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We Need Brand Architects to Design and Sustain a Brand.

Brand Stewards Often Refer to a Person, but Ultimately it’s a Culture that Sustains It

What is a brand steward? Simply put, it’s someone making sure that the brand stays true to its promise to customers. It means protecting the equity of the brand and making sure that the customer experience is aligned with what the brand stands for. Someone needs to look out for the brand, but the idea of a brand steward seems incredibly passive and outdated. It’s as if this person is simply making sure everyone is abiding by the style guide and doling out hand slaps if anyone is  non-compliant.

In order for the brand to stay true to its promise, the experience of a brand needs to be delivered by everyone.  A brand becomes real only through the eyes of its audience, built through the accumulation of every touch-point between him or her and the organization. Such a task is monumental, and a single person in an organization cannot perform this task. The best way to “steward” a brand is by building a culture that sustains it.

Building a Brand-Enlightened Culture Requires Architecting

Expanding beyond stewarding is architecting. The brand architect needs to be responsible for strategically positioning the organization and developing a long lasting brand that inspires internal and external audiences continuously.  The chief marketing officer, the chief branding officer or even the CEO can assume this role; ultimately, it needs to stem from the top.

Aside from all the activities that bring to life the experience of the brand, the crucial part of brand architecture involves designing and building a brand-enlightened culture that sustains the growth of the brand. Such a culture needs to have:

1. Awareness

A brand-enlightened culture knows who they are. It’s being self-aware and being proud of everything that the organization is and isn’t.

Take a regular pulse on the organization through internal and customer surveys or town halls and communicate the results to promote awareness.

2. Shared Purpose

A group contributes toward its culture by having a shared purpose of the brand. They understand and embrace the organization’s vision and why they go to work everyday.

Share the vision and purpose of the organization from the top. Back the vision with very specific programs and plans as reasons to believe.

3. Known Behaviors and Rewards

Members of this enlightened group also know how to demonstrate that they belong. They know what kinds of behaviors are accepted and rewarded in the community.

Share stories that exemplify types of behaviors that showcase the brand and culture. At the same time, develop culture specific goals in everyone’s yearly plan.

4. System of Education and Communication

As the brand starts to develop and grow, expect to revisit activities 1-3 so that the organization grows together.

As simple as regularly scheduled in-person meetings to as intricate as developing an engaging intranet platform, the main idea is to engage members regularly.

Sustain your Brand by Developing Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors live the values of your brand authentically. They are infectiously enthusiastic, and they may be borderline obsessed. These are the people you are building your brand for, so find them and then develop them. Whether they are your employees or users of your service or product, the job of the brand architect, that pays tremendous dividends, is to identify them and then develop an honest and reciprocal relationship with them. Give them the inside scoop, the exclusivity and attention, listen to what they love and how you can improve to strengthen your bond. In return, they will become the corner stones of your brand culture.

Brand stewardship is a way-too-narrow lens to look at how to build a long lasting brand that matters. We need to architect brands instead.

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With the uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote, Pharma and Biotech companies need to consider a number of unique opportunities to chart future growth in the UK and EU

On 23 June 2016 the UK government held a referendum on either exiting or remaining a part of the EU and 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. Political upheaval and speculation about what this actually means for the UK and the current EU is ongoing, and while we wait for the dust to settle the one thing that is clear is that until the UK government invokes article 50, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

What we do know is this:

  • The UK government must officially invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the process for negotiating its exit.
  • The referendum is technically “advisory” and isn’t legally binding for the UK government to act.
  • To date there has been no indication if/when the UK government will invoke Article 50, so until then, nothing changes.

This was certainly a divisive vote for the country and the resulting uncertainty has heightened emotions and speculation from both camps.  Now, if you view this vote at the highest level, it was a binary vote about whether the people of the UK wanted change (Brexit) or status quo (Bremain). So part of the reason this has been so emotional for many is that change is uncomfortable.

And we are now starting to the see the short-term effects of Brexit described by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, as the UK having “entered a period of uncertainty and significant economic adjustment”. Lack of clarity is leading to a lot of debate combined with fear, uncertainty and doubt.

W2O Group is known for its fluidity (H2O, W2O, get it?!).  We spend a lot of time sitting in discomfort as we challenge ourselves in devising new approaches, alternative thinking and challenging traditional approaches in order to help our clients achieve their objectives. If we look at the Digital revolution, while it created far reaching change to both our clients’ and our own business it created, for many, opportunities. Our aim is to apply this fluid approach and work with clients and the industry to identify the opportunities and minimize the risks as the implications of Brexit become apparent.

So what should our healthcare clients be considering as the situation plays out:

What could Brexit mean for Pharma?

Pharma and biotech companies currently employ more than 222,000 people in the UK and spend some £4 billion each year on research and development.  Prior to the referendum, big UK based drug companies had said that they wanted the country to remain in the EU. Initial uncertainty in the market on the news of Brexit had an impact on pharmaceutical stocks due to major exposure to the European market.  However, the life sciences business sector has shown recovery, but uncertainty remains.  In terms of the geo-political situation three key considerations for the industry include:

  • Potential instability of the UK as an economy (long-term) and the degree to which the UK will continue to be a priority market or part of the EU Big 5, will have far reaching impact from commercial decisions, to reimbursement negotiations, to clinical trial planning.
  • Lack of clarity about the UK’s future relationship with Europe and how this will affect medicines regulations, licensing, R&D funding, and costs for import/export of medicines.
  • Political uncertainty in the UK (short-term) and if/when Article 50 may be invoked and how the sector’s needs will be championed. Key negotiation points that will most impact our clients will be in relation to the “Four Freedoms” which include free movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders.  This is the foundation of the European Union and once the UK is no longer a part of it, how these points will be either included or excluded from a new arrangement will have the greatest effect on our how our clients can do business.

Considerations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU is warranted as it relates to participation in the centralised EMA (European Medicines Agency) regulatory system:

  • Being outside the centralised system could increase the workload for pharma company regulatory departments. As well as necessitating the shoring up of the UK national regulatory body, there will be uncertainty over how or even if the scope of responsibilities will change, both of which could lead to disruption in providing new medicines to patients across the UK and Europe. Our clients should evaluate their current regulatory department SOPs to determine how increased flexibility can be built into their operations.
  • There is speculation that there would be uncertainty within the EMA about the granting of new drug licences or the renewal of existing ones as the default period for initial licensing is five years, followed by an open-ended renewal. The EMA would therefore face a dilemma on whether to approve a drug from a UK company that would not be part of the EU for the lifetime of the licence. Licences may need to be transferred to businesses inside remaining member states and new medicines approved by the EU would not be automatically placed on the British market, but may need to undergo a protracted approval process. Our clients need to be both expediting submission of marketing authorisations and also scenario planning for those that are not yet ready for submission.
  • It could be necessary to relocate the EMA out of London. This means clients should start looking at proximity of regulatory departments to international transport.

Probably the most time-critical consideration is around the new EU Clinical Trials Directive, which was agreed in 2014, introducing a raft of changes that were expected to be implemented by the end of 2017 at the earliest and by October 2018 at the latest, when the new EU CT portal and database are fully functional. The new directive is aimed at the introduction of a simplified submission process that would ease the regulatory burden on trial sponsors by effectively using a single application to carry out multi-site trials across the EU.

With Brexit in the air it now remains to be determined what the impact on CT in the UK will be and our clients need to assess what this could mean for them. Currently, when it comes to non-EU countries operating within EMA rulings there is a precedent with EEA countries which also abide by the EMA’s regulations, so in the best of cases nothing would change.

What could Brexit mean for science, research and funding?

Research funding is one of the few areas where the UK gains more money than it spends.  Of the country’s gross contribution to the EU, £5.4bn (€6.84bn; $7.77bn) can be attributed to the community’s research, development, and innovation activities. But the UK gets back £8.8bn in research grants, so exiting the EU would in theory leave a gap of £3.4bn to be filled. Through programmes such as Horizon 2020 (H2020) and the Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI), the EU provides funding and coordinates research collaborations. UK-based companies without research facilities in other EU countries are likely to lose access to these programmes.

Clients should be looking to emphasise their robust research programs to attract talent and also looking to more closely align with leading UK universities and institutions to establish/maintain a sustainable pipeline of talent, funding and engagement with the scientific community.

What could the impact be on the NHS?

11% of UK doctors and nurses (according to the General Medical Council) hold qualifications from another EU country.  This could mean a loss of non-UK healthcare workers as well as the significant problem of the loss of capacity (a loss of EU healthcare services abroad).

Clients should be looking at devising value-add programmes which support both efficiency and quality of care.  These programmes will be important whether or not the worst fears of the NHS are realised, but it is timely to look at current support programmes and determine if they are truly making a difference, how they can be optimised, and where investment should focus next.

What could Brexit mean for UK public health?

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) is at the centre of a network of communication between EU and EEA member states to monitor, communicate and assist in response to a threat of communicable disease, forming an early warning and response system for the prevention and control of communicable diseases.  The UK will be on the outside of this network which could impact, for example, procurement of pandemic vaccines, where the EU’s greater purchasing power might push the UK down the queue.

Clients who do have vaccine programmes, should look at how these are administered, how they can support the government in shoring up critical medicines, and discuss how to information share in a potentially dis-jointed system.

Everything entirely depends on the direction that the UK government wishes to take when negotiating its exit under Article 50…IF it negotiates its exit under Article 50.  Depending on how negotiations proceed, it may even be possible to keep the UK within the European system for drug approval, and allow UK scientists and companies to continue participating in the EU’s research programmes.

So as we look at our clients’ programming needs for 2017, we are thinking in more dimensions…how we interpret global/EU challenges, how we can help clients confidently move forward with key decisions and programmes/campaigns, how we can support infrastructure changes within organisations, and how we can help UK-based clients do more with less in a challenging environment.  Staying fluid will help define new approaches for our clients’ businesses, helping them to find value in uncertainty.


 This article was written by W2O Group London-based leaders: Annalise Coady President of tWist Marketing; Danielle Whitney, Healthcare Lead EMEA: Effie Baoutis, Medical Communications Global Lead

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On February 16th, W2O Group had the pleasure of sponsoring/speaking at the Holmes Report’s 3rd Annual In2 Summit in San Francisco. The event focused on bringing together “the industry’s most innovative minds to explore the future of influence and engagement.” [You can read our agency-wide recap here.]

At this years’ event, BrewLife was honored with the In2 SABRE Award for “Use of Social Media or Analytics for Audience Insights or Influencer Targeting” for our Tejava Tea social media campaign – an award we are extremely proud to receive.

BrewLife partnered with Crystal Geyser’s Tejava Tea last summer to help raise awareness and increase sales for their summer tour in LA. Tejava would be giving out samples at outdoor concerts and along the Santa Monica Pier, sponsoring events, and running billboard and radio ads throughout the area over a six week period. Our agency was tasked with developing a cohesive and consistent voice across all of Tejava social media platforms, which included Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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We kicked off the project the way we always like to: by tapping the W2O Analytics team to help identify Tejava’s target audience in the LA area. This was done through a SocialGraphics analysis, a proprietary analytics tool that identifies key interests and affinities, demographics, and the most important product features to our target persona. After looking at the results, we deemed our target segment the “Lifestyle Changers,” people looking to make healthier life choices – like switching from soda to Tejava’s zero-calorie, unsweetened tea. We then completed a conversation-based analysis which highlighted all of the conversations “Lifestyle Changers” were having on social media over the past year. The results allowed us to identify groups with common characteristics, which we could then target throughout the campaign. We used Tejava’s unique spin on unsweetened tea and all-natural elements to come up with the #PerfectNothing campaign, celebrating the moments of “nothing” in life. Our creative team showcased the #PerfectNothing lifestyle through candid posts showcasing the simplicity of Tejava’s unique fans’ healthy lifestyles.

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For two weeks leading up to the LA tour and then six weeks throughout the tour, we posted 2-3 social posts per week. Once the campaign was underway, we tracked performance and adjusted our strategy to optimize each post. For example, analysis showed active imagery and group shots performed better so we adapted the creative to maximize on these insights. Additionally, we worked with our Analytics team to identify social influencers and place paid ads to target them specifically. Our SocialGraphics and conversation-based analysis allowed us to place ads and use social influencers that would come in contact with “Lifestyle Changers” through common page likes, conversation topics, and more. This was a great way to increase awareness as well as visibility across social channels. This award means a lot to us because it demonstrates the added value of working with BrewLife, a W2O Company. Not only do clients get the insights and intelligence of the BrewLife team, but they also get the input and analytical capabilities from our long hallway at W2O. The Tejava #PerfectNothing campaign is a great example of how collaboration across various teams allowed us to create and launch a successful (and award winning) campaign!

 


Learn more about W2O Group

 

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There is a content and media surplus. Attention defecit. Consumers have tunnel vision. Their media consumption habits and behaviors are unpredictable.

This makes it extremely difficult to reach an audience.

Whether it’s an ITDM, a physician type, millennial, developers or an affluent consumer, you name it. You can’t just launch a campaign and expect to make a difference much less any business impact.

But imagine if you had the intelligence that define their behavior online? What type(s) of media they consume, their specific language and context when talking about key issues? Their platforms of choice or what time(s) they are online? Essentially, knowing what makes that specific audience unique from everyone else?

This intelligence is critical.  And, this is how you break through the clutter and reach your audience with content and ideas that matter – to them, not you.

Everything else is just a guess.

A lot of folks talk definitively about storytelling, being human and of course content marketing.  And many of the campaigns referenced are certainly creative with catchy tag lines, cool hashtags, interactive video, etc. They may even get a nice write up in Digiday or Adweek.

But I wonder how impactful these campaigns really are.

Below are some slides I put together an approach that leads with audience architecture which should be the backbone for all marketing campaigns.

Enjoy.

 

 

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Column published in the November 23, 2015 issue of PRNews

It’s relatively easy to anticipate macro trends in technology for 2016.  It is much harder to predict how those trends will change the communications profession.  Based on work with large brands and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, here is a list of top trends that will matter most for the Chief Communications Officer and his/her team.

  1. Audience Architecture Starts to Replace the Coverage Model: We now can see exactly who our audience is online (all social media channels and mainstream media), so we can listen to its needs, align our story with its desires and measure our success in reaching the target market for our brand or topic. Getting coverage is only one piece of this puzzle. Why? Blogs and Twitter drive 2/3s of content flow. Mainstream media has become a catalyst that blogs and Twitter drive. Think of the audience as becoming more important than the outlet. When you get coverage, the PR pro’s job is just beginning.  He/she needs to ensure that this coverage reaches the audience; the job calls for sharing it via social channels so it gets to the right people.  The end game used to be coverage itself. No more.
  2. Responsive Experience Replaces Responsive Design: Since more than 50% of content is consumed via phone and that figure will rise to more than 75% in three years or fewer, we have to provide the right experience the first time our customer looks for it online. If we direct people to a website and make them hunt for the desired information, we will lose most people and they won’t come back. We have to deliver the exact content right away.  Since people tell us what they want via search, e.g. “company x, product y pricing”, we can deliver this exact content on the first visit.  The search words serve as a trigger for the right content, which you have pre-packaged, to show up.  Imagine preparing for ten types of customers to visit your site.  Once you know who they are via their search terms coming into the site, the content changes to meet their needs.  This is simple technology we can all use today.
  3. We are Entering the era of the 9%: In the 1,9,90 model, fewer than one percent of people create content, approximately nine percent share the content and 90 percent lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. The first ten years of social media have been about the 1 percent. Now, technology advance has made it super easy for the 9 percent to share content, add comments and continue the conversation in any channel and on any device.  This is the second sales force for a brand.  We must know who they are and start building far better relationships with the 9 percent.  They are the best friends of the one percent and should be of us as well.
  4. We Have Fewer Than Three Seconds to Make an Impression via Video: Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, so it knows a thing or two about how users react to video. Its data show that we have fewer than three seconds to grab the viewer’s interest. The result is how we produce video must change. We need to create a strong first impression and should be investing in a wider range of lower cost video, not longer, expensive video.  Disagree? OK. But I usually avoid arguing with what we learn from 8 billion views per day.  That’s a big enough focus group for me.
  5. Internal Communications will Start Learning from External Audiences: We have long made the mistake of examining only internal metrics to measure internal satisfaction of our employees. Now, we realize via new models that we can identify what matters to specific employee groups by analyzing their external activities: where they hang out (social channels, forums, blogs), talk, share and learn from each other.  The answers to how better align with employees can be found outside of our walls and inside their tribes.
  6. The Full Story of a Brand Must be Delivered to the Customer: We can now use technology platforms to deliver the full story of a brand (think 4-6 articles and 2-4 links) directly to our customers in any social channel. We can then watch what they like, what they share and dynamically change the content in all channels in seconds. Interactive storytelling is emerging as a new discipline, since we can deliver content anywhere, any channel, anytime.  It’s time for us to go to the customer, not ask him/her to visit us.
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As I finish my first week at W2O I’m keenly aware that every client, every employee, every intended customer and audience is touched by technology every day in some way. And, it also strikes a chord with me that we are witnessing the end of an era in technology as well. The filing of chapter 11 by a landmark in technology, RadioShack. Yes, change is inevitable.

But would we have the technology we have today if we were stuck with the original ‘RS Walkie-Talkie’ or if they never sold you your first RC car? Or, even better, if Jobs and Wozniak had not gone to RadioShack for some of their first transistors and diodes? If the salesperson there hadn’t been explicit about what would work and what would not? It’s human interaction that drives innovation and change, the desire for something better, more useful or new. However, innovation, just to create something new, is useless if it’s not intuitive. In other words, if it’s really cool but too complicated to use, or really SIMPLE but not interesting, no one will care.

New media is innovative, it’s all about digital, algorithms and code. Yes marketing is changing, segmentation has taken on a whole new meaning when we think about people’s digital footprint. But is it intuitive? What hasn’t changed? Marketing and communications still depends on emotion, need and simplicity.

The questions I’m faced with in relation to the tools available today is, are they simply enough to explain and understand to the end user or client? Do they truly understand the need, value and why they should care about the new services available to them? In other words, does the emotional response resonate, rather than is it just pure logic – zero’s and one’s.

Marketing, communications, advertising and public relations are still fundamentally the same as they were a generation ago. Our business is as much about art as it is about science. Analytics, insights-driven content creation, and thought leadership only work if people care and you can explain the “wow behind the how.”

The “wow” part brings me to why coming to W2O Group is such a great opportunity. The “wow” means storytelling. Since drawings on caveman walls to the modern digital content, one thing drives purchase consideration: the story. The analytics that W2O offers are like no other in the industry. They help write the narrative, create the story and offer sound business strategy and inform better media planning and communications. Having come from the client side of the business recently, I know how hard this is to do in-house.

W2O finds the right people in the right places to tell the story to. As I like to say, sounding the intended audience where they work live and play with more accuracy and better insights than any group I know.

My approach is based upon both sound business planning and creative design strategy. I use analytics and insights that assumes pure rationality and objectivity for ROI measurement. It’s clean, economic, results oriented and assume most answers are simply right or wrong just like many of the tools we offer. But, augment it with a designers approach based upon iteration, human interaction and experience (the UI and UX if you will) for services, ideation, products and brand. It’s always a bit “messy” and instinct is as much a part of the decision process as research or facts.  Answers are not always about right and wrong as much as they are about better or worse. Failing faster comes to mind for me here. Art vs. science.

It seems odd to me that marketers and agencies alike are beginning to think that traditional media is dead. It’s not dead. It’s just metamorphosed into something different, more unique, and more complicated even. But let’s not let those old forms of storytelling go the way of RadioShack, where the human, emotional side of the business that helped launch Apple receded, leaving only aisles of cables and tiny drawers of diodes: technology, with no narrative.

*Posted also on tWist Mktg’s blog.

Jon Maron

 

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BrewLife has the best clients. Seriously… take Coravin.

Pour, enjoy & repeat without pulling the cork.This is an ingenious product that allows you to pour wine from a bottle without removing the cork, without oxygen entering the bottle and thus without compromising the wine still inside. It’s perfect for wine lovers at home, as well as for restaurants and wineries that want to offer amazing wines by the glass.

Coravin engaged BrewLife early this year to develop the brand, create marketing materials and plan the launch with their PR firm. We created the logo, website, videos, print ads and more. The list is exhausting but gave us a great excuse to enjoy wine at our desks—these projects always demand a lot of ‘research.’

Coravin launched July 29th, with huge success, changing the way many people think about wine. Currently it’s only available for purchase at Coravin.com/shop and NiemanMarcus.com but it’s been endorsed by the biggest names and finest palates, including Robert Parker who called it “the most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been developed or invented in the last 30-plus years.”

We very much enjoy working with the Coravin folks, including Howard Leyda, the VP of Marketing at Coravin, who kindly took the time to let us get inside his head.

 

Howard LeydaWhat attracted you to join Coravin and your work here?

I met with the Vice President of Engineering, Mike Rider, for lunch and when he showed me Coravin’s Wine Access Technology I knew Coravin had a revolutionary product that would change the way people enjoyed wine.

 

What sets Coravin apart?

Coravin is the first wine access technology in history that allows wine enthusiasts to enjoy a bottle of wine glass-by-glass over weeks, months or longer.

I expect Coravin to radically change how people think, both about enjoying a bottle of wine and shopping for one. In the past you’d think deeply about the price of the bottle because once you opened it you’ve committed to drink it that night. Now, the math has changed from the price of the bottle to the price of a glass of wine from that bottle because you no longer have to commit to the whole bottle. You can drink it a glass at a time over weeks, months and even longer.

 

Coravin Facebook pageHow has BrewLife helped you build and tell your story?

BrewLife has been instrumental in developing and building the Coravin brand from name, to brand identity, brand positioning and the go-to-market strategy. BrewLife has been a partner.

 

How has the proliferation of digital channels and digital consumption changed audience engagement?

Digital channels are changing peoples’ (both young and old) lives profoundly and how marketers reach their customers. Marketers now need to listen to and converse with their customers not just broadcast messages.

The best part of the new medium is that customers and non-customers now have a voice. If you listen, it allows the brand to quickly evolve and meet their needs, thus building value for both customers and the brand.

Coravin website

 

What about your work do you find most rewarding?

I love marketing and building brands that make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. I have been very fortunate to be part of the introduction and building of several brands that have transformed peoples’ lives—the Iomega Zip, Jaz and Ditto, Magellan Roadmate, iRobot Roomba, Scooba, and Braava. And now I am part of the team that is changing wine enthusiasts’ lives with the launch of Coravin Wine Access System.

 

What are you working on now that is most exciting?

Coravin just launched its revolutionary product. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the brand’s potential. What’s exciting is all the possibilities. There is so much more to come.

 

If you could high-five anyone, who would it be?

Jimi Hendrix. His music reaches me at the most profound level. His first three albums are three of the best albums ever: Are you experienced?, Axis Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. His short time on this earth was magic.

 

12/31/13 CNBC interviews Greg Lambrecht, Coravin founder, and shows how this device works.

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“It’s not me, it’s you” – a familiar relationship phrase you’ve either used or perhaps even had spoken to you, except you might notice it’s significantly altered. In a different type of relationship, that of a client and an agency, the altered phrase should be the one that clients hear from their agencies.

For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working on the client side with some of the most-loved brands in the nation. Yoplait, Cheerios, Progresso, Nature Valley and others at General Mills, as well as Reese’s and the many brands at Hershey, have legions of dedicated consumers. During my time with these brands, I worked with several agencies and had some great working relationships and some that were just okay.

There are lots of lessons to bring back to the agency side, but probably none more important than the philosophy that the clients’ goals have to be first, so to clients I say, “It’s not me, it’s you.” Sounds very elementary, I know. However, the most successful agency relationships truly put my brands’ goals first. Those agencies weren’t blatantly trying to grow their business by always pitching to do more work and meet more potential clients within the building. Ironically, these successful agencies did receive more work and meet more potential clients within the company.

Agencies should deliver great ideas or strategy and then follow up with excellent execution, all while putting the brands’ goals first. What results is trust, which most people agree is the foundation of successful relationships. And, trust grows over time.

One of those successful agency relationships was with WCG. A phrase I heard from one of my main contacts was, “whatever’s right for your business.” So, in addition to being ahead of the curve with what’s next in digital, WCG put my brands first. I also liked that WCG had one P&L, which meant it was easier to do the right thing for my brands.

Back to the title of this post, today I’m pleased to announce that I have joined that agency, WCG, to lead our soon-to-be opened Midwest office, located in the Twin Cities. I’m really looking forward to helping brands achieve their goals because it truly is about “you,” not “me.”

 

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This summer I embarked on a crazy road trip adventure.  I left New York headed to Los Angeles (solo) where I’m living for the summer, before turning around and driving back home; this time with my family in the car.

Along the 3,900 mile journey (I took the long way, through Austin) I had a lot of time on my hands to reflect; here are the top lessons learned, applicable to business, while driving west:

1)      Undivided Attention is Key

OK, sure – you could say I was driving and talking, but when you’re on long stretches of roads with no cars anywhere (hello Route 10), it was the perfect time to have 1-on-1 calls with clients and staff.  Too often in meetings I’m constantly interrupted by incoming emails or other distractions; rarely do we unplug entirely and devote  100% attention to person on the phone.  I did some of my best thinking and provided the best counsel/advice when all attention was on the person I was talking to, and I vowed to myself I will do more of this more often when I’m back at my desk.

2)      Face Time > FaceTime

I’m very fortunate to work for a company with multiple offices; plotting the drive where offices are stay-overs turned out to be a great decision.  I spent quality time with my team and “pop in” visits with extended teams who have nothing to do with my business.  I learned about things they were working on, immediately saw how their thinking could be applied to my line of business.  Too often we’re caught up in our own worlds; going outside our comfort zone can result in great new POVs and incremental business.

3)      Go the extra mile

I’ve done this x-country drive before (4 times, actually) and even the best plans require a change when opportunity strikes.  In my case,opportunity to meet a new business prospect was a 200 mile detour, which was not only a scenic drive, but could result in more business.   In this example, I literally drove the extra mile, but it reminded me that going the extra mile for current clients is what it’s all about in a service industry.   With nothing but asphault ahead of me, I pushed myself for new ideas that no one else is thinking about and looking at things from a totally different POV.  Back at my desk now, I keep asking: what more can be done to go that extra mile?

The journey back to the east coast begins in a couple of short weeks, with the wife and the kids in the car together.  I can’t wait to learn what my family teaches me along the 3,500 miles home; it may prove inspirational for part 2 of this post.

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