10 reasons why Brand Managers get fired.

The best Brand Managers take ownership, provide the strategic direction, work the system, handle pressure and get the most of their direct report.brand managers

Most new Brand Managers mistakenly think this role is about managing others because they finally get a chance to manage a direct report. However, the bigger role is the transition from doer to owner. 

Yes, you will get your first chance to manage someone, but many times that effort can be a distraction from your chance to continue to learn and grow. Many brand managers are disheartened to find out they are a disaster with their first direct report. Try to improve with each new direct report and then they will feel more comfortable around the fifth direct report.

I hope you love the magic of Marketing. It is easy to lose your passion and try to do what your boss wants or do things to make short-term numbers so you can get promoted. Don’t just go through the motion the job, but do it with all your passion. If you do not love the work you do, then how can you ever expect your consumer to love your brand? Leave your legacy. 

Many great Assistant Brand Managers end up being fired or pushed out the door at the Brand Manager level. So, why were they mistakenly promoted?

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

Top 10 reasons why Brand Managers get fired:  

1. They struggle to make decisions:

Some Assistant Brand Managers (ABMs) shine because they are the “super doer’s,” who made things happen, on time and under budget. All the subject matter experts (forecasting, production, promotions) love them. However, once promoted to the Brand Manager, they freeze. They can do, but they can’t decide. They can execute someone else’s project list with flare, but they can’t come up with their own project list. Instead of providing direction, they keep asking for help, over and over.

Advice: To overcome this problem, work on your decision-making process with tools that force the choice. If you are scared, map out your thinking, use pros, and cons or a decision tree. When faced with an A or B decision, never talk yourself into doing both A and B. A choice should focus your resources to make sure the plan works. If you do both, it divides your resources, and both options fail. 

2. Not analytical enough.

Many marketers struggle with math, and it eventually catches up with them. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics, and can’t explain what is happening in their brand. If you can’t understand the analytics, you risk solving the wrong problem.

Advice: Just because you are now a Brand Manager doesn’t mean you stop digging into the data. The analytical skills you learned as an ABM should be used at every level in your career right up to VP. Even when I was running a team of 30 marketers, I used to do my own monthly share report to ensure I was digging in and getting my hands mucky with the data.  I could tell which of my Brand Managers had dug in as well and who hadn’t even read their ABM’s monthly report yet. However, trust me, it scares your boss even more. Take the time to understand the details of your business. Dig into the data and make decisions based on the depth of analysis you do. 

3. Can’t get along with others

The Brand Managers that struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s) are at risk of failure. They are the type who speaks first, listens second, and go head-to-head to get their way instead of looking for compromise. Yes, they might be so smart they think faster than everyone, but they forget to bring everyone along with their thinking. They start to leave a trail of those they burned, and when the path gets too big, they get labeled as “tough to deal with.”

Advice:Listen more and make sure to hear them out. The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will. If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn.  Moreover, if they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career. You aren’t the first superstar they’ve seen. Also, likely not the last. My recommendation to you is to remember that Leadership is not just about you being out front, but about you turning around and seeing people following you.  

4. Not good with ambiguity:

Some Brand Managers opt for the safety of the easy and well-known answers. They struggle with the unknown and get scared of ambiguity. Brand Managers that become too predictable for their team create work in the market that also becomes predictable and fails to drive the brand. These Brand Managers are OK–they don’t have much wrong, but they don’t have much right.

Advice: You can put them on safe, comfortable businesses, but you wouldn’t put them on the turn around or new products. Ambiguity is a type of pressure that not all of us are capable of handling, especially when they see uncertainty and time pressure work against each other. Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline. Always push for great. You have to learn to handle ambiguity. In fact, you should revel in ambiguity. Have fun with it. Be patient with ideas. Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly. As a leader, find ways to ask great questions instead of giving quick answers. Watch the signals you send that may suck the creative energy out of your team.

When you find a way to stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone,” the ideas get better whether it’s the time pressure that forces the thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for the best idea. So my recommendation to you is to hold your breath sometimes and see if the work gets better.

5. Bad people Manager

Most first-time people managers screw up a few of their first 5 direct reports. It is only natural. One of the biggest flaws for new Managers is to think “Hey, it will take me longer to explain it to you, so why don’t I just do it myself this one time and you can do it next time”.  They repeat this every month until management realizes that these Brand Managers aren’t teaching their ABM anything. They became the Manager that none of the ABMs want to work for because they never learn anything. But as management keeps watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under these Brand Managers, we start to wonder “while you might be smart, but can you actually manage people?”

Advice: To be a great Brand Manager, you have to work on being a better people leader. We expect you to develop talent.  Be more patient with your ABM. Become a teacher. Be more selfless in your approach to coaching. Take time to give them feedback that helps them, not feedback that helps you. If you don’t become a better people manager, you’ve just hit your peak in your career.

6. Poor communicators, with management or partners

You fail to warn your boss when there is a potential problem adequately. Moreover, when you leave your manager in the dark, it will upset your boss the information comes to your manager from someone else. If you don’t keep your partners aware of what’s going on, you will leave them feeling confused.

Advice: You have to become a better communicator. Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, you make sure that your boss knows as well–especially with negative news. Share the problem with your boss, discuss what you are going to do, and then make it happen.  

7. Never follow your instincts

You forget that marketing also has a “Gut Feel” to it, taking all the data, making decisions and then getting to the execution and believing it by taking a risk. Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it.”

Advice: You have to find ways to use your instincts. The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away. You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done, and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it. You get scared because you’re worried about your career and you want to do the ‘right thing.’ However, your gut is telling you it’s just not right. My rule is simple: if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand. The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad.” At every touch point, keep reaching for your intuition and bring them out into the discussion.

8. Can’t think strategically or write strategically:

You are expected to be able to think strategically and be able to communicate strategy through your writing– whether the annual Brand Plan, creative brief to agency, monthly share report or just an email sent up to senior management.

Advice:Be organized in your thinking and map it out. I do believe that every good strategy has five essential elements: 1) set a vision of what you want 2) Invest resources in a strategic program 3) Focus on an identified opportunity 4) Leverage a breakthrough market impact and 5) Performance result that pays back. If you learn to think, speak and write using these five elements, you will show up smarter to everyone who works on your brand.

9. You don’t run the brand; you let the brand run you.

Some Brand Managers end up in the spin zone where they are disorganized, frantic and not in touch with their business. Some even take pride in how long they work or how many things they are getting done on their to-do list. They miss deadlines, look out of control and let things just stockpile on one another. The brand is killing them.

Advice:Stay in control, so you hit the deadlines and stay on budget. Dig in and know your business, so you don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. Use processes that organize and enable you and your team, so that it frees you up your time to push projects through and for doing the needed strategic thinking. Stay conceptual–avoid getting stuck in pennies or decimals–so you can continue to drive the strategy of your brand.  

10. Sloppy with budgets and timelines

Having someone on the team who is sloppy with budgets and timelines is like living with a messy roommate or the friend who always shows up late. Not only will you look out of control, you will put an added stress on everyone around you. And, like that messy roommate, you won’t know people are talking about you until someone finally loses it on you. When you miss budgets, you mess up the finance team.  The bigger the variance to expectation, the bigger the frustration. The worst thing you want is a reputation for someone who is sloppy. That means you can’t be trusted. When you miss a deadline, you likely mess up someone else’s deadline.

Advice: Get your business in order. You are running a live business. You have to be a good project manager, as it only gets more complex as you move up and take on bigger brands or more brands. 

marketing careers

 

Now let’s be honest: You likely won’t be fired for just one of these. You probably will see 3 or 4 of these come together and begin to showcase that you’re just not up for being a Brand Manager. However, even 1 or 2 will keep you stuck at the Brand Manager level, and you’ll notice your bosses are hesitant to put you on the most significant brands or the toughest assignments.

The big question is what do you do about it.

I hope that you can use the list as a way to course correct on something you might already be doing. We each have a few of these de-railers, some that you can quickly overcome but others that will take a few years to fix. Those who seek out feedback, welcome it and act on it will be the successful ones. I hope that your company has a process of giving feedback or that you get lucky to have a manager that cares about your career and is willing to provide you with the robust feedback. However, if not, seek it. Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter.

I hope you can figure out the blind spots before your manager does.

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

To 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.

 

 

The five success factors for VP Marketing and CMO roles

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]At the VP Marketing level, it is less about marketing and more about people. The equation is simple: better people make amazing work, that delivers outstanding results. Be a consistent, authentic, approachable leader, to inspire and motivate your teams. Invest in your people, with marketing training and development to help your people realize their full potential. Focus on marketing skills, experiences, and behaviors.

1. Your people come first

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

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

2. Run the marketing process and the system

The best VPs should run the P&L and all the Marketing processes. You have to run the P&L and make investment choices. Bring an ROI and ROE (Return on Investment and Effort) mindset to those decisions. These choices will be one of the essentials to making the numbers and gaining more freedom in how you do the job. Regarding process, it has always been my belief that smart processes in place—brand planning, advertising, creative briefs—should not restrict your people, but instead provide the right freedom to your people. Get your people to drive all their creative energy into great work that gets in the marketplace, not trying to figure out what slide looks cool in the brand plan presentation.  

3. Be the visionary

The best VPs bring a vision, not just for the direction of the brand but the inspiration for the team. Come up with a theme that taps into the purpose, beliefs, expectations and the behaviors you will reward. You are now the Mayor of Marketing. What’s your campaign slogan? Get up, walk around and engage with everyone on your team. You can make someone’s day, motivate and encourage them to deliver excellent work. Set a high standard, and when your team put an outstanding idea up for approval, and it is fundamentally sound, then approve it. Do not do the constant spin of fear. It makes you look indecisive and bureaucratic. 

4. Put the spotlight on your people

The best VPs let their people own it and let them shine. It has to be about them, not you. Do not be the super-duper Brand Manager. By making all the decisions, you bring yourself down a level or two, and you take over their job. Instead of telling; start asking questions. Challenge your team and recognize the great work. It might be my own thing, but I never said: “thank you” because I never thought they were doing it for me. Instead, I said: “you should be proud” because I knew they were doing it for themselves.  

5. Be a consistent, authentic, approachable leader

The best VPs have an open door and make it easy for people to engage them. You have to set up an avenue where they can approach you and feel comfortable enough to communicate the good and bad. A hidden leader scares people. No one wants to share concerns or bad results, for fear of how you will react. Don’t get left in the dark. Open communication keeps you more knowledgeable. Get your people to challenge you. Inconsistent and unpredictable behavior by a leader does not “keep them on their toes.” It creates tension and inhibits creativity. Be consistent in how you think, how you act in meetings and how you approve. Leadership assumes “follower-ship.” Create an atmosphere that will make people want to go the extra mile for you. Once you show up ready to listen, you will be surprised how honest they will be and how much they will tell you.

The VP role can be very lonely

I remember when I first took the job as VP, I found it surprisingly a bit lonely. Everyone in marketing tries to be “on” whenever you are around. And you don’t always experience the “real” side of the people on your team. Just be ready for it. It takes a while to get used to the distance from your new peers (the head of sales, HR, operations or finance). It is far greater than you might expect and it may feel daunting at first. Your peers expect you to run Marketing and let them run their functional area. And the specific problems you face, they might not appreciate or even understand the subtleties of the role. Your boss also gives you a lot of rope, which can be either good or bad. There will be less coaching than you had in prior positions. It is crucial for you to have a good mentor or even an executive coach to give you someone to talk with that understands your role. Maybe it’s time to get a dog!  Haha. 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

Graham Robertson bio

 

 

The new burger war: 5 Guys vs In-N-Out vs Shake Shack

When I was a kid, after my hockey practices, my mom and I used to go to Burger King. It became our tradition. What did i like the best? It was nice and quiet, compared to the crowded noisy McDonald’s right across the street. There were no lines, no one taking up the great seat locations. It was so quiet, it was almost zen. Even today, Burger King remains the place you go if you don’t like crowds.

Today, there’s a new burger war heating up:

  • 5 Guys Burgers
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Shake Shack

Who will win? It might depend where you live. If you are in California, you may be partial to In-N-Out, if you are a New Yorker, it is Shack Shake for sure. Everywhere else, it looks like 5 Guys is the dominant brand. This is a brand site, so we look at this through the eyes of marketers and consumers, not food critiques. I am also a burger fan.

Who has the best burger?

I know there is a lot of debate out there. Lets dispel the myth here: they are almost the same piece of meat. They take a high quality ground chuck, and squish it firmly onto a grill, use a cooking technique to lock in the flavor and create a juicy burger. It is a much higher quality meat than McDonald’s and much juicier in the end due to the cooking technique.

The only difference is at 5 Guys, the burger feels like the burger actually breaks apart more which could make it feel less fast-food while In-N-Out feels very neatly stacked. I do like the bacon at Five Guys, but In-N-Out does a nicely toasted bun. Small details.

VERDICT:  Tie

Fries versus shakes

5 Guys FriesIf the burger is a relative tie, then what else can you look at. 5 Guys wins on fries, Shake Shack or In-N-Out wins on Shakes.  I’m a big fries fan, and 5 Guys does have pretty darn good addicting fries. They give you enough that you likely won’t finish them.  The In-N-Out fries (except for Animal Fries) are a little bit nondescript and boring. I do like the crinkle cut style Shake Shack fries, but they are frozen, not fresh. In terms of shakes, the In-N-Out shakes are legendary, whereas 5 Guys is completely missing out by not even having a shake. Verdict:  Tie, pick your poison and likely only have it once in a while.  

Who has better atmosphere?

I have to say, neither In-N-Out or Five Guys have a nice atmosphere.  The In-N-Out restaurants have the plastic feel of a McDonald’s, with booths too small to fit those who can eat a double-double. The hats on the employees are cute, giving it a 50’s diner feel. The 5 Guys atmosphere feels like a Costco, with dusty floors, crappy little tables and chairs. Plus, do we really need 50 signs per restaurant telling us how great you are. There is no effort on their store atmosphere. What you are doing is opening up the door to local establishments finding a niche against both of these with a cooler pub-like atmosphere. The Shake Shack locations are much nicer. If you ever get the chance to go to the original Shake Shack in NYC, it is worth it. I was doing some work with an ad agency, and arrived a couple of hours before the meeting. I didn’t feel like going up early and I noticed about 50 people lined up for lunch at this “shack” in the park.  Every time I have Shake Shack whether in Dubai or throughout the US, I still think of the park. A litlte like my first Movenpick experience, 20 years ago, in the middle of the swiss alps. Verdict: Shake Shack

Five Guys Shake Shack In-N-Out

 

Where does In-N-Out Burger win?

Clearly as I’ve heard from the fans, In-N-Out does a great job engaging with their consumers. The secret menu and the secret sauce, the traditions of the double-double and the “animal fries” all help create a “club” filled with brand fans who will take on anyone that knocks their brand.  There’s a slight difference in who each attracts.  In-N-Out’s menu items are generally less expensive — the chain is most popular with young men ages 18 to 24 with an income of less than $70,000 a year, according to NPD. By contrast, Five Guys patrons are generally 25 to 50 years old, with an income of more than $100,000. In-N-Out seems to have a more engaged consumer base that it can leverage as 5 Guys is now into the Southern California market ready to do battle right in the backyard of In-N-Out.t this point, In-N-Out is stuck as a West Coast brand, in California, Arizona, Nevada and now Texas, giving them only 320 locations.  They have not expanded very quickly, believing it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. This gives them a regional strength and more emotional engagement goes to In-N-Out.

Where does 5 Guys win?

5 Guys has been much more aggressive on their expansion plan. They have pursued winning on review sites and lists that can help drive awareness for the brand. In 2010, they won the Zagat best burger. They have aggressively gone after celebrities such as Shaq and Obama. And most of all, they are winning on location, location and even more location.  5 Guys is everywhere, with 1000+ locations, fairly national and even in Canada. They are clearly following the McDonald’s real estate strategy by trying to be everywhere. The other area where 5 Guys wins is pricing. I am a marketer, so the more price you can command the better. For relatively the same burger, 5 Guys charges twice what In-N-Out charges. In this current stagnant economy, people are proving they’d rather pay $10 for an amazing quality burger than $15 for a lousy steak. It feels like In-N-Out is leaving money on the table with the prices that are just slightly above the McDonald’s price points. More aggressive growth goes to 5 Guys. 

Where does Shake Shack win?

They were definitely late the expansion party, with only 120 stores at this point. The NYC location in the park is such a part of their brand, yet it also drives a lot of revenue. At one point, Shake Shack thought they would stay a “New York only brand” which is part of their delay. Right now, the US market is fairly saturated with burger shops, so they now have 30% of their locations overseas including Seoul, Tokyo, London, Cardiff, Istanbul, Moscow, Muscat, Beirut, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait City, Riyadh. Pretty smart strategy to see an opportunity in those markets and close on them before the others could. I would say, the more interesting locations goes to Shake Shack. 

So who will win?  

At this point the clear winner will be 5 Guys. Just like McDonald’s versus Burger King in the original burger war, it’s not as much about the burger itself but about the aggressive pursuit of real estate. Unless In-N-Out wakes up, take all that brand love they have generated among their fans and they go on an 5-year big expansion, they will be relegated to a regional brand we only visit on our road trips to California.

5 Guys is quickly becoming the upscale version of McDonald’s

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

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

The six habits of great Brand Leaders

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

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

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

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always push for great and never settle for OK

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

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

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

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

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to be a great Assistant Brand Manager…and of course, get Promoted

In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I must have interviewed 1,000 potential Assistant Brand Managers. I was lucky to have hired some of the best, who have gone on to have very strong marketing careers. I became notorious for asking for some of the toughest questions, some even bizarre. I always asked an analytical question to see if they could piece together lots of data and tell a story that made sense. I’d ask a creative question to see if they had a certain flare and pride in the output. I’d ask a problem solving question, some very hard, no real right answer, but I wanted to see how they actually think. And finally, I wanted to know that they had done something at a very high level–it didn’t matter what–but I wanted to know they could make it happen, whatever it was in. Getting that first ABM job is NOT EASY!  I had many failed interviews over the years that I began to wonder if it would ever happen. I remember one interview ended after about 8 minutes when she found out I didn’t have any experience. Thank god, I stuck with it.

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But even after gruelling interviews, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager. So what separates the ok ABM from the great ABM that gets promoted?  There are two factors that I have seen in a consistent manner:  #1:  They get what they need and #2:  What they need is the right thing to do.  Very simply put, great ABMs get both.   The rest either fail on #1 or #2.    

Keep in mind there are some core marketing values you want to adopt over the years as an ABM that will serve you well in your career.

  • Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other. In Marketing, there are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  • Know your business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.
  • Listen and decide: It is crucial that we seek to understand and equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control our destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion. Proactively look for opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage.
  • Regular feedback for growth: Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

The Five Factors that Separate Ok ABMs from the Great ABMs are:

  1. A great ABM is able to tell stories, where others just see data: There is tons of data all over—share results, tracking, test scores, etc. One of the most critical skill an ABM can work on is developing stories with the data. It’s one thing to have the data point, but another to have thought it through and know what it means, and what action you will take on this data. Look for patterns or data breaks, ask questions, start putting together stories and challenge the stories. Use stories backed up by data to sell your recommendations. Never give a data point without a story or action. You risk letting someone else take your data and run with it or tell a story different from yours.
  2. A great ABM takes action and moves before being asked: Most of the projects for ABMs are already set by your manager. When you are new, it’s comfortable to wait for your projects. But don’t get in the habit of waiting for someone to create your project list. But a great ABM starts to push ideas into the system and create their own project list. Some of the best ideas come with a fresh set of eyes and we need a continual influx of new ideas. We also start to see the ABM making good decisions, on their own, and communicating to their boss. Not asking permission but telling what they want to do and look for the head nod. Know what’s in your scope and align with your manager.
  3. A great ABM can get what they want: Instead of just functionally managing the steps of the project, great ABM’s “make it happen”: faster, bigger and better. Faster means you understand what are the important milestones that need to be hit. Manage the bottle necks: the task that have the longest completion time, that impact the entire project. Sometimes you need to push with an inflexible but motivating fist to get it done.
    Bigger means you want to do more than is required. You find that magic to make it even have a bigger impact. Creative solutions or motivating others to do more. Better means you have to take the same people and get them to give their best ideas or their best effort or their best work. Guaranteed you will meet many points of resistance. Every project will. Solving these and still getting the most you can, is what separates the great ABMs from the rest.
  4. A great ABM puts their strategic thoughts forward. You need to be a strategic thinker—asking the right questions to ensure you are focused on the right area, where you can gain a positional power that leads to higher growth and profit for your brand. Ensure you are staying strategic and not just falling in love with some execution not aligned to your brand’s strategy. It’s so easy to be lost in your own “cool” projects. At the ABM level, showing that you can keep things aligned to the strategic is just as important as being strategic. Speak up and represent your strategic thinking. Standing up for your thoughts shows that you are in the game, that you are thinking, and that you believe in your strategic thoughts. Silent ABMs never last.
  5. A great ABM is accountable in the ownership of their work: Accountability is the stepping stone to ownership. And the ownership of the brand is a sign you can be a Brand Manager. We need to see that before giving you your own brand.
    Great ABMs motivate but don’t delegate. If you have to step in, then jump in. You cannot let things slip or miss. You have to stay on top of the timelines and lead those on your project teams. You have to be action oriented, and solution focused. You can never allow your team to get stuck. Be the hub of communication to all team members, and to key stakeholders, including upwards to your manager.

If you can do those better than your peers, then you’ll get promoted. Conversely, if you’re missing any one of these, you might not get there. I hope your boss gives you a quarterly review because I believe ABMs can grow so fast that you need those regular check-ins. If you just get an annual review, you won’t go as fast. Ask for feedback, cherish it, and use the next 90 days to build on a strength or eliminate a gap.

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter.   

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When you first land the ABM job, there’s just so much to learn, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. It’s over-whelming at first, and yet you see all these other ABMs doing it so that’s even more intimidating. But the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival) The idiot curve normally lasts up to 3 months, and then things just start to click. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.  

ABM roles are hard, but all the work you do now will pay off the rest of your career.  

Here’s a presentation on how to have a successful Marketing Career.

 

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.

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to manage your B2B brand

Too many people think that brand management matters most to a consumer brand, and they under-estimate the value of marketing for B2B brands. And many of these people are running B2B brands. They treat marketing as a support function, hiring a low-cost marketing coordinators to support their sales team, and do basic packaging for new launches and run a few basic trade magazines.

B2B marketing is not just about selling products, but about building and selling your brand’s reputation. The role of a B2B brand is to create unique idea for your brand, perceived in the minds and hearts of your customer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit beyond what the product itself could achieve. Too many B2B companies believe they just SELL PRODUCTS. However, you should be building and managing your reputation of your brand. Whereas basic products and services solve small problems, I like to think that a brand beats down the enemy that your customer faces every day. For instance, FedEx fights the enemy of “business moving too slowly” while IBM fights “unsolvable problems” for their customers. What is your customer’s enemy that you can solve for them?

The more loved a brand is by its customers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. With a connected brand, it helps to warm up sales leads–many times they’ll already know your reputation before you call. A brand can connect with customers so that pure pricing becomes less of a factor. If the customer is satisfied and connected on one piece of business, they’ll look to you to solve other problems for them.

Start with a Big Idea

The best brands use a Big Idea to help explain themselves in 7 seconds, and use that Big Idea to help extrapolate that same brand story into 60 seconds or even 30 minutes, depending on the situation. In a crowded branded marketplace, Big Ideas help simplify your brand message so it’s easily understood and remembered, own-able in the customers’ mind and heart and motivating enough to change consumer beliefs and behavior. That big idea should transform your brand message into a brand reputation.

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Below is the tool we use to figure out a brand’s Big Idea which revolves around five areas that help define the brand: 1) Brand’s character 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer reputation of the Brand and 5) the role of the brand in connecting with consumers. How we use this tool is we normally brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four distinct sections and turn create sentences for each. Then looking collectively, we begin to frame the brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind. The tool works! 

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Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your customers.

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Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers. Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Use your brand story to motivate customers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. You need a fundamentally sound product, with innovation that keeps your brand at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The purchase  moment is where customers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their work life so that your customers always turn to you first.

Whereas B2B brands currently treat marketing as a support function, once you have your big idea you can see how for a B2B brand, that the idea should drive every part of your organization and that your brand’s experience will be supported by the culture, people and operations which then transforms that idea into a brand reputation. Below you can see how that Big Idea should be a beacon for your top-to-top leadership, your sales team, the problem solvers, customer service team and the experience delivery team.

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Everyone in your organization must be saying the same message. For a B2B brand, marketing’s role is to make sure that the external and internal story are given equal importance so that everyone in your organization must be communicating and delivering the same big idea to customers that they see in trade magazines, at trade shows or in the sales materials.

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Like any brand, there are really only four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. For B2B, when your product is a commodity, you have to find a way to use service levels as a way to find your point of difference. When you start to treat your own brand like a commodity or believe that you are, that’s when you’re in trouble. What you want to do is use that Big Idea to create an internal culture and use that culture to build your brand’s reputation as the way to help separate you in the marketplace. As you build your culture, you’ll see that you can begin to use culture as a way to stand out and then you’ll evolve to where you see culture becomes the backbone that delivers the brand experience. At the ideal stage where you become a beloved brand you see that culture and brand become one as your own people become the most outspoken fans of the brand. 

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Your brand is your reputation and it can never be a commodity

Click below on the Powerpoint version of the B2B Brand Workshop we run for clients.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

If you knew that being a better client would get you better Advertising, could you actually show up better?

 

Clients get the advertising they deserve.

While that’s a very famous tongue-in-cheek quote from David Ogilvy, it should be a kick in the butt to clients. It suggests that if you suck as a client, you will get advertising that sucks. It’s likely true. As I’m coaching clients on advertising, I like to ask aSlide1 very difficult question: If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better? When it comes to advertising, the role of the Brand Leader is to consistently get good advertising on the air, and equally consistently keep bad advertising off the air. Baseball pitcher David Price has a sign above his locker:  “If you don’t like it, pitch better”. The same thing should hold true for Brand Leaders: If you don’t like your Advertising, then show up better. So what is it that makes some brand leaders good at advertising?

Before we figure what makes someone good at advertising, let’s figure out what makes someone suck

Theory #1: you blame yourself

  • You never find your comfort zone: You are convinced you’re not good at advertising. No experience, feel awkward or had a bad experience. You think you’re strategic, not tactical. You are skeptical, uptight, too tough and too easily annoyed.
  • You don’t know if it’s really your place to say something: You figure the ad agency is the expert—that’s why we pay them—so you give them a free reign (aka no direction). Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up, and blame them later.
  • You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure, or you don’t know why: You don’t really love it, but it seems ok for now. The agency says if we don’t go for it now, we’ll miss our air date and have to give up our media to another brand.
  • You can’t sell it in to management: you need to make sure if it’s the right thing to do, you are able to sell the idea in. Tell them how it works for your brand—and how it delivers the strategy.

Being a good client takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Don’t write yourself off so quickly. Learn how to be a good client.

Theory #2: You Blame your Agency

  • You hate the brief: Agency writes a brief you don’t like—or you box them into a strategy. If either of you force a strategy on the other, then you’re off to a bad start.
  • Creative team over sells you: you get hood-winked with the “we are so excited” speech: You’re not sure what you want, so you settle for an OK ad in front of you—the best of what you saw. Ask yourself what’s missing before you buy an ad.
  • You lose connection with the agency: Keep your agency motivated so that you become the client they want to make great work on, rather than have to work on.
  • You lose traction through the production and edit: Talent, lighting, directors and edits—if the tone changes from the board to edit, then so does your ad.

An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. Next time you want to fire your agency, maybe focus on yourself for improvement, because you’ll bring the same flaws to the next agency.

Theory #3: You Blame your Brand

  • The “I work on a boring Brand” argument. You think only cool brands like Nike, Apple, Ikea etc. are so much easier to work on. However, think again, because your boring brand has so much room to maneuver, it should be even easier.
  • You are too careful and think we can’t swing too far: Good ads either go left or right, not in the middle of the road. Consumers might not notice your “big shift”.
  • Advertising roulette: Where brand managers haven’t done the depth of thinking or testing, briefing is like a game of chance. Brands go round and round for years.
  • Your strategy Sucks: You figure if we don’t have a great strategy, a good ad might help. A great strategy makes an ad, but an Ad will never make a great strategy.

It’s one thing to be a “fan” of advertising in general, but we need to see you be a “fan” of YOUR advertising.

Show up as a better client and watch the Advertising work get better

Here are eight ways to challenge yourself to show up better at every stage of the advertising process

  1. Do you develop a testable Brand Concept with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points that you know are actually motivating?
  2. How tight is your brief? Do you narrow the target and add engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on one benefit and one message?
  3. Do you meet creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work?
  4. Do you hold tissue sessions to narrow solutions before going to scripts?
  5. At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions?
  6. Do you take creative risks, and are you willing to be different to stand out?
  7. Do you manage your boss at every stage? Do you sell them, on your vision what you want?   Are you willing to fight for great work?
  8. Are you one of your agency’s favorite clients? Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business? If they love you, they’ll work harder for you and do better work. They are only human. They will never tell you this, but I’m a former client so I will: if you want better work–it’s pretty simple–show up better. 

Creative Advertising Process

 

Be better at every stage 

  • When doing the strategy pre-work, dig in deep and do the work on insights, create a Big Idea and lay out the brand Concept. Even consider testing the concept to know that it motivates consumers. Never use the advertising process to figure out the brand strategy. 
  • Create a focused creative brief to create the box for the creative team, that has one objective, two insights, the desired response, one main benefit, two support points. 
  • Hold a creative expectations meeting to give a first impression on your vision, passion. Inspire and focus creative team. Do not take a hands off approach and avoid meeting the creative team, assuming your account team has conveyed EVERYTHING. 
  • Use a tissue session to explore ideas. Use this when you don’t have a campaign. Be open to new ways of looking at your brand. Focus on Big Ideas, without getting into the weeds. Be willing to push for better ideas if you don’t see them at the tissue session.
  • When in the creative meeting, be a positive minded client, focus only on big picture, give direction, make decisions. Avoid giving your solutions. No Details. Ask yourself: are you inspiring?
  • Use a feedback memo that is 24-48 hours after the creative meeting for more detailed challenges but without giving specific solutions. Use this to create a new box. Do not use this memo to say new thoughts that were not in the creative meeting or in the management meetings you had. If it is a new thought, pick up the phone and talk about it with your account person first. 
  • If you use ad testing, you can use either quantitative or qualitative depending on time and budget. I always recommend that you use it to confirm your pick, not make your decision.
  • When gaining approval internally, sell it in!!!  That’s part of your role is to fight for the work you love. Be ready to fight resisters to make it happen. My rule of thumb is to bring the senior account person when that person has a good relationship with my boss and even use them to help sell it in (since they are better trained at selling) and then bring the most senior creative person when the creative work needs selling. 
  • Through the production stages, your role is to manage the tone to fit the brand. Think of this like managing the kitchen of your house–you have to live in it, so you have to live with every decision. Always, get more than you need so you can use it later. 
  • With post production, talk directly with and leverage every expert you come in contact with. The more you connect and empower them, the harder they’ll fight for what you need. 

Be a better client and get the advertising you deserve

To read more on Marketing Execution, here is a workshop we run. Click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

Would you ever pay more for a bottle of water than you would for beer?

This past week, I was in Shanghai, China and found the price of a bottle of Evian and Fiji water about ten times the prices of local bottled water (Nestle). And when I went into the Beer section, the water was still twice the price of a Budweiser beer (produced locally). You can also buy Coke or Gatorade much cheaper.

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The prices above  are in Chinese Yuan (1 CYN = 0.15 USD), with the US Dollar equivalent being just under $2.00 US for the Evian or Fuji water, and then only 21 cents US for the Nestle water. The Budweiser is only $1 USD and the Coke is about 50 cents US. Given any worries about “don’t drink the water”, you might easily be willing to pay for the Evian. Or just grab a few Budweiser’s and not worry so much about the water.

China is in a state of dramatic change

The economy of China has been going through vast changes and you see it live on the streets of Shanghai. The contrast of the modern sky scrappers of downtown Shanghai, with the small street neighborhoods with laundry hung out on the phone lines. The increasing number of Mercedes driving past old school three wheel bikes carrying layer upon layer of boxes for delivery. High end restaurants contrasting against live chickens being killed and bagged for dinner that night. The small boutique 100 square foot stores and the 80,000 square foot Carrefour Super Markets.

While China has benefited from global trade, making Apple computers and Nike shoes to be sold around the world, the government uses protectionist practices to ensure high transfer pricing to ensure local goods benefit.

A brand like Evian, with water from the French Alps can not maintain that positioning if they begin producing in a factory just outside Shanghai. In the Carrefour, they have three specific aisles for “Imported” goods, all recognizable Western brands, but all with dramatic price premiums to the local products. This aisle might appeal to the high number of expats living in China as well as the growing Chinese upper middle class. The rest of the grocery store has 10-20% global brands interwoven among the shelves of local goods. This sets up two specific strategies, produce locally (for instance Nestle) and compete directly with the local goods, or stay in the “Imported” and use the super-premium pricing as a strategy to set yourself apart.

I remember being in France in the early 1990s, where I found myself walking all over Paris for about 4-5 hours on a 35 Celsius day. I finally came across a store selling Diet Coke and it was the equivalent of $6. I was in shock, but my thirst overcame my Scottish blood and I guzzled down the most expensive Diet Coke of my life. Later on, my wife ordered a glass of wine for $3. One more reminder that if you eat and drink like the locals, you will be much better off.

Global Pricing Management Systems

Global pricing models get very complicated. With a desire to do well in every local market, you must consider regional and global pricing to ensure you avoid any grey-market activity. Most of the big global brands are using pricing corridors by region to ensure local pricing stays local. Here are five things when considering your pricing as you enter new markets.

  1. Define your Pricing Strategy in alignment with your business strategy and business objectives and based on a deep understanding of your own competitive position, customer insight and cost-to-serve. When starting to look at your pricing, here is what you should be considering.
    • Market Price: If you are confused, pricing studies that look at various options to identify the price elasticity. In general, the more loved a brand, a combination of interesting or important are more price inelastic. One water scare and Evian could charge $5 per bottle, without seeing a change in the volume would make it an inelastic price.
    • Value Price: A brand has good value if the price is deemed “fair”. For a marketer, the mid point hits when the perceived price and perceived value match up. If the price is too high, there is a risk of losing customers/volume. If the price is too low, there is a risk of not realizing the full profitability on the brand.
    • Strategic Price: the pricing strategy can actually impact the positioning as much as it just reflects the positioning. A super premium brand like Evian can make the consumer believe it must be a super premium if it really can command that value.
    • Short vs. Long-term Revenue Pricing: Marketers can get caught up in the addiction to pricing promotions. Once you get up to 30-50% sold on deal, the actual price begins to have little meaning for the consumer.
    • Portfolio Pricing (Price Points): One option for a brand entering a local market who wants to maintain the price of their global brand would be to create a specific local brand with a local price. This would allow you to own both the super-premium and the value priced brands, with the consumer never knowing you own them both.
  2. Operationalize Pricing Strategy in marketing activities and generate all required input for Price Execution.  Here are the factors you should be considering when you operationalize your pricing into the new markets.
    • Competitor Responses
    • Not-in-Kind (NIK) Replacements
    • Reduce/Increase attractiveness of business
    • Keep out competition
    • Setting Visible Market prices
    • Customer Reaction Product Pricing Cannibalization
  3. Implement Pricing Strategy and Price Determination framework into daily sales activities and transactional processing. As you evaluate the impact of your pricing in the market, here are the factors you should be looking at.
    • Buying Power
    • Supplier Power
    • Place in the Value Chain
    • Price Elasticity
    • Global vs. Local Supply and Demand
    • Capacity
    • Substitute products
  4. Define pricing capabilities and skill sets, establish pricing organization and assure consideration of legal requirements
  5. Enable pricing capability by monitoring and provision of tools, systems and processes related to pricing in an integrated manner

Pricing Waterfall

It is good discipline for brands to map out and manage their pricing waterfall. This provides a good control tool as you can track the waterfall over time and identify problems you are encountering. Here’s an example of the dimension involved in a pricing waterfall, helping move you from a desired price to a profitable price.

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So would you pay a 90% price premium for the Evian? I did. 

Here’s a presentation we use for the deep dive analytical thinking that can help you determine your pricing.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

Ritz-Carlton: Meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests

 

 

Impeccable service separates Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.RitzCarlton.svg

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Isn’t that what marketers do? So what’s getting in our way?

They bake it right into the Ritz-Carlton culture

The phrase that Ritz-Carlton uses with their staff is “Radar is on and Antenna is Up” so that everyone can be looking for the unexpressed needs. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way:

  • A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant. Normal service would be to observe and do nothing–at best help with the bags. But at Ritz-Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.
  • A business guest who was staying at a hotel for 4 weeks and the staff printed up business cards with the guest name, hotel address and phone number so that he could give them out during his stay.

But like any hotel, things do go wrong. The staff is encouraged to use these moments to not only address the problem and fix it but also try to surprise and delight guests turning a problem into a potential wow moment. With everyone’s antenna’s up, when a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input.

  • A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying.2012-05-17-Joshiepic5 The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son, is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff, found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton. Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay, including photos of the giraffe sitting by the pool, in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. It’s not that the album would make the boy excited, because he was excited just to have his favorite giraffe back. But imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff and how many friends they may share that story with.
  • An activity coordinator noticed that one of them had a real passion for ballet. Over the week, the activity coordinator even came in before her shift every day to give the girl a private ballet class. She wanted to do something special for the young guest, and decided to teach her a special dance for her parents. On their last day, she arranged for a performance at the Jazz Club, with special music and lighting for the performance. The couple was very grateful and could not believe how much love and passion the activity coordinator had put into making their daughter’s stay so memorable. To complete the experience, they gave the guests a CD with pictures and videos of their daughter’s performance so they could share it with family and friends on their return home

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged. Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labelled this group as the Super Stars. Using the same criteria, Ritz-Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They’ve fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So what can brand leaders learn from Ritz-Carlton?

  1. How can marketers challenge themselves to meet the unexpressed needs of guests? As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So what’s getting in your way? Are you over-thinking things? Are you too worried about the short-term results that you’re not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs? Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never really reach for your instincts which might challenge the data or even fill in the missing gaps in the data?0da472d
  2. How do you get your antenna’s up so that you and your team are always watching, listening and thinking? As you run from meeting to meeting, filling in forecasting templates and spending evenings pretty-ing up your presentation for senior leaders, how many times a week do you talk to consumers, how many times do you walk into a store or what social media tools do you monitor and listen to. Do you ever sit with customer service for an afternoon? Do you read through the complaints? And while it’s great that you do this once in a while, how do you operationalize it with your team. Can you set aside time so that you’re doing regular store visits or a quick brainstorm on observations once a week.
  3. How can Marketers push ourselves to wow the Consumer? The Ritz-Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, in either a small or big way believing that both make a difference. Are you pushing yourself to surprise your consumer? Are you trying to wow your consumer? Are you rejecting OK work to force everyone to reach for Great? Do you have a standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer, after all if you don’t love the work then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

Do something this week that meets the unexpressed needs of a Customer just to see what it feels like. It might feel pretty damn powerful.

 

To read about how to create a Beloved Brand, click on the presentation below:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

 

10 reasons why people fail early on in their Marketing careers

 

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

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

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

On day 1, everyone has all ten of these de-railers, some that you can easily over-come but others will take time and effort to really fix. What really separates “great” from the “ok” is what you’re willing to do with these. Those who seek out feedback, welcome it and act on it will be the successful ones. I hope that your company has a process of giving feedback or that you get lucky to have a manager that cares about your career and is willing to give you the tough feedback. But if not, seek it out. Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter. My hope is that you are able to maximize your full potential in Marketing.

 

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

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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