Roy's Blog: February 2018

February 26, 2018

8 guaranteed ways marketing leaders can be remarkable

Marketing’s role in any organization is critical; its leaders must be extraordinary.

Unfortunately, I don’t think marketing generally has stepped up to the challenge of doing remarkable things; in fact I think the craft is currently quite boring and unimaginative.
I offer this perspective as a guy who spent at least 80% of his 33+ year career leading marketing organizations and fulfilling the role of CMO.

Sure, the internet has spawned a plethora of new tools to engage with and sell to people, but the essence of the marketing strategy employed by most organizations hasn’t changed much. There is still a relentless focus on price, mass advertising, product and service flogging and applying traditional marketing tools introduced years ago and pushed by academics and consultants alike.

Marketing leaders

Marketing leaders must take responsibility for this state of affairs; for the apathy they have accepted from their marketing teams. They must be held accountable to move the marketing discipline from an approach that was practiced in the past, and is now underperforming given the dramatic changes that have occurred in the market.
They must take responsibility to PERSONALLY lead their teams to a new relevant place, and not accept the inertia caused by their junior teams of marketing
practitioners who have been taught principles of the past.

If marketing leaders accept how their team performs its role, they can’t be surprised when lacklustre results are produced.

Parochial leaders get mediocrity.

Organizations need marketing leaders to take control; people who will not stop until their team produces unheard-of results by practising the new relevant art.

Here are eight actions marketing leaders can take if they want to stand-out and turn their marketing teams into achievers of remarkability.

Set short-term revenue goals
Focus on the next 24 months rather than be a victim of the 5-year plan. This shorter term view will force an execution and results focus and avoid the “hockey stick” phenomenon where sales are supposed to miraculously show up at the end of the planning period.
Set revenue targets monthly and review performance to ensure you are on track.

Short term

Make revenue targets bold enough that you don’t know exactly how to achieve them
Discomfort and “I don’t know” is an effective way to drive innovation and creativity. If you know how to deliver your expected revenue, there is little or no incentive to do different things.
If you follow yesterday’s path, nothing remarkable happens.

Eliminate benchmarking as a tool for marketers to use
Copying won’t step your organization up to a higher level; it simply keeps you in the competitive herd. Ask, “How can we be different?”. Apply this question to every proposal you review. 
If a proposal from one of your marketers doesn’t move your organization towards standing out from your competitors to being a “different breed,” reject the proposal out-of-hand. And fire any marketer who makes the same mistake twice.

Stop new customer acquisition programs
Insist on seeing proposals that generate more revenue from your existing customer base as opposed to providing special deals or promotions to prospective customers who you want to attract from your competition. The truth is that customers who join you from the competition can’t be counted on for any loyalty or added revenue over the long term.
Offer any special promotions or deals to your existing customers first; reward their loyalty.

De-emphasize price and establish value creation as your raison d’être
Ask what value is being created for your loyal customers, not, “How can we lower our prices?”. Everyone plays the price game and it leads not to competitive advantage but rather financial ruin.
Declare the marketing rule “There will be NO price incentives offered around here!” as the way to disrupt the momentum of using boring prices as a marketing tool.
And replace the product manager position with the product value position and reward those who are prolific at creating value solutions.

Weird people

Recruit weird people
Marketing success today is all about finding what small specialty groups desire or want (satisfying what they need is passé) and proving them with unmatched value.
Start to populate your marketing teams with these types of people who can relate better to these curious customer segments. Look for contrarians. People who have bizarre ideas and question the common ways of doing things. People who hate fitting in.
You need a team of weirdos to carry your mandate breakaway from traditional marketing ways.

Expand your marketing team to include the frontline
The new marketing excellence is produced by understanding the deep innermost secrets of people you want to serve. The customer-facing frontline in any organization is THE most effective receptacle for customer learning; what customer’s desire. Recruit these people even if they don’t meet your “minimum education standards” — which are largely irrelevant in most cases anyways.
Get their ideas and implement them. And tell the rest of the organization what you are up to; hopefully they also will recognize the value of the human face to the customer.

Develop a competitive claim that is more than just hot air
The new marketing leader is not guided by aspiration. They are practical people who covet granularity, clarity and precision when it comes to defining why people should buy from their organization and none other.
Be clear and specific that the value you deliver to your customers is distinct from your competition.
They focus their attention on answering the killer question, “Why should I do business with you and not your competitors?” and purge comparative notions like “best”, “number one” and “leader” as ways of describing their market value proposition.

Marketing leaders must step up their game and take personal ownership of the changes needed to stay relevant and survive. Their organizations depend on it.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.26.18 at 04:18 am by Roy Osing
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February 19, 2018

How do great leaders get people marching together?

One of the biggest issues in any organization is the lack of congruency between what the strategy says and what people do on a day-to-day basis.

The strategy says one thing and not only do people do another, they do different things out of sync with the strategy.

Massive inconsistency and dysfunction results.

This is a failure of leadership.

Leadership tends to place more focus on direction-setting rather than on determining how the strategy will be executed. Precision is applied to “getting the strategy right” and not how it will be implemented in the trenches where the real work gets done.

The gap between strategic intent and actual results is due to this skewed attention. If only 20% of leadership’s attention is placed on the details of how the strategy will be implemented, the strategy will likely be hit and miss as employees find it necessary to execute the plan the way THEY believe it should.

March in step

Effective strategy execution occurs when there is clarity between the functional roles that employees play in the organization and its strategy. If direct “line of sight” is defined for every role, flawless execution results whereas indirect line of sight, results in people having a clouded understanding of what action the strategy demands.

Most leaders absolve themselves of ensuring activity and strategy are aligned. It generally gets relegated to functional heads to sort out by declaring their priorities that THEY contend are homeomorphic with strategic imperatives.

The problem with this process is that subjectivity is introduced at a very high level in the organization and is magnified again and again as teams are asked to do the same thing through middle and junior management levels.

And the tipping point, of course, is that leadership doesn’t approve detailed functional plans which would at least show whether they were bordering on out-of-alignment or not.

Any inconsistencies between activity and strategy at the highest level in an organization are multiplied by an order of magnitude factor before it reaches the frontline people.

Under these conditions it’s not difficult to see why strategy and organizational activity diverge and not converge.

Diverge

What can leadership do about this problem?

First, ease the precision around the strategy creation and tighten it up around execution. Get comfortable with getting the plan “just about right” and applying rigour to implementation and adjusting the plan on the run.

Next, take ownership of aligning organizational activity to strategy.

Institutionalize “Alignment Plans” with functional heads; ask for sufficient granularity to the determination of whether or not a team has direct line of sight to the strategy or not. Make them work at it until they get it right and your leadership team approves.

Alignment Plans submitted to the leader should…

Define the key elements of the strategy that everyone in the organization must align with.

There are many dimensions to any strategy but it is critical to prioritize and focus on the critical ones. Greater alignment success will occur by focusing on a handful of the critical strategic imperatives rather than trying to “herd the cats” around a dozen.
                         
Define “what needs to change” in every functional team with an action plan to achieve it.

If the organization is pursuing a new or revised strategic direction, there will most certainly be projects, company values, people skills and technology that will have to be re-vectored to enable the execution of the new plan. Details of everything that needs to change must be defined in detail.

Cancel

Identify activities, projects and behaviours that have to be dropped in order to take on new activities required for alignment.

Leadership is just as much about what has to be stopped as it is about what has to be started. If out-of-alignment activity is not stopped, additional unnecessary resources will be most certainly requested. All non-strategic activity must be isolated and resources removed and redeployed to new challenges that must be undertaken.

Aligning employees to march together to achieve the organization’s strategic plan is critical to ensure strategic objectives are achieved and higher levels of performance delivered.

Leadership’s active engagement in the process is THE vital ingredient to make it happen.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.19.18 at 04:19 am by Roy Osing
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February 12, 2018

What to do when you are the new leader

As the new leader, the first 90 days is your “get ready” period when employee fears are assuaged, your values are declared and the picture of the journey you intend to take the organization on is painted for everyone.

It’s a vital time for you to get traction.

Here are some waypoints to guide you.

Be seen.

Your office time should be no more than 25-30% of the time you have available. Employee expectations of you are high; they will have trepidations of how well you will fulfill your role.
You have to be on stage; you need to make an appearance. You don’t have to be perfect and have it all figured out. Just show up; be forthright and honest.

Be seen

Spend a disproportionate amount of time with the frontline.

They are the experts on customer service issues, product defects, broken brand promises and systems problems that prevent customers from being delighted with the organization.
Their feedback should guide you in the priorities you set.

Hold as many employee communications sessions as you are able.

Make it a HUGE priority. Have a conversation about your leadership plan for the organization.
Get feedback; listen and take notes.
“Fingerprint” the values you hold sacred; leave no doubt in anyone’s mind who you are and what you stand for.

Go it alone.

This is 90 days in the trenches to reach your own conclusions, not conducting state visits. Leave your entourage with their biases at home. You can’t afford to have them around you.
Empower people to tell you the way it is without existing management being an influencing factor.

Audit

Conduct your own informal audit on how your strategy is being executed.

Review the current strategic plan of the organization and conduct your own informal audit on how effectively it is being executed in the field.
Where are the weaknesses? Where is performance lacking? Your leadership will be judged on how well you advance the strategic intent of the organization, so get data that will point you in the right direction.

Analyze how top line revenue is trending.

Revenue is a market indicator of how customers value your products and services. Revenue trends tell whether you are growing or declining in customer relevance.
Take the analysis to a detailed level in order to have a firm understanding of opportunities and vulnerabilities.

At the end of the 90-day period, announce your intention to formally review the current strategic game plan of the organization.

Base your decision on the feedback you have received from employees and other performance diagnostics you uncovered. Make the review theme a response to what you’ve learned during the 90 days and employee feedback; the challenges THEY have expressed.

As the new leader you will never get your first 90 days back.

Make them count.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.12.18 at 02:56 am by Roy Osing
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February 10, 2018

How to create a website that stands out — guest post

There are more than 1 billion websites on the internet, according to Business 2 Community. That’s right. One. Billion. Because of all the noise out there, the chances of someone randomly finding your organization’s site is very, very low, which means you need to stand out. Here’s how:

Develop Your Branding

You know what the “C” in Coca-Cola or the “G” in Google look like without seeing the rest of the world. You also know the red and white bullseye of Target and the four-colored window of Microsoft. These companies have nailed their branding guidelines to the point that there is no mistaking who they are.

This is what you should aim for with your company’s branding as well. When you’re developing your website, make sure to stick to your specific business colors, logo, wording, imagery, voice, and tone. Your customers should immediately recognize your website as an extension of your business — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Break out

Break out of the Standard Layout

The two- and three-column webpage design is so been there, done that. If you want your website to stand out, you need to break out of this standard layout. Create a look that is unique to your business and suits the content you want to display. For example, if you’re mostly text based, try breaking it up in new ways with textboxes, bullets, numbers, or infographics. If you’re more image based, move your photos, videos, and animation around to create different types of collages, orders, columns, and rows.

You don’t have to teach yourself code to do this, though, so don’t stress. You can still take advantage of easy-to-use tools, like those listed on Best10WebsiteBuilders, to drag and drop, input text, and create the site you’re imagining.

Make Your Own Images

You will not and cannot stand out from the crowd with stock photos. Period. Hire a photographer for the day to take photos of your business, including candids of your employees, and post them to your site.

Make your own videos to post on your website and social media to help your customers get to know you better. You should show off your personality, beliefs, and values through your imagery — and stock photos just can’t do that.

Unique content

Create Unique Content

Just like your images, your content needs to speak to who you are as an organization. Don’t be afraid to find your own style, voice, tone, and wording in your content. Be creative when it comes to the type of content you publish (it doesn’t just have to be blog articles). Every word should help tell your story, so don’t waste it with blase content.

Your website should be just as unique as your company. Show your customers (and potential customers) who you are and what you stand for. Dare to stand out and be different because that’s what it’s all about.

Cherie Wicks is a content provider for Best10WebsiteBuilders

  • Posted 2.10.18 at 02:13 am by Roy Osing
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