Become a Brand Manager


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Introductory thinking to what you need to do to be successful in marketing.

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Become a Brand Manager

  1. 1. 1Hit the Deadlines: Don’t Look Out of Control. Everything Can use Process: It should enable us,We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile not hinder us.on each other. A good process can force your thinking towards a solution. If it restricts your thinking, it’s not a goodKnow Your Business: process. But if it means, you free up your time forDon’t Get Caught Off-Guard. strategic thinking, instead of format thinking, we’llMake sure you are asking the questions and carrying move much faster.forward the knowledge. Continuous Ideas: We Implement 1 in 100 ideasOpen Communication: No Surprises. we have.Make sure you keep your team informed There is a need for more ideas so the ideas weand involved. implement are the best we have. Never be afraid of an idea, always be willing to say “what a crap idea”.Control Our Destiny: We run the brands, theydo not run us. Regular Feedback for Growth: That’s the only wayWhen we don’t know something, we speak in we get “asking way”, but when we know, we speak in I will give you as much honest feedback as I can.a “telling way”. While it’s crucial that we seek to The challenge is that I’d like as much back as I giveunderstand, it’s equally important that we know our you—what you have to say is important to me, androle as leaders is to give direction or push towards can be one of my best sources for growth.the end path.Let’s Celebrate Our Wins: Love What You Do.These are tough jobs. It has to be the passion forwhat we do that keeps us going.MARKETING How we need to Show Up: High Performance TeamWHAT SUCCESSLOOKS LIKEMy belief is that good marketers 1) get what they Keep it Simpleneed, and 2) that what they need is the right thing I’ve always said, “If you have a complex answer toto do. Bad marketers fail on 1 or 2. something, odds are you are wrong”. Keep it simple enough to explain, and so that the people who needThe Need For Speed to execute our ideas understand and can reallyWe don’t do things fast for the sake of it; we do execute them.things fast so we can take advantage of opportunitiesthat have a window. Also, doing things fast Focus on the top 3 things that matter…likely onlydoes not mean sloppy as we all need to hit our you care about the 4th. Speak in terms of “tellingcommitment deadlines. stories” that are built on facts.
  2. 2. 2Follow Your Instincts. Put it to the test: think about it 19 times, test itListen to your inner thoughts: too many times out, see if you can stretch it or move it…see whatpeople fail because “they went along with it”. I still it looks like in concept…ask around to see whathave to catch myself to think about it 19 times so I people think. It may still fail, but at least you’ve takencan make sure we are doing what is right. The less it on the let slip through, the better you’ll be. In terms of pressure points, ambiguity and pressureYou Run the Brand, Don’t Let the Brand Run You. usually work against each other. What I have foundBe thoroughly organized, well planned ahead, and is the longer I can stay in the “ambiguity zone” theknow the pulse of your business. The more planning better the ideas get—whether it’s the time pressureyou do, the more agile you’ll be because you’ll know that forces our thinking to be simpler or whetherwhen it’s ok to “go off plan”. it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for our best idea…I always say, the longer I can hold myYou must be the champion of the brand. The best breath, the better the work gets.ideas are those that erupt out from the brand team.You have to be a self-starter that pushes your idea Find Your Brand’s Strategic Pathway.through the system even in the face of resistance Every brand operates under a different businessor doubt. model—the pathway to success is different every time.Innovation = Fundamentals + Magic. • Reactine has a low cost of goods, lowerIf you only have one, you’ll fail. A good strategy trial rate and high product satisfaction.not executed with magic is boring and will never • LPP has a high trial, high novelty and belowconnect to the consumer. A great idea built on the category norm on frequency.wrong strategy won’t move the business. • LMW has high awareness, low usage frequency but its clinical success is partStrategies should be well thought out and kept of a routine.simple enough to be executed. The executionshould be thought of as an expression of Once you find the convergence of thethe strategy. pathway, nailing the strategy becomes easy. For Reactine, it’s about trial, for LPP it’s about frequency,Revel in Ambiguity. for LMW it is about connecting to the routine. TheNever be afraid of an idea—and never kill it quickly. test is whether you can then focus all your ideas towards that.StrategicThinkingWe get fixated on trying to do everything, but payback for the minimal effort. In fact, strategy itselfone simple test is to measure it against size is big win against a small focused investment.and degree of difficulty. It’s a simple return oneffort equation. The small easy wins are great to do, but don’t really make the deck. We should just do those on a dayWe want big and easy ideas. That’s the most to day basis.
  3. 3. 3 ORAL CARE AND NRT Strategic ThinkingIf it’s a big win, you start Bigto explore how, and you run intoroadblocks or complexities, that’swhere innovation can really help Explore Big Other Winyou to find new simpler ways. WaysDon’t throw the idea out, just finda new way to get there.On small difficult ideas, stop doingthem immediately. Don’t Just Do It Do It!Sometimes in marketing, we thinkthat strategy means more thenexecution. The problem is that if Smalla good strategy is not executed to Difficult Easyperfection, you’re rolling the dice Strategicon your results. PlanningIf we have great thinking followed byequally great execution, we’ll always Greatwin big. Random ExecutionalEven if your thinking is ok, if you Results Excellencehave great execution…we’ll likelysee steady results.Obviously, ok thinking and okexecution is not the place we OKwant to be. This is where we Failure Resultsmeet failure. We won’t bein business very long. OKThe one I want to focus on is “great OK Greatthinking, but only ok execution”.Here the problem is that theresults become randomized. If we miss deadlines, We need to put as much attention into ourhave poor quality in our executions or don’t match execution as we do with our strategic thinking.up the strategy and executions, we run the risk ofnot getting the results we expected and we won’tknow why. Even worse, we’ll course correct bychanging our strategy.
  4. 4. 4EXECUTION: What we go throughToo many times, wehave a nagging feelingbecause 1 of these GUT Instincts4 is not lined up.You’re job is to finda way to listen to theoutlier and then seeif you can fix it. HEART Emotional YOU BRAIN LogicIf your gut says it’soff, it likely is..and youjust can’t see straight.Listen to your gut. BRAND StrategyIf you don’t loveit, will you fight forit’s life? Will you put everything you have into it? If it’s off strategy, then you’ll be taking a breakNot likely. from the pathway to your longer term vision. It becomes a short term go for it, and a longer termIf it’s not the logical move, trust me, before it gets course correct back on strategy.approved, someone else will see that logic flaw,and it’s likely senior management.
  5. 5. 5ASSOCIATEBRAND MANAGERSUCCESS1. ANALYTICAL STORY There are 5 key areas you should focus on:TELLING A great ABM is able to tell stories, where others just see dataThere is tons of data all over—share results, tracking, Never give a data point without a story or action.test scores, etc. One of the most critical skill an ABM You risk letting someone else take your data andcan work on is developing stories with the data. It’s run with it. Never fear bad data, as long as you haveone thing to have the data point, but another to an action plan. Never twist the data to tell a story,have thought it through and know what it means, because if it’s challenged, the whole story crumblesand what action you will take on this data. with it.When you come across data, the best thing you This skill is one that you carry with you as you movecan do is look for patterns or data breaks, try to upwards in marketing. In fact, the more practice youtwist the data in different ways to see if you keep have, the faster you’ll become.getting the same story, ask questions to find backup, start putting together stories and challengethe stories.2. BE PRO-ACTIVEA great ABM takes action and moves before being askedMost of the projects are already set for an ABM, so even new ways of seeing things. You need to pushmany times, it’s comfortable to wait, ask the right your ideas into the system.questions and proceed. That’s good for learning, buta bit too cautious. While it’s still key to communicate to the right stakeholders, you should be pushing your ideasSome of the best ideas come with a fresh set of into the system, which almost creates new projects.eyes. We need a continual influx of new ideas and Don’t get into the mode of waiting or figuring that’s not within your job scope.3. MAKEIT HAPPENA great ABM can get what they wantIt’s obvious that project management is a big part to make it happen, faster, bigger and better.of being an ABM. But, instead of just functionallymanaging the steps of the project, you need In terms of speed, you need to understand what are
  6. 6. 6the important milestones that need to be hit. Always factor, and make it have a bigger impact then wasthink in terms of key bottle necks. Bottle necks are expected. Better means you have to take the samesimply the task that has the longest completion time, people and get them to give their best ideas or theirwhich then impacts the entire project. If you let this best effort or their best work.slip, the entire project slips. This has to be managedin detail, but also many times with an inflexible fist to Guaranteed you will meet many points of resistance.getting it done. Bigger means you want to do more Every project will. Solving these and still getting thethen is required. Make the work zing, find the wow most you can, is the separation of good from great.4. CONTRIBUTESTRATEGICALLYA great ABM puts their strategic thoughts forwardAll great ideas must flow upwards. Most people and represent your thinking. Standing up for yourtend to think they are “strategic”…and they tell me thoughts shows that you are in the game, that youthat all the time. After all these years, I’m still not are thinking, and that you believe in your strategiceven sure what that means. But I do know there is thoughts. If you don’t stand up for your thoughts,a big difference between thinking strategically, and then it doesn’t really matter does it?contributing strategically. Also, it’s so easy to get lost in the daily executions,You need to be in the frame to challenge thinking, but you have to be constantly thinking. Keepingwhether it comes from your agency, cross functional things aligned to the strategic is just as important aspeers or me. It’s important that you speak up being strategic.5. ACCOUNTABILITYA great ABM is accountable in the ownership of their workAccountability is the stepping stone to ownership. You have to be action oriented, and solution focused.And ownership is what being a Brand Manager is You can never allow your team to get stuck. Theyall about. will be looking to you for the ingenuity to help solve the problem.You cannot let things slip or miss. Many times, thedevil is in the details. You have to stay on top of the Maintain the composure, ask questions and learn totimelines and lead those on your project teams. If revel in the have to step in, and work hand in hand with anexpert then jump in. You have to be the hub of communication to all team members, and to key stakeholders, including upwards.
  7. 7. 7BRANDMANAGERSUCCESS There are 5 key areas you should focus on:1. OWNERSHIP A great BM takes ownership of the brandI’ve seen many BMs struggle with the transition from to be looking to you for the answers. They’ll bebeing a helper to being the owner. As you move recommending you’ll be deciding.into the job, you have to get away the idea of havingsomeone hand you a project list. Not only do you When managing upwards be careful of askinghave to make the project list, you have to come questions—try to stick to solutions. “I think weup with the strategies from which the projects fall should build a big bridge” instead of “any ideas forout of. how we can get over the water”. You just gave up your ownership. I’d rather have you tell meA good owner talks in ideas in a telling sense, what you want to do, and we debate from there,rather then an asking sense. It’s great to be asking rather then you ask me what we should do. I’ll bequestions as feelers, but realize that most are going better able to judge your logic, your passion and your vision.2. STRATEGICDIRECTIONA great BM provides the vision & strategies to match up toVision is sometimes a hard thing to articulate. It’s The communication of strategy is a key skill. Learnsometimes easy to see times when there is a lack of to talk in strategic stories that can frame yourvision. You have to let everyone know where you direction. Learn to think in terms of pillars—whichwant to go. The strategy that matches becomes the forces your hand around 3 different areas to helproad map for how to get there. achieve your strategy. Having pillars constantly grounds you back in your strategy, and is an easy wayAs the brand owner, you become the steward for communicating with the various functions—theyof the vision and strategy. Everything that is off may only have 1 pillar that matters, but seeing thestrategy has to be rejected and your role is to other parts makes them feel as though their workfind ways to steer them back on track. It’s easy is worth get side-tracked by exciting programs or coolideas, but if they are off-strategy the excitement hasto end.
  8. 8. 83. MANAGINGOTHERSA great BM spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can beIf you make your ABM better, then it reflects back stuff. But if the ABM job is a learning position,on you. Too many brand managers struggle to shift then you have to provide areas for improvement.from “do-er” to “coach. They think they can do it Intuitively, you’d think the BM/ABM relationshipfaster, so they may as well do it. They think their would be constant “negative feedback”, but I see tooABM will learn the hard way, just like they did. They many BMs afraid of going “negative”. My question is,struggle to share the spot light, so it becomes hard that if you were coaching a gymnast and their “toesto showcase the ABM. weren’t straight, wouldn’t they want to know?” Then why are you not working on a relationship whereThe work of your ABM reflects 100% of who you can get to that are. This challenge forces your hand onhelping to develop your ABM. Sometimes it Share them better ways for doing things—whichcan feel more motivating to just talk the positive you have learned. Spend some time teaching from your experience.4. WORKINGTHE SYSTEM A great BM gets what they needThe organization is filled with groups, layers, external communication becomes key—you can’t let missedagencies, with everyone carrying a different set of communications cause angst or concerns.goals and motivations. Also, its crucial that you get the best from everyone.Working the system entails taking what you have I have found it useful upfront to ask people for theirlearned about ownership one step further. You best. It’s a strange step, but I have found it useful.understand the organizational components, If you really have someone that’s good, you knowand then you go get what you need. Again they’ll respond to this. The good news is that only 0.1% of people ask them, so it’s not like they’ve5. DEALING WITH heard it that many times.PRESSURE A great BM handles pressure with grace, but also fireThere are a few key types of pressure: 1) dealing to course correct, rather then continuing to repeatwith ambiguity 2) the results aren’t coming in how and repeat and repeat.we hoped 3) personal pressure of a relationship 4)time pressure of a crunched project. Relationships. I’m still learning. But be pro-active in making the first move. Try to figure out whatAmbiguity is one of the hardest. This is where motivates as well as what annoys them. Most times,patience and composure come into play as you the common ground is not that far away.sort through the issues. The consequences of notremaining composed is likely a bad decision. Time Pressure. It’s similar to the ambiguity. Be organized, disciplined and work the system so itIf the results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. doesn’t get in your way. Be calm, so you continueReach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to make the right decisions.