Wednesday, September 19, 2012


EnCourse Connect: HOW SMALL BUSINESSES REMAIN SMALL: 6 WAYS TO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT Often small businesses have trouble growing or surviving. If they do manage, often they get stuck ...

Monday, September 17, 2012



A CMO is part of the executive team and leads the entire marketing operation. This includes advertising, brand awareness, brand communication including public relations and analytics. However, there is a shift and that is a return to the 4 principals of marketing or the 4 P’s.  In my opinion this is long over-due (anchored in sound strategy) and a shift I look forward to seeing the future unfold in this area.


Recently good friend or mine and President of the American Marketing Association, Craig Lund was interviewed on the future of marketing and marketers, notably CMO’s . There were several points which I liked and would like to share:

  • Today’s CMO is expected to know it all which is a tall order and one which needs to be defined carefully and aligned to primary accountabilities (vs.responsibilities)
  • There is a trend back to establishing a sound strategy that is integrated across platforms so that consumers are engaged in a way that is relevant and rewarding
  • An ROI can be clearly and definitively measured.  There are a glut of measurement tools and what is needed is a Dashboard where ROI measurement can be consolidated
  • Experience in understanding the difference between strategy channel tactics is critical
  •  A CMO is often pulled in terms of their focus as CEO’s and Business Owners get caught up in tactics i.e. latest new thing
  • CMO’s are starting to demand a stronger voice and place at the table in tersm of setting strategic direction

In a February 2012 study amongst CMO’s the findings state that they there is an optimism in terms of spending especially in social media, CRM and analytics.  This mirrors what Craig was touching on in his Podcast. Also noted in this survey is that the traditional emphasis of CMO is moving toward a more strategic role

Another study “CMO’s Agenda” report from strategic marketing consulting firm CMG Partners conclude four other core trends affecting CMOs. I source this directly.  

  • Strengthening the CMO/CEO relationship: Interviewed CMOs report that they are strengthening their credibility with the C suite, and CEOs in particular, through best practices that include framing recommendations in ROI terms (beyond creativity and the marketing budget’s P&L); educating themselves and top management on how marketing can contribute to the company’s growth/business performance; documenting where marketing opportunities exist and might be captured; and highlighting risks while laying out how those can be mitigated. Successful CMOs are also building relationships with fellow senior managers and creating intra-company alliances based on their ability to demonstrate marketing’s impact on their co mpanies’ performance.
  • Social marketing: Social media are not only transforming traditional principles of brand-building and customer loyalty, but altering human interaction fundamentals. CMOs are best-positioned within their organizations to lead the mission of understanding and mastering these complex trends,however, by virtue of their ages/backgrounds, few are “native social-media speakers and are mastering these challenges through “generational seeding”:
  • Managing Millennials: Millennial-generation marketing employees are critical because of their inherent understanding of social media, however their lack of experience in presenting with a crisp logic that is aligned to the busienss can be lacking and therefore but their insights are too often dismissed. A CMO invested in strong leaderrship will spend the time helping millennials “connect the dots” to unlock crucial learning in this area
  •  Demand creation: Successful CMOs realize that the ability to position themselves as the rightful keepers of the “innovation flame” – the critical, differentiating mission of creating the perception among consumers that a brand is delivering what they need/want even before they know it themselves – is extremely powerful, and the key to advancing their influence within their companies.
I think marketers are finally recognizing the absolute power the consumers have especially with the internet and social media.  You can be made or broken with a tweet and that consumer control is not going away which leads me back to brand basics.  What makes you unique, what is your positioning, what is your point of difference and what is your promise?  How are you relevant and how do get the consumer to say “they get me

Tuesday, September 4, 2012



Often small businesses have trouble growing or surviving. If they do manage, often they get stuck and look for the quick fix. In a video posted by Watch Me Franchise Amanda covers off the 10 top mistakes businesses's make but I'd like to focus on 6.

Recently I was contracted to work with a company to develop their business and help them grow. Now in their 11th year they have not cracked the 3 million dollar mark. When I started to dig I began to understand why and then began to understand that they really didn’t want to hear it. Just fix it. This was the mantra for the contract duration and impossible to satisfy without their collaboration, support and participation. With this learning, I want to share some tips for doing it wrong or six ways to shoot yourself in the foot.


Having a vision for your business is one of the foundations that set’s the path for your future. Without it your brand will remain undefined and uninspiring to anyone who comes in contact with it.

Your vision statement is a clear articulation and declaration of where you want your company to be in the next 5 or 10 years and without it, it’s like being in a sailboat without a sail or rudder and hoping you’ll get “there” eventually. A vision statement aligns your team and keeps you on course. Without it you and your team get caught up in the day to day without having a clue what you are headed toward. Innovation which is critical is often non-existent because there is nothing for innovation to stick to.


Bottom line is important however if your business plan is only a spreadsheet you will find yourself being a bit myopic and reacting constantly. It is thinking small in a major way. Why? Because your focus will be on money and sort-fall not growth. A spread sheet may have targets attached to it but goals and strategy are missing. Should you have investors and a spreadsheet is all you have by way of a business plan then count on being hounded constantly and getting a big huge ulcer.

Whether you are just starting up or you’ve been around for 11 years don’t assume people know you are there. An article posted in MarketingProfs Today talks about this and it’s worth the read, The company I was working with , while doing good work when they got it was flying under the radar therefore getting a sale was a long and often slow and expensive process even for an experienced sales person and especially one making cold calls. Let people know you are there and engage them. If you don’t have a large budget that’s OK you can create a sound strategy that connects with your audience all the same. Social Media is an important tool. Either invest in learning how to do it right or hire someone to do it for you. While this company does have a Twitter and Facebook presence they are not creating inbound marketing opportunity or engaging their community. They do have a decent website. Too bad no-one knows it’s there.

By this I mean several things. If you pay your suppliers late you can rack up late fees and penalties. If you decide not to pay them for whatever reason it is the kiss of death. Either way the word spreads and people will not want to do business with you or they will demand strict terms if they do. Companies that are cash strapped in low volume periods often resort to this to buy time. It really isn’t a good strategy. The second thing is mark-up on top of your fees. I know a lot of people do this however, I am not sure I agree with it. If you have a fee model that builds in profitability you shouldn’t have to mark up for the few extra bucks you will make. Marking up on fees is double dipping and you can be known as expensive. I can’t tell you how much business this company lost because their pricing was too high for this very reason


Under-pay, over-work and threaten them, yell at them publically and threaten them with the loss of employment and see what that gets you. I can’t believe that the leaders of even the tiniest business thinks that fear is effective. It affects not only the quality of person you hire but it also affects the quality of work delivered. At the end of the day costs you money through attrition or lost business. Need I say more?

This happens a lot. A business in trouble will ask someone like me to come in and fix it and then steadfastly refuse to listen, collaborate or participate. It’s much easier blame your staff, the client, the latest consultant or coach than it is to actually take a hard look at the inner workings of your business, its philosophy as well as leadership than do the work. This lack of responsibility will again cost you money but hey – it was someone else’s fault right? And that kind of thinking will in the end stop your business dead in it’s tracks.

This isn’t the only company I’ve seen struggle with these issues. There have been large ones as well as small ones and the thing is, something can be done about it. If any of the above hit’s home then maybe it’s time to explore the flip side.

Ellen Smith: Change Maker