Five challenging questions to kickstart your Brand Plan

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]A brand plan is an opportunity to make decisions on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources. A smart brand plan has a vision, analysis, key issues, strategies and execution plans. Focus on the smartest ideas that will drive the highest return. Think of the plan as a decision-making tool to align your team. Make the best financial investment choices and the best decisions on how to deploy your people. The plan should then align and focus everyone who works on the brand, including the leader who writes the plan. 

When you start your brand plan, the worst thing you can do is open up a PowerPoint document and begin to type away on a blank page. You will get writer’s block, or you will assemble a complete mess. Remember back to when you wrote a term paper in college. The essay was always easier to write and a much better end product when you took the time to write out a rough draft outline before you started the final document.

Annual Plan on a Page

The annual brand plan has three distinct sections: analysis, issues and strategies, and execution plans.

  • The analysis section lays out the summary from the deep-dive business review with an overview of the top three points, which envelop what is driving your brand’s growth, what is inhibiting your brand’s growth, which threats could hurt your brand and what opportunities your brand faces.  
  • The key issues and strategies section focuses on the top three issues getting in the way of achieving your vision. You should put the issues in question format. And the strategic solutions are the answers that match up to each of those questions. Set goals to measure your brand’s performance against each strategy. 
  • The execution section maps out the specific plans for each of the chosen execution areas that line up to most essential consumer touchpoints.  

I first came up with this “brand plan-on a page” format when I led a team with 15 brands. It helped me see the big picture quickly, rather than having to hunt through a big thick binder. Also, the sales team appreciated the ability to see the entire plan on one page quickly. Most salespeople also had 15 brands to manage with each of their customers. Everyone who works on the brand should receive the one-page plan. And then, keep it close by to steer their day-to-day decisions.

Five Questions worksheet

While it is easy to get writer’s block, it can be worse when you sit at your computer staring at a blank screen with the word “Vision” staring back at you.

Here are five simple questions to help you kickstart your first thoughts about your brand plan and decide on the big picture elements of your plan before fine-tuning and perfecting the writing.

  1. Where could we be?
  2. Where are we?
  3. Why are we here?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do?

Your written answers will start to reveal a rough draft outline of your brand vision, analysis, key issues, strategies, and some thinking on your execution and measurement, which form the entirety of your brand plan.

To start your rough outline, force yourself to write out three bullet points for each of the five simple questions. Make it challenging to narrow down your list to the top three points, as the extra effort now will help focus your mind on the most significant points.

It is very easy to get lost in the planning process. Many brand leaders will spend a few weeks writing a plan. As you solicit conflicting input from across the organization, it will add a layer of confusion to the plan you must sort through. It is easy to get lost in a mess.

I recommend you start with the five questions then keep coming back to this document a few times throughout the process to make sure you stay on track. These five questions keep you grounded and focused throughout the planning process.

For more on How to write a Brand Plan, click on this link: http://beloved-brands.com/2012/06/24/brand-plan/

I am excited to announce the release of 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.

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

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

The non-negotiable behaviors that will destroy a Marketer’s career

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]I like to talk about the skills, behaviors, and experiences you need to succeed in Marketing. However, this list in today’s article is not about growth, but about what could destroy you. To succeed in your Marketing career, you must hit deadlines, know your business, be open with communication, take control of your brand, be able to use feedback, and then listen to the experts around you, before you decide.  

Trust me when I say this: if you do not nail these six behaviors, you will eventually annoy someone enough to get rid of you. You’ve likely heard of CLM’s, also known as “career-limiting-moves.” These six behaviors are non-negotiable CLM’s, and if you miss them continuously, you will be gone. Fix these.

For many Marketers, these could be a blind spot. You could be amazing in all other aspects of your job. And when one of these brings you down, you will be left wondering what happened.  

1. You must hit deadlines.

Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, so if you begin to miss deadlines, things will just stockpile on each other. Do not be the one who is seen trying to negotiate extensions constantly. That might work with a University essay. But in the real world of Marketing, there are no real extensions. Just missed opportunities. If you miss one, two or three, your behavior will be viewed as a pattern. I went to school with someone who always asked the prof for a deadline on everything. The professor always said yes. And she thrived in school. Yet, never made it in Marketing. In 20 years in Marketing. I never asked for an extension. 

2. You must know your business.

Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as profit (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all significant competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. I was lucky in that I grew up a baseball stat geek, so I could easily remember every number on my business. I was never the type of manager who openly tested people for the sake of it. But, when I had 15 brands and you had one brand: how do you think if I felt when I knew your numbers better than you did? It is your job to know your business and your numbers.

3. You must be open with your communication.

There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. If something could go wrong, make sure everyone knows. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it. And when something does go wrong, have a plan ready in place, action items laid out, before your boss says “Oh man, we need a plan.”

4. You must be able to take control of your destiny.

Act like the owner. Tthe best Marketers run the brands; they never let the brands run us. Always be slightly ahead of the game, not constantly chasing your work to completion. Once you are chasing, you can never catch up. Instead, you should always be proactively looking for an opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage. Watch your tone. When you don’t know something, it is perfectly acceptable speak in an “asking way,” but do so with a limit on how many times you show up begging for help. When you are in charge of a brand, and when you know the answer, you have to teach yourself to speak in a “telling way” even to the CEO.

Once you are given the reigns of a brand, it is expected that you tell everyone what to do. As your boss, I would rather that I have to step in and push back on something, rather than to have to encourage you to voice your thoughts. 

5. You must be 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 always be striving to get better. It is true, the best marketers are ambitious. They want to get better. It is perfectly acceptable to not enjoy getting negative feedback. I would never judge someone’s reaction at that moment.

I have worked with many amazing marketers, who looked devastated and ready to quit, in the heat of the feedback. I’ve seen that look 100 times. That’s perfectly fine. However, I also know, those same great people came in the next morning, ready to make a change and ready to demonstrate it to everyone who was watching. Marketing is an iterative career. Honestly, we repeat the same 20 key skills over and over again, at junior, mid and senior levels. The best get better each time. The worst don’t. 

6. You must listen first; then decide.

There is a somewhat bizarre relationship Marketers have with subject matter experts. We don’t really do anything. We don’t make the product, sell the product, make the ads, buy the media or make the event happen. But as the ultimate generalist, we do decide everything.  Very early in your career, you must figure out the magic in using your subject matter experts to teach you everything you need to know about your job, while still leading them, even if they are 10 or 20 years older than you. These subject matter experts have seen hundreds of marketers come through the door, and if you do it right, they will quietly teach you more than your boss ever will.

As you hit the director or VP level, you must figure out how to use these same subject matter experts as an advisor or sounding board to the toughest of issues or what you think are great ideas. Subject matter experts don’t want to make decisions. They want you to do that. Subject matter experts don’t want to be a leader. They want you to lead them. At these senior levels, you have to learn to listen to them and make sure you really hear them out. You can question and challenge them. And, then it is expected that you will give the direction that pushes them towards the end goal. While you make every decision, if you don’t manage this unique relationship well, they will influence the decision to get rid of you. 

I am excited to announce the release of 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.

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

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

How to build your career on your true, core strength

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup] To succeed in your career, you have to realize everyone brings a core strength as a marketing leader. What is your strength? Running a business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or passion for people. While marketers are usually trained as a generalist, maybe it’s time to make a decision around your one true, core strength. And then, go build a new career around that core strength.

Here’s a tough career question for most marketers to answer

What is your core strength? Pick only #1 strength as a marketer from these four potential choices:

    1. You like running the business and managing products
    2. You have a passion for marketing execution
    3. Strategic thinker writes strong Brand Plans
    4. As a leader of leaders, you can get the best out of others

I know it must be a tough question because everyone refuses to pick just one.  Even if you are well-rounded, explore what might rise or fall based on skills, feedback, success, passion, or interest. Be honest with yourself. 

Let’s take it a step further. Here’s a game you can play to force your thinking. Look below at the diagram. You have four chips. You have to put one on the highest strength, two at medium and force one to be at the lowest.    

If you still say, “I’m pretty good at all 4” then push yourself, I might not believe you. No one is equally great at all four. You have to know your strength. As you make your next move, each choice may lead you to 4 different career choices. 

If you like running the business, your career choices could be product management, private equity or new industries. If you are into the marketing execution, explore switching to an Agency role. It could be a brainstorming ideation leader or become a subject matter expert. And, if you are a strategic thinker, you could move into becoming a consultant, professor or go into a global role. Finally, if you feel your strength is on the people leadership side, you can keep moving up to GM, explore the entrepreneur world or become a personal coach.

When your strength is running the business

You are naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity.

You like product innovation side more than advertising and you are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution. You can work with each functional areas to the benefit of the products. Moreover, you may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you are comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution. 

My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, consider new verticals before you venture into new career choices. You should consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into entrepreneurship, where you can leverage your core strength of running a business.

When your biggest strength is marketing execution

When you are the type of Brand Leader, who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. And, you are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. Moreover, you respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what a good or bad idea is. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader. And, you likely see answers before questions and frustrated by delays.

Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an execution role. You may be frustrated in positions that would limit your creativity. Stepping into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject-matter-expert role in internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.

Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

When you are naturally a strategic thinker

You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would indicate that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.

If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or builds a strong team of business leaders beneath you.

Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

When your biggest strength is leading people

You find a natural strength in leading others. This would be when you are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential and you are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others. Moreover, you are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.

If you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross-functional shift in sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future. 

After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Focus on what you are best at doing, and what you love.

Good luck.

I am excited to announce the release of 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.

To order the e-book version of Beloved Brands, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eUAgDgS

And, to order the paperback version, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

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

The six ways for Marketers to go from good to GREAT

 

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

1.GREAT Brand Leaders push to make focused choices.

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

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

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

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penetration versus usage frequency

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

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

When you focus, four things happen for your brand:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will be your legacy on your brand?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands

 

McDonald’s service hits rock bottom in drive thru ratings

McDonald’s was founded on the basis of customer service.

Ray Kroc, the original McDonald’s CEO put huge emphasis on a customer first mentality: “McDonald’s is a people business, and that smile on that counter girl’s face when she takes your order is a vital part of our image.” That seems to be lost in this generation of leaders at McDonald’s. 

In a recent study by QSR magazine on the attributes of customer service through the drive-thru window, McDonald’s finished rock bottom on attributes linked to friendliness. I always believe “manners and smiles are free”, when the reality is they need to be embedded within the culture of the organization. They are hard work.

When it comes to smiling, McDonald’s finishes last at 62%, almost 30% lower than Chick-Fil-A. 

And when it comes to saying “Thank You” McDonald’s also finishes rock bottom with only 78% of occasions compared to 95% for Chick-Fil-A. 

Chick-Fil-A is the gold standard on service when it comes to drive thru. They believe that employees are the company’s “secret recipe,” and the drive-thru strategy is designed around people as much as it is technology and systems. “It’s all about speed and accuracy, but we know our customers appreciate that we can be nice while being fast and accurate. Eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”

McDonald's Service level

Even on speed of service, McDonald’s now finishes mid pack. Wendy’s is the leader in speed, about 45 seconds faster on average. A quote from Wendy’s on the drive thru service says the fast service is the result of the company tirelessly tracking line times and optimizing the layout of the kitchens:  “Customers visit the drive thru due to its convenience, so we strive to meet that expectation every day, every customer.

McDonald’s service might just get worse, not better

McDonald’s have stated that they are going to invest billions in 2017 to revamp their entire kitchens to be able to serve high quality and fresh meat in their hamburgers. Wow. I am big fan of Five Guys, In-N-Out burger, Shake Shack and Big Smoke burgers. But, they are never fast. They each say they won’t start cooking your burger until you order it. At Five Guys, you can see them even pull the burger out and placed on the grill. The one big difference is that Five Guys basically only serve burgers. What will happen to the McDonald’s drive thru if I just want a coffee, yet have to sit behind 9 people ordering fresh burgers. It just won’t work.

How do you communicate your brand story internally?

With most brands I meet up with, I ask “What is the Big Idea behind your brand?” I rarely get a great answer. When I ask a Leadership Team, I normally get a variety answers. When I ask the most far-reaching sales reps, the scientists in the lab or their retailer partners, the answers get worse. That is not healthy. Everyone who touches that brand should be able to explain what it stands for in seven seconds, sixty seconds, thirty minutes or at every consumer touch-point. They should always be delivering the same message. There are too many Brands where what gets said to the consumer is different from what gets said inside the corporate walls. The Big Idea must organize the culture to ensure everyone who is tasked to meet the needs of both consumers and customers, whether they are in HR, product development, finance, operations and experience delivery teams, must all know their role in delivering the Big Idea.

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

brand culture

The Big Idea Should Drive The Culture

Brand Management was originally built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the Brand Manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the Brand. However, it should actually be the brand’s Big Idea that sits at the center, with everyone connected to the brand expected to understand and deliver the idea. Aligning the brand with the culture is essential to the long-term success of the brand. The best brands look to the overall culture as an asset that helps create a powerful consumer experience. The expected behaviors of the operations team behind the consumer experience should flow out of the brand values that flow from the big idea. These values act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver the brand’s promise.

 

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to define your brand, including the benefit cluster tool.

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

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

Media is a business investment that showcases the creative execution of your brand story to help connect your brand with consumers at the most impactful where consumers are willing to engage in your brand story. Balance your media choices by looking at efficiency, quality, impact and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percent of different household or persons the ad will be exposed to at least once, over a specific period of time, while frequency is the number of times that household or person is exposed to the ad within a specific period of time. Be careful relying on efficiency alone, balancing the efficiency with the quality of the media choices. Set aside a portion of your media budget and used on driving impact to drive early attention to a new campaign.

Media Plans
Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

  1. What is the size of your budget? Budget is always the starting point to your media planning. The size of your media budget will really depend on your brand’s current profit situation, the projected potential return on investment (ROI) behind your creative execution, the future opportunities to invest behind and the degree of competitiveness you need to defend against. Assess the media ROI by linking your business results directly to the brand funnel results. You can use test markets with various media spend levels to gain the data you need to prove the media investment story. One major factor with media investment is the balance of the fixed overhead costs of producing creative assets versus the variable media costs of reaching consumers. The same thinking would go into the fixed overhead people costs related to content development or social media management. Focus on fewer media choices will ensure the cost of creative resources do not inhibit your ability to reach consumers. Trying to be everywhere drains your resources and just means you will have a low impact everywhere.
  2. What is brand’s core strength? The decision on whether your brand will be story-led, product-led, experience-led or price-led really impacts your brand message and in turn the media choices that will amplify that message. Product-led brands must show why you are better, with a superiority message and media choices that enable you to demonstrate what makes your brand superior. Story-led brands must tell the back-story on what makes your brand different, whether that is an idea, purpose, core belief or a stance, and the media must be able to amplify your story to those consumers will connect with the story. For experience-led brands, you must be able to prove how your people create an experience that is better. This is usually a slower build, in managing influencers, review sites, social media and word-of-mouth to really amplify your brand message that connects to an amazing experience. The price-led brands need to leverage media that can help drive call-to-action brand messaging that fuels the foot traffic needed to push fast-moving items that offset the lower margins.
  3. Where will your consumers engage? Who is your target consumer? Are you looking at a broad mass target or a tight specific target around type of consumer or specific product usage? What are the possible adjacent or related products and services that you can leverage? What part of the consumer’s life will they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide and act? Your media choices should align with potential related life moment, whether those are parts of the day, week, year or even life moments. Consumers use media for certain reasons, whether to be smarter, stay aware, escape, express themselves, connect with others, go places, buy things or do things. Your brand should align with the brain moods of how your consumer use media, so you match up to where and when they will be most receptive to your brand message.
  4. How tightly connected is your brand with your consumer? Where your brand sits on the brand love curve should influence your strategic choices, because the more love you can create should drive more power and profit for your brand. I also believe the brand love curve can influence your execution, as unknown brands need media choices to help the brand be seen by the right consumers, indifferent brands need a media choice that will help consumers think about the brand, liked brands should drive happy purchases, brands at the love it stage should use media that helps the consumer feel differently about the brand and brands at the beloved stage should mobilize their brand lovers to influence others within their network.
  5. Where on brand funnel will you exert impact? A brand funnel should match up to how consumers evolve with your brand, moving through awareness, consideration, search, buy, satisfy, repeat, loyal or fans. Knowing what stage of the funnel you wish to impact should drive both the creative message and the media choice. For an unknown/indifferent brand, the focus will be on the early parts of the funnel to drive awareness and move them to consider and buy. At the like it stage, the message and media choices should be driving purchase and repeat purchase. At the love it stage, it becomes about turning repeat purchases into routines and rituals so the consumers become loyal. At the beloved stage, it becomes about turning your fans into influencers that drive awareness for other consumers. The brand funnel is not really a funnel anymore, but a big circle as brand fans do as much to drive awareness among new users as the brand does.
  6. What is the best media option that delivers the creative execution? You really should make media decisions together with your creative. I have found that not all creative ideas work against all media choices, just because the media numbers say they will. This is the reason you should ask to see each creative idea in a TV ad format, long copy print format and billboard. It allows you to see where the creative idea has the biggest potential, and then begin matching those up to the right media choice. Before decide on media, ask to see what the creative ad would look like. Make the decision together.

How to inspire great marketing execution 

We lead workshops to train marketing teams on all types of marketing topics. Here’s the workshop we run on Marketing Execution.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

The 10 most abused words by Marketers

 

On a daily basis I hear Marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use the sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights, because they figure no one will challenge them. Of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The mis-use of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.

Here are the 10 words mis-used and even abused by Marketers.

1. Relevant

When I was running the marketing department at J&J, I jokingly banned this word “relevant” because it was so abused. I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant”, the room would go silent. Then there’s a pause and someone would add their own brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant”. The room went silent again. So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and sadly that question seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice”, because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it. My mom and my new iPhone speakers are both “nice”. Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. But what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant? When you answer the question, you likely just wrote down something better. So use that instead of just blindly saying “we need to be relevant”.

2. Awareness

Just like the word relevant, you’re just forcing me to ask, “so when we get awareness, what do we get then”. Once you spend money, you should be able to get awareness–it’s just a question of how much money you spend. Jeb Bush just spent $130 Million–everyone knew he was running. No one voted for him and his awareness did very little for him. In brand terms, we don’t make any money from awareness–we only begin to make money as we are able to move our consumer through the consideration-search-purchase stage.  So, let’s save the word “Awareness” for the lazy brains.

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3. Brand equity

The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the pure book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who mis-use the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become  a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable”. They’ll say “the final scene of the TV ad is really emotional and should really drive the equity of this brand”. We look at Brand Health and Brand Wealth separately and then use the model to predict future success of the brand. As Brand Leaders, it’s actually important to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy. But Brand Equity is about the wealth side, linked to Value.

There are 8 ways to drive Brand Wealth: premium pricing, trading the consumer up or down, reducing both product costs and marketing costs, stealing other users or getting current users to use more, entering new categories and creating new uses for your brand. Those are not ambiguous at all.

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4. Target market

I’m in shock at how Marketers list out their target market on the creative brief. I once read a brief with a target that said “aged 18-65, new customers, current customers and even employees”. That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists. A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs and behaviors). I actually try to put an age demographic on every brief. Call me old-fashioned or just realistic. The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kiddng yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics”. When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5 year gap. This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you.

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5. Alienate

This word drives me bonkers and it seems to be growing or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus, the worst don’t. The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t. If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and  execution. Stop being worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers, that you water down your marketing programs to a degree that we have no clue who you’re talking to or what you’re even saying. As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and who you say it to.

6. Benefits

There’s an old selling expression: “features tell and benefits sell”. But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are. Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits. What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits). Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two.

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7. Brief

It’s called a brief, because it’s…BRIEF.  I saw a creative brief last year that was 8 pages long. And even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight. Every brief should be one page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it is pretty easy to nail the one page brief.

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8. Brand

Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies. The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites and events. The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising. Brand and Product should NEVER be separated. It’s crazy. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BIG IDEA for your brand and then line up the 5 connectors (promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience)

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9. New Media

New Media has been around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point. A better way to look at today’s Media is to manage all 5 types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media. Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs. SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search. SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.

10. Strategic

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action. And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.

It is OK to use these words. Just make sure you use them properly.

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.

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The 10 most abused words in Marketing

 

On a daily basis I hear Marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use the sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights, because they figure no one will challenge them. And of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The mis-use of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.

Here are the 10 words mis-used and even abused by Marketers.

 

1. Relevant

When I was running the marketing department at J&J, I jokingly banned this word “relevant” because it was so abused. I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant”, the room would go silent. Then there’s a pause and someone would add their own brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant”. The room went silent again. So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and sadly that question seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice”, because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it. My mom and my new iPhone speakers are both “nice”. Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. But what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant? When you answer the question, you likely just wrote down something better. So use that instead of just blindly saying “we need to be relevant”.

2. Awareness

Just like the word relevant, you’re just forcing me to ask, “so when we get awareness, what do we get then”. Once you spend money, you should be able to get awareness–it’s just a question of how much money you spend. Jeb Bush just spent $130 Million–everyone knew he was running. No one voted for him and his awareness did very little for him. In brand terms, we don’t make any money from awareness–we only begin to make money as we are able to move our consumer through the consideration-search-purchase stage.  So, let’s save the word “Awareness” for the lazy brains.

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3. Brand equity

The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the pure book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who mis-use the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become  a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable”. They’ll say “the final scene of the TV is really emotional and should really drive the equity of this brand”. We look at Brand Health and Brand Wealth separately and then use the model to predict future success of the brand. As Brand Leaders, it’s actually important to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy. But Brand Equity is about the wealth side, linked to Value. There are 8 ways to drive Brand Value: Pricing, Trading the consumer up or down, Product Costs, Marketing Costs, Stealing other users, Getting current users to use more, Enter new categories and Create new Uses for your brand.  Those are not ambiguous at all.   To read more, click on 8 Simple Ways that Brand Leaders can impact Profits

4. Target market

I’m in shock at how Marketers list out their target market on the creative brief. I once read a brief with a target that said “18-65, new customers, current customers and even employees”. That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists. A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs and behaviors). I actually try to put an age demographic on every brief. Call me old-fashioned or just realistic. The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kiddng yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics”. When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5 year gap. This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you.

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5. Alienate

This word drives me bonkers and it seems to be growing or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus, the worst don’t. The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t. If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and  execution. Stop being so worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers so much that you water down your marketing programs so much we have no clue who you’re talking to or what you’re even saying. As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and who you say it to.

6. Benefits

There’s an old selling expression: “features tell and benefits sell”. But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are. Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits. What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits). Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two. Here’s an article on how to write a benefit driven Positioning statement: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement

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7. Brief

It’s called a brief, because it’s…BRIEF.  I saw a creative brief last year that was 8 pages long. And even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight. Every brief should be one page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it is pretty easy to nail the one page brief. Here’s how to write a creative brief:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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8. Brand

Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies. The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites and events. The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising. Brand and Product should NEVER be separated. It’s crazy. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BIG IDEA for your brand and then line up the 5 connectors behind that big Idea.   You need to make sure the Brand Promise connects the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise.

9. New Media

New Media has been around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point. A better way to look at today’s Media is to manage all 5 types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media. Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs. SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search. SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.

10. Strategic

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action. And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.

It is OK to use these words. Just make sure you use them properly.

 

 

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.

 

Keys to being a successful Marketing Director

Most people are promoted up to Brand Manager because they are really smart and get things done. From my experience, they get stuck at the Brand Manager level mainly because they are bad at managing people, or can’t get along with the sales force. marketing directorPromoting them up to Marketing Director just becomes too risky to the organization–they can’t afford to lose key talent, and they can’t afford to lose touch with the sales team.

Many Marketing Directors fail if they can’t stop acting like a Brand Manager. They are too hands on, and makes all the decisions. They smother the team and never lets them have their day in the sun. One rule is at every level you have to adjust to the new role. Brand Managers fail when they keep acting like ABMs and Directors fail when they keep acting like Brand Managers.

On a classic brand management team, there are four key levels:

  1. Assistant Brand Manager
  2. Brand Manager
  3. Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director
  4. VP Marketing or CMO.

In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report. When you get to the Marketing Director role, it’s becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

The five success factors for Marketing Directors:

The Marketing Director role becomes less marketing and more leading. Your role is to set the consistent standard for your team and then hold everyone to that standard. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best. Sometimes you’ll need to teach, guide and challenge. Sometimes, you’ll have to put your foot down to stay fundamentally sound and other times you’ll have to follow creative ideas you might not be so sure will win. Let your best people shine, grow and push you. It’s their time.

1. Set a consistently high standard

Hold your team to a consistently high standard of work. Rather than being the leader by example, I would rather see you establish a high standard and hold everyone and yourself to that standard. Shift your style to a more process orientation so you can organize the team to stay focused, hit deadlines, keep things moving and produce consistent output. Consistent quality of brand plans, execution and interactions with everyone. It is about how to balance the freedom you give with the standard you demand. Delegate so you motivate your stars, but never abdicate ownership of how your overall team shows up. 

2. Be the consistent voice on the team

Become the consistent voice of reason to any potential influencers, acting on behalf of the brand team. The director becomes the usual point person that the VP, sales team, agency, each turn to offering their thoughts on the brands. Yet the Director has to allow their BM to own the brand. As the team’s voice of reason, a great marketing director must continue to ground all potential influencers in the brand plan with the strategy choices, consistently communicate the brand’s direction and back up any tactical choices being made by the team. 

3. Consistent people leader

Let your people shine. Newly appointed directors have to stop acting like a “Senior-Senior Brand Manager” and let your team breathe and grow. We know you can write a brand plan, roll out a promotion super fast and make decisions on creative. But can you inspire your team to do the same? It becomes the director’s role to manage and cultivate the talent. Most Brand Managers have high ambitions–constantly wanting praise, but equally seeking out advice for how to get better. Be passionate about people’s careers–anything less they will see it as merely a duty you are fulfilling. A great Marketing Director should be meeting quarterly with each team member one on one to take them through a quarterly performance review. Waiting for year-end is just not enough. 

4. Consistently shows up to the sales team

Marketing Directors become the go to marketing person for the sales team to approach. The best sales people challenge marketers to make sure their account wins. I have seen many sales teams destroy the Marketing Director because they do not listen, and they stubbornly put forward their plan without sales input. Be the director that consistently reaches out and listens. They will be in shock, and stand behind your business. If sales people feel they’ve been heard, they are more apt to follow the directors vision and direction. A great Marketing Director should informally meet with all key senior sales leaders on a quarterly basis, to get to know them and listen to their problems. This informal forum allows problems to bubble up of problems and be heard, before they become a problem.

5. Consistently makes the numbers

A great marketing director makes the numbers. They have a knack for finding growth where others can’t. And yet when they don’t, they are the first to own the miss and put forward a recovery plan before being asked. Great Directors have an entrepreneurial spirit of ownership, create goals that: “scare you a little but excite you a lot”. They reach out for help across the organization, making those goals public and keep the results perfectly transparent. And everyone will follow you.

Consistency matters

Hopefully, you noticed the word “consistent” show up in all 5 factors for success. Stay Consistent. That is a trait I would encourage every director to take: show up with consistency in standards for your team, strategy, people management, dealings with sales and owning the numbers. With a bigger group of people who you influence, with a broader array of  interactions across the organization and with a bigger business line on the P&L, anything less than consistent will rattle your core team and rattle the system built around you. No one likes an inconsistent or unpredictable leader. They will mock your mood swings in the cafeteria. You will become famous but for the wrong reasons. The sales team will not be able to rely on your word–and to them, that’s everything. 

Senior Leaders will struggle with you–and will not want to put you on the big important business because it just feels risky. Your agency will be uncertain as to what mood you will be in, when you show up to meetings. With your maturity and experience, now is the time to start to craft a consistent version of what you want to be.

So if you can take all your talent, all the experience you’ve gained and find that consistency in approach and leadership, then you will be a successful Marketing Director.

To read our Beloved Brands presentation on Brand Management careers:

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

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