Friday, June 22, 2012

What is your budget?

The plan document is important and should have broad readership. The budget, on the other hand, is best managed with a smaller circulation. Budgets for marketing and communications activity can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Many companies simply do the best they can with a ballpark that has been established within in the past two-three years. Consumer products marketers often battle for a reasonable “share of voice” and budget based on best estimates of competitive spending. New products often try to obtain targeted rating points. When all is said and done, the budget should be a companion document to the marketing and communications plan. It should be realistic and fair. The budget also needs to be evaluated quarterly as the year unfolds. My experience has been within a relevant range of a wide variety of budget scenarios. Examples: I was account director at D’Arcy when they rolled out a campaign on behalf of Caller ID in the Pacific Bell territory that totaled $17 Million. Working with Crossland Construction in 2011-2012, I noted a budget for marketing and communications which was decidedly more modest. (Less than one million dollars for a company with annual revenues of $500,000,000. Needless to say, the budget did not match the ambition of that organization’s marketing communication goals.)

Your chief marketing officer (If you have such an animal in your organization) should be able to make a persuasive argument for a budget consistent with your strategic plan. More often then not, however, it is an operational decision. Don't sell yourself short. Make a budget. Build a plan. Use marketing tools to increase your chances of success.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Leadership and Ice Cream

Let’s face it, the first person in line at the ice cream truck may or may not have influenced the kids behind him (or her). What caused the crowd to gather? Was it the magic of the bell on the ice cream truck that created the Pavlovian response?  Are you a leader or just the first one down the path of least resistance? Like the kids chasing the ice cream truck, many of us are influenced by behavior around us. We like to be among the first see a blockbuster movie. We pay my taxes late. We shop the day after Thanksgiving.
The writer Malcolm Gladwell, author of best-selling books like The Tipping Point has done much to popularize the idea that marketing success might be more effectively triggered if we can understand how epidemics happen. In effect, if we can find the most efficient way to influence a kind of viral chain-reaction we might be able to unlock the key to marketing a hit product or creating a unique idea. (Malcolm Gladwell was recently named one of the 10 next thought leaders in the country by Newsweek.)
The transparency of social media tools like facebook and twitter seem to offer easy access to inexpensively influence thousands of “followers.” Can social media tactics lead consumers down a path that leads them to an informed choice?
Should we really believe everything we read? Consumers of media now have a greater challenge and responsibility than ever before. The volume of information has increased exponentially but the guarantee of accuracy, quality and authority can always be called into question. Unfortunately the market for such hearsay news is significant. Ultimately, good judgment and wisdom need to prevail. Consider the words of Rudyard Kipling in his poem IF written in1895:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
Be your authentic self and don’t believe everything you read. Stop and think before you follow the crowd. Be true to yourself and the crowd will follow.