The marketing skills you need to be a successful Brand Leader

marketing skillsAt Beloved Brands, we use a 360-degree approach to marketing, which can highlight the skills you need to be successful in running your brand. You must be know how to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review. Brand Leaders have to be able to think strategically to sort through issues and make decisions on direction. You must know how to define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea. Marketers need to know how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. And, marketers should learn the skills needed to inspire smart and creative marketing execution that builds a brand that consumers will love.

Let’s use this 360-degree model to highlight the skills you need for each of the five areas. Below, I have broken down each of the five areas into 4 unique marketing skills. This will leave you with 20 overall marketing skills you need to be great.

1. Analyze performance

Too few marketers take the time to dig into the data analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it to discover meaningful insights. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. You need to know how to create a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand. And, you need to be able to to turn your analysis into a written report or a presentation for management. You need to know brand finance, to know every financial formula you need to run your brand.

  • Understand all the potential sources of brand data you can use to evaluate the situation. These include market share, consumption, shipment data, brand funnel, advertising tracking, market research studies, and financial statements.
  • Know how to dig deep into data, using draws comparisons and development indexes to find the data breaks. Draw out insights and conclusions that you can turn into a story to help your team debate and make decisions.
  • Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand that looks at the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand results to give a holistic view of the brand’s performance.
  • Once you have all your findings, you need to be able to write analytical stories that include performance reports and key issues presentations. Then, you need to be able to outline the strategic implications of the brand’s current situation.

2. Think Strategically

Too many marketers are so busy that they do not even have time to think. The best brand leaders do the necessary critical strategic thinking to find ways to win in the market. Strategic thinking is an essential foundation, forcing marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions.

There are four ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand’s core strength finder, consumer strategy, competitive strategy and situational strategy. As you frame your strategies, you should learn to think and then talk in a method that lays out the vision for your brand, focuses your limited resources on breakthrough points, takes advantage of opportunities you see in the market, finds early wins to leverage to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.

  • Ask the right interrupting and challenging questions to help slow your brain down to a reflection speed. Make sure you understand the issues surrounding the brand before you reach for solutions
  • Take a 360-degree strategic view by looking at your brand’s core strength, how consumers engage, the stance your competitors are taking, and the current business situation you face
  • Able to lead a well-thought strategic debate across the organization. Ensure sales, operations, product development and senior leaders have their say.
  • Make smart strategic decisions that map out a vision, focuses the brands limited resources, takes advantage of an opportunity, gains an early win that can leveraged to drive added power or incremental profits.

3. Define the brand

Too many marketers are trying to be everything to anyone. This strategy is the usual recipe for becoming nothing to everyone. The best brand leaders target a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating and ownable. 

You have to know the fundamental ways for how to write a winning brand positioning statement with four essential elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTB). Learn how to build a brand idea that leads every touchpoint of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience. And finally, you have to know the tools for how to write a winning brand concept and brand story. 

  • Defines your ideal consumer target. Build out consumer profiles framed with need states, consumer insights, enemies and the desired response.
  • Take a consumer-centric mindset to turn brand features (what you do) into functional benefits (what consumers get) and emotional benefits (how it makes them feel)
  • Find a winning brand positioning statement that is own-able for your brand and motivates consumers to build a tighter bond with the brand.
  • Develop a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and ownable. You must be able to stretch that brand idea across every consumer touchpoint, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience.

4. Create Brand Plans

Too many marketers focus on a short-term to-do list, not a long-term plan. The best brand leaders write brand plans everyone in the organization can follow with ease, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies and operational teams. You have to know how to write each element of the brand plan, including the brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. You must be able to build execution plans including a brand communications plan, innovation plan, and in-store plan.

  • Lead the development of all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics.
  • Know how to turn strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements that can stand as the foundation of the brand plan
  • Able to use the brand plan presentation to convince senior management to follow the issues and strategies you lay out, and garner the necessary support across the organization.
  • Develops smart execution plans that deliver against the brand strategies, and steer each execution team to stay on strategy.

5. Inspire creative execution

Too many marketers are becoming task-masters and stepping over the line into execution. The best brand leaders need to inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. You need tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative advertising from your agency.  For judging execution, I use the ABC’s tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Brand link (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S). I also have a checklist for you to use when judging executions. One crucial skill is being able to give direction to your agency to inspire and challenge great execution.

  • Write strategic, focused and thorough creative briefs that will inspire great work from those experts who will execute on your brand’s behalf.
  • Capable of leading all marketing projects whether they are on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience.
  • Able to inspire greatness from experts at agencies or throughout the organization to offer their greatest work on your brand.
  • Makes smart marketing execution decisions that will help tighten the bond with consumers, put the brand into a more powerful position and drive long-term success that matches up tot he strategy.

I believe you need a playbook that covers each of these skills. Here’s the skills you need to be able to bring out when needed in your role.

Marketing Skills

Taking this a step further, use our assessment tool to highlight your own marketing skill gaps. Once you identify these skill gaps, use our book or our brand training programs to close those gaps.

marketing skils

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

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.

 

 

 

A tool for CMOs to use in evaluating their marketing team

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]The best brand leaders are strong on analytics, strategic thinking, positioning,  brand plans and marketing execution. As a CMO, where do you think your team has a gap? If you want better performance results, then invest in making your team stronger.

 

How good is your marketing team?

For each of 5 major elements, I have broken down each into 4 key skills a marketer must have. And, that provides a total of 20 overall skills. I have provided definitions for you to think about when assessing your own team.

How good is your marketing team?

For the CMO, I would encourage you to do an evaluation using our scorecard. See how your team stacks up against your own expectations. Use this tool to identify any of the potential gaps on your team.

For each element, score each individual from 1 to 5.

  • 5 means they are exceptional in that element.
  • 4 means they are very strong.
  • 3 says they are solid performers.
  • 2 would mean they fall below your own expectations.
  • 1 means they are unable to perform that skill.

Once you have completed the evaluation, you can provide an overall score to identify how well you are doing. Unless they score in the 80 or 90% zone they likely need help. Not only that, their performance is likely holding back the performance of your brand.

How good is your marketing team?

The role of the CMO is to make your team smarter

Focus on your people, and the results will come. Smart people produce great work and in turn outstanding results. You should have a regular review of the talent with your directors. Build a system to provide feedback to everyone on the team, preferably on a quarterly basis. 

CMOs should invest in marketing training and development. Marketing Training is not just on the job. Balance with workshop training to give your people the skills. Marketing fundamentals matter. Right now, marketers need more marketing skills training. Your people need to know how to strategic thinking, define their brand’s positioning statement, write a Brand Plan, write a Creative Brief and judge advertising. People are NOT getting the same development they did in prior generations. Investing in marketing training, not only makes them better, but it also motivates them to know that you are investing in them.  

1. Brand analytics 

Can your people turn data into analytical storytelling?

  • You will learn how to build a deep-dive business review on the brand, looking at the market, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand.
  • To start, you will learn the smart analytical principles that will challenge your thinking and help you gain more support by telling analytical stories through data.
  • We teach you the steps to complete a deep-dive Business Review that will help assess the health and wealth of the business, looking at the category, consumer, competitors, channels, and brand. We show key formulas you need to know for financial analysis.
  • Marketers will learn how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format. We provide a full example of a business review, with a framework for every type of analysis, to use on your own brand.
  • You will learn how to turn your analytical thinking into making projections by extrapolating data into the future.

2. Strategic Thinking

Do your people focus on the right elements of your business?

Strategic Thinking is an essential foundation for Marketers, to inspire them to ask big questions that challenge and focus their decisions.

  • You will learn how to think strategically, by asking the right questions before reaching for solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • To start, we take you through the 8 elements of good strategy: vision, opportunity, focus, speed, early win, leverage, and gateway. We introduce a forced choice to help Marketers make focused decisions.
  • We emphasize the value of asking good questions, using five interruptive questions to help frame your brand’s strategy. And, this helps to look at the brand’s core strength, consumer involvement, competitive position, the brand’s connectivity with the consumers and the internal situation the brand faces.
  • As a result, you will learn how to build strategic statements to set up a smart strategic brand plan.

3. Brand Positioning

Can your people define your brand?

  • Our program shows how to write a classic Brand Positioning statement with four key elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTB).
  • We introduce our Consumer Benefit ladder tool, that starts with the consumer target, with insights and enemies. We layer in the brand features. Then, we force you to get in the consumer’s shoes and ask “what do I get” to find the functional benefits and ask “how does this make me feel” to find the emotional benefits.
  • You will have access to the unique tool that provides the top 50 potential functional and top 40 emotional benefits. This help Marketers stretch their minds yet narrow in on those that are most motivating and own-able for the brand.
  • Then, we show how to build an Organizing Big Idea that leads every aspect of your brand, including promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience.

4. Brand Plans

Can your people write a Brand Plan for everyone to follow?

  • We demonstrate how to write each component of the Brand Plan, looking at vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies and tactics. And, we provide definitions and examples to inspire Marketers on how to write each component.
  • You will have a full example of a Brand Plan, with a framework to use. Marketers can try out the concepts on their own brand with hands-on coaching and feedback to challenge them.
  • We show how to build Marketing Execution plans as part of the overall brand plan, looking at a Brand Communications Plan, Innovation Plan, In-store plan and Experiential plan. This gives the strategic direction to everyone in the organization.
  • We also offer unique 1-page formats for an Annual Plan and Long-Range Strategic RoadMap.

Marketing Execution

Can  your people judge, decide and give direction to agencies?

You will learn how to judge and decide on execution options that break through to consumers and motivates them to take action.

  • We provide Marketers with tools and techniques for judging communication concepts from your agencies, as well as processes for making decisions and providing effective feedback. We talk about the crucial role of the brand leader in getting amazing marketing execution for your brand.
  • To start, we teach how to make marketing decisions with the ABC’S, so you can choose great ads and reject bad ads looking at tools such as Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S)
  • You learn how to provide advertising direction that inspires and challenges the agency to deliver great execution. You will learn about how to be a better client so you can motivate and inspire your agency.

Time to step up and invest in marketing training

The smartest plan for your people is to identify the gap areas. And, then look through each of the modules to see which one would be best suited to help them. We can certainly customize any program to meet your needs. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to ensure you have a strong marketing team in place. At Beloved Brands, we can develop a tailored program that will work to make your team better. Regardless of industry, the fundamentals of Brand Leadership matter.

For the CMO, in terms of connecting with your people, training is one of the greatest motivators for teams and individuals. Not only do people enjoy the sessions, they see the investment you are making as one more reason to want to stay. They are focused on their careers and want to get better. If you can be part of that, you will retain your best people.

Our brand training program can be executed to meet your needs whether that’s in:

  • Workshop format or small team training.
  • Coaching, either in a team setting or one-on-one.
  • Mentoring to high-potential managers or executives.
  • Skype video or webinar style for remote locations.
  • Lunch-and-learn style

Smarter people will lead to better work and stronger brand performance results

 

My new book, Beloved Brands, coming this spring.

How this Beloved Brands playbook can work for you. The purpose of this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. 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 be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

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

How can a junk business be the best consumer experience of any brand I’ve ever seen

1-800-GotJunkHaving been in our current house for 16 years, as our kids have gone from 4 up to 20 years old, we have naturally accumulated a lot of junk.

Sure they are memories, but at various stages, it has become overwhelming and we needed to create more space, to accumulate even more junk.  And repeat.

We have called 1-800-Got-Junk three times now. And as a brand guy, I’ve been mesmerized by how great of an experience it has been.

As soon as you open the door, you think “This is the type of guy, I wish my daughter would bring home, and say Dad, this is who I’m going to marry”.

Articulate, polite, college kids, smart. Almost just perfect.

They put on their little booties, and walk around the house with you. Every time you point at something, they nod, smile and write it down. Even as you apologize for how much we have, or how rough things look,  they always give the perfect response. Not only can they hold a conversation during the 2-3 hours of the visit, it seems they almost start conversations. I don’t know how they do it, but the people they hire keep smiling and talking as they cart off….junk.

And after each of the three visits, I say to my wife “How can a junk company create such a perfect culture?”

It’s all about the people.

That’s one of the mantras of 1-800-Got-Junk, but they seem to have gone beyond the cliche.

When CEO Brian Scudamore was asked how do you create such happy people, his response was simple: “We hire happy people and keep them happy”.

It doesn’t hurt that they give 5 weeks of paid vacation. Well, not only does that keep the people happy, but it allows you to recruit the best of the best.

Brian Scudamore started his company in 1989 at 18 years old, when he was in a McDonald’s drive thru, and saw a junk removal company. The company grew through the 1990s into a million dollar company, expanded through a franchise model that moved it to a $200 million in annual sales. They pick up junk. 

At various points along his personal journey, Scudamore has used a “painted picture” vision to take a step back. In 1997, he sat on a dock and tried to visualize what the company could look like in the future. His perspective changed when instead of worrying about what wasn’t possible, he began to paint a picture in his head of what was. He closed his eyes and envisioned how he wanted 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to look, feel, and act by the end of 2002.

“My painted picture contained not only tangible business achievements like the number of franchises we would have and the quality of our trucks, but also more sensory details, like how our employees would describe our company to their family members and what our customers would say they loved best about working with us.”  

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

Scudamore amore still uses this technique, trying to visualize what life and your business will look like in 5 years. In 2008, as the economy started to tank, he took another huge personal reflection, writing down what he loved and what he was good at. The two lists almost matched up perfectly, as his passion and skills matched up. Then, he wrote down what he didn’t love and what he wasn’t very good at. He realized he needed to build a team around him, with individuals who could cover off his weaknesses. The overall vision is to make ordinary businesses extraordinary.  

Here’s a few of the questions that Scudamore asks of himself:

  • What is your top-line revenue?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • How would your people describe the culture of your company when talking to a family member?
  • What is the press saying about your business? Be as specific as possible: what would your local paper say about your company? What would your favorite magazine say?
  • What do your people love about your vision and where the company is headed?
  • How would a customer describe their experience with you? What would they say to their best friend?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? What accomplishment are your people most proud of?
  • What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
  • Describe your office environment in detail.
  • Describe your service area. Who are your customers and how do they feel?

To really make your culture part of the brand, Scudamore has made this visualization part of the culture, with an annual release of a new painted picture, plus quarterly meetings that articulate the painted picture. He’s even cascaded this technique down to his franchise owners, where each franchise articulates what they see for themselves. This allows the culture to form around the vision.

“Do What You Love; Let Others Handle the Rest”

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Brand Plans, helping to lay out the vision, goals, issues, strategies and tactics.  

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

If you want to do great work in Marketing, go work on a boring product

I started my career in kids cereals and every time I tried to do something interesting, I was told “No, we can’t do that” or my VP looked at me sideways like I was crazy.

I kept thinking, my god, “This category is supposed to be the most fun category to work in”. 

So, why can’t we have fun?

The odd answer:  We are already fun.

So then I went to work in healthcare marketing, on Benadryl, Listerine, Reactine, Nicoderm and Band Aid. 

I spent a decade thriving in creativity.

I had fun. Lots and lots of fun. And we made great work.

We needed to be interesting just to stand out. Management welcomed creativity, almost with a relief.  

One of my colleagues summed up what we do: “We make a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Boring products are where you can have the most fun.

This is where the best Marketers thrive. Making boring products interesting.

2017 has been a boring year for Marketing. Lots of little gadgets, but man, I’ve been craving big creative ideas all year. And, I’ve been constantly disappointed. 

Today, I want to celebrate Windex, a severely boring product, that created a 2 and 1/2 minute video that will certainly make you cry. 

I love it. 

Well done Windex team.

You have taken a boring-ass product and made it really interesting. 

 

 

My own story on Nicoderm

When I worked on Nicoderm, someone on my brand team told me “Quitting smoking is very serious, so we should have a serious ad”.

I wasn’t buying it.

My agency really struggled. Two months went by. 

They presented me some of the work, and I thought “my god, it’s dull”.

The Agency secretly told me they hated the work and wanted me to take off the handcuffs that the work must be serious. 

They gave me permission to trash it, so that we opened up fun as a possibility. I did.

The next round, we had too many great ideas, and we were in a position where we were able to pick one among them.

This is the ad that won J&J’s global ad of the year in 2007. 

You don’t need to be serious, to communicate something serious.

Marketing should be fun.

If we don’t love the work, how do we expect the consumer to love our brand?

 

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Marketing Execution. We go through how to write better briefs, how to make better decisions and how to give inspiring feedback to realize the greatness of your creative people. Here’s what the workshop looks like:

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

 

 

The skills, behaviors and experiences needed to be a great Marketer

As you manage your own Marketing Career, you assess your skills, behaviors, and experiences, to figure out where the gaps that you should address. A marketer must build their capability around key skill areas strategy, analytics, positioning, planning, and execution. The best marketers must exhibit leadership behaviors that take ownership and inspire others. And, they run their business as an owner. They can exhibit broad leadership across the entire organization. Finally, many of the more complicated areas of marketing take experience. Over the years, I found myself saying “you almost screw up the first five times, you…” And, I started to realize, that message fit with advertising, managing others, brand planning, launching new brands, and leading beyond your own team. 

Nail the obvious

Let me start with the expected behaviors for success at any level of Marketing. Trust me, if you do not hit these, you will likely annoy someone enough to get rid of you. These are non-negotiable and if you miss continuously, they could become potentially career-limiting moves.  

What is non-negotiable:

  • Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that if you begin to miss deadlines, things will just stockpile on each other. Do not try to constantly negotiate extensions. There are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  • 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 major competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Be open with 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.
  • Listen and 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 important that you listen and then give direction or push them towards the end path.
  • 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 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 be constantly striving to get better.

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

The crucial marketing skills

At Beloved Brands, we use a 360-degree view, where you need to be able to analyze, think, define, plan and then execute. And then repeat.

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

1. Analyze performance

  • Digs deep into data and draws comparisons to build out a story toward the business conclusion
  • Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand
  • Understands all sources of brand data—share, brand funnel, consumption, financials
  • Writes analytical performance reports that outline the strategic implications

2. Think Strategically

  • Thinks strategically, by asking the right interruptive questions before reaching for solutions
  • 360-degree strategic thinking: core strength, consumers, competitors, situation, engagement
  • Able to lead a well-thought strategic discussion across the organization
  • Makes smart strategic decisions based on vision, focus, opportunity, early win, and leverage

3. Define the brand

  • Defines ideal consumer target, framed with need states, insights and enemies
  • Consumer-centric approach to turn brand features into functional and emotional benefits
  • Finds winning brand positioning space that is own-able and motivates consumers
  • Develops a big idea for the brand that can lead every consumer touchpoint

4. Create Brand Plans

  • Leads all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics.
  • Turns strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements for the brand plan
  • Strong in presenting brand plans to senior management and across the organization
  • Develops smart execution plans that deliver against the brand strategies

5. Inspire creative execution

  • Writes strategic, focused and thorough creative briefs to inspire great work from experts
  • Can lead all marketing projects on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience
  • Able to inspire greatness from teams of experts at agencies or throughout the organization
  • Makes smart marketing execution decisions that tighten the bond with consumers

Taking this a step further, you can use the assessment tool to identify gaps in your team.

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

The leader behaviors

1. Accountable for results

  • Holds everyone accountable to the goals of their tasks
  • Makes it happen, get things done, don’t let details/timeline slip
  • Stays on strategy, eliminates ideas that are not focused against vision/strategy.
  • Works the system behind the brand, from sales to finance to operations to HR

2. People leadership

  • Manages core team: focus, communication, solutions, results, let others shine.
  • Interested in their people’s development and career development
  • Coaches, teaches, guides the team for higher performance.
  • Provides honest assessments to their people and upwards.

3. Broad influence

  • Active listener, seeks opinions, makes decisions, owns strategy.
  • Controls brand strategy, yet flexible to new ideas on the execution.
  • Carries influence throughout organization.
  • Thinks of others beyond themselves, empathy to pressures/challenges others are facing.

4. Authentic style

  • Aware of their impact on others within and beyond their team.
  • Exhibits leadership under pressure: results, ambiguity, change, deadlines.
  • Consistency in leadership in how they show up.
  • Flexibility in leadership: admits mistakes, challenges self, adjusts to new ways.

5. Runs business like an owner

  • Acts like a ‘Brand CEO’ accountable to the long-range health and profits of the business.
  • Makes smart decisions that adds to the health of brand, not their career or personal wealth.
  • Makes the right choices, good for the company, consumers, customers, market, society.
  • Lives and breathes the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand.

The necessary experiences 

Many of the hardest experiences a Marketer must go through almost takes 3-5 opportunities for the Brand Leader to really nail.  I remember how challenging it was for me the first time I launched a new advertising campaign.  Can I confess now that it was a complete disaster? I had no clue what the major steps were and no one on my side who could teach me. I was lucky that my client service person helped me through every step. Over the years, I would get better and better, learning something new each time. I then struggled the first time I managed a person for the first time. Then I struggled to launch a new brand. It is starting to sound like I was a disaster at everything. Well, I might be over-exaggerating, but I can tell you that i got better each time. And you will as well. 

The experiences that you need to learn at each stage of the way include:

  1. Write Brand Plans: Writing a brand plan takes experience. I recommend you should learn some of the same skills through writing brand recommendations, writing a brand review or writing a section of the brand plan. Leading a Brand Turnaround: When the results are not meetings the expectations of the business, the pressure goes up exponentially and the scrutiny intensifies. If there is a hint of concern, senior leaders will roll up their sleeves and get involved.
  2. Launching new advertising: Launching a big new campaign from scratch involves a lot of crucial steps to manage while dealing with the ambiguity of what makes a great creative and smart media choices. On top of that, it is essential to keep the agency motivated while keeping your boss aligned.
  3. Managing a team: Managing can be such a challenge that when I worked at J&J, when we promoted someone to Brand Manager, we usually tried to avoid giving them a direct report. Most people mess up their first direct report. A similar pattern happens: excited to have someone do the little stuff they hate doing, then the person struggles so the manager does it themselves and gets mad at the person who can’t do it, then begins to think their direct report is incompetent. On the other hand, the direct report thinks their boss refuses to train them, gives them little feedback and is a control freak. Firing a Marketer: This sounds like a strange experience to put on the list, but it is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make. I wish you never would have to fire one, but the reality is that you will. To make sure you are making the right decision, you really need to understand the role and be able to measure that person against the criteria for what they can and cannot do.
  4. Launching a new brand: While managing a brand is difficult enough, creating a brand from scratch involves every element of marketing from the concept to the product to naming to production, selling, shipping, advertising, displaying, promoting, and analyzing the performance. You better be great at Marketing before taking on a launch from scratch.
  5. Leading across the organization: As you move into more senior leadership roles, a great way to extend your breadth across the organization is to take on more cross-functional roles, whether special projects or moving into a cross-functional role. This allows you to begin seeing every corner of the organization through the eyes of other team players in sales, HR, operations, and finance. 

Tracking tool

Here is a tool to track your experiences from an entry-level up to a senior role. I tell Marketers that you should try to have a good balance as you move up, so you can avoid having any experience gaps when you hit a senior level. 

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

 

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.

 

 

 

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

You can build your personal brand around your 7-second personal brand pitch and use that to organize yourself to nail your next job interview.

A typical marketing job interview starts with you waiting in the lobby longer than you wanted. Then the big introduction, the handshake, that awkward small-talk on the way to the tiny little room. Then you sit down, and out comes that dreaded question, “So, tell me about yourself”.

Oh god well all hate that question. “Ummmm, let me see, I like basketball, walks in the park and I think I’m rather funny, or at least my wife does”.

Wow, bad start. Then you get about 8-10 questions that ask “tell me a time when…”. And finally, they end the interview with, “Anything else to add?” Then there is that awkward walk back to the reception desk, where you talk about your plans for the weekend.

Then you drive home, and realize that you forgot to mention your 3 biggest career accomplishments.

The problem is you didn’t know how to answer “so, tell me about yourself”. Well I will show you a really simple way to answer. 

Marketing 101 would suggest that you have to map out your strengths to what they are looking for. Your winning zone is to find that clear difference that matters to employers. Avoid the losing zone where your peers are better than you and the dumb zone where no one cares. Where it is a tie, the risky zone, you can win that through your experience or bringing your values into the mix. But you need to fin your winning zone.

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

So tell me about yourself: Deliver your 7-second pitch

“As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t, and I create a motivated brand team that delivers great work to drive results”. Think of this like your 7 second personal brand pitch, where you give a summation of your personal brand’s big idea. Here is a simple tool I have created to help you answer:

  • What is the shortest way that you define yourself.
  • What is the primary benefit you will provide your next employer?
  • And, what is the secondary benefit you will provide.
  • Then wrap it up with an expected result.

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

Look at your resume and then start off by brainstorm as many options for each of the 4 areas as you can. This is a great way to assess yourself based on what you have done over the last few years. Make sure your definitions are more forward looking with an aspiration for what you want to be, not what you have been.

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

Once you get that done, you can then begin to piece it all together and see what your own 7-second pitch might start to look like. Keep tightening that pitch until it flows. In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I became the turnaround guy, so “I could find growth where others couldn’t” became my little hook. What is yours?

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

Expand your 7 second pitch up to a 30-minute pitch

Once you feel comfortable with your 7 second pitch, take each of those 4 statement areas and try to come up with 2-3 examples and stories from your past that can prove and demonstrate. These examples help define your 30-minute pitch:

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!
Now you have 10 stories you can use to bring into your interview to answer any of the “so tell me a time when…” questions. If these are your best 10, then you should refer to these to help demonstrate your big idea. This is also a great page that you can be looking at when you are sitting in the reception area, just prior to your interview.

So here’s how the interview should go:

  • “So tell me about yourself”: Deliver your 7-second pitch.
  • The 8-10 interview questions: Deliver any of the 10 examples from your 30-minute pitch.
  • “Anything to add?”: Repeat your 7 second pitch as your closing line.

Nail your next next job interview with your 7-second & 30-minute personal brand pitch!

This way, you are now controlling up front how you want to define yourself. All 8-10 examples will help add to that definition. And as you get to the end, you wan to use a 7-second close to re-affirm your big idea.

Later on, as the various interviewers re-group to discuss each person, you hope your big idea sticks in their head. “I really like Bob, because he could turn this brand around. He has done it before. He gets results”.

You can use this 7-second pitch that top of your resume, your descriptor for your LinkedIn profile, your handshake introduction at networking meetings, or within the body of any emails that you send looking for jobs. The more you use it, the more you begin to make this your reputation.

One last tip. If you are in Marketing and can’t think of a safe “what’s your weakness”, I can tell you mine. “I’m not very good at negotiations.” The reason it is safe, is that most marketing jobs don’t really require any negotiations. If you’re reading this and you’re not a Marketer…then I guess your safe answer might be: “I’m not really good at marketing”.

Good luck to you. I hope you get what you are looking for.

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

How good is your marketing team? Find their score.

While there are a lot of marketing specialists these days, the best brand leaders should be a generalist, who are strong on analytics, strategic thinking, defining the brand, leading the brand plan and inspiring smart execution. I see it as a continuous cycle, where you analyze, think, define, plan and execute, each time making adjustments based on the marketplace. These are the 5 major elements you need to run a brand.

How good is your marketing team?

 

How good is your marketing team?

Using those 5 major elements, I have broken down each into 4 key skills a marketer must have, for a total of 20 skills. I have provided definitions for you to think about when assessing your own team.

How good is your marketing team?

 

I would encourage you to do a evaluation using our scorecard to see how your team stacks up against your own expectations. This may help you to identify any of the potential gaps on your team, that are lingering in the back of your mind. For each element, try to score your team from 1 to 5, where a score of 5 means they are exceptional at that element, then a 4 means they are very strong, a score of 3 says they are solid performers, a 2 would mean they fall below your own expectations and a 1 means they are unable to perform that skill. Once you have completed the evaluation, you can provide an overall score to identify how well you are doing–unless they score in the 80 or 90% zone they likely need help. Not only that, their performance is likely holding back the performance of your brand.

How good is your marketing team?

How to make your team smarter

Smarter thinking starts with the analytics and strategy choices, that will lead into a smarter definition of your brand and the brand plan  that everyone will follow. Smarter people on your team will lead to better marketing execution that will have a direct impact on your brand’s performance.

How to do brand analytics 

Brand Leaders must be able to turn data into analytical stories that leads to better strategy choices. We show how to build a deep-dive business review on the brand, looking at the category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.

  • We start with the smart analytical principles that will challenge your thinking and help you gain more support by telling analytical stories through data.
  • We teach you the steps to complete a deep-dive Business Review that will help assess the health and wealth of the brand, looking at the category, consumer, competitors, channels and brand.
  • We show key formulas you need to know for financial analysis.
  • We teach how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format. We provide a full mock business review, with a framework and examples of every type of analysis, for you to use on your own brand.
  • We show you how to turn your analytical thinking into making projections by extrapolating data into the future.

 

How to think strategically

Brand Leaders must be able to slow down their brains to ask questions before they go looking for solutions. Strategic Thinking is an essential foundation to ask big questions that challenge and focus their decisions.

  • We teach Brand Leaders how to think strategically, to ask the right questions before reaching for solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • We take Brand Leaders through the 8 elements of good strategy: vision, opportunity, focus, speed, early win, leverage and gateway. We introduce a forced choice to help Marketers make focused decisions.
  • We teach the value of asking good questions, using five interruptive questions to help frame your brand’s strategy. This helps to look at the brand’s core strength, consumer involvement, competitive position, the brand’s connectivity with the consumers and the internal situation the brand faces.
  • We show how to build strategic statements to set up a smart strategic brand plan.

 

How to define your brand

Brand Leaders must be able to find a winning brand positioning statement that sets up the brand’s external communication and all the work internally with employees who deliver that promise.

  • We show how to write a classic Brand Positioning statement with four key elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTBs).
  • We introduce the Consumer Benefit ladder, that starts with the consumer target, with insights and enemies. We layer in the brand features. Then, get in the consumers shoes and ask “what do i get” to find the functional benefits and ask “how does this make me feel” to find the emotional benefits.
  • We introduce a unique tool that provide the top 50 potential functional and top 40 emotional benefits to help Marketers stretch their minds yet narrow in on those that are most motivating and own-able for the brand.
  • We then show how to build an Organizing Big Idea that leads every aspect of your brand, including promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience.

 

How to write a Brand Plan everyone can follow

A good Brand Plan helps make decisions to deploy the resources and provides a road map for everyone who works on the brand

  • We demonstrate how to write each component of the Brand Plan, looking at brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies and tactics. We provide definitions and examples to inspire Marketers on how to write each component. We provide a full mock brand plan, with a framework for you to use on your own brand.
  • We offer a workshop that allows Marketers to try out the concept on their own brand with hands on coaching with feedback to challenge them. At each step, we provide the ideal format presentation to management. We offer unique formats for a Plan on a Page and long-range Strategic Road Maps.
  • We show how to build Marketing Execution plans as part of the overall brand plan, looking at a Brand Communications Plan, Innovation Plan, In-store plan and Experiential plan. This gives the strategic direction to everyone in the organization.

 

How to inspire Marketing Execution

We show Brand Leaders how to judge and decide on execution options that break through to consumers and motivates them to take action.

  • The hands-on Creative Brief workshop explores best in class methods for writing the brief’s objective, target market, consumer insights, main message stimulus and the desired consumer response. Brand Leaders walk away from the session with a ready-to-execute Creative Brief.
  • We provide Brand Leaders with tools and techniques for judging communication concepts from your agencies, as well as processes for making decisions and providing effective feedback. We talk about the crucial role of the brand leader in getting amazing marketing execution for your brand.
  • We teach how to make marketing decisions with the ABC’S, so you can choose great ads and reject bad ads looking at tools such as Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S)
  • We teach how to provide copy direction that inspires and challenges the agency to deliver great execution. We also talk about how to be a better client so you can motivate and inspire your agency.

 

Time to step up and invest in training your team

The smartest plan for your people is to identify the gap areas and then look through each of the modules to see which one would be best suited to help them. We can certainly customize any program to meet your needs. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to ensure you have a strong marketing team in place. At Beloved Brands, we can develop a tailored program that will work to make your team better. Regardless of industry, the fundamentals of Brand Leadership matter.

In terms of connecting with your people, training is one of the greatest motivators for teams and individuals. Not only do people enjoy the sessions, they see the investment you are making as one more reason to want to stay. They are focused on their careers and want to get better. If you can be part of that, you will retain your best people.

The Training Program can executed to meet your needs whether that’s in:

  • Classroom format or small team training
  • Coaching, either in team setting or one-on-one
  • Mentoring to high potential managers or executives.
  • Skype video or webinar style for remote locations.
  • Lunch and Learn Style

Smarter people will lead to better work and stronger brand performance results

 

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.

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Three simple ways Marketers can get better advertising

http://beloved-brands.com/learn/Most marketers appear confused as to what their role should be in getting great advertising. Having spent 20 years in the world of CPG marketing, I have seen it all when it comes to clients–the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is usually one brand person on the “hot seat” for getting a great ad, and then a bunch around them who either give input or approve. Everyone on the client side knows it, but most on the agency do not know it. They assume the person approving the ad is their client. That’s completely wrong, especially when the person on the “hot seat” is very good. While you are talking to the “approver” in the room, the smart person on the hot seat will carry influence over the person approving outside the room. You might end up surprised.

Here are 3 ways to get better advertising. 

  1. You should control the strategy but give freedom to the execution.
  2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.
  3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

1. Control the strategy, but give freedom on to the execution.

Too many Marketers have this backwards. They give freedom on the strategy with various possible strategic options layered within the Creative Brief and then they attempt to try to control the creative outcome by writing a long list of tangled mandatories.

The reality of advertising is that clients want options to pick from, and agencies hate giving options to pick from. This is where things get off the rails. The client decides to write options INTO the brief. And the agency presents a bunch of work, yet miraculously all 12 people on the agency side agree on which one is the best one.

I have seen briefs that say “18-65, current users, competitive users and employees”. I have seen briefs with 8 objectives throughout the brief. I have seen briefs that say “we want to drive trial among competitive users, while re-enforcing the brand benefits to our current users to drive up penetration and we want a tag for our new lemon flavor at the end”. Ugly!!!!

How to get better advertising creative briefs

When you write a big-wide Creative Brief with layers of possible strategic options within the brief, the Agency just peels the brief apart and gives you strategic options. For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65, the Agency will presents one idea for 18-25, another for 25-40 and a third for 40-65. If you put two objectives into the brief, asking to drive trial and drive usage, you will get one ad that drives trial and one ad that drives usage. Ta-dah, you have options. However, now you are picking your brand strategy based on which ad you like best. Wow, what the brand leader now says is “I like that 18-25 year old one, but could I also like that drive trial one. Could you mold those  two together?” If you are up against your media date or the agency is over-budget on this project, the answer you might hear back is “sure”.

This means is you are really picking your brand strategy based on which ad idea you like best. That is wrong. Pick your strategy first and use the creativity of execution to express that strategy.

Make tough decisions of what goes into the creative brief to narrow down to:

  • one objective
  • one desired consumer response
  • one target tightly defined
  • one main benefit
  • up to two main reasons to believe

Avoid the ‘Just in Case’ list by taking your pen and stroking a few things off your creative brief! It is always enlightening when you tighten your Creative Brief.

As for the creative, it is completely OK to know exactly what you want, but you cannot know until you actually see it. The best creative advertising should be like that special gift you never thought to get yourself, but was just perfect once you saw it. What I see is a brief with a list of mandatories weaved throughout the brief that begin to almost write the ad itself.

Years ago, I was on the quit smoking business (Nicoderm) and received word that my team had told the agency to “eliminate any form of humor, because quitting smoking is very serious”. I can appreciate how hard it is to quit smoking, but levity can help demonstrate to consumers that we understand how hard it is to quit. After some disastrous work, I finally stepped in and said “what about some humorous ads?”  Here’s the spot we final made. This ad turned a declining Nicoderm business into a growth situation and won J&J’s best global ad of 2008.

 

There is no way we could have written that ad. After a few grueling months of creative, I remember seeing that script on the table and before we were half way through the reading of the script, I thought “we gotta make this ad”.

2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.

I never figured this one out till much later in my career. For an average Brand Manager, you will only be on the “hot seat” for so long in your career. Ugh. I wish it was not true. I loved advertising. However, coming up through the CPG world, most brands only do 1-2 big campaign ads per year.  And, if you do a pool-out of a successful spot, it is just not as fun. Finding that gem must be a similar exhilaration that a detective has in solving a crime. The reality is that you spend 2-3 years as an Assistant offering your advice to a table that does not want to listen. And most brand managers will spend  5 years on the “hot seat” where you are either a Brand Manager or Marketing Director. Then you are approving stuff outside the room.

Yyou likely will only make 5+ ads where you turn nothing into something. If you are lucky. I had one campaign that ran 10 years and another ran 5 years. Trust me, the true excitement was really on that first year. Depends on the size of your agency, but they might make 20, 50 or 100+ new campaign spots each year. The math is that your agency can mess up your ONE spot and still win agency of the year. The client matters way more to the equation than you might realize. A great client can get good-to-great work from an OK agency. Equally so, a really bad client can get disastrous work from the world’s greatest advertising minds.

I want to ask you one simple question and you have to be honest: “If you knew that being a better client would get you better advertising, do you think you would show up better?” Do you think you show up right now?

Brand Training Marketing Execution Advertising
As part of our Brand Management training program, we teach marketers how to get better Marketing Execution. Click above to learn more.

 

Your main role in the advertising function is to provide a very tight brand strategy, to inspire greatness from the creative people and to make decisions”. Too many clients treat their agency in ways that they have to make great work because we hired them. True. But remember the math. If they make 99 great spots this year and one god awful spot (yours) who has more at stake in this math?  You or your agency. Sure, you can fire them. But they take their 99 spots on the street and secure more clients. You on the other hand, will be put into a ‘non-advertising’ role for the rest of your career. People behind your back will say “they are really smart on the strategy, but not so good with the agency”.

Stop thinking your agency has to work for you and try to inspire them to want to work for you. 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. Find strength being the least knowledgeable person in every room you enter.

3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

A typical advertising meeting has client on one side and agency on the other. Client has a pen and paper (or laptop) feverishly taking notes. I never bring anything to a creative meeting. As soon as the creative person says the last tag-line, all of a sudden, there is a reading of the list of changes about to happen. “Make the boy’s shirt blue instead of red. Red is our competitor. Can we go with a grandmother instead of the uncle because we sell lots of cheese to  older females. Can we add in our claim with a super on it. I know we said in the brief it’s about usage, but can we also add in a “try it” message for those who have never used it before. And lastly, can we change the tagline?  I will email some options. That’s all I have.”

how to get better advertising marketing trainingWow. Stop thinking that the creative meeting is just a starting point where you can now fix whatever work is presented to you. You hired an agency because you do not have the talent to come up with great ads. Yet, now you think you are talented enough to do something even harder: change the ad. I have learned over the years that giving the agency my solutions will make the work worse. Giving them my problems makes the ads better. Just like being surprised by a great ad in the first place, if you just state your problem, and let them come back with solutions, you might be surprised at how they were able to handle your concerns without completely wrecking the ad.

I once heard a brand leader describe the creative part of the ad as “their part” and the copy-intensive brand sell as “our part”. I never thought about it that way. And I wish I could get it out of my head. An ad should flow naturally like a well-tuned orchestra. The creative should work as ONE part. The creative idea should be what attracts attention, the creative idea should be what naturally draws attention to the brand, the creative idea should help communicate the brand story and the creative idea should be what sticks in the mind of the consumer. There is no us or them part of the ad.

Lastly, I want brand leaders to stop thinking that Advertising is like a bulletin board where you can pin up one more message. Somehow Marketers have convinced themselves that they can keep jamming one more message into their ad. The consumer’s brain does not work that way. They see 5,000 brand messages a day. They may engage in 5-10 a day. When they see your cluttered messy bulletin board, their brain naturally rejects and moves on. Not only are you not getting your last message through, you are not getting any messages through. Start to think of Advertising like standing on top of a mountain and just yelling one thing.

If you knew that showing up better would get you better work, would you show up better?  You should. 

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Marketing Execution. We go through how to write better briefs, how to make better decisions and how to give inspiring feedback to realize the greatness of your creative people. Here’s what the workshop looks like:

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.

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

How to achieve success at the Brand Manager level

At the Brand Manager level, you need the right marketing skills, leader behaviors and brand experiences. Success becomes about ownership, strategic thinking and managing others. I have hired so many marketers over my 20 year career who I thought would be amazing. They were all appeared eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated. But in reality, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers would get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 15% of Brand Managers would ever make it to the Director level. What caused the best to stall at a certain level? Leaders should be investing in marketing training of their people to ensure they have the right skills necessary for success in the role.

In terms of the pure Marketing skills, here is the essential check list every Brand Manager must nail.

1. Analyze performance

Great brand leaders must be willing and able to dig deep into data, draws comparisons and builds an analytical story to help draw out the business conclusions. And, they have to able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand. This means they understand all sources of brand data—whether that’s coming from sales, consumption, market share, brand funnel data, market research or brand financials. Finally, the great brand leader must be able to write analytical performance reports that outlines the strategic implications

2. Think Strategically

A brand leader must be able to think strategically, by asking the right interruptive questions before reaching for solutions. They must be able to employ 360-degree strategic thinking that looks at 5 types of strategic thinking: your brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitors, situation and consumer engagement. Strategic alignment is a crucial skill. They have to be able to lead a well-thought strategic discussion across the organization. Finally, the great brand leader must be able to make smart strategic decisions that are based on vision, focus, opportunity, early win and leverage.

3. Define the brand

A brand leader must be able to define their brand. You must be able to define the ideal consumer target, framed with need states, insights and enemies. They must take a consumer centric approach to turn brand features into functional and emotional benefits. And then, they must be able to bring it all together to find a winning brand positioning space that is own-able and motivates consumers. Finally, the great brand leader should be able to develop a big idea for brand that can lead every consumer touchpoint. There are five consumer touchpoints including the brand promise, brand communication, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience.

4. Create Brand Plans

The brand leader must be able to understand and lead all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics. Also, they must be able to turn strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements for the brand plan. They must be strong in presenting brand plans to senior management and across organization. And finally, the great brand leader must be able to develop smart execution plans that delivers against the brand strategies

5. Inspire creative execution

The brand leader must be able to write a strategic, focused and thorough creative brief to inspire great work from experts. They must be able to lead all marketing projects on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience. And they must be able to inspire greatness from teams of experts at agencies or throughout organization. Finally, the great brand leader must make smart marketing execution decisions that tightens bond with consumers.

Whenever I promoted someone to Brand Manager, I kept an eye on their first three months. They usually expected the job to be much easier than it really was. I knew they would struggle. The biggest area where most struggled was in taking ownership. Moreover, Newly promoted Brand Managers kept looking for someone else to make the decisions for them. Many times, we gave a newly promoted Brand Manager a role without a person under them, because I realized that learning to be an owner and a manager at the same time was really hard. Most people struggle the first time they have to manage someone. In fact, many times, you might struggle with your first five direct reports. Keep learning and improving each time.

I have given a lot of thought over the years to what makes a great brand manager and here the 5 factors you need to be successful at the Brand Manager level.

1. Ownership

A great Brand Manager takes ownership over the brand. Many Brand Managers struggle with the transition from being the helper to becoming the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of that someone else will hand you a project list. Not only do you have to make the project list, you have to come up with the strategies from which the projects come from.

A great Brand Manager talks nicely in a telling sense, rather then an asking sense. It is perfectly fine habit to be asking questions of your team, but most people on your team are going to be looking to you to make the decisions. They will be recommending and you will be deciding. When managing upwards be careful of asking too many questions of your boss. Once you ask your boss a question, you just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what you want to do, and debate from there. I used to tell my Brand Managers, when you think you know the answer, speak in a telling way. When you think you don’t know the answer, speaking in an asking way. This helps set up the right level of debate.

2. Strategic Direction

A great Brand Manager provides a vision and the strategies to lead everyone who works on the brand. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. You must bring an inspiring vision to the brand that becomes your personal rallying cry for your team that lets everyone know where you want to go. You must choose strategies that match up to your vision. As a leader, everything that is off strategy must to be rejected by you. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different strategies you can easily communicate. This is a great way to keep the various functions aligned. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar that matters to them, but they are most motivated when they can see how it all fits together.

3. Managing others

A great Brand Manager takes the time to make their Assistant Brand Manager (ABM) as good as they can possibly be. From what I have seen, most Brand Managers struggle with their first five direct reports, yet they somehow expect to be perfect on their first. To get better, you must keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve on your own management with each report you lead.

Most Brand Managers struggle to shift from the ‘do-er’ role that made them successful into a ‘coach’ role that will make their direct report successful. Instinctively, they think they can just do it faster, so they may as well do it. Sadly, each time you do what you ABM should do, you just become the ‘super ABM’. Also, many Brand Managers fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. As you mature, you have to realize that the great work of your ABM reflects 100% of how good of a manager you are. ABMs need feedback to get better—both the good and bad. I see too many Brand Managers not giving enough feedback. They become so afraid of ‘going negative’, the ABM is left in the dark or worse, they are left to believe they are doing a good job.

Great Brand Managers take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then great Brand Managers give hands-on feedback in real time. Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and identify gaps the ABM needs to be addressing. Brand Mangers should also do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs. I believe a great ABM has the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for. There should be zero surprises on the annual performance review. Or else, you have been negligent in your management of the ABM.

4. Working the system

A great Brand Manager gets what they need. The organization is filled with a complex system of functions, groups, layers of bosses, various goals and external agencies. Everyone comes with their own set of goals and motivations. You must be able to see how the organization works and appreciate the motivations of the various key stakeholders on your team. Also, you must get the most out of your key subject matter experts. You must understand everyone’s personal motivations and then find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to to ask people for their best. The best brand managers actually ask people for their best work. One other thing I learned over the years is to say “you should be proud” instead of “thank you”.  This helps acknowledge the subject matter expert helped themselves, not helped you.

 

how to be a successful brand manager

 

5. Dealing with pressure as a Brand Manager

A great Brand Manager can handle pressure. The four key pressure points are ambiguity, results, relationship and time. 

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures to deal with, because we cannot see it. But we can certainly feel it. As a leader, patience and composure helps you sort through the unknown. The consequences of not remaining composed is that your team behind you will feel scared. Not being able to deal with ambiguity can lead to quick decisions that deliver bad results. Stay patient and calm. I relish ambiguity. It is where the best debate can happen, where choices for direction are made and where a calm leader can set themselves apart from those in panic mode.
  • If the results do not come in, it can be highly frustrating. There becomes this “what happened” and potential blame game. This is the time to reach for your logic as you re-group, not your emotion. Do not change your vision, but be open to change your plan for how to get there. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Keep your team motivated through the turnaround, with a thought of “this is when we are needed the most.” Listen, then decide where you go next.
  • The other big pressure point for Brand Manager is the relationships around the office you need to maintain. You need to have great relations with sales, supply chain and your agencies. Any friction is on you to resolve. Be pro-active in making the first move to reach out and build a strong relationship with everyone around you. And, you should ask people what motivates them and what annoys them. Understand their concerns and reach for common ground, which most times is not as far away as either of you might initially think. And, you should be open to debate, rather than just shutting people down. Listen for their input. I had a boss who always said “whenever people are fighting, you are usually both half right”. You must listen to figure out which part they are right and how that can impact your choices.
  • Time Pressure can be very demanding. A great Brand Manager must be organized, disciplined and be able to work the system so it doesn’t get in their way. Just because you feel overly-busy, you still need to stay calm and make the right decisions. Learn to change brain speeds, so that you think slowly with strategy and quickly with execution. Also, you should organize your week, to fit your own thinking time. I always used Monday mornings to get things done. Moreover, I used Monday afternoons to check in with my team. I liked having Wednesday or Thursday to either do the creative or strategic exercises with the team. Your week might look different than mine. Have you ever organized your week to fit how you like to work?  You can also use time pressure to your advantage to push to get things done. Just make sure you are calm in how you push, not panicked. Lastly, if you want to know why I insist that your brand plan should only have 3 strategies and 3 tactics for each strategy, the decisions you make to narrow your strategic focus on what really matters, will make sure your to-do list is do-able and does not kill you. The hero that tries to complete the biggest to-do list, will never get promoted to Director.

Ten reasons brand managers fail

  1. Struggle to make decisions
  2. Not analytical enough
  3. Can’t get along
  4. Not good with ambiguity
  5. Too slow and stiff
  6. Bad people manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never follow their instincts
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically
  10. They don’t run the brand, they let the brand run them.

To become a smarter Brand Manager, we offer a Brand Management Training program. We offer 9 different workshops for your marketing team. To find out more, click on this presentation:

 

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

 

 

How to find the competitive space in the market your brand can win and own

Brands need to stand out from the pack. They must be better, different, cheaper or else they will not be around for very long. To find the competitive space your brand can win, I want to introduce the venn diagram I will use to show each type of competitive situation you will play in. The first circle should list out everything the consumer wants, the second circle then lists out everything your brand does best and finally the third circle lists out everything your competitor does best.

To find your brand’s winning zone, you match up what consumers want with what your brand does best. This is the ideal space for your brand to find and then own.

Your brand will not survive the losing zone where your brand tries to play in the space where your competitor does it better than your brand. While you can battle your competitor in the short term, you will eventually lose by going into the space where they can beat you.

As markets mature, with competitors copying each other, it becomes harder to be ‘better’ with a definitive product win, leaving you to play in the risky zone, which is the space where you and your competitor are both meeting the consumers needs in a relative tie. The tie is important to understand, because brands can still win the tie by making their brand seem ‘different’ enough so that consumers perceive the brand to be better. Perception becomes reality. The way to win the risky zone is to be the first to capture and defend the space or win with innovation and creativity or find ways to build a deeper emotional connection.

Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone, where two competitors “battle it out” in the space where consumer do not care. One competitor says, “We are faster” and the other thinks, “We are just as fast”. All of a sudden a competitive war start. Yet, no one bothered to ask the consumer if they care.

In brand management, we never experience pure isolation. Even in a so-called blue ocean situation quickly turns to red ocean. The moment we think we are alone, someone is watching thinking they can do it better than we can. To win the competitive battle, you have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand, that distinguishes you from others. Ignoring the competition, believing all that matters is the consumer, is a naive way to lose. Competitors force us to sharpen our focus, tightening our language on the brand positioning we will project to the market.

The Consumer Benefits Ladder

The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps turn your brand’s features into consumer benefits. You should stop thinking about what your brand does and start thinking about what your consumer gets.

The 4 steps to build a Consumer Benefits Ladder:

  • Leverage all available research to brief the team, helping define the Consumer Target Profile with consumer insights, need states and the consumer enemy.
  • Brainstorm all the possible Brand Features that your brand offers, plus any brand assets. Make sure that these features give your brand a competitive advantage.
  • Move up to the Functional Benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and for each feature on your list, ask “so if I am the consumer, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up to 5 times, pushing the answers into a richer zone.
  • Then move up to the Emotional Benefits by looking at each functional benefit and then ask “so if I am the consumer, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a deeper emotional space that you can play in and own.

Sorting through the benefits

When you conduct the benefits brainstorm on your brand, use the Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet to focus the team’s thinking. Like any brainstorm, you will end up more choices than you can use. Here is an example of the output of a Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet for Gray’s Cookies.

Narrow down the list by sorting through the benefits to find those that are the most motivating to consumers and own-able for your brand. You can use the grid on the next page to evaluate. You will notice that the zones match up to the venn diagrams I showed in the Strategic Thinking chapter.

  • You can see on the grid how The ‘Guilt free’ consumer benefit offers the highest potential as it is highly motivating and highly own-able for the brand. This is the winning zone.
  • The consumer benefit of ‘New favorite cookie’ is highly motivating, but falls into the losing zone, as it would be owned by the power player competitor brands in the category.
  • The ‘Feel more confident’ benefit falls into the risky zone. To win this zone, the brand would need to use speed-to-market, creativity or leveraging emotional marketing.
  • Avoid the dumb zone, where the benefit shows up low on motivating and potential ownership. In this case, ‘More comfort in choices’ is neither motivating or own-able.

Go find your winning space

 

Here is a workshop we run on Brand Positioning that looks at both the creative and media sides of  reaching consumers.

At Beloved Brands, we make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

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.