How to Ensure Flawless Execution

Effective strategy and flawless execution are inseparable. You cannot have a great strategy without great execution, and in my experience I’m sad to report that brands tend to place more effort and time to developing a strategy and less is given to execution. To avoid failure people must understand what they are responsible for (clear job descriptions with measurable expectations), know the key decision makers, and have access to the information, training and tools they need to complete their tasks. They must practice, practice and then practice some more.  And, they must be tested, tested and tested some more. These systems need to be in place.

ferrari-pit-stopTake a close look at this amazing video of a nearly 20 person Ferrari team changing a tire in a pitstop.  You can be sure that the prep time is longer and that they’ve practiced this effort many, many times to make it flawless.

Each is trained for a specific role and teams take their preparation as seriously as drivers’, managing crewmen’s fitness and diet. They practice hundreds of pitstops until the process is instinctive. Everyone focuses on their own job. In a 2-second pitstop, there is no time to see what everyone else is doing

In the Harvard Business review article, the “Secrets to Successful Execution,” Neilson, Martin and Powers discuss their survey research of more than 26,000 people in 31 companies.

Surprisingly, even in these top companies just two-thirds of their employees agree that important strategic and operational decisions are quickly translated into action. That, is nearly 70% of employees say that their execution efforts are nowhere near flawless.

If you pay as much attention to your execution phase as you do with strategy, I’m sure your profits will rise along with customer satisfaction.


Colussy Chevrolet’s Place in Americana

Chevrolet will be kicking off a huge celebration in early November for its 100th Anniversary.

And, what many people do not know is Pittsburgh’s unique role in Chevrolet’s history courtesy of the Colussy family.

Check out this story by Teresa Lindeman which we earned for our newest client Colussy Chevrolet on the front page of today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business Section – Colussy Chevrolet, A Place in Americana.

Chevy Runs Deep In Pittsburgh, PA

Congratulations to brothers Tim and Jon Colussy who now lead the third generation ownership of Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, PA for their well deserved recognition. Chevrolet’s oldest dealership in America is now in its 93rd year of operation since 1918.

It’s true when they say that Chevy runs deep. Chevy runs deep in Pittsburgh, PA and a little deeper in Bridgeville, PA.

P.S.: Here is the first Road We’re On’ video from NYC’s Mother ad agency in preparation for Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary.  It’s the first in a series and features Bridgeville, PA and Colussy Chevrolet.  Enjoy – it’s excellent.


You Need a Marketing Invention Factory

A little over a year ago, I toured the Fort Myers, FL winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford two of my favorite business heroes.

Edison and Ford’s fascinating friendship is a story of mutual admiration and a story of curiosity, experimentation, persistence, inventions, failures, achievements and brand legacies.

Both had little formal education – Edison left school at age 8 and Ford had about 3 years – however, both achieved great success through radical life improving innovations that we continue to enjoy to this day.

In my business engagements, regardless of brand size, I’m discouraged by the lack of courage and innovation by most brand leaders.  And, it’s sad.

It’s sad, because innovation can be achieved when you desire, demand and plan for it.

Both Edison and Ford believed in dreaming big and visualizing the impossible and making it possible.  The had invention factories and labs (at work and at their vacation homes) and they believed in open collaboration and getting things done – acting on things – and fast failing.

So, my question is, “Where’s your invention factory?”

“What’s your process and how do you plan for it?

Are you a trailblazer, an industry leader or a simple follower?

For some time, I’ve felt that Americans have lost their innovation edge and others do agree, but brands such as Apple and Starbucks offer hope and guideposts (just wish I saw more American manufacturing innovators).

Much like Edison and Ford who believed in collaborative innovation work, Starbucks’ modern spin is its highly successful “My Starbucks Idea” which is an online crowdsourcing initiative that enables its raving fans to offer new ideas for products, brand experiences and involvement improvements.

My Starbucks Idea is celebrating its 3rd anniversary this month – and it’s Starbucks 40th anniversary too (read about their four new products)!

MSI is an awesome crowdsourced innovation tool.  To date, it has generated (as of a few minutes ago) 107,450 ideas and launched 130 new ideas.  In addition, people get to view ideas in action and see which ones are under review have been reviewed are in the works, and have been launched and demonstrates that Starbucks is a listening and caring brand.

In fact, customer input on My Starbucks Idea led to the development of the Starbucks Card Mobile App for select BlackBerry smartphones last September and the “Give a Gift” feature – the 100th MSI.

I love the MSI concept and I’ll bet there is an crowdsourcing idea here worth exploring for you.

Think about ways to create your own invention or innovation factory be it online (Starbucks uses Salesforce.Com) or offline or a combination of both.

For example, you could simply start with having bi-weekly meetings with your staff to brainstorm innovative cost saving or revenue producing ideas.

However, if you don’t plan for ‘it,’ I guarantee you ‘it’ won’t happen for you!

P.S.: For more about Edison, check out Time Magazine’s feature, The Making of America: Thomas Edison. I found it ironic that there was a Starbucks banner ad when I first clicked on the link.

P.P.S: A great source of innovative companies to research and model is provided by Fast Company Magazine every year. Check out Fast Company’s 2011 Most Innovative Companies.


Super Bowl Ads Are a Waste of Money

As a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I certainly was disappointed with my team losing Super Bowl XLV.

However, I was more disgusted as a marketing professional when I viewed the number of lousy television commercials. What a waste of money, time and space.

When you consider the average Super Bowl commercial placement cost over $2 million and another high six figures to produce the spot (net about a $3 million investment per spot) do you really think that the majority of these so-called top brand marketers effectively took advantage of the highest rated Super Bowl ever?

Talk about opportunity lost!

Nielsen reported that Super Bowl XLV was the most viewed television show in history with a record breaking audience of 162.9 million viewers!  And, for the life of me, I cannot understand how some of these ads were approved to run.

Where’s the exciting new news? Where’s the compelling reason to buy? Where’s the interesting campaign launch? Where’s the accountability? Where’s another ETrade Baby Campaign for other products?

For me, I don’t buy into the argument about the “view buzz” metrics on YouTube. If brands think that “bigger is always better” and marketing is all about awareness and buzz, they’re way off track.

You want the awareness and buzz about your product or service to be about people having conversations such as, “Hey, did you try X? It sounds like an awesome product…let’s check it out!” I’d bet there weren’t many (if any) conversations like this happening during the big game.

Hey, I could put a dead body in the window of a restaurant and drive buzz and awareness, but I don’t think you’d want to eat there!

I can’t recall one ad that has or will influence me to inquire about, buy or refer their product. Not a one…can you?

And, if I hear one more person say that an ad is ‘cute’ or ‘funny’ without remembering the brand name I swear I’m going to choke on my Terrible Towel…much like my beloved Steelers did!

P.S.: Having said all I want to say about the total lack of accountability, campaignability and creativity (I subscribe to the old adage…’it’s only creative if it sells’) in this year’s Super Bowl commercials, I am looking forward to seeing where the Chrysler 200 heads with it’s Imported from Detroit effort. I am interested and hopeful it helps drive them business. It seems like an interesting platform to work from. But, what do I know, it ranked low on USA Today’s Ad Meter. Go figure.


Sound Marketing Advice

There’s a great article in Fast Company about the, “The 10 Most Addictive Sounds in the World,” by Martin Lindstrom.

Lindstrom’s neuroscience based hypothesis contends that over 80% of today’s marketing messages are based on sight and a brand is not maximizing its communications when it forgoes appealing to a person’s other senses. And, sound is underutilized!

Take a quick quiz here.

I’ve certainly witnessed the appeal of sound in automotive, amusement park and restaurant marketing (e.g., background music, worker noise levels etc.,) and found it fascinating that when the sound was removed from slot machines in Las Vegas, revenue fell by 24%!

Be more aware of the power of sound because when your customers can hear your sizzling steaks, you’ll hear your cash register ring more loudly!


Multicultural Marketing Matters

Painted handprintsIn the early 80’s, I was working with GM dealer marketing groups throughout the country. In those days, multicultural or ethnic marketing was rarely discussed with my GM, Oldsmobile or Cadillac marketing counterparts or even car dealer clients.

In fact, even targeted marketing to females was rarely discussed and at the time they were moving fast into the workforce.  Female sales people were rare as well. The best in the country was Donna Dunnivan at Bendik Olds in Pittsburgh. Even though Donna’s success was well known nationally, dealers were slow to hire female sales people and cater to them as customers.

To build my product knowledge of the cars I was marketing, I frequently attended classes at a local GM Training Center.  I once asked a GM engineer why their cars didn’t have vanity mirrors on the driver’s side visor – most Japanese cars did – and he said it would take about three years! The funny thing was a lot of my dealers sold extra mirrors with rubber bands that you could affix to the driver’s side visors.

In those days in the car business, when you lost a sale, you lost it for about seven years minimum and maybe more if the customer was happy with her purchase.

Isn’t it amazing how marketing opportunities are all around you if you only paid attention and worked hard to maximize them!

McDonald’s has been paying attention for a long time.  Sure, they may have stumbled a bit over the years (who hasn’t?), but I’ll take their track record any day.

My first real exposure to extreme targeted marketing (seniors, moms, kids, teens, tweens, seniors etc.) and multicultural, ethnic marketing was during my McDonald’s days in the 80’s and 90’s.

I don’t profess to be an expert (does one ever truly arrive at anything to be considered and expert?), but I gained valuable insights that I bring with me to every marketing engagement and I work hard to expand my knowledge base.

Naturally, I was proud to see my old friend McDonald’s CMO Neil Golden rock the house with his “Leading with Ethnic Insights” presentation at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference (see AdAge coverage of his speech here – here’s another report – take time to read both – good stuff!).

Note: McDonald’s marketing is in good hands with Neil Golden!

McDonald’s estimates that about 40% of its core loyal U.S. business comes from the Hispanic, Asian and African-American markets, and 50% of consumers under the age of 13 are from those segments too.

A few questions for you:

  • Do you know what your ethnic population base in your core market/s?
  • Do you know how your ethnic sales mix breaks down?
  • Is your management team ethnically balanced?
  • Do you have ethnic marketing practices? Hiring practices?
  • Do you know how to manage cultural differences?

Today, with more targeted media and the internet, it’s a bit easier to market to specific groups, to communicate relevant messages, make them feel welcome, and to treat different people differently and with respect to their uniqueness.

Get out from your desk and start a multicultural marketing plan today.  I’m sure you’re leaving money on the table. Great Multicultural Marketing isn’t black and white, but it certainly is GREEN – that is, it will ring your cash register and you can take it to the bank!

P.S.: Remember Neil’s sage advice that there are, “No malls in the ghetto!” I’m lovin’ it!


How About Some Provocative Cars Detroit

DeLoreanIn the past few weeks/days, I read an article in Ad Age titled, What to Expect From Chrysler’s Marketing Chief: Provocative Ads. And, an article in Automotive News titled, Chevy review is latest sign GM wants ads that provoke.

Provocative ads aren’t going to make Americans part with tens of thousands of dollars for a new car, but I’m sure provocative cars and trucks would – I’d bet $25,000+ – what a concept!

Speaking about concepts.  Every new car show I’ve attended – and I’ve attended many over the years all over the country – people are always amazed and excited about concept cars, but you never see them on the road! What’s with that?

What a shame and what a waste of our taxpayers dollars.

I was compelled to read both articles because of my early career in Automotive marketing and the concern I have for the industry and how it impacts our economy. We should all be rooting for Detroit to succeed  because when they do – we all do.

Research says that less than 20% of people who walk into a dealership buy a new car and drive away with it. These stats lead me to believe that Detroit lacks provocative “WOW” brands! I’d love to see the statistic about how long an average visit is!

Here are just a few more points I’d advise Detroit to mull over:

  1. Next to getting married, buying a new car is one of the most involved decisions one can make and auto manufacturers these days have to give real, tangible reasons to buy their products not just fancy ads
  2. Word of mouth (peer reviews, personal experiences, testimonials etc.,) is the most influential form of communication in a car purchase vs. ad campaigns and provocative new models would drive WOM
  3. Performance, design, efficiency, value etc., contribute more to WOM than Ads
  4. Mass media has lost a ton of influence, so big budgets and splashy ad campaigns are no longer necessary when the majority of people search online first – and search a lot online – when in the market for a new car. Brands could reduce their marketing ad spend and either reapply the savings to reduce the price of cars, put it back in design or more added value features
  5. It’s all about the cars – car marketing chiefs and their minions need to get more involved in the design/production effort by representing the customer and being their voice in the board room

Come on Detroit, you can do better!

P.S.: Is there another John DeLorean out there – maybe a slightly more disciplined and better funded one?


High Voltage Marketing

BM BLOG chevy_volt_230mpg.03Caught this story on this morning about the new Chevy Volt that can get up to 230 mpg! Talk about high voltage marketing!

I’m sure most if not all of you have cut expenses – especially marketing expenses to the bone – but what have you done to make your brand truly remarkable through innovation?

I truly believe in gamechangers like the Chevy Volt! What can you do – rather, what will you do to create a gamechanger for your brand, service, career etc.,?

If you do, you’ll reap dividends for years to come and be able to say with pride, “Recession be damned!”


Autos Driving Online Advertising


2008 is expected to be
the worst for auto sales in a decade. Automakers are slashing their ad budgets,
but online they are spending more. After consistently leading the U.S. in
advertising spending, the automotive sector has dropped into the No. 2 spot
behind retail. Even as new vehicle sales decline, automotive marketers will
spend nearly $3 billion online this year, up 21.6%. By 2012, automotive online
ad spending will top $5.6 billion. Research shows that eight out of 10 consumers
now consult the Internet at least once during the car-buying process. It's taking them some time to wak-up, but thoughts of bankruptcy have a sobering effect on one's marketing planning.


Detroit Needs To Bring Sexy Back

Car_salesThe New York Times recently reported that in June, the sales of new cars and trucks dropped to their lowest level in 10 years – maybe 15 years!

Here are some staggering facts: Ford was down 28%; General
was off 18% (and their stock has been at its lowest level in 50 years); Chrysler
dropped 36% and Toyota was down 21%.

Certainly the consumer shift from large to small cars due to the crazy gas prices and the economy is a key factor, but there is so much more wrong with the domestics.

When was the last time you heard someone say, "You gotta get that new (freely insert Ford, GM, Chrysler)
new car/truck? It’s a beauty!"

The domestic’s plants aren’t as flexible as the Japanese plants in terms of scaling quickly to meet the demand of more smaller vehicles so more tough times are on the horizon for them.

However, it’s hard for me to realize that so many people have been caught blindsided by the current economic challenges. Maybe it’s time to roll lots of fols in upper management – not just the good folks on the assembly lines.

Because think about it.  If the economy was good, I still doubt you’d hear someone say, "You gotta get that new (freely insert Ford, GM, Chrysler) new car/truck?

For Detroit to truly rebound and lead, they need to leapfrog foreign
makes, not just try to catch up in terms of design, alternative fuel

Enough with the sexy concept cars – make one for sale for crying out loud!  What a concept!