How to Think Strategically

If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.  Yogi Berra

After 20 years of managing marketing teams, I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of marketers–some classically trained CPG and some with just good instincts.  While 100% of them would proclaim of themselves “I’m a strategic thinker”, in reality only about 15-20% were actually strategic.  Yet, even some of the best implementers I know still want to be strategic.  I don’t get it.  Why?  I want someone to just finally say “I’m a really good tactical thinker and not really that good at strategy”. I have finally started to ask some of my friends who are great implementers:  “Why do you want to be strategic?”  I finally got an answer that made sense.  “Strategic people get paid more”.  

Are you sure you are Strategic?

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first.  Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better  than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. Aren’t we all.

But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon.  While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action.  And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done.  I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.

OK, then you can’t just one day wake up and be strategic. You need more discipline in the way you think. Here’s some thoughts on how to force yourself to be strategic. Here’s HOW TO THINK MORE STRATEGICALLY.  

Focus, Early Win, Leverage, Gateway

So Let’s see if there is a model that can help people be better at strategy.  When I teach people this model, I tell them it will force them to structure their thinking at first, but then it should just start to flow easily. It’s like driving a car in England, it feels different at first, but then natural very soon after.

A simple way is to break it down into the 4 elements of a good strategy: there is usually a good Focus of resources on what has the biggest potential return, an Early Win that allows you to confidently keep going, a Leverage point you can twist and turn and finally a Gateway to something even bigger.  Here’s how the 4 stages of thinking works:

  1. FOCUS all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Make tough choices and opt be loved by the few rather than tolerated by the many.
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further.  Without the early win, you’ll likely seek out some new strategy even a sub-optimal one.   Or someone in management will say “it’s not working”.  You don’t want either of those–so the early win helps keep people moving towards the big win.
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  This is where strategy provides that return–you get more than the effort you’re doing from it.
  4. Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger. It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours. Return on Investment or Effort.
Looking at using “Focus, Early Win, Leverage, Gateway” in Real Situations

Lots of explanations on strategy use war analogies, so let’s look at D-Day and see how it matches up.  While Germany was fighting a war on two fronts (Russia and Britain), the Allied Forces planned D-Day for 2 years and joined in full force to focus all their attention on one beach, on one day. The surprise attack gave them an early win, and momentum which they could then leverage into a bigger victory then just one beach. Getting on mainland Europe gave the allied forces the gateway they needed to steamroll through on a town by town basis and defeat the Germans. The allied forces had been on the defensive for years, but landing on D-Day gave them one victory and the tipping point to winning the war.  For those who struggle with focus, imagine that if the Allied Forces decided to place one soldier every 15 feet from Denmark all the way around Europe to Greece. Would it have been successful? Not a chance.

If you were to write the brand plan for D-Day, it might look like this:

  • Vision: Win World War II
  • Goals: Re-claim Europe, remove Hitler, minimize losses
  • Key Issue: How do we turn the tide in the war effort in Europe?
  • Strategy: Focused Pin Pointed Attack to gain a positional power on Continental Europe. 
  • Tactic: D-Day, take all our troops and attack the Beaches of Normandy to get back on mainland Europe and battle Germany on an equal footing. 

While war analogies put some heightened sense of intelligence into marketing, let’s look at an example using Avril Lavigne and see if it still works. If it does, then maybe it’s still a good model. In 2005, Avril’s career was flat, a normal path for young musicians. To kick off her album, she did a series of free mall concerts—and was criticized as desperate. She was desperate and no one really understood the logic. But think about it:  mall’s are exactly where her target (11-17 female) hangs out, allowing her to focus all her energy on her core target.  She attracted 5k screaming 13 year olds per mall—creating an early win among her most loyal of fans: those who loved and adored her. She was able to leverage the good will and energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her album in the mall record stores which helped her album debut at #1 on the charts. And everyone knows the charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more itunes downloads and more talk value. The comeback complete. Madonna has done the same strategy, except she seeded her songs into dance clubs for the last 20 years.

If you were to write the Avril Brand Plan, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Recording Super Star
  • Goals: New Album Sales, increase popularity, new recording contract
  • Key Issue: How do we drive album sales for a slumping Avril? 
  • Strategy: Reconnect with core teen fans to create momentum to trigger album sales
  • Tactic: Free Mall tour to get most loyal fans to reconnect and buy the new album.

Avril Lavigne Wows Thousands At Free Indy Concert

INDIANAPOLIS  — Pop singer Avril Lavigne serenaded more than  2,000 fans during a free concert at a shopping mall.   “You guys are awesome,” the 19-year-old Lavigne told the  enthusiastic crowd Thursday at Glendale Mall.  Some people waited several hours to see the singer perform songs  from her upcoming CD and 2002 hits “Complicated” and “Sk8er  Boi.”   The half-hour acoustic concert was part of a 21-date “Live and  By Surprise Tour” promoting her new CD, “Under My Skin.”   People started lining up at the mall early in the afternoon for a chance to see Avril Lavigne up close and personal.

Starbucks experienced tremendous growth through the 80s and 90s, mainly because of the their coffee. Starbucks quickly become a life ritual in the morning to wake you up. The focus shifted to build a broader portfolio of products around these two time slots.   The early win were a series of new products that made Starbucks seem big on innovation. Sandwiches, Wraps, pastries, cookies. All high quality. The leverage point was turning a coffee routine into a breakfast/lunch routine. The gateway is expanding the life ritual of Starbucks so that it’s now a broad-based place for breakfast and a light lunch, but still connected with coffee.  No longer are they just for coffee. Recently, Starbucks has been giving incentives through their “treat receipt” program to get people to come into the store after 2pm. 

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision:  Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue:  How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy: Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic: Light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

Most Marketers Struggle with Strategic Thinking

However, even though all these marketers are saying they are strategic, strategy actually runs counter intuitive to many marketers. You mean by focusing on something so small, I can get something big.  That makes no sense.  I better keep trying to do everything to everyone.  But that’s exactly how a fulcrum works to give you leverage. Next time you’re taking off your tire on your car, try getting 6 really strong guys to lift your car or just get a tiny little car jack. This is the same model for brand strategy. Focus on your strengths, focus on those consumers who will most love you and focus on the one potential action point you can actually get them to do.

Many marketers always struggle with the idea of focus and always try to do it all.  And for everyone. They worry they’ll pick a potential target too tight and alienate others, focus on one message and forget to tell all they know and miss a crucial fact or focus too tight on one part of the business and forget the others.  I saw a brief describe their target was “18-65, current customers, potential customers and employees”.  I said “all you’ve eliminated is prisoners and tourists.”  I get it that it can feel scary to focus.  But it should feel even more scary not focusing, just in case you’re wrong. You always operate with limited resources no matter how big of a brand:  financial, people, partnering, time. Trying to do everything spreads your limited resources and your message  so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. 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.  When you focus, three things happen: 1) you actually become very good at what you do 2) people perceive you to be very good at what you do since that is the only thing you do 3) you can defend the positioning territory

Many times, marketers fall in love with the best ideas—not always the best strategies. This is where they tactical and they end up chasing down a path with a hollow gateway.  It’s crucial you always start with the best strategies and then find the best ideas that fit with those strategies, not the other way around. What you need to do, is try to map out all the potential wins, try to understand what’s behind that win, and if there is something bigger then go for it, but if there isn’t, then you should reject this path. There has to be a large gateway behind those cool ideas, so you love what the idea does more so than just loving the idea.

 

Strategic Thinking: Focus, Early Win and Leverage should lead to a gateway to Something even Bigger

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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

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How to be successful at the Assistant Brand Manager level

In my 20 years of my CPG Marketing career, I must have interviewed 1,000 potential Assistant Brand Managers. marketing jobI was lucky to have hired some of the best, who have gone on to have significant marketing careers and I became notorious for asking for some of the toughest questions, some even bizarre. I always asked an analytical question to see if they could piece together lots of data and tell a story that made sense. I’d ask a creative question to see if they had a certain flair and pride in the output. I’d ask a problem-solving question, some very hard, no real right answer, but I wanted to see how they think. Finally, I wanted to know that they had done something at a very high level–it didn’t matter what–but I wanted to know they could make it happen.

A marketing career is very challenging. At the entry-level role, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers will get promoted to Brand Manager. The percentages go down at each level.

My advice to new marketers

The most eager first-time marketers want to change the world. The role is a reality check where you learn before you can run. Too many new marketers want to focus on strategy right away, but the ABM is a “doing” role. You will be executing programs, analyzing results and learning how to be a project manager. Through the execution, send signals you are capable of thinking and leading in the future.

What separates the average from the great ones that get promoted? The best seem to figure out the right thing to do and then make it happen.

  • Some figure out the right thing to do but struggle to work the system to make it happen.
  • Others can work the system, but they forget to think through what is the right thing to do.

The Assistant Brand Manager role can feel frustrating. Many times, it will inhibit your creativity and even your ideas. Fight through it. It provides a foundation and discipline you will use throughout your career.

You have to nail the obvious

You must hit deadlines.

Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, so if you begin to miss deadlines, things will stockpile on each other. Do not be the one trying to negotiate extensions constantly. There are no real extensions. Just missed opportunities.

You must know your business.

Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as P&L (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all significant competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.

Open Communication.

There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it.

Take control of your destiny. We run the brands; they do not run us.

Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion. Proactively look for opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage. When you don’t know something, speak in an “asking way,” but when you know, speak in a “telling way.”

Able to use regular feedback for growth.

Always seek out and accept constructive feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Do not think of it as a personal attack or setback. Identify gaps you can close, never think of them as weaknesses that hold you back. You should always be striving to get better.

Listen first; then decide.

It is crucial that you seek to understand to the experts surrounding you before you make a decision. Early in your career, use your subject matter experts to teach you. As you hit director or VP, use them as an advisor or a sounding board to issues/ideas. They do want you to lead them, so it is essential that you listen and then give direction or push them towards the end path.

Five success factors for Assistant Brand Managers:

  1. Turn data into analytical stories  
  2. Take action before being asked. 
  3. Make it happen through others
  4. Speak out to challenge the strategy
  5. Be accountable for your work

1. Turn data into analytical stories

The ABM role has a ton of data with market share results, tracking scores or test results. Look for patterns or data breaks, ask questions and start putting together stories. The analytical stories show you know what it means, helps sell recommendations, and supports the action you will take. Never give a data point without a story or a recommended action, or you risk letting someone else (your boss) take your data and decide.

2. Take action before being asked

On day one, your manager will set most of the projects for Assistant Brand Managers. When you are new, it is comfortable to wait for your projects. But don’t get in the habit of waiting for someone to create your project list. As you mature, start to push your own ideas into the system and create your own project list.
Start making smart decisions, on your own, and communicate those choices with your boss. Don’t ask permission, but tell them what you want to do and look for the head nod. Know what’s in your scope and align with your manager.

3. Make it happen through others

Instead of just functionally managing the steps of the project, find ways to make each project better, faster, or deliver more significant results. You need to understand each critical milestones to hit, and manage bottlenecks. Every marketer meets resistance; the best knock can down those resistance points. Figure out the task with the longest completion time and the element that is most important, as both will impact the entire project. You will need to push people to get things done. You need to find a bit of magic by inspiring people to give their best ideas, put in their best effort and deliver their best work. 

4. Speak out to challenge the strategy

Stay on strategy. Show you are always thinking, and feel confident in your strategic thoughts. Avoid just falling in love with an execution tactic that is not aligned with your brand’s strategy. It is so easy to get lost in your own “cool” projects. Ask the right questions. Challenge the strategy to make sure you understand. Silent marketers never last. Show you are always thinking, and feel confident in your strategic thoughts.

5. Be accountable for your work

Accountability is the first stepping stone to ownership, which sends a signal you are ready to be a Brand Manager. You have to find the right balance by motivating experts to give their best and knowing when to step in to avoid letting things slip or miss. Never allow your team to get stuck. Stay on top of timelines and lead your project teams. Be action-oriented, and solution-focused. Be the hub of communication for all team members, and keep your manager aware.

The Idiot Curve

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. The basic rule of the idiot curve is you get dumber before you get smarter.

Marketing Career Idiot Curve

When you first land the Assistant Brand Manager job, there’s just so much to learn, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I find it takes three months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. It’s overwhelming at first, and yet you see all these other Assistant Brand Managers doing it, so that’s even more intimidating.

However, the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival)

The idiot curve lasts typically up to 3 months, and then things start to click. You’ll experience your own version of the idiot curve in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.

Here’s our story on how to land your first marketing job. You have to want that marketing job, more than anyone else.

How to land your first marketing job

ABM roles are hard, but all the learning will pay off the rest of your career.

Here’s a presentation on our Brand Management Training Programs.

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

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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.

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Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

How to be a successful Brand Manager

brand managementI have hired so many potentially great marketers–who were eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated. But in reality, about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 20% of Brand Managers make it to the Director level. I have given it a lot of thought over the years and here is my view on what makes a great brand manager.

What separates a great brand manager from the rest of the pack?

There are two factors that make a great brand manager:

1. They know the right thing to do (strategy)
2. They work the system to make it happen (execution).

Simply put, great marketers do both.

The rest either fail on either #1 or #2. They might be great on strategy who can’t get it done. Or great on execution, but they don’t know why they do what they do.

It sounds easy, but the ability to move from strategy to execution is rarer than you might assume. It takes a unique person to be able to change brain speeds and apply a different type of thinking. Most of us are comfortable in one or the other.

Strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers. 

Strategic thinkers are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, by imagining how events will play out in the future. They think of every option before taking action. If you move too quickly on brand strategy, you will be unable to see the insights beneath the surface, and you risk solving the wrong problem.

Instinctual thinkers see the right answers before they even know the question. 

Instinctual thinkers move fast, using emotional, impulse and intuitive gut feel. They choose emotion over logic. This “gut feel” fosters high creativity. Without intuitive freedom, you will move too slowly, overthink and second-guess yourself. You risk destroying the creativity of the right solution.

The problem for most brand managers is they use the wrong brain speed at the wrong time.

When they should be slowing down for strategy, you get so busy, so deadline focused, so scared to make a mistake that you forget to think in a confused state of ambiguity. It’s not easy to sit there without the answer, but sometimes if you just wait a bit longer and keep pushing for an even better question, then the even better answers will come to you. Revel in ambiguity.   

When executing, you have so much to do, you can’t decide what is crucial and what just a task. Deadlines make you choose OK to get it done because pushing for greatness is one more delay you can’t afford. Also, many brand managers end up burying away their instincts. Running from a financial meeting talking cost of goods, a sales forecasting meeting talking about 6 months from now, to a sales meeting getting grilled on promotional spend, to a meeting with the scientists in the lab talking about an ingredient change you need to make, it feels impossible to find those instincts. Yet, the best brand managers can. You come into a creative execution meeting, and you give the answer you think you are supposed to give because that’s what you did in the finance meeting and it worked

One of the biggest cases for overthinking is to try to second guess what your boss will think. If you are thinking of comments your boss has made in past meetings, there is no way you will be able to find your beautiful instincts. You’ve just given up ownership of your brand to your boss. 

The Idiot Curve

At every new job, including Brand Manager, I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day.

The basic rule of the Idiot Curve is: You get dumber before you get smarter.

I have promoted some great ABMs and watch them struggle and wonder if we made a mistake. The idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person.  Marketing Career Idiot Curve

No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. But, please fight through the curve, or you won’t survive. If there was one consistent gap for people early in a new job, is that you forget to use your instincts. You spend so much of your time trying to absorb everything that is coming at you, that you reach for the basic process instead of your brains.

And then, you might be working on a project for weeks before you think to even look at the budget. You work on a promotion for Wal-Mart and then think “oh ya, I should talk to the Wal-Mart sales manager and see what she thinks.” Or you say something in a meeting you think you’re supposed to say, but it doesn’t even resemble anything that you think, feel or believe in. That’s the idiot curve. And it will last 3 months. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.  

Every job I have ever had, I experienced the idiot curve–even at the VP level. Give yourself permission to know it is there. However, fight it.

The 5 factors to being a great Brand Manager:

  1. Take ownership of the brand.
  2. Provide the strategic direction
  3. Work the system
  4. Handle the pressure
  5. Get the most of their direct report

1. Take ownership of the brand

Many Brand Managers struggle are with the transition from being the helper to now being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away the idea that someone will hand you a project list. Not only will you make the project list, but you should also come up with the strategies that set up the need for the projects.

Make a shift in how you speak with your boss. Speak with a telling voice, rather than an asking voice. It is ok to ask questions as feelers, but a great boss will want you to tell them what you want to do, and let the debate begin from there. They do not want to do your job.

People on your team will look to you for the decisions. While they want to be heard and have their expertise recognized, but they want you to make the decisions.

2. Provide strategic direction 

Create a vision for the brand that can serve as a rallying cry for your team. Let everyone know where you want to go. Make sure the strategic choices and your brand’s execution matches up with your vision.

As the brand owner, you become the steward of the strategy. Reject everything that does not line up to your vision. Think with three strategic pillars, so you can steer a consistent delivery of the brand through the various functions and agencies who support your brand.

3. Work the system

You have to be able to see how the organization works and appreciate the motivations of various key stakeholders. You have to be able to understand the layers of the organization, with varying goals and motivations. Use that knowledge to begin to work the system.
Inspire, challenge and push your key subject matter experts to you their best. Understand their motivations and tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best.

4. Handle the pressure

The unknown of ambiguity and the time pressure of deadlines can work against each other. Figure out how to work them to our advantage, as they evoke the right balance of patience with ambiguity and persistence in getting things done. Be organized, disciplined and work the system, so it does not get in your way.

Another significant pressure for Marketers is when the results do not come in. It can be frustrating but is a reality we face. Force yourself to course correct, re-examine the underlying issues, and regroup with your team to look at other options, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.

There is pressure in relationships that many Marketers feel, but are unable to fix. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out the motivations and frustration points in those you work with before they become a problem. Common ground is usually not that far away.

5. Get the most of your direct report

Most Brand Managers struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self-evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each direct report.

It can be a struggle to shift from “do-er” to coach, as it is tempting to think you can do something faster, so you may as well do it. The problem is you just become the “super ABM.”

Many Brand Managers fail to share the spotlight, so it becomes hard for you to showcase your Assistant Brand Manager. You must believe the work of your Assistant Brand Manager will reflect positively on how good of a manager you are.

Provide your direct report with positive and negative feedback, delivered in a timely fashion. Too many new managers are afraid to “go negative” so their ABM is left in the dark or left believing they are doing a good job. Take the time to teach up front, give them room to try it out and then provide hands-on feedback in real time.

The 10 reasons brand managers fails

  1. Struggle to make decisions.
  2. Not analytical enough.
  3. Can’t get along with others.
  4. Not good with ambiguity.
  5. Bad people manager.
  6. Poor communicators with management or partners.
  7. Never follow your instincts.
  8. Can’t think or write strategically
  9. You don’t run the brand; you let the brand run you. 
  10. Sloppy with budgets and timelines.

My advice to brand managers

Most new brand managers mistakenly think this role is about managing others because they finally get a chance to manage a direct report. However, the bigger role is the transition from doer to owner.

Yes, you will get your first chance to manage someone, but many times that effort can be a distraction from your chance to continue to learn and grow. Many brand managers are disheartened to find out they are a disaster with their first direct report. Try to improve with each new direct report and then they will feel more comfortable around the fifth direct report. 

I hope you love the magic of Marketing. It is easy to lose your passion and try to do what your boss wants or do things to make short-term numbers so you can get promoted. Don’t just go through the motion the job, but do it with all your passion. If you do not love the work you do, then how can you ever expect your consumer to love your brand? Leave your legacy.

Love the magic of marketing. 

Don’t just do the job. Do it with all your passion. Love the work that comes from your passion. Or else, just let someone else take your spot.

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.

 

Five Brand Resolutions For 2012

As we start 2012, here are some Brand Resolutions.

  1. Take a Walk in Your Consumers Shoes.  See the brand as they do.
  2. At every turn, ask yourself “DO I LOVE IT?”   Reject all work that is “just ok”.
  3. Delegate But Do Not Abdicate Ownership of your Brand.
  4. Create a Culture around your Brand—Brand should be everyone’s job, not just marketing.
  5. Once you create a Beloved Brand, you should run your branded business as a source of Power that helps drive Profit and Value.

#1:  Take a Walk in Your Consumers Shoes.  See the brand as they do.  It’s not just about doing research and finding consumer insights.  It’s about experiencing the brand as your consumer does.  Bringing the consumer into everything you do tightening the connection.   In 2012, be the spokesperson who represents the consumer to your team and watch the work get better.

At each stage of a the Brand Love Curve, you should challenge yourself with Amazing programs by asking “do I love this”  Reject all work that is “just ok” and push everyone to make the work better.  

#2:  At every turn, ask yourself “DO I LOVE IT?”    Reject all work that is “just ok”.  Moving your brand from indifferent to Like It is relatively easy:  good product, smart investment and doing the basics right.  But moving from “Like It” to “Love It” can be a herculean task.  If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do.  Look at the love Apple projects to its consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing.  Never let something out that’s “just ok”.  If you’re indifferent, then you’re brand will be as well.   Challenge yourself in 2012 to lead yourself with passion equal to logic and find a way to love the work you do.

#3:  Delegate But Do Not Abdicate Ownership of your Brand.   In 2012, stop saying a)  “Oh well, the agency is the expert” b) “I never liked the brief” or c) “I never fully agreed with the Decision”.  These feel like a cop out, and it makes you look like a wimp.   Good brand leaders engage in the brand and lead it.   Sometimes it’s delegating to the team to keep them motivatated, but just as many, you have to challenge the direction to ensure the thinking is sound.   In 2012, stop acting like a Manager and start acting like a Brand Owner!

#4:  Create a Culture around your Brand—Brand should be everyone’s job, not just marketing.  There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people impacted by the vision, mission and values you set out for the brand.   While most people will think the Brand Manager leads the brand, it’s the collective wisdom of all those who touch it.   From Sales People negotiating on the brands behalf to HR people who pick the right people to various Agencies, right down to the Editor who works just one day on your brand.  Motivate them, embrace them, challenge them, lead them, follow them and reward them.   Great people make great work and great work leads to great brands.   In 2012, challenge yourself to realize that you need more than just you living the brand, you need everyone living and breathing it.

#5:  Once you create a Beloved Brand, you should run your branded business as a source of Power that helps drive Profit and Value.  You should be looking at your business through the lens of your brand.   Yes, the brand promise sets up how the external community views your brand whether that’s consumers, customers or key influencers.  But equally so, brand becomes a beacon to help guide behaviour, decisions, action, structure and the formation of a culture.  You should drive your growth and profitability through your brand, with a focus on driving share, enhancing price while managing costs and finding new markets.   Most marketers will tell you that branding is about positioning—it’s about being “unique”.  I think positioning is a means to driving growth and making money—it’s about being “powerful”.   The challenge for 2012 is to create a connection with your consumer that can be leveraged as a source of power for you to drive value and profit for your brand.

By driving a deeper emotional connection with your consumers, you can turn that connection into power, which can than be used to drive even further power and value for the brand.  


I really hope you try one of these out in 2012.   And I hope you see the difference.  

Happy New Year!