Tag Archives: 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.



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.

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.

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/

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“Blue Ocean Strategy” Principles in Marketing

This week I was asked to give a presentation to a group of marketing managers at one of the divisions in GE Healthcare.  As part of the presentation, I referred back to Blue Ocean Strategy, principles that were made popular by the Harvard Business Review article.  The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more applications it I see it has for us in marketing in today’s environment.

A slow, jobless recovery

If you watch the popular news, you’ll hear that things are getting much better.  The DOW is @11,000, there is no more talk of recession and at least for now it seems that we’re up from the bottom.  Still, companies are hoarding tons of cash in their balance sheets.  Credit remains difficult for customers to obtain.  Boards remain skeptical and investments are slow.

 The new economy reset, characterized by conservative financial management, continues to hinder B2Bs and especially premium products.  Yet, we’ve had recent success with our blue ocean strategy.

The Blue Ocean Challenge

The principles in this landmark publication ask us to re-think our business, create new value propositions and redefine markets/offerings.  In doing this right, competition becomes less relevant in comparison.  Commoditization of goods and services may be bypassed or at least delayed.  Also, as long as there’s product/service excellence, first mover advantage can be harvested through value chains that further accentuate differentiation. 

Chicago Theater 12/09

The traditional example of is what Cirque du Soleil has done by transforming the circus big tent into a theatrical experience.  This past winter I took my wife to her first Cirque experience and she was blown away!  In the Chicago Theater, seating in $120 seats, we absorbed in awe the world-class entertainment (gymnastics, music, comedy, theatrics, etc…).  This is nothing like the circus experience I new as a kid (cheesy clowns, bad smells, crowded seats, etc…).  They have truly redefined the space.  And they have done so very profitably.

 How can you redefine your market?

Considerations for marketeers

We’ve been applying many of these principles within our current product portfolio over the last few years.  Recently we’ve been substantially rewarded for our “innovative” approach through historically large contracts.  For confidential reasons, I cannot disclose any details.  But I want to share the principles I’ve learned from a marketing perspective over the last 3 years:

  1. Build on market-centric adjacent markets, which expand your core capabilities.

  2. Think partnerships, to expedite time to market and product excellence.

  3. Play in financially lucrative markets, where even mild success will yield significant revenue & profitability.

  4. Avoid “nay-sayers” once you set your strategy.

  5. Fail fast, learn and get up again & again & again. 

 As marketers, our job is to meet or exceed target customer needs.  Many times those needs are unsaid or unexplored.  Seriously think about redefining your space and consider blue ocean strategy in your current product/service.

 Good marketing!


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