“Bittersweet Symphony” – Sounds of Marketing

The Verve- Urban Hymns(1997) 

I still can’t figure out why the Seattle Seahawks entered Ford Field for Super Bowl XL to the sound of The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. I mean, it’s a good song, but not really a stadium rocker. Oh, well. Everything worked out for them and the Steelers anyway, right?

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die

According to market research from the Conference Board, an organization known for the Consumer Confidence Index and the Leading Economic Indicators, less than half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent twenty years ago. Job Satisfaction goes up slightly among those who earn the most but only to 52%. Why?

I’m a million different people from one day to the next…

There are a number of reasons cited as to why most Americans are unhappy with their jobs. Many are tied to self awareness or the lack thereof. If you don’t know who you are and what drives you, how can you know what you want to do in your career?

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change…

It’s true we can’t change our value system or who we are. The former Seahawk Jerramy Stevens will never have the competitive fire of a Joey Porter. But we all have natural abilities we often overlook because they come easily to us. Ask for help from others when it comes to identifying your strengths and how to parlay them into career opportunities.

I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down

You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

Many people end up doing things they are good at but don’t enjoy. Or they drudge off to work at something that doesn’t interest them. You’ve heard it a thousand times: Follow your heart. What drives you? What do you like? What are you good at? Focus on your ‘passion skills’—things you are good at and enjoy doing. Develop a career plan to find a position that means something to you and make the commitment to reach it.

Otherwise, you could look back with regret. Or you might just blame the referees…

Listen and Watch While you Read! 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing
SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz

The Experience Trap

When screening candidates for a management position, experience plays a major role. Companies also consider years of service when deciding on promotions. And, it’s human nature to defer to more experienced co-workers when making major decisions.

But are there instances when experience can work against us?

It seems the answer could be “Yes” if we become complacent in our approach.

Professors Kishore Sengupta and Luke Van Wassenhove have spent years studying how experience impacts productivity in the workplace. Their research suggests seasoned managers in complex environments often suffer breakdowns in the learning process, resulting in missed deadlines, budget overruns and other problems. Contrary to age old beliefs, managers with significant experience don’t necessarily produce higher caliber outcomes than relative newcomers.

Sengupta and Wassenhove believe managers can fall prey to what they call “The Experience Trap” by failing to revise goals and targets when circumstances change, allowing biases to color the chain of decisions that determine a project’s outcome, and missing the connection between causes and effects that occur over time.

Before our cagey veteran readers cry foul, this doesn’t mean experience isn’t valuable or that ‘out with the old, in with the new’ will improve the situation. Instead, be wary of overestimating the importance of experience and use these strategies to stay clear of “The Experience Trap.”

  • Challenge assumptions and the standard, old way of thinking about things. Don’t do something just because “we’ve always done it that way.”
  • Seek and listen to feedback from up, down and even outside the organization and be willing to act on what you hear and learn.
  • Include managers and professionals with new, fresh perspectives on teams and in decision making. Be willing to change and try new ideas.

 

Finally, improvement must start at the top. The majority of training is usually geared to mid and lower level employees. Focus more development and training on those higher up in the organization. Foster a culture of fresh, creative thinking so you and your organization can avoid falling into ‘The Experience Trap.’

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.


Are There More Stupid Statements Made in Sports or Politics?

Allen Pinkett’s nonsensical comments today  that the suspensions of four Notre Dame football players could be a sign that the program is gaining its edge got me thinking: If we had a competition for most stupid statements between politicians/political commentators and athletes/coaches/sportscasters, who would win?

It would be quite a battle.

Both groups make a lot of unwise public comments. Why? A whole lot of reasons. But I’m guessing their hubris leads to a lack of preparation and over confidence, a deadly combination with an open mic around.

I’m all for transparency and being true to yourself, your core values. On the other hand, just blurting something makes little sense. If you’ve trained much of your life to be an athlete or work in the political realm, you know the drill as far as public comments in interviews. Clear, succinct messages. Honest yet respectful. If your Mom wouldn’t like to hear you say it, don’t say it in an interview.

The rest of us “average” folks can learn from these “stars” and remember to think before we speak and to prepare like a professional before any interview.

What do you think? Who do you think would win?

 

The Old Way v The Two Way

The Old Way of Marketing involves pushing products and services to customers through mass marketing. Product Managers identify broad market segments to target, set prices based on profit goals and plan “Old Media” campaigns.

Two Way Marketing engages customers through interactive communication via “New Media” such as text messaging, mobile applications and social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. The goal is to develop relationships with potential or existing customers, find out what they want, develop and provide it to them when and where they want it at a price they’re willing to pay. And, of course, tell them about it again and again.

Communication is two way when the focus is on “drilled down” target markets within thinly sliced segments of potential customers. Long-term relationships grow when companies listen to customers and revise products or services based on feedback. Customized news alerts provide timely information and solidify relationships. Web retailers suggest products based on purchase history and real time shopping patterns. Text messages tailored to our location, interests and personality simplify decision-making.

Leaders must shift the emphasis from transactions to relationships, from telling to listening. Instead of just pushing unsold inventory, develop what the customer wants. Some organizations are on the right track and have reinvented the marketing department into the “customer department.” More than 300 companies, including Hershey’s, Samsung, United Airlines and Sears, now have a Chief Customer Officer focused on making the organization customer centric.

Regardless of title or position, we all need to make sure the customer is still king. Customer information must flow seamlessly throughout the organization and lead to ongoing positive change. Ask them what they think, listen and respond accordingly. Make the customer the center of everything you do.

Forget about the old way and start thinking about the Two Way–ask, listen, learn, deliver–to succeed now and in the future.

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

“Lose Yourself” – Sounds of Marketing

Lose Yourself – Eminem

 

Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity 

To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment 

Would you capture it or just let it slip?

 

Cliches are clichés because more often than not they are true. ‘Opportunity doesn’t knock twice’ fits that bill.  What are you doing to prepare for the chance to reach your goals?  Are you nervous about big presentations or meeting with your boss or a key client?  How do you respond to major deadlines or managing new people or projects?

 

Yo, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

But on the surface he looks calm and ready

 

 

Some appear ready on the outside and hide their anxiety, while others can’t disguise their nervousness at all.  Lack of confidence can partially be attributed to not being ‘genuinely’ prepared. Putting the time in to prepare is not the same as actually preparing.

 

Ask yourself what could happen in the meeting or presentation and how you would respond.  If you are presenting to a group, your team, a client or your boss, practice for real—out loud and in front of a mirror or a loved one. Brainstorm with a trusted advisor about how to manage challenging subordinates.  Don’t just fall back on the easy, standard preparation tactics.

 

You better lose yourself in the music 

The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh

 

Be honest about your effort and approach. Do you truly make the commitment necessary? Or do you give just enough?  Do you worry about how your performance compares with others?  Or do you realize that your best is all that really matters because you can’t control anything else?  Focus on you and maximize the opportunity.

 

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow

Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo

 

Be genuinely prepared and truly give it your best…

 

You can do anything you set your mind to, man

 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz

 

 

“Airplanes” – Sounds of Marketing

Airplanes- B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray(2010)

Listen while you read
or Watch it here

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now  

We are told to “wish upon a star” at an early age and continue dreaming throughout our lives. We dream of that promotion or pay raise and what we could do with the extra money. We wish our employees would do what we want them to do. We hope our clients will call and buy.

And when you’re starin’ at that phone in yo’ lap
And hopin’, but them people never call you back

Taking a passive, wishful approach won’t change the situation. Simply thinking about how things could be will lead to frustration at the first sign of difficulty.

And when your plans unravel in the sand
What would you wish for if you had one chance?

Unfortunately, many people just wish another wish, dream another dream or blame someone or something else. The good news is you still have a chance, regardless of what has happened to date, if you are willing to be honest with yourself.

But that’s just how the story unfolds
You get another hand
Soon after you fold

First decide on what really matters and what drives you. Do what you enjoy and believe in. Without passion, you’re going through the motions.

Somebody take me back to the days
Before this was a job
Before I got paid

Take the time to write (not just think) true personal and professional goals. Build a plan with specific tactics to get you where you want to go. Be clear and concise. It will take focus and deliberate practice.

I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, wish right now

Actually, you could really use a plan right now: A plan that turns dreams into goals, details the skills to acquire and effort needed, includes milestones to reach on the way and a timeline to achieve your goals. Your plan based on your passion, on living and doing rather than wishing and dreaming.

 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz


The “Not My Problem” Problem

When a new process is implemented, there are inevitable bumps in the road. Instead of taking a proactive approach to the challenge, many employees and middle managers ignore or avoid problems they perceive to be outside of their area.

If a customer isn’t completely satisfied, the front line response is often an excuse that shifts the responsibility elsewhere.

After hearing a new idea, many people only point out potential negatives or say nothing.

These and other examples make the ‘Not My Problem’ Problem one of the biggest roadblocks to positive change.

When you are acting as the change agent, remember it’s human nature to:

  • Seek the path of least resistance
  • Avoid incurring blame
  • Fear a loss of control or an increased workload resulting from a new process.

Also, keep in mind many key departments are responsible for keeping work flow moving, paying attention to details and avoiding mistakes. While this is essential to day to day operations, it creates a mindset of getting things done the same old way rather than focusing on new, creative ideas.

So when you are leading a change initiative what can you do to increase your chances for success?

First, find a leadership champion who has the formal or informal authority to gain broad support throughout the organization. Ideally, you would have a senior level sponsor of the new process or idea.

Next, communicate clearly and often. Create a sense of urgency among the troops by pointing out both what they stand to lose by standing pat and what will be gained by moving forward. Think beyond your immediate area to how other departments will be impacted. Acknowledge there could be some challenges for others during the transition.

Listen to constructive feedback but be firm with naysayers selfishly focusing only on the negatives. If you don’t hear from some people, a common mistake is to misperceive their silence as support of your idea. You need to probe to find out what they really think and flesh out potential roadblocks.

The ultimate goal is to achieve some level of buy-in throughout the organization and to have a comprehensive change management plan.

Hey, no problem…

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

Got a Minute?

When a co-worker drops in and asks to see you, how often do you say ‘No?’

Apparently not very often if the results of a study by Basex, a New York research firm are any indication.

The study estimates interruptions consume approximately 28% of the average workday, resulting in $650 billion of lost productivity. It’s bad enough we stop what we are doing to handle an email, telephone call, text message or ‘drop in’ meeting. What’s worse is it can take up to 50% more time to complete tasks when you switch between them rather than complete one thing at a time.

Obviously, managing interruptions well is essential to maximizing productivity. So how can we improve?

First, we need to focus on our focus. We are not built to stay on task. Typical workers set aside whatever they are doing and start something else once every three minutes, so we have to make a commitment to focusing on the work at hand.

Time management experts often suggest scheduling ‘uninterruptable time’ during which the phone goes to voicemail, emails are ignored and your staff and co-workers know to avoid the dreaded ‘drop in’ meeting.

Another tactic involves managing interruptions so they are kept to a minute or two so you can help others but not completely lose focus on your current project.
Adopting a planning system is also helpful. It’s not so much which system you use but that you plan and prioritize activities on a regular basis.

You might also take the advice of Jim Collins, author of ‘Good to Great.’ In a recent Business Week interview Collins noted that the most effective people he has studied have a “stop-doing” list or not-to-do list. Collins believes this is more important than a to-do list because the ‘not-to-do list’ frees up time and energy for more productive activities.

Regardless of the tactics you choose, communicate your approach to your staff and co-workers. Let them know your most productive ‘work alone’ times and therefore when not to interrupt. And, ask them to tell you their preferences and show them you listened by respecting their time.

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA is President of MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm focused on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. He’s also author of “Get Where You Want To Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.” For more information, go to www.massolutions.biz.

Co-Create Unique Customer Experiences

Apple created the iPod but we decide on our playlists. MySpace and Facebook aren’t really products or services but platforms for individuals to express themselves and communicate with others of their choosing. YouTube is created by you for you.

The underlying theme is that value is based on the unique, personalized experience of individual consumers. C.K. Prahalad, described by Business Week as probably the most influential thinker on business strategy today, calls it “co-creation” in his latest book The New Age of Innovation.

Prahalad writes that successful companies no longer invent new products on their own. They create them along with their customers to produce a unique experience for each individual.

Don’t confuse this with the old ‘mass customization’ model that focused on a company offering customers choices on a wide range of product or service attributes. With mass customization, the company still decided which choices to offer and how to deliver them. With “co-creation,” the choices are infinite and the individual, not the company, decides what is created and purchased.

Look at some of the most admired and successful market innovators today and their co-created offerings: Apple, Google, Starbucks, the iPhone, Gmail, The Starbucks Experience. Each focuses on the unique customer experience through co-created products and services.

What does this mean for the average company or business?

Listening to the customer, a tactic often neglected by generations of businesses, is even more vital to success and is no longer enough. Companies need to ask customers what they think and actually listen to the response. The next step is to let customers drive product and service offerings, co-create their own unique experiences.

Unfortunately, most companies are set up in the opposite manner, built around producing products and services to achieve economies of scale; reactive rather than interactive; emphasizing structure over flexibility.

The focus needs to change and fast.

You can start by asking your customers or prospects what they want. Listen, be flexible and respond by co-creating unique experiences with them and for them.

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

How to Keep Your Brand Memorable for 100 Years

NASA’s robotic explorer Curiosity landed on Mars Monday. The next day, Oreo Cookie tweeted: We come in peace. With Oreo cookies. #dailytwist pic.twitter.com/8pWggzzF featuring a Mars inspired Rover cookie with red filling and little tire tracks.

The Rover isn’t a real cookie but the original certainly is. The Oreo turned 100 this year and parent company Kraft is celebrating its history and current sales levels.

The snack food industry is growing at a faster rate than other foods. Consumers are returning to iconic brands and looking for an affordable indulgence during tough economic times. But Oreo has a century long record of success based on four customer focused marketing tactics:

1. Make a Connection: We eat them as kids and then act like kids while eating them as adults. Just about everyone either loves Oreos or loves someone who does.

2. Meet Their Needs: Oreo tweaked the product to expand into 100 countries, giving each its own cookie. Green Tea Oreos in China, Trio Chocolate in Mexico and Indonesia’s Double Delight with chocolate and peanut to name a few.

3. Tailor Your Message: Oreo changes with the times. The “twist” was first promoted on trolley cars in 1923. Double Stuff Oreos hit stores in the ‘70’s. “Cookies N Cream Ice Cream” was introduced in 1983 and my personal favorite, Fudge Covered Oreos, in 1987. Reduced Fat Oreos (Really? What’s the point?) bummed fans out in the mid-90’s while bite sized Mini Oreos were part of a 2001 promotional campaign.

4. Make It Memorable: The product is memorable and so is the advertising. Check out this list of slogans:

1950 – Oh-oh! Oreo

1980 – For the Kid in All of Us

1982 – America’s Best Loved Cookie

1986- Who’s The Kid with the Oreo Cookie?

1990 – Oreo, The Original Twister

2004 – Milk’s Favorite Cookie

And that’s not including the “Twist, Lick and Dunk” campaign  or the recent Perfect Start to Father’s Day ad.

Add the Rover cookie celebrating NASA’s trip to Mars with millions of Facebook and Twitter followers and you have 100 years of memorable messaging leading to more than 345 billion Oreos sold since 1912. Milk’s favorite cookie indeed…and maybe the world’s too.