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

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

A typical marketing job interview starts with you waiting in the lobby longer than you wanted. Then the big introduction, the handshake, that awkward small-talk on the way to the tiny little room where all you can think to talk about is the weather or you finding a great parking spot. Then you sit down, and out comes that dreaded question, “So, tell me about yourself”. Oh god well all hate that question. “Ummmm, let me see, I like basketball, walks in the park and I think I’m rather funny, or at least my wife does”. Wow, bad start. Then you get about 8-10 questions that ask “tell me a time when…”. And finally, they end the interview with, “Anything else to add?” Then there is that awkward walk back to the reception desk, where you talk about your plans for the weekend. Then you drive home, and realize that you forgot to mention your 3 biggest career accomplishments.

The problem is you didn’t know how to answer “so, tell me about yourself” because you never know a great way. Well I will show you how. Then you waited defensively on the 8-10 “Tell me a time when….” type behavioral questions everyone is using. You sat there like a game show contestant hoping that examples will miraculously pop into your head at the last minute. Well, I am going to show you how to organize the 10 best things you ever did so that never happens again. And, you were so relieved at the end of the interview, that when they said “Anything to add?” you mistakenly let out a big sigh and said: “No, I think we are good!” That’s no way to end it. This is like the end of the TV ad, where you forget your tagline. Instead, I am going to force you to go for the close with your 7 second pitch again!

Having interviewed about 1,000 marketers over my 20 year career, I can tell you that many of the best marketers in the world kinda suck in job interviews. They forget that when they are looking for their next role….that THEY are now the brand they must be able to market. The same rules apply.

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

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

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

“As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t, and I create a motivated brand team that delivers great work to drive results”.

Think of this like your 7 second personal brand pitch, where you give a summation of your personal brand’s big idea. Here is a simple tool I have created to help you answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s how the interview should go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Beloved Brands, we can’t really help you get a job. But once you do land that dream job in Marketing, we can certainly help you succeed. What we do best, is we make 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.

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.

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. And please feel free to add me on LinkedIn.

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

How good is your marketing team? Find their score.">How good is your marketing team?

How good is your marketing team? Find their score.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

How good is your marketing team?

 

How good is your marketing team?

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

How good is your marketing team?

 

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

How good is your marketing team?

How to make your team smarter

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

How to do brand analytics 

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

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

 

How to think strategically

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

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

 

How to define your brand

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

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

 

How to write a Brand Plan everyone can follow

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

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

 

How to inspire Marketing Execution

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

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

 

Time to step up and invest in training your team

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

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

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

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

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson 

 

 

 

 

Airbnb nails the brand experience marketing better than the rest

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

bnb_billboard_01-2000x1125I have always been a traveller, more than a tourist. I would love to live everywhere in the world. I don’t need a hotel. Back in the 1990’s, I figured out that it was better to rent a place for a week, and live there, not really just visit. However, this is completely pre-technology. My first venture was in Peebles Scotland, where I found an amazing place through the classified section of the newspaper. Do you even know where Peebles is?  I didn’t until I saw the wee little classified ad in the Toronto Star. I then met the person, saw photos and hand them cash. I had an amazing time. The flat was the top half of a house, in a small village 30 minutes south of Edinburgh. Then throughout the 1990’s, I found a place in Menton, France, then Brugges Belgium, then Igls, Austria and finally, Whangarei, New Zealand. Still no technology. It was not really easy finding these gems around the world. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. But, ever so rewarding when I did find them. I’ve been so lucky to have stayed in so many great places.

Airbnb takes all the hard work I was doing and puts it right in front of the consumer. Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.44.58 AMYou can sort by city, even down to the neighborhood, sort by the type of residence, specify a few needs (e.g. wifi) and then put in your price range. With most, you can see 15-20 photos to give  you an idea. You can also see reviews, but they need help in that department to ensure honesty.  (e.g. It looks like everyone hands out 4’s and 5’s). You make your choice, select the dates, provide government I.D. to ensure it is really you and then off your offer goes to the owner. Moments later, or when they wake up, the reply saying yes. There is a bit of hunting that goes on, but it is so much easier than everything I used to do. My next trip is to Australia later in the year, with a beach front condo in Bondi Beach in Sydney for a week and then we have a harbor front view booked for Cairnes. Just perfect. So much easier booking with Airbnb.

Don’t just go there. Live there.

Airbnb has nailed the creation of the big idea of “Don’t just go there. Live there.” It replaces their original big idea of “Imagine a world where you can belong anywhere”, which felt a bit dreamy and disconnected from the reality of the product they were offering. Airbnb’s own data says that 86% of the consumers who use Airbnb are  pick the platform because they want to live more like a local. Exactly the same reasoning I was looking up places in newspapers. That insight of living rather than visiting inspired the brand’s latest and largest marketing campaign, “Live There.”

At Beloved Brands, we have created a model that shows how to take your big idea down to every part of your business through 5 consumer touch-points: brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience.

Positioning 2016.080
Powered by Zedity

While Airbnb has created a great experience with their system, they are taking it a step further with their advertising and their smart use of partnerships around the world to express the brand’s point of difference versus hotels. The latest advertising really caught my attention as they nailed the insight that speaks to those of us who want to live there. According to Airbnb, 52 percent of these younger-minded U.S. travelers find crowds at major tourist attractions to be more stressful than doing a tax return, while 47 percent don’t like to be labeled as tourists when they go to a new place. Such an arresting spot.

 

 

In a partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, they were able to recreate Van Gogh’s famous bedroom to be rented for $13 a night on Airbnb. While it showcases the museum, for Airbnb, it really brings their brand experience to life, saying anything is possible.

ct-van-gogh-room-airbnb-photos-20160210

 

Next, to embed the brand experience through the culture, Airbnb built their new office in Singapore around the actual homes on Airbnb to showcase the vast diversity of destinations on offer through the community-driven platform. These include an apartment in Batignolles, Andy Warhol-inspired art loft in Bangkok, a caravan in Cornwall, a villa in Kuta, amongst others.

AirbnbOffice_Singapore_Bangkok_BetonBrut

 

“Airbnb has never been a traditional workplace. At Airbnb, we want to create the sense of travel when we welcome people into our office,” said Airbnb Asia-Pacific regional director Julian Persaud. “Simply having photos of unique accommodation and far-off places are not enough, we want our employees and guests to experience the feeling you get when you travel.”

AirbnbOffice_Singapore_Auckland

 

As a sports fan, Airbnb partnered with the Air Canada Center in my hometown of Toronto to provide an amazing experience for a couple. They converted one of the executive suites at the arena into a place to stay for a couple. They saw a hockey and basketball game, then skated on the ice and shot on the court. Have a look:

 

 

What can you do to bring your brand experience to life?

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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.

Brand Careers 2016.032
Powered by Zedity

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.   

Brand Careers 2016.026
Powered by Zedity

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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.

b2b marketing 2016.024
Powered by Zedity

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! 

b2b marketing 2016.042
Powered by Zedity

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.

b2b marketing 2016.047
Powered by Zedity

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.

b2b marketing 2016.097
Powered by Zedity

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.

b2b marketing 2016.088
Powered by Zedity

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. 

b2b marketing 2016.099
Powered by Zedity

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

 

A client’s view on what makes a great Advertising agency

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

It seems that clients are firing ad agencies very quickly these days.  

I’m half way old enough that I’m straddling the fence on whether agencies are as good as the old days. But it seems that there are pitches going on constantly, and yet no one is really wanting to look themselves the mirror and say “Am I part of the problem?”

I’ve been brought in a few times to look at the situation. The first thing I normally tell the Brand Leader is “you have to fire yourself first” and then see if the agency is still bad. The best clients respect the process, the agency and their own judgment. And yet, most Brand Leaders under-estimate the role the client plays in getting to great creative. As a Brand Leader, if you knew that showing up better would get you better advertising, do you think you could?  If there are 100 steps in every advertising development stage and you show up OK at each step, how are you possibly thinking you’ll end up with a GREAT ad at the end?  

What makes for a great Advertising Agency?

I come at this from the vantage of a client, having spent 20 years working as a Brand Leader.  I’m not an Ad Agency guy,but I’ve seen some great agencies and some not so good.  Here is my list of what makes a great Agency:

  1. They work for you, not your boss. While your boss pays them and has the final say, the best agencies still know you are the client. Nothing worse than a client service person constantly trying to go above your head. The best way for an agency to earn your trust is to consistently demonstrate that they work for you. That trust will earn them a seat, along side you, at the table of your boss. You will know they have your back and will support your recommendation, not cave at the whim of your boss.    
  2. They understand your goals, your issues and your strategies. They write briefs that are on your brand strategy and deliver work that expresses your brand strategy. Yes, the modern agency struggles to write advertising strategies that align to the Brand’s strategy. Just as though clients are not trained enough in the areas of strategy and planning, I see the same thing on the Agency side. As margins are squeezed, the first casualty is strategic planning. Yet, that might be one of the most important. I’d prefer to have a great strategic planner on the brand than have 5 client services people each show up taking notes at meetings.  
  3. They make work that drives demand and sells more widgets, not work that just win awards. Awards are part of the agency world–helping to motivate creative people and establishing the agency reputation in the market. I once had an agency person say: “we can’t write that strategy because it will make for boring work”. The balance of winning awards and selling more widgets always has to side with selling more widgets. I’m really tired of agencies starting off creative meetings with the “we are so excited” line. You want an agency that comes into a room and says “we have an ad for you that will sell more of your product”.  
  4. They give options. And they don’t always 100% agree. Come on agencies. We are in year 100 of making ads and you haven’t figured out yet that the clients like options. Each option has to deliver the strategy. Nothing worse than agencies who tear apart the brief and deliver options for each part of the brief. (e.g. here’s one for the younger audience, here’s one that does fast really well and here’s one that does long-lasting) That’s not creative options, that’s now strategic options.Marketing Execution 2016.025 We collectively decide on the strategy before the creative process begins, not meander the strategy during the creative process. As clients, options give us comfort. But even more importantly, options treat us with respect that we can still make the right decision.  
  5. Agencies are not territorial. They are transparent allowing you open and free access to their planners and creative people. It’s really the account people here. Good account people allow you to communicate directly with the creative team. Most great creative teams that I have worked with want direct access to the client, rather than have it be filtered through a series of contact reports.  
  6. They adjust and easily take feedback. Agencies serve at the pleasure of the client. Every client is unique and the best agencies adjust to that style. Not only the company but even the individual. I used to sit with my Account leader every quarter and go through how we can each get better. Some clients aren’t even doing annual agency performance reviews.  
  7. They are positive and already motivated to work on your brand. While I do encourage clients to motivate their agencies, it’s much easier to motivate someone who is already motivated.  When I see a 25-year old account person openly complaining, I see that as a problem with the culture of the agency, not a problem for the client to have to figure out. I’m now on the service side as a consultant, and we can never openly complain.  
  8. They teach. When I was a new Brand Manager, my client services person (Leslie Boscheratto) taught me more about advertising than any client should have to learn. In fact, I’m still embarrassed at how little I knew, yet thrilled at how much I learned from that team at Bates back in the mid 90s.  
  9. They act like you are their only client. And you feel important to them, no matter what share your budget is of the overall agency. Why sign you up as a client and then keep reminding you that they have Coke, Budweiser or Dove. When you are with me, treat me as though I’m the most important client in the world.  
  10. Trusted Advisor: They are a trusted advisor who will give you real advice, not just on advertising but on your performance and on the overall brand.  Most senior agency folks have seen plenty of clients come and go. Never be afraid to find a quiet moment with your agency person and ask two simple questions: “what can I do better” and “what do your best clients do that I could learn from”.

You’ll notice the one thing missing from my list is “They Make Great Work”.  That’s a given because that’s the only reason you hire an agency. Yes, some agencies make better work than others. But even those agencies that make great work, also make bad work. And if we were to look at why, it would likely start with the relationship, processes or interactions. So if the client can fix what they are doing wrong and the agency can show up right, then you should be able to make good work together.  

Making great advertising should be simple, but it is very hard to do. 

Here’s a presentation on How to get better Marketing Execution

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

LEGO: An amazing Customer Service letter to a seven year old boy

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

lego-secrets-brand-longevityWhen you are 7, the Lego brand is much more important to them than Starbucks or Apple is to an adult. For generations, Lego has been a beloved brand for those inventive minds who liked to create complex objects from very simple bricks. Current Lego products are a little more complex, but the idea of Lego remains the same.

This customer story involves a 7-year old boy who lost his Lego when he took it on a family trip to the mall. Kids lose a toy all the time. But he was so upset that he wrote a letter to Lego, telling them the story and asking for a replacement. He lost just one figure in his Lego kit (Jay ZX) but to him it’s the most important thing in his life.

Hello, my name is Luka. With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kid of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good. My daddy just took me to Sainburys and tole me to leave the people at home, but I took them and lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat. I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one. I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.

Thank you.  Luka

Someone at Lego, made the brilliant decision to send the boy some replacement product and send the following letter. While strategy is important, it is the many little things of a brand can really make a difference in exhibiting the passion of the company.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 9.28.32 AM
Powered by Zedity

For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand. And it’s a great example of going above and beyond. What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter. The dad ended up tweeting about the story, lots of viral hits and then picked up in the mainstream media including TV and newspapers in the UK, US and Canada. And now millions are reading about this story (including you right now.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 9.41.53 AM

When you reach the beloved brand stage, the strategies become all about continuing the magic of the brand. That might mean attacking yourself on product innovation or finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumer base. There are legendary customer service stories that come from Nordstrom’s, the high-end retailer that add to the mystique of the Nordstrom brand. One story involved a Nordstrom employee who found luggage and a plane ticket for a flight that was taking off soon. Figuring the customer was on their way to the airport, the employee got in his car and drove to airport to meet the customer. The second story involves a customer in Alaska returning tires that he bought at the store that was the prior tenant to the Nordstrom store. After much debate, they decided to take the tires back, even though it’s not a product they carry.

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

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

 

A casual and cool Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sells a new type of Canada

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

CgpID6RUgAE5OKIAs a Canadian, I am used to Canada being very low-key on the world stage. However, all that seems to be changing with the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. For me, it started the morning after we elected Trudeau back in the fall of 2015, when one of my friends texted me “I hear you have a hot new Prime Minister”.

Trudeau is young (44), good-looking with modern liberal views, outspoken on his support for women, native Canadians and newly minted Syrian refugees. Imagine a politician in these times not only pushing for Syrian refugees, but he showed up at the airport to welcome them to Canada. Trudeau’s trip to Washington made the news, with a similar impact as how Prince William or Harry might generate. He had a tremendous impact on President Obama who referred to him as the most popular Canadian ever. Trudeau is making most of the top 100 most influential lists.

Here’s the type of Prime Minister we have here in Canada, as he welcomes Syrian refugees at the airport.

 

 

 

And now Trudeau is literally selling Canada.

Tourism Canada has caught on to Trudeau being one of their bigger assets to re-positioning Canada as modern, hip, cosmopolitan and accepting, hoping to attract tourists from around the world. Especially those Americans feeling disenfranchised by the current political climate in the US Presidential race. Recently, the Canadian visa website has been flooded with download requests.CO-Truedeau04.JPG

Research shows that tourism is up 8.5% for Canada, and about 1 in 10 Americans have considered a vacation to Canada, although they have expressed concerns about potential cold weather and the perceived lack of urban sophistication. Both of these are misguided stereotypes. Just so everyone knows, Vancouver weather is identical to Seattle (both rarely ever get snow) and Toronto is just like Chicago or Boston (a mix of snow in winter and heat in the summer). As for urban sophistication, Canada has a very urban population (80% of Canadians live in urban areas), and Toronto is the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America. Those who visit talk about how clean Canada is, how safe they feel and how friendly the people are. Many of the Canadian cities are consistently rated as some of the best cities in the world. We have some of the greatest natural beauties in the world, with the Rockies of the West or Newfoundland of the East.

Below is a new Canadian tourism video, prominently featuring Trudeau, that was just released by Destination Canada. He nails some all the key talking points, showing our culinary sophistication, talking about the diversity of Canadians and just showing a very casual coolness that feels different than a politician would normally project themselves. He even talks about a consumer insight that I’ve always been fond of: “Canada has such a beautiful diversity, that it is one the only places where you can’t tell who is local and who is a tourist”. Have a look, and see if this guy is more casual and at ease with people than Obama or Bill Clinton or Tony Blair.

 

 

Now whether this type of low-key casual spot is enough to drive tourism sales in Canada, we likely can expect Trudeau’s next 5 years as Prime Minister will continue to drive intrigue and knowledge of the new emerging Canada. Below is a YouTube clip of Trudeau (a former teacher) explaining Quantum computing–and my guess is that most views are not to learn more about computers.

 

 

 

Would you consider traveling to Canada?

 

To read more about brand positioning, here’s a workshop we run:

 

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 Brand Managers get fired

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Brand Careers 2016.051There have been a lot of great Assistant Brand Managers, who end up being fired or pushed out the door at the Brand Manager level. So that would beg the question:  why were they mistakenly promoted? Just like in sports where they are fooled by size, we sometimes get fooled by Charisma. They seem impressive to us–whether it is how they speak in the hallways or answer questions in a planning meeting. We think Charisma is a great starting ground for a leader, so we hope they can learn to be analytical, strategic, creative and organized. We hope that charismatic leader can get stuff done, stay on track, hand in their budgets on time, know how to turn a brand around, be able to write great brand plans, work with agencies and motivate the sales team etc…etc… But then we find out that they can’t do all that stuff. And after 18 months as a Brand Manager, we see they really are “just charismatic” and we remind ourselves of what we already knew: Being a Brand Manager really is hard.

Brand Managers don’t really get fired because they can’t deliver the results. That might happen at Director or VP level. But at the Brand Manager level, we’d look for other Blind Spots that might be leading to the poor results. We would evaluate whether the Brand Manager appears capable of closing their blind spots.

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

Top 10 reasons why Brand Managers get fired:  

  1. Struggle to make decisions: When these Brand Managers were Assistant Brand Managers (ABMs) they shined because they are the “super doer’s”, who can work the system, get things done on time and under budget. All the subject matter experts (forecasting, production, promotions) loved them. But then, after we promote them into the Brand Manager seat and they freeze. Brand Careers 2016.029They can do, but they can’t decide. They can easily execute someone else’s project list with flare, but they can’t come up with a project list of their own. Advice: To overcome this problem, you have to work better on your decision-making process. You have to find methods for narrowing down the options to help you make decisions. When you are new to decisions, take the time to map out your thinking whether it is a  pros and cons or a decision tree. It will eventually get faster for you to train your mind to make decisions.
  2. Not analytical enough: The Brand Managers that can’t do the deep dive analytical thinking will fail. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics. It will eventually catches up with them when they make a poor decision and can’t explain why they went against the obvious data points. The real reason is that the Brand Manager never saw the data points. When a senior leader questions a Brand Manager, they can usually tell if they have struggled enough with a problem to get to the rich solution or whether they just did the adequate thinking to get to an “ok” solution. Advice: Just because you are now a Brand Manager doesn’t mean you stop digging into the data. The analytical skills you learned as an ABM should be used at every level in your career right up to VP. As I moved up, I felt out of touch with the data so at every level up to VP, I used to do my own monthly share report just to ensure I was digging in and getting my hands mucky with the data. Because I had dug around in the data, I knew which of my Brand Managers had dug in as well and which Brand Managers hadn’t even read their ABM’s monthly report yet. Take the time to know the details of your business. Dig into the data and make decisions based on the depth of analysis you do. Analytics 2016.009
  3. Can’t get along: Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. The Brand Managers that struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s) are at risk of failure. They might be the type who speaks first, listens second. They go head-to-head to get their own way instead of looking for compromise. Yes, they might be so smart they think faster than everyone, but they forget to bring everyone along with their thinking. They start to leave a trail of those they burned and when the trail gets too big they get labelled as “tough to deal with”. Advice: Listen more–hear them out. The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will. If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn.  And if they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career. You aren’t the first superstar they’ve seen. And likely not the last. My recommendation to you is to remember that Leadership is not just about you being out front, but about you turning around and actually seeing people following you. In fact, it should be called “Follower-ship”.
  4. Not good with Ambiguity: Some Brand Managers opt for the safety of the easy and well-known answers. They struggle with the unknown and get scared of ambiguity. Brand Managers that become too predictable to their team create work in the market that also becomes predictable and fails to drive the brand. These Brand Managers are OK–they don’t really have a lot of wrong, but they don’t have a lot of right. Advice: You can put them on safe easy businesses, but you wouldn’t put them on the turn around or new products. Ambiguity is a type of pressure that not all of us are capable of handling easily, especially when they see Ambiguity and Time Pressure working against each other. Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline. Always push for great. You have to learn to handle ambiguity. In fact revel in ambiguity. Have fun with it. Be Patient with Ideas. Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly. As a leader, find ways to ask great questions instead of giving quick answers. Watch the signals you send that may suck the creativity energy out of your team. When you find a way to stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone”, the ideas get better whether it’s the time pressure that forces the thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for the best idea. So my recommendation to you is to just hold your breath sometimes and see if the work gets better.
  5. Too slow and stiff: The type of Brand Manager that is methodical to the extreme and they think everything through to the point of “Analysis Paralysis”. They never use instincts–and have the counter analytical answer to every “gut feel” solution that gets recommended. They have every reason why something won’t work but no answers for what will work. I have to admit that this type frustrates me to no end, because nothing ever gets done. They struggle to make it happen: they are indecisive, not productive, disorganized or can’t work through others. They are frustratingly slow for others to deal with. They keep missing opportunities or small milestones that causes the team to look slow and miss the deadlines. Advice: You have to start to show more flexibility in your approach. Borrow some of the thinking from dealing with ambiguity and making decisions. Realize there are options for every solution, no one perfect answer.      
  6. Bad people Manager: Most first-time people managers screw up a few of their first 5 direct reports. It is only natural. One of the biggest flaws for new Managers is to think “Hey, it will take me longer to explain it to you, so why don’t I just do it myself this one time and you can do it next time”.  They repeat this every month until management realizes that these Brand Managers aren’t teaching their ABM anything. They became the Manager that none of the ABMs want to work for because they never learn anything. But as management keeps watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under these Brand Managers, we start to wonder “while you might be smart, but can you actually manage people?” Advice: To be a great Brand Manager, you have to work on being a better people leader. We expect you to develop talent.  Be more patient with your ABM. Become a teacher. Be more selfless in your approach to coaching. Take time to give them feedback that helps them, not feedback that helps you. If you don’t become a better people manager, you’ve just hit your peak in your career.
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners: They fail to adequately warn there boss when there is a  potential problem. They leave their manager in the dark and the information comes to their manager from someone else. They confuse partners because they don’t keep them aware of what’s going on. Advice: You have to become a better communicator. Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, you make sure that your boss knows as well–especially with negative news. It’s normal that we get fixated on solving the problem at hand that we forget to tell people. But that opens you up to risk–share the problem, discuss what you are going to do, and then go make it happen.  Brand Careers 2016.028
  8. Never follow their intuition: They forget that marketing also has a “Gut Feel” to it, taking all the data, making decisions and then getting to the execution and believing it by taking a risk. Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it”. Advice: You have to find ways to use your instincts. The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away. You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it. You get scared because you’re worried about your career and you want to do the ‘right thing’. But your gut is telling you it’s just not right. My rule is simple: if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand. The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad”. At every touch point, keep reaching for your intuition and bring them out into the discussion.
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically: As Brand Managers move up, we expect them to be able to think conceptually, strategically and in an organized fashion. We also expect that to come through in their writing–whether that is the annual Brand Plan, monthly share report or just an email sent up to senior management. Advice: Be organized in your thinking and map it out. I do believe that every good strategy has four key elements: 1) Focus in either target or messaging 2) an Early win where you can see results 3) a Leverage point where you can take that early win and achieve a position power for your brand and finally 4) a Gateway to something even bigger for the brand. Every six months, find a quiet time to answer five key questions that would help me stay aware: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be?  4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we have to do to get started?   In an odd way, the more planning you do, the more agile you will be, and you can layer in your intuition, because you will know when it is ok to “go off plan” 
  10. They don’t run the brand, they let the brand run them. Some Brand Managers end up in the spin zone where they are disorganized, frantic and not in touch with their business. They miss deadlines, look out of control and things just stockpile on one another. They may take pride in how long they work or how many things they are getting done on their to-do list. But they are out of control and the business is absolutely killing them. They just don’t know it yet. Advice: Stay in Control so you hit the deadlines and stay on budget. Dig in and know your business so you don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. Instil processes that organize and enable you and your team, so that it frees you up your time to push projects through and for doing the needed strategic thinking. Stay conceptual–avoid getting stuck in the pennies or decimals–so you can continue to drive the strategy of your brand.  

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

The big question is what do you do about it.

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112