Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fact of Life

While posting a comment on a website, I realized my statements were applicable beyond that articles subject matter. Later the same day, I had several conversations were this "fact of life" was revealed again. Enough waiting.

Fact of Life: No matter how old you are, what job you have, where you are in life, there will always be good and bad people. How you react defines you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brand Development is More Than a Marketing Plan

As a marketing process expert, let me share the steps involved in developing a brand. It’s a simple process, but requires thorough thinking to be successful.

Step One
The Marketing Plan
This contains all the product information (features, benefits, value proposition), competitive analysis, target market and market feasibility.

Step Two
The Creative Brief
A lot of people in the industry think this is part of the marketing plan. It is a secondary, and critical, document to augment the marketing plan. This is the document that prepares you for the customer approach or what used to be called Advertising. It answers the consumer’s question, “why do I want this product.” Properly executed, the creative brief can save you money when discussing the execution with your creative agency. No one knows the product as well as you.

Step Three
The Media Buy
Simply stated, how you reach your audience. There is a plethora of tools available online and with media planners to develop this plan. The challenge comes with the multitude of channels. The web has made this task very difficult. You will need to do a lot of homework to maximize your budget. Old and new media should be in your mix.

Step Four
The Financial Plan
Put your excitement about your product aside and remember your running a business. Everything should be based from a business perspective. As they say on the show Shark Tank, it’s all about “money”. A solid, and realistic, financial plan can help you secure funding and help you learn the realities of launching a new product. Most importantly, can you make money (profit)?

Step A
The Production Schedule
The entire process is driven by a schedule. Time can be your biggest asset or enemy. A production schedule will provide motivation and accountability. It should be realistic and fluid.

Branding is not one task, but a process. With due diligence, you can achieve developing a recognized brand in your category or even create a new category. These steps will also benefit the rebranding of an existing product.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Work and Fun

A poor company culture can not be solved by the HR department planning and executing a bowling day or an Office Olympics picnic. Creating fun is relative to the associate’s perception of the company, and more importantly, to their job. I’m not stating these actives are not fun, but they can have little influence on associate motivation. The concept is great, as it shows the company, on a global scale, they appreciate and reward those who contribute to their success.

This blog post is about drilling down to the individual associate. I see too many times where upper and middle management are oblivious to their direct reports feelings. Yes, I used the word “feelings”. Associates are human beings and possess emotions. The greatest of these at work is appreciation and appreciation is displayed by recognition and recognition leads to motivation and motivation leads to productivity. You get the picture.

My question to today’s managers, many of whom are young and/or first time managers, is “Are you in touch with your reports feelings about their job?” This leads to further review:
  • How do you communicate? If you believe knowledge is power, do you share information or believe you need to use it to protect your own position?
  • Do you disseminate timely performance factors, positive or negative?
  • How often do you meet with your reports, individually and collectively?
  • Do you know their significant other’s name?
  • Do you know their birthday, without HR reminding you? Studies show that a person’s birthday is one of their most valued days.
  • Are you consistently learning to be a better manager?
  • If you manage managers, are you equipping them to improve their people skills?

HR should augment a positive company culture. Managers must be tuned to individual associate motivation, which varies person-to-person. If your feel your job is not fun, then no corporate event will change it.

There are managers out there that should not be managers. Just because you are skilled at your given vocation, doesn’t mean you can manage people with or without these same skill sets. Do management schools still teach the Peter Principle? I have seen managers with only one report. Where this exists in my company structure influence, I eliminate this arrangement. Supervising one person is a poor situation. This creates a conundrum for the manager-associate relationship to either be friends or enemies. A worse case is when it’s a “working” manager scenario. You both have the same function, but one is privileged and only associate animosity can result. Unfortunately, this is more common than you may realize.

One last thought. Corporate sponsored events should take place during the workday. People have their work life and their personal life. Making an evening or weekend event, will impose “force company socialization.” It devalues the company’s goal to show appreciation. People may, and do have, work friends, but let them decide when to socialize outside the workplace. This is not the company’s role.

What are your motivation techniques?

Friday, January 3, 2014

How to Start 2014

Two of my key subject matters are leadership and hiring. The start of the New Year is the best time to review these strategies. Here is a recent article from The Wall Street Journal that hits the nail on the head.

The Most Important Leadership Trait You Shun

This subject matter is one that I stress in my consulting – honesty. Unfortunately, I have experienced too much where this in not a known practice, especially in a competitive work environment. Associates, managers and leaders are frequently to scared to admit, much less hire, someone with more knowledge than their own. These companies survive for some time, but eventually this culture erodes productivity. The result is loss of clients and worse loss of the business.

My experience has also proved companies who embrace this honest culture thrive, just as this article conveys.

This situation is so prevalent, I experienced it on New Year's day. A sycophant style associate sent an email blast stating the work he accomplished to all levels of the organization. His goal, I presume, was to let the world know he was in the office on the Holiday in hopes of recognition and advance his career in the long run. I'm not involved with this company, so I don't know if the culture will accommodate his goals. Experience will prove danger to the company's well being, if they do. I feel sorry for his family that did not get to enjoy New Year's day with him.

If you're in a hiring position, I hope you will admire a candidate that may not know everything and admits it. Today's job descriptions include everything from strategy to execution for one person. Weigh your preferences, by applying percentages to each trait and hire the candidate that has the experience on the higher attributes.

If you're a leader, admit your weaknesses and surround yourself with those whose augment your shortcomings.

Try this honesty practice wherever you are in the company hierarchy. Trust me, honesty is the best policy.