Friday, November 16, 2012

The age of alignment

It's a busy day here at the OBX Thinking World Headquarters so I'm reposting this from 2010. Seeing as most businesses are putting the finishing touches on their plans for next year now, I thought this might be appropriate. Enjoy.

Planning is a monumental waste of time.

Every year thousands of executives and managers spend millions of hours developing plans that are scuttled the minute a competitor offers a rebate, a new technology emerges, or the CEO reads a best-selling management book.

Rather than developing detailed plans, spend time defining your company's vision, mission, values, goals and objectives – those things aren't (or at least shouldn't be) subject to the vagaries of the daily business page – then communicate them with every member of your team to ensure they're in alignment.

If your team truly understands your mission, values and goals, they can act within their areas of expertise to do the right thing when new challenges and opportunities present themselves.

By not boxing people in with a list of tasks and timelines, while still holding them accountable specific measurable goals, you're allowing employees to initiate action and take a deeper level of ownership in their jobs and the company. You'll create more commitment, more satisfaction and a nimbler workplace that can rise to meet challenges in a moment's notice.

It all starts with knowing what you stand for. And making sure everyone else knows it, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Innovation is risky enough

Here's a tip for food marketers and product developers.

If you have to issue the following statement when introducing a new product, you may want to rethink things.
We have carefully reviewed FDA requirements and believe our product is in compliance with current regulations for food ingredients.

With all the recent news surrounding high-caffeine energy drinks this may not be the best time for Frito-Lay to launch Cracker Jack'd, a line of "energy snacks" targeted at young adults.

Yes, the FDA may say they're safe. They may be exactly what consumer's are asking for. But if just one over-caffeinated kid collapses after eating a bag of Cocoa Java Power Bites, it could put the whole company in jeopardy.

Remember: just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guy's big branding lesson

Branding is about creating, managing and fulfilling (or hopefully exceeding) expectations through your product or service. You'd think a guy who travels the country sampling the best food at America's diners, drive-ins and dives would understand this.

Apparently not if the reviews in The New York Times, New York Post, and Serious Eats of Guy Fieri's new restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, are to be believed.

Brands are fragile because they're built on nothing more than trust, and once that trust is broken, it's nearly impossible to repair the damage. In this age of 24/7/365 mass and peer to peer communication, the costs of not delivering are higher than ever before.

If you're a big famous brand that's introducing a new product to the world, you have to get it right, right out of the box or expect to be pilloried.

Great brands inspire both love and hate. Apple, BMW, Walmart, Google, are beloved brands by many and detested by others. Those who don't love your brand are just waiting for it to fail and let the world know when it does. Mr. Fieri just discovered this.

What it all boils down to is this: people love brands when they love the products. Stop delivering a great product and you'll see how quickly your brand equity disappears.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Delta screws "up"

Here's what Delta tells those they are trying to convince to fly with them.

A beautifully shot, wonderfully written message about how they're doing everything possible to earn your business.

And here's what they tell musicians who have to buy two seats for every flight.

Lynn Harrell is a concert cellist who has travelled the world for over 40 years plying his trade. In the last 45 days he's performed in Carmel, Singapore, Paris and Los Angeles. His traveling companion: a 1673 Stradivarius worth millions of dollars. Needless to say, he does not check it.

What he did do was get frequent flyer accounts for his instrument for every airline on which he flies to earn an occasional free ticket and help defray his expenses. Apparently Delta is one of the few airlines that does not allow you to accrue miles for seats purchased for musical instruments and has now kicked Mr. Harrell out of their program.

This is why I hate blanket policies.

They turn opportunities to help your best customers into PR disasters.

Here's a world-renowned musician who is willing to pay two times to ensure he and his irreplaceable instrument arrive safely so he can entertain classical music fans around the globe. Instead of encouraging this guy to choose another airline, Delta should sponsor him.

His audience, I imagine, is both wealthy and worldly. Just the kind of people you'd hope would fly Delta.

And now they've given them one more reason to look somewhere else.

Thanks to the tip from my friend, Drew for this image from one of Delta's other commercials showing a cellist with her instrument at the check-in counter. Nothing like a little irony to brighten one's afternoon.