How to lead a motivating Year End Review for Brand Leaders

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers
BBI Learning LogoThe better the people, the better the work and in the end the better the results. 

As we come up on the year-end, it’s that time of year when we nervously sit down with our bosses and find out how the year went.  For most of us, it’s one of the most dreaded parts of the job, for both those delivering and receiving the news.  But helping to grow our people is one of the most essential parts of the Leader.  No matter how good your strategy or product is, without the greatness of your people you’ll never achieve the results you want.  We all have gaps and we should all be working on closing those gaps.  Performance Feedback is an essential role in the growth of our people.  But without pointing those gaps out and coming up with a plan, then the person will never really improve.

A challenge to you: if there are any surprises during the meeting, then you as a leader are not doing your job.  As the VP of Marketing at Johnson and Johnson, I had one-on-one quarterly performance check ins with all my direct reports.  And when I realized that my directs weren’t following my lead, I made the Quarterly Review process mandatory for everyone on the marketing team.  It’s my belief that marketers can grow faster than we think–but they can only grow with timely feedback.  Those quarterly meetings were honest and informal discussions–which made the year-end review very easy.  I also emailed out the written review document 48 hours ahead of time, giving people the chance to digest all the thoughts and to come prepared ready to discuss each point.

As a Marketing Leadership Team, we spent our greatest efforts around managing the people. We talked people performance in every one of our weekly meetings.  The directors were encouraged to bring up people examples of those who were shining and those who were struggling.  If one of the other leaders were not familiar with those that were shining, we’d set up a process or special project where they could become more aware.  We ranked everyone on the team once a year plus a mid-year check in on the rankings.  You have to be diligent in managing your team.

Skills, Behaviours and Experiences

Marketing Skills: Brand Leaders should be measured on the Core Marketing Skills.  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 30 Core Skills for a Brand Leader that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 30 core skills fall under the areas of:

  • Analytics
  • Brand Planning
  • Briefs
  • Advertising
  • New Products & Claims
  • Go-To-Market
  • Leadership
  • Management

You can use this checklist in a few different ways:  1) to see if someone is meeting the needs of the current job–it could be used to set someone up for a performance improvement plan or as a motivation to push themselves 2) for someone who is close to ready for promotion, but you want to close on a few specific areas before the promotion or 3) for your personal assessment to see what you want to work on.

The rating should compare against their peers.  It helps to highlight skill gaps where people should focus their attention.  Any scores in the 1 or 2 are concerning and need an action plan.  The gap could arise because it’s outside of their natural skills or it could just be because it’s been outside of their experience they’ve had.  It’s tough to be good at advertising until  you’ve worked on a brand with advertising.

Leadership Skills:  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 12 Leader Behaviours of Brand Leaders that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 12 leader behaviours fall under the areas of:

  • Accountability to Results
  • People Leadership
  • Strategic Thinker
  • Broad Influence
  • Authentic Style

In the Leader Behaviour space, we all have blind sides that we just can’t see.  This is where the 360 degree feedback can help people to see how they are showing up.  I know that as a Director, I was a Driver-Driver that caused me to have behaviour gaps around Influence and Style.  I had the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway” and I wasn’t getting what I needed from the strategy and accountability I was hoping for.  Once I was able to identify it and work on it, I was able to see a big improvement in my performance and the results started to pay off as well.   Without closing that gap when I was a director, I would not have been promoted and would have honestly been unable to lead the entire marketing team.

Experience:  Many of our gaps as Brand Leaders comes from not having the experience.  When managing others, expect quite a few mistakes in the first few and you might not get fully there until your 5th direct report. When sitting in the hot seat of advertising, you’ll start to realize just how complex it can be–you’ve got to stay on brief, keep the creative team motivated, make judgement calls at every stage of the process and keep your own management on side.  And at every level, you’ll start to notice that the pressure gets higher–whether it’s push for results, the ambiguity or meeting deadlines through your team.  Each of these takes experience.

With  your best people, make sure you identify the experience gaps they have and be fair to them with the next assignment.  It’s far too easy to keep relying on a person’s strengths but it’s more important that you round out that person’s experience.  If they advance too far without covering off those gaps, they may find themselves struggling later in the job.  I’ve known newly promoted directors who had very little advertising experience coming up that all of a sudden found themselves on a desk with lots of advertising.  Their team even had more experience than they did.  Regular people reviews can really help identify the experience gaps that people might have. 

 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising. We do training on all skill levels of marketing, and we provide coaching for leaders wanting to improve.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com 

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to analyze what’s happening on your Brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

How to go Deeper

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

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

Analytical Tools:  SWOT, PEST, FORCE FIELD

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

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

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

Slide1

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

Slide1

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

Slide1

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

The Tools Help Frame Your Thinking but Never Replace it. 

To read more on How to analyze your brand, read the presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

How to go deeper on the analysis of your Brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

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

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

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

So what happens when you just do “surface thinking”:

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

How to go deeper

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

Slide1

 

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

Thinking time questions that will help you go deeper

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deeper the thinking, the smarter the leader

 

 

To read more on how to Create a Beloved Brand

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

 

How to lead a Performance Review for Brand Leaders

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The better the people, the better the work and in the end the better the results. 

As we come up on the year-end, it’s that time of year when we nervously sit down with our bosses and find out how the year went. For most of us, it’s one of the most dreaded parts of the job, for both those delivering and receiving the news. But helping to grow our people is one of the most essential parts of the Leader. No matter how good your strategy or product is, without the greatness of your people you’ll never achieve the results you want. We all have gaps and we should all be working on closing those gaps. Performance Feedback is an essential role in the growth of our people. But without pointing those gaps out and coming up with a plan, then the person will never really improve.

A challenge to you: if there are any surprises during the meeting, then you as a leader are not doing your job. As the head of Marketing at Johnson and Johnson, I had one-on-one quarterly performance check ins with all my direct reports. And when I realized that my directs weren’t following my lead, I made the Quarterly Review process mandatory for everyone on the marketing team. It’s my belief that marketers can grow faster than we think–but they can only grow with timely feedback. Those quarterly meetings were honest and informal discussions–which made the year-end review very easy.  I also emailed out the written review document 48 hours ahead of time, giving people the chance to digest all the thoughts and to come prepared ready to discuss each point.

As a Marketing Leadership Team, we spent our greatest efforts around managing the people. We talked people performance in every one of our weekly meetings. The directors were encouraged to bring up people examples of those who were shining and those who were struggling. If one of the other leaders were not familiar with those that were shining, we’d set up a process or special project where they could become more aware. We ranked everyone on the team once a year plus a mid-year check in on the rankings.  You have to be diligent in managing your team.

Skills, Behaviours and Experiences

Marketing Skills: Brand Leaders should be measured on the Core Marketing Skills. Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 30 Core Skills for a Brand Leader that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 30 core skills fall under the areas of:

  • Analytics
  • Brand Planning
  • Briefs
  • Advertising
  • New Products & Claims
  • Go-To-Market
  • Leadership
  • Management

You can use this checklist in a few different ways: 1) to see if someone is meeting the needs of the current job–it could be used to set someone up for a performance improvement plan or as a motivation to push themselves 2) for someone who is close to ready for promotion, but you want to close on a few specific areas before the promotion or 3) for your personal assessment to see what you want to work on.

The rating should compare against their peers. It helps to highlight skill gaps where people should focus their attention. Any scores in the 1 or 2 are concerning and need an action plan. The gap could arise because it’s outside of their natural skills or it could just be because it’s been outside of their experience they’ve had. It’s tough to be good at advertising until  you’ve worked on a brand with advertising.

Leadership Skills: Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 12 Leader Behaviours of Brand Leaders that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have. These 12 leader behaviours fall under the areas of:

  • Accountability to Results
  • People Leadership
  • Strategic Thinker
  • Broad Influence
  • Authentic Style

In the Leader Behaviour space, we all have blind sides that we just can’t see. This is where the 360 degree feedback can help people to see how they are showing up. I know that as a Director, I was a Driver-Driver that caused me to have behaviour gaps around Influence and Style. I had the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway” and I wasn’t getting what I needed from the strategy and accountability I was hoping for. Once I was able to identify it and work on it, I was able to see a big improvement in my performance and the results started to pay off as well.   Without closing that gap when I was a director, I would not have been promoted and would have honestly been unable to lead the entire marketing team.

Experience:  Many of our gaps as Brand Leaders comes from not having the experience. When managing others, expect quite a few mistakes in the first few and you might not get fully there until your 5th direct report. When sitting in the hot seat of advertising, you’ll start to realize just how complex it can be–you’ve got to stay on brief, keep the creative team motivated, make judgement calls at every stage of the process and keep your own management on side.  And at every level, you’ll start to notice that the pressure gets higher–whether it’s push for results, the ambiguity or meeting deadlines through your team.  Each of these takes experience.

With  your best people, make sure you identify the experience gaps they have and be fair to them with the next assignment. It’s far too easy to keep relying on a person’s strengths but it’s more important that you round out that person’s experience. If they advance too far without covering off those gaps, they may find themselves struggling later in the job. I’ve known newly promoted directors who had very little advertising experience coming up that all of a sudden found themselves on a desk with lots of advertising. Their team even had more experience than they did.  Regular people reviews can really help identify the experience gaps that people might have. 

To read about the four levels of the Marketing Team, read the following document that can help you manage your people’s careers based on where they are:

And for any learnings for your teams on specific skills, I’ve created 14 Learning Sessions for Brand Leaders that can help your team to get better.  Most of these sessions can be done in full day sessions with people applying the skills immediately on their businesses.  It’s worth the investment and will be a highly motivating experience for your teams.  To read about all the marketing roles:  1) Assistant Brand Manager 2) Brand Manager 3)  Marketing Director and 4) VP Marketing

Positioning 2016.112