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.

Share

15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day

As a 50 percenter of Irish blood and a serial marketing professional, I thought I’d offer you dear reader, my 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day to help you find your little pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow!

And, I’ll offer them quickly because I shouldn’t even be working this hard today as I’m 17 days away from – and preparing for – St. Patrick’s Day which is one of my many “high holy days” – and there’s a Guinness pint with my name of it at my favorite Pittsburgh Irish pub (Riley’s Pour House) and it’s getting warm! So here you go!

1. Green Marketing Lesson One – Making Money. Always keep money (making it or saving it) front and center of any marketing campaign. If you know anything about the Irish (and I do growing up in a large extended family), the majority have experienced challenging economic times and know the value of a dollar. So, incorporating zero based budgeting into your marketing processes will help you become more creative and help you do a lot more for less. 

2. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Sustainability. These days when you hear brands talk about sustainability, it’s related to the environment, but the basic pure definition of sustainability is “the capacity to endure.” Using the same color in your marketing communications reinforces your brand, makes your marketing work harder for you and enables your marketing to endure.

3. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Color. Design and color can help you communicate a great deal. Red – hot, stop; Blue – cool. etc., Keep in mind that all colors also come in a great deal of shades so don’t be boring and predictable.  Green has about 50 unique shades.

4. Create Multi-Sensory Emotional Appeals (e.g., appeal to people’s five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). In a prior post about, “Marketing with Sound,” I discussed the awesome power of sound, but you should also consider all of the ways you can appeal to your customer’s five senses. St. Patrick’s Day appeals them all with color, strong visuals of parades, people having fun; taste of ethnic foods like corned beef and cabbage and drink (pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson) etc.,

5. Appeal to One’s Ethnic Heritage. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to people’s ethnic heritage – net, different strokes for different folks.  In fact, it’s a growing and popular strategy due to our mobile society, immigration, single parent households etc.

Some of this strategy’s keys to success include knowing your market well, being aware of unique cultural nuances, being respectful etc.  Disney’s Epcot Theme Park’s World Showcase is a great example of ethnic marketing, but Denny’s Restaurants’ old Pancake promotion is not.

6. Be Inclusive with Your Marketing. As much of an Irish heritage appeal the holiday provides, St. Patrick’s Day is all-inclusive and welcomes everyone to celebrate – everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

7. Special Event/Thematic/Celebration/Holiday Marketing. Giving a unique thematic association to your marketing messages makes it easier for your customers to understand you and more immediately recognize you too. Tie-ing in to a major holiday celebration gives your promotion authenticity and a “reason why” you’re holding a sales event.

8. Limited Time Appeal.
Having a hard date against a campaign creates urgency, excitement and traffic. Pretty obvious statement, but many marketers leave far too many campaigns without a clear end date and a sense of urgent appeal.

9. Spokesperson/figurehead/celebrity/image appeal. Having a Saint as your celebrity figurehead ain’t too shabby, but it’s the consistency of using the same appealing celebrity with a unique story is what works.

10. Iconic Marketing – Shamrock – brand, sell, profit. Mickey Mouse’s Ears, Ronald McDonald’s big red shoes, McDonald’s Arches and more.

Shamrocks do the same for today’s holiday – it’s the day’s badge of honor and identification. What’s your badge ID?

11. Rule of Threes. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the common Shamrock to teach the Celtic Pagans about the unique Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – 3 in 1 Godhead.

However, the “rule of three” symbolism in the good man’s teaching is relevant today as well because people’s minds are noisy and limited. Using the rule of three enables you to get them to remember you and buy-in a presentation or product mix selection. Small, medium, large; gold, silver, bronze; 3 bears; 3 blind mice; 3 Stooges (see more examples/proof here) – trust me – the rule of three rocks.

12. Be Positive. You won’t find a more positive group of people that the Irish. Despite all of their “Troubles” who else tells you that you can find a pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow? At Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past Saturday, people throughout the day referred to the cold constant rain as nothing more, “a little Irish mist!”

13. Be Nice. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer bunch of people than the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day too.

14. Have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously. In this age of “political correctness” the Irish are for the most part a happy and fun bunch and most Irish demeaning jokes bounce of them like water on a duck.

15. Plan Your Luck by Working Hard. In my opinion, “the luck of the Irish” is based on hard work – simple as that. You’ve probably heard the saying, the harder you work the luckier you get!” Well, its true. The majority of Irish are no strangers to hard work and I believe – all things being equal – people that work harder and smarter than their peers will meet with more profitable success in a shorter period of time.

Got to run, my pint is getting warm.

Slan (Gaelic for “farewell for now”)!

Share

Slay Giants with Brand Building Exercises

In marketing circles today, all the rage is about being ‘authentic’ and ‘transparent.’

It’s sad that we even have to discusstopics such as ‘being real’  because we should all be operating from our core.

A big reason why open and honest relationships for people and brands are tough to engage in, is because so many of us – people and brands – are dishonestly living a fake image of ourselves.

Being someone you’re not – trying to be all things to all people and living anyone else’s ‘ideal’ image of yourself never works – it’s impossible, not profitable and you’re doomed to fail.

However, what is possible, doable, enjoyable and profitable is living your life from your core being – your true north – because when you do, the right kinds of people will be attracted to you.

When Michelangelo was asked how he created David, he supposedly said, “The Angel was already in the marble, I simply chipped away the excess.” 

Begin today to chip away your excess/es of what’s covering up your angelic being and slay giants!

Here’s a little five question brand building exercise to help you in your endeavors.

Ask yourself and/or your team these questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What’s your story?
  3. Why should someone care?
  4. What’s your dramatic difference?
  5. How can you passionately demonstrate and clearly convey your dramatic difference?

Think long and hard about your answers. Work to refine your story – expand and enhance it. Make sure you have a clear and meaningful dramatic difference that can attract a large enough audience to make you profitable.

Effectively communicate your unique difference and you’ll be on the road to success.

The Harvard Business Review reports that, “up to 90% of spending goes to advertising and retail promotions. Yet the single most powerful impetus to buy is often someone else’s advocacy.”

Create and communicate stories worth reading, sharing and participating in and you’ll gain customer advocacy, patronage and slay a few giants along the way!

Share

No Luck of the Irish Needed for Great Websites

Just in time for the annual ‘Season of St. Patrick’ that starts March 1 – and for the Great Guinness Toast that starts tonight at 11:00 p.m. at Irish Pubs throughout the world – we’re proud to report that our launch of a new Website for our good friends at Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie, PA is doing great!

In it’s first 2 ½ days of existence, the page views for Riley’s new Website outperformed the former proprietor’s Website performance for the entire year! Yes, you read that right!

What’s our secret? A little luck of the Irish maybe?

Maybe a little luck – we were lucky to land a great client that’s for sure.

However, far more credit goes to having a good solid brand to promote with good old fashioned hard work, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing integrations and excellent SEO writing inspired by a few pints of Guinness!

Yes my friends, Guinness is good for you!

Slainte!

P.S.: To help you along in March, here’s an old post about the 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day – enjoy!

Share

Every Day Should Be Checklist Day

For the past few months, I’ve been reviewing our work processes to evaluate why, where and when we’ve hit our mark and missed.

Time and again, I’ve come to the conclusion that our processes would greatly improve with new, improved, and more checklists.

And, strict adherence to them.

We use checklists throughout our marketing engagements such as “Countdown-to-Go” checklists for new store, new product and new campaign launches, but sometimes we move too fast to please our clients and fail to either take the time to create or use a checklist. Simply put – to quote the old adage – “When we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Simple as that!

We usually deliver high results, but with better processes the question is, “How high is up?”

How much better , faster, cheaper could we have executed a campaign if we flawlessly executed our plan leaving no stone unturned?

Well, today is National Checklist Day (sound the trumpets) and I’ve been preparing for it by reading Dr. Atul Gawande’s, The Checklist Manifesto.

Gawande makes a great case why even experts need checklists – the complexity and speed of things today make simple checklists necessary.

His belief is that the smarter we get, the more we take things for granted.  And, checklists can close these gaps in flawless execution.

Throughout his book he offers case after case examples with pilots, surgeons and a myriad of other professions.

We need checklists because we all communicate poorly. For example, the majority of us often make these three serious errors:

  • We leave out important information assuming that others know it
  • We’re not specific in our directions again assuming that others understand us
  • And, sometimes we fail to be clear and concise in our directions because we don’t want to insult others

Checklists can compensate for these failings.

Moreover, if you want to extend your intelligence and train others to do the right thing at the right time, you need checklists for everyone to follow – to keep everyone on the same page.

So, we’ve been working on detailed checklists for Website launches, email campaigns, public relations campaigns, creative briefs and more.

How about you? Do you use checklists in your profession? Are you sold on using them more frequently?

I’m sold once again. Check that!

P.S.: Here’s a checklist for checklists!

Share

Why Southwest Airlines Keeps Rocking

I haven’t flown on an airline other than Southwest Airlines for some time and it will be a long time before I fly any other domestic airline if I can prevent it.

Unfortunately for me for an upcoming trip, Southwest’s schedule didn’t work out so I had to make my reservation with another airline.

Without mentioning names, here’s just one of the disclaimers I encountered booking my flight earlier today, “Any change to this reservation (including flight, dates, or cities) is subject to a $150.00 change fee per passenger.”

Unreal…$150 for a few simple keystrokes?

Don’t even get me started about charging me for a preferred aisle seat!

Southwest Airlines’ Simple, Clear and Meaningful Benefit Laden Value Proposition

I wrote sometime ago about ‘Why Southwest Rocks.’ At the time, I was complementing their simple, clear brand promise of ‘bags fly free.’

Now, what do you think Southwest is promoting in their latest ‘Southwest Makes the Call’ ad campaign?

Yes…‘no change fees.’

Southwest Airlines’ clear, simple, relevant and meaningful value-added messages of ‘bags fly free’ and ‘no change fees’ are a lesson for all brand marketers.

Does your brand communicate simple, clear, meaningful benefits like Southwest?

If so, I assure you your brand will soar.  If not, it will remain grounded or crash.

Hey Southwest I wish you clear, blue skies – you deserve it – and deserve my business.

Hope to fly you again soon!

Share

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.

Share

Thanks for Making a Dent in Our Universe

Our world lost a great man yesterday – Steve Jobs.

Jobs impacted my life in numerous ways through not only his great innovations and style, but also in his words.

Here’s my top 10 list of Steve Job quotes that have resonated with me over the years.

God bless you Steve and many thanks.  You’ll be missed.

Steve Jobs Top 10 Best Quotes

  1. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe, otherwise why else even be here?”
  2. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  3. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  4. “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex. You need to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple, but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
  5. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
  6. Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
  7. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
  8. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
  9. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone elses life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
  10. We don’t get a chance to do that many things and every one should be really excellent because this is our life.”

…And, one more thing!

10+.    “You know a design is good when you want to lick it.” … And, “Design is not what it looks like.  Design is how it works.”

Share

Idlewild & SoakZone Repeats as Best Children’s Park

Congratulations to our super client and all of our super friends at Idlewild & SoakZone for repeating as the ‘Best Children’s Park in the World!’ Here’s the press release we put on the wire earlier today.  What a well deserving bunch!

Idlewild & SoakZone Repeats as Best Children’s Park in the World

LIGONIER, PA – September 17, 2011 – Today, at its Golden Ticket ceremony held in Santa Claus, Indiana, Amusement Today Magazine (http://www.amusementtoday.com) recognized Pennsylvania’s Idlewild & SoakZone (http://www.idlewild.com) as the ‘Best Children’s Park in the World’ for the second consecutive year.

“The Golden Tickets are awarded based on a poll of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans worldwide,” explained Gary Slade, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Amusement Today.  “Since the inception of the best children’s park category in 2004, Idlewild & SoakZone placed in the top two, and placed first in 2010.  It’s a testament to Idlewild & SoakZone’s perseverance in providing a unique family- friendly entertainment value in such a beautiful park setting.”

“This honor means a lot to our dedicated team members, who work hard to provide a fun, family-friendly experience every season.  To be recognized as one of the best is fantastic news for our guests and the Laurel Highlands region, who have supported us for over 130 years,” said Park spokesperson Jeff Croushore.  “We’re overjoyed to once again be named Best Children’s Park and wish to share this award with all of our fans, both the young and the young at heart.”

For more information about the 2011 survey results, visit: http://www.goldenticketawards.com/

ABOUT AMUSEMENT TODAY’S GOLDEN TICKET AWARDS

Amusement Today is an amusement industry trade publication based in Arlington, Texas.  Introduced in 1998, the Golden Tickets are the most prized awards in the industry. Amusement park fans worldwide are asked to rate the top parks in 25 categories. The 2011 international poll was the eighth for children appeal in its 14-year history. For more information, call 817.460.7220 or visit http://www.amusementtoday.com.

ABOUT IDLEWILD & SOAKZONE

Founded in 1878 as a picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone (www.idlewild.com) is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America.  Featuring seven theme areas, operations run late-May through Labor Day with “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, taking place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family of parks that hosts over 14 million visitors annually at five theme parks, two animal parks, 10 waterparks, and 21 family entertainment centers. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

Share

Truth and Love Always Win

In life as well as is in brand marketing – long-term – truth and love always win.

On this solemn day of September 11 – the 10th anniversary of  a day we Americans will never forget – I’m reminded of this truism and quote…

When I despair, I remember that all through history
the ways of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants, and murderers,
and for a time they can seem invincible,
but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.
– Mahatma Gandhi

Wishing peace and comfort to all today and prayers to those who lost their lives and loved ones 10 years ago.

Let’s Roll America!

Share