February 5, 2015
When I was at J&J, we had the luxury of getting our Assistant Brand Managers (ABM) to spend 6 weeks looking at everything on the brand and then getting them to present it to the marketing leadership team. Here’s a little secret: it sounds a little cruel, but we hinted that the business review was a “bit of a test” that would impact your career trajectory. If you give an A-type personality from the best MBA programs a month to dig in and you hint that it’s a “test”, you get some of the best brand reviews ever! These ABMs also spent a full day each month digging into the monthly consumption and sales numbers and writing up a monthly report which helped keep us on track all year. When I became a Brand Manager, I said “thank god I’m no longer have to do all that analysis, and I can now spend more time just thinking”. But as I moved up to Director level and up to the VP level, I started to lose touch with what was really happening on the brands. So, rather than just pass on the ABM’s monthly report to my boss, I would block off a morning and do up my own monthly report. I dug in on the share data, looking for breaking points in the trend line, questioning any splits I would see after breaking out the regions, channels or sizes. Many times, I’d come up with new conclusions not considered and I’d pass them back down. With that analytical training as an ABM matched up against my experience, I found I could go faster than I used to–because I knew what to look for.
The lesson I learned, is that to free yourself up to do the thinking, you need to first dig in and do the questioning.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”
At Beloved Brands, we believe in digging deep and we live the six principles for good analytics:
- Opinions without fact to back them up are just opinions and can leave a room divided: you will gain more support for your analysis by telling analytical stories through data.
- Absolute numbers by themselves are useless: only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story.
- The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data: comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story.
- Like an old-school reporter, two sources of data help frame the story: Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend.
- Deep analysis requires thinking time: Asking these 5 questions can force the deeper richer thinking: What do we know? What do we assume? What we think? What do we need to find out? What are we going to do?
- Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas: SWOTs or Force Field type tools help organize your thinking and frame the discussion for others.
Deep Dive Business Review
- Category: factors impacting growth, trends, economic, changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption. Look at related categories.
- Consumer: define segments, buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research
- Channels: look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel
- Competitors: dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Complete a brand plan for each competitor.
- Brand: look at internal and external health and wealth of brand. Use financial analysis, brand funnel data, market research perceptions. Look at advertising results, pricing strategies, distribution gaps and do a complete leaky bucket analysis.
- Health and Wealth of Brand: look at factors driving the internal health and wealth and the external health and wealth of the brand.
- What’s driving growth: summation of the top 3 factors of strength, positional power or inertia that can be a proven link to growth.
- What’s inhibiting growth: summation of top 3 factors of weakness, un-addressed gaps or friction holding back the growth of the brand.
- Opportunities for growth: specific untapped areas that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled needs, new technologies, regulation changes, removal of trade barriers.
- Risk to future growth: changing circumstances create potential risk to your growth pattern, based on changes in consumer needs, threat of substitutes, barriers to trade, customer preference, or attacking your weaknesses
At Beloved Brands we teach brand leaders good analytical principles about telling stories with data to gain more support for your analysis. We look at every part of the health and wealth of a brand looking at the category, consumer, channels, brand, competitors. We teach how analysis turns fact into insight and how data breaks set up strategic choices. We look at how to turn analytical thinking into projections. And then we help to build an analytical story and presentation that’s ready for management review.
Here is the Workshop that we run to help brand leaders be better at analytical thinking and help them to create better analytical stories. You’ll see how we are able to dig into every aspect of the brand as we provide tools for assessing the overall category to dissecting the competitor, how to analyze what’s happening with consumers and channels and then how to do a complete assessment behind the data of the brand. You have all this information, you should really use it.
In a world of BIG DATA, it’s only BIG if you know how to use it.
At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential. Here are the most popular article “How to” articles. We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic. Click on any of these most read articles:
- How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement
- How to Write a Brand Plan
- How to Write a Creative Brief
- How to create a Brand Strategy Road Map
- How to Judge Advertising
- How to write a Mini Creative Brief
- How to Think Strategically
- How to Build a Media Strategy
- Brand Love = Power = Profit
- How to Have a Successful Marketing Career
At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:
We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at 416 885 3911
Bringing our blog to life through video
At Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.