The Next Step

Re-Define Success

Posted: Dec 2, 2010 12:00am ET

In a tough business climate, it's naïve to think everything will be as it was. Sales will be under pressure as will profitability. It's time to redefine success. Staying the course and looking to hold business, build share and suffer less than your competitors is a valid strategy. The economy has moved and so will your business.

You need to be realistic about what you can achieve and how you will achieve it. Set a new bar. Support the plans that will enable you to get over the hurdle. Meet the new goals and build from there.

It's about small wins now and bigger wins later. Tighten your belt. Focus. Sharpen. Gee, this is all starting to sound suspiciously like a diet and exercise book. And in a funny way, that's exactly what it is. A diet and exercise book—for your business. Chances are, you've gotten professionally fat and lazy. If so, think of the GD2 as a sudden chest pain for your business. A wake-up call to start trimming down, slimming down and shaping up.

And like any good exercise program, take the small victories as you get them. Can't bench press the same weight you could in college? Well, you never try to go for the whole thing at once. You start with 5 or 10 pounds and add a few pounds each time you work out. Same thing for your business. Start building small victories. Where are they coming from? What are they signaling? And how can you leverage them for bigger wins down the road?

It's out there. There are always people who prosper in a downturn. This morass isn't going to last forever. And as we said at the start, there will be plenty of survivors-and a few people that thrive-do everything you can to be one of them.

Price Is Not A Value Proposition

Posted: Nov 18, 2010 12:00am ET


Whatever you do, don’t slash your prices. Price isn’t a branding proposition. Or as we used to say in advertising, “Live by price, die by price.” The minute you start offering sales, everyone is going to expect you’re lower price to be your forever price—don’t go there.

Retail sales of “70-80% off” build traffic—even a feeding frenzy—of customers who swoop in like vultures to buy the clothing carrion. Stores look painfully customer-empty when the sales are over and new merchandise comes in. Customers are waiting for the next meteoric drop in prices to make their move. And the damage you do isn’t necessarily restricted to sales. Less than a year after Apple introduced the iPhone, they dropped the price by $200 in order to boost their year-end numbers. The uproar from the early adaptors who’d paid top dollar was loud enough for Apple to agree to an embarrassingly public give-back to the first-round owners.

Tinkering with price can produce grave long-term consequences. Subway did a highly successful “$5 Foot-Long” promotion and saw store traffic plummet when the promotion ended. The promotion came back—and it’s a baseline price they might have to live with for years to come.

It will be somewhere between difficult and impossible for many retailers to claw their way back to standard pricing and needed margins. So be cautious if you’re thinking about changing your price.

Don’t Mortgage Brand Equity

Posted: Nov 16, 2010 12:00am ET

This is not a time to cheapen your brand in any way. Shortcuts to improve profitability will exact a price later. The recent trend to downsizing ice cream has hurt the image of brands that used to sell containers that were literally a pint, quart, or half gallon. Now they’re some deceptive package size that tries to mask the fact that they’ve downsized. When we buy a half-gallon of ice cream, we want a half-gallon, not some bogus content-reduced package that poses as one.

Cheapening the ingredients in your product to squeeze out more profit is another losing proposition, as well. Boar’s Head is running a campaign to create an awareness of other how other companies are using inferior ingredients in cold cuts. In a tough economy, things are difficult enough. People seek comfort, quality and support from friends, family associates—and from brands.
Sell out on your customers now and they will abandon you—not just in the tough times, but likely, forever.

Learn more about how to build brand equity with the school of marketing.

Career Changing Events

Posted: Nov 5, 2010 12:00am ET

At ANA's most recent Masters of Marketing Conference purpose was a central theme. CMOs from Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Cisco, Dell, and American Express all specifically pointed to purpose—a reason to be in business other than making money—a true driver of business growth. As Mark Pritchard the CMO at P&G put it in a presentation to over 1,600 participants who attended this conference—now is the time to shift from selling products to improving lives. This seminal moment came about in AG Lafley's reign as CEO of P&G when he realized that the company's growth had slowed dramatically primarily because P&G had forgotten who was boss—it's your consumer.

Interestingly in a recent McKinsey survey, purpose or passion for what you are doing, the industry you are working in, or the job that you have, is a decisive moment that defines your happiness for your own career.

Just as companies are finding that they must be true to themselves and their customers, that they must touch the lives of those who buy their products, so too must they touch customers' hearts (if of course the goal is to career advancement.) Find your passion-and the career you want will find you. Are you passionate about your career? Share your thoughts-maybe it will help spread the enthusiasm!

How To Position Your Most Important Brand—YOU!

Posted: Oct 19, 2010 12:00am ET

Contributed by Guest Blogger, Jane Maas

Chances are you put a lot of time and energy into positioning your brand. You look for insights; communicate the key benefit to the right target audience; cultivate the "tone and manner." There's really one major objective: to set your brand apart, to make it more desirable than all the rest of the competition out there.

Have you ever thought about treating yourself like a brand? You can create a positioning statement for yourself that has exactly the same goal: to set you apart and help move you up in your organization. A self-positioning statement helps you see more clearly how you want to be perceived.

Here are five guidelines.

  1. Set an Objective for Yourself
    It may be a long-range goal, such as becoming a vice president or the CMO. It may be more immediate - - getting a promotion or a raise. It must be "do-able" (something you can truly achieve, not just a pipe dream). And it should be measurable (decide how long it might take to get that promotion).
  2. Know your Target Audience
    If your goal is career success, then it's likely that your target audience is the company you work for. Your primary target audience is probably your boss or bosses, but don't for a minute neglect that very important secondary audience, your co-workers. Just as a brand needs to fulfill the needs and wants of its consumers, so BRAND YOU needs to help your target audience achieve their own objectives.
  3. What is your Key Benefit?
    Think hard about this, because this benefit must flow from your own abilities. Do you want to be known as the best strategic thinker? The most persuasive presenter?  The big idea generator? Can you "own" this territory within your organization?
  4. Have a Reason-to-Believe.
    The best support you can give is probably a track record. If you haven't already begun to amass some examples, now is the time to get started.
  5. Create an appropriate Tone and Manner.
    Of course, we all have multi-faceted personalities, and you certainly don't want to construct a persona that isn't really you. However, you can put a spotlight on a particular facet that fits with your overall positioning. If you want to be perceived as the idea generator, for example, then you need to appear energized: speak up at brainstorming sessions, applaud other ideas and set forth your own.

If you want to know more about the principles of positioning, the ANA School of Marketing has a number of courses you may want to consider. Check them out at ana.net.



A Sure Route to Career Success: Become an Expert in Something

Posted: Oct 8, 2010 12:00am ET

Contributed by Guest Blogger, Jane Maas

The legendary advertising man David Ogilvy (my boss) loved to tell the story of a young account executive at his agency who climbed to the top because he became a leading authority on the product manufactured by his client. In short order, the client hired him. The man continued to build his expertise. Ultimately he became CEO of the client company.

What can you become an expert in? Here are four tips to help you decide.

  1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. For instance, deciding that you will become an expert in social media could overcome you. It's a vast arena. What's more, it is changing by the day, almost by the hour. Already, people are asking what the new Facebook is going to be, or the next Twitter. Dig into a more stable subject, such as the motivations for people these days to become part of networks and communicate within them.
  2. Choose a subject that enhances your career. If you become an expert on Egyptian tomb painting, you may be a hit at cocktail parties but it isn't likely to aid you professionally. Investigate areas that are important to your company now, or might become important to it in the future. Make yourself an expert in subjects that currently bewilder your company and cause them to seek outside help. You can become your firm's invaluable inside resource. Worth your weight in gold.
  3. It might as well be a subject you like. If numbers turn you off, don't decide to become the authority on marketing ROI. If the creative process mystifies you, steer clear of areas where creativity rules the roost. You want to feel right at home in your expert niche and enjoy adding to your own wealth of knowledge.
  4. It should have a clear future. It's probably smart to steer clear of hi-tech areas that can change dramatically. (Note the comments about Facebook and Twitter in #1 above.) You are better off mastering more long-lived psychological or sociological phenomena.

How Your Company Can Go From Good to Great

Posted: Sep 28, 2010 12:00am ET


Jim Collins said that great companies "don't start with where, but who. They get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, BEFORE they decide where the bus is headed."

Getting the right people in the right seats is accomplished via firing and hiring OR by helping those that need skills enhancement the opportunity to gain that knowledge.

Demonstrating that you encourage knowledge building, that you will help those who have the ability to learn more and contribute more is in itself incredibly motivating.  Employees want to work for a company that a.) has a vision, and b.) wants its employees to succeed.

Having a vision gives your team a purpose, other than making money, to come to work every day.  Allowing the team to gain the skills to push the envelope on that vision is that much more purposeful. So go for both—give your team a reason to do better and the tools to succeed.

Need help determining your next learning step - ANA School of Marketing offers ANA members a number of training methods to fit whatever time or budget constraints you have - click here to discover how.

Learning Cultures Provide Competitive Advantages

Posted: Sep 27, 2010 12:00am ET


Organizations with learning cultures empower employees to make decisions and encourage them to seek new ideas and innovative paths to better business solutions.  Interestingly, studies have shown that 80 percent of what is learned is gained outside the organization, and from each other.

Today's business environment favors the companies that can tap into the enthusiasm, agility and problem solving skills of their staff. Companies with a culture that values and fosters learning succeed not just at today's goals, but also at meeting the unseen, unplanned for opportunities of the future. Is your organization agile enough to take advantage of these fleeting moments?

Your people are therefore your greatest competitive advantage.  Those companies able and willing to tap into and build those skills will leap ahead of competition and stay there.

The key is for teams to learn together, to challenge each other. By working in tandem teams will greatly exceed what one mind can do on its own.

Need help determining your next learning step - ANA School of Marketing offers ANA members a number of training methods to fit whatever time or budget constraints you have - click here to discover how.

Employees First, Customers Second

Posted: Sep 22, 2010 12:00am ET


The truth is marketing starts from the inside out. Your team must understand and believe in your brand. Will they stand behind it, champion it? Do they know what the brand mission is? Are they informed and involved in new initiatives and strategies that are taking place within your company? If your staff is unable or unwilling to support your marketing efforts it can have detrimental results.  

In fact, a lack of commitment from your team is extremely harmful to an organization; it results in poorer performance arising from inferior service offerings and higher costs. Too often companies think once they have finished their consumer work, they are done. Successful companies see employees as a critical component to the capability of service organizations and therefore treat employees and customers with equal importance.

The resultant positive effect of an internally focused marketing effort will encourage employees to offer maximum rather than minimum effort, thereby better satisfying the needs and wants of external customers. Internal marketing could therefore be the answer to gaining employee commitment for many organizations, succeeding where traditional internal communications programs have failed. Need help motivating employees - turn to ANA School of Marketing for great courses and training opportunities to show your team you care about their development.



The Nike Approach to Business Training

Posted: Sep 22, 2010 12:00am ET

Is the Nike approach to sports one we should adopt for our job - Just Do It! That is stop procrastinating, believe in yourself get on the field, court, track, etc and just start participating, playing, excelling? For fun I looked at the Nike site, clicked on the running page and saw that there is a training tab. Thinking that this could be the help potential runners need to lift their level of performance, I spent a little time looking around to see what I could find. There's a lot—Nike's Coach Jay will answer your questions should you have them. Or you can go to a page entitled Nike+Coach - here Nike's "top-notch coaches have joined forces to bring you custom training programs."

Even Nike does not expect you to go it alone. Why then do we so often expect people on our marketing teams to pick up what they need via OJT (on the job training)? Why aren't we willing to provide them a "top-notch coach" to bring them custom training programs? Training is often put aside because it takes time and money to do - yet we all know that training returns results. Can you imagine college or professional athletes performing at the level they do without training?

Business and marketing training should not be a luxury or left to an individual to "Just Do It" on their own. There are too many resources that can help - and not every option costs a lot or requires a huge time investment. The ANA School of Marketing offers ANA members a number of options - instead of going it alone, you may want a top-notch coach to help, and ANA has a number—check us out!




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About This Blog

This blog focuses on fresh and innovative ideas on how to bring your career to the next level. The blog which also details the various training opportunities for marketing professionals is penned by, Michael Palmer, executive vice president of training & careers.