A newsletter for busy business, brand, and marketing leaders who want to stay in the know and be inspired about ways to make a positive impact on their business, brands, organizations, and for themselves.
A few of my newsletter readers were interested in learning more about strategy. So, in the Strategy Corner, I’ll be featuring good strategy references to checkout if you’re looking to deepen your strategy knowledge.
How do I get my head around a business quickly?
This month I wanted to cover a few models that I’ve found to be good tools to get one’s head around a business situation quickly.
Most of us know the SWOT model looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. One important distinction that people might miss is that the Strengths and Weaknesses should be looked at with an Internal view—these are factors that relate to your organization’s operations. Opportunities and Threats are considered looking externally—these are factors from the outside that one has no control over that could impact the business. Wikipedia provides a good high-level review of the model.
When using the SWOT, one should consider different vectors to evaluate Internal and External views. For example, for Internal you might consider: Financial Performance, Organizational Capabilities, Brand Health, and Operations, to name just a few. For External, you might consider: Industry, Competitors, Category, Consumers, and Suppliers.
The 3 C’s simply stand for the Company, Customer / Consumer, and Competitors. Make an assessment of each. Again, here’s a review on Wikipedia.
Finally, even if you aren’t a marketer, the 4 P’s come in handy. Consider the business’s Product, Price, Place (e.g., Distribution, Retail Channels), and Promotion (i.e., Marketing, Go-to-Market strategy).
Put together, these 3 tools can provide a snapshot of a business and its environment to get you smart and informed quickly.
ICYMI: Here’s a link to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends presented at the end of May. Definitely worth perusing to learn more about the growth of subscriptions, voice technology, and lifelong learning, consumer openness to sharing their data, social media’s impact on purchases, Amazon’s role in product discovery, where consumers are spending their money, and more.
A few nuggets of insight from KIND on why a CPG brand should consider its own direct-to-consumer retail channel. Read more at PSFK >
Companies and leaders need to do a better job of helping people actually be excited to go to work. It makes me wonder if the lack of productivity growth has more to do with the fact that companies don’t care to and don’t know how to motivate their employees. For some inspiration, listen to HBR IdeaCast’s conversation with Dan Cable, a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School, on how to make work a more engaging experience.
Chat bats are one of the hot new technologies companies are deploying to interact with consumers. This article shares some examples of the still nascent technology. Read more at AdAge >
You can also learn more from our post earlier in the year, “Elevated Customer Experiences Required,” that asks marketers to get beyond the technology and make sure customer experience is primary.
This is a good article on things to consider given this transition to digital smart assistants.
I really liked this article by Kimberly Whitler interviewing Peggy Chen, CMO of SDL, a language and content management company, on challenges of becoming a digitally focused company. A few quotes to call out:
- How do you build meaningful, emotionally connected experiences? “The question is no longer, ‘how do we get everything on the digital channel.’ Instead it’s ‘how you bring the human elements into digital—bring back the human interaction?’ Digital is a means to an end. Now we have to make it more meaningful.”
- How do you create all the content that is required in today’s demanding marketing environment? “One of the biggest challenges marketers have is in creating the amount of content needed to deliver this level of engagement…. If you want to reach millions of customers, then you’re going to need more content that humans are capable of creating. That’s where technology steps in. Advances in AI and Machine Learning are changing the game, and automating the way content is created, organized, and delivered to global audiences.”
- How do you build a marketing tech stack? More details in the article, but wanted to pull out the reference in the article for the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic for 2018.
A new ice cream niche. A fun branding story about Hannah Spiegelman and her blog and company, A Sweet History. She creates unique ice cream flavors based on history, combining two of her interests into one venture. Since brands winning today tend to target niches, marketers may get a nugget of insight from this example. Read more at NPR >
Print is not dead. It’s a branding play. Several companies are extending their brands via the printed magazine form. The Wing, the women’s co-working and community space company, just came out with No Man’s Land. Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s venture, released its first magazine late last year. Airbnb created a magazine several years ago and continues to publish. These publications allow the brands to exist in consumers’ lives in a new way, but still tied to their core proposition.
Brand podcasts are also all the rage. Several companies produce well-received radio programs from Walmart (season 1, season 2) to GE and Basecamp, as noted in this article >
Why should consumers give away their data for free? Learn how SHOP is putting power back in the hands of consumers, allowing them to get compensated for sharing their personal information. Read more at PSFK >
A reminder, because we can never hear it enough, that technology can and should benefit outcomes for consumers rather than being about the technology or business itself. Read more at ReadWrite about e-commerce and the benefits of data and the IOT.
A good article from HBR with advice to get into action from experienced start-up players, which is applicable to anyone looking to innovate.
An article from ReadWrite on how blockchain can help reshape the retail landscape from improved data integrity, supply chain improvements, purchasing platforms, product validity, and more.
And another article to bring us back down to earth on blockchain, highlighting the challenges to be faced. Read more at Forbes >
The Aesthetics of Joy. A great TED talk on the semiotics of happiness and how to design for joyfulness. Designers and brand leaders take note!
On a continued march to have more women represented in the creative fields and to have women get more involved in shaping our culture, it’s great to learn about “Free the Bid,” which has made an impact in getting more women directing commercials. Read more at Fast Company >
Read more about how it’s time for a Counter Culture with Women Leading the Way.
Even though I’m a writer, I’m a big believer in visualizing ideas, products, experiences, and more. It’s great to see that more tools are being developed for this purpose. Check out Niice Boards as one example for creative presentations.
Better Progress: Food for the Planet. There’s a wonderful community of food enthusiasts, innovators, and investors seeking to make a positive impact on the food industry, our communities, and the planet. And, their efforts are needed with the Food industry one of the biggest areas we can focus on to address climate change. Read more at Weathervane Forum >
Book in Brief
“Unsafe Thinking” by Jonah Sachs. If you’re looking to innovate, be more creative, or inspire a team to do both, pick up this book. It’s full of examples and tips on how to break the mold. If you don’t know Sachs, he’s the person who founded the agency responsible for creating great social impact videos like “The Story of Stuff.”
Learn more about the book in this article >
Or, have a listen to an interview >
Convinced you want to dig in? Get the book.
Have a Listen
A motivating talk with Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi’s, on the Business of Fashion podcast. I love many of his key messages:
- Focus on your values
- Do the right thing – “choosing to do the harder right vs. the easier wrong”
- As a leader, be humble
- CEO’s should use their platforms to address and challenge important issues in the world today
- Consider all the stakeholders, not just shareholders
- Be consumer obsessed
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Want to have a say?
Thanks to those who have already provided us with input. We’d love to hear from more of you to help us shape what we cover in this newsletter. Tell us the what you’d love to know but never have time to dig into, the types of things you find inspiring but can never dig up yourself.
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