages to networking is they’ll tell you the hiring manager, process and interview tips.  They’ll also alert you to when someone quits.  I would recommend you write down the 10-20 companies you want to work for, and get networking with other ABMs, BMs or the HR manager.
  4. Experience in the Company: A generation ago, many started off in sales and then moved over to marketing.  It still can happen, but it’s becoming less common.    If you try this route, push to get over the marketing quickly so you don’t get stuck in a role you don’t want.
  5. Job Posting:  Don’t wait for the postings, or you’ll be missing out on most of the jobs.  The HR department puts up the job posting, either because the company has exhausted all other methods.  The posting doesn’t always mean there is a job, but HR using it to fill the resume bank.  The new method for hiring is to go on to Linked In and put “We are Hiring” in job groups.
The Interview Process

On average, you’ll need 4-5 interviews to land the job–likely one with HR, a couple at the manager level and a couple at the director level.  If it’s part of the formal recruiting process, then you need to realize you are being judged at every moment, from the on-campus event to the potential dinner/lunch during the interviews and even how you act between interviews.  If they give you a mentor to help you, that person will also have influence.  In our debrief about candidates, there were just as many comments about things beyond the interviews as there was the interviews themselves.

Many interviews are moving to behavioural style where they might say: “tell me a time when you had a conflict…”  This means you need to translate all your strengths and weaknesses into stories that show you have experience in the given area.  Write down your answers in the form of Situation Action and Result. Learn how to tell the stories so that it answers the question and showcases your strengths.  Even if people don’t ask you the “tell me a time…” questions, it can be powerful for you to answer in that method.

You will still get asked “what’s your weakness?”.  It’s such a cliche question now, but it still gets asked.  I once had a candidate tell me they hated ambiguity, which was pretty much the death-nail.  Avoid the BS style “I’m too hard on myself” or “I work too hard”.  You just sound annoying.  The safest option I would recommend is “I’m not very good at negotiating” which is a skill that’s not really that important for marketing.

Here are the Interview Questions that I used to Ask:

  1. Tell me a time you used numbers to sell an idea?    You better have your story tight because your answer will be questioned one or two more levels to see if you really know your stuff.  Great Marketers can tell stories with analysis.
  2. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?  It really doesn’t matter what it was, but how far did you push yourself out of your comfort zone to find the creative solution.  Your passion for your idea should come through.    
  3. What’s the thing you’re most proud of?  When I read a resume, I want to see big accomplishments beyond your work experience or school.  Football, chess, travelling the world or charity work etc.  I want to hear your story and your pride come through.  Great Marketers accomplish things, and I want to know that you have a history of accomplishments.  Don’t tell just what you did, tell me what you ACCOMPLISHED!  
  4. Tell me a time when you’ve convinced your boss of something they thought wouldn’t work.   I want to see if you can make it happen.  This will show your leadership, selling skills, and willingness to push.  A great Marketer can get what they want.. 
  5. If you were Tim Tebow’s Agent, how would you maximize his value as a spokesperson?  I always took something in the pop culture news and asked how you would handle it.  I was looking to see how curious you are and how you could take something with very little subject matter expertise and put together a plan.  A great Marketer has a curiosity and can form opinions quickly.  This lets me see your thinking.  Pop culture is a great area that goes beyond books.   
  6. If you were on a team that solved a serious healthcare problem for Society, what factors would you use to price it on the global level?   This is a very thick question with many issues, especially adding in the global issue.  I want to see you think through those issues and layer those issues into your answer.  How do you handle the differences between North America and the Third World?   How important is profitability vs R&D vs compassion?   How would you leverage government, key influencers and where would that fit into your answer.  Great marketers can handle ambiguity and there is a lot within this case.  
  7. From your previous Interview with our company, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how would you now change that?   Great marketers are constantly pushing themselves to improve.  That starts with your own personal assessment.  I want to see that you have thought about it and now see a better solution.  It also puts you under a bit of unexpected pressure to see how you handle that.  
  8. What questions do you have for me?  To me this is one of the most important sections.  It demonstrates how engaged you are in the process.  The quality of your questions will help to separate you.  Have five great questions done ahead of time, ask about 2-3 each interview.  Ask deep questions, not surface questions.  Turn each answer into a conversation starter. 

Act like you want the job.  Show a bit of spunk and energy through the interviews.  Marketing jobs are a bit different.  Take a Red Bull before the interview.  Be leaning forward, make eye contact, be comfortable and dynamic in your personality.

Best of luck to you, and go for it.  

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

Other Roles You May Be Interested In
  • Brand Manager:  It becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan.  Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.  The good ones let the ABM do their job; the bad ones jump in too much, frustrated and impatient rather than acting as a teacher.  To read about being a successful Brand Manager, read:  How to be a Successful Brand Manager
  • Marketing Director:  It’s more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing.  Your role is to set the standard and then hold everyone to that standard.  To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.  Let your best people shine, grow and push you.  Follow this hyper link to read more:   How to be a Successful Marketing Director
  • VP Marketing or CMO:  It’s about leadership, vision and getting the most from people.  If you are good at it, you won’t need to do any marketing, other than challenging and guiding your people to do their best work. You have to deliver the results, and very few figure out the equation that the better the people means the better the work and in the end the better the results. Invest in training as a way to motivate your team and keep them engaged.  Use teaching moments to share your wisdom. Read the following article for how to be a success:  How to be a Successful VP of Marketing
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  1. How to Write a Monthly Report: One of the first tasks they assign the ABM is writing the monthly sales and share report.  Not only is a necessity of the business, but it’s your best training ground for doing a deep dive on analytics and strategic writing.   To read how to write a Monthly Report, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Monthly Report
  2. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

 

Does a Brand Vision Statement Matter?

The Vision for the Toronto Maple Leafs

I love asking people “Do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs had a good year last year?”.  For non-hockey fans, the Leafs would be like the Chicago Cubs in baseball or  Aston Villa in the English Premier League.  My beloved Leafs are the only NHL team who has not made the playoffs since 2004, and they have not won a championship since 1967.  The last two seasons they finished 29th and 25th out of 30 teams.  That’s really pathetic.

So did the Leafs have a good year?   It depends on what you think the brand vision is?    If you think the Leafs Vision is to Win the Stanley Cup, then it’s been an obvious disaster.   But if you think the Leafs Vision is to be the Most Valued Sports Franchise, then it’s been an amazing year, just like the past 8 years.   In those eight years of hockey despair, overall revenue has gone up from $117 million to $190 million while costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million.   That’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about.  The resulting brand value has seen the Leafs go from $263 million in 2003 up to $521 million–making it the #1 value valued team in hockey.   Eight years of missing the playoffs and the value of the team has nearly doubled.  Instead of firing everyone, they should be handing out the bonus cheques.  They still have a long way to reach the NY Yankees Value of $2.2 Billion.  

Does a Vision Statement Pay Out?

Companies that have Vision Statements have a better sense of where they are going.  And the proof is there that it pays off for companies with a Vision.

  • Harvard Study across 20 industries looking at businesses showed that companies with Vision Statements saw their revenue grew more than four times faster; job creation was seven times higher; their stock price grew 12 times faster; and profit performance was 750% higher.
  • Newsweek looked at 1000 companies with Vision Statements had an average return on stockholder equity of 16.1%, while firms without them had only a 7.9% average return.
  • “Built to Last” showed that for companies with Vision Statements, that a $1 investment in 1926 would have returned $6,350 compared to only a return of $950 for comparable companies without a Vision.
The Vision and Mission help to Frame the Overall Brand Plan

Think of the Vision as the End in Mind Achievement towards your purpose.  What do you want the brand to become?  Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful.  Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable)  It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused.   It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—why you got into this business.

The Mission is the Special Assignment.  It should be tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is the how or the major milestone on the path towards that vision. A mission statement focuses on a company’s present state while a vision statement focuses on a company’s future.

Things that Make a Good vision: 

  1. Easy for employees and partners to understand and rally around
  2. Think about something that can last 5-10 years or more
  3. Balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement)
  4. It’s ok to embed a financial ($x) or share position (#1) element into it as long as it’s important for framing the vision.

The watch outs for vision statements:

  1. It’s not a positioning statement.  Almost positioning neutral  Let the positioning come out in the strategy.
  2. Make sure we haven’t achieved it already.  If you are #1, then don’t put “be #1”.
  3. Don’t put strategic statements.  Vision answers “where could we be” rather than “how can we get there”
  4. Try to be single-minded:  Tighten it up and don’t include everything!!   Can you say it in an elevator.  Can you actually remember it?  Can you yell it at a Sales meeting?
Purpose Driven Visions:  The Power of Why

More companies are reaching for their purpose answering the simple question:  “why do we do what we do”.  Why do you exist?  What’s your Purpose or Cause?  Start with what’s in you.  Why do you wake up in the morning or why did you start this company long ago?     Simon Sinek, the Author “The Power of Why” says the most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.

Using the Apple brand as an example, Sinek talks about the “Why” for Apple as challenging the status quo, and thinking differently.  People at Apple want to make a dent in the universe.  The “How” is making sure our products are all beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.  Since people buy into the why and the how of Apple and want to be a part of it, it matters less “What” they do and they’ll follow them as they move to new categories.  As Sinek says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Vision and Employees

A well-articulated vision can really make a difference for employees, giving them both a challenge and focus to what they do each day.  For service driven companies, where people are the brand it becomes essential.  Adding in brand values and even service values can assist people in knowing what they should be doing each day and how they should be doing it.  For a product driven brand, it can help all drive focus for all those working around the brand whether that’s ad agencies, R&D, sales or operations.

To see how a Brand Vision helps to frame the brand plan, read the following presentation: 

 

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

To see the training presentations, visit the Beloved Brands Slideshare site at: http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1