There are things that work and many more that don't. Let's discuss what we've experienced . . . not our opinions . . . but actually what our days and nights as marketers, business leaders, parents, people are teaching us. Please give us a hand. Tell us about your experience with this stuff.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leadership vs. Representation

Leadership facilitates people moving forward.

Representation, at best, manages to the lowest common denominator or at worst, represents only the people who put him/her in position.

Leadership accepts the hard realities and shows a way through those, most times through their own actions.

Representation practices 'ole' management'. A tough reality comes to them and they pass it on to the next person down the line without providing any assistance at all. " . . . travels down hill"

Leadership believes that his/her highest calling is to enable the success of those who look to him/her.

Representation views their team's role as ensuring his/her well-being and success.

Often Leadership is unaware of its value because they concentrate on building the value of others.

Representation mostly sees their own value and anything that might build or threaten it.

Leadership builds an enduring path for its shareholders and team members.

Representation builds a path for itself.

Leadership is about others.

Representation is ultimately about itself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What is real innovation?

Sometimes innovation seems kind of a beauty thing . . .in the eye of the beholder.

But more and more, I appreciate the innovation which helps us do and accomplish what we've set out to accomplish.

I hear of tactics and technology which redefine what individuals and organizations can do. But sadly most times, no one asks why we should ?

What makes an idea or innovation worth pursuing?

For organizations without clearly defined business strategy, its almost impossible to wrestle the myriad of wonderful innovations that come its way. Politics (loudest voice) and copying competitors can become the decision making norm.

Once again this is why doing the hard work of making a clear decision on what a firm's strategy (does this word even communicate anything anymore?), business model, culture, mission, goal is so critical.

We can accomplish great things, but not if we are spending the bulk of our time trying to accomplish objectives not consistent with the above or doing lesser things which eat inordinate resources and contribute below the highest rate of return that shareholders deserve.

Generally speaking, meaningful innovation returns inordinate returns to the shareholders and do so without violating the strengths and business model of the organization.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Have you communicated it 3 times yet?

If the work of marketing and business development centers around building and evolving relationships, both within the organization and outside (and it certainly does); then arguably the most important skill to hone is an understanding of communications.

For many who grew up focusing on advertising or sales, the numbers and the effect of those communication numbers are drilled into you (frequency, reach, sales calls, conversion, etc). However it seems many of these principles are getting lost.

Possbly the most important one revolves around understanding what it takes for a message to be heard and possibly understood.

What was drilled into me as a young marketing professional was that the research showed that messages must be sent a minimum of 3 times to expect anyone to hear it. And that the optimum number of communications was 6 to 9 times.

In other words, if its important,
> noone hears it before you've said it 3 times
> one should expect for people to have heard your message once you have communicated it 6 times and that
> there was probably less real value to communicating it more than 9 times. If it hadn't been understood or acted upon at that point, it probably wouldn't be.

So if you believe your communication's responsibility stops with sending an email or a white paper or because you left a message or gave a speech, you are extremely naive. Or maybe what you have to say just isn't very important.

So here's the arithmetic: if you are communicating something which requires perception and/or possible action and you haven't communicated your message a mimimum of three times, you shouldn't expect anything from anyone. Follow this rule and your life (both professionally and personally) will make a whole lot more sense . . .and you may become be a great communicator.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Avoiding the Flavor of the Month Club in Marketing Technology

I had the thrill of watching the consulting arm of Ernst & Young at the end of the 90's. They printed money working with the leading companies in the world around primarily putting in technology solutions to operational or system challenges.

However E&Y was always clear about what determined whether their technology solution would return value to the client: the technology had to be tied into an established business process. In fact a part of some assignments would include working with the client to develop or evolve a relavent business process which would require the technology solution in order to acheive the value goal.

Within law firms, this rule is rarely considered or understood. Its why CRM is a pipe dream in most environments and CRM software implementation is a vain exercise.

The question always has to be asked first? What established business proces is this supporting? For instance, if a firm isn't currently comfortable sharing its information with one another and there aren't truly functional cross-practice Industry Groups and/or Client Teams, what is the point of a CRM tool? Well, for many firms so far the point is to have a powerful mail list program.

The 'build it and they will come' orientation to organization evolution mostly fails. It only works when people are looking for a way or place to do something that they don't currently possess or their current way is broken. Better mousetraps are always more expensive and often miss the mark of the user's or purchaser's needs.

So as we are thinking about impacting our organization by investing the shareholder's monies in new marketing technology, we base our investments on how the organization is currently moving into the marketplace.

Otherwise the arithmetic on initiatives not conncected to current business process is that you have just bought into the flavor of the month club. These are usually good ideas that have no place to connect or grow within the organization. And they will not generate the value you desire.