Tag Archive: key issues

How to Analyze What’s Happening on Your Brand

facebook adAs a senior brand leader, I have to confess a frustration when I knew the details better than my Brand Manager.  And it’s not just that senior leaders micro manage, it’s really that they can just analyze situations faster.  They taught themselves the fundamentals of analysis. And they know when a Brand Manager hasn’t done the deep dive thinking.  Opinions are great.  Every brand leader should have one and be able to articulate their views.  But it’s best when you can layer it in fact.  One good rule for communicating your opinion is something I learned in my first year Logic class:  Premise, Premise, Conclusion.  Try it out, next time you’re engaged in debate.  Just make sure the premise is backed by fact.

How to go Deeper

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper.

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Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder.

Analytical Tools:  SWOT, PEST, FORCE FIELD

A good analytical tool helps to separate out attributes on the brand that may contribute positively or negatively, are happening vs could happen.

A SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  I have found it used best for a new launch where strengths are untapped assets the brand can unleash and weaknesses are things that must be over come.  Always force yourself with strengths and weaknesses to look at it through the lens of impacting revenue.  So instead of “boring name”, you’d change that to “name unknown, and lacks inspiration to drive a price premium”.  Always connect your analysis to the P&L.

Slide1PEST stands for Political, Environmental, Social and Technological and is best used when the brand is in a highly sensitive market or one that is filled with conflicts, controversies or at the leading edge of market trends.  This can be added to either of the other two or stand on its own.

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A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box.  Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now.  You can see the impact in the current year.   Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen.  Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

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The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats.  It’s a great simple management tool.

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To read more about Brand Analysis, i’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

The Tools Help Frame Your Thinking but Never Replace it. 

I hope this has helped you to learn something new.  Please follow me on Twitter at @grayrobertson1

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

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At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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How to go Deeper on the Analysis of your Brand

Brand LeadershipToo many times, marketers come to conclusions based on pure instincts and put them forward to their management team and the set of peers who might agree or disagree.  The problem with instincts is that because it’s really just an opinion, with nothing to substantiate it.  And even if you are right, you’ll have a hard time convincing others, so anyone with a counter view, retains their own opinion and the team remains divided.  Even if they go along with it, they remain a quiet dissenter just waiting for it to fail and waiting to say “I told you so”.

When you don’t go deep on your thinking, I call it surface thinking.  I equate “surface thinking” to “surface cleaning”.  When your mother is coming over to visit in half an hour, you “surface clean” by quickly take everything and jam into the drawers or closets where she won’t be able to see.  You never really clean up. The same thing holds with “surface thinking”.  Yes, you think, but it stays at the opinion level.   You don’t dig in to the data, you don’t listen to others or go do the necessary research to back up your opinion.  You never really go deep enough to uncover the deep rich insightful conclusions.  And everyone knows it. 

Opinions are great.  Every leader should have one and be able to articulate their views.  But it’s best when you can layer it in fact.  One good rule for communicating your opinion is something I learned in my first year Logic class:  Premise, Premise, Conclusion.  Try it out, next time you’re engaged in debate.  Just make sure the premise is backed by fact.      

So what happens when you just do “surface thinking”:
  1. The programs bomb, and because you don’t know what elements of the program really failed, you throw out the entire program—the strategy was wrong, the tactics didn’t do what you hoped, the goals weren’t set up right and even the agency did a bad job.  You throw it all out, and might even fire the agency.
  2. There’s management doubt from your boss and your peers.  They can clearly see you don’t go deep, so they remain unconvinced or even confused.  They might confront you with their own opinion, but then we just end up with two talking heads that refuse to go deep.  But, to protect themselves against a strategy they aren’t quite sure of, they subconsciously short-change you on investment or even on support from their team. 
  3. When you just operate at the surface level, when you’re debating a topic, instead of the team going deep and seeking out real and rich facts to support one side or the other, the conversation moves sideways instead of deep.  What you’ll notice is you’ll be talking about distribution at the surface level, and because no one in the room wants to  go deep, they say “well what about the new cheery flavor, I took it home and my wife didn’t like it, are we sure it’s going to work” or “this new golf shirt for the sales meeting is very cool, I want one of these puppies”.    The leadership team spins, round and round, never diving deep enough to solve the issues, just casually moves on to new issues.   This is how bad decisions or no decisions get made. 
How to go Deeper

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper. 

Slide1

Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder. 

Thinking Time Questions that will Help you Go Deeper

The first analysis is “What do we know?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

It forces you to start grouping your learning, forces you to start drawing conclusions and it enables your reader to separate fact (the back ground information) from opinion (where you are trying to take them)

The second type of analysis is “Where are we?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

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

These questions help frame your thinking as you go into a Brand Plan.  The first question helps the analysis, the second with the key issues, the third frames the vision and objectives, the fourth gets into strategy and tactics and the fifth gets into the execution.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually impact “where are we?” on the analysis.  

The Deeper the Thinking, the Smarter the Leader

 

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 
 
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  2. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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How to Conduct a Key Issues Review

Brand LeadershipFrom my consumer-packaged-goods marketing days, I learned the discipline of asking the right questions, before moving to figure out the solution.  Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They first dive deep to make sure they understand what is truly happening.  Then 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 planners who can see connections.  So it fits that you should do the work to figure out the right questions on the business before figuring out the right answers.  

The right questions are the Key Issues.

The 5 Steps to Doing a Key issues deck:
  1. Start with ‘Straw Dog’ Vision Statement to help frame where you want to go.  
  2. Analysis: Top 3 Drivers, Inhibitors, Risk & Opportunities.
  3. Summarize the Brand Health vs. Wealth, cutting it at both Internal and External. 
  4. Then using the ‘straw dog’ vision as a beacon and the analysis to explain what’s happening; Brainstorm all the things getting in the way of you achieving your vision.  You might come up with a list of 10=20 issues.  Group them, narrow them, sort them.  
  5. Vote to Narrow to the top 3-5 Key Issues. 

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Straw Dog Vision Statement

A straw dog vision is really a big huge goal.  Put yourself in your shoes 5-10 years out, and ask yourself what would the 3 things you want to have achieved on that date?  What would give you a sense of accomplishment?  I use the ‘straw dog’ version more as a place holder at this point, and would keep re-fining the vision through the long-range strategic planning process.  The role of the vision within the Key Issues process is to open yourself up beyond the current day-to-day muck and get you to think bigger.  This allows the issues to become bigger and more strategic. 

Force Field Analysis

There are a few possible options you can use, but for real live businesses, I prefer the Force FIeld analysis:  What are the factors currently driving your business?   What are the factors inhibiting your business?   The drivers are about momentum that you are seeing on your business and you want to keep going.   The inhibitors are the things holding you back and need to be reversed or knocked down.  Always keep in mind, these two factors are happening now. 

When you then layer in the Opportunities and Threats, these are not happening, but could happen.  The opportunities could be things such as new markets you want to enter, new technologies or an untapped area you’re seeing. You want to raise these ideas and opportunities to management in an assertive selling way. Threats have to be real, not pie in the sky maybe’s.  These could be competitors coming into the market, changes in regulations and changing customer behavior.  

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Actions coming out of the Force Field

  • For drivers, you want to Continue/Enhance:  Stay focused on things going right, keep accelerating and driving them.   Continuous improvement.
  • For inhibitors, you want to Minimize/Reverse.  Close the leaks, develop turnaround plans or re-focus the team against the trend.
  • You want to Take Advantage of the Opportunities.  Build plans to mobilize the brand to see if the opportunity is a winning space for the brand.
  • For the Threats, you want to Avoid or build Contingency plans.  Identify and measure the risk, explore plans to avoid.   Fill the gap before a competitor.

For new businesses that are yet in the market, I might switch it up so that Drivers become Strengths that speaks to the assets we’re bringing to the market and Inhibitors become Weaknesses that showcase potential gaps in the business.  Another good analysis for a brand that is impacted severely by the environment is a PEST analysis where you look at the Political, Economic, Social and Technological.  

Deep dive on each Driver and each Inhibitor

Narrow down your list of inhibitors and then a best-in-class deck would blow out the details around each driver and inhibitor with a page or two for each.  Looking at the example below, of a one-page explanation behind an Inhibitor, you want 4 key attributes on the one pager:

  • List out the Driver/inhibitor
  • Use a key visual or chart that showcases the data and facts behind the driver/inhibitor.  
  • Tell the fact-based story with 2-3 argument points.  
  • In the box at the bottom, you should call out a potential action to address this driver and inhibitor. 

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Brand Health and Wealth

A great analysis I recommend is to do a Brand Health vs Brand Wealth.   Think of the wealth as things you can see connected to things like sales, shares, margins or profits.  For Health, it’s the things you can’t see, like trial, repeat, processes etc.  just like a human, you can’t judge the health just by looking at someone.  You need to dig deep and understand below the surface.  Breaking it this way gives us four key boxes

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  • External Health: Connecting with consumers is a source of power for brands. Understand the brand funnel and It’s impact on the results. How your consumer sees your brand, starting at awareness, trial, repeat all the way down the brand funnel to brand loyalty.  Build on your strengths and attack your weaknesses
  • External Wealth: Healthy win in the marketplace.  Beloved Brands can leverage success into power and drive wealth.   Beloved Brands are more efficient, higher sales, lower costs, better margins, higher over all profits. 
  • Internal Health: What is the internal beacon that helps  all employees get it and live it.  The idea of the brand has to be embedded right into the culture in a consistent manner. They have to realize their impact on the end customer.
  • Internal Wealth:  Everyone focused on Profit and Value.  Assets, IP, culture, contracts, ownership. Lining up and delivering the brand promise to a clear set of objectives, helps employees see that they are contributing to and sharing in the brand wealth.   Everyone should understand where and how they impact profitability. 

A great example of why breaking it out this way is crucial is Apple in Q4 of 2012.  if we look at traditional measures, Apple had their highest sales ever, share  increased across all products, margins reached an all-time high, and yet we have to look at the Brand Health to see the stock price came crumbling down.  Apple’s innovation has slowed down, the intensity of feelings among the most loyal consumers has slipped due to challenges from Samsung and they seem to lack an internal alignment going forward.  Clearly the wealth of Apple exceeds the health, so the stock price began to reflect.

Key Issues
Start by looking at the Vision and Analysis and ask: what are the things getting in our way of achieving that Vision?  You might hold a brainstorm with your team and start with 20 things getting in the way.  Narrow it down, by starting to group things, elevate up to the next level or two and challenge to find the over-arching issue that might be made up of a few visible issues.  As a guideline, there should be 3-5 key issues per brand. The crucial part of key issues is getting to the right level.   If you have less, you are likely not detailed or specific enough, and if you have more…you should try to elevate some up to see if you can capture the bigger picture.   Play around with it, until it feels at the right level.
Since business has a history of using warfare examples, here are three ranges of key issues for what the U.S. government might have been looking at for the Iraq war:
  • Too Low:  How do we get more helicopters into Iraq?  This is too specific or too small.  Think about it, if there are other ways to get to the same goal (e.g. you could get more tanks) then the issue is too small.
  • Too High:  How do we drive Peace in the Middle East?  This is aspiration, but unrealistic.  If it feels too much to chew off, then it’s too big of an issue. 
  • Just Right:  What’s the most effective way to change Regimes in Iraq?  This talks closer to the overall objective…but with enough room to give strategic alternatives

Following the Gray’s Cookie Case Study example, here are the three Key Issues.

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The Power of Three’s:  

When I do these workshops, I force my teams tio use three’s whether it’s the driver and inhibitors or more importantly the Key Issues.  I like to see the teams focus more.  Forcing it down to 3 only might push them to look at the over-arching issues by looking bigger causes and issues than they first look at.

But most importantly, we ask the Key Issues in question format because the answer to that question is the strategy.  So, if you narrow it down to the biggest 3 issues that lines you up to having 3 big strategies.  I also recommend 3 tactics per strategy. That means, the Brand will have 9 major projects to spread the financial and people resources.  Even if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics under each, you’d exponentially be up to 25 key projects.  I would bet that the quality on the execution of the 9 would exceed the execution of the 25 on the other brand.

Asking the Big Questions Leads to Big Strategies and Big Results

 

Here’s a learning session on Key Issues with a full case study using Gray’s cookies.  

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The creative brief also requires you to be looking at the Advertising Strategy that comes out of the Brand Plan.   The plan forces you to  make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  4. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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How to ask Big Questions that get to Big Strategic Answers

Slide1In our marketing careers, we start off in a doing-role and get completely swamped in execution.   We think “if only I had a higher level job, I’d actually have time to think, rather than just do”.   The problem for many of us, is not only do we get good at the doing, we get so good that we can’t get past it and we never end getting to the real strategic thinking.  We just become a do-er at a higher level and drive everyone crazy beneath us.

When I talk to many of the senior Brand Leaders, at the VP and Director level, I hear 3 common things:

  1. “I am too busy and I have no time for strategic thinking”
  2. “My team lacks the experience so I have to jump in resolve issues myself”
  3. “If I didn’t jump in, it just wouldn’t get done right”
Are you really Strategic?

Everyone out there claims to be a strategic thinker, but I would guess that really only half of us really are strategic.

  • 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.   This is PLANNING!
  • 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  then doing nothing.   They opt for action over thinking.    They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They are frustrated by strategic thinkers.  This is EXECUTING!

As a senior Brand Leader, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the details of the execution that you’re making the non-strategic decisions on behalf of the team.   You have just really become the “senior” Senior Brand Manager that really annoys your team.   Instead of providing the team with a vision, challenging on strategy or teaching the team, you’re telling them to make the flash bigger and change the sell sheet to purple.

If you speak in a telling voice, you leave your team with one answer:  YES.   If you speak in an asking voice you leave your team with 3 answers:  YES, NO or let me dig in a bit more and find out.  

Instead of telling people what to do, why not challenge yourself to sit back slightly and ask the really tough challenging questions.  You’ll know you’ve asked a really tough question when you don’t even know the answer.   There’s nothing wrong with stumping the team, because you’re even stumping yourself in the process.

So What are the Tough Questions to Ask?  

As your team might be at the beginning stage of digging in on analysis, here’s are 10 great questions to ask your team:

  1. How do we make money?   This focuses them on figuring out the pathway from the activities on the brand to the results in the market and the profitability on the balance sheets.   The most beloved brands use the consumer connection to create a source of power that they can use on various areas of the market and then use that power to drive the brand’s profitability.   Your team should be able to map this out and use it as a roadmap for the brand’s future.   If you’re not focused on power and profit, then you’re not strategic.  
  2. What is it that makes us different?  USP 2.0The best of brands are either better, different or cheaper.   Or not around for very long.   If you can’t answer this question, then how do you expect your consumer to be able to answer.   You’re likely just a me-too brand and once that’s discovered, you’ll be on a downward spiral.   
  3. Why are we here?  How did we get here?  Where could we be?    It’s great for getting to the vision, without writing the word “vision” up on the board and saying to everyone “ok go”.  That gets you no-where.   Pick a magical date of 5-10 years from now and say “if you got everything you wanted, what would the brand look like in 5 years?”  Push them hard on the where to, because that’s when the brand starts to transform itself.  
  4. What’s holding us back from being where we want to be?   Once you get the team focused on the vision of 5 to 10 years from now.  This allows you to start attacking your brand, to find the inhibitors that you can try to unleash or course correct.  
  5. Which would be easier:   getting our most loyal users to use more, moving up those who have already bought into the brand to start using regularly or getting a new user?    This is pushing them towards a strategic choice, whether to focus on base users or new users–penetration or usage frequency.  It also should start to force you to look at your brand funnel to see where you have strength and where you have gaps.   Every brand should be utilizing a brand funnel.   It’s almost negligent to not use one.   Slide1That’s like working out at the gym and not knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores.  When you layer in What would make us more Money, you might start to see the ROI impact of the same decision.  
  6. What would our consumer say about our brand?  This shifts the focus of the discussion from a myopic brand focus into thinking about the consumer first.   Everything you do should be start and end with the consumer in mind.  After all, if you figure out how to win over the consumer, you become more powerfully connected and can drive greater growth and profits through that power   
  7. For Strategy, what choices are on the table that helps you gain a foothold into the market but also helps to drive the long-term win? A test for any great strategy is whether it has all 4 key elements.   FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.   Pick a tight target market of those who can love you, and pick a unique position that you can stand behind and win.   You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Find that connection with your consumer—moving them along the love curve.  LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Your brand finds a way to turn the consumer connectivity into a source of power the brand can leverage.Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort, where you can translate all the power you’ve earned into profits and brand value.
  8. For any choice related to brand positioning and go-to-market, whether it’s target market, main message, media choices or activities, force their hand by asking a few questions to ask:  1) which one gets us on our way to vision faster?    2) which one helps us grow faster  3) which one makes us more money?   Always push your team to focus by making them use the word “or” instead of “and”. If you think you are a strategic decision maker, then whenever you choose both, you’ve failed.   When you go into a casino, and put one chip on each of the 38 choices on the roulette wheel, it might be fun, but you’ll never win.    By targeting everyone then you’re not making the choice, you’re just depleting your resources.   And you run the risk that no consumer ever says “wow, that brand is really speaking to me.”
  9. When seeing new creative execution of anything, ask “DO YOU LOVE IT?” and then watch their eyes.  Do you think our costumer will love it?  Is this connected to personal pride or are they just passing the buck filling in forms.  not okGetting something to market, big or small takes a herculean effort to overcome obstacles.   I want to know on day 1, will they fight for it?   A great idea that falls on the vine is worth less than an OK idea executed with passion.  If we don’t love the work we do, then how do we expect the consumer to love the brand?    OK is the enemy of greatness.  
  10. Why do you want to spend this money?    If you are about to spend millions of dollars, I want to hear the reason why you think it’s crucial, why it will pay back even greater than the resources we put forward.   Understanding and aligning to one key objective allows everyone to focus on the outcome.   

And finally, the most important question of all:  What do your instincts think we should do?   And then listen.  You might be surprised by the good thinking on your team and you might be surprised that their answer is better than the one that is in your head.  

This might be most obvious of questions, but how many times per week do you ask this?   Imagine the responses you might get from that.  Imagine how motivated your team would be.  As a leader, I want you to start exhibiting more patience.  You have to learn the art of questioning that sets up the listening.  If you learn this skill you’ll start to realize that you can still control the direction of the brand through questions, even more than through direction.  On the plus side, you’ll have a fully engaged, motivated team that’s ready to deliver.

As a Brand Leader at the executive level, you should walk into every meeting telling yourself “I know less about this than anyone in the room” and that puts you in the most powerful position to ask the right strategic questions and listen for the right strategic answers.

The bigger the question, the bigger the answer.

To help improve your strategic thinking, read the following presentation:

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

grAbout Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

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