Beloved Brands Explained

Love = Power = Profit

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The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.

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With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving.

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers. It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

Generating Love for the Brand

The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer. Brands need to be either better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. “Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out. How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise. How your culture and organization are set up can make or break that experience. Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that eliminate service leakage. The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack. With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status. Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset. Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers. The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D. Every new product has to back that idea. At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety. .
Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media. Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

 

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Using Apple as an example, which is the most valuable brand on the planet, 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. 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. People criticize Apple for not being that leading edge of technology saying they just copy. But they don’t get what Apple is about. Whereas every other geeky computer company starts with the technology and forces consumers to figure it out, Apple takes that same technology and makes it so simple–whether that’s the iPhone iPad or the Mac which have made technology accessible for anyone. Apple knows how to tell their story, starting with the launch meeting–last week’s iPad Mini launch was covered for days in the mainstream media. You could even watch it live on-line. Apple has made great ads over the years, but they know how to work the media–whether that’s on CNN, technology magazines or through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Apple manages the Brand Experience to perfection–starting with the excitement of launches to the helpfulness of the genius bar to the out-of-box start-up of any of the Apple products. As much excitement as Apple generates, they always seem to over-deliver. Look how giddy people get over their iPhones and iPads. All these contribute to the Love for the Apple brand and generates a loyal following.

 

Using the Love to Generate Power

The 12 forces of a Beloved Brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved.

 

A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them. These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand. They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories. Look at the power Starbucks has with their base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals. All day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.

Using Porter’s 5 forces, we can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers. People rather switch stores than switch brands. Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. These brand fans are outspoken against competitors and suppliers will do what it takes to be part of the brand. In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology.

Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project. People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride. Brand fans know the culture on day 1 and do what it takes to preserve it.

Beloved Brands have a power over the media whether that’s paid, earned, social or search media. Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media. Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do. Even for paid media,beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.

Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending Lipitor, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town or Best Buy sales people selling a Samsung TV. They each become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation. They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page. The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone”. The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds. This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value. People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off. After all, they are in the club. All twelve of these forces combine to generate further power for the brand.

Using the Love and Power to generate Profits

 

 

With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price.  The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins.  We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini.   Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model.  The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure.  Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand.  They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains. Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. Putting name Disney on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment.

The formula for a Beloved Brand is simple: Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

Apple has been able to take all the love they generate with consumers and transform it into a power that they’ve been able to drive into their P&L, with 25-fold gains in revenue, increases in gross margins and can move all their ratios into the right space.  As a result, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.

 

How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.


 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Positioning 2016.112

 

 

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Beloved Brands in the Market

How Ritz-Carlton meets the “unexpressed” needs of guests

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The Impeccable service helps separate Ritz-Carlton. Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.ritz-carlton

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests.

As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around notepads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Is that not what marketers should be doing? So what is getting in your way?

Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into their culture

The Ritz-Carlton phrase they use with their staff is “Keep your radar on and antenna up” so that everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way, showing the hotel is thinking of ways to treat them as unique and special. But like any hotel, things do go wrong. When a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input. The staff is encouraged to surprise and delight guests so they can turn a problem into a potential wow moment.

Wow stories

A great story that makes its way around the Ritz-Carlton world. A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton.

Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay. They took photos sitting by the pool, getting a massage in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. Imagine how the parents felt. And the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff. Imagine how many friends they may share that story with.

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories, and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged.

Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labeled this group as the ‘Super Stars’. Using the same criteria, Ritz Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They have fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So What Can Brand Leaders Learn from Ritz-Carlton?

  1. How can Brand Leaders meet the unexpressed needs of guests? As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Are you too worried about the short-term results that you are not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs of consumers? Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never reach for your instincts?
  2. How do you get your antenna up, so that you are always watching, listening and thinking? How many times a week do you talk with consumers, walk into a store or monitor the brand’s social media feed? Do you ever sit with customer service or read through consumer complaints? Can you set aside time to do a quick brainstorm on consumer observations once a week?
  3. How can Brand Leaders push themselves to wow the consumer? The Ritz-Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, with surprise and delight that goes beyond the brand promise. Are you pushing yourself to surprise or wow your consumer? Do you have a high standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer?

How to communicate to the corporate culture behind your brand

With most brands I meet up with, I ask “What is the Big Idea behind your brand?” I rarely get a great answer. When I ask a Leadership Team, I normally get a variety answers. When I ask the most far-reaching sales reps, the scientists in the lab or their retailer partners, the answers get worse. How Ritz-Carlton meets unexpressed needsThat is not healthy. Everyone who touches that brand should be able to explain what it stands for in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes or at every consumer touch-point. They should always be delivering the same message.

There are too many Brands where what gets said to the consumer is different from what gets said inside the corporate walls. The Big Idea must organize the culture to ensure everyone who is tasked to meet the needs of both consumers and customers, whether they are in HR, product development, finance, operations and experience delivery teams, must all know their role in delivering the Big Idea.

Too many brands believe brand messaging is something that Advertising does. The more focus we put on delivering an amazing consumer experience, the more we need to make sure the external and internal brand story are aligned. It should be a Big Idea that drives that story. Every communication to employees, whether in a town-hall speech, simple memo or celebration should touch upon the brand values that flow from the Big Idea, highlighting examples when employees have delivered on a certain brand value.

The Big Idea should drive everything and everyone

Brand Management was originally built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the Brand Manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the Brand. However, it should actually be the brand’s Big Idea that sits at the center, with everyone connected to the brand expected to understand and deliver the idea.How Ritz-Carlton meets unexpressed needs

Aligning the brand with the culture is essential to the long-term success of the brand. The best brands look to the overall culture as an asset that helps create a powerful consumer experience. The expected behaviors of the operations team behind the consumer experience should flow out of the brand values, that flow from the Big Idea. These values act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver the brand’s promise.

Can you do something this week that meets the unexpressed needs of your customer?

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.


We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

 

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How to Guide for Marketers

Five questions about media in the future

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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:


 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

 

Positioning 2016.112

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How to Guide for Marketers

How to land your first marketing job

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You have to want that marketing job, more than anyone else.

marketing jobThere are more people want to be an Assistant Brand Manager than there are jobs. So how bad do you want this job?

Do you want it more than everyone else? Will you do what it takes to get that job? I interviewed so many times before I got the job. And, I must have gone through 100 interviews before I finally landed a position.

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 25 years but made me want it even more.

Persistence has to be the key. If you are only half trying, then I have minimal sympathy. If you are completely immersed in the effort, trust me, you will eventually break through.

How to set yourself up:

MBA:

MBAs were 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 the 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 the 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.

Headhunters and Recruiters:

Recruiters were our second source for ABMs, especially when we needed ABMs outside of the formal recruiting process. Some Headhunters specifically fill ABM roles, and you should make sure you connect with them. If you are lucky, you can get a headhunter who gives you tips on your resume or feedback on your interview. Ask for the input. Stay in touch regularly.

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 get you hired. The advantages to networking are 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.

Experience in the company:

A generation ago, many started 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.

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 résumé bank. The new process of 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 were the interviews themselves.

Many interviews are moving to the behavioral style where they might say: “tell me a time when you had a conflict…” 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.

What’s your weakness?

You will still get asked, “what’s your weakness?”. It’s such a cliché 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 sound annoying. The safest option I would recommend is “I’m not very good at negotiating” which is a skill that’s not that important for marketing.

Here are the Interview Questions that I used to Ask:

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 know your stuff. Great Marketers can tell stories with analysis.

What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?

It 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.

What’s the one thing that makes you proud?

When I read your résumé, I want to see significant accomplishments beyond your work experience or school. Football, chess, traveling the world or charity work. 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!

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 answer should show your leadership, selling skills, and willingness to push. A great Marketer can get what they want..

If you were Justin Bieber’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 make something with very little subject matter expertise and put together a plan. A great Marketer has a curiosity and can form opinions quickly. This answer lets me see your thinking. Pop culture is a great area that goes beyond books.

If you were on a team that solved a severe healthcare problem for society, what factors would you use to price it on the global level?

This answer is a very complicated question with many issues, especially adding in the global problem. 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? Moreover, 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.

From your previous Interview with our company, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how would you now change that?

Great marketers are continually pushing themselves to improve. That starts with your 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 know how you handle that.

What questions do you have for me?

To me, this is one of the most critical 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 Brand Management careers:  

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.


We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

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Beloved Brands Explained

Does a Brand Vision statement matter?

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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@beloved-brands.com

2015x gmr bio.001

 

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Beloved Brands in the Market

Is a Car ad without cars kinda crazy?

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An Ad from Volkswagen

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR_UYx4vSPs&feature=player_embedded]

While most Car Ads showcase their cars driving around some corner with the sun setting behind it, the new Volkswagen campaign shows 27 seconds of people laughing ranging from babies all the way up to seniors.  And no car.  

Only Volkswagen could attempt to pull this ad off. They have a history of doing quirky ads, dating back to the 50s. And looking at the Brand Love Index for Family Car brands, VW is the most loved of the brands, with 44% rating it as either Loved or Beloved. Toyota and Honda are just behind with 38% and 30%.  

For a Beloved Brand, Volkswagen should be to continue the magic in order to maintain the love for their brand. VW has a very loyal cult-like following. They already have awareness and people know the differences in their brand. As much as Steve Jobs professed “Think Different”, Volkswagen has 60 years of thinking differently.

Overall, the ad does a good job in attracting Attention in that 27 seconds of just laughing is sure to make you look at the TV screen. But, I’m not sure the Branding of linking VW to the idea of the laughing moments does a good enough job. I don’t think the cut to white screen show brand name really does much at all.  Looking closely, the ad is supposed to send you to http://www.whyvw.com/ as a potential combination of traditional and digital media. I think that Communication gets  totally lost in the ad. I’d love to see a 60 second version that could be used for viral sharing with friends, which could help with the Stickiness of the idea. The website is pretty good though–I like the story telling, especially in the voice of the consumer who can connect important moments of their life to the VW brand.  

An Ad from Honda

Here’s another TV ad that tries to play in the same space, but this time from Honda. One difference is that while it ties into life moments, it has the Car as the backbone of each of those little life moments.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dRXb5MRt1E&feature=relmfu]

The Honda ad does a good job at connecting with consumers. It might not draw as much Attention as the VW ad, but it will connect just as well eventually. But the Branding and Communications are so much stronger that not only will it continue to drive the connectivity between the consumer and the brand, it will also help to sell more cars. In terms of Stickiness, they also have a 90 second anthemic version that they used to kick off the campaign.  Here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3dr8XFQr4k

So while the VW ad makes me smile as it was intended to do, I don’t think this ad will be a big hit. I like the idea better than I like the execution. On the other hand, the Honda ad plays in the same space and it connects the idea of Life Moments nicely to the brand.  

I give the win to Honda, but want to hear your views:

[polldaddy poll=6590969]

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:

Positioning 2016.112

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How to Guide for Marketers

Brand Focus: Great Marketers use the word “or” more than “and”

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Strategy is all about Choices

“It’s all about choices” is how my marketing professor started every class. He’d repeat it about 8-10 more times each class, sometimes after someone made a choice and sometimes after someone didn’t. I still see a fear among many marketers to make choices–whether it’s a target market, brand positioning or strategies or the allocation of spend. Good decision-making starts with forcing yourself to use the word “or” instead of keep using the word “and”.  

The most important element of Marketing Strategy is the exact area where most Marketers struggle:  FOCUS!

Why should you focus?
  • Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time. Focus makes you matter most to those who actually might care. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. I was leading a session on a Tourism Region and asked who the key targets were. The first answer was pretty good–it was some of the regions that were within close proximity. Then people around the room kept saying “well, what about…” and “we can’t forget…” and “we don’t want to alienate…” And the President says in serious tone:  “we target everyone, because it could be anyone really”.
  • In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all. Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. I was lucky that my first marketing job at General Mills was managing child cereals, where each quarter, I had to do a promotion on 5 different cereals. So, twenty times per year, I had to work with the 2 x 2 inch corner of the cereal box and put a message that would make a 5-year-old scream at their Moms to buy the cereal.  That taught me a lot about focusing my messaging.
  • Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message too thin, so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do great at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. I once had a director working for me, who kept spinning around never getting anything done. His team was complaining that every time they started a new project, he’d come up with new ideas. I sat down with him and asked him to bring his project list for the up-coming quarter. He came in with 83 projects!!!  I said “how do we narrow this list down to five”. He looked at me like I was insane.
When You Focus, Four Things Happen
  1. Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy that you have chosen is able to actually moves consumers, drives sales or enhances other key performance indicators. Did you actually get done what you wanted to get done? If you spread those resources, you may never see any movement and then figure your strategy is wrong.
  2. Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing.  With consumers, you get the reputation as the “fast one” or the “great tasting”. And internally, as people in the company start to align to your one thing, eventually you become very good at that one thing. Look at Volvo with “safety”.  Every consumer message for 30 years is about safety.   And internally, everyone at Volvo is fixated on safety, coming out with new safety innovations ahead of everyone else. Yes, Volvo’s have leather seats, go pretty fast, have a CD player and even come in multiple colors. But they don’t feel the need to have to say it.
  3. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory. As categories mature, brands start to stake claims and if you’ve got something that’s unique, relevant and motivating, you’ll be able to own it.
  4. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. With a better ROI, you get to go back to management and say “it worked” and they’ll say “ok, let’s increase the investment”. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth. As you efficiently drive the top-line, the P&L opens up a bit and becomes easier for a brand leader to work with.
Where your Focus shows up
  • Pick a focused Target Market:  While it’s tempting to sell to everyone. Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you. Whether you are a niche player focused on guerilla tactics, or the number two player attacking the category leader having a focused target market is crucial. I see a difference between a “buying target” which is those consumers who currently buy the product naturally without your effort and a “strategic target” of those consumers who you want to get to act–whether it’s considering, purchasing or continuing to buy. Rest assured that the buying target will not likely leave you because they aren’t in the strategic target–whether that’s in your TV ad or as part of your promotions.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning: Start with the target market you just picked–and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer. There’s too much pressure to be a copy cat brand–your channel might be the first to reject you, but if not, the consumer surely will.  The winning zone is to match up what your consumer wants and what you do best. Avoid taking your competitor on in the space that they are better than you or you’ll get your butt handed to you.  Where you are both trying to meet the needs of the consumer and are equal in performance, be careful that the leader may win, unless you can find ways to connect emotionally, be more innovative or find ways to provide superior execution. But even then, this space is a risky place to play.
  • Pick a Focused Strategy: Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close. Where you sit competitively–whether you are the Leader, challenger or a niche player–impacts what competitive strategy you might choose. I also promote the idea of the Brand Love Curve where the relationship between the consumer and brand move along a curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and onto a Beloved Brand for Life.  The farther along the curve, the tighter the connectivity, which means more brand power and a potential to drive growth and profits.  Where you are on the Brand Love Curve can help focus your strategic choices. If your brand is Indifferent, you need to establish your brand in the mind of the consumer so they are aware and consider your brand. If you’re stuck at the Like It stage, you need to separate yourself and drive the rational and emotional benefits into your consumers mind. If you’ve made it the Love It stage, keep finding ways to tug at the heart of your consumers and find ways to build it into their daily life.  At the Beloved Brand stage, keep fuelling the magic to maintain the love. Attack yourself before others attack you. Leverage all the power you’ve created to stay in the lead position
  • Focused Activities.  While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well. Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.  If you put all the proposed tactics and activities on a grid, plotting the ideas as Easy vs Difficult to and then Big Wins vs Small Wins, you want all your focus to be on the Big and Easy ideas. If the ideas are Easy and Small then brainstorm ways to make them bigger. If they are Big but Difficult then brainstorm ways to make them easier. The Biggest Easiest ideas will drive a higher ROE and in turn a higher ROI.  It’s the point where you’ll see an impact for what you do.
Challenge yourself to Focus

If I can challenge you in each of the areas. Push yourself on the target to have a bulls-eye target of no more than 5 years.  Force yourself to have one “shout from the mountain” style main message supported by a maximum of two reasons to believe.  As you’re doing your brand plan, try to narrow it down to 3 key strategies and for each strategy a maximum of 3 tactics. That leaves you taking your resources and spreading them across a maximum of 9 tactics in total.  Spend 75% of your resources against the top 3 tactics. That’s much more focused than 5 strategies with 5 tactics per–which spreads your resources and efforts across 25 tactics in total.  None of these are hard and fast rules, just challenges to be more focused.  

Watch what happens when you start saying “or” and stop saying “and”.  After all, “It’s all about choices”.  

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

Positioning 2016.112

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Beloved Brands in the Market

New TV ad from Samsung: Is it “smart” to take on Apple?

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As the two brands battle in the tablet and smart phone market, the most recent TV ads by Samsung have them mocking Apple consumers. They are pretty funny ads, a good parody of the most loyal of loyal Apple consumers.  

I love them. But are they a smart strategy?  

As an Apple fan, they even make me laugh at myself, a little bit how I laugh at myself for not buying the Apple stock at $150….$250….$400 or even $550 earlier this year. While Apple might have had a sloppy news week (apology over the new map or some bitterness over the new iPhone 5’s new charger) the brand still has tremendous momentum as they continue to broaden their audience. In fact, iPhone 5 has outsold iPhone 4 by 1 million units in the first weekend.  

These Samsung ads probably will sell a few more Galaxy phones, but it won’t do the two main things that it’s intended to do: 1) It won’t change how people feel about the Apple brand and 2) It won’t really change how people feel about the Samsung brand.

Samsung is not a brand driven company–but rather a product driven. Even with all the sales, my Brand Love Index research shows that 48% of consumers are mainly Indifferent about Samsung brand–while some “Like It”. This contrasts to the frenzy that consumers have with 71% seeing Apple as a beloved brand and no one is Indifferent to the brand. Even the Sony brand still surprisingly outperforms Samsung, even though they’ve really been struggling to keep pace on anything electronics–TVs, phones, computers.

In general, successful brands are usually either better, different or cheaper. The Samsung brand has found strength in being “cheaper”. Samsung is the type of brand that you might switch to at the store level when you find out that you can get more features for 100 bucks less.   But then you don’t really brag about it to your friends.  

With this summer’s past lawsuit the judge summed up the Samsung brand when he dismissed one of Apple’s lawsuits.  Judge Colin Birss declared:

So while these are good and funny ads, the research would suggest that Samsung has the brand clout with consumers to really carry out such an attack against the beloved Apple brand.  People likely laugh at the ads as they might a Saturday Night Live skit, but then wonder half an hour later what brand that was.  And if someone reminded them it was Samsung, you’d likely say “oh ya, Samsung” and then totally dismissed it.

If I were Samsung, I’d keep spending my marketing dollars at the store level trying to switch Apple users in the store or in the search and on-line space where I could highlight the product feature superiority.  As an offensive attack on Apple, Samsung is playing right into Apple’s strength of connectivity. Yes, Samsung do a good job of  using the features of the Galaxy to demonstrate how great their phone is. But the mocking of the Apple fans is the wrong way to go. For a beloved brand like Apple, the consumer loyalty is far past logic.   These Apple consumers have replaced thinking with feeling, so this message will be totally lost on them.   Instead, the Apple fans are still chuckling over the Judge’s ruling that called Samsung “not cool”.

People who aren’t fans of Apple point to the product. (logic only)

But fans of Apple point to the brand.  (pure emotion)

Attacking Apple by making fun of the loyal users…funny ads…but, not so smart.

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 


 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

Positioning 2016.112

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Beloved Brands Explained

Does the sacred Cash Cow still exist?

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The Cash Cow has become a Cash Drain.

When I was running the marketing department at J&J with 15 different brand P&Ls, for me to hit my numbers, I used a simplistic portfolio management rule I called “One-Third…One-Third…One-Third”, where I needed one-third of my brands to have a great year and over-deliver the sales target, I needed one-third to have a fair-to-good performance and hit their number because I knew that no matter what I did, there would be this ugly one-third that would struggle, fall off the rails and miss their number. For this rule to work, I just needed the one-third that was doing great to be much better than the deficit from the one-third that was struggling.  

I was lucky to have a Cash Cow in the mix, which gave me the luxury of a large source of steady growth kicking out cash that I could re-invest in the high growth brands to ensure they did well.  That beautiful Cash Cow let me sleep at night, I’d hit my year-end numbers and get that sweet bonus cheque at the end of the year. The problem in today’s economy is the Cash Cow has been neglected to the point where that once-beautiful Cash Cow is now in the bottom One-Third and has now become a drain on the overall P&L. What was once the big saviour has now become a big problem.  

Using the Boston Consulting Group Matrix, the definition of a Cash Cow is a high market share in a slower growth category. These brands generate more cash in the bottom line than they need to maintain the business. Sometimes marketers view these brands as boring because they have no fancy advertising or sexy investment programs. But in terms of running a portfolio, every company wants some strong cash cows.  These brands are to be “milked” continuously with as little investment as possible since that investment would be seen as wasteful. Instead, the profits it kicks out should be re-invested in the Stars where there is a known pathway to growth or even the question marks where there is potential opportunity to gain a higher market share within the high growth category.

The problems with Cash Cows

These Cash Cow Brands, once sitting comfortably at the Like It stage have begun to fall back to the Indifferent stage. Most Cash Cows have been milked for too long without any investment that they now face neglect. They’ve lost the connection they once had with their consumers. In fact, if they’ve been milked for 10-15 years, they’ve completely missed out on connecting with an entire new generation of consumers. The Cash Cow sits on the shelf, looking old, tired and out of date. There’s been no messaging to the consumer which reduces their overall unaided awareness levels and might not even be in the consideration set. Minimal investment in R&D has seen missed opportunities for new formats or product advancements to keep ahead of the competition. It’s likely that other brands have caught up or surpassed the cash cow on quality which then throws the value equation into question for the Cash Cow.

In the retail channels, these Cash Cows have faced attack on all fronts. In these Cash Cow categories Private Label have gained as much as a 20-30% share. Because the Cash Cow didn’t want to invest in the Above the Line marketing programs like Advertising or Innovation, they’ve compensated by increasing the trade spend. For these Cash Cows, the percent sold on deal has steadily increased–going from 20-30% when operating as a true cash cow up to 40-70%.

Competitors have taken note of the Cash Cow and then look for the opportunistic kill. They can see your lack of investment, they have also noticed some untapped or missed opportunities in the marketplace. Competitors have attacked in four ways:

  1. New Entrants Going after younger targets who think of the Cash Cow as their Mom’s brand. This leaves the Cash Cow defenceless, unable to connect with these new consumers making the brand look irrelevant, worn out and just plain old.
  2. Competitors push the Innovation on new formats, which they leverage to generate a slight premium, helping to take a category that is flat on units and adds some dollar growth. Even if it’s a short-term win, they now have a new share position they can try to straight-line.
  3. Brands try to take on the value positioning between the Cash Cow and Private Label. Where the Cash Cow tries to take a premium price position, it open ups the opportunity for these brands to reduce their price mid-way between Private Label and the Cash Cow. They focus their innovation on the cost line with off-shore or third-party production, lower ingredient costs or reductions in packaging or even shipping. The Cash Cow is slow to react to the price threat, not wanting to cut into the premium price position they occupy or the give up the profit model that has worked to spin out the cash. Don’t you just hate when someone cuts the price on your Cash Cow!!!
  4. Some Brands Eliminate Distribution all-together, going towards a Direct to Consumer model–either through direct response media options or shipping through the internet. This catches the Cash Cow by surprise, because the data isn’t showing up the share reports. These become the competitors that you can’t see. It also confuses the Cash Cow because they are stuck with their distribution as their life-line, unable to try new distribution techniques for fear of retribution from retail partners.

The Cash Cow P&L is no longer working.  

A brand can mainly leverage 4 main areas on the P&L to drive profits:  price, costs, market share or the market size. And with the current Cash Cows in free-fall, all 4 are moving in the wrong direction. What once was a beautiful P&L is no longer working for the Cash Cow.

  • Falling Prices:  The Cash Cow has had to fight off private label expansion and the advent of Value Brands. Without any advertising, product innovation or promotional program dollars, these Cash Cows tried for years to avoid touching the price line. But with three major recessions in twelve years, these Cash Cows have been forced into slashing their price just to maintain their share lead, even as it continues to shrink.
  • Declining Share: With the increase in Private Label over the last 20 years, the Cash Cow has likely lost 20-30% of their share to private label. The most vulnerable categories for Private Label are the slower moving categories that the Cash Cow is supposed to compete in. With little innovation, the store brands have been able to easily copy the brand leaders. On top of that, value brands have neatly found a way to occupy a position between private label and the Cash Cow.
  • Uncompetitive Costs:  Two major cost problems. First, the Cash Cow has seen cost per unit creeping up. While they always had the cost advantage due to their economies of scale, the shrinking volumes against the same production footprint means lower productivity and higher costs per unit. Second, trade spending has increased as these Cash Cows buckle to the pressure from distribution. They no longer have the power to command strong programs, shelf space or premium pricing. They need to be on deal all the time in order to sell.
  • Shrinking Category: As the category share leader, the lack of investment by the Cash Cow puts the category into sleep mode and the declines accelerate.

Avoid letting your Cash Cow become indifferent

No longer can you just let a brand sit there for 5 years straight without any investment. That beautiful Cash Cow that has a steady share, kicks out profit with minimal investment isn’t really there any more.   Instead of going to the near-zero budget, pick a fair margin that allows you to find a cost-efficient plan for how to stay connected with your most loyal consumers to avoid losing relevance. Watch the competition so you don’t let them catch you sleeping. Keep investing in R&D to ensure your brand stays in the leadership position. Attack costs at all levels–production, packaging, shipping to free up any wasted costs that you can use to stay relevant. And please, avoid just substituting top line marketing spend for crappy trade spend that just keeps throwing money at the trade. If you have a brand that needs to be on deal, just to sell the product, you’ve got a cash drain brand, certainly not a cash cow.

In terms of portfolio management, I don’t use the BCG Matrix, preferring to look at Market Attractiveness vs Consumer Perception of a given brand. The tool forces you to look from the vantage of the consumer. The Market Attractiveness could include criteria such as category size, growth rate, trend analysis, strategic fit for the brand or market dynamics including positioning, competitiveness and retailer strength.   The Consumer Perception could include the size of the need state the brand satisfies, the health of the brand funnel (awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty) and the overall opinion of the brand. This is a more progressive tool to enable you to invest in brands that are in a healthy category with strong possibilities for success.

Cash Cows need to attack themselves or they’ll become a Cash Drain.

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How to Guide for Marketers

How to Get Fired as a Brand Manager

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There’s been a lot of great Assistant Brand Managers to be fired at the Brand Manager level.   So that would beg the question:  why were they mistakenly promoted? Just like in sports where they are fooled by size, we sometimes get fooled by Charisma. They seem impressive to us–whether it’s how they speak in the hallways or answer questions in a plans meeting. We think Charisma is a great starting ground for a leader, so hopefully they can learn to be analytical, strategic, creative and organized.  Hopefully that Charismatic leader can get stuff done, stay on track, hand in their budgets on time, know how to turn a brand around, can write great brand plans, work with agencies and motivate the sales team etc…etc… But then we find out that they can’t do all that stuff.  And after 18 months as a Brand Manager, we see they really are “just charismatic” and we remind ourselves of what we already knew: Being a Brand Manager really is hard.

Brand Managers don’t really get fired because they can’t deliver the results. That might happen at Director or VP level. But at the Brand Manager level, we’d look for other Blind Spots that might be leading to the poor results.

I don’t want to see anyone get fired, so use this list to avoid it. I’ve provided advice for each reason, hopefully helping you to address it pro-actively.  

Top 10 Reasons why Brand Managers get fired:  
  1. Struggle to Make Decisions: When these Brand Managers were ABMs they shined because they are the “super doer’s”, who can work the system, get things done on time and under budget.  All the subject matter experts (forecasting, production, promotions) love them.  But then get them into the Brand Manager seat and they freeze. Slide1They can do, but they can’t decide.  They can easily execute someone else’s project list with flare, but they can’t come up with a project list of their own.   For you to succeed, you have to work better on your decision-making process.   You have to find methods for narrowing down the decisions.  When you’re new to decisions, take the time to map out your thinking whether it’s pros and cons or a decision tree.  It will eventually get faster for you and train your mind to make decisions.
  2. Not Analytical Enough: Those that can’t do the deep dive analytical thinking. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics, and it eventually catches them when they make a poor decision and they can’t explain why they went against the obvious data points. The real reason is they never saw those data points.  When a senior leader questions you, they can usually tell if they have struggled enough with a problem to get to the rich solution or whether they just did the adequate thinking to get to an “ok” solution. Just because you are now a Brand Manager doesn’t mean you stop digging into the data. The analytical skills you learned as an ABM should be used at every level in your career right up to VP. As I moved up, I felt out of touch with the data so at every level up to VP, I used to do my own monthly share report just to ensure I was digging in and getting my hands mucky with the data.  Because I had dug around in the data, I knew which of my Brand Managers had dug in as well and which Brand Managers hadn’t even read their ABM’s monthly report yet.  Take the time to know the details of your business. Dig into the data and make decisions based on the depth of analysis you do. 
  3. Can’t Get Along:  Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. These Brand Managers struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s). They might be the type who speaks first, listens second. They go head-to-head to get their own way instead of looking for compromise. Yes, they might be so smart they think faster than everyone, but they forget to bring people along with their thinking. They start to leave a trail of those they burned and when the trail gets too big they get labelled as “tough to deal with”. Listen more–hear them out.  The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will.   If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn.  And if they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career.  You aren’t the first superstar they’ve seen. And likely not the last. My recommendation to you is to remember that Leadership is not just about you being out front, but about you turning around and actually seeing people following you.   In fact, it should be called “Follower-ship”.
  4. Not good with Ambiguity:  Some Brand Managers opt for the safety of the easy and well-known answers.  They struggle with the unknown and get scared of ambiguity. ambiguity_road_signBrand Managers that become too predictable to their team create work in the market that also becomes predictable and fails to drive the brand. These Brand Managers are OK–they don’t really have a lot of wrong, but they don’t have a lot of right.  You can put them on safe easy businesses, but you wouldn’t put them on the turn around or new products. Ambiguity is a type of pressure that not all of us are capable of handling easily, especially when they see Ambiguity and Time Pressure working against each other. Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline. Always push for great. You have to learn to handle ambiguity. In fact revel in ambiguity.  Have fun with it.  Be Patient with Ideas.  Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly.  As a leader, find ways to ask great questions instead of giving quick answers.  Watch the signals you send that may suck the creativity energy out of your team.  When you find a way to stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone”, the ideas get better whether it’s the time pressure that forces the thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for the best idea.  So my recommendation to you is to just hold your breath sometimes and see if the work gets better.
  5. Too slow and stiff:  The type of Brand Manager that is methodical to the extreme and they think everything through to the point of “Analysis Paralysis”.  They never use instincts–and have the counter analytical answer to every “gut feel” solution that gets recommended.  They have every reason why something won’t work but no answers for what will work.  I have to admit that this type frustrates me to no end, because nothing ever gets done.  They struggle to make it happen:  they are indecisive, not productive, disorganized or can’t work through others.  They are frustratingly slow for others to deal with.  They keep missing opportunities or small milestones that causes the team to look slow and miss the deadlines.  You have to start to show more flexibility in your approach.   Borrow some of the thinking from dealing with ambiguity and making decisions.  Realize there are options for every solution, no one perfect answer.      
  6. Bad people Manager:  Most first time people managers screw up a few of their first 5 direct reports.  It’s only natural.  One of the biggest flaws for new Managers is to think “Hey it will take me longer to explain it to you, so why don’t I just do it myself this one time and you can do it next time”.  They repeat this every month until we realized they aren’t teaching their ABM anything.   And they became the Manager that none of the ABMs wanted to work for because you never learn anything.  But as we keep watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under them, we start to wonder “you are really smart, but can you actually manage people?”. To be a great Brand Manager, you have to work on being a better people leader. We expect you to develop talent.  Be more patient with your ABM.  Become a teacher. Be more selfless in your approach to coaching. Take time to give them feedback that helps them, not feedback that helps you.  If you don’t become a better people manager, you’ve just hit your peak in your career.
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners.  They fail to adequately warn when there are potential problems.   They leave their manager in the dark and the information comes their manager from someone else. They confuse partners because they don’t keep them aware of what’s going on. You have to become a better communicator.  Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, your boss does as well–especially with negative news.  It’s normal that we get fixated on solving the problem at hand that we forget to tell people.  But that opens you up to risk–so cover your bases.  
  8. Never Follow Their Instincts:  They forget that marketing also has a “Gut Feel” to it, taking all the data, making decisions and then getting to the execution and believing it by taking a risk. Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it”.  You have to find ways to use your instincts.  The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away.  You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it. You get scared because you’re worried about your career and you want to do the ‘right thing’. But your gut is telling you it’s just not right. My rule is simple: if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand. The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad”. At every touch point, keep reaching for those instincts and bring them out on the table.
  9. Can’t Think Strategically or Write Strategically: As you move up to Brand Manager, we expect you to be able to think conceptually, strategically and in an organized fashion. We also expect that to come through in your writing–whether that’s your Annual Brand Plan, monthly share report or just an email that you send.  Be organized in your thinking–map it out. I do believe that every good strategy has four key elements: 1) Focus in either target or messaging 2) an Early win where you can see results 3) a Leverage point where you can take that early win and achieve a position power for your brand and finally 4) a Gateway to something even bigger for the brand.  Every six months, I would find a quiet time to answer five key questions that would help me stay aware: 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 have to do to get started?   In an odd way, the more planning you do, the more agile you’ll be, because you’ll know when it’s ok to “go off plan” 
  10. Slide1They Don’t Run the Brand, they Let The Brand Run Them. Some Brand Managers end up in the spin zone where they are disorganized, frantic and not in touch with their business. They miss deadlines, look out of control and things just stockpile on one another. They may take pride in how long they work or how many things they are getting done on their to-do list.  But they are out of control and the business is absolutely killing them. They just don’t know it yet. My advice to you is to stay in Control so you hit the deadlines and stay on budget. Dig in and know your business so you don’t get caught off-guard.  Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. Instil processes that organize and enable you and your team, so that it frees you up your time to push projects through and for doing the needed strategic thinking.  Stay conceptual–avoid getting stuck in the pennies or decimals–so you can continue to drive the strategy of your brand.  

Now let’s be honest: You likely won’t be fired for just one of these. You likely will see 3 or 4 of these come together and begin to showcase that you’re just not up for being a Brand Manager. But even 1 or 2 will keep you stuck at the Brand Manager level and you’ll notice your bosses are hesitant to put you on the tough assignments.

But the big question is what do you do about it. My hope is that you can use the list as a way to course correct on something you might already be doing. We each have a few of these de-railers, some that you can easily over-come but others that will take a few years to really fix.   Those who seek out feedback, welcome it and act on it will be the successful ones. I hope that your company has a process of giving feedback or that you get lucky to have a manager that cares about your career and is willing to give you the tough feedback.  But if not, seek it.  Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter.

I hope you can figure out the blind spots before your manager does.  

Use this list to ensure that you will be a successful Brand Manager career.

 

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