Category Archives: Marketing strategy

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.



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.

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

Authenticity Is Key to Good Leadership

Leadership styles become fads that come and go.

Two months ago, I was asked to give a 45-minute presentation to 125 aspiring leaders at General Electric. As I prepared for the talk, I thought about the most important leadership lessons I had learned over the last twenty years. One of the most important lessons, and now a pillar of my leadership philosophy, is to be authentic. 

I sheepishly have to admit that this was not always the case. Early in my career I developed a misguided belief that I could be someone different at home than at work. This is not uncommon and often a symptom of early career maturity.  Eventually I found this exhausting, inconsistent and deceitful. 

Why Should Anyone Be Led By YouIn “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?” Drs. Gareth Jones and his partner Rob Goffe present their findings on leadership from research they conducted over 25 years. Their conclusion is that eventually all leadership styles become fads and are unsustainable. Their solution is that the individual leaders must be themselves – authentic. 

3 Principles of Authenticity

Drs. Jones & Goffe invite us to be more ourselves, but with skill.  Here are general guidelines to help us get started:

  1. Consistency between words and actions: Do what you say you’re going to do, all the time.  Trust is delicate. It takes repetition to build, but only one move to destroy it. This is a good reason why you cannot be two personalities—one at work and one at home—because eventually the inconsistencies materialize according to your nature. 
  2. Provide a common thread in your role performance: Be consistent in your behavior, weaknesses and strengths. Unlike other leadership books, “Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?” encourages us to be vulnerable with our weaknesses, as long as they are not detrimental. Use common sense; be practically truthful, mindful that being authentic does not mean you share all your character defects. Yet, stay humble enough to let others see that you too are in a development path and do not have all the answers. 
  3. Be comfortable with your origins: Remain true to your roots and whole persona.  We are all unique human beings, with our own life stories. Even if you had alternative beginnings than what you perceive to be the mainstream, be open about those. Being transparent will help people connect with you at a deeper level. 

Application of the Book

At first blush, you may dismiss the book’s insight as a “no-brainer.” On the surface the concept is simple.  But its simplicity, like a simple diet, is only realized by living it out every day. 

Today, I find myself extremely transparent at work and consistent with my character at home.  I’m comfortable with the non-duplicity this affords me. I believe that this has also helped me in my career, managing large, matrix and remote teams. It’s also helped me live a more fulfilling live, in and out of work. 

This book review will be published in the May 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

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

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 ( 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.