Category Archives: Industry Trends

Brand Fast-Trackers #212 – The Age of the Entrepreneur

The Age of the Entrepreneur
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Employees, Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs

One of the key tenets of this podcast is entrepreneurship or how do I go from being an employee to an entrepreneur? We have certainly have had many entrepreneurs on this show, and have also recognized the growing trend of intrapreneurship. Today speaking with today’s guest made perfect sense. Julie Cottineau has a long history in the agency world at Grey and Interbrand and spent almost 5 years as the VP of Brands for Virgin. I don’t know about you, but when I think about famous entrepreneurs, Richard Branson certainly comes to mind. Now Julie oversees her own brand consultancy and uses lateral, out-of-category thinking to help agencies and entrepreneurs innovate through BrandTwist and BrandSchool.

Lessons from Richard

Richard Branson

Richard Branson at Gulltaggen

One of the must ask questions for someone who has worked with Richard Branson is what did they learn, so we asked Julie what her key takeaways were from her time at Virgin. I found this particularly fascinating because Virgin plays in so many different buckets and succeeds.

How do you translate the Virgin brand across categories successfully in everything from mobile to credit card to airplanes? In asking Julie what lessons she took with her, she shared four key nuggets:

  1. A Clear Core Promise Julie shares the biggest thing she learned is that the reason why Virgin can go into so many different categories is that they have a really clear core promise, which is about shaking things up and delivering a good promise to the consumer.
  2. Your Brand is the Product/Experience Your offering must deliver what it promises to do. This is key and comes before the messaging.
  3. Embrace Failure Failure is embraced at Virgin as a learning opportunity. Only through failure can you go on to succeed the next time.
  4. Know your Brand Framework Virgin is involved in multiple industries and verticals so knowing the brand tenets was key. If you can’t stay true to who you are as a brand when expanding into new opportunities, you will likely fail. Your brand should not be a document; it should be a living tool.

The Age of the Entrepreneur

The conversation with Julie covered a lot of territory, but one trend she pointed out is that it is the age of the entrepreneur. It has become easier and easier for inspiring entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) to launch their businesses quickly as easily. There has never been a time where there were so many resources at our disposal. So the next time you have a big idea, run with it. You never know what may happen. To this end, I stumbled across this fun little infographic and thought it was help some of you to make the leap. Tune into the full podcast below or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher.

Getting Over Fear On The Way To Becoming an Entrepreneur


[Lead image via WickedStart]

[Branson image via Creative Commons by Gulltaggen

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Brand Fast-Trackers #203 – Social Listening

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Say What? Social Listening

Consumers are having conversations every day; about the brands they are engaging with, the products they love, their interests, their ideas and their lifestyle. But how are we as marketers engaging in these conversations with them? Making our presence known and responding relevantly?

Today we connected with Zena Weist, VP of Strategy for Expion, who had a lot of great insights about how we should be engaging with consumers every day. Zena’s key strategy is a simple concept we all have been taught since our elementary years and is perhaps one of the most effective tactics all marketers should be utilizing. Stop and listen.

When we were discussing with Zena the most frequent “misses” brands have related to social, Zena
eloquently explained:

“You have to listen first. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. They
(brands) need to listen to the conversations that are going on. Not only about the brand, but by the people they are targeting. What conversations are going on and how can the brand become a part of those conversations in a very relevant and meaningful way? How can they organically weave themselves in? They only way to do this is to really listen to the conversations that are going on. They have to identify advocates and listen to the advocates. This is a time commitment. It boils down to customer relationship management.”

Zena ended this thought with a key take a way, “Social Media is more than broadcasting the brand. It is to stimulate conversation.”

That insight truly made me stop to think, how are we engaging in conversations? How are our brands relevant to consumers beyond the product itself? Are we telling consumers about our brand, or are we talking about it? For more incredible insights from Zena on how to reach your consumers please tune into the podcast below:

[Lead Image Via ICUC Moderation]

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Brand Fast-Trackers #197 – Brand Managers Are Universal Soldiers

sustainability, responsibility, green brands
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As readers of this blog know, I have a particularly fondness for purposeful brands, that is, brands who are sustainable and socially responsible. This can come from many things from how they source their ingredients/materials to how they treat their employees and customers to causes they authentically align themselves and beyond.

patagonia, don't buy this jacket, sustainability, responsibilityThink Patagonia and their Don’t Buy Their Jacket campaign and their Common Threads Initiative. Was it a completely altruistic initiative? No. At the end of the day they want the sales, but it how they go about it that counts. I recently learned about another example of which you may not be aware. Nokia. Nokia has been in the top 5 on Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics for the last four years. But well beyond that, they developed a real-time text initiative for third-world farmers that allows them to check market prices. The idea is that each morning, a farmer can easily ping this network to know what prices his particular crop is selling for in nearby markets, so he can price his supply accordingly. All of this takes place via the tech-simple SMS message. Why is Nokia doing this? In the words of a Nokia exec I recently heard speak at Social Media Week, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Very powerful stuff.

Seventh GenerationSo today, when I had the chance to speak with Joey Bergstein, CMO of Seventh Generation, I was particularly excited. I hope you forgive my nervousness on the audio as I was filling in for Brian. Our conversation was about much more than just purpose of course. Like many of our previous guests, Joey started his career at Procter & Gamble and grew is various roles in Canada, Europe and the U.S. across multiple brands. For Joey, his time at P&G taught him how to build and manage a brand. Obviously key skills for any marketers. When I asked him how he thought the role of brand manager had changed (and I am thinking back to our conversation with Dave Knox of The Brandery and also a former P&Ger), Joey shared:

The role of Brand Managers haven’t changed per se, but the tools have changed. Successful brands managers are universal soldiers.

We also spoke about how in this consumer-driven world that shoppers are essentially looking for everything. That is, they want value for their dollar, but they also want to find a brand that resonates with their lifestyle. This insight becomes particularly important for niche brands like Seventh Generation. I asked Joey what his strategy was for competing with larger, household brands with large budgets. His answer surprised me. They don’t really compete with those brands. Why? Seventh Generation appeals to a specific kind of customer. It seems to be in many ways, that makes a marketer’s job easier. There is no breaking through the clutter when the customer is seeking you out.

Lastly, I had to ask Joey about Rance Crain’s recent Ad Age piece Is the Era of Purpose-Driven Ads (Finally) OverJoey’s answer was simple. If the brand attaches itself to a cause as a selling gimmick, consumers will suss that out and it will fail. If it is a genuine initiative to do business differently, the story and the opportunity changes significantly.

To hear more of Joey’s insights, tune in below.

Connect with Kat on Google +LinkedIn or Twitter.

[Lead Image via Tagxedo]

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Brand Fast-Trackers #192 – Branding an Ingredient

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Woohoo the theme is now live!! I am beyond thrilled and hope you will stand by a wee bit longer as we perfect any kinks. :-) And of course, as always, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Branding an Ingredient

Marketing Silos

On to today’s podcast….we are returning to our series with Chris Brace  (See Episodes 140141144147149155, 159), and despite the numerous episodes we have done with him, something new clicked for me and made me pull out my copy of Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston‘s fantastic Marketing in the Round. We spoken a lot about consumers and shoppers and we have spoken about integrated marketing, but what I never quite hit on was that marketers must put the needs of these two together. As Chris put it:

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Brand Fast-Trackers #191 – Marketing is a Joke

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Today, I’m thrilled to discuss our recent interview with Joseph Jaffe, someone I read via his regular MediaPost column and listen to regularly whether on his own podcast Across the Sound, Bob Knorpp’s The Bean Cast or Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation. Joseph is a matchmaker who pairs big brands with new start-ups because he believes (and I agree) that both have something to offer each other. Learn more at Evol8tion.

Two things really hit home for me in listening to Joseph speak. The first is that the marketing department, led by the CMO, has fairly limited power within most major brands. And this despite those $4 Million per spot Super Bowl ads. As Joseph puts it:

Today, marketing is a joke. Today, the chief marketing officer, we all know the stats, tenure of less than two years. They own nothing anymore, except for promotions and advertising. They don’t own distribution. They don’t own pricing. They don’t own R&D. They don’t own a lot of the things that even pertain to the four P’s.

In a way this was not surprising and yet hearing that the four pillars we can all recite in our sleep – priceproduct,promotion, and place - are to a certain extent out of our power is extremely disheartening. So how can we overcome this? Especially since marketing is changing so rapidly. Perhaps it is, as Joseph puts it, the blending of IT and Marketing. I’ve certainly read a lot about the coming of the CMTO and it makes a lot of sense. Joseph speaks about it this way:

I was discussing with someone today, this prediction from IBM that marketing will spend more on IT, or technology, than the IT department will. I said to them, ‘Yeah. That’s true, but the real question is will the IT people figure out marketing before the marketing people figure out IT?’ If they do, there will be more marketing.

I think the real key to this podcast and Joseph’s prescription to fix marketing is for technology and marketing (Silicon Valley & Madison Avenue) coming together in innovative partnerships. This kind of creative collaboration will eventually not only change how marketing is perceived, but also change how effective it can be. This certainly echoes what we heard from R/GA Chief Creative Nick Law.

What do you think? Is a match between Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue the perfect match?

Connect with Kat on Google +LinkedIn or Twitter.

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