How to lead a marketing team to the highest performance

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I’ve seen so many marketing leaders over my twenty years in CPG, whether it was my days as a junior marketer observing those I was under or observing my own issues as I was finally taking the reigns of a marketing team. The biggest problem I still see and hear about is the lack of consistency in leaders. I believe consistency is one of the essential attributes for a good leader of a marketing team. 

People always use the word “Leadership,” which sometimes implies that the leader should be “leading” the team. But, it would help if you were encouraging those under you to be the ones leading the way. Stop leading, so you can let your people lead you. 

Whether you are at the director or VP level, and whether your team is 3 or 30 or even more, here are some thought starters to help you better manage your marketing team. 

Be a consistent leader with people

My #1 rule as the leader is to show up consistently. Yet, it is the easiest to fail on. 

People have to know how to act around you. You have to make it comfortable enough for people to approach you and be able to communicate the good and bad. A scary leader discourages people from sharing the bad results, which ends up leaving you in the dark. Encouraging an open dialogue helps you know what’s going on, so you can run the business. Let them challenge you and push forward new thinking into the system. Your open door helps your brands to stay modern, advance new ideas, and connect with consumers. 

When you have multiple brands under you, it is easy to forget what you said five days ago on one of the brands. I learned quickly to ask the straightforward question: “what did I say last time?” While it might sound weak, it’s a much stronger position for you than when your brand manager says, “yeah, but last time you said….”  

Be consistent with the work

Be consistent in how you think, how you act in meetings, and how you approve. Inconsistent behavior by a leader does not “keep them on their toes,” which some hope for. Nor does it create an atmosphere of “creativity.” Inconsistent leadership inhibits creativity, with tension that adds no value to the brands. A good atmosphere on the team will make people want to go the extra mile for you. Be a good listener, and you’ll be surprised by what people tell you—how honest they’ll be, how much they’ll let you know. Knowledge starts with listening. 

You also want to hold your marketing team to a consistently high standard of work. Rather than being the leader by example, you should establish a standard and hold everyone and yourself to that standard. For a new director, this is one of the harder areas–balancing the freedom you give with the standard you demand. The key is to shift your focus to more process orientation. Organize the team and build in processes in a way that produces consistent output, making sure your team hits all deadlines, stays focused, and keeps things moving. The standard should also show up in the quality of brand plans, the execution, and the interactions with everyone, specifically sales or your agencies. Be the control point of the marketing team, and not let slips, errors, or delays show beyond the team. Delegate to motivate your stars, but never abdicate ownership that allows your weaker players to slow you down. 

Be a leader who makes decisions

When someone your marketing team comes to see you, they expect your challenges and they should be ready for them. But they want your approval. 

There’s nothing worse than the constant deflector. The leader who challenges and sends you back to the drawing board, not because the Brand Manager hasn’t thought of everything but because the leader can’t make a decision. Find your way, whether it is through sorting through a decision tree with criteria, give yourself a certain amount of time or ask for advice from those you trust. But you have to make a decision eventually. Those leaders who let research make the decision are just as weak. I’ve always believed that market research is only to get you to the point of “so what do you think?” but it should never decide for you. Otherwise, if research decides, then why do we need you?  

Early in my career, I once worked under a VP Marketing who said in every speech, “what you can expect from me is….,” and we never saw it. We kept waiting. And we started to parrot the phrase “what you can expect from me…” in a joking way. 

Let your people run the brands while you run the process of the marketing team

While your people on your marketing team run the brands and the execution, you should run the P&L and essentially run all the marketing processes. I have worked as a Brand Manager in a marketing team without any process, and it was complete chaos, not fun at all.

You should run the process—brand planning, advertising, creative briefs—in a way that’s not restrictive but instead provides the right freedom to your people. Allow 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. 

As the leader of the marketing team, it is time for you to step back and let them do amazing work. It has to be about them, not you. You will get the best performance of your people when they feel you care about them more than you care about their output.

As the brand leader evolves, they naturally will take on more and more people at each level, and they will face a choice of whether they prefer the creation of great work, or the creation of people who make great work. If you are overly involved in the creation, you likely will stunt the growth of your people. Moreover, you run the risk of losing your best people who thrive on having independence, and you could end up with average people who execute on your behalf.

I used to walk into every meeting, reminding myself that I knew less about the issue on the table than anyone in the room, including those who worked for me. As the leader, that’s a great position to be in, because it forces you to ask and listen. 

Look for ways to support and encourage great thinking, while challenging them to reach for even better. Try to balance giving them enough freedom to do great stuff and yet knowing when to step in and make a decision.

You should be the one to make the investment choices with an ROI and ROE (Return on investment and effort) mindset to those decisions. 

It’s about the people, stupid

As the leader of the marketing team, when you focus on your people, the results will come. The formula is simple: the smarter your people, the better the work and the stronger the results you will see. 

You should have regular talent review with your directors. Whenever you can clear out the under-performing team members, you create room for your best to move up. 

Create systemic way to get feedback to everyone on the team every quarter. Waiting for the annual review is way too late and almost negligent as a leader. Your people have the potential to grow with feedback. But without feedback, they’ll be confused and even frustrated. 

Make your people better

Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom in a way that challenges their thinking. You need to focus on the skills to be better in their careers. The marketing fundamentals matter, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief, or judging marketing communication. People are NOT getting the same training and development they did in prior generations. Invest in training to motivate your people on the marketing team to get better. It drives retention and commitment to producing great work and driving results.

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Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

Budweiser ad pays tribute to the healthcare heroes of the coronavirus

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As many brands spent last week coming up with coronavirus messages that spoke to social distancing, Budweiser has put together a beautiful tribute ad to the healthcare heroes that showcases the first responders, nurses, doctors, teachers, and exploratory scientists. 

The creative idea of the “one team” ad is to use well-known sports teams (the reds, warriors, trailblazers, etc.) and apply them to each of the heroes. 

The ad promotes Budweiser’s move to redirect $5 million of its sports and entertainment marketing spend to the American Red Cross to support the fight against the pandemic. The brewer is also working with its sports partners to make arenas and stadiums available for blood drives. 

 

Budweiser's Coronavirus tribute ad

While this is great creative, the only question will be if it is too early. Consumers remain on edge and might be skeptical of any brands that are trying to profit from the virus. This Budweiser ad nails the fine-line balance with a very inspiring ad. I hope if others join in, they avoid crossing that line with a transactional message. Well done, Budweiser.

Budweiser's 9/11 Ad

It is not the first time Budweiser has launched a highly emotional spot. Six months after September 11th, 2001, Budweiser used a one-time Super Bowl spot to pay tribute to NYC. 

Read our story on the best and worst of how brands are handling things with the Coronavirus

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Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

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Play Video

You can click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our marketing training programs

Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

How to build a brand story that defines everything about you

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I have created a fool-proof method for building your brand story. It does need you to do some homework before you get started. For this, you will need your brand positioning statement, consumer insights and enemies, your brand’s big idea, your brand purpose, and your brand values. If you have built up a brand concept, you should be able to take that concept into a brand story.

However, only a fool would start their brand story with a blank piece of paper. You will likely end up with a randomized chance at success.

Gather enough ammunition to build a brand story

You can take all the work you have done to create your brand idea, brand positioning statement, brand purpose, and values to tell your brand story.

 

Translate your brand idea into a brand story

You can extrapolate all the work you have done so far into a brand story, which explains, “who you are.”

  • Turn your brand idea into an inspiring promise statement you will deliver.
  • Match the brand purpose to consumer insights showing why it matters. This thinking makes it highly personal, explains the story behind why you do what you do. This part of the story will connect with consumers. 
  • Use your brand’s core belief to connect with consumers and demonstrate what you do to support that belief.
  • Talk about what makes your brand different and what claims you have to support your difference.
  • Outline the ways you want to connect with your consumer and the promise you will make to them.

Using your brand idea to build a brand credo document

Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company, but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings daily. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time. 

You should have all the material you need to create a brand credo document

  • Start with your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
  • Use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. A great exercise is to get every department to articulate its role in delivering the brand idea.
  • Connect with your people by tapping into the personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal.

To read about how to create a brand positioning statement

To read about how to create a brand purpose

Brand training

Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

Marketing training Video
Play Video

You can click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our marketing training programs

Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

With advertising, what comes first; the media or creative?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

When I started in marketing, way back in the mid-90s, life was a little simpler because the media and the creative were both under one agency roof. The meetings were simple: you’d see your various TV script options, give some feedback and then the room would go silent and the account person would say “now let’s look at the media plan” and the media person would talk.  

Then one day, our media folks from our agency were spun off, had a new name, moved offices and had a new President. 

It now just meant we had two presentations and the Brand Leader now had to make sense of things and try to piece it together. 

About a year into that new relationship, I was sitting there confused and asked the question: “So what comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?”

The room went silent for about 5 minutes. Then, both sides talked over each other, each saying it was them that came first.

If you have ONE agency for both creative and media, you now have an expert give you the answer.

Otherwise, chaos. You the brand manager with no expertise in either creative or media, has to make that decision. We are not supposed to be experts in anything. 

Making the media or creative decision

All marketing execution has to do something to the brand, whether that means getting the consumer to think, act, or feel differently about your brand. Media is an investment against your strategy, and creative is an expression of your strategy. Both media and creative are only useful if they connect with consumers. Great advertising must connect through very insightful creative that expresses the brand’s positioning and told in a way that matters to those who care the most. Great advertising must be placed within the consumers’ life, where it will capture their attention and motivate them in the expressed desired way to meet the strategy. So really, the consumer comes first, and strategy comes second. Media and creative need to work to jointly capture the consumer and deliver the strategy. 

With separate agencies, the problem now rests with brand leaders to figure it out. While one could theoretically argue that if the Creative Idea of the advertising is so big, it should work in every medium. That’s just not always true in reality. Some ideas just work better in certain mediums. Yet the media people could also theoretically argue that if you go for the most efficient and effective media option, the media will do the work for you. That’s also not true. The best overall advertising should work to focus on what has the most impact and what has the highest efficiency. 

Here's a solution for Brand Leaders

The three questions you always need to keep in your head at all times: 

  1. Where is your consumer open to listening?
  2. Where is your brand?
  3. How does the creative idea work? 

1. Where is your consumer open to listening?

Place your media on the part of the consumer’s life where they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide, and act. Align with life moments, whether they are parts of the day, the week, the year, or even milestone moments in their life. 

2. Where is your brand?

For unknown or indifferent brands, invest in the early part of the consumer journey, with media focused on building awareness to establish the brand positioning in the mind of consumers to separate your brand from the pack. You also need to get your brand into the consumer’s consideration set.    

Brands at the like it stage must separate themselves from others, to build momentum and create a following. Focus on closing the deal, by motivating consumers to buy. You can use search tools and deal-closing claims at the point of sale to resolve any remaining doubts. You can utilize your own e-commerce website or sites such as Amazon, Expedia, or Groupon.

Brands at the love it stage must turn your consumer’s repeat purchases into higher usage frequency and become a favorite part of your consumer’s day. The creative must instill emotional benefits, linked closely to the consumer’s life moments. An excellent tool to use is to map out the “day-in-the-life” of your target consumer and place messages where they are most likely to engage. Use consumer insights to make the messages personal to make consumers feel special and attached to your brand.

At the beloved brand stage, you should begin shifting to a maintenance media plan, enough to maintain your brand’s leadership presence and perception. Stay aware of the competitive activity, which may force you to adjust your budget levels. At this point, you can shift some of your media resources into enhancing the consumer experience, to retain your happy consumers, and to drive a deeper love to harness an army of brand lovers. You can begin creating shareable experiences for your brand lovers to share with their friends. 

 

3. How does the creative advertising work?

The best advertising should draw ATTENTION, be about the BRAND, COMMUNICATE the main message and STICK in the consumers head long beyond the ad.

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 7,000 brand messages per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumer’s view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have existed in the minds of the consumer. 

 

In the reality of advertising, not every ad execution will be able to do all four of the ABC’S.  When I’m in the creative room, I try to think about which of the two ABC’S are the most critical to my strategy. If it is a new product, I want all four, but I have to have: Attention and Communication. If the brand is in a competitive battle I have to have Brand and Communication.  If the brand is a leader and beloved, I need to make sure the advertising is about the Brand and that it Sticks.

My recommendation

At the start of any creative project, it is hard to know the exact media choices because you have not seen the creative work yet. While writing the brand communications plan, work on a media guideline that picks a lead media only and a few potential secondary media options to explore without committing. At the creative meeting, ask to see each creative idea presented as a 30-second TV ad, a simple billboard, and a long-copy print ad. With this request, you will be able to see how each idea plays out across almost every possible media type. 

  • The 30-second video script can be repurposed to fit TV ads of any length, movie theatre ads, viral videos, or a video on your website. 
  • The long copy print can be repurposed to fit with content blogs, news stories through PR, newspapers, magazines, website information, and sales brochures. It can even be atomized, broken down into digestible bits to populate a brand’s social media content. 
  • The billboard can be repurposed for outdoor signage, digital display billboards, posters, in-store display signs, or even a magazine’s back cover designs. 

The media math from a client's view

Obviously, we always recommend that you focus. So we’ll likely recommend a lead traditional media and a lead digital and lead social option. You need to make the most out of your limited resources of dollars, time, people and partnerships. However, if we want a creative idea to last 5 years, seeing it work across this many media options gives me a comfort that should I need that option, I know the creative idea will work.

While the media agency owns the media math that blows your mind, here is some simple client-side media math. As clients, we have to make the most of our budgets. 

Your production budget should be around 5-10% of your overall advertising plan. If you have small budgets, that may creep up to 20%, but that’s it. Every time you do a new piece of creative, the production dollars go up and the media dollars go down. I’d recommend you focus on one main traditional media and have only one secondary option. This keeps your spending focused. 

When it comes to social media, keep in mind there are no free media options. Instead of financial capital, you are now exhausting people’s capital. Just like the traditional options, I would recommend one lead social media and one secondary focus. Do not try to be all things to all people.  

The other reason to focus is to ensure you do great executions and not just “ok”.  Pick the media that maximizes the power of the creative. Don’t exhaust the team by spreading them against too many activities.   

Allow 80 to 90% of your media spend be on the highly effective highly efficient media plan. That means 10-20% of your media spend can now go against high IMPACT creative ideas that you know will breakthrough.  

Work with both the creative and media at the same time. Figure out what gives the highest return on investment and effort

How to lead the creative advertising process

Brand training

Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

Marketing training Video
Play Video

You can click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our marketing training programs

Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

How the most beloved brands fell from grace

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Very few beloved brands stay on top for long. We live in the moment, so it is hard to imagine that Starbucks, Amazon, Google, Uber, Tesla, Apple or Nike would ever collapse. While there are no signs any of those brands will, history tells you that a few of them will falter. Staying at the top is just as hard as getting there. Just ask former beloved brands that have fallen from grace, including Blackberry, Gap Clothing, Kodak, Cadillac or Benneton.

Brands usually have a turning point, based on a decision they have made or a decision they avoided making. They lose touch with the reality of their marketplace. They ignore competitors, stop listening to consumers or fail to attack themselves.

fallen from grace

The brand love curve

I first came up with the idea of a brand love curve when I ran a marketing department with 15 different consumer brands, which exhibited various degrees of success. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of where each brand stood. I did not want to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy to brands with dramatically different needs. 

I could have used some traditional matrix with market share versus category growth rates or stuck with revenue size versus margin rates. Every day on the job, I noticed brands that had created a stronger bond with their consumer outperformed brands that lacked such a close connection. I started to refer to the high-performance brands as “beloved” because I could see how emotionally engaged consumers were with the brand. 

At the other end of the scale, I referred to the inferior performance brands as “indifferent” because consumers did not care about them. They failed to stand for anything in the consumer’s mind; they were not better, different, or cheaper. I could see how these brands were unable to create any connection with their consumers – and they faced massive declines.

Everything seemed to work better and easier for beloved brands. 

New product launches were more impactful because the brand’s loyal consumers were automatically curious about what was new. Retailers gave these the beloved brands preferential treatment because they knew their consumers wanted them. With a beloved brand, retailers knew their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Everyone in my organization, from the President to the technician in the lab, cared more about these beloved brands. No one seemed to care about the indifferent brands. Internal brainstorm sessions produced inspiring ideas on beloved brands, yet people would not even show up for brainstorms on indifferent brands. 

Our agencies bragged about the work they did on beloved brands. Even my people were more excited to work on these beloved brands, believing a move to the beloved brand was a big career move while being moved to an indifferent brand was a career death sentence. 

These beloved brands had better performance results and better consumer tracking scores on advertising. They saw a stronger return on marketing investment, with a better response to marketing programs, higher growth rates, and higher margins. The overall profitability fuelled further investment into beloved brands. 

The stages of the brand love curve

I always believe it takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love.

For new brands, they were completely “unknown” to consumers. Unless there were genuinely compelling messages, consumers would walk past without even looking. To achieve some success, the priority for these brands is to get noticed within the clutter of the market.  

At the “indifferent” stage, consumers feel O.K. about the brand, similar to how they usually feel about commodities, like fruit and vegetables. These brands satisfy the consumer’s basic needs. Consumers will only buy the brand when it is on sale, but switch back to their other brand choice when it is not. Make your brand more than just a commodity. Brands need to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, they will not be around for long, and you waste your investment. 

Brands that reach the “like it” stage experience the first sign of business success. Their consumers see the brand as a logical, functional, and smart choice. However, the lack of any emotional connection leaves the purchase up to chance. Consumers will still switch brands randomly. Brands at the like it stage stress the product performance so much they forget to trigger any emotions. 

The more loved a brand, the more power and profit you will generate

Brands at the “love it” stage start to see more emotionally engaged consumers. The rule of love you must follow: Consumers must love the brand before you can tell consumers you love them. Consumers see the brand as a favorite choice, usually connected to a favorite part of their day. They are loyal and build the brand into a routine. These brands must also find a way to demonstrate their love toward consumers and continue to tighten the bond with their most loyal brand lovers. 

The “beloved brand” stage is where the brand becomes iconic, with a core base of brand lovers who cherish and defend the brand. These consumers see the brand as a personal choice, a badge they proudly hold in their hand or wear on their feet. At the beloved stage, the brands must create magical experiences that inspire brand lovers to share with their friends.

Case studies of the ways that beloved brands fell from grace

Beloved brands that fell from grace because they struggled to keep up with the times. 

The beloved brands of General Motors, including Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Corvette, fell from grace. Not only only did they peak in the 1970’s, but found themselves stuck their as well. The 70’s were one of those decades with such a distinct look with Disco, perms, gold chains and the 3-piece suit, that most things connected to the 70’s were completely rejected in the 1980’s.  

The Oldsmobile was a classic American family car who sales soared through the 1970’s. By the mid-80’s, in an effort to try to capture a new generation, they used the infamous tagline of “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” which only re-enforced that it IS your father’s Oldsmobile.The near-bankruptcy of General Motors can be traced back to the 1970’s when the brands peaked and yet felt stuck in a time-warp forever. GM failed to keep up in design, and failed to change as gas prices rose dramatically. They found themselves attacked on the lower end from the Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda and at the higher end from German brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW.

Beloved brands who forgot who they were and what made them famous.

Benetton is great example of a brand who fell from grace because they forgot what made them famous. In 1990, Benetton could do no wrong. Business schools wrote case studies of their success and Ad Agencies held them up as the brand of envy for all clients to learn from. They had shock-value advertising campaigns that people talked about at the lunch table and there was a Benetton store in every mall. Their colorful and stylish fashion was the desire of the core teenage crowd.

Benetton’s brand promise was providing European fashions at an affordable price. But the arrogance of the “can do no wrong” brand quickly faded. While they were so busy creating shock-value advertising and arrogantly talking of their brand as it were art itself they forgot about the fashion part of the business. Benetton started to look like a hollow promise of cool ads with not-so-cool clothing. Benetton expanded so broadly and so fast, they opted for franchises instead of maintaining ownership over the distribution.

Beloved brands that fell from grace because they were afraid to attack themself. If you don’t, you can expect an attack from someone else. 

Kodak was such a revered brand for so long. But they refused to attack themselves and fell from grace. This opened up so many windows of attack from others. The first attack came in the traditional film business from low-priced Fuji film. Kodak did nothing to stop Fuji for fear of eroding their margin, letting Fuji gain a 17% share of the film market.

The second attack came from new entrants into the digital camera market before Kodak was ready to enter. Kodak invented the first digital camera as early as 1975. They never launched the product. Kodak feared the digital camera threatened Kodak’s photographic film business. In 1990 Kodak finally laid out a plan to enter the digital camera market. But, they took another decade to finally enter the market.

The world was changing, yet Kodak executives still could not fathom a world without traditional film. 

However, they saw little incentive to deviate into the digital camera space. The third attack came once Kodak entered the digital camera space. Kodak entered at the high-end of the market and for a brief moment was the #1 digital camera. But Kodak failed to recognize how quickly the digital camera market would become commoditized. They did cut their prices, but couldn’t lower their cost of goods fast enough to keep up with the Japanese manufacturers. Kodak’s traditional film business was dying. 

The result: Bankruptcy. Interestingly enough, at the time of their bankruptcy, Kodak released 1000’s of patents for sale. Kodak’s refusal to act on the right innovation in a timely fashion killed the Kodak brand. They failed to attack themselves only to let others attack and ultimately destroy them. Kodak is definetly an example of brands that failed.

Beloved brands that lost focus and let their cosnumer experience slide 

A case study in a brand that fell from grace because their consumer experience not living up to expectations is the Blackberry. It’s a classic case where they grabbed early share as the category innovator and then forgot to keep making improvements to the overall experience. The list of problems for blackberry is long: major service outages, keyboard that sticks, small screen size, bad cameras, poor quality speaker-phone, slow internet browser and when the screen freezes you have to take the battery out and re-boot. In my last few months as an angry blackberry user, I was taking the battery out 5x a day.

The leaders at Blackberry believed they were invincible almost laughing when Apple launched the iPhone. These guys would next launch a tablet without any Apps on it. Oh man! What I think Blackberry’s biggest failure is not mapping out the customer experience and attacking every possible weakness. And, the blackberry experience has just not kept pace with Android and Apple. As a result, the Blackberry share price is down 98% since its peak of 2008. It is an example of brands that failed. 

They make the wrong strategic choices because they think of themselves before the consumer.

Gap Clothing got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy American fashion for a stylish generation at a reasonable price. And who is the spokesperson for fashion–those who think they are the coolest people on earth–TEENAGERS of course. Every generation of teens believes they are the most important people on earth and they want products that speak for their generation. It’s all about them. They influence Music, Movies, TV Shows and Clothing and believe each has to speak directly to them and for them. Imagine being 15 in the late 90’s, you’re walking in your favorite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favorite clothing store.

A Gap for everyone means a Gap for nobody

All of a sudden, if kids looked up, they saw favorite clothing brand flanked by BABY GAP and GAP MATERNITY. How could this brand speak for the teen generation. Your 2-year-old nephews are wearing a mini-version of what you’re wearing. Or even worse, your pregnant Aunt is wearing the stretchy version. GAP made the mistake of putting their name on all their line extensions, which most fans of Master Brands thinks strengthens the brand but it actually runs the risk of actually weakening the brand. GAP also forgot about feeding that desire for leading edge, trendy clothing–the whole reason for that “8 seasons” rotation of inventory. Go into a GAP store this year, and you’ll realize how boring and drab the products have become. No teenager today loves GAP or even thinks much about GAP. They are totally indifferent. Fast forward to 2020, GAP Clothing sales are significantly since the peak of 2005. They have just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral. The Gap definitiely fell from grace

How to maintain beloved brand status

Focus on maintaining the magic and love the brand has created with the core brand fans. 

Focus most of your attention on those who love you the most. Treat them special. Listen to your consumer, giving them a voice at the table, with the brand being responsive as it can. Market the Big Idea, sell the innovation and the experience. Continue to invest in product innovation and brand experience. Leverage both into telling the overall brand story, using the big idea to push the marketing effort in two separate layers: tell the master brand story about the big idea and the related experience, tell the specific product innovation stories linking how they support and build on the brand’s big idea.

Perfect the experience 

For those who love the brand, it is no longer just about the product, it becomes about the experience. Build a culture and organization around the brand that will keep finding new ways to surprise and delight consumers. Perfect every possible touchpoint with the consumer. Attack the brand before it can be attacked by others: However, many times, the biggest competitor for these brands is the brand itself. The constant goal has to be about getting better. Any degree of complacency will set the brand up for future attacks. Never become complacent or these brands will be replaced by challenger brands wanting to achieve the beloved status. 

Broaden the offering and broaden the audience

Take advantage of your brand’s loyal following to launch peripheral products that build on the routine. Capture more share of wallet of your most loyal consumers.To ensure you are a brand that goes beyond the current generation of consumers, begin thinking about how to spread your brand to other age groups. A lot of fashion brands and restaurant brands have been trapped into the current generation and lose the status as styles change.

The most beloved brands must keep the love alive, attack yourself, and use your fans as spokespeople.

Brand training

Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

Marketing training Video
Play Video

You can click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our marketing training programs

Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

The marketing skills, behaviors and experiences you need to be successful

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

There are marketing skills, behaviors and experiences you must collect throughout your marketing career. While many will show up naturally in your career, it is possible for you to end up with specific gaps due to specific jobs you have along the way. This is a great opportunity to assess where you stand and which gaps you need to address. 

The marketing skills that brand leaders must know include how to think strategically, define your brand positioning, build a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire creative marketing execution that drives growth, and analyze the performance of your business. I will put forward 20 marketing skills you need for success in your marketing career.

marketing skills behaviors and experiences

The leader behaviors of the best marketers include being accountable for results, use people leadership to build bench strength of your team, exhibit broad influence across the organization, bring an authentic style so your decisions are clear, and run the business like an owner with decisions that drive the success of the branded business. I will put forward 20 leader behaviors you need for success in your marketing career.

 As Marketing is a make-it-happen career, the application of the skills and behaviors takes on-the-job work experiences to allow you to learn by doing. These on-the-job experiences are complex and the experiences help you assess your performance and push for improvement each time. The most important on-the-job experiences include leading a strategic brand plan process, managing teams at higher levels, launching innovation through the organization, building successful advertising and leading across the organization.  

The marketing skills, behaviors and experiences you need to be successful

The marketing skills you need for success

To achieve your full potential in your marketing career, brand leaders must know the skills it takes to think strategically, define your brand positioning, build a brand plan that everyone can follow, inspire creative marketing execution to drive brand growth, and analyze the performance of your branded business.  

  1. Concerning strategic thinking, you need to use challenging and interruptive questions, take a holistic view of your brand, lead strategic debates on the issues, and make smart strategic decisions.
  2. To define your brand, you need to know how to find your consumer target, understand the potential functional and emotional benefits, create an ownable and motivating brand positioning statement, then build out your brand idea to guide every consumer touchpoint on your brand. 
  3. To write a brand plan, the skills you need are to lead all elements of the plan, turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements, present to senior management, and develop smart execution plans. 
  4. For marketing execution, are you able to write a brief, lead the project management aspect of all execution, inspire your experts, and make smart decisions? 
  5. When it comes to marketing analytics, you need to be able to know the sources of data, dig into the data, lead a deep-dive business review, and write analytical performance reviews.

I have broken each of these five marketing skill areas into 20 overall marketing skills you need to be a successful brand leader. In our Beloved Brands playbook and B2B Brands playbook, we provide every tool you will ever need to know so you can run your brand and achieve your full potential.  

To dig deeper on marketing skills, click on the link below

The leader behaviors of the best brand leaders

The leader behaviors of the best marketers include how to be accountable for results, use people leadership to build bench strength of your team, exhibit broad influence across the organization, bring an authentic style, so your decisions are clear, and run the business like an owner with decisions that drive the success of the business.

  1. You must be accountable for results, holding everyone accountable, getting things done, while staying on strategy and learning to work the system with every functional group throughout the organization. 
  2. Take on the people leadership, managing your core team, and being genuinely interested in your people’s development. You must coach, teach, and guide the team with honest assessment and feedback.  
  3. Exert broad influence across the organization, being the one to make decisions and control the strategy when executing through others, casting your influence into other functions by think of what others need. 
  4. Bring a consistent and predictable style, aware of your impact beyond your team, exhibit leadership under pressure. Be flexible and accommodating to others.  
  5. Run the business like an owner, accountable to both the long-term outlook and show-term profit of the brand, not you personally. Make decisions that benefit the brand, consumers, customers, marketplace, and society. Live and breathe the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand.  

I have broken each of these five leader behavior areas into 20 overall brand leader behaviors you need to be a successful brand leader. As you move up in marketing roles, these leader behaviors become equal in importance to the skills you collect along the way. 

On-the-job experiences you need to live to learn

As Marketing is a make-it-happen career, the application of the skills and behaviors takes on-the-job experiences to allow you to learn by doing. These on-the-job experiences are complex and the experiences help you assess your performance and push for improvement each time. 

Think of your marketing career as an interactive process, whereby repeating the skill and behaviors will make you better each time. For many of the most challenging experiences, a Marketer must go through them five times, before you will get comfortable and maybe another twenty more times to really excel. Each time, you will notice new things on what those around you do, and for you, the behaviors that work and do not work. Try to improve each time. 

I remember how challenging it was the first time I launched a new ad campaign. I had no clue of the major steps with no one on my side to teach me. Over the years, I would get better and better, learning something new every campaign I led. I struggled the first time I managed a person for the first time. I struggled to launch a new brand. I struggled the first time I led a cross-functional team. 

It is starting to sound like I was a disaster at everything. I likely was, with each first time venture. I might be over-exaggerating, but I can tell you, i got better each time. And you will as well. 

Many significant on-the-job experiences you will need to learn by doing, and challenge yourself to keep learning every time. These on-the-job experiences include leading a strategic brand plan process, managing teams at higher levels, launching innovation through the organization, building successful advertising and leading across the organization beyond the marketing function.

Build up your marketing skills with our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

How to nail your 7-second personal brand pitch to build your reputation

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As you manage your career, you need to use your personal brand pitch to manage your reputation before others define who you are. 

If you do not define your reputation, then you run the risk of the possibility that others will define you. And you might not like it. One of the most frustrating things I experienced was short-sighted people who attempted to define me. “You are a CPG marketer” or “You are a creative marketer, or you lack this experience or that industry. I took control and defined myself with how I wished to see myself in the future. 

 

What is your 7-second personal brand pitch?

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 find a great parking spot. Then you sit down, and outcomes that dreaded question, “So, tell me about yourself.” 

Oh god we all hate that question. “Ummm, 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 asked a series of 8-10 questions like “tell me a time when…”. And finally, they end the interview with, “Anything else to add?” You say, “No, it’s all good.” 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 you forgot to mention your three most significant career accomplishments. Even though you are a marketer, you forgot to act like a marketer, and most importantly, you forgot to define and deliver your brand. 

You have just blown your interview. 

Tell me about yourself: Deliver your 7-second idea

“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 idea. 

Four Questions to define your personal brand

  1. How do you define yourself, by where in the marketplace you see yourself having the biggest impact? 
  2. What is the primary benefit you provide your target, whether they are potential prospects? 
  3. What is the secondary benefit you provide your target, whether they are potential prospects? 
  4. What is the expected result you deliver, that matches up to your target’s potential goals? 


Brand idea brainstorm

Look at your resume and then start off by brainstorming as many options for each of the four areas as you can. 

  1. Short definition
  2. Primary benefit
  3. Secondary benefit
  4. Expected result

Brainstorm worksheet

This model is a great way to summarize 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 stuck in what you have been. 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. 

Nailing your 7-second personal brand pitch

In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I became the turnaround guy, so “As a brand leader, I can find growth where others couldn’t” became my little hook I began to use. What is yours?

Once you feel comfortable with your 7-second pitch, take each of those four statement areas and try to come up with examples and stories from your past that can prove and demonstrate each element of the statement. These examples help define your 30-minute pitch, and enable you to tell your story in a more focused and expressive manner.

Building out your 30-minute brand story

Using these examples, you can any of the “so tell me a time when…” type questions. If these are your best 10 accomplishments, then you should refer to these to help demonstrate your brand idea. This is also a great page that you can be looking at when you are sitting in the reception area, just before your interview.

So here’s how the interview should go:

  • “So tell me about yourself”: Deliver your 7-second pitch.
  • “Tell me about a time when you…”: Deliver any of the ten examples from your 30-minute pitch.
  • “Anything to add?”: Repeat your 7-second pitch as the closing line.

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 want 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 like Bob because he could turn this brand around. He has done it before. He gets results”.

Lead everything with your 7-second personal brand pitch

Use your 7-second pitch at the 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.

Use your 30-minute pitch to fill out the examples on your LinkedIn profile and keep them at the tip of your tongue to be used as examples of your past, in how it lines up to deliver your personal brand idea. 

Use your personal brand idea to establish consistency across every media choice you use

In today’s cluttered media world, use your personal brand idea to help organize all types of marketing communication efforts, including your brand story, sales material, networking, creating your own home page or blog, managing the search of yourself, portraying your personal brand through social media, and looking to establish yourself through any influence marketing.

When telling your brand story, you now have many media options available, including white papers, blog posts, LinkedIn updates, networking meetings or look to delivering presentations at industry events. Tell the same brand story, with consistent layers of brand messaging. There is nothing wrong with repetition, especially if you are using various media options to make it more engaging.  

Be careful what topics (politics, sports, gossip) you decide to shoot your mouth off might feel therapeutic to you, but could damage your reputation longer term, not just with those who don’t share your views, but even those who do. They might feel you are toxic or alienating to be associated with. Creating your personal brand is hard. Staying on brand in the modern social media world is even harder.

Read our article about how to build your personal brand positioning

Best of luck to you as you manage your marketing career

Brand training

Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

Marketing training Video
Play Video

You can click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our marketing training programs

Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

The best and worst of how companies are handling the Coronavirus

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As the coronavirus has hit the business world, we are seeing some great examples of companies stepping up to make things safer for all employees, and in turn, the greater good. There is a lot of uncertainty and stress for every employee. Schools are closing around the world; who will look after those kids? Many jobs can be set up to work from home, but not every job. 

As we are at one of the peaks for cold and flu, everyone is encouraging anyone with any symptoms to stay home. If you have any sniffles or cough, stay home. We are all a little scared, and we come back home to watch the news, it scares us even more. 

Coronavirus

The best of the best during the Coronavirus

Patagonia

Patagonia is closing all of its stores and shutting down its website because of the coronavirus. In a memo posted on its website as of Friday afternoon, the privately held sporting goods retailer said, in part, “the scale of impact is still unknown, and we want to do our part to protect our community, especially while testing availability is unknown.” All of the Patagonia stores, offices, and other operations completely closed on March 13th. It said it would continue to pay workers their regular pay in the interim. Not every business can go this far, but this is the sign when you are 100% behind your employees. 

Kevin Love, NBA player

With the NBA suspending its season indefinitely because of the Coronavirus, the doors closed on 30 arenas with no games to be played, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love pledged $100,000 Thursday to aid arena workers displaced by the league’s response to the Coronavirus. In a classic leadership stance, Love said: “My hope is that others will step up!!” 

Many have been inspired, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, and rookie Zion Williamson. Nice job Kevin Love. You are making a difference.  

 

This is Kevin Love’s instagram post that started it all.

Coke

Coke in the Phillipines has announced all their advertising will be shifted to public service announcements linked to solving the Coronavirus.

Read about Budweiser's tribute ad

The worst of the worst during the Coronavirus

Whole Foods

Whole Foods suggests that workers share paid time off during the Coronavirus. On Wednesday, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey sent out an email to grocery store employees with a list of benefits and options for those who fall sick during the coronavirus pandemic. Among his six suggestions was an option for employees to “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies. 

Whole Foods could afford to offer employees unlimited paid sick time during the Coronavirus outbreak. Instead, they have suggested that employees donate their accumulated paid time off to their coworkers. Considering Whole Foods is owned by the richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, this is not a good look. 

“You’ve got the richest man in the world asking people who are living paycheck to paycheck to donate to each other,” Matthew Hunt, a former Whole Foods employee who led a drive to unionize Whole Foods workers, told Motherboard. “That’s absolute bulls**t. With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe.”

As a contrast to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s is offering additional paid-for sick time to all crew members. This is the policy issued by Trader Joe’s:

  • Crew members have been asked to exercise increased precautions to safeguard their health and the health of their community, including staying home if they have any symptoms of illness or do not feel well. To better support each crew member in making community-minded decisions, we have made available additional paid sick time to all of our Crew Members.

This is the policy we would expect to be coming from Whole Foods.

 

Coronavirus

Tim Horton’s

Tim Horton’s workers need a doctor’s note to take unpaid sick leave during the Coronavirus pandemic. Tim Horton’s is still forcing their employees to get a doctor’s note to prove they need an unpaid sick day. 

Doctors have been highly critical of employers demanding doctor’s notes to prove their employees are really sick; it is a waste of time and resources during this Coronavirus crisis when we could be facing a shortage of beds. The Canadian Medical Association has called it an “unnecessary public health risk.” 

Come on, Tim Horton’s. Be better. Why do you keep showing up as an utterly awful company?

 

Tim Horton's

I hope the worst examples feel pressure to adjust quickly during the Coronavirus

A deeper look at our brand management training program

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

To achieve your full potential in your brand management career, you must know the skills it takes to think strategically, define your brand positioning, build a brand plan that everyone in your organization can follow, inspire creative marketing execution that drives brand growth, and can analyze the performance of your business to set up smarter thinking. Our brand management training methodology combines explaining the tools you need with workshops that take each tool on a test drive on your brands. You can take specific outputs from the training that you can apply directly on your business. 

Brand leaders need to be able to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  1. Concerning strategic thinking, you need to use challenging and interruptive questions, take a holistic view of your brand, lead strategic debates on the issues, and make smart strategic decisions.
  2. To define your brand, you need to know how to find your consumer target, understand the potential functional and emotional benefits, create an ownable and motivating brand positioning statement, then build out your brand idea to guide every consumer touchpoint on your brand. 
  3. To write a brand plan, the skills you need are to lead all elements of the plan, turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements, present to senior management, and develop smart execution plans. 
  4. For marketing execution, are you able to write a brief, lead the project management aspect of all execution, inspire your experts, and make smart decisions? 
  5. When it comes to marketing analytics, you need to be able to know the sources of data, dig into the data, lead a deep-dive business review, and write analytical performance reviews.

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is an essential foundation for brand management training, forcing marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions. I will show you four ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand’s core strength finder, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situational strategy. You will learn how to set a vision for your brand, focus your limited resources on breakthrough points, take advantage of opportunities you see in the market, find early wins to leverage to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.

Strategic thinking learning outcomes

  • How to use the five elements of smart strategic thinking
  • Leverage our 360-degree strategic ThinkBox model using the brand’s core strength finder, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situational strategy. 
  • Build everything around your brand’s core strength
  • Think strategically to tighten your brand’s bond with consumers
  • Use strategy to win the competitive battles you face
  • Think strategically, within the brand’s current situation
  • Write strategic objective statements for each of the four strategies

Click any of these brand management training tools below to expand

Brand positioning

The best brand leaders target a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating and ownable. I will show you how to write a winning brand positioning statement with four essential elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTB). You will learn how to build a brand idea that leads every touchpoint of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience. I will give you the tools for how to write a winning brand concept and brand story.

Brand positioning learning outcomes

  • Write brand positioning statements

  • Define your target market, with insights, enemies, and need states 

  • Define consumer benefits, both functional and emotional

  • Come up with brand support points and claims

  • Understand the relationship between brand soul, brand idea and brand reputation

  • Come up with your brand idea

  • Write brand concept statements

  • Turn your brand concept into a brand story

  • Use the brand positioning and brand idea to build a brand credo

Click any of these brand management training tools below to expand

Brand plans

The best brand leaders write brand plans everyone in the organization can follow with ease, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies and operational teams. I will teach you how to write each element of the brand plan, including the brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. Real-life examples will give you a framework to use on your brand. You will learn to build execution plans including a brand communications plan, innovation plan, and in-store plan.

Marketing plans learning outcomes:

  • Use five strategic questions as an outline for your entire plan
  • Write an inspirational vision statement to frame your marketing plan
  • Come up with a brand purpose and brand values
  • Summarize your brand’s situation analysis
  • Map out the key issues your brand faces
  • Write smart brand strategy objective statements
  • Focus tactics to ensure a high return on effort
  • Write specific execution plans for marketing communications, innovation, and in-store
  • Do up a profit statement, sales forecast, goals, and marketing budget for your plan
  • Use our ideal one-page brand formats for the annual marketing plan and long-range strategic roadmap

Click any of these brand management training tools below to expand

Marketing execution

The best brand leaders need to inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. I will provide tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative advertising from your agency. For judging execution, I use the ABC’s tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Brand link (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S). I will provide a checklist for you to use when judging executions, then show you how to provide direction to your agency to inspire and challenge great execution. 

Marketing execution learning outcomes:

  • Understand the crucial role of the brand leader in getting great creative execution
  • Successfully manage the 10 stages of the advertising process
  • Write a brand communications plan
  • Turn the brand communications plan into a creative brief
  • Use smart and bad examples of the creative brief
  • Use the ABC’s (Attention, Brand Link, Communication, Stickiness) advertising decision-making tool
  • Give inspiring feedback on advertising that pushes for great work
  • Use our six questions to help frame your media planning
  • Line up media choices to where consumers are most willing to engage with your brand

Click any of these brand management training tools below to expand

Marketing analytics

The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. With our brand management training, I will show you how to create a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand. From there, I will teach how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format. And then, I will also provide a Finance 101 for Marketers, giving you every financial formula you need to run your brand.

Marketing analysis learning outcomes:

  • Analyze the marketplace your brand plays in

  • Assess your consumers

  • Assess the retail channels you sell through

  • Analyze the competitors

  • Analyze the health of your brand

  • Use 60 of the best analytical questions to ask

  • Bring the analysis together into the drivers, inhibitors, threats,  and opportunities

  • Use financial formulas for compound CAGR, price increases, COGs. ROI

  • Prepare a deep-dive business review presentation

Click any of these brand management training tools below to expand

Our brand management training bootcamp options

Brand Strategy

3-day bootcamp 

      1. Why being a beloved brand matters
      2. How to think more strategically  
      3. Consumer & competitive strategy
      4. Deciding on your consumer target
      5. Defining your brand positioning
      6. Build everything around brand idea
      7. Build a marketing plan 

Brand Execution

3-day bootcamp

      1. Defining your brand positioning
      2. How to write a smart creative brief
      3. How to run the advertising process
      4. How to make advertising decisions
      5. How to make media decisions
      6. Deep-dive analysis of your brand 
      7. Why being a beloved brand matters

Branding for Agencies

3-day bootcamp 

      1. Why being a beloved brand matters
      2. How to think more strategically  
      3. Consumer journey with insights
      4. Defining your brand positioning
      5. Build everything around brand idea
      6. How to write a smart creative brief
      7. How to run the advertising process

Video Training

Five 2-hour sessions

      1. How to think more strategically  
      2. Defining your brand positioning
      3. Build a marketing plan 
      4. Leading the marketing execution
      5. Deep-dive analysis of your brand 

Read more about our view on marketing skills

We use our Beloved Brands or B2B Brands playbooks to guide our participants through the training

You can find our playbooks on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

It takes a strategic mind to figure out how to manage brand love

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love. To show the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages, I created the brand love curve. It defines consumers’ feelings as unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following. At the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans. At the beloved brand stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal brand fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

Brand Love

I first came up with the idea of a brand love curve when I ran a marketing department with 15 different consumer brands, which exhibited various degrees of success. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of where each brand stood. I did not want to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy to brands with dramatically different needs. I could have used some traditional matrix with market share versus category growth rates or stuck with revenue size versus margin rates. 

Every day on the job, I noticed brands that had created a stronger bond with their consumer outperformed brands that lacked such a close connection. I started to refer to the high-performance brands as “beloved” because I could see how emotionally engaged consumers were with the brand.

 

At the other end of the scale, I referred to the inferior performance brands as “indifferent” because consumers did not care about them. They failed to stand for anything in the consumer’s mind; they were not better, different, or cheaper. I could see how these brands were unable to create any connection with their consumers – and they faced massive declines.

Everyone treats beloved brands differently

Everything seemed to work better and easier for beloved brands. New product launches were more impactful because the brand’s loyal consumers were automatically curious about what was new. Retailers gave these the beloved brands preferential treatment because they knew their consumers wanted them. With a beloved brand, retailers knew their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Everyone in my organization, from the President to the technician in the lab, cared more about these beloved brands. No one seemed to care about the indifferent brands. Internal brainstorm sessions produced inspiring ideas on beloved brands, yet people would not even show up for brainstorms on indifferent brands.
Our agencies bragged about the work they did on beloved brands. Even my people were more excited to work on these beloved brands, believing a move to the beloved brand was a big career move while being moved to an indifferent brand was a career death sentence.
These beloved brands had better performance results and better consumer tracking scores on advertising. They saw a stronger return on marketing investment, with a better response to marketing programs, higher growth rates, and higher margins. The overall profitability fuelled further investment into beloved brands.

Why does brand love matter?

Brand building starts with cultivating close relationships with consumers. The best brands of today follow a very similar path to the rituals of a personal courtship. 

Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers, randomly purchased a few times without much thought. They become acquaintances and, when the brand successfully delivers on expectations, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. 

As the consumer sees a consistent experience and trust, they begin to open up, and the romance begins. The consumer allows their emotions to take over and, without knowing, they start to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate, and one of the many brand lovers who cherish their relationship with the brand. As long as the brand delivers on the excitement of the original promise that attracted the consumer on their first encounter, the brand moves into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever love.

To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I created the brand love curve, which outlines how consumers move through five stages: unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, and onto the beloved brand status. 

The brand love curve

For new brands, they were completely “unknown” to consumers. Unless there were genuinely compelling messages, consumers would walk past without even looking. To achieve some success, the priority for these brands is to get noticed within the clutter of the market.  

At the “indifferent” stage, consumers feel O.K. about the brand, similar to how they usually feel about commodities, like fruit and vegetables. These brands satisfy the consumer’s basic needs. Consumers will only buy the brand when it is on sale, but switch back to their other brand choice when it is not. Make your brand more than just a commodity. Brands need to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, they will not be around for long, and you waste your investment. 

Brands that reach the “like it” stage experience the first sign of business success. Their consumers see the brand as a logical, functional, and smart choice. However, the lack of any emotional connection leaves the purchase up to chance. Consumers will still switch brands randomly. Brands at the like it stage stress the product performance so much they forget to trigger any emotions. 

Brands at the “love it” stage start to see more emotionally engaged consumers. The rule of love you must follow: Consumers must love the brand before you can tell consumers you love them. Consumers see the brand as a favorite choice, usually connected to a favorite part of their day. They are loyal and build the brand into a routine. These brands must also find a way to demonstrate their love toward consumers and continue to tighten the bond with their most loyal brand lovers. 

The “beloved brand” stage is where the brand becomes iconic, with a core base of brand lovers who cherish and defend the brand. These consumers see the brand as a personal choice, a badge they proudly hold in their hand or wear on their feet. At the beloved stage, the brands must create magical experiences that inspire brand lovers to share with their friends.

 

The brand love curve steers 20 potential consumer activities

The brand love curve should guide strategic and tactical decisions that go into the writing of your annual brand plan. Here are 20 potential brand activities that match up to where your brand sits on the curve and how to move your brand to the next stage.  

Unknown brands

All brands start at the unknown stage. Many new brands struggle to break through to reach consumers or build the distribution due to doubting retailers. They face leadership team conflicts, confusion around the value proposition, inconsistent messages to consumers, and everyone in the organization seems to move in different directions. The risk is that you will be seen as a product—not yet a brand idea. 
Too often, companies at this early stage fixate more on selling with desperation to anyone who wants to buy. Sure, the cash flow helps. However, when the consumer sees the brand as a commodity, the product has no real differentiation from competitors. This strategy will make it hard to command a price premium or gain any efficiency. Substantial investment is needed to establish both brand awareness and broad distribution. The unknown brands need to stand out in the crowd.


A three-point game plan for unknown brands: 

  • Create a brand idea that expresses your consumer benefit and build everything around that idea, both internally and externally
  • Focus your limited resources against a focused target, positioning, strategies, and activities.
  • Passionately express your brand purpose as a rallying point, both internally and externally. 

Action plan for unknown brands:

  • Brand set-up: Establish production, brand promise, advertising, public relations, consumer experience, distribution, and manage the purchase moments.
  • Launch event: Build hype and desire to gain attention and awareness with consumers to help hit minimum desired sales levels with channels.
  • Build a core message: Amplify brand idea and niche consumer benefit to a core audience to establish a consumer reputation.
  • Find early lovers: Find a small base of early adopters to drive trial among those who are already motivated by what you do. Use their energy to turn them into brand fans who can influence others.  

Indifferent brands

Indifferent brands act like commodities. They are usually too product-focused and not yet able to find a way to separate the brand from competitors. These brands suffer from very skinny brand funnels with low awareness at the top of the brand funnel, with low purchase rates, low repeat scores, and low brand loyalty scores. 
These brands struggle to gain new users or drive frequency. Without a brand idea or unique positioning, the advertising suffers from poor tracking scores, and the innovation shows little payback. Lower payback makes it hard to justify marketing investment in advertising, innovation, or in-store. 
Indifferent brands rely on price promotions to drive volume, resulting in a margin squeeze. They struggle to achieve the economies of scale needed to drive down the variable cost of goods. They have no power with retailers, so they are unable to get their fair share of shelf space, display, or price promotions. Private label brands threaten their sales levels. The indifferent brands need to establish the brand positioning and, in turn, the reputation in a consumer’s mind.  

 

A three-point game plan for indifferent brands:

  • Focus your brand’s limited resources on proving your brand has a point of difference in the consumer’s mind. 
  • Create a brand idea to establish your brand’s uniqueness to stand out in the cluttered market. 
  • Put more passion, emotion, and risk into your work.

Action plan for indifferent brands:

  • Mind shift: Drive a new brand positioning or reinforce current positioning to change your reputation.
  • Mindshare: Draw more attention than competitors by being better or different.
  • New news: Launch breakthrough innovation to enter the consumer’s mind.
  • Turnaround: Focus energy on gaps or leaks in your brand’s execution. Use the fix to shift minds.

Like it brands

Brands at the like it stage have established a degree of success in the market, and they have created a rational brand positioning with consumers. 
However, they lack the emotional connection to build a bond with consumers. They make gains during heavy marketing support periods but fall back down during the non-support periods. These brands appear content to hold onto their share and grow at the rate of the category. 
These brands have awareness but they lose out to competitors as the consumer moves to the purchase stage. As a result, they usually require a higher promotional trade spend to close the sale, which cuts into profit margins. 
A vital consumer tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different,” which will help separate your brand from the pack. The brand needs to begin to layer in the emotional benefits and focus on creating a stronger following with each happy purchase. 

 

A three-point game plan for brands at the like it stage:

  • Focus resources to build a more significant following with happy purchases. 
  • Leverage the brand idea to start making an emotional connection to build a following.
  • Increase consumer engagement by adding more passion to your brand execution.

Action plan for brands at the like it stage:

  • Drive penetration: Persuade new consumers to try the brand.
  • Drive usage: Get happy consumers to use more or use it differently.
  • Build routine: Get happy consumers to build a routine around the brand.
  • Cross-sell: Get happy consumers to use your brand’s other products or services.

Love it brands

Brands at the love it stage start to see a higher emotional connection with a base of brand fans. These brands also start to gain a stronger usage frequency, as the brand becomes a more significant part of the consumer’s life routines. With strong consumer tracking results, the brand can leverage more efficient marketing spend. You will notice loyal consumers are highly responsive to advertising and innovation. This thinking makes the marketing spend much more efficient, opening up a pathway to higher profits. 
These brands should be able to leverage their power with retailers and influencers. Even in a competitive market, these brands should be able to gain share and widen their leadership stance. With high net promoter scores, they should be able to leverage word-of-mouth or social media recommendations, and positive online brand reviews (Yelp or Trip Advisor) to influence new users. Brands at the love it stage must look for unique ways to reward consumers and further tighten their bond with their most loyal brand lovers.

The three-point game plan for brands at the love it stage: 

  • Tug at the heartstrings to help build a community of brand fans. 
  • Shift to the creation of consumer experiences that turn purchases into routines and rituals. 
  • Turn the love for your work into a bit of magic for the consumer.


Action plan for brands at the love it stage:

  • Build memories: Create consumer experiences that link the brand with life moments.
  • Maintain love: Reinforce the brand strengths with your core base of brand fans.  
  • Deeper love: Match the passion of your consumers to drive consolidation and get these consumers to use your brand across a broader degree of uses. 
  • Reasons to love: Reinforce brand messages to your most loyal users.

Beloved brands

Brands at the beloved stage are the iconic leaders in their category. These brands have an extremely healthy and robust brand funnel with likely near-perfect brand awareness (over 95%), high conversion to purchase, strong repeat, and very high loyalty scores. These brands have achieved good penetration and purchase frequency scores. 

Tracking results show an immediate reaction to new marketing programs with high brand link scores on advertising and high trial on innovation. They have a dominant share position at least within a specific segment. 

They have the power to take a dominant stance in the marketplace, to squeeze out smaller brands, and to reduce the influence of other competitors. These brands have strong net promoter scores and have cultivated a community of outspoken brand fans. They can use their power with retailers to gain preferential shelf space and drive traffic. The company should manage the brand as an asset. These brands should work to create magical experiences that will inspire brand fans to talk about them and influence others.

A three-point game plan for brands at the beloved stage:

  • Focus on maintaining the love the brand has created with core brand fans. 
  • Consistently challenge and perfect the consumer experience.
  • Broaden the offering and selectively broaden your audience. Be careful.

Action plan for brands at the beloved stage:

  • Create magic: Continue to surprise and delight your brand lovers.
  • Leverage power: Drive growth and profit from your brand’s source of power.
  • Attack yourself: Continue to assess and close leaks to improve before competitors attack.
  • Use loyalists: Leverage brand lovers to whisper with influence with their network. 

How tightly connected is your brand with your consumers?

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books