A tool for CMOs to use in evaluating their marketing team

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The best brand leaders are strong on analytics, strategic thinking, positioning,  brand plans and marketing execution. As a CMO, where do you think your team has a gap? If you want better performance results, then invest in making your team stronger.

 

How good is your marketing team?

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

How good is your marketing team?

For the CMO, I would encourage you to do an evaluation using our scorecard. See how your team stacks up against your own expectations. Use this tool to identify any of the potential gaps on your team.

For each element, score each individual from 1 to 5.

  • 5 means they are exceptional in that element.
  • 4 means they are very strong.
  • 3 says they are solid performers.
  • 2 would mean they fall below your own expectations.
  • 1 means they are unable to perform that skill.

Once you have completed the evaluation, you can provide an overall score to identify how well you are doing. Unless they score in the 80 or 90% zone they likely need help. Not only that, their performance is likely holding back the performance of your brand.

How good is your marketing team?

The role of the CMO is to make your team smarter

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

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

1. Brand analytics 

Can your people turn data into analytical storytelling?

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

2. Strategic Thinking

Do your people focus on the right elements of your business?

Strategic Thinking is an essential foundation for Marketers, to inspire them to ask big questions that challenge and focus their decisions.

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

3. Brand Positioning

Can your people define your brand?

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

4. Brand Plans

Can your people write a Brand Plan for everyone to follow?

  • We demonstrate how to write each component of the Brand Plan, looking at vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies and tactics. And, we provide definitions and examples to inspire Marketers on how to write each component.
  • You will have a full example of a Brand Plan, with a framework to use. Marketers can try out the concepts on their own brand with hands-on coaching and feedback to challenge them.
  • We show how to build Marketing Execution plans as part of the overall brand plan, looking at a Brand Communications Plan, Innovation Plan, In-store plan and Experiential plan. This gives the strategic direction to everyone in the organization.
  • We also offer unique 1-page formats for an Annual Plan and Long-Range Strategic RoadMap.

Marketing Execution

Can  your people judge, decide and give direction to agencies?

You will learn how to judge and decide on execution options that break through to consumers and motivates them to take action.

  • We provide Marketers with tools and techniques for judging communication concepts from your agencies, as well as processes for making decisions and providing effective feedback. We talk about the crucial role of the brand leader in getting amazing marketing execution for your brand.
  • To start, we teach how to make marketing decisions with the ABC’S, so you can choose great ads and reject bad ads looking at tools such as Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S)
  • You learn how to provide advertising direction that inspires and challenges the agency to deliver great execution. You will learn about how to be a better client so you can motivate and inspire your agency.

Time to step up and invest in marketing training

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

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

Our brand training program can be executed to meet your needs whether that’s in:

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

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

 

My new book, Beloved Brands, coming this spring.

How this Beloved Brands playbook can work for you. The purpose of this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution, and be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson bio

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

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

You can build your personal brand around your 7-second personal brand pitch and use that to organize yourself to nail your next job interview.

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. Then you sit down, and out comes that dreaded question, “So, tell me about yourself”.

Oh god well all hate that question. “Ummmm, let me see, I like basketball, walks in the park and I think I’m rather funny, or at least my wife does”.

Wow, bad start. Then you get about 8-10 questions that ask “tell me a time when…”. And finally, they end the interview with, “Anything else to add?” Then there is that awkward walk back to the reception desk, where you talk about your plans for the weekend.

Then you drive home, and realize that you forgot to mention your 3 biggest career accomplishments.

The problem is you didn’t know how to answer “so, tell me about yourself”. Well I will show you a really simple way to answer. 

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

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

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

“As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t, and I create a motivated brand team that delivers great work to drive results”. Think of this like your 7 second personal brand pitch, where you give a summation of your personal brand’s big idea. Here is a simple tool I have created to help you answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s how the interview should go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

How good is your marketing team? Find their score.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

How good is your marketing team?

 

How good is your marketing team?

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

How good is your marketing team?

 

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

How good is your marketing team?

How to make your team smarter

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

How to do brand analytics 

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

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

 

How to think strategically

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

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

 

How to define your brand

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

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

 

How to write a Brand Plan everyone can follow

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

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

 

How to inspire Marketing Execution

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

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

 

Time to step up and invest in training your team

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I always joke that strategic people share similar traits to those we might consider lazy, cheap or conniving. Rather than just dive into work, strategic people will spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking of all the possible ways for them to get more out of something, while you exert the least possible effort or waste their own money. After thinking of every possible option, strategic people have this unique talent to make a firm decision on the best way forward. They are great at debate because it appears they already know the other options you might raise, and they already know why that option will not work as well. And, the thing about strategic people, is they get away with it.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

 

Smart strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers, while instinctual thinkers see answers before they even know the right question.

I see a big difference between strategic thinking and intuitive leaders. Strategic thinkers see ‘what-if’ type questions before they look for potential solutions. Have you ever been a meeting and heard someone say, “That’s a good question”? This is usually a sign someone has asked an interrupting question designed to slow everyone’s brain down, so they take the time to reflect and plan before they act, to force them to move in a focused and efficient way. Strategy is the thinking side of marketing, both logical and imaginative. Strategic people are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, to imagine how events will play out in the future. The risk is that if they think too long, they just spiral around, unable to decide. They miss the opportunity window.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

On the other hand, instinctual leaders just jump in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast, they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. These people want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. They believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, they choose emotion over logic. This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. Without proper thinking and focus, an action-first approach might just spread the brand’s limited resources randomly across too many projects. Intuitive leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

Brand leaders must learn how to change brain speeds.

They must move slowly when faced with difficult strategy and quickly with their best instincts on execution. A brand leader’s brain should operate like a racecar driver, slow in the difficult corners and go fast on the straightaway. You must slow down to think strategically. Did you ever think that the job might get in the way of thinking about how to do your job better? With wall-to-wall meetings, constant deadlines and sales pushes, you have to create your own thinking time.

Find your thinking time

You should block off a few hours each week, put your feet up on the desk, and force yourself to ask really difficult questions. Pick one problem topic for each meeting you book, and even invite a peer to set up a potential debate. The goal is not to brainstorm a solution, but to come up with the best possible question that will challenge the team. Even go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere just to get away from it all. My best thinking never came at my desk in front of my computer. Too many marketers have their head down in the numbers they miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. Strategic thinkers should assess, question and consider every element that can impact your business. Here is a simple 4-step process to run a strategic thinking meeting:

  1. Vision: Every brand and even every project should start with a longer-term vision that maps out the ideal state of where you want to go. Push yourself beyond the normal expectations. Always focus on ways to create a bond with your consumers to build a group of brand lovers.
  2. Situation: Brand leaders must know the immediate situation of the brand, so they can constantly analyze and assess the potential changes could happen with consumers, competitors, and channels that could impact the health and wealth of your brand. Without the deep and rich strategic thinking discipline, you risk moving too quickly on brand strategy, unable to see the insights that may be hidden beneath the surface. You solve the wrong problem. It is crucial to use the analysis to know how tight the bond you have created with consumers, to know where your brand sits on the brand love curve.
  3. Key Issues: Brand leaders must understand the issues in the way of the stated vision. This includes the drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. Think of both immediate and longer-term issues. As stated, strategic thinkers see questions before they see solutions. In this process, frame the key issues as an interrupting and challenge question.
  4. Strategic direction: Strategies are answers to the questions that your situational analysis and key issues raised. They are never randomly selected. All this strategic thinking is wasted if you cannot make a decision. You should be an intellectual philosopher not a business leader. Do not tell yourself you are a good decision-maker if you come to a decision point and always choose both. The best brand leaders force themselves to focus. They use the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer out of fear. They force themselves to make choices to focus and conquer.

Learn to change your brain speeds. Go slow with strategy and fast with execution.

To read more on How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

What is the core strength that your brand can win on?

To be loved, a brand must know who they are and then stand with pride, conviction and confidence. The problem for many brands is they try to have a few core strengths, so they end up having no real perceived strength that stands out.

This model has four possible options for what core strength your brand should choose to win with: product, brand story, experience or price. For many Marketers, their first response is to want to pick two or three core strengths, but the model forces you to pick just one. Here’s the game I have created to help make the choice. You have 4 chips, you must place one chip where you believe you have the highest competitive advantage to win with, then two chips at the mid level that back up and support the core strength. Finally, the game forces one chip to be at the low, almost a throw-away weakness that will not be part of the strategy.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your brand’s core strength

For Apple, their core strength is their brand story around ‘simplicity’. They support that core strength with a great product and consumer experience. However, they never win on price, charging a price premium and never discount.

Product led Brands

When Product Innovation is your key strength, your main strategy should focus on being better. The brand must invest in continuous innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims and new formats. The brand must defend against any challengers. The promise and experience should be built around the product. The brand should leverage product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and benefit differences in the product versus the competitors. Bring the “how it is built” into the brand story, to highlight and re-enforce the point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers through the buying stages. Use product reviews and key influencers to support the brand. One watch out for product led brands is the struggle to build and drive an emotional connection with consumers. As the brand matures, it must layer a big idea on top of the product, to enable the consumer to connect on a deeper level. There are some amazing product brands, such as Samsung, Tide, Five Guys or Ruth’s Chris who create consumer loyalty, but still lack that emotional connection.

Rolex has done an amazing job in building emotion into their product led brand. The language choices they use such as ‘crafted from the finest raw materials’ or ‘assembled with scrupulous attention to detail’ helps convey their commitment to the design and production of the Rolex. Rolex epitomizes prestige and success. On marketing program that has helped Rolex create an emotional bond is one they first resisted—the official clock for Wimbledon. Both Rolex and Wimbledon place an enormous emphasis on the values of tradition and excellence. The fact that Rolex is one of the few companies with a presence on the courts is further testament to the strength of the partnership.

Product led brands core strength

Story led Brands

When the Brand Story is your brand’s key strength, the strategy should focus on finding a way to be different. To tell that story, invest in emotional brand communication that connects motivated consumers with the big idea on a deeper emotional level. Then line up everything (story, product, experience) under the big idea. Story led brands should leverage a community of core “brand lovers” who can then talk about the brand story and influence others within their network. These brands should use a soft sell approach to influence the potential consumer. Do not bring price to the forefront, as it can take away from the idea. Some of the store-led brands includes Dove, Nike, W Hotels and Virgin, the greatest story-led brand has been Apple.

Most recently, the Tesla brand appears to have borrowed a lot of Apple’s principles, building around the story of “saving the planet with innovation”. Tesla uses many innovative approaches, including the visionary charm of their founder, Elon Musk, to create a movement beyond a brand. He has become a spokesperson for a generation of consumers who want to save the planet. Even the most ardent Tesla brand lovers see the brand as a movement. The 400,000 consumers who put down $1,000 for a car that does not yet exist are pretty much investing in the movement, more than the car.

Idea led brand core strength

Consumer experience led Brands

When the Consumer Experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. Your people are your product. As you go to market, be patient in a slower build as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient. Invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience. Effective tools include word of mouth, earned media, social media, on-line reviews, use of key influencers and testimonials. Use the brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the team leadership. Align the operations team with service behaviors that deliver the brand’s big idea. Focus on building a culture and organization with the right people, who can deliver incredible experiences. Invest in training the face of the brand. Too much marketing emphasis on price can diminish the perceived consumer experience. Some of the best experience brands includes Ritz-Carlton, Emirates airline, Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks.

In a blind taste test, Starbucks coffee finishes middle of the pack. Starbucks view themselves as in the ‘moments’ business. They build everything around the consumer experience. The brand stresses the importance of the culture with their staff and use service values to deliver incredible guest experiences. Starbucks offers the perfect moment of escape between home and work, supported by a unique combination of Italian coffee names, European pastries, cool friendly staff, nice leather seats and indie music that creates an amazing atmosphere that cannot be beat.

Price led Brands

When Price is your brand’s lead strength, focus on driving efficiency to drive the lowest possible cost structure. These brands should use ‘call to action’ Marketing to keep high turns and high volume. It is all about cash flow with fast moving items that delivers high turns and high volume to cover off the lower prices. Invest in the fundamentals around production and sourcing to maintain the low cost competitive advantage. Use the brand’s power to win negotiations. Price brands need to own the low price positioning and fiercely attack any potential challengers. The brand usually needs good solid products, however consumers are willing to accept a lower consumer experience. Many price brands struggle to drive any emotional connection with consumers brand. It can be hard to maintain ‘low price’ while fighting off the perception that the brand is ‘cheap’. It is hard for consumers to love the price brands, even though they rely on them when needed. Walmart is one of the best price brands. No one is more efficient at retail. While their competitors sell through their inventory in 100-125 days, Walmart sells through theirs in 29 days, 1 day before they even have to pay for it. Their outward sales pitch is price, but their internal organization and culture is clearly driven by driving efficiency with fast-moving items. They use their power to bully their suppliers, who give in just to be part of Walmart’s high sales volumes. Walmart has made failed attempts to create any emotional connection. The battle in the future for Walmart will be Amazon, who does extraordinary customer service and smart pricing. It will be a tough battle for Walmart as Amazon is one of the most beloved brands on the planet.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

As you take this model a step further, this should guide your overall brand positioning angle on whether you should strive to be better, different or cheaper. The product led brands should be building a story around how they make it better than everyone else, while the story led brands can tell the story, idea or purpose behind the brand. As you move to the experience, the focus should be on how the people make the brand different and finally, while you can just yell price, you might be much more effective if you tell the story behind how you can offer the same as others at a much lower cost.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Brands that cannot decide which of the four to build around will find themselves in trouble. Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone. A great case study example is Uber. You could argue for all 4 possibilities. And while you might think that is game-changing, I think it is dumb. Uber has squeezed the prices on taxis so low that they are squeezing their own margins so low. Plus, they believe the way to win is saturating the market to dominate it before anyone else can enter. Let’s play that out a bit. If you have been using Uber quite a while, you will notice that the quality of drivers is going way down. I have had friends say their driver showed up in a cut off tank top, got lost 2-3 times and definitely did not have a shower this morning. That is risk of trying to be a price brand because that is the quality driver that Uber can afford. Then along comes Lyft, who focuses primarily on the consumer experience. Same app, higher price level, and a driver who is fully trained with higher standards. They emphasis quality experience to their drivers and their consumers, thereby boxing Uber into being a price brand longer term. By not focusing on the experience position, Uber left it open for someone else to grab. The profit squeeze then hits, even cheaper drivers and then Uber could end up the Walmart of taxi cabs.

Pick one strength. Build everything you do behind it.

To read more on how to create a beloved brand, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson