It is the impeccable service that helps separate Ritz-Carlton. They do a lot of things right to earn the high prices they charge. They have the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals. In reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver these or they’ll be out of business.
Recognizing a brand must be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton has focused their attention on delivering impeccable service standards to separate themselves from the other luxury hotels.
Ritz-Carlton has operationalized their service, so their culture and brand are one.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton training session. I loved their idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. Marketers struggle to figure out what consumers want. Yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs.”
Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for their guests.
- Unique means doing things that separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels.
- Memorable forces staff to do something that truly stands out.
- Personal is defined as people doing things for other people.
Employees carry around notepads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.
Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into their culture
Ritz-Carlton tells their staff to “Keep your radar on and antenna up.” They encourage everyone to look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way. They can show the hotel is thinking of ways to treat them special.
But like any hotel, things do go wrong. When a problem arises they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input. Staff is encouraged to surprise and delight guests to turn a problem into a potential wow moment.
Ritz-Carlton has built a culture of "wow stories"
A great story that makes its way around the Ritz-Carlton world. A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton.
Knowing what the mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay. They took photos sitting by the pool, getting a massage in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. Imagine how the parents felt. And, imagine how many friends they may share that story with.
Ritz-Carlton has created a culture that defines its brand
Everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories. They use local stories, and stories from around the world. These stories keeps their people fully engaged.
Harvard did a study on employee engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labeled this group as the ‘super stars’. Using the same criteria, Ritz Carlton has 92% of their staff as considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards. And no wonder they create such an experience for their consumers.
So what can brand leaders learn from Ritz-Carlton?
- How can Brand Leaders meet the unexpressed needs of guests? Balance short-term results with longer-term relationships. Observe and listen for the unexpressed needs of consumers. It is great to have the data, but you have to reach for your instincts. Ritz-Carlton has these behaviors baked into the way they show up.
- How do you get your antenna up, so that you are always watching, listening and thinking? Talk with consumers. Walk into the store. Monitor the brand’s social media feed. Sit with customer service. Read through consumer complaints. Set aside time to do a quick brainstorm on consumer observations once a week.
- How can brand leaders push themselves to wow the consumer? The Ritz-Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests. They push to surprise and delight that goes beyond the brand promise. As a marketer, push yourself to surprise or wow your consumer. Build a high standard that goes beyond your consumer’s expectations.
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Beloved Brands is a comprehensive guide that covers the fundamentals of brand management. It goes deep on strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plan development, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and the brand financials. This is an opportunity to build your marketing skills to help your career. And, it will provide you with the roadmap for driving growth on your brand.
Marketers see Beloved Brands playbook as a go-to resource, as they keep it within arm’s reach for any new project. We are thrilled to see that it has received a 5-star rating from nearly 90% of Amazon reviewers. Additionally, we have also created playbooks for B2B Brands and Healthcare Brands, catering to specific industries.
How to communicate to the people who work behind your brand
With most brands I meet up with, I ask “What is the Idea behind your brand?” I rarely get a great answer. When I ask a leadership team, I get a variety answers. When I ask the most far-reaching sales reps, the scientists in the lab or their retailer partners, the answers get worse. That is not healthy.
Everyone who touches that brand should be able to explain what the brand stands for in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes and at every consumer touch-point. They should be delivering the same message.
There are too many brands where what gets said to the consumer is different from what gets said inside the corporate walls. The brand idea must organize the culture to ensure everyone who is tasked to meet the needs of both consumers and customers, whether they are in HR, product development, finance, operations and experience delivery teams, must all know their role in delivering the Big Idea.
Too many brands believe brand messaging is something that advertising does. The more focus we put on delivering an amazing consumer experience, the more we need to make sure the external and internal brand story are aligned. It should be a brand idea that drives that story.
Every communication to employees, whether in a town-hall speech, simple memo or celebration should touch upon the brand values that flow from the brand idea, highlighting examples when employees have delivered on a certain brand value. Ritz-Carlton holds meetings before every shift begins.
The brand idea should drive everything and everyone
Brand Management was originally built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the Brand Manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the brand.
However, it should actually be the brand’s Brand Idea that sits at the center. Everyone should feel connected to the brand and understand how to deliver the idea. The brand leader must know everything around those spokes, even as others are doing those jobs.
Brands like Ritz-Carlton work hard to make sure the brand drives the culture as essential element to the long-term success of the brand. The best brands look to the overall culture as an asset that helps create a powerful consumer experience. The expected behaviors of the operations team behind the consumer experience should flow out of the brand values, that flow from the brand idea. These values act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver the brand’s promise.
Learning from Ritz-Carlton, can you do something this week to meet the unexpressed needs of your customer?
In-N-Out Burger case study – Ranked 4th Among America’s Best Workplaces
In-N-Out Burger, a brand deeply cherished worldwide, recognizes the extraordinary role its employees play in delivering a remarkable customer experience that reflects the essence of their brand. Even though this West Coast brand is cautiously expanding eastward, it boasts an enthusiastic base of brand devotees. Try challenging its superiority to other burger joints, and you might find yourself in a fervent debate. Hidden under this rampant fandom, however, lies a bedrock of dedicated, diligent, and well-compensated staff members. Read our story that compares all the premium burger restaurants to see who will win.
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Explore how these real-world examples demonstrate the effectiveness of our brand management tools. Click on the logo to read the case study.
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On a classic marketing team, there are four key levels:
- Assistant Brand Manager.
- Brand Manager.
- Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
- VP Marketing or CMO.
To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway.
At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.
When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.
And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.
Our Beloved Brands Marketing Training program will make your team smarter.
If you are running a marketing team, you will always benefit from having a smarter team. When you invest in our marketing training program, you will help your team gain the marketing skills they need to succeed. As a result, you will see them make smarter decisions and produce exceptional work that drives business growth.
We’ll work with your team to help them learn more about the five core marketing skills: Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. Most importantly, your marketers will learn new tools, concepts, and ideas to trigger new thinking. To help their skills, we get participants to take each tool on a test run. Then, we give feedback for them to keep improving.
To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway.
Our marketing training teaches brand leaders how to ask tough strategic questions to slow everyone down and engage in debate of options to move forward. To start, you will be given various tools to approach strategy in a thoughtful, analytical way. Importantly, marketers need learn how to change brain speeds to move from a strategic thinker style to uncover what is holding back a brand, and onto an instinctual thinker style on marketing execution.
We introduce our Strategic ThinkBox that allows marketers to interrogate their brand. Importantly, our ThinkBox pushes you to take a holistic look at the brand’s core strength, competitive landscape, tightness of the consumer bond, and business situation.
Our brand positioning process teaches how to decide on the target market, consumer benefits, and reasons to believe. To start, you will learn to define the ideal consumer and frame the definition with their biggest needs, consumer insights and their enemy. Then, we provide our benefit cheatsheets to help learn how to discover the functional benefits and emotional benefits that a brand can deliver. Importantly, marketers need to make a decision on trying to stake out a unique space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for the brand.
Learn to use our brand idea tool and see how it helps to communicate the brand idea to everyone across the organization. Finally, marketers will learn how to take the brand positioning work and translate it into a brand concept, brand story, and a brand credo.
We see the marketing plan is a decision-making tool on how a brand will spend their limited resources. Moreover, the marketing plan communicates the expectations to everyone who works on the brand. Importantly, we teach marketers how to put together the vision, purpose, goals, key issues, strategies and marketing execution plans.
Learn how to write key issue questions and strategic statements that forms the foundation of the marketing plan. In addition, our marketing training provides various marketing planning templates including our one-page brand plan and ideal Marketing Plan presentation deck.
Our marketing execution training starts with the concept of our Marketing PlayBox that matches up to the Strategic ThinkBox. To keep marketers on strategy throughout the execution stages, our Marketing PlayBox helps find in-the-box ideas that meet four dimensions: they are focused on our target, fit with the brand, deliver the message, and execute the strategy.
To start, we show how the creative brief sets up the PlayBox, serving as the bridge between the plan and execution. We go through the creative brief line-by line and give you examples of the best and worst. Importantly, you will learn to use our Creative Checklist to help make smarter decisions on creative communications. We workshop how to give feedback to your agency based on gaps you see with the checklist.
Learn to look at the marketplace, consumer analytics, channels of distribution, competitors or other brands in their industry. And, learn assess the brand itself. Importantly, you will learn how marketing funnels can help assess the brand’s performance. We provide 64 analytical questions that marketers can ask of their brand. Finally, we show how to understand the financial performance indicators of the brand.
Our training looks at three specific streams; Consumer Marketing Training, B2B Marketing Training, and Healthcare Marketing Training. With each program, all the of the examples are tailored to the type of marketer. Undoubtedly, we believe marketers will be at their best when the can see the concepts or tools working on their type of brand.
Take a look at our Marketing Skills assessment tool to see how you or your marketing team measure up.
For more information on our Beloved Brands Marketing Training programs, click below or email Graham Robertson at [email protected]