Archive for August, 2010

Four Things You Can Do Now To Grow

On August 26 I appeared on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, to share with CNBC’s audience what I have found to be true to grow business faster. Trish Regan interviewed me, and here is the link to that interview:

I would like to provide some further perspective on my brief comments on CNBC, as these principles are indisputable and validated on every business I have ever worked on, and in the research I have done for my book, “Grow: How the World’s Best Businesses Use the Power of Ideals to Outshine the Competition.” And, by the way, these principles are recession-proof.

Create a compelling corporate culture.

This culture needs to be based on a higher ideal, or a higher purpose behind your brand or business. Employees want meaning in their work and in their lives, and if companies do not offer that, inspire that, you simply won’t get the full energy and the full potential from your people. And at the end of the day, every business and every brand is only as good as its people. I have often said that brands are simply the collective intent of the people behind them.

Two brands that do a super job at creating a compelling corporate culture are Method and Discovery. Method, based in San Francisco and founded in 2001, is a disruptive force in the home and personal care markets. These markets are dominated by my alma mater, Procter & Gamble, as well as Benckiser, Unilever, and SC Johnson. Method entered this category less than ten years ago, and has been growing very quickly behind a higher ideal: to inspire a healthy home revolution. Their products are effective, sustainable, beautifully designed, and profitable. This is why they are growing. And their employees are simply inspired by the mission, and bring their best to work every day.

The Discovery Channel is one of the most amazing and fastest growing media properties in the world. They’ve had a long track record of superior results in their category. Their ideal is to satisfy people’s curiosity about the wonders of the world. And they live that every day, they set their culture and their priorities based on that, and they attract amazing talent and let them create content that is unlike any other in the world.

Think more broadly about innovation.

Too many companies stop at product innovation. You simply must innovate in the product, the customer experience, and in pure marketing innovation. And when I say marketing innovation, I mean innovation without touching the product.

Motorola’s Droid X is a great example of this. They collaborated with Verizon and Google, and delivered a device that is beautifully designed, delivers a superior video experience, and is very fast. Response from consumers, technology experts, journalists, and analysts has been simply terrific.

Here are two other brands that think broadly about innovation:

— Ray-Ban, one of the many brands in the Luxottica eyewear portfolio, is a fast growing brand, behind a great product portfolio, but also a terrific retail shopping experience.  Their marketing is highly creative, leveraging music and social media.
— Brown-Forman‘s Woodford Reserve premium bourbon is growing through this recession.  It is a fantastic product, but it also has a steady flow of point-of-sale and special occasion/seasonal innovation.

Engage customers, communicate and advertise!

There are so many great ways to communicate today, to be more personal and more efficient and effective. Gatorade is a great example in this space. They have recently re-staged their product lineup, and their communication strategy behind the G Series has been a wonderful balance of highly effective media. This includes their highly acclaimed partnership with Fox Sports in recreating games and matches behind high school rivals, called Gatorade Replay.

Reward beyond the financials.

We need more innovation in measurement and reward systems. Too many companies still reward simply on the financials. This is short sighted. Leaders and managers must be rewarded for delighting the customer, for growing key areas of brand equity that drive long-term share growth. Leaders also need to be measured for how they are developing the capability of their organization, so that their impact lasts beyond their time in position. P&G does an exceptional job at this as does Zappos.

Categories: Business, Marketing

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The Magic of Luxottica’s “Buying Days” on Lake Como in Italy

I have the pleasure of working as a consultant with Luxottica, which is a worldwide leader in premium fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. They are based in Milan, and I was there recently working with them, and participated in an event they call “Buying Days,” which they host in Cernobbio, on Lake Como, in Northern Italy.

Simply put, “Buying Days” is a one-month event where Luxottica hosts its major customers/clients from around the world. Each client visits for about two days, culminating in an evening fashion show, where the latest eyewear collections are showcased in a glamorous and energetic way. The meeting is held in a beautiful setting, with each one of the Luxottica eyewear brands (i.e., Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Prada, etc.) displaying their latest styles and collections. Buyers interact with Luxottica people, and place their orders for the upcoming months ahead. It’s a fabulously successful event.

This concept of bringing your customers to an off-site event/location to discuss how to grow your businesses together is a powerful one. We did this at Procter & Gamble, by developing innovation centers around the world where we would bring customers to learn about and experience P&G brands, and also to plan together on how P&G brands could help the customer grow their business.

There are five principles that really drive the success of a concept like this. I am confident if you apply these principles, you could have a similarly successful event to Luxottica’s breakthrough “Buying Days.”

  1. An event like this puts the customer first, and it organizes everything you do around educating, delighting, and partnering with the customer. Luxottica clients travel from around the world to spend two days with Luxottica, learning about all its brands, and which brands are right for them. Technologies are demonstrated, commercial ideas are shared, and customers leave with the brands and the plans to grow their business.
  2. When partners — customers and suppliers — get away from the everyday business, this changes the dialogue on both sides and helps strengthen the partnership. Day-to-day business is filled with details and negotiations, but an event like Luxottica’s “Buying Days” focuses on the long term, and how both sides can work together to achieve competitive advantage.
  3. These events bring internal teams together, and unify people. There is nothing like preparing a brand for a full month of customer presentations; this unifies everyone on common goals, plans, priorities, and breaks down silos within an organization. There is nothing like a date with destiny with the customer to unify a team, and imagine what one month of meetings with customers can do for team unity.
  4. The importance of your business/brands is elevated. Luxottica ends its two-day event with a fashion show, placing its brands within various lifestyles. You realize the role your brands play in people’s lives, and the importance the brand is to image, confidence, excitement, and overall lifestyle. Also, you realize that the eyewear is as important a part of a person’s image and presentation as their clothing, thereby elevating the importance of the category.
  5. Great relationships build great business. We too often forget that. Events like this, especially when repeated yearly, build very strong, long-term relationships. And this leads to long-term business growth.

While not every business is a global powerhouse like Luxottica or P&G, every business in its own way can follow these principles. They work.

Categories: Business, Marketing

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