The six ways for Marketers to go from good to GREAT

 

GREAT Brand Leaders focus, represent the consumer, match fundamentals with instinct, inspire others, create other great leaders and leave a legacy.

1.GREAT Brand Leaders push to make focused choices.

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are. If you present an either-or situation to many brand leaders, they struggle with the decision. So they try to find a way to say, “Let’s do a little of both”. A great brand leader knows decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product without a name on it.

Marketing has to be all about ROI (Return on Investment). For the best Brand Leaders, ROI should come naturally. It simply means you get more back, than what you put into it. Marketers always have limited resources (financial, time, people, partnerships). They apply those resources against an unlimited number of possible choices (target, positioning, strategies or tactics). The only way the equation works is when you limit the number of possible choices to match the limited resources. You can’t do everything so you have to do the most important things.Success in Marketing

Don’t tell yourself that you are good at making decisions if you come to a decision point and you always choose BOTH. Strategic thinkers never DIVIDE and conquer. They make choices to FOCUS and conquer

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

Focus on a tight consumer target, to find those already highly motivated to buy what you have to sell. Get them to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you. The leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out. It is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.

I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees. That’s not a target. How can you have an adequate ROI if you are spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE? As a brand, we always try to matter. Well, if you matter to anyone, then you have to matter to those who care the most.

To be GREAT, focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area.

A brand has four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to anyone. Today, consumers receive 5,000 brand messages a day. Wow. As a consumer, how many of those 5,000 do you engage with and digest each day? Maybe a few? Then why as a Marketer, are you trying to shout 3 or 4 messages? It is really odd for you to think that the way to enter an overwhelmed crowded brain is to give more messages and not less. Slow down and keep it simple. Great Brand Leaders find a way focus on one message.

When I ask a room full of Marketers, tell me one word that defines Volvo, half the room yells “SAFETY”. Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety since the 1950s. Not just externally, but internally.  The safety positioning guides every decision. That is focus.

If I asked your team for one word that describes your brand, would I get the same word?  Why not?

Penetration versus usage frequency

I see too many brand plans have both penetration (getting new users to use) and frequency (getting current users to use more) in their plan. Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more? A Penetration Strategy gets someone with very little experience with your brand to likely consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they like it.

A Usage Frequency Strategy gets someone who knows and uses your brand in the way they choose, to change their current behavior in relationship to your brand, either changing their current life routine or substituting your brand into a higher share of the occasions. These are very different strategies. And it is a choice you must make. I see so many Brand Plans and Creative Briefs with both penetration and usage frequency strategies. Go look at your plan and see if you are really making choices. Because if you’re not, then you are not making decisions, you’re just making a very long to-do list that will exhaust your resources.

When you focus, four things happen for your brand:

  1. Better return on investment (ROI)
  2. Better return on effort (ROE)
  3. Stronger reputation
  4. More competitive
  5. More investment behind the brand

Next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong. All you are doing is dividing your limited resources by spreading them across both choices—which turns limited resources into sparse resources. Without the right support, you won’t see the expected movement on your brand and instead of putting more resources behind the right ideas you then put even less. I always say that a strategic person would never get the “steak and eggs” but rather would choose twice the steak. When faced with choices, a GREAT brand leader picks one, never both.

2. GREAT Brand Leaders represent the consumer to the Brand.

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. I always ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” It is an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. Start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. There is only one source of revenue on your financial statements. It is not the products you sell, but it is the consumer who buys your brand.

When you think like your consumer, you will notice the work gets better, you will see clearer paths to growth and you will start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. Marketing is about creating a tight connection with your consumer. The more love you generate for your brand, the more powerful position it occupies in the marketplace and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.

You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, observe, listen and understand their favorite parts of the day. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with.

When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions.

Consumer Insights are secrets that we discover and use to our brand’s advantage.

It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.

You can start with the observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behavior.

Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.

3. GREAT Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound, even when using their instincts.

I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter. In fact, we train Brand Leaders on all the fundamentals of marketing including strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs. But that’s a starting point to which you grow from. If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired.

Great Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

Action thinkers see answers before even knowing the right questions, using instincts and impulse. Any delays will frustrate them, believing that doing something is better than nothing at all. This “make it happen” mode gets things done, but if you go too fast, your great actions will be solving the wrong problem. Always find the right balance by thinking slowly with strategy and thinking quickly with your instincts.

A good Brand Leader does a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job. They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments. GREAT Brand Leaders are able to take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts. They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement.

It’s not that great marketers have better instincts. It is that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and bring instincts into their decision making. They use their head, their gut and their heart to decide the pathway on finding greatness in Marketing.

4. GREAT Brand Leaders find their greatness in the greatness of others.

I think what made me really good at my job is that I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Over my 20 years of Brand Management, whenever I walked into a meeting, I used to whisper to myself: “You are the least knowledgeable person in the room. Use that to your advantage.” The power was in the ability to ask clarification questions.

When I was in with the scientists, following my C+ in 10th grade Chemistry, I was about as smart as my consumer that I represent. I needed to make sure all the science was easy to explain. With my ad agencies, I finally figured out that I never had to solve problems. I just gave them my problems to solve. It became like therapy. Plus, with six years of business school without one art class, what do I know about art. I was smart enough to know that I needed to make the most out of the experts I was paying.

Get comfortable with the idea that you don’t do anything

While we don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the Ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a Brand Leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Brand Management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist Brand Leader. When I see Brand Managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. Brand Leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation and experts in selling the product. You are trained to be a generalist, knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work.

Fifteen years ago, Ad Agencies broke apart the creative and the media departments into separate agencies. This forced Brand Leaders to step in and be the referee on key decisions. Right after that, the explosion of new digital media options that mainstream agencies were not ready to handle forced the Brand Leader to take another step in. With the increasing speed of social media, Brand Leaders have taken one more step in. Three steps in and Brand Leaders can’t find a way to step back again. Some Brand Leaders love stepping in too far so they can control the outcome of the creative process. However, if you are now doing all the work, then who is critiquing the work to make sure it fits the strategy? Pretty hard to think and do at the same time.

Brand Leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution to unfold. I always say that is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of marketing execution like the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself. How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. From my experience, experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up the sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way.

It is time to step back and assume your true role as the Brand Leader. Trust me, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. After all, I am an expert in doing nothing.

5. GREAT Brand Leaders create other GREAT Brand Leaders on their team.

Great Brand Leaders focus on their people first, believing that is the best way to drive results. The formula is simple: the smarter the people, the better the work they will produce and in turn the stronger the results will be. Invest in training and development. Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom to find ways to challenge their thinking and give them added skills to be better in their jobs.

Great Brand Leaders know that marketing fundamentals still matter. There is a lot of evidence in the market that the classic fundamentals are falling, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief or judging great advertising. As things move faster, Marketers seem more willing to let go of the fundamentals.

However, as the speed increases that should be even more of a reason o reach for your fundamentals. People are NOT getting the same learning and development they did in prior generations of Marketing. Investing in training, not only makes your people smarter, but it is motivating for them to know that you are investing in them.

Great Brand Leaders find ways put the spotlight on their people. It is time to let them own it and let them Shine. Make it about them, not you. Great Brand Leaders find ways to challenge your team and yet recognize when the work.

6. GREAT Brand Leaders have a desire to leave a legacy.

I am always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say, “Well, they aren’t all good qualities”. The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them. The best Marketers are like thorough-bred race horse. Use your ego in the right way, so that it shows up as confidence and a belief in yourself. I can tell you that out of the ten great projects I worked on throughout my career, each met major resistance at some point. It was my confidence that helped me over-come roadblocks whether they cam from peers or bosses.

I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them. When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level. Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years. When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader.

What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on?

What will be your legacy on your brand?

Great Brand Leaders always push for greatness and never settle for OK

Here’s a free copy of our e-book on “How to achieve success in Marketing”.

https://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/free-e-book-how-to-achieve-success-in-marketing

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands

 

The miraculous transition of China is happening, but it may take the entire century to complete.

China is in the midst of rapid growth that will continue to transform the country into an economic powerhouse throughout this century. As a Canadian, I find it fascinating to see elements that are ahead and behind the western world.

Old world versus future world

There are many layers of complexity within China, whether cultures, tiers of cities or the stark differences in generations. The older adults are living the simple lifestyle they learned in the 20th century. It is common to see 50-year-olds riding basic bicycles to work. Or see people eating at small local eateries that do not look or feel safe in western standards.

However, young adults are not only modern; they appear to be living in the future, beyond western standards. Everything is app based, e-commerce driven, global payments and QR codes for purchasing or learning more. While we have the odd retailer specific payment app here in the West, we do not yet have globally accepted pay apps that stretch across all retailers.

Alibaba is a brand we all need to watch

On my two most recent trips to China, I have noticed a considerable decline in retailers, restaurants or even or taxis that take Visa. Everyone is using Alipay, linked closely to the Alibaba e-commerce giant (market capitalization of $350B) who could take on Amazon (market capitalization of $450B) on the world stage. 

alipayAs much as we in the west are fascinated with Amazon, do you think you understand Alibaba enough to learn from them? Alibaba’s market capitalization has gone from $200B up to $356B in the last 12 months. A 78% gain in 12 months. Wow. 

The social media app of choice is WeChat with almost a billion active users. WeChat provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast messaging, video conferencing, video games, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing. You can even exchange contacts with people nearby via Bluetooth. Like Alipay, WeChat has a payment service that wants to be considered the digital wallet. When will these global payment systems become mainstream in the west? And who will own it?  

Income disparity is vast, but signs of improving

In the last ten years, the average income for China has tripled. The problem is that it is still under USD 10,000, compared with over $45,000 for many of the western nations it competes with. Within any statistics in China, there are layers of complexity. The most significant layer of complexity is around the disparity of income levels. 

While people of the west are trying to figure out solutions of rich versus poor, the evidence is even more overwhelming in China. With a high growth economy, they are starting to see the trickle-down impact of wealth, helping the creation of a real middle class in China.

It is expected that from 2012 to 2022, those in China making more than $34K US will increase from 3% currently up to 9%, and those in the growing middle class ($16K to $34K) will increase from 14% up to 54%.  These are huge jumps that will likely continue for the entire century. Wealth in China

The growing professional workforce will be the most significant force of transformation of the economy. Reminiscent of America in the 1950s, Chinese parents are investing in the education for their children, as they realize their children will be richer 20 years from now than they are today. This was the root of the American dream. 

The rapid growth of cities appears well planned

Shenzhen ChinaI loved my recent trip to Shenzhen, just across the water from Hong Kong. On a daily basis, thousands and thousands of Hong Kong residents stream across the border to work in Shenzhen. It’s not an easy commute going through border patrols and customs, to and from work each day.

Shenzhen is quickly transforming into a beautiful city. One of the most underestimated elements of China are the trees throughout the streets. When a westerner would think about cities of 25-30 million, we would normally think it must be a concrete jungle. Shenzhen in China is lined with gorgeous and rich trees. Similar to Shanghai of the French concession area. Keep in mind, Shenzhen did not even exist 20 years ago, and today, it is home to 20-25 million people. This city is benefiting from smart urban planning.

Luxury brands are everywhere

Within the city, they have created neighborhoods for the rich, with some of the nicest malls you will find. Evidence of the disparity of income is everywhere. Shenzhen MallsI went through an affluent shopping mall in Shenzhen that would rival any high-end mall in America. Hugo Boss, Coach, Sephora, Rolex, Lululemon. You name a brand, and this mall had it.

I browsed for prices and could not find any deals. Imported goods in China are a sign of prestige, yet you will have to pay for it through higher prices.

There are 2,600 Starbucks throughout China. If these high-end items are considered badge brands in the west, imagine what a badge it is to confirm your social status as one who has made it in China.

Further evidence was the cars on the road including Mercedes, BMW’s, Range Rovers, Ferrari’s and Audi’s. While China has recently become the #1 car market in the world, only those in the elite class are driving cars.

Bikes are still a reality

Most western cities have bike rentals, where you slide in your visa and take a gentle ride to see the sights. In Europe and North America, it’s something tourists would use. In China, these bikes offer a much more functional need state, and this is seen as a business that has been a disruption to transportation so that people can get to and from work. The bikes are not locked, and they do not accept Visa. People here use WeChat or Alipay payment apps on their phones, to scan the barcode on the bike and then pay and go where you need to go.

5 Questions for the future

As I look at the next 80+ years for China, here are the questions in my mind

  1. Will China make the shift a product-driven economy to a brand-driven economy? 
  2. Can locally grown brands begin to push back against the influx of the imported brands?
  3. How will China close the gap on Marketing talent, to be strong on strategy, analytics, brand positioning, brand planning and creative marketing execution?
  4. Will China be able to move some of their successful platforms such as WeChat or Alibaba into the western markets? Will we ever see a global battle between Alibaba and Amazon? 
  5. How long can China sustain such a growth mode before they need to make adjustments, and how will they handle the normal ups and downs of growth and recessions?

Here’s a Powerpoint presentation on how to get how to create a beloved brand, something for China to consider as they shift from product-driven economy to a brand-driven.

And, keep an eye out for the launch of our first book. We will be launching beloved brands in April of 2018.

beloved brands book

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Graham Robertson bio

The six habits of great Brand Leaders

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbaAAAAJDZlYWIyYjg4LTE0YTgtNDlkZi04M2M5LWE3Y2I4YThhNDRhMQHaving spent 20 years in the CPG world of marketing, I’ve seen almost a thousand Brand Leaders over the years. On the way up, I tried to emulate what I thought were the best traits and avoid what I saw as weaknesses. And at the senior level of marketing, I hired tons of Brand Leaders, promoted many and even had to fire a few along the way. I’ve been a Brand Coach the past few years, working closely with Brand Leaders. And I consistently see these six habits at any level, that separate those that are GREAT from those that are just GOOD.

Habit #1: GREAT Brand Leaders push for focused choices, using the word “or” and rarely using the word “and”.

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are. If you present an either-or situation to most EastLink Analytics Extract.002brand leaders, they struggle with the decision, so they say “let’s do a little of both”. But in reality, what separates out a great brand leader from the pack, is great brand leaders know that decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. At the core of business, Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product itself. It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment). Forget the mathematical equation, ROI just means you get more out of it than you put into it. Every brand is constrained by money, people, speed and ideas. It becomes all about focus, leverage and finding that gateway point where you realize more from what you do, it than what you put into it.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

  1. To be GREAT, you need to focus on a tight consumer target to make sure you can get them to do what you hope and love you for it. A new way to think is to find those consumers that are already highly motivated to buy what you have to sell and get them to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you. Look at how marketing testing is set up: we test among the mass market and see how many we can persuade to use your product. The reality is that leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out. It’s better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone. I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees. That’s not a target. How can you have a ROI if you’re spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE? The only thing missing from that target is tourists and prisoners. You have to matter to those who care the most.EastLink Analytics Extract.004
  2. To be GREAT you need to focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area. You really only have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to no one. Today they estimate that consumers receive 7,000 brand messages a day. Wow. How many of those 7,000 do you engage with and digest each day? Maybe 5. And yet, in your creative brief you think 3 or 4 messages is the way to go. You have to focus on one message. When you ask a room full of Brand Leaders, tell me one word that defines the Volvo brand: half the room yells out SAFETY. Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety positioning since the 1950s not just externally but internally the safety positioning guides every decision. That’s focus.
  3. You need to focus on very few strategies. The most simple strategies center around Penetration (getting new users) or frequency (getting current users to use more). Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more? That’s a choice you must make, yet I see so many Brand Plans with both. Even worse is when I see creative briefs with both. These are two different unrelated strategies. When you look for new users, you have to convince someone who already knows about your brand and get them to change their minds away from their current brand. When you try to get more usage, you have to convince someone who has already decided how to use your brand, to use it differently, changing their habits or rituals. Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies. Go look at your plan and see if you are making choices. Because if you’re not, then you’re not making decisions.

When you focus, four things happen for your brand: better Return on Investment (ROI); better Return on Effort (ROE); stronger reputation; more competitive and an aligned organization that helps create an experience that delivers your reputation. So next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong. All you are doing is depleting your resources by spreading them across both choices. And you’ll never see any movement on your brand so you’ll never find out if you were right or wrong. Make the choice.

Habit #2: GOOD Brand Leaders represent the Brand to the Consumer, but GREAT Brand Leaders represent the consumer to the Brand

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.

EastLink Analytics Extract.006

 

Able to walk in their shoes and speak in their voice? Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day. Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals. But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.Live and breathe insights about your consumers.

Habit #3: GOOD Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their facts, but GREAT Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their instincts.

EastLink Analytics Extract.001I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter–in fact I train Brand Leaders on everything from strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs. But that’s a starting point to which you grow from. If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired. So Good Brand Leaders do a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job. They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments. But GREAT Brand Leaders are able to take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts. They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement. It’s not that great marketers have better instincts, it’s that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and not shut them down because of what the facts might say.

Habit #4: GOOD Brand Leaders try to do it all themselves. GREAT Brand Leaders don’t do anything by themselves but they inspire others to do great work

I was one of those Brand Leaders that spent the first part of my career trying to do everything, and the second half of my career trying to do nothing. I wasn’t slacking off but I finally figured out that the secret was to inspire others. I fully admit that I was much more successful when I learned to do nothing, but do it really well. Instead of giving people answers to follow, give them the problems that requires their expertise in solving.

As Brand Leaders, we don’t really know much about anything. We know a little about this and that. But purposefully, we are generalists. And then if we surround ourselves with experts, we owe it to ourselves to ask for their help. Put another way: when you tell people what to do, there is one simple answer: YES. When you ask people what they would do, you open yourself to hundreds of solutions you might not even have imagined.

The next time you have a problem, instead of giving the best answer to the experts, try to come up with the best question and then listen.

EastLink Analytics Extract.003

 

Habit #5: The GREAT Brand Leaders create GREAT Brand Leaders on their team.

While you might think that having a great product, the right strategy and a winning TV ad will drive your brand, the long-term success of your brand is dependent is how good your people are. If you have great Brand Leaders, they will be on top of your business, they will make the necessary strategic course corrections, they will create better executions that connect with consumers and drive profitable growth for your brand. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to make sure you have a strong marketing team in place. GREAT Brand Leaders understand the very simple equation: better people means better work and that means better results.

Habit #6: GREAT Brand Leaders have a desire to leave a legacy

I’m always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say “well, they aren’t all good qualities”. The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you can manage it and the ego doesn’t get out of control. I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them.

When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level. Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years. When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader. What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on? What will be your legacy on your brand?

Always push for great and never settle for OK

No matter your level, have a read more through our presentation on Brand Management careers.

 

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.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

10 reasons why Brand Managers get fired. Advice for how to fix each one.

Brand Careers 2016.051There have been a lot of great Assistant Brand Managers, who end up being fired or pushed out the door 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 is how they speak in the hallways or answer questions in a planning meeting. We think Charisma is a great starting ground for a leader, so we hope they can learn to be analytical, strategic, creative and organized. We hope that charismatic leader can get stuff done, stay on track, hand in their budgets on time, know how to turn a brand around, be able to 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. We would evaluate whether the Brand Manager appears capable of closing their blind spots.

I don’t want to see anyone get fired, so use this list to find your blind spot and then close it before others discover it. Be honest with yourself. Seek out the opinions of peers or colleagues. I have provided advice for each potential reason, hopefully helping you to address each one pro-actively.  

Top 10 reasons why Brand Managers get fired:  

  1. Struggle to make decisions: When these Brand Managers were Assistant Brand Managers (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) loved them. But then, after we promote them into the Brand Manager seat and they freeze. Brand Careers 2016.029They 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. Advice: To overcome this problem, you have to work better on your decision-making process. You have to find methods for narrowing down the options to help you make decisions. When you are new to decisions, take the time to map out your thinking whether it is a  pros and cons or a decision tree. It will eventually get faster for you to train your mind to make decisions.
  2. Not analytical enough: The Brand Managers that can’t do the deep dive analytical thinking will fail. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics. It will eventually catches up with them when they make a poor decision and can’t explain why they went against the obvious data points. The real reason is that the Brand Manager never saw the data points. When a senior leader questions a Brand Manager, 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. Advice: 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. Analytics 2016.009
  3. Can’t get along: Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. The Brand Managers that struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s) are at risk of failure. 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 everyone 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”. Advice: 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. Brand 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. Advice: 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. Advice: 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 is 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 management realizes that these Brand Managers aren’t teaching their ABM anything. They became the Manager that none of the ABMs want to work for because they never learn anything. But as management keeps watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under these Brand Managers, we start to wonder “while you might be smart, but can you actually manage people?” Advice: 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 there boss when there is a  potential problem. They leave their manager in the dark and the information comes to their manager from someone else. They confuse partners because they don’t keep them aware of what’s going on. Advice: You have to become a better communicator. Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, you make sure that your boss knows 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–share the problem, discuss what you are going to do, and then go make it happen.  Brand Careers 2016.028
  8. Never follow their intuition: 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”. Advice: 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 your intuition and bring them out into the discussion.
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically: As Brand Managers move up, we expect them to be able to think conceptually, strategically and in an organized fashion. We also expect that to come through in their writing–whether that is the annual Brand Plan, monthly share report or just an email sent up to senior management. Advice: Be organized in your thinking and 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, 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 will be, and you can layer in your intuition, because you will know when it is ok to “go off plan” 
  10. They 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. Advice: 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 biggest brands or the toughest assignments.

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.  

Close your gaps to ensure you will be a successful Brand Manager

To read more about having a successful Marketing Career, click on the slide presentation below:

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. 

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

10 reasons why people fail early on in their Marketing careers

 

Every year, companies hire thousands of the best and brightest to become Assistant Brand Managers (ABMs). Brand Careers 2016.041It’s not easy to get a Marketing job, but you have to keep knocking on the door and believe it will happen for you. Because there are so many people who want in Marketing but only so few jobs, it’s really a buyer’s market at the junior levels. The process for screening can be intense with  5+ interviews, including senior people, sometimes a test or a presentation to a group. Yet, about 50% of these amazing newly minted Marketers won’t even make it to Brand Manager within the 2-3 years. Marketing has a tough up or out process, because there tons more wanting to get in. Most companies have a process to weed out those who won’t make it. In my time in the CPG world, here is what I saw as the reasons why some failed and others succeeded. 

Here are the top 10 reasons why people fail in Marketing:

  1. They can’t do the analytical story tell. They fail to turn monthly share reports into stories that can travel up the organization. Their deep dive analysis is either too complicated that no one can follow the story or too shallow that they only do the “surface cleaning” type analysis that never really finds the real insight, just what we already know.
  2. They struggle to deal with the ambiguity of marketing. The ambiguity boxes them in where they can’t think differently about a problem or it causes them personal stress. They come up with solutions to get out of ambiguity rather than reveling in the ambiguity to find the best solution. I once asked a candidate “how do you deal with ambiguity”. Her answer was “I try to organize it because no one likes ambiguity”. She asked me how I deal with ambiguity and I said “I revel in it. I love it. I struggle with it. I let the ambiguity eat away at me until I find that great answer, not just settling for an answer because it gets me out of the ambiguity faster.” If you can’t deal with ambiguity, you should not choose a Marketing career. Brand Careers 2016.049
  3. They are slow at moving projects through. They struggle to make it happen! Maybe they are indecisive, unproductive, disorganized or can’t work through others. Big Picture: they are frustratingly slow for others in the system. They become the bottle-neck. They keep missing the small milestones causing the team to miss the deadlines. In some cases, it’s not whether you are slow or fast, but whether you are slower than your peers?
  4. They selfishly think about themselves. This becomes the leadership de-railer. They manage their career around their ego, they overstep the boundaries of gossip, going above heads politically. They play the game, but they make it look too obvious. They think they are highly political, but others see them as not very politically astute. They are not a team player with peers or cross functional players. The system has a way of isolating these people. This raises a red flag for future leadership roles. If it is noticed at the junior level, it will become more evident at more senior roles. 
  5. They don’t work well through others. Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. The odd thing about Marketing is you must work through a group of subject matter experts (SME’s) who know what they are doing, and you’re relying on these same people to teach you how to be a good Marketer. Your supply manager will teach you about forecasting, packaging approvals and even design tricks. Your finance manager can teach you about accounting and the key indicators management looks for. Your promo manager or trade marketers will teach you about customers, sales people etc. If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn. The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will. If they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career. Be careful if you think it’s smart to “rat on these people” because they likely taught your boss how to be a great Marketer. 
  6. They miss answers by not being flexible. They fail to find the balance between what the head thinks, what your heart feels or even what the gut tells you. When a junior Marketer is questioned, a senior manager can 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. The style of a good senior manager’s questions is not always information gathering but rather designed to poke holes in the story to see that the deep rich thinking and even the appropriate struggling has gone on. The questions are designed to give the senior leader confidence, and if you fail to answer, then they now have doubt.
  7. They fall for tactical programs that are off strategy. This becomes a tell-tale sign that they won’t make it to more senior levels, where you will own the strategy. If you deviate from the strategy to choose the coolest tactic that has nothing to do with the goals or strategy, then you will be seen as tactical and not strategic. Always remember that Marketing is a balance of strategy and execution–you must think with strategy and execute with instincts.
  8. They hold back from making contributions to the team strategy. It is ok to be a quiet Marketer, but not at the decision-making table. You must must have a voice or you will be labelled as a do-er. Those who fail don’t proactively provide a point of view on strategy. They don’t show the ownership needed to become a brand manager and people start to wonder if it’s in there or not.
  9. They settle for “good” rather than pushing for “great”. While a lot of entry level Marketing jobs are highly executional, if there becomes a noticeable pattern where the Marketer just takes the “ok” ideas, it begins to look as though they don’t care enough. If they aren’t passionate enough to push back, it raises questions as to whether they will they be able to do so later in their career.
  10. They are poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners. They fail to adequately warn when there’s potential problems. They leave their manager in the dark. Here a tip on managing your boss in an organization: If you think you know the answer, then speak in a telling voice and let your boss challenge you. If you don’t know the answer, then speak in an asking voice and let your boss help you.

On day 1, everyone has all ten of these de-railers, some that you can easily over-come but others will take time and effort to really fix. What really separates “great” from the “ok” is what you’re willing to do with these. 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 out. Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter. My hope is that you are able to maximize your full potential in Marketing.

 

Avoid these 10 de-railers and I wish you the best of luck to you in Marketing career

Here’s a presentation on How to have a Successful Marketing Careers: 

 

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 2016.111
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What type of Marketer are you? Build your career around your natural strength

It is that time of year when your mind starts to think about your career and where will you go next. You just had your performance review, salary increase or bonus check and now you’re thinking, when will I hit the big time? Here are 5 questions that you should be asking yourself at every point (at least once a year) of your career:

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Identifying your natural strength

I have so many friends and colleagues who want to move up in their organization. I’m always up for a good career debate and probing on strengths and weakness, yet there is one question, no brand leader likes to answer: 

If I forced to pick one natural strength out of these four choices, which would you pick: Running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or leading people?

It should be a pretty easy question to answer, but we have trained ourselves to want to present ourselves as “generalists” and avoid the specialist label. We believe the only way to get promoted, get more money and more power is to become pretty good at all four. But that’s really a lie. I’ve met thousands of great Marketers over the years, but I’m yet to meet any that are great at all four. Everyone normally has natural strength and a natural gap. No matter how hard they work at becoming a generalist, that gap keeps showing gup. Early in my career, I was all about Marketing Execution and had some weakness at each level in leading and managing people leadership. In the back half of my career, I became more strategic, but still had that same nagging gap in leading people. 

Brand Careers 2016.011

Let’s make this a game using the board above. We will give you 4 chips, forcing you to put one at the high, two at the middle to support the strength, and let go of one at the low. You have to have a natural lead strength and be honest about your gap.

  1. Do you like running the business and managing products
  2. Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  3. Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  4. Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

There is this belief that generalists rise higher and make more money. That is if you stay on the client side of Marketing. You can make just as much money and feel just as powerful by moving outside the organization and finding a place that suits your true calling. Try asking yourself this question, because I’ve asked it hundreds of time and no one ever answers it the first time. Nearly every time I hear “I’m pretty good at all four”. And then I ask 5 more times till we get the real answer.

 

Core Strength: Running the business and managing brands

  • You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on business opportunity.
  • You like product innovation side more than advertising. You are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution.
  • My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. Consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business.

Career Options for those who are strongest at running brands

  • Product Management
  • Shift across industries
  • Lead Private Equity Turnarounds
  • Lead Acquisitions
  • Entrepreneurship

Core Strength: Marketing Execution

  • You are the type of Brand Leader who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. You are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. You respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader.
  • Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an executional role. You may be frustrated in roles that would limit your creativity. Moving into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject matter expert type role in an internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.
  • Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on a subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

Career Options for those who are strongest at Marketing Execution

  • Executional Agency
  • Subject Matter Specialist
  • Ideation Brainstorm Facilitation
  • Business Development

Core Strength: Strategic Thinking

  • You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would suggest that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.
  • If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you.
  • Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

Career Options who are strongest at Strategic Thinking

  • Global Marketing
  • Consulting/Coaching
  • Thought Leadership
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Business Development
  • Writing/Speaker Series

Core Strength: Leader of People

  • You find natural strength in leading other. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. You are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others.
  • You are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.
    If you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross functional shift into sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future.
  • After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Career Options who are strongest at leading people

  • General Management
  • Stay within Brand Management
  • Cross functional roles
  • Partner in Entrepreneurship
  • Personal Executive Coach

Follow your natural strength to realize your full potential

Brand Careers 2016.004At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Careers in Brand Management to inspire teams to find their full potential as a Brand Leader. This workshop looks at building your career around your natural strength as a Marketer, we provide a full assessment that looks at skills, behaviors and experiences, we provide tips for how to succeed at every level in Marketing. Where is your career now And then we talk about ways to help build your personal brand, around an idea and a plan. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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 @belovedbrandsBBI Creds Training 2016 red.019