Let’s say you’re a new business unit leader or CMO.
You want to get an unvarnished, 360-degree view of the situation and challenge at-hand. You have to get prepared to give your boss an action plan.
What do you do and how do you do it?
To demonstrate, let’s use a high-profile, global example that just happened. I’ll tell you who it is at the end of the post.
Here are some of the steps taken by the new leader:
* Invited a range of outside industry experts to a private dinner. They represented views both consistent with, and alternate to, the company’s strategic direction.
* The guests had to earn their meal by commenting on the most pressing problems facing the company. Specifically, they were asked: “Tell me something I don’t know;” and “Give me a new way of thinking about things.”
You might think it’s a mission impossible marketing challenge to get high school students excited about, and actually eating, healthier school lunches.
Perhaps not. A Colorado high school nutrition team, facing an 80% non-dining rate, has come up with a creative, disruptive action plan.
Last week, the Boulder Valley School District agreed to accept a $75,000 donation from Whole Foods to acquire a used food truck and create their own healthy eating food truck program.
It’s smart marketing for two, key reasons: Continue reading
“It’s important that I not be recognized when scouting. I have Bubba teeth to dive to another level. The goofier you are, the more folks don’t care about telling you stuff.” Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse CEO
Photo: Texas Roadhouse Facebook.
Getting closer to your business operations, employees and even competitors doesn’t require a trip to your local pop-up costume store. Save that for this year’s Halloween shopping.
Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse provides a funny reminder that business leaders need to avoid the ivory tower syndrome and get out into the market for real learning. Continue reading
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers how you’re doing.
The alternative is that maybe one day you won’t have the same number of customers to ask.
I’ve written about the importance of customer learning and market research before, including posts titled A Cure for We-know-it-itis and Ask Your Customer.
My latest “Ask Your Customer” example comes from the retail grocery industry.
ShopRite is a leading northeast supermarket retailer with 250 stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. It’s the primary consumer brand for Wakefern Corporation, “the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States,” per the company.
Wakefern has a sophisticated marketing and merchandising operation.
At the same time, they deploy this simple customer learning tool (picked-up in a NJ store):
I especially like the following two questions because (1) it’s about time good people get credit; and (2) it’s an opportunity to learn something about the product assortment selection: Continue reading
There’s only so much you can do sitting at your desk.
Let’s face it. If you’re not engaging off-site with everyone and everything that makes your company tick, that’s a problem – and lost opportunity.
That’s why you and your business team colleagues need to periodically get out of the office and, for example:
• Listen to your customers;
• Get direct feedback from your ultimate end-users;
• Work with sales colleagues;
• Investigate and learn about important marketing geography;
• Talk with manufacturing colleagues in the plant.
Photo: Company Facebook.
I was reminded of this critical factor for success by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Twice in the last two years, Starwood has temporarily moved corporate HQ to another country for month-long immersions:
“To get to the heart of two of Starwood’s key markets — China and the Middle East, which account for 75% of its growth — the hotel group’s leadership team, including Mr. [Phil] McAveety [Executive VP-Chief Brand Officer at Starwood], the CEO, chief financial officer and others, took a month to immerse themselves in each location. The team spent March in Dubai and visited China in 2011.”
Starwood does this to learn. Here’s what they said in a company statement: Continue reading
As we close 2012 and enter 2013, many of us will take stock of how we’re doing as marketing and business leaders, and perhaps in our personal lives as well.
In that spirit, I’d like to share a few thought-provoking ideas from my recent reading, including from Jeff Bezos and Clayton Christensen, that resonated with me and could prove valuable to you. While they’re mostly for your professional consideration, you may also find some personal overlap. I’ve organized these ideas into nine categories for easy processing.
Good luck and Happy New Year.
1. Figure Out How To Get Real Feedback & Input.
A. Doug Parker – CEO of US Airways
I try really hard now to have forums that allow employees to talk to me, rather than me being in front of 1,000 people. Four times a month, I put myself in a room with 30 or 40 pilots and flight attendants, and I talk for 10 minutes; they talk for 50 (emphasis added). It’s not just listening out of respect — you can’t imagine how much better you can do your job when you operate this way. When you’re leading a big organization like an airline, there’s a whole lot you can miss, so you have to start by listening to people. Then you can decide what the right course is. (Source: Fortune)
B. David Boies – Superlawyer, founder of Boies Schiller & Flexner
Anyone who’s worth talking to is worth listening to. (Source: Fortune) Continue reading