Archive | August, 2012

Want to improve your business? Read.

30 Aug

Because you are reading this, it’s indicative of your passion for information and “knowledge is power” mindset.  It also shows that you understand your competitive advantage!

Many people view themselves as overly busy, stretched-too-thin business owners and leaders, who often don’t allow themselves the luxury of reading for business, pleasure, or at all.  Wouldn’t your time be better spent selling or finalizing payroll?  Not necessarily.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders and can spark insight, innovation, empathy and personal success.  This translates into better business ideas, effective leadership and stronger organizations. But “Reading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” according to The National Endowment for the Arts – and this includes business people. 

I know what you’re thinking, “You’re telling me to read more?  Is that really the answer?  It seems too simple.”  Well, maybe everything you needed to know you really did learn in kindergarten!  If you’re a business owner, director or manager, you need to be a thought leader and finding inspiration, knowledge, information and trends is paramount.

You need to give yourself permission to stay connected to industry trends and delegate some of the tasks weighing you down in order to find inspiration.  Your employees will thank you for it – by paying attention to the big picture, you can give your direct reports a well-developed strategy, execution plan and follow up/follow through.

So, when you actually get a moment to read, where do you start?  Keeping abreast of the latest trends within your industry again is a wonderful starting point.  Also, consider expanding your knowledge base into other fields such as sociology, economic, psychology, etc. and applying principles to your organization.  This strategy makes you more likely to be innovative, prosperous and an effective leader.

What’s more, reading is actually a way to relax (which we all need!); reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%.  It also really does make you smarter, developing “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to abstract reasoning skills.  So picking up a book or perusing the web really can’t hurt!

By focusing on expanding your mind and knowledge base, you will actually help your business grow (multi-tasking at its finest!).  Here are some takeaway points to consider:

  • Vary your reading.  If you typically only read the business and financial section of the New York Times, think about broadening your exposure to novels, history, biographies, etc.
  • Apply your reading to your job Using tactics, strategies and tips you’ve read can help you problem solve at work.
  • Encourage your team to read.  With more reading throughout the workplace, your colleagues and direct reports can raise the bar within the organization.
  • Read for pleasure.  Not all reading has to be focused on your profession.  Read for fun to relax and escape.

Source: Harvard Business Review

The Boomers Are Coming!

22 Aug

They are the Holy Grail of business and industry. The proverbial tsunami of customers that will likely reshape and redefine our industry. Much the same as they have with so many other business categories, media channels, and lifestyle options they’ve already encountered.

New attitudes, new lifestyles, new opportunities
Grab the Brass Ring

For many, the Boomers represent the “brass ring” of business opportunity.

The mature market (broadly defined as consumers age 50+) is changing radically. As Baby Boomers transition into the so-called senior market sector, an already diverse audience is becoming increasingly fragmented. At the same time, the marketing opportunities delivered by this generational shift are enormous — and increasingly complex. In size and revenue potential alone, the new mature market vastly overshadows that of 10 years ago.

Let’s look at some of the statistics that this group triggers:

  • 77 million people were born between 1946 and 1964
  • Within 3 years (by 2015), a third of the population will be at least 60
  • In the next 15 years, the 50+ demographic will grow by 50% and the 65+ population will grow by 50%

Why should I be concerned about this transition? Because 77 million individuals with over $1 trillion in annual spending power are about to turn the traditional ideas about growing older upside-down. The buzz is that 50 is the new 40 — and 60 is the new 50.

People who are chronologically one age but view themselves as younger, more active, and more alert reflect an attitudinal shift that impacts how we both define and talk to this new mature market. This is a population that flinches at the very word senior. It begins with their attitude and extends to their life view, values and a steadfast optimism.

Right now, we are at a rare point in marketing history. The unique demographic surge of the Boomers is not likely to ever be repeated, at least not in the foreseeable future. They present a true once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity.

Understanding who they are, what they want, where they’re coming from — and where they’re going — will give you a competitive advantage. By creating customer-driven messaging, and executing innovative marketing programs launched through a robust combination of truly integral business processes your business can benefit from the surge.

So what do we conclude?

Boomers are bringing new attitudes, new lifestyles, and new opportunities — the seeds for powerful consumer-driven marketing innovation. Some people only see the volume of the Boomers, the raw numbers, and think their business will automatically benefit from the “higher tide” of consumers. You, as an AHAA Associate know better, and will learn along with us, how to adapt to the Boomers. Truly, there couldn’t be a better time to be a marketer or an AHAA Associate! The fusion of market opportunity with All The Right Things and AHAA’s proven business solutions can not miss.

Building Your Brand or Building Business

17 Aug

Ask JC Penney if they got it right. For the last 8 months they’ve invested buckets of cash on “re-establishing their brand” – whatever that entails. Call it an experiment, call it ill-advised, call it what you will, there’s a lesson in this experience for us. Focus your marketing investments on those activities that will drive results first, everything else should follow. It really is THAT simple.

Here’s What Happened

They brought on a new CEO, Ron Johnson, who had previously led the retail group at Apple. On February 1st the company introduced a new logo and a new retail strategy. According to their press release “the new JCPenney logo, combines the elements that have made JCPenney an enduring American brand, by evoking the nation’s flag and JCPenney’s commitment to treating customers fair and square.”  Lofty goals for a logo. Things were looking optimistically rosy. Then reality hit. Sales plummeted, traffic was down, and merchandise was sitting in inventory. President Michael Francis, left after only a few months on the job. JC Penney advertising ‘went dark’ in mid-June — the same time Mr. Francis departed — turning off TV ads and canceling the July catalog (that was already printed). The bottom line: the upbeat, colorful marketing rolled out during Mr. Francis’ short tenure “made people rethink JC Penney and was entertaining,” Mr. Johnson admitted, “but it didn’t reach the core customer and didn’t build the business.”

So, What’s Next?

They aren’t changing their retail philosophy focusing instead on the real culprit, their marketing program. Initially they had expected to reduce promotional efforts from 590 events (at about $2 million per promotion in 2011) to just 12 promotional “months” this year (where the company will spend $80 million monthly). As a result, JCP expected to save $300 million on their overall advertising over the next four years.  Now, JCP will look to newspapers in a much revamped traditional marketing push. By pulling back on ‘branded’ TV spending the retailer has shifted their expense toward 30 newspaper inserts planned for the last half of 2012, including eight in August alone. Wisely, JC Penney is investing much more heavily in what Mr. Johnson calls “traditional traffic-driving means.”

Their Pain is Our Gain

The highly visible failure of an experiment this large in the public’s eye serves us some good as marketers and private practices. We can take away some valuable lessons without spending a dime. Our goal should be to incorporate this learning into our approach and try to remember that experience trumps theory and supposition every time. Meaning, it is important to keep these key points top of mind:

  • Brand development is more than just a nifty logo
  • Customers will tell you what they want from your business — listen to them
  • Spending money on the core media is your fist priority if you want to drive opportunities
  • Sales keep the lights on and everything else should support that objective
  • Advertising may be seductive, but marketing is about driving business
What do you think?

Here at AHAA we’ve been saying this for a while… to be successful in this business we need to create opportunities to help patients (customers) first. That affords the business the chance to treat people with exceptional care and good service. Branding follows, and its a nothing more than a reflection of your ability to reach customers and provide them your care. THAT is why you got in this field to begin with, isn’t it?

Source: AdAge