Monday Mornings with Madison

Category Archives:
Brand Management

When “Company Policy” Creates Lifelong Customers… for the Competition

There are three little words that help businesses create lifelong customers more effectively than practically any other phrase: “It’s company policy.” The problem is that those words create lifelong customers for the competition of the company saying that to its customers. For businesses that want to drive their customers to the competition, have at it. Use that phrase to your heart’s content. Better yet, just close your doors now and save yourself the time and slow agony of going out of business the old fashioned way… failure to make money.
Let’s face it. Saying “It’s company policy” to a customer is just a nicer way of saying “We don’t want your business.” That is what a customer hears when an employee blames “company policy” for an unwillingness or inability to solve a problem or accommodate a request. And when a manager says “It’s company policy” to an employee, he is saying “If you don’t like it, go work somewhere else.” As technology and innovation continues to disrupt industry after industry, leaders and managers will be forced to decide whether they are going to stick-to-their-guns and cling to outdated company policies that kill business and alienate employees, or whether they are going to innovate and evolve with the times. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Content Marketing: Quality vs. Quantity

By now, most everyone has probably heard someone harping about the need for businesses to “tell their story” or “engage consumers with content” or “connect with customers on a personal level”. For over a decade, the mantra among marketers has been that Content Is King. Content is meant to attract and keep the attention of customers and potential customers. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.” Everyone jumped on the content bandwagon. Ad agencies, marketing firms, public relations firms, SEO firms and media vendors all rushed in to help. They all touted the need for “MORE CONTENT.” The goal was quantity. Tell stories. Share information.
Today, consumers are saturated – actually overwhelmed – by content. Social media has enabled and encouraged everyone to share information and tell stories. Methods of storytelling abound. Businesses are sharing more information. Experts are writing white papers. Industry leaders are putting out Forecasts. Charities are telling stories. Teenagers are chatting and tweeting and sharing pictures, videos and stories. Even religious leaders – who used to be confined to telling their stories from the pulpit – have joined the digital storytelling revolution. And the media — the original reporters of the world’s stories — now find themselves vying to be heard above the storytelling din. People are experiencing an onslaught of ‘content’ the likes of which has never before been experienced. The whole of humanity is busy creating content. It is a growing ocean of noise. Now what?
This is where the law of supply and demand kicks in. When there is a glut of supply in the market, then the value goes down. Whereas once upon a time quantity was the name of the game with content, going forward the focus is shifting toward quality over quantity. Welcome to the age of quality content. Continue reading

Leave a comment

How to Become an Industry Insider or Influencer

In general, an “insider” is a member of any group that is limited in number and generally restricted in access. The person – by virtue of being a member of this group – has access to secret, privileged, hidden or otherwise obscure or complex information or knowledge. The insider is a member of the “gang” and hence knows things outsiders don’t, including insider jargon.
The term “Industry Insider” has various meanings. For example, in the world of securities trading, the term “Industry Insider” is generally used to describe someone who works for a publicly-traded company, or trusted advisor to that company, and possesses key information (often non-public information) about that company. They know things because they are on the “inside.” That information, if shared and/or used to influence stock trades, is illegal. The Securities and Exchange Commission considers that a form of illegal insider trading.
However, with the rise of social media, the term Industry Insider has taken on a totally different meaning. In our complicated and information-rich world, the concept of insider knowledge has grown in importance as a source of direct and useful guidance. Today, being an Industry Insider is considered a badge of honor, earning that person considerable respect and influence. So how does one become an Industry Insider, and isn’t this just a new way of saying expert or guru? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Industry Insiders and Influencer Marketing

Reaching customers during their decision-making process is one of the most coveted goals of sales and marketing professionals. Reaching someone at just the right time with just the right information can have a profound effect in influencing a purchase, especially if it is coming from a person of trust. Say, for instance, a man is looking to invest money. There will be many steps that go into the decision-making process of what to invest in. He might read some recent articles about the stock market in reputable investment magazines. He might get some advice from blogs written by investment gurus about investing in real estate. He might hear a radio commercial featuring a celebrity recommending investing in bonds. And he might get advice from friends and family members who have successfully managed their own investments. Some of this advice will be considered and some will be discarded. The man is more likely to listen to someone who is a trusted advisor, friend or colleague, especially if he is in the midst of the decision-making process.
Indeed, this is known as Influencer Marketing. Influencer Marketing is one of the best strategies for successfully infiltrating and influencing the decision-making process. Hence the name. Just how does Influencer Marketing work? And how effective is it? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Preparing an Annual Marketing Plan

It is a lot of work to prepare an annual Marketing Plan.  After all, a company’s Marketing Plan should itemize — in great detail — all of the company’s goals, the objectives to reach those goals and the strategies to … Continue reading

Leave a comment

Capricious or Cutting-Edge: When Should a Business Make Changes?

It’s been said that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” The point is that sometimes you have to break routines and try new processes, products, systems or strategies to find better ways of doing things. Innovation usually leads to improvement, and refusing to ever try new things is futile and foolish. Consider the Luddites. The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers and weavers who, fearing the end of their trade, protested against newly developed labor-saving technologies between 1811 and 1816. New inventions such as the stocking frames, spinning frames and power of the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace Luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers, leaving them unemployed and obsolete. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress. So famous was their rebellion that today the term Luddite has become synonymous with anyone opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technology, in general.

Of course, there is also an argument to be made that a business that is always changing processes, products and strategies may find itself wasting both time and talent. It can be expensive to constantly be shifting gears and updating systems. Learning new software or revamping procedures takes time and can be confusing – and even frustrating — for employees. So change for the sake of change can also be counterproductive and costly. It is important for businesses to evolve, but it should be done carefully and thoughtfully to ensure it causes the least amount of disturbance, distraction and distress internally and externally. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Core Values: Establishing and Executing

What does the company stand for? Where does it fit in this world? What are its’ “ways” of doing things? The answer to those questions is what lies at the heart of any company’s core values. Apple’s core value – established by Steve Jobs – was that people with passion can change the world. When they launched the Mac computer, their campaign slogan was “Think Different.” Their advertisements didn’t show computers. In fact, their ads had nothing to do with their product. It was about people who had changed the world. Likewise, the core value for milk – represented by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council for what is the quintessential commodity – is that milk is good for you, which some argue is not even true. Their most famous advertising campaign — based on their core value — was “Got Milk?”, which also did not show the product. It actually showed the absence of the product, but the core value was clear.

When a company’s leadership wants to establish core values for the organization, it needs to consider its place in the world. How is the company different from other organizations? What values speak to how the company’s employees work, interact and behave? What values jive with the organization’s brand and reinforce its identity? When seeing the company’s products, services or employee’s behaviors, would customers be able to pick them out as distinctly of that organization? Those are some of the questions to consider in formulating core values. Here’s how. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Core Values: Creating Values that are Genuine, Bold and Unwavering – Part 2

For a business to thrive, genuine core values are invaluable! Core values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But fake core values generate a cynicism that poisons the cultural well and wastes a great opportunity. The problem is that coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires a high degree of fortitude and grit… real moxie. Indeed, an organization considering a core values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values can inflict pain. They can make some employees feel like outcasts. They can limit an organization’s strategic and operational freedom and constrain the behavior of its people. They could leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations. And they demand constant vigilance. In other words, it takes work for a business to have meaningful core values. Companies unwilling to accept the pain of real core values shouldn’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement.

Those organizations with genuine commitment to values will reap the benefits of what those core values bring, including: improved morale, organizational pride, cohesiveness, well-defined priorities, positive employee attitudes, less conflict, greater recruiting appeal, heightened innovation, unique brand positioning, and more satisfied customers. The first step in establishing core values for a company is to consider what core values are — and aren’t — and examine companies that have successfully adopted core values into their DNA. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Core Values: The Heart of any Business – Part 1

Change is a fact of life and an inherent part of business. With technology, the relentless pace of change has accelerated forcing businesses to either catch up or keep up. Companies are compelled to evolve with the times. Phone companies evolved from switchboards and rotary phones to smart phones with data plans. Record producers evolved from phonographs and vinyl records to digital downloads and playlists. Car manufacturers evolved from hand-cranked motor cars in one-color models to keyless ignition vehicles with self-driving engines in most every shape, size and color. Change is indeed unrelenting, affecting almost every aspect of business. Almost.

There is one aspect of a business that should never change: a company’s core values. Despite the battering winds of change, the one intractable, immutable, and unwavering element of a business should be its core values. But if you asked the leadership of most any typical small or mid-sized businesses, many would be hard pressed to rattle of their company’s core values. So what are “core values” anyway? And does every company really need to spell out its core values and should employees know what those values are? Continue reading

Leave a comment

The “Many-Sizes-Many-Approaches” Business Model

One of the hardest things for businesses to understand is how their clients truly think and feel. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs and managers make is to assume that customers want the same things that they want. Typical thinking goes something like this: “If I like X, then my customers must like X too. If I really dislike Y, then I’ll bet my customers must really dislike Y too.” This “Just Like Me” mentality seeps into sales techniques, marketing campaigns, operational procedures, customer service policies and more. But, in truth, management is often totally out of touch and confused about what their clients want or need in order to be satisfied and remain loyal. This “Just Like Me” thinking is like a poison that seeps into the water… it blends in and contaminates everything. It makes a manager mistakenly believe that he knows what’s best for clients because everyone thinks and feels just like he does.

Why are business decision-makers so sure that – when it comes to their business model, operational practices and service delivery methods — they know definitively what all their customers like and want? The truth is that what people like, want and value is as varied as there are scents in the olfactory spectrum (1 trillion). And that is part of the problem since business people want / need to find the “one right answer” for how to service clients. They are looking for a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach, and often the easiest solution is to say “I know best.” But is a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach for servicing customers best? Is there an alternative? Continue reading

Leave a comment
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux