January 2011 - PS Insights


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 There are no atheists in foxholes. There are no cross-departmental visionaries in silos. The reasons are pretty much the same: most of us are afraid if we stick our necks out we’re going to get shot. Well, you can hunker down and bunker down — or you can take a chance and see what lies just down the hall (or over in the next silo). Sticking your neck out always involves some risk. But, in business it’s also one of the best opportunities for advancement, promotion and success.


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In our book “The Little Blue Book of Marketing: Build a Killer Plan in Less Than a Day” we organize marketing planning in three buckets: “Where are you now?” “Where are you going?” “How will you get there?” A great example of direction without direction comes from the classic Alice in Wonderland. Alice comes across the Cheshire Cat in the woods. “I’m lost,” Alice proclaims. “Where do you want to go?” the Cheshire Cat asks. “I don’t know,” Alice replies. “Then any road will take you there,” the Cat answers. You can’t plot a course to a destination unless you know where you’re leaving from and where you want to arrive. In a GPS world plug in the destination and you’ll get there — it’s automatic. But, the roads taken may not be the most efficient route. In business, you’ve got to do a lot more homework to make sure the roads taken are the best paths to follow and the most productive and profitable way to reach your goal.


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 What does a senior marketer have to bring to the table in today’s envirionment? Three key attributes:
1. A strategic vision – the person has to have both an openness and an understanding of what’s out there. New media and new digital alternatives are churning the media landscape and CMOs have to know what their impact might be on the business. But the good manager keeps her eye on the prize. What’s the vision that is most consistent with your business direction?
2. Management Inclusiveness – the days of the lone gunslinger CMO are over. Smart managers need to embrace coordination, cooperation and consensus.
3. Marketing Solutions – theory is one thing, delivering the goods is another. You’ve got to know that marketing integration is vital to success. All the disparate marketing components have to be brought together and designed to work as a cohesive whole.
If your CMO has those three attributes, congratulations – you’re way ahead of the competition!


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A great invention that makes an annoying slow-down faster! Have you created an EZ Pass for your hard-core customers? Do you have “one click checkout” “speed ordering” or any of a dozen different ways customers can get in, get what they want and get out. the biggest problem still facing online shopping is the abandoned shopping cart. Customers get all the way through your (complicated) process and at some point they just give up. Follow the best practices of EZ Pass and adopt or adapt them to your buisness.


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The baby boomers are redefining old age the same way they redefined every other age. Focus big time on the boomers. 60 is not only the new 40, boomers are a big, tuned in and wealthy demographic. The key is to figure out how to talk to them. Nostalgia is great and the 1960s were way cool, but you’ve got to understand that they all think they’re forever young and talk to them accordingly.


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Think “content,” not “style.” Find ways to engage your audience rather than impress them. Twitter is a great teacher of content. If you’ve only got 140 characters you’d better make every character count. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if EVERY business memo and note was restricted to 140 characters? Go through your writing and remove all the extraneous phrases, asides, and other unproductive words.


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Ask yourself and everyone you do business with why there are no people of color in any of your meetings. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the necessary initiative to take. America is getting less white every day. You’re out of touch if you’re not a rich mix of different backgrounds, perspectives and ethnic origins.


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Take an axe to your wrapping! Learn from Walmart. Less is more. Walmart constantly looks at supplier packaging and explores ways to save everyone money. Your laundry detergent is now double and triple strength and in much smaller packages. It’s a win, win, win. For the manufacturer, the retailer and you. So take a look at your packaging and start minimizing to maximize value and cost.


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 Recycled paper. Lights on timers. Thermostats up (or down) 2 degrees. There’s a thousand ways to save a million bucks. Tell your company to put a plan in place awarding any employee 10% of the savings they come up with. Think how much smarter (and greener) everyone in the company will become. And think of the amount of money the company will save. “Green” doesn’t have to be complicated – anyone can do it anytime you’re ready.


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   Natural Inclinations: never ignore your first instinct – or as we like to say, “Never reject the obvious.” If you want to read an entire book on the subject, we refer you to (the excellent) Malcolm Gladwell book, “Blink.” But in a nutshell it can be summed up in the words of Obi-wan Kenobi: “Trust the Force, Luke.”