Archive for February, 2010

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers (Habit #7)

I am returning to my blog series on The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers.  I have already covered the first six habits, over the past few months.  Read Habit #6 here. This post will offer some ideas and suggestions on the all-important but controversial “training” topic. And the CMO’s unique role here.

Habit #7:  Train All the Time

We really have quite a dilemma in business today.  Most employee surveys I see through my clients, and most conversations I have with “middle” managers, clearly show people feel training is a lost art.  Many formal training programs have been cut during the recession,  and it is tough to reinstate them once they are cut.  Meanwhile, with the pace of change in business today, especially in marketing, training is more important than ever.  So what can be done?

My first idea for you is an obvious one, and one that does not cost a penny.  Yet it is not practiced regularly.  It is a simple thought:  train all the time, and expect that from all leaders. Every conversation, every meeting, every visit, is an opportunity to train.  Most of us train by example, and bright, observant people pick that up.  But what I am talking about is to overtly and explicitly use everyday encounters as training moments.

As a young leader, I loved it when people did that with me.  My first brand manager at P&G used to group our brand team together after every advertising agency meeting and ask “What did we learn today?”   “What could we do better?”  “Are we excited about the outcome?”

I have tried through my career, especially as a CMO, to keep this habit alive.  It adds a few minutes to each meeting or visit, no more.  I also found an extra benefit to the training — which people deeply appreciate as it is an investment in them — and that extra benefit is that outcomes improve immediately.  Right after a meeting ends, when everything is fresh, when I am replaying the meeting outcomes and learning, I find that I revisit something with the team or individual and we make it better.  Immediately.  And if it is a sales call, capturing this learning quickly leads to prompt followup with the customer, and usually better results.

So training all the time does not cost anything but a few extra minutes after a meeting, and it improves results.  Good deal — get on with it!

The second idea I have for you is to formally train your people also all the time.  Obviously your people cannot and should not be in training sessions all the time, that is not what I mean. I mean you need as CMO to be accountable for the capabilities you build in your company, in tough times and in good times.  Great training builds the capabilities an organization needs for competitive advantage.  You must first be clear on these, and then build your training program around it and constantly measure and innovate to be sure you are building the capabilities you need to build.

Pret A Manger, the wildly successful natural and preservative-free fast-food company, is relentless on training against their core capabilities of inspirational team leadership, clear and sincere communication, and passion for, and knowledge of, healthy, organic, easy food. Target trains by ensuring every employee (they call all employees leaders, nice!) knows “why” they are doing what they are doing and how this is linked to their brand ideal and guest satisfaction.  At P&G, we dedicated expert resources to training what people needed to learn for today’s business, while we created the training we felt prepared us for the future.  I had reviews once a quarter to ensure we were seeing results, and building the right capabilities for the future.

Last point:  training, both the kind you can do every day and the more formal training, is perhaps the strongest signal to your people that they are what drives your business.  One of my first visible actions as P&G’s new CMO in 2001 was to dramatically reframe our training, and to get personally involved in its execution.  P&G people got, and loved, the message: building our capability and inspiration will lead us to win with consumers and customers.

Read Next: Habit #8

Categories: Business, CMO Habits, Marketing, Speaking Events

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Ask Me Anything!

This week I’ll be taking a break from my blog on the Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers, to talk about my teaching at UCLA, and some of the amazing interaction between the course’s guest speakers and my MBA students.  Next week I will return with Habit #7:  Train All The Time.

One of the hallmarks of the MBA class I am teaching with Dr. Sanjay Sood at UCLA Anderson is the weekly flow of guest speakers,  each one of them scheduled to address the topic we are discussing that week.

One of our recent guest speakers was Alex Tosolini,  a VP at P&G.  Alex has worked in the U.K., Hungary,  Belgium,  the U.S., and several developing markets.

Before Alex came to campus he asked students to send him any questions they have, on any topic.  No surprise from students at UCLA Anderson,  they flooded Alex with questions.  Sixty-eight to be exact.   Some very specific to P&G, and many ranging from career advice to curiosity about Alex’s opinions on the state of brand building.   The questions are terrific (and a few of them just plain fun), so I thought I would address a few of the funs ones in this blog:

Q.  What has been the favorite accident of your career?

A.  A really thoughtful and disarming question.   I have had many accidents in my career, but perhaps the biggest one, the one that started my career in marketing (and my marriage — more on that later),  was my decision to go to Penn State for my MBA.   I was working at Time-Life Books as a Picture Editor and really into my work.  I applied to several schools to make a career change into business, but I was “on the fence” whether or not to leave Time-Life. Penn State really reached out to me;  they offered me a scholarship, which was great as I had very little savings.   They also asked me to help them with their publications, leveraging my skills from Time-Life.  They made it easy to make the transition.   Turns out P&G was a big recruiter at Penn State, and I fell in love with what P&G is about, and that launched my career in brand management.  Now on the marriage … I also met my wife, Kathleen, at Penn State.  She was a first year MBA and I was a second year student.  So choosing Penn State was quite a wonderful accident on many levels.

Q.  What is the one brand you are most loyal to?

A.  Well,  I need to eliminate the P&G brands here as I am a very loyal P&G customer, really! Crest, Gillette, Tide, Dawn, Pantene and on and on.

One brand I am 100% loyal to is Illy espresso.   It is fabulously premium priced, but I don’t care.   I have it on continuous replenishment, a monthly delivery of four beautiful cans, whole beans, that go right into my Jura espresso machine.   When my wife and I have a heavy month of entertaining, and we deplete our supply, I am lost!   Nothing else quite does it.   Illy understands it is about the entire experience, beginning with a lovely brand ideal.  I have other 100% loyalties but I will reveal them some other time.

Q.  Which brand from your childhood stands out in your memory?

A.  A great question.  Great brands never forget their heritage, they cherish it and bring it to life in new ways across generations.  Two of my childhood favorite brands certainly respect where they came from,  and have kept their relevance.  Both are healthy brands in 2010.

The first is a global brand, adidas.  I still remember my first pair of adidas basketball sneakers. I was in eighth grade.  There were only a few pairs at the local sporting goods store.  They cost $32 versus the Converse All-Stars which were $9.99.   I saved my money and bought them, and wearing them was a near-mystical experience.  I felt faster, sharper, cooler, better. Not a bad brand promise!  I still wear adidas for tennis, which has replaced basketball as my sports love.

The second is Tastykakes, a regional brand in the Philadelphia area.  It is an iconic packaged baked-goods brand, combining great taste, wholesomeness, freshness, and a bit of quirkiness. It is what Mom puts in lunches when she cannot bake something, it is the tradeoff-busting snack for just about any occasion.   I ate Tastykakes every day growing up, and they never disappointed.  Still grab one coming in from the airport when I visit my family in Lancaster, PA.

Thanks to Alex for asking the students for any and all questions — there are 65 more waiting to be answered!

Categories: Business

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The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers (Habit #6)

This is part six of a ten-part series that will share my Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers, based on my experience and what I have learned from others.  See my January 22 entry for Habit #5 — Champion innovation – especially disruptive innovation.

Habit #6:  Setting Your Standards High

The toughest feedback I ever got in a meeting, or from a boss, was that I was “capable of so much better.”   I learned early in my career that one of the most powerful levers we have as leaders, especially as CMOs, is where we set our standards.   And how we communicate these standards to all involved.   Setting your standards means answering questions like:  When is the work of my team good enough to move forward?   What level of performance is acceptable?   When do we say “yes” or “no” to important decisions?

The higher you go in an organization the more important it is that you are clear about your standards.   So when you are a CMO, where you set these standards is critical for your business and organization’s success.  And, believe me, the daily pressure of business will challenge you to compromise your standards, on what results get rewarded, what people get promoted, what innovation makes it to market.  Don’t do it.  Don’t compromise your standards. The great leaders don’t.  Leaders like Mary Dillon at McDonald’s,  Becky Saeger at Charles Schwab,  Michael Francis at Target,  Jim Farley at Ford,  Trevor Edwards at Nike.

I remember three leaders early in my career at P&G who taught me this.   Bob Goldstein, the CMO of P&G when I joined the company in the early 1980s,  always drilled me on my advertising program:  Was it memorable and persuasive enough?  Did I have an alternate campaign in test market?  Was I investing enough?  Neil Kreisberg, a Senior Account Executive at Grey Advertising in the 1980s,  set his standards for his group’s advertising even higher than I did as a junior brand manager on Jif peanut butter.   And Jurgen Hintz, a senior P&G German manager working in the U.S.,  never stopped pushing for discontinuous thinking.  No annual business plan or budget was accepted without a “how high is up” test.

I find in my consulting and in my research that CMOs do not leverage this simple but highly effective habit. And it is a habit that gets practiced every day, in every decision, which means you can make a big difference here immediately.  My advice is to pick a few areas that are very important to your business success,  like what new initiatives you approve,  what people you promote,  what goals you set,  what competitors or companies you benchmark.   Get clear in your own mind what YOUR standards are, and then begin communicating through your words and actions.   You will be amazed at how your organization will respond.

Read Next: Habit #7

Categories: Business, CMO Habits, Marketing, Speaking Events

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