#Unplug : To Be Productive in Your Work, You Must Take Downtime

The 40-hour work-week is dead — some employees are coming closer to 24/7

Are you disengaged at work? Only 1 in 3 Americans are actively engaged. The irony is that employees are working more hours and powered by more technology than ever.

Unplug eBook#Unplug: How to Work Hard and Still Have a Life (Fast Company 2013), takes on the issue of how work and technology are impacting our overall life. The eBook explores how and why to untether yourself from technology throughout the workday, on weekends, and on vacation without undoing your life or career.

The 40-hour work-week is dead. The culprit is the trifecta of increased post-recession employment competition, close interdependency of global markets and perpetual demands for higher productivity. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time.

At the same time, our conditioned desire for evermore seems insatiable. A study of 1,000 professional, 9 of 10 said making their personal life a higher priority was important. And yet when asked which they’d take, a $10,000-a-year raise or an hour more each day to spend with their family, 8 of 10 took the cash.

A Word-Wide Phenomenon

Unfortunately, this is global phenomenon. European countries are struggling to keep their work-week standards. In Japan, there were 160 official cases of Karōshi, or “death from overwork,” and another 43 people committed work-related suicide.
Paradoxically, technology was supposed to help us be more productive, yet it has enabled being on call 24/7/365:

  • Unplug-matrix79% of 18 to 44-year-olds have their phone on or near them for 22 hours of the day—IDC
  • 72% of parents use a mobile device during the family meal—NPR
  • 67% routinely check phones even when their phone is not ringing or vibrating—Pew Research

We can’t blame it all on work; it’s a matter of personal accountability.

What is driving our obsessive behavior?

Unplug Feat#Unplug unveils an obscure suspect: Fear. That is, fear of missing out, fear of real-time market or competitor knowledge and the illusive fear of living your life. A psychologist at the National Center for Preventive and Stress Medicine who counseled others on the impacts of stress, was blind to his own. When he was confronted by his young son, he embarked on deep soul searching. Asking himself why he’s so driven that he overworks, he finally realized “I’m afraid of being a father.”

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that if you fit into this category, you will deny it. If you do accept it, you’ll deceptively convince yourself that you’re only hurting yourself. Most of us won’t change until a crisis occurs, but you don’t have to wait for that. #Unplug dares us to take time away from work and technology, in order to live simpler lives—and ultimately be more productive in life and at work.


This article was published in PM360 magazine.  


5 Questions to Elevate Your Mid-Year Review

Self Evaluation
How would you rate your performance this year?  It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost mid-year.  Don’t let this milestone get away from you; this is a great time to reflect on what’s working and not in your performance.  But while it’s easy and customary to focus on the year-to-date metrics versus objectives, my challenge to you is to use this milestone as a platform to drive a broader and more strategic conversation with your leadership.  Think about it, the metrics are black and white and there’s little you can do to change them now – but if you focus on the strategy, you can meaningfully impact your and your organization’s performance for the back half.

 Strategy V Tactics MatrixTo help you self-diagnose and prepare for your discussion, here are 5 questions for your mid-year:


  1. Why do you believe your strategy is still valid?  Who cares if you knocked out your tactics if the strategy is off!  Reminds me of the strategy matrix which shows that if you’re executing very well on the wrong strategy you’re just killing yourself faster.
  1. How has the market evolved?  Time to reevaluate your macro trends assumptions.  Ideally, these should not dramatically change, but there are always surprises.
  1. How has the competitive landscape changed?  Consider shifts from complementary, replacement or substitute entrants.
  1. How can the relevancy and differentiation of your value proposition with your target audience be improved? Talk to you customers to validate before you answer this one.
  1. What was your biggest opportunity cost?  You’ll never have a scientific answer, but if you think about where you spent most of your time and budget with little result the Pareto Principle will highlight your opportunity.

Mid YearMid-year is a great time to reassess and if need be change direction while still leaving enough time to make a difference in your performance this year.  Answers these questions and you’ll drive better discussions with your teams.  More importantly, the answers should shift your behavior and position you for improved performance this year.


Unleash Your Talent’s Limitless Potential

What if you could automate data collection of employee behavioral, qualitative and performance in real time?  Imagine the impact on employee satisfaction, best practice sharing and productivity. This is not the future—you can do this today. The possibilities are limited only by your organization’s willingness to embrace a new competitive paradigm.

The Decoded CompanyThe Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers (February 2014, Penguin Group) masterfully lays out a roadmap towards this vision. Through first-hand experience and case studies, authors Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman and Rahaf Harfoush, demonstrate how data is currently being leveraged to achieve better outcomes. Think Big Data meets decision support inside your organization.

At the core of the book is the belief that talent is not only our greatest asset but also our greatest competitive advantage. This makes a ton of sense, especially in our dynamic healthcare industry where the market and competitors are unpredictable a few years down the road. Still, growth targets demand we must control what we can and optimize every single resource to reach our objectives. Remarkably, in our search for outcomes and results, we often overlook the most obvious and potentially best investment—our people.

The Decoded Company lays out a framework to structure our approach:

Technology as a Coach: Transform technology to engage, motivate, and train your people. Think hyper-personalization, from the training you really need, to the style of training that you learn best from, to sharing best practices as you’re facing similar issues in real time.

Data as a Sixth Sense: The ability to pair analytics with instincts to gain a perspective that’s grounded in data but tempered by experience. Remove personal bias, blind spots and knowledge gaps by providing contextual analytics in real time, yet at the same time, allowing the person to make the final, now well-informed decision.

Engineered Ecosystems: Provide quantitative feedback about behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and values that currently exist in your company. The opportunity for culture is to supercharge speed: Quantify, evaluate, correct or support, and monitor. Culture is treated as a living organism that can be leveraged for competitiveness.

location_basedI have to admit—at first pass this smelled like “Big Brother.” But as I read on, I was reminded that companies already have most, if not all, of our digital footprint. This data is not limited to digital communications—it’s tied to our credit cards, cameras and provided through our social networks. Clearly, laws protect our identities, but in a corporate environment where you use proprietary assets or leverage proprietary networks, you are creating valuable data that can be used to improve your organization’s competitiveness.

The book simply and smartly notes that these same technologies can be used positively to make our people and organizations better and provide a competitive edge.

This article was published in PM360.

Marketing 3.0 by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaha and Iwan Setiawan

Looking for big ideas to take your marketing to the next level?  Marketing 3.0 proposes a fundamental evolution to our marketing strategies.  It seeks to move our focus from product and customer models to a human-centric model.  It challenges us to evolve from pushing products to solving real world socio-cultural issues, while concurrently creating relevant value propositions that ultimately lead to higher profits.

To better understand the theory behind Marketing 3.0 it helps to place it in some context.  Marketing 1.0 was developed in the Industrial Age, a “product-centric” era focused on mass selling products through functional value propositions.  Marketing 2.0 was developed during the Information Age and adopted emotional value propositions.  The authors of Marketing 3.0 propose that we are now at the dawn of the “values-driven” era, characterized by consumers who want to satisfy functional, emotional and spiritual needs.  Marketing 3.0 seeks to satisfy the whole person – mind, body and soul.

Human CentricWhy this evolution to human-centric value propositions?  The authors point to three trends that are shaping the future of marketing.

The first trend is mass participation/ collaborative marketing.  Social media has tapped into natural human desires for connectivity and interactivity.  People not only consume media, news and entertainment, but also seek to produce its content (via blogs, FB, twitter, YouTube, etc.).  This move from consumer to “prosumer” is not simply reserved for the individual, but also enables mass to mass collaboration (think Wikipedia, Craigslist, InnoCentive).  As influencers have gained power and status, companies should seek collaborative marketing strategies; co-creation of products and services, with consumers, employees, channel partners and other firms with similar goals and values.

The second trend is global paradox. Ease of travel and technology advances have created truly “global citizens” who still want to be considered individuals.  Marketing that addresses both local and global communities will succeed. For example, marketers should seek to create micro-communities that serve the interest of its members.

The third trend is the rise of a creative society and human spirit marketing. The authors suggest that the influence and status of creative people – who generally tend to innovate, collaborate and express themselves more than others – is on the rise because the creative class pursue self-actualization and place the same demands on the products and services they consume. Marketers wishing to capitalize on this trend should focus on communicating credibility and supplying meaning to its consumers.

So how does a marketer function in Marketing 3.0?  Borrowing from Ries and Trout, the authors suggest that marketing 3.0 should be redefined as a triangle of brand, positioning and differentiation, but then build on this formula by introducing their own “3i” model, which they feel completes the connections in the Ries/Trout model.

In the Marketing 3.0 model, the 3is stand for Identity, Image and Integrity.:

  1. Identity is the relationship between positioning and brand and seeks to address the rational portion of the value proposition. In Marketing 3.0, the key here is how you address the mind, the consumer’s rational thoughts about the brand.
  2. Image lies at the juncture of differentiation and brand, and strives to capture the emotions of the target audience. Here the key here is how you address the consumer’s heart – what they feel about the brand, themselves, the category, etc.
  3. Integrity is the intersection of positioning and differentiation and aims to authentically fulfill the brand promise and foster trust. This is the “newest” of the three “I”s, and speaks to such issues as authenticity and soul – of the consumer and the product.

At first glance Marketing 3.0 appears overly ambitious. The idea of addressing the whole person – and doing so on a global scale –  is difficult to grasp from a segmentation perspective.  However, the book provides strong evidence and references to human-centric marketing currently underway.  And I can personally vouch for the practicality of their thesis as I find myself attempting to solve both human and global concerns via our strategic alignment and collaboration with key constituents.

My only criticism of the book is the 3i model.  The section is underdeveloped and its theory is ambiguous.  Had they made this more of a “how to” chapter, explaining step-by-step how marketers could implement it, their thinking would have been much more useful.

Marketing is evolving and the stakes are higher.  If you want to differentiate, you cannot do so through tactics, you must choose a different strategy.  Marketing 3.0 can raise your thinking to the next level.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in PM360.

Best Personality Type for Sales

Hire an ‘Ambivert’ or Learn to Become One

Are you in sales?  Yes, you are. Think about it, your title may not say so, but essentially you make a living selling. You may label it To sell is humaninfluencing, persuasion, cajoling, convincing, trading or exchanging—but if you use the general definition of selling: “to hand over something in exchange for money or to persuade someone of the merits of” then hopefully you’ll agree with Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human (Riverhead Books, 2013) that we’re all in sales.

A seller’s market

In general, sales people have had a traditionally negative stereotype. The typical car salesman comes top of mind. People have associated sales roles with adjectives like pushy, sleazy, and manipulative—you get the point.

Historically, sales people could afford to take on an aggressive stance because it was a seller’s market, where the salesperson had exclusive information. In this context, the customer needed to interact with this gatekeeper. In this traditional model, extroverts— outgoing, gregarious and talkative—were hired and promoted in the sales ranks.

A buyer’s market

Pink details in his book how the sales playing field has been changed and the customer now has the advantage. Much of development has come with the advances of technology, access to information, increased global competition and consumerism.  Today, if a customer knows what they want, they can access most, if not all of the information without involving a sales person.

As the selling dynamics have shifted from seller to buyer, Pink identifies 3 key qualities a sales person must posses in the today’s environment:

1.  Attunement: fully understanding your target’s perspective as the prelude to help them

2.  Buoyancy—resilience through multiple cycles of rejections

3.  Clarity—expertise to make sense of complex situations and providing insights for problem finding

These qualities are not found in the traditionally extroverted salesperson.

The Rise of the Ambivert

A study conducted by Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Management developed and deployed a personality scale from 1-7.  The scores from 1-2 were considered introverts and scores from  6-7 were considered extroverts. In the middle, scores from 3 to 5 were considered ambiverts—a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

Additionally, the study mapped personality scores to sales productivity. Quantitatively, introverts produced $120/hour, extroverts $125/hour and ambiverts $155/hour.  Surprisingly, the ambivert group that scored the highest productivity of $208/hour scored a 4 in the personality scale, right in the middle of the ambivert range.

Unlike the extremes in the scales, ambiverts know when to talk and when to listen;  when to support and when to push. They are able to manage more selling situations, customers from broader spectrums of personality and leverage both skill sets of the personality spectrum for the benefit of the sale. In short, Pink and the research conclude that ambiverts are the best personality type to sell in today’s environment.


The book and the accompanying study demystify the stereotype that extroverts make the best sales people. To find out where you fall on the scale, take the brief indicator at http://www.danpink.com/assessment/. The good news is that we can all work on balancing our skills and becoming better ambiverts. If you’re looking for a pragmatic how-to book to balance your personality skills, I would recommend this book, it’s a how-to manual packed with exercises in every chapter.

Published in PM360

Seven Tips for Moderating an Audience-centered Panel

Have you ever attended a terribly moderated panel? Unfortunately I have, several times. Panels can be a great way to get diverse points of view on important topics from thought leaders. Yet, while the medium is widely accepted and often used, in my humble opinion it is not done well the majority of the time.

Last month, I was asked to moderate a panel on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Convention in Chicago. After the initial excitement wore off, I began to reflect on the bad panels I’ve participated in over the years. Determined to make a difference, I interviewed several colleagues and researched literature on how to moderate panels; however, the marketer in me urged me to keep my audience in mind as I was preparing.

After I distilled my research and obtained a good understanding of my audience, I put together these seven tips:

1. You’re a moderator, not a panelist. Like the saying, “those who cannot do, teach” remember that if you were selected to moderate you’re not selected because of your opinions on the topic. As tempting as it might be, let the panelists be the content experts. 

2. Define the scope. Agree with your panelists on a tight scope of the topic ahead of time, including what is out of scope. In our case, we agreed on limiting our discussion on the pragmatic activities small business owners should be taking to prepare for the ACA. Given the audience and the topic, this could have easily turned into a long and heated debate, with everyone walking away at best entertained, but with little value post-conference. 

3. Provide different points of view. If you can select your panel, pepper your choices with panelists from different points of view, limiting overlap. In addition, agree on points of view to take on while answering questions. For example, in our panel someone represented the executive, another offered the insurance perspective and yet another was a patient educator. When a question arises ask another panelist for their point of view on the same issue. 

4. Structure the format. Plan, plan, plan. Then enforce, enforce, enforce. Break down the timelines for each section (introduction, Q&A, conclusion) down to the minute. Remind your panelists and the audience of your structure.

5. It’s not about the panel members. Every panel member is a thought leader in their own right. Do not waste valuable air time introducing them at length—let the content of their comments show how educated, experienced or famous they are. Social media should give full visibility to anyone if they truly want to find out more about the panelists and you. 

6. It’s all about the audience. People pay hundreds of dollars to attend a session, let alone the value of time. Open the panel to comments and Q&A from the audience. Out of the 45 minutes we were allotted, we spent 35 minutes in Q&A—hearing directly from our audience what burning questions they had. 

7. Close strong! Allow the panelist to give a final 30-second point of view on the issue, based on the questions from the audience. Wrap up by providing a brief summary of the scope, the themes of the answers and by making the panel and yourself available for a continued dialogue outside of the time allotted. 

Our panel was warmly received by the audience—a large feat given the topic at hand. Surprisingly, the panel members were very complimentary on our approach and discipline. Personally, I felt satisfied that like every good marketer, I was meeting my customer’s needs.

 This post will be published in the November issue of PM360. 

Moving Change Management to the Forefront

Is your organization undergoing a radical transformation? It should be because the U.S. healthcare dynamics are drastically changing our customer’s business model. It is an understatement to say that in five years, we’ll see our healthcare ecosystem significantly change for our patients, customers and businesses. This transformation will be both a challenge and an opportunity.

But what role does change management play in building business strategy? Most of the time, change management is an afterthought to strategy development. Unfortunately, most change initiatives fail. That’s a correlation that’s hard to ignore.

Business Change Management

Leading & Implementing Business Change ManagementDavid J. Jones and Ronald J. Recardo state their case in Leading and Implementing Business Change Management: Making Change Stick in the Contemporary Organization (Routledge, 2013). Change management should be integrated at the origins of strategy planning, throughout the implementation cycle. It should also ensure strategy sustainability.

Jones and Recardo introduce the Business Change Management concept, a new coined term. It is defined as an end-to-end process from assessing the need for change and designing a target solution in alignment with overall strategic business direction through implementation and institutionalization.

Like previous change management work, this approach takes a multi-dimensional perspective:

  • Technology: Info, data, networks.
  • Organization: Culture, roles and responsibilities, org structures.
  • Process: Workflows, rules, performance measurement.

Building on past efforts, Business Change Management seeks to evolve traditional change management through four attributes:

1. Cascades from business strategy: Integrated from inception and critical to the solution.

2. Considers internal and external stakeholders: Collaborates with environment, partners, regulators, etc.

3. Proactively leverages culture, resistance and leadership: Sets roadmap and mitigates risk.

4. Encourages organizations to adapt this DNA: Builds competitive core capability.

The strategic, external, proactive and capability-building aspects of this concept are novel in a change management context.

Business Change Management is an ambitious endeavor. But think through the opening question, then consider the four key attributes. Now ask yourself, “If I was preparing my organization for the upcoming healthcare landscape, would my probability for success be better by applying Business Change Management?” Speaking from personal experience, the answer is a resounding yes.

In parallel to the changing landscape, nearly all of the latest thinking around market strategy has one common theme: We must prepare our organizations to be flexible. Long gone are the days of building differentiated products, capabilities or sustainable advantages for the long-term. The speed of business, technology disruption, customer transparency and global competition call into question the sustainability of any business, let alone singular advantages. Marketing leaders must now be both strategists and change agents.

If you are considering a change management effort, then pick up Leading and Implementing Business Change Management. It will be a great guide and companion in your journey.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in the August issue of PM360

The ABCs of Corporate Turn-Arounds

Reinvent is a leader’s playbook for serial success

Do you know leaders who no matter where in the world their career takes them, they always seem to succeed? I know a couple. They seem to will their way in and out situations, almost magically. Fred Hassan’s Reinvent – Jossey-Bass 2013 – portrays the story of master turnaround artist—but make no mistake about it, it’s not magic. Although after reading the book, it’s easy to see that there’s something special about Hassan. Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money on CNBC, referred to Hassan’s skills in a TV interview this way: “You’ve done many turnarounds, which is why I bank with you first and then I bank with the company that you’re with.”  Marshall Goldsmith, recognized among the world’s top 50 influential leadership thinkers states, “I have had the honor of working with many of the world’s greatest leaders. I rank Fred Hassan as one of the top five.” 

Reinvent by Ramiro RomanIn many ways, Reinvent is his autobiography. It is full of real life stories, with real people—six who have gone on to become CEOs of large organizations. He is a great story teller who blends situations, observations and people in an engaging way. My favorite story in the book is when Mr. Hassan was called by The Coca-Cola’s company CEO to address the troubled company which was looking to embark on a turnaround.

Mr. Hassan started his speech to an audience of 200 executives this way: “Start with productive attitudes and behaviors to build a productive culture. Diffuse these into the organization via three main pathways: the Power Trident of Passion, Courage and Tenacity; the Power Triangle of People, Products and Process: and the Leadership Quartet of four winning leadership approaches. Do this right, and you can unleash a virtuous spiral of results that then generates even better results.”  This quote is a summary of his entire playbook, which uses the tools detailed in the book. In Reinvent, Hassan delivers the sound business practices he has refined over his career. His playbook packages his ideas in a simple and straight-forward system.  

What Are The ABCs?

Hassan’s playbook is not of the flavor of the month variety. He developed his approach over decades of practical experience. He’s not an academic, consultant or journalist. As the famous saying goes ’he’s been there, done that, got that t-shirt’ and the book simmers with pragmatism. This is not a book about grand strategy: It is about how do get things done. It is about people and culture at its foundation.

  • Attitude. Everything starts with attitude and that is to be role-modeled by leaders, especially the CEO. He believes that what holds companies back is the skepticism for management. He advocates being authentic—at work and in life—valuing integrity and owning your accountability for self-development, self-control & self-drive. Hassan seems to have an innate ability to see possibilities, persevere through challenges and restlessly drive towards excellence. And he believes we all can unleash this capability. He says.“It is in our power to do more with what we have. It’s in our power to fulfill our own potential. It’s not where we take our aspirations—it’s where our aspirations take us.” Attitude serves as the catalysts that stimulate the desired behaviors. 
  • Behaviors. There are three behaviors that Hassan outlines as key: purposeful, connected and leadership. Purpose is characterized by having clear goals, risk taking, inspiring energy and self-renewal. Connected means self-awareness, sincere emotional intelligence through all levels of the organization and being attuned to the external environment. Behaviors are the substance that sustain the culture.
  • Culture. People are the decisive difference in any organization. Hassan walks through the steps in selecting, aligning and motivating. He spends a great amount of time discussing how leaders should role-model behaviors throughout the organization, thereby inculcating winning behaviors and creating shared ownership. Culture is the context that fosters executional excellence.   

The ABCs are the foundation of Hassan’s playbook. The ultimate result of his playbook is to achieve executional excellence. Hassan understands that the power of a CEO is not realized by strategy or the leadership team, but by aligning all employees, customers, regulators and partners in execution. “Making strategies happen is the toughest part of being a CEO.” 

Hassan believes that strategies are best articulated in a few straight-forward sentences. He provides an example of his work at Schering-Plough, where he kept his strategies as simple as 1,2,3:

  1. Grow the top line.
  2. Grow the pipeline.
  3. Reduce costs & invest wisely.

That’s it. For six years these strategies remained unchanged. Their simplicity was executable and yielded one of the best turnaround stories in the pharmaceutical industry. 


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found its tone sincere, personal and easy to digest—yet intellectually insightful and practical. If you’re interested in turnaround stories, you should definitely pick up this book. As you get your summer reading list ready, don’t overlook Reinvent: you’ll feel as though you’ll be sharing a conversation with a wise friend. Enjoy!

This book review will be published in the June issue of PM360.

Sales Book Review : The Challenger Sale – Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

What are the characteristics of the high performance sales representative in the complex B2B environment?  To answer that, think of the sales representative that you seek advice from or would drop your next appointment to meet with.  If you need more than one hand to count these professionals, consider yourself lucky.  Then consider how you can help your organization develop these types of representatives to sell your product. 

The Research behind the book

untitledIn 2010, The Corporate Executive Board Companywhere Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of The Challenger Sale, consult — commissioned a study of 2,400 B2B decision-makers to understand what contributed to customer loyalty.  Surprisingly, 53% of the drivers were attributed to the sales experience, a category dependent on an individual sales representative’s performance.  In a nut shell, customers buy B2B products and services from representatives whomake them smarter.”  That means they provide uniquely valuable perspectives on the market, educate on new issues and outcomes, navigate the risk/reward trade-offs, and gain widespread support from all stakeholders.  These findings led to further research in order to understand what types of representatives performed best in B2B scenarios. 

Analyzing research on over 6,000 sales professionals, Dixon and Adamson developed three key findings:

1.       There are five types of sales representatives:

  • The Relationship Builder: Gets along with everyone, builds strong coalitions
  • The Hard Worker: Self- motivated, does not give up easily, goes the extra mile
  • The Problem Solver: Responsive, detailed, seeks answers
  • The Lone Wolf: Mercenary, difficult to control, generally gets results
  • The Challenger: Understands customer’s business, debates, pushes customers

 2.       There is one clear winning profile. The Challenger scored the highest in performance ratings versus all other groups.  The top characteristics of a Challenger representative are:

  • Offers the customers unique perspectives
  • Has strong two-way communication skills
  • Knows the individual customer’s value drivers
  • Can identify economic drivers of the customer’s business
  • Is comfortable discussing finances
  • Earns the right to pressure the customer

3.       Challengers are the next evolution of the solutions representative. The more complex the sale, the more likely that Challenger representatives will be among the high performers. The challenger model has three phases which are designed to build constructive tension:

  • Teach: Reframe the way customers view their business by providing unknown value-added insights
  • Tailor: Link data-backed projected outcomes to stakeholder’s individual goals
  • Take control: Pursue the sales agenda in a direct way at every phase, without being aggressive

Research into action

The good news is that Challenger representatives are made, not born.  The Challenger model is a set of skills.   Most representatives have the basics to build from.  Training, coaching and development will nurture these skills into behaviors. 

A caution: building a Challenger sales organization is a long journey.  The reason why the challenger representative can create constructive tension is that they intimately know the customer’s business and their products at a mastery level.  To achieve this end demands a comprehensive curriculum.  This is a not an easy or rapid transformation, it is one that requires both individual and corporate capability, resources and patience. 

Still, think back on the representative you envisioned at the beginning of this review.  If you want that type of representative selling your product or service, you can build it and The Challenger Sale offers you a great model.  In addition, The Corporate Executive Board, through their Sales Executive Council, offers many resources to help you along the way. 

Good selling!

Published in PM360

Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

Last summer, I took a course on enhancing one’s influencing skills and one of the speakers was Linda A. Hill, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Hill spoke about the need for leaders to assume the role of influencers and she challenged us to think more systematically on how we can achieve this seemingly elusive task.

Being the BossHill explores this subject in Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, co-written with business executive and author Kent Lineback. The authors provide a comprehensive and practical model for managers to follow. In fact, Being the Boss is a must read for anyone who has just started managing people, experienced managers who desire to become great leaders, and those seeking to improve their influencing or networking skills.

The book focuses on three imperatives: Managing Yourself, Managing Your Network, and Managing Your Team. For this book review I want to focus on the author’s analysis of how to influence through managing your network. Every experienced manager would probably agree that corporate America is extremely political because no organization has sufficient time, resources or homogeneity to accomplish its vision. I have found in my 15-year management career that an employee’s greatest source of frustration is the person’s inability to influence the political environment.

The phrase “company politics” conjures up Machiavellian notions, but that is the negative side of the equation. The naïve manager says, “Not me, I’m above that.” The experienced manager says “Not me, the organization needs to change.” Both of these responses are unproductive because we already live in the political environment that these responses often dismiss or disdain. Being the Boss challenges us to change our perspective, work through organizational conflict and weave our own web of influence—all within our moral and ethical principles— in order to become great leaders.

Being the Boss asks the following questions: Do you strategically identify people whom you and your teams depend on to achieve your goals? Do you systematically evaluate the strength of your networks to keep up with changes?

To answer these questions try this exercise:

1.       Write down the names of the people who have formal or informal authority over your work that are considered experts in key areas, whose work is important to the organizational objectives, or who are “plugged in.”

2.       Assess the importance of each person to your goals using a 1-10 scale.

3.       Assess the current quality of your relationship to each person using the same scale as #2.

4.       Contrast the two rankings.

This simple exercise can be profoundly revealing. It’s the beginning of your networking roadmap. In doing this exercise, you will find it worthwhile to categorize sets of people in to three segments:

  • Operational: The people you need to do your group’s everyday work.
  • Strategic: The people you will need to help you and your group achieve longer-term goals.
  • Developmental: The people who help you grow professionally and provide personal, emotional support when you need it.

While I personally agreed with the philosophies, I struggled to see how they could be practically sustained. Being the Boss offers useful advice on making the initial contact, building networking into your daily work, sharing information, building coalitions, and avoiding unhealthy rivalries. Managing these networks takes focus, time and effort but the promise is an increase in influence, which will make you a better leader.

This book review was published in the November issue of PM360.

For more information on this topic, see this video:

Book Review: The End of Business as Usual

Last month, at General Electric’s Hispanic Executive Leadership Conference, I attended a session featuring sociologist, futurist, and author Brian Solis. My expectation was to hear this brilliant and bona fide social media thought-leader discuss the intricacies of new electronic tools and how I, as a marketer, could capitalize on those to reach my target audience. Instead what I learned was how leading companies are evolving from seeing social media as a tool to using it as a platform toward becoming more customer-centric. It was a welcomed view and it is the central theme of Solis’s new book that delivers a message that can connect to any business environment. 

At the heart of The End of Business as Usual (Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution) is the premise that commercial success rests on our ability to deliver a great customer experience. Underlying this call towards customer-centricity is the disruptive role of social media is playing in influencing customer purchases. The book details how digital culture is changing the landscape of business, consumerism and the workplace. Today’s customers rely on their friends, family and social networks—not companies—for purchase decisions. The marketer’s challenge is to design the appropriate customer experience, monitor feedback and address gaps or reinforce positive experiences through the relevant channels, including the right technologies. It expands marketing with an external focus on creating customer experiences that evoke advocacy.

Solis urges businesses to adapt to this new era of consumerism or die. He calls this phenomena “Digital Darwinism,” where companies that do not evolve as rapid as the evolution of consumer behavior and technology fail to exist.  In other words, it’s not necessarily the strongest who survive but the most adaptive. We live in an era of transparency, explains Solis, where the product value proposition cannot be faked. The word of mouth, benchmarking, blogs, ratings, etc, that are held at the customer’s fingertips (or thumbs) cannot be ignored or covered up. This transparency truly calls for companies to be customer-centric. 

Solis warns that any company that focuses on operations, margins, and efficiencies over customer experiences will hasten the erosion of market relevance. In order for companies to become more customer-centric, Solis offers a blueprint for change. It includes setting the need, and managing and reinforcing the change. Additionally he asks companies to connect the value propositions to personal values through accountability, authority and rewards. 

Solis’s insightful and well written book clearly communicate what can be a complex message. It is recommended as a primer for anyone looking to improve the customer experience and seeking to understand how to leverage social media toward that goal. 

You can follow Brian on twitter @BrianSolis, or join his blog at www.briansolis.com/

This book review was published in PM360


Book Review: The Go-Giver – A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea

Are you as successful as you dreamed of being at this point in your life? If you are, congratulations! If you’re not, you’ve perhaps second-guessed your education or career choices. Maybe you think you will have to work harder and faster. But before you’re too hard on yourself, consider trying the old proverb: “Give and you shall receive.”

The Go-GiverI realize that this can seem counter-intuitiveness in today’s competitive world. The Go-Giver, however, claims that the secret to success is giving. Authors John David Mann and Bob Burg know you’ll be skeptical: “Most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving…. Then again, most people are nowhere as successful as they wish they were.” Furthermore, they challenge the law of scarcity and say the 50-50 partnership principle as a losing position. Instead, they ask readers to think exclusively about helping others to a 100% win. It’s a business philosophy that places altruism before one’s own interest.

A story of reciprocity

This 127 page book is written in a short story format. It’s the tale of Joe, a young professional who is hard-working and ambitious, yet lately finds his hard work disappointing in sales results. Inadvertently, he finds himself seeking the mentorship of an older gentleman named Pindar.

The mentor—practicing the method he preaches—gives Joe his Trade Secret, with one condition; he too must give it away to others. Joe goes through a set of meetings that teach the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and through that process achieves a transformational experience. In the end, Joe learns that giving is truly the secret to success and abundance.

The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success

The Trade Secret is found in these five laws:

  1. The Law of Value. Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. This book challenges us to not to simply employ this tactic for self gain, but to learn to embrace this as a way of life.
  2. The Law of Compensation. Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. In a sense, you’re in control of your own compensation because you can always find more people to serve.
  3. The Law of Influence. Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. This in turn creates a network of ambassadors who become personally invested in seeing you succeed.
  4. The Law of Authenticity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Be authentic!
  5. The Law of Receptivity. The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. This is the byproduct of the first four laws.

Try each one of these for each day of the work week. You have nothing to lose. Hundreds of thousands of people have tried, and the book has achieved a core following.

I was given this book in 2009, by one of the general managers at GE. Since then I have distributed about 20 copies to direct reports, colleagues, and friends. I do believe that if people authentically behave altruistically, they will be more successful, regardless of their personal definition of success. The book is a simple and powerful reminder that the more you give, the more you get.

By the way, if you’re still skeptical, the book went on to become a national best seller, making top lists at BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and Amazon, among many others. It has also stood the test of time, through continued book sales, current seminars, and a lively internet community (http://www.thegogiver.com). You can buy it in any books store, and it’s very likely that you’ll find it in your public library.  Enjoy!

This book review was published in the May issue of PM360.

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Marketing Book Review: Conversations That Win the Complex Sale


How can you achieve the highest return per dollar spent of your marketing budget? “Great messaging through your sales force,” said Tim Riesterer, co-author of Conversations That Win the Complex Sale, in a workshop he recently conducted for my marketing team. This makes particular sense in a complex sale, where your highest operating costs are in your sales force…and your primary competitor is the status quo. Riesterer and his co-author Erik Peterson provide us an interesting messaging model. Before you decide to invest in the latest marketing tool, think about how you can leverage messaging across your marketing tactics and to help you achieve a high return on investment.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer! In the 20 years I’ve worked in B2B commercial sales & marketing , we’ve never had more tools at our disposal to arm our channels and get our message to our target audience. We continuously innovate vehicles that help us deliver creative, multi-media and relevant messages. Unfortunately, tools is can be easily imitated. If you have enough budget, you can copy the tactics your competitors are using: marketers cannot differentiate on tools alone.

For all the tools we have at our disposal, specifically the complex sale, messaging is the critical component that sets us apart from our competition and makes our solution relevant to our target audience. Messaging is the thread that ties all tools together, delivers a consistent…well, message…and makes the most of our spend. It maximizes our efficiency to clearly communicate our value proposition, educate on our benefits and ultimately to persuade our buyers.

Point-of-View Pitch

Conversations That Win the Complex Sale lays out a messaging framework that’s easy to understand and can be translated through different marketing tools. Here are the components:

1.  Grabber. Generate a reputable third-party point of view that is relevant to your client’s core business objective.

2.  Pain. Shock the clients by showing them an unknown or underappreciated issue currently eating away at their their organization and threatening their core business objectives.

3.  Impact. Create urgency by appropriately quantifying the personal, business, and financial impacts of ignoring the problem,; follow up by showing the beneficial effects of acting soon.

4.  Contrast. Differentiate your unique strengths, and show how they address the threats the customer is facing; be clear about how your proposed solution differs the present situation…without offending clients who may have skin in the current game.

5.  Proof. Demonstrate how you have helped similar clients by implementing the solution you’re proposing, and show your approach’s positive impact on the client’s objective.


From a marketing management perspective, the Point-of-View Pitch should flow from the overall positioning strategy. This model can help marketers create compelling messages for their sales forces, particularly in the prospecting phase. I particularly like the authors’ challenge to the status quo. But one strong caution: The model is only as good as the information you input, so the stronger the supporting data, the greater your opportunity for success.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in PM360.  

Marketing Book Review: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Do you remember the buying process you undertook the last time you made a large purchase? If you’re like most customers, your decision was made long before you hit the purchase button or walked into the retail space. Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, by Google’s Jim Lecinski, provides research and insights into this relatively new phenomenon.

Marketing history

Along with the 4Ps of marketing, business schools have taught the value of influencing decisions at the moment of purchase. Companies have invested billions in strategies designed to influence the customer at the moment they are staring at the options for buying a product within a category. That moment has traditionally been defined as the First Moment of Truth (FMOT).

In the history of marketing, sellers have focused a lot of attention on FMOT. Pricing strategies, packaging, shelf-positioning, product variety/mix, couponing, and many other tactics have been deployed to win the customer at that critical juncture. And while FMOT is still important, purchase behavior has shifted, providing marketers additional challenges to convert prospects into customers.

Zero Moment of Truth—ZMOT

The buying decision journey has changed. What was once a message is now a conversation. And for the first time in history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium, available to everyone, all the time.

Between the awareness and purchase phase, people search on-line, read product reviews, use social media to ask opinions, and seek multiple pricing options. Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV.

This April, Google conducted a study of 5,003 customers across 12 categories of products and services. The goal was to show where influence takes place as shoppers move from undecided to decided. Here are a few highlights from that study:

·         Average shoppers used 10.4 sources of information, up from 5.3 in the previous year

·         84 percent  of shoppers report that ZMOT tactics shaped their purchase decisions

·         70 percent  of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase

·         54 percent  comparison-shopped for products online

Given the audience for this publication, you’re probably thinking that this applies to DTC, but does not apply to a healthcare B2B scenario. Wrong: conversations about your product are already going on. Try this:  Google your product name and add “review” to the search query. Your ZMOT is happening on the first 3 pages of your search. Now type your product category and add “best” to your search query. How do you stack up?

Implications for Marketers

The good news is that you can immediately adapt ZMOT marketing strategies and incorporate them into your marketing plan.

7-steps to creating a ZMOT strategy:

1.       Put someone in charge—if no one is in charge, it won’t get done.

2.       Find your ZMOT—understand how people search for your product.

3.       Answer questions people are asking—use Insights for Search or Google Trends for discernment.

4.       Optimize for ZMOT—adjust your content for paid, owned, earned and shared media.

5.       Be fast—speed beats perfection.

6.       Don’t forget video—YouTube is the second-most-used search box in the world.

7.       Jump in—as you probably saw from your search, you’re already in ZMOT.

This complimentary e-book (http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/) provides an excellent overview of an evolution in marketing. I believe this applies to any product or service. It even applies to companies and people.

Good marketing!

Interested in this topic?  Check out this video:

This book review was published in the November issue of PM360.

Marketing Book Review: The Mesh

Looking for a big idea on a business model?  The mesh propositions that some things are better shared than owned.  It’s a model based on access instead of ownership. Its central strategy is to target high cost unused waste, leverage existing infrastructure for communication, customize the offering based on personalized information and build customer loyalty.  Oh, and by the way, it’s better for environment too. 

What is the Mesh?

The mesh describes a type of network that allows any node to link in any direction with any other nodes in the system.  At the heart of this idea is information.  The mesh uses the interconnectivity of social media, leverages existing wireless GPS-enabled networks and builds on analytics from repeated use to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment where and when they need them. 

The poster child for this model is Zipcar.  According to Gansky, on average people only use their cars about 8% of the time, fitting the low usage and high cost criteria.  Zipcar created an easy and efficient way to access cars, instead of owning them.  The value proposition of Zipcar is to provide you a vehicle when you need it in a convenient location.  It differentiates from rental cars on models, parking locations, web enablement, keyless entry and no-hassle waiting lines providing the vehicle you reserved waiting at the specified location.  Zipcar claims that its average user saves $500 a month compared to car ownership.  Beyond financial benefits, it claims less vehicles on the road create a cleaner environment. 

There are 4 characteristics of a mesh business:

  1. The core offering can be shared within a community, market, or value chain – including products, services, and raw materials
  2. Advanced web and mobile data networks used to track and aggregate usage, customer and product information
  3. The focus is on sharable physical goods, including the materials used, which makes local delivery of services and products – and their recovery – valuable and relevant
  4. Offers, news and recommendations are transmitted through word of mouth, augmented by social network services

Why now?

Humans have a long history of sharing as communities.  But Gansky makes the case that the current environment has created the perfect conditions for a Mesh model.  Conditions which are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

Global trends

·         The economic crisis has created a deep distrust of older brands and models

·         Consumers are rethinking what they consider valuable in their lives

·         Climate change is forcing the cost of doing business, including the making and selling of throwaway goods

·         Growing population and greater urbanization create densities that favor mesh businesses

·         Information networks and mobile technology have matured to the point where businesses can provide better and personalized services exactly when needed. 


This book builds on the experience phenomenon that other authors have highlighted.  Where it differentiates is that it challenges common, personal, everyday items – like cars – to be considered from a share perspective.  It echoes what some of our thought leaders are proposing; some of our major industries will be constructed as a service, not a product. 

Good marketing!


Ramiro Roman

This book review was published in PM360 .

Ad Age publishes Marketing 3.0 book review


A personal aspiration is to share through my personal experience the science & art of marketing.  To that end, I have been sharing marketing book reviews with you. 

I love books because I see them as conversations with thoughtleaders in the field.

Ad Age has recently published my book report for Marketing 3.0 in its CMO Strategy section.  I invite you read & comment on this highly visible forum.  Click HERE!

Ramiro Roman

Related video:

Marketing Book Review : Poke the Box by Seth Godin

When was the last time you created something remarkable at work?  In this 83-page manifesto Seth seeks to challenge us all to start now!  This is a book about instigation and innovation, passion and adventure, guts and heart—but ultimately it is about taking action.  Unfortunately, it’s a rousing call we may have heard before…and better…from Godin himself. Poke the Box was entertaining, but it lacked substance. 

Linchpin 2.0

If you loved Godin’s 2010 Linchpin—and a lot of people did, judging from the book sales and social media buzz—you might enjoy Poke the Box.  It expands Linchpin’s themes:  the battle with our inner daemon, the impact of the industrialization age on creativity, and the uniformity of education as a way of ingraining standardization.  But there’s a difference: Linchpin explained Godin’s theory; Poke the Box encourages us to act on it. 

Godin reminds us that the motive force is critical because it’s the most scare resource in organizations. He’s right:  I can walk from my office to the bathroom and bump into 15 MBAs from prestigious universities.  I won’t denigrate their   education and credentials (or my own), but the degree is just a ticket to the game.   The real stars will be those who can accomplish greatness. 

This is a no-brainer.  But does it happen where you work?  Likely not.

The F*** Word

It isn’t so much that people are afraid to risk as they are afraid to FAIL.  No matter how much they praise risk-taking, organizations tend to punish failure, to make examples of people who fall down.  We tend to be judgmental, always looking for things that could go wrong or holes in the story.  Godin is just trying to help us overcome this failing in the way we treat failing when he says, “The purpose of this manifesto is not to magically extinguish your fear.  It’s to call its bluff.”

Poke the Box reminds us that all great successes start with mini-failures.  That success is not a linear pattern.  And, ultimately, that success is a series of events—not an isolated one—and if you never start you’ll never succeed.  It all starts with taking the first step, and then creating your map to guide you and your organization. 

Personal opinion

I still think Godin is brilliant, one of the greatest marketers of all time.  But if you’ve read Linchpin, reading Poke the Box is optional, rather than required.  Seasoned marketers will likely be underwhelmed by the content. For folks straight out of graduate school, though, Godin’s latest book is a worthwhile reminder that you have to snap out of academia.  If your development plan calls for you to risk more, Poke the Box is s a simple read that will reinforce your determination. There are better options, though. 

Overall, I’m disappointed that Godin continues to pursue the leadership angle: there’s a lot of competition in that space, and he doesn’t dominate the way he does when he addresses marketing directly. Seth, I love you man.  You’re a great marketer.  So please stick to what you do better than anyone else and help us move marketing to the next frontier.  Please. 


Ramiro Roman

Published in PM360.  

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Can you consistently and predictably communicate your ideas in a way that impacts your target audience’s behavior? Yes—you can do that, regardless of your natural ability, according to the authors of Made to Stick. Through their six-step SUCCESs recipe, the Heath brothers assure us that we can make any idea more sticky.

Fables, proverbs, parables, and stories have been passed on for thousands of years to billions of people in every culture. Common messages such as “Do unto others as you would want others to treat you” and “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush” have transcended time, communicating the same meaning to generations of people. Yet as marketers, we struggle to communicate our messages in a way that is memorable and actionable.

According to the authors of Made to Stick, the primary reason is because we suffer from the curse of knowledge. At the heart of the curse is a paradox: People who become specialists need a high level of subject matter expertise, but this expertise prevents them from communicating in a simple and powerful way. This curse of knowledge moreover blinds the expert from self-awareness. Try this: Ask the smartest person in your organization to explain to a 7-year-old what he or she does for a living; you’ll likely get answers that will confuse the child and frustrate the expert.

From Cursed to Sticky

Sticky ideas are easily understood, remembered, and ultimately have an impact on your audience’s behavior. For example, think of JFK’s vision of a man on the moon in 10 years. This difficult idea was articulated in a simple yet powerful way. It was inspiring, uniting, and yet concrete and easily transferred. And that’s the good news; sticky ideas can be formulated, even in complex communications.

The book’s recipe for SUCCESs:

1. Simplicity – Become a master of exclusion, and boil down your idea to a simple and profound one-sentence core.

2. Unexpectedness – Surprise your listeners into curiosity and then maintain their interest throughout your communication.

3. Concreteness – Ensure that your idea will mean the same thing to the people in your target audience by explaining it in terms of human actions.

4. Credibility – Help your audience believe by providing authoritative references, relevant statistics, convincing details, or first-hand experiences.

5. Emotions – Provoke emotional value by leveraging associations or appealing to self-interest and group identity.

6. Stories – Inspire your audience to act by providing a simulation of the desired response.

By using the analogy of cooking in this review, I’m implying that while these are key components, the magic happens only when they all come together through the right process. In other words, you don’t just throw all the ingredients into a pot and expect a five-star multi-course meal. At the same time, you don’t cook your favorite meal without the appropriate ingredients.


I first read this book in 2008 when it was honored as one of the Top Ten Books on Innovation by BusinessWeek. It has remained on my reference book shelf ever since. I have found the SUCCESs model a great reminder of what good copy should contain. Beyond copy, I have applied these principles to advertising concepts. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve communication.

Good marketing!



A marketing budget tune-up, as easy as 1, 2, 3

When should you revisit your budget assumptions?

I recommend you do this at each mid-quarter. By that point in time, your quarterly initiatives are well under way, you are financially committed for the remaining of the quarter and you should start turning the corner on the following 90 days. But don’t turn the corner too fast. Strategic planning is critical, but it’s based on a point in time. You might have developed a great plan for 2011 in Q4 of 2010, but you should reassess your assumptions – hence the term “tune-up.”

3-steps to tune-up your marketing budget:

1. First, the environment might have shifted, either allowing you more opportunities or creating new threats. Capitalize on new market opportunities that have arisen since your plan was created. Or minimize your threats, including those prompted by your competition.

2. Second, ensure that all strategically critical initiatives are well funded. Use freed budget from your first step to add fire power to these programs/tactics. Don’t settle for the mediocre, go for the “WOW” factor.

3. Third, by now you may have the right metrics (quantitative or qualitative) to assess whether your programs are working or not. Immediately terminate projects that did not work or are no longer relevant. Also, after doing step 1 and 2, you should compare those needs versus what you had planned and make the tough trade-offs. These actions will free up cash/budget.

NOTE: One thing that always gets over looked in budget discussions is the human effort cost. Following these steps will help you prioritize your efforts and deliver higher quality, simultaneously. Don’t underestimate this, especially if you’re managing people, it’s as important as the financial aspect, if not more important in the long-term.

Try these steps and you’ll keep your marketing budget strategic and flexible!

Good marketing!

5 marketing questions to ask yourself right now!

This week I had the privilege of joining MarketingProfs for the Seth Godin webinar titled 57 Ways to Connect with Your Customers & Get Them to Spread Your Ideas with You.  As I sit back reflecting on the week, I go back to a statement that Seth made – “Marketing is about making promises and keep ‘em.”

Is it that simple? YES! It is both simple & difficult.

This statement has kept ringing in my head and it’s very timely. We just kicked-off Q1 and while our first quarter is fully underway, I find myself cementing the tactical plan for the rest of the year (Q2-Q4). So as I consider future direction, I’m asking myself these questions, based on Seth’s statement:

5 Questions

•  Is the promise clear, relevant & differentiated to the target audience?

•  What vehicles am I executing to make those promises a reality in the client’s view?

•  Will my organization stand behind the brand promise?

•  How much marketing focus do I spend on post-sale client satisfaction?

•  Am I fully leveraging happy clients in case studies, testimonials or referrals?

In all transparency, at this point, I give myself a slightly above average score… but it’s not good enough. The value of Seth’s statement is its simplicity & clarity. However, as marketing practitioners, while doing business planning, negotiating with internal/external stakeholders & just the daily pressures, our clarity can, and often does, become obscured.

So I wanted to post these questions to you with the hope that you benefit from them as well. It’s early on the year. If you’re unsatisfied with your answers, the time to act is now.

Good marketing!


2010 a year in blogging – thank you!


WP: Blog-Health-o-Meter™

HNY!  Thank you for your support and readership of Marketing 4 Marketeers! 

This is a simple post to thank you and give you a brief update of the blog. 

I’ll start qualitatively… blogging rocks!  It’s liberating, exhilarating and difficult to maintain.  I’m never out of topics, just out of time.  Word Press rated this blog “Fresher than Ever.”  I’ve blogged about what I have a passion for and what I’m grateful to spend my waking hours doing – marketing.  If you have not started your own blog… make it a NY’s resolution

One of the underestimated benefits of blogging has been the networking.  People find and read your blogs more than I ever thought.  One benefit has been that I’ve been asked to write marketing book reviews and join the editorial board for PM360, a circulation to ~17,000 marketing subscribers.  That has led to another opportunity and I’m now working with Advertising Age on revamping their “bookstore” where I’ll be writing marketing book reviews.  If you can’t tell by now, I also love books, so reviews are a great extension of that pastime and hopefully a value add for you.

Unfortunately my time seems to be ever lessening.  A happy marriage with 5 kids, a full time job and volunteer activities pull me away from blogging.  When I started to blog I committed to 1 blog/month.  I believe I can sustain that for 2011, especially through my book reviews, but I’m not sure how much beyond that I can produce. 

Now the numbers, from the Word Press 2010 yearly report:


All in all, I’m satisfied with the blog.  I hope you are too.  Give me some feedback: please post your comments or e-mail me at rroman7@gmail.com.

Let’s have a GREAT 2011!

Built to Love by Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan

Can emotions be engineered? “Absolutely! You can engineer products to elicit specific emotions,” said the co-authors of Built to Love: Creating Products that Captivate Customers in my interview with them. As a matter of fact, their book promises a road map to delivering the strategically intended emotions to your target audience. Yet when we think about influencing emotions, we usually rely on advertising or other communication vehicles, often neglecting critical product development considerations. 


Supported Versus Associated

Supported emotions are evoked by the product itself. They are deliberately designed into the product. Think of a Lamborghini—the way it’s manufactured, the body of the car, the standards of the engine, the interior of the vehicle, and, ultimately, the way it seeks to make its driver feel. The authors make the case that the benefits of supported emotions are provoked in each use or experience and can be less expensive and provide longer-term advantage than those of associated emotions.

Associated emotions are manufactured through repeated links with the product. Think of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. Right-on strategy with their current Open Happiness campaign. The authors see these as superficial, manipulative, expensive, and difficult to sustain in comparison with supported emotions.

Statistical Proof for Emotional Strategy

Emotions are not just warm and fuzzy feelings; they can create differentiation, provide price protection, and deliver higher margins. In Built to Love, the authors unveil a 10-year prospective model that measures the ROI of emotion-based companies versus similarly profiled companies. Even after removing outlying companies like Apple, their study proves that emotion-based companies provide an ROI eight times greater than the relevant benchmark. Their conclusion is that an emotion-based strategy is a profitable long-term investment for growth.

A Practical Model 

Built to Love provides a three-step model to engineer emotion-based products:

1.  Determine the appropriate emotions for the product. The book provides 16 emotion categories that serve as a quantitative scorecard for strategic intent and competitive analysis. 

2.  Craft an emotion-based strategy. Synthesize deliberate emotions into your product development strategy.

3.  Translate strategy into emotion-based features. Design critical touch points to stimulate intended emotions and continually meet customers’ needs. 

The book is peppered with case studies on how products from consumer and B2B companies have successfully and profitably executed an emotion-based strategy.


I found the book innovative in its approach linking emotions with product development and profits. I asked the authors what a highly regulated healthcare marketer, who is often relegated to controlling downstream vehicles, can do to impact supported emotions. Their answer was to challenge ourselves to broaden our definition of product, to include services, packaging, adjacent products, and technologies that can support our product emotions. It’s a worthy challenge, since, after all, people buy a product not only because of its function but also because of the way it makes them feel.

Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman

Published in PM360.

Sometimes the sun and moon align : Marketing Innovation

 VG @ GEThis week two events coincided to complement each other.  The first (sun), we had a major market research deliverable that yielded the client insights we needed to finalize our preparation for an upcoming offering launch.  The second (moon), I had the privilege to attend a session by Vijay Govindarajan “VG”, thought leader, author of several publications on innovation, and Professor in The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.  Both coincided nicely to help our team deliver new value to our clients and GE. 


As it relates to the market research project, this quote reaffirmed the approach we executed.  The basic premise here is that you must truly understand client needs, versus attempting to understand how you can sell more of your product.  There is a clear distinction between both and it will produce a significant strategic direction in your market research.

Achieving this decision, as easy as it appears, is more complicated than it sounds.  In this case, three months ago, while in our planning phase, this decision yielded a large discussion with people on both sides of the fence.  Why?:

  1. We live with the pressure to sell what we already have.

  2. We didn’t know if we could execute on the new findings.

  3. There is a general skepticism on whether market research will provide us an answer or it will be limited to that sample group (everyone has exceptions or outliers as examples). 

  4. We thought we knew the answer.

We debated this internally but in the end we made the right decision; we wanted to truly understand client needs, even if we did not have an answer for those needs with our current portfolio.  The end result is that the research, focused on client needs, yielded the information we needed as an organization to attack a $1 billion market.  Yes, sometimes the sun and moon do align. 


If you’re interested in VG’s work, here’s a good blog that explains his 3 Box Model.  Also, here’s a video that encourages us – especially marketers – to execute on innovation, beyond theory. 


Good marketing!

A 5-step Messaging Ladder for a B2B Solution Launch


This week I find myself preparing for a new consulting offering launch.  Over the next couple months, we will be launching into an innovative space.  I have significant product launch experiences, going back to my first launch at J&J in 1997 (Nicotrol Inhaler®). 

A key learning over the years is that while many things are critical in a launch, one challenge that continues to surface is the messaging.

Your go-to-market messaging is critical because it will be the first thing your customers hear about your product.  Like personal introductions, your first :30 seconds will determine how your product is remembered.  Of course, your messaging should always be based on your positioning. 

So, having said that, I find solution launches an even greater challenge than a product launch.  Unlike a product launch, there are no detailed package inserts or mechanical specifications.  A solution, by nature, is custom.  Another challenge is that there is no other solution in the market today that fits into the competitive framework.  These challenges are both threats and opportunities for our messaging.

So I created a messaging ladder specifically for solutions to capitalize on this opportunity.  This is a worthwhile tool in crafting a message for any product, but has a greater application in the services/consulting industry. 

 5-step Messaging Ladder

[in chronological order]

  1. Client Need – the apex of all marketing, what is the true (stated or unstated) need?
  2. Utilize a reference point – if you’re first to market, use well known products/solutions in related categories as references… but quickly focus on your outcomes
  3. Differentiate (unique) – easier said than done, but why will you deliver on the outcomes you’re promising while no one else can
  4. Substantiate your claims – move beyond theory, difficult in a launch, but use pilot, projections, or past experience (team, solution set, tools, etc…)
  5. Why is this urgent now? – The number one barrier in solutions is NO DECISION… your marketing needs to overcome this barrier at launch

I’m finding this a very useful and practical model.  And while I’m sure it’s not perfect, it will get you 80% to success…. The rest is up to you…  thoughts?  Challenges??

 Good marketing!

 Ramiro Roman

The 70% Right Doctrine

Last week a marketing colleague at GE Healthcare was sharing with me that he needs to work on making decisions faster.  He works in the financial division and has been historically known for his analytical ability and robust analysis.  However, recently he has received feedback (via 360) that traditional strengths are being perceived as weaknesses.  In particular, he’s now perceived as being “slow to make decisions” and they question his “flexibility.”  He asked me for my advice.

Here’s what I said:

“One thing I’ve noticed in people who make good and timely decisions is that they look to get it directionally right, without analysis paralysis.  I’ve particularly noticed this at the two start-ups I’ve had the opportunity to market, Centocor and Agility Healthcare.  Their management team had this unsaid, yet living philosophy of getting to 70% accuracy then acting on the decision.”

Their philosophy is basically that if you get something 70% right, it’s good enough.  Why?

5 Reasons to Adopt the 70% Right Doctrine


  1.  No one really has the time or the resources to get decisions 100% right.  Ever.  
  2. Every decision is a point in time with certain parameters (competition, market forces, client expectations, etc.) constantly shifting.  So, all decisions, at some level, are outdated the longer you work on them.  Therefore learn to make decisions that are directionally right, faster. 
  3. Because of No. 2, all decisions require some modifications at execution.  Meaning that final time to execution will always be adjusted anyway.  So, if you know your decision is directionally right and some modifications will be needed, live with the ambiguity and adjust for it, faster.
  4. Being first, even if 70% right, is better than being 100% right and second – most of the time.  Entrepreneurs know this and live by this doctrine.  This is widely recognized as the first mover advantage.
  5. There are inherent advantages to first movers.  According to Wiki , first movers can capitalize on 3 primary areas:

A.       Technological leadership.

B.       Preemption of scares resources.

C.        Switching costs and buyer choice under uncertainty. 



There are clearly pluses and minuses to this doctrine.  But, I propose that for MOST of us, we do not need to obsess on getting to 100% accuracy on everything.  Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, refers to such people as perfectionists who never “ship” the product in their endless pursuit of needless incremental improvements.  My colleague Joe (@jcamaratta) refers to this as “chainsaw accuracy.”

What we do in marketing is not “rocket science,” as sophisticated as it can be.  Consider adopting the 70% Doctrine!


Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman

Assessing customer service at its weakest point: United Vs. SPG on customer service


There are many ways to assess customer service.  One way that I recently experienced is by trying to procure “free” or “awarded” travel and lodging.  I wanted to blog about this because I thought “free” was a good measurement of how companies would treat their non-paying customers.  My theory is that service can be gauged by its potentially weakest link. 

A personal case study

A week ago, I was presented the opportunity to attend the PM360 2010 Trailblazer Awards in Manhattan, NY.  As a member of PM360’s Editorial Board, I was happy to accept this invitation to witness marketing excellence and network with a selective group of people. Unfortunately for me, my budget was tight after two family vacations this year.  So I decided to use award travel to fund my needs. 

I turned to United because I have been a customer since 1992.  I don’t use them exclusively, but over the 18 years I have accumulated over 400,000 miles.  I earned a “Free Travel Voucher” from them, with a 1-year expiration date back in February, so I wanted to leverage that voucher. 

Here’s a summary of my experience with United:

  • Could not book free travel via web directly
  • The website did not have a specific phone number for “free” travel, so I called the general number
  • Spent 20 minutes through a voice recognition system, asking me what dates and times, only to frustrate me and I eventually punched the “0”… after asking me if I wanted to participate in a survey, which I answer “no” I was routed somewhere and there was radio silence for 3-4 minutes after which I hung up [reflecting back on this, it’s sad that this voice recognition is how they treat their paying customers… yikes!]
  • Re-dialed the general 800#, immediately pressed “0,” got live operator who did not have access to my United.com information (acct number, address, e-mail, etc.)
  • The operator was difficult to understand, I had to repeat the spelling of my name 4 times (I know my name is hard to spell) and my address a couple times
  • She did book a flight, but told me I had to get “ticketed.”   I was given 2 options
    • 1) drive to the nearest airport within the next 24 hours and waste 2 hours of my life  or
    • 2) mail in the voucher along with all other information to a PO Box.  I chose option 2 and was told it would take 2-3 weeks for me to receive my ticket. 


Words to describe my brand experience are: Bureaucracy, confusing, uncoordinated, staunchly, anxious (to get my ticket). 

What disappointed me most is the fact that they did not have my profile on line… it really made the experience so 1980.  I hope the United/Continental merger brings flyers better service. 

For lodging, I happen to have joined the SPG hotel program this June.  At the time they had a promotion where I earned a free night.  The hotel where I stayed was priced at $129/night.  I only stayed 3 nights in their franchise. 

Here’s a summary of my experience with SPG:

  • Could not book via web directly, but that’s where the similarities ended
  • The website offered a 1-800# exclusively for awarded lodging
  • Live operator answered within 45 seconds
  • Her timeliness caught me by surprise and I did not have all the pertinent information… she hand-held me through the process, searching for the best location in Manhattan
  • Within 2 minutes she landed me a reservation at Le Parker Meridien New York, which starts at $429/night!  I couldn’t believe it…. I was expecting to staying in NJ in a hotel similar to the price I paid… this completely “wow-ed” me
  • Then, she quickly accessed my SPG.com profile, did not have to identify myself beyond a pass word
  • E-mailed me the confirmation while I was still on the phone
  • She was courteous, easy to understand, used customer friendly tones and words (i.e. you are very welcome).


Words to describe the experience: Delighted, positively surprised, progressive, welcomed.


So what does this have to do with marketing?


EVERYTHING.  This is not a rant or a whine; eventually I received what I was looking for, more than anything I’m attempting to communicate marketing take-a-ways from my experience.  The experience we feel as consumers reflects the brand positioning.  Even in areas where customers are not “purchasing,” we should be mindful of our communications.  As a matter of fact, I hereby propose that we should measure our service brand promise at the seemly weakest points.  If it can pass the brand position test at those perceived weak areas, it stands the strength of the brand. 

Here’s a test, in your company and for your brand try the “returns” or “free give away” or even “discontinue” departments, your experience will tell you just what communications you are sending to your valued customers.

Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman


BOOK REVIEW : The Next Evolution of Marketing

Why do you work in healthcare marketing? Meaning. If you’re like me, you believe the work you do matters at a very high level because it ultimately improves human healthcare. The products or services you market either literally touch patients’ lives or are one degree away from doing so.

Yet in an exchange I had with author Bob Gilbreath, a P&G vet and author, he appropriately reminds me that “trust in many healthcare companies, particularly pharma companies, continues to decline and has about the same trust levels as the tobacco and oil industries.”  He’s right. Much of this distrust is due to our marketing strategies and tactics. This is why I found the concept of marketing with meaning in his book The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning refreshingly innovative, customer centric, and purposeful to me as practicing marketer.

Marketing with Meaning

His book, an Ad Age top 10 for 2009, challenges us to move away from talking at customers through traditional marketing tactics, like TV advertising, e-mail blasts, and sell sheets. It classifies these tactics as interruptive, self-serving, and ultimately ineffective.

Marketing with meaning attracts customer participation by providing unique and personally valuable benefits. It aims to educate, inspire, and earn credibility, rather than promote—pull versus push. It’s marketing that people chose, want, and even seek to engage with. The book’s primary premise is that our marketing, itself, can directly improve customers’ lives and in return improve our business outcomes.

The Hierarchy of Meaningful Marketing

To create personally valuable marketing, you have to deeply understand your target audience. Bob aligns his marketing model with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a way to uncover unmet needs and desires. The model is a pyramid with three phases:

1) Solution marketing: provide valuable information, incentives, and services, for example, how-to education, samples, and coupons.

2) Connection marketing: create value-added experiences that customers can share with others, for instance, contests, viral entertainment, and community building.

3) Achievement marketing: help customers improve themselves, their families, and the world, for example, linking your product to a relevant social cause, teaching a skill, and improving their health beyond the use of a product.

When you elevate your marketing within your target audience into the higher marketing phases, customers will seek to engage with your brand. Meaningful engagement will lead to product differentiation, price protection, and long-term loyalty. Ultimately, it will lead to better business outcomes.

From Concept to Implementation

Once you settle on a strategy, there are hundreds of examples, case studies, and ideas peppered in this book that can help you brainstorm. In my dialogue with the author, he cited three recent healthcare best practices: “Bayer partnered with Nintendo to create a video game that helps kids with diabetes learn how to test their blood sugar regularly. Also in the diabetes category, Sanofi-Aventis created an iPhone app called GoMeals that helps people manage their diet. And last year, Pfizer created a program that provides free prescriptions to people who lost their jobs due to the economy.”

The book gets into detail on how to implement this type of marketing with metrics, objectives, and processes. For more information, you can download a free iPhone app in Bob’s blog (marketingwithmeaning.com) that has links to over 500 examples. You can also view a video presentation at Authors@Google.

I recommend this book to marketers who are looking for new ideas to drive business by better serving their target audience. The concept, if executed, can also help you live a more fulfilling career. In our way, as marketers, it serves as a reminder that through our work we can better our world.

Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman

Published in PM360

Maximizing marketing effectiveness through Change Acceleration Process (CAP)

Last week I found myself at the GE Healthcare Institute listening to a lecture on CAP.  We were privileged to have an adjunct professor from the John F. Welch Leadership Development Center.  General Electric (GE) is the creator of CAP, which is defined by the Harvard Business Review as “a process the equips leaders with a proven method of managing change and prepares them to succeed as change agents.”

If you’re in commercial marketing and are responsible for planning and executing strategic programs, then I’d argue that you should be an excellent change agent.  It’s not enough to be the “smartest” or “most strategic.”  Leave that for the academics.  We marketeers, who make a living out of our profession, need to increase the probability of success of all our programs.  CAP provides a model to achieve this end.

Why do marketing programs succeed or fail?

As I look back over the 18-years of commercial experience, the marketing programs that have worked out were well executed, by design.  The others that have been sub-optimal were because they did not have the appropriate organizational – people – support.  Top of mind on my list of “wish I could take that back” are:

  • New segmentation models that failed to materialize past the binder that was handed out.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation with very little adherence to reporting.
  • Pricing strategies contingent on customer type, which had no governance. 
  • A joint venture with a dual sales distribution plans that were not aligned on incentives. 
  • The list can unfortunately go on, and on…


As I reflect on these, I realize that people issues are the biggest challenge through the execution phasePeople naturally resist change.  When we attempt to roll out new programs to our teams (direct reports, sales, operations, compensation, etc.) we are faced with the same human resistance.  As marketers, we must plan for success with this background in mind.  Only then will our programs have an opportunity to be executed or even stand a chance of delivering on our objectives.

The CAP model can help

CAP is a handy tool that can be applied to any change we seek to implement.  As a marketer, I should see all my initiatives as change, particularly large programs, because at the core of it I am seeking a group of people to embrace, support and respond to the marketing programs.

Keep these 7 CAP phases in mind as you’re planning your next marketing program:

  1. Find leaders for the change.  Have a program sponsor/champion and the right team members who demonstrate visible, active, public commitment and support of the change.  People who walk the talk.
  2. Create a stakeholder-shared need.  A compelling reason to change, whether motivated by threat or opportunity, is instilled within the organization and widely shared through data, demonstration or demand.  Stakeholders need to be part of the need creation, no one likes to be told what to do, they want to be part of the solution – capitalize on this.    
  3. Create and communicate a vision, with input from stakeholders, early on the process.  The desired outcome of change is clear, legitimate, widely understood.  Outline your behavioral expectations for all stakeholders – define success in behavioral terms. 
  4. Mobilize commitment, down to the lowest levels.  Demand a strong commitment from constituents to invest in change, make it work, and provide the appropriate senior management attention.  Constituents commit to change and new standards.
  5. Help to make the change last.  Provide communication vehicles for change and learnings to be transferred throughout the organization.  Early wins are publicized to build momentum for the change.
  6. Monitor the progress.  Progress is benchmarked and realized.  Create relevant metrics by stakeholders to ensure accountability.
  7. Changing the systems and structures.  Making sure that the management practices (staffing, development, rewards, measures, communication, organizational design, IT, etc…) are used to complement and reinforce change.  


Utilize these steps as guides.  CAP is a way of leading, not just a simple list.  Your success will largely depend on your planning of the change and how you move your projects through these phases.  Try it!  I guarantee you more success!!!

Ramiro Roman

LinkedIn: www.Linkedin.com/in/RamiroRoman

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ramiroroman

Blog:  https://marketing4marketeers.wordpress.com/

Authored articles: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Ramiro_Roman

YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/RamiroARoman

3 Principles in the C.A.S.E. for Authenticity

  “To thine own self be true”

– William Shakespeare

Last week I wrote about the workshop presented by Professor Gareth Jones, a Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School.  The article has received high attention from readers and a high click-through rate in social media vehicles, so I wanted to follow-up with one more aspect of the Community, Authenticity, Significance, and Excitement (C.A.S.E.) leadership framework.

While the whole model is valuable and synergistic, I found the “Authenticity” portion the most refreshing.

What does a leader look like?

You have an image of that perfect being.  Deep inside you’ve been programmed with this stereotype.  Admit it to yourself.

However, the research Professor Jones and his partner, Dr. Rob Goffe, Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, prove that all models of leadership eventually become extinct – therefore wrong.

Credibility and Trust

Think about the best bosses you’ve had in your career.  If you’re like me, these people have a diverse skill set and background.  Yet, what they have in common is that they earned my trust.  That is no different than what your followers expect from your leadership.  Whether you face it or chose to ignore it, YOU ARE A LEADER.  The question then becomes how you exert your leadership.  If you want to be successful, like those bosses you recalled, then you need to earn the trust of your team.

People only follow people who they trust and believe.  Volumes of research validate this.  In order for people to believe you, you have to be yourself.  Period.  The moment you fake your actions your followers will see through you and disengage.  This is why in spite of the organizational expectations or pressures you must remain true to yourself.

Professors Jones, in his workshop, provided 3 Principles to remain authentic:

  1. Consistency between words and actions – do what you say you’re going to do, all the time.
  2. Provide a common thread in your role performance – be consistent in your behavior, weaknesses and strengths.
  3. Be comfortable with your origins – remain true to your roots and whole persona.

At first read, these 3 Principles seem extremely simplistic.   And they are, but ask yourself “how many leaders do I see living these 3 Principles consistently”?  The answer is obvious – the simplistic is rather difficult, especially over time.

 WIFM (what’s in it for me)

Beyond the business aspect of being better leaders, following this advice keeps you closer to your core values.  I’m dumbfounded by people who say “I’m this way at home and that way work” – to me, with all due respect, it seems hypocritical and burdensome to try to be two different persons.  By being yourself at home and at work, you will not only be a more effective leader, you will find yourself happier altogether.

Ramiro Roman


Expand your marketing skills through C.A.S.E. leadership

Paris France, July 2010

Last week I found myself in in Paris listening to Professor Gareth Jones when he made a statement that struck me as lightning… “over time, your technical competencies WILL DECLINE.  You must get things done through people.”

The thought, realization and digestion of the fact that at some point in my career, I will decline technically is frightening to me.  I realize that I don’t do everything well.  But one thing that I obsessively work on is my marketing technical knowledge.  Why?  Because I’m a practitioner – that is I make a living out of my marketing skills.

To be the best marketer I can possibly be, I proactively seek to relentlessly improve my skills.  I devour new books, participate in industry forums and follow thought leaders with the intent to raise my performance level.  Yet, deep in my heart, I know that Professor Jones’ statement is true.  It’s probably happening already whether, I’m willing to face it or not. 

Expand Your Marketing Leadership


After walking off the ledge, I can face the statement with a renewed confidence.  Yes, my technical skills may decline – though I will tirelessly work to remain relevant.  And yes, others will come along who surely will outperform me.  But the key is to achieve excellence through people.

I happen to directly manage a very talented team so by position I’m a leader.  But you don’t need direct reports to lead.  Professor Jones defines a follower as anyone you need to excite to exceptional performance.  It may be your agency, your peers or your management.  We all have followers who, when leveraged, can raise our performance to higher standards.  I use the word leverage in the context of collaboration, synergies, and interdependent relationships.

The objective is to unleash incredible value through others, regardless of your technical competencies.  This type of ‘know-how’ unlike technical ability, gets better with time and experience.  Therefore, for a bread-winning marketer like me, it’s the way to stay on top of the performance game, in spite of future skill deterioration.

The C.A.S.E. Leadership Framework


To excite others to exceptional performance you have to meet your follower’s needs.  Professor Jones has combined his body of professional knowledge, both in the private sector and academia to provide a workable framework.


  1. Community – build a purpose to belong and provide the social context for meaningful connections.
  2. Authenticity – be who you are, genuinely.  Capitalize on your strengths and be open about your areas of development.
  3. Significance – feedback, recognition and celebrations are key to your followers.
  4. Excitement –  be a model for energy, enthusiasm and passion, but all within your authentic capability.


The theory is that working through this framework you can excite others to exceptional performance.  The acid test to for leaders is the question: why should others be led by you?  You can download a free copy of the original article from Harvard Business Review.

I believe Professor Jones is right on, whether you’re new on the job or experienced.  Getting work done by inspiring others is much more powerful than relying on your technical skills – combining both is optimal.  C.A.S.E. provides a framework for me, even as an eighteen year veteran, to  remain on top of my performance, even if my skills deteriorate.

Good marketing!


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