Google+ The New CRM environment

There’s a new social media platform in town – and one that we should probably take notice of because it is owned and run by Google. If you have not yet heard about Google+ you have probably been on Planet Mars for the last few weeks (or maybe just on vacation).

I thought that in this post I would try to give a brief explanation of what all the fuss is about:

Google+ : The basics

Google+ is a new social networking platform. It takes the best functionality of Skype, Facebook & Twitter empowering users to interact through video calls, on a social (with your friends and acquaintances – like Facebook) or public level (like Twitter feeds). It has massive reach because it also links and interfaces effectively with your email account. As a social media management package is it the most complete offering out there at the moment.  It also seamlessly integrates the platforms that Google already has in its portfolio (Picassa/YouTube).

What does it replace?

Actually, nothing. Google+ is not a killer app that currently will destroy all in its path. Simply it does a lot of things better than any one single app. It has greater functionality. It may well reduce traffic on some other sites and time will tell if Google can continue to upgrade the offering to tempt people away from their other lifelines like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email and Skype. Currently, even though I am enthusiastic about Google+, I am not yet prepared to switch totally to this platform.

Who, then, is most at risk?

In my view:

  • Skype: Google can probably offer a comparable service at lower cost. I think a lot of other businesses have caught up with Skype over the years and Google has much more firepower than any previous competitor. The hangout feature, however, might just be something that tips the balance (see below).
  • Facebook: Google+ has only just opened up in Beta form and has more than 10 million subscribers (I was probably number 9,867,235). It took Facebook 5 years to get to 600 million. Google+ trumps Facebook on two levels. Firstly, it has email capability – not to be underestimated, people still use this antiquated form of communication, believe me – and secondly the cirlces feature of Google+ is simply an inspired evolution of the social media landscape (see below). I do not see multitudes shifting allegiance, but this will dent growth and the total number of Facebook subscribers.
  • Blogs: Who can be bothered today to sit at a desk and actually write something longer than 140 characters? As Twitter has shown, micro blogging is more efficient and fun. I think we will see less people writing lengthy blog posts as soon as Google+ takes hold with a wider audience.
  • Flikkr: These sort of photo sharing sites lost out to Facebook and as Google owns Picassa it’s no surprise that Google+ has Picassa powered photo and video functionality. These will lose more traction because with Google+ there is really no reason to go to them.

Who has nothing to fear from Google+

Some platforms have nothing to fear:

  • LinkedIn: The segmented commercial focus of LinkedIn will protect it from Google+ unless they start to make everyone pay for the service. Otherwise, I see only a positive impact for LinkedIn as it will integrate with Google+ feeds.
  • Email: Google has nothing to gain from reducing email traffic. They own Gmail, which is one of the biggest email platforms. There is no reason to rock this boat. After all, they can double up on advertising revenues by serving both Google+ and Gmail.
  • You Tube: In as much as Facebook has helped You Tube grow because so much more traffic is sent their way, Google+ will do the same. Moreover, Google owns YouTube now and is very interested increasing traffic travelling it its direction.

What’s new in Google+

There are a couple of outstanding social media evolutions in Google+ that really make a difference and make it worth using:

  • Circles: In LinkedIn I can segment my contacts in upto 50 categorizations. This is great for targeted messages. I could never do this in Twitter or Facebook – net result, lots of friends and contacts end up getting a lot of content that it irrelevant to them. With Google+ circles I can much more effectively manage my content, both outbound and inbound. I can share what I want with whom I want, something that has been sorely lacking with the other social media platforms to date. The others will follow I am sure, but they will find it hard to do this as elegantly.
  • Hangouts: So much of our lives are carried out on-line today, but until now we could not casually drop in on friends if we saw them online.  This new functionality allows users to virtually hang out with their friends on line by offering video conferencing for up to 10 people per conversation. It will not be for everyone. For early adopters it is going to be the reason to move from Skype to another platform – especially because it’s possible to plug in a direct feed from YouTube to the hangout.

Currently, Google+ is not set up for business use. It is coming fast. For many businesses it will be acceptable to wait a year or so and assess if it is necessary to add this channel. For any business that claims any sort of expertise in social media, multi-channel or communications watching this space will be essential.

My concluding thoughts?

Google has done a good job with this platform – but them it has tried and failed in social media before, twice. I like what I have seen so far and think that the level of interest indicates that there will be a large enough critical mass to elevate Google+ from a nice to have to an essential interface.

For the CRM industry, I think that Google+ represents an excellent opportunity – why and how? Because anyone using Google+ will have to start thinking in terms of segmentation, targeting and positioning.


It will be interesting to share any experiences through this web site.

This post was first published at Thinkaboutcrm where I am a contributing guru

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How to Increase Your Sales by 100%

In my last post I asked whether the CRM industry is ready willing and able to service the many small and medium sized businesses who could be potential customer. This post looks at how businesses should use their own systems and analysis to target clients – because this is something that I think a lot of CRM solutions sellers are failing to do.

You probably know the saying ‘the cobblers children wear the worst shoes’. The same could be applied to any industry, and the CRM business is no different. What’s going on here? When you work day to day in a business, servicing clients, looking for new business or developing enhancements to our offerings we often forget about our own business and to apply the same standards to our business as we would to that of a client. Why? There’s lots of reasons. No-one gets any credit for selling and implementing an internal CRM system; we are the experts so of course it’s already in place; we think we are actually doing this.

Working like this on our own businesses never seems to be a priority. When in fact it should be priority number one. For a start, if I am selling any service what better advertisement do I have for my services than the fact that I used them to attract a new client? Here’s a simple example. As a marketing consultant I advise companies that an effective communication channel they can use is to have something published that presents them as subject matter experts – when other people read your views it increases your profile and reputation making it more likely you look to them for support than someone else from whom you have heard nothing. Do I ‘put my money where my mouth is’? Of course. You are reading this article.

Applying the same to the CRM industry poses an interesting question. If our CRM solutions are so good, should we not be able to ‘prove’ that by demonstrating that we used our own systems and solutions to target and convert our new clients?

I think this is a question that many companies should be asking themselves. If your company, a CRM solutions provider, is finding it challenging to maintain, develop and grow your business ask the question: Are we using our own services and solutions properly and effectively? I think that a lot of companies are not.

So this brings me to the headline – how can you increase your sales by 100%? It really is as simple as using the products and services you offer better and implementing them in the same way that you would advise any of your clients.

Surely, if the solution that you are offering is as good as you promote it as being and as beneficial as promised to your clients and prospects, there could be no better advertisement for your services. You have one great advantage over the organizations that you might target – you really understand how CRM works and what it can bring.

Too many of us get caught in the inertia of dealing with our day to day troubles to see that the easiest of solutions can be the most powerful. Use your service on your business, write up a detailed case study and then explain to the prospect you are sitting across the table to that it was by using your own solutions that you got to them and soon you will see how growing your sales by 100% needs you to do nothing more than truly and passionately live your brand.

What action steps will you take as a result of this article.

It would be great to hear from you with stories of how you used your own services to bring in business.


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CRM: Why small businesses don’t use CRM

This post was first published at where I am a pro blogger.

If you listen to our politicians, the way that we are going to get out of our current tough financial environment will be by small, local businesses becoming more and more successful.

We hear a lot about the banks, high-tech and manufacturing enterprises but the truth is that the mom & pop businesses, the small enterprises that are truly the engines of growth. Once these businesses start to grow, they stimulate demand and from the grass roots our economies start to pull themselves out of the doldrums.

If they are so important to the economy, why do so few of them invest in CRM and what would having a CRM system deliver to them? Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Small businesses do not understand CRM:  There has been such a focus on enterprise solutions in CRM that small businesses do not think that CRM is suitable or relevant to them. They simply do not understand the purpose of a CRM solution, the benefits that it can bring them or the value that it will deliver in their business.  This is an issue for the CRM industry which should be addressed by more emphasis in marketing campaigns on explaining what CRM means for the small business.  As an industry, we need to question if CRM suppliers done enough convince small business owners that CRM is a worthwhile investment for them? Has the CRM industry satisfactorily communicated the benefits that a CRM solution can deliver to small business?
  2. Don’t believe it’s worth it/value it: Money is tight for small businesses. While a big business can wait a few years to get a return on their investments, small businesses generally do not have that luxury. As a result, CRM is not adequately valued by these potential customers. They have their client lists, they generate new business themselves, they keep their key customers happy – so why would they need the investment in a CRM solution. The industry needs to make sure that small businesses do believe that CRM provides a significant return on investment for their businesses. We need to be prepared to provide these potential customers with a reason to believe that the investment in CRM is worth it for them.
  3. Done believe you about the results: Allied to not believing that CRM is worth the investment comes the next problem that they do not believe the results that are promised to them. Have we got enough testimonials to be able to show them that companies just like theirs have benefitted sufficiently from their investment to justify CRM in their business?
  4. Don’t believe it will work for them: OK, so you have shown a potential customer with a small business that CRM has value to them and that other similar businesses created a return on investment on buying a CRM solution – the next problem is helping them understand that a system will also work for them. This is no longer a question of whether they believe that CRM offers benefits, more an issue that the business owner cannot see it being effective in her particular business: Why? The implementation will take too much time and effort, there will not be full compliance – we have all heard these objections before, but has the industry done enough to make CRM implementation manageable for the small business? What more could be done for them?
  5. Don’t believe they can afford it: Of course, any good CRM professional would say that a potential client cannot afford to be without it. Nonetheless, many small businesses will claim that purchasing a CRM solution, or committing to a service is beyond their means. As I said above, money is tight. Are the pricing models we have in the industry sufficiently flexible to attract small business owners? Does it look like any CRM supplier takes an element of risk in their models to compel business owners to part with their cash. In most cases, the business can afford the solution, they just do not have it at the top of their priorities. It’s our job to get it there.
  6. Don’t want it now: You’ve spent hours with the prospect, they like the solution, they love what it can deliver and believe that it will be good for their business and it fits within a budget… just not now because we are dealing with another initiative. Creating urgency is an essential part of any sale, but how do we achieve this with CRM? Last minute offers are not likely to inspire confidence, they already believe that the solution could help them. The response might be “if not now, when?” Creating urgency of the need is an essential part of the sale which is even more important to utilize in the small business scenario. Why? Because these businesses always have something more urgent to do, spend their money on or fire to fight. The industry needs to tap better into the needs of these groups to find out why CRM might become an urgent need.

I have no doubt that there are some great success stories from the industry in working with small to medium sized businesses. It would be great if you can share these within this community.


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Has CRM changed in the last 10 years?

Almost ten years ago, I designed and then implemented a new sales and marketing management tool within the company I was then working. For those of you interested in the technical details, this tool worked within Lotus Notes (the company’s communication platform at the time), accommodated 6 languages including Cyrillic and Latin scripts and was fully integrated into the legacy accounting systems of the company.

An additional module was developed to link the tool to our planning department so that when sales calls were made, our teams would know about available manufacturing capacity. Finally I developed an additional interactive sales tool linking to the system that provided our sales force with 6 variables they could manipulate (e.g. cycle time, manufacture date, quantity, price) on any sales call to get the sale.

It was, in my humble opinion, a thing of beauty. We could look, real-time (or at least on-line because this was in the days before ADSL/broadband) at sales vs. targets for all our clients and numerous other KPIs and management metrics that we defined as we developed the tool.

Anyone with a modicum of experience in CRM will know what’s coming next. We implemented the tool trained everyone and started using the system. Within 12 months use was limited to planning, marketing and finance. 12 months later, we abandoned the solution altogether as the company changed the enterprise platform to Windows and our Lotus Notes programs could not be redesigned to fit.

While thinking about this recently, I wondered if anything has really changed in the world of CRM since then. I questioned if the mistakes we made in developing our CRM tool still prevent effective adoption when we are all much more programmed to use web and online applications as a matter of course.

What were those mistakes? Here’s why I think our system failed:

  1. Sales did not get involved in system design. Implementing our CRM system was driven by the marketing team. Our objectives were not the same as sales, yet we expected them to get involved and spend time inputting data and entries into the system. While we had mapped out the sales process, we totally underestimated that recording data in a prescribed manner would totally change the way that sales worked.
  2. Legacy data that was input to the system was insufficient. While we tried to import and integrate as much legacy data possible into the system from the start, it was not as clean as it should have been which created frustration with users. One or two stray pieces of data in the wrong hands resulted in the CRM tool getting a bad press from day one.
  3. The CEO and CFO were not seen to be using the system. Senior management buy-in to any major change program is essential. Without leadership from the top no one else will follow. We had hoped that once the CEO saw the benefits of the management accounting that the system offered, he would lead from the front. This might have worked had the CFO used the new management accounts available within the system instead of presenting reports generated by the finance team ‘based on’ the CRM data.
  4. We did not have a great enough emphasis on inbound sales. Our sales team failed to see the value from the system because it did not do enough to help them by providing inbound sales leads and opportunities. The sales team did not perceive the system as helping them to drive revenue. Instead, they saw it as a management tool that intruded in the relationships that they had developed with their customers.

I have no doubt that there are many more reasons why CRM implementations fail.

What are the lessons learned here?

  • Alignment in developing any CRM system is key. Even though we had process mapped the whole of our business in developing the CRM system, process mapping and reality are often very different things. We should have aligned more closely with the objectives of other departments and functions we wanted to engage in the system.
  • In any situation of change remember WIIFM. We failed to gain the trust of all the potential users of the system by demonstrating to them what was in it for them. No-one will change their behavior until they really believe in the benefits for themselves and trust that the change has not been implemented to monitor them. With finance and sales as partners who needed to buy into the project not supporting the change, we were bound to fail.
  • Ease of use, not functionality will drive use. This is a development of the above point. If in developing the tool I can find a way to reduce the workload on people it is more likely they will use it. I still believe that the functionality we developed in our system was top notch – but it did not necessarily make reporting easier for the users.
  • In business revenue is everything. Any CRM system has to be seen very clearly to drive revenue. Users did not immediately see that our system would deliver revenue. As a result they could not see the benefit in compliance and adoption. Explaining how the system will deliver value and revenue should be the number one priority.

I have posted regularly about how CRM can drive customer loyalty. That is a very honorable objective, but purely theory if I cannot get my own team to use the system. Have you got a solution for this that you want to share?

This post was first published at where I am listed as one of the CRM gurus.

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Be the Chief Celebrant of Your Community, Not Its Celebrity

In recent posts I have been developing the manifesto for the Global Brand Project and found that my perspective resonates with many marketers working in both global and local roles.

I saw a presentation that really caught my attention this week. I want to share it with you –it endorses much of what I have been saying and more importantly adds qualitative value to the discussion, bringing something new to the table on which I had not focused sufficiently:  The humanizing power of social media on brands and how harnessing this channel is transform our brand landscape.

Let’s look first at Mainwaring’s view of what makes brands successful. He lists 6 keys:

  • Defining purpose and core values
  • Distilling the purpose and values into emotional terms
  • Crafting a manifesto
  • Writing a vision statement
  • Committing to the brand purpose
  • Align internally

Brand purpose is a subject I covered in a previous post []. When brands stand for something it is extremely powerful in defining their future, acting as a compass for all the brand’s activities.

Mainwaring finesses this adding that once the brand has purpose and something we care about, it can build a conversation within its community and make a contribution to the cause. Here’s an example of how Nike is using its community influence to benefit the environment.

Social media so radically democratizes the communication process that brands that are not authentic, transparent or accountable are very quickly found out. Look at the backlash that BP had to deal with once it started advertising again about how it cares for the environment after the Gulf of Mexico spill last year.

What this boils down to is that social media is driving brands to become more human. In the dark old ages of the early 1990’s brands could control communications through three main channels (TV, radio & print). For today’s consumer it is almost inconceivable for them to buy anything without checking peer reviews, blogs, carrying out price comparisons and a multitude of alternatives.

Cut-through in this market means that we really must know like and trust a brand before we will ‘invest’ in it – just like the sort of decisions we make around those human beings with whom we want to interact.

There is a good reason why Dell ( ) the consumer computing company continually receives excellent reviews from its consumers – it’s because it does not talk about itself all the time, but makes sure that it is the loudest cheerleader for its consumers who make up the Dell community.

Social media is transforming the consumer landscape in which brands operate, democratizing the buying process through the interactions of a dynamic focus group of 1.5 billion people active online on a daily basis. Harness this power for good and it will transform the fortunes of your brand, make an error – like trying to control what is being said on line about your brand – and the level of damage will be amplified across multiple platforms and millions of desktops.

The key takeaway from the presentation: The world is moving fast away from the brand of Me to the brand of We.

I think this is a truly important contribution to the Global Brand Project. If you have an hour or so, take a look at the whole of the presentation yourself ( ) there’s a lot more good stuff in there that’s worth the time. It would be really interesting to hear from people how this message resonates with them.

I look forward to your comments and input.


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You’re Kidding, That’s No Insight: Part I

You’re Kidding, that’s not an Insight: Part I

When I meet clients who want to create a global team, or are experiencing challenges over the effectiveness of the global team there is a key action theme that is raised. Develop insights.

It is almost axiomatic with the creation of a global team that the local markets expect that the global team will deliver to them meaningful insights into the category which will help them drive their business.

As I covered in previous posts, I agree: Delivering on insights is one of the four key deliverables that I believe local markets want, and global teams should deliver, but there’s a problem. We all know how critical it is to develop our business and work around compelling consumer insights. It is accepted that it is essential that major marketing and management decisions should have good insights as their foundation. However, all too often what is provided by the global team and what passes for an insight is nothing more than soft platitudes that are essentially useless to the operational teams asked to work with them.

This is a massive cause of frustration for the local teams and can destroy the credibility of the global team. Poor quality insights result in parity performing new product development and the failure to create compelling, behavior changing creative or communication briefs. Pretty disastrous as far as ROI is concerned.

In this two part post I will first look at why I think it is that insight development has become such a hot topic and key deliverable for global markets. In the second post I present a roadmap for the creation of relevant, meaningful and competitive insight generation.

Why have insights become so important?

Call me a cynic, but I believe one reason why local markets ask the global team to come up with insights is because they know how difficult they are to find.

Here’s the scenario: Local marketers don’t want the global team interfering in their market, so they agree to the global team having responsibility to understand global category dynamics and come up with insights that will be game changers for the business. It follows then that the global team can be responsible for global product development and global campaigns.

It’s not a job they were doing themselves anyway. Add to that, the fact they are placing on this team the responsibility for one of the most challenging roles in marketing: That should keep them out of the way for a while.

If the global team comes up with something, the local markets take it and use it to their advantage, if not the standard response would be: “We never saw the value of the global team in the first place”

This means that there is a high degree of risk for the global team even before they start their work, compounded because too few marketers have actually been exposed to truly compelling insights in their careers or been responsible for their identification and development.

This leads to one of the other key reason that I believe insights have increased in importance for all marketers. With greater global competition local marketers are feeling the pinch and see the need for something that will deliver competitive advantage to them in their markets. They know insights can deliver this, but don’t have the skill set to identify these insights.

Due to my role, I have the privilege of focusing only on strategic marketing challenges every single day and gaining experience from multiple categories and industries in the process. There are a large number of marketers who have never been involved in insight development in their whole career.

The result: inexperienced marketers don’t always see how poor the insights are that they are using or the weaknesses in the insights they are developing. Even experienced marketers create ‘insight statements’ that often deliver nothing more than accepted consumer beliefs, describe a need or simply repeat a well-known fact.

Now it’s true, once upon a time, the insight on which an accepted consumer belief is founded might well have been a true insight, but over time, what happens is that the insight gets repeated, rephrased and tweaked so many times that it enters the consciousness of the consumer target group and loses its impact.  It’s like saying that “I know that I should give up smoking. With the restrictions on smoking in public places I feel like a social outcast” is a valid insight. It’s not, that’s an accepted consumer belief.

Likewise, facts are interesting, but it’s simply not an insight to say “42% of all mothers know that children should eat 5 portions of fruit & vegetables a day”.  Excellent, what can I do with that at a local level?

Nor is expressing a consumer need a valid insight. If the best you can come up with is “I need to lose weight because carrying all this extra weight is bad for my health”, it will not be surprising if your marketing investments fail to deliver their planned or projected ROI.

Simply put, I do not think enough marketers have been sufficiently well educated in the discipline of developing ‘insights’ and as a result are prepared to accept something less.

Secondly, most global marketers are not provided with the inputs from the local markets that might help them discover real insights. Yes, they can read the market research and all the other available reports, but it is local market knowledge that holds the triggers to driving consumers to change their behavior.

Local marketers by definition are closer to the market and its drivers – and the global team needs to tap into this if they are going to be successful in identifying compelling insights applicable on a global basis.

So it’s Catch22. Local marketers want insights, but cannot really identify them and do not volunteer the inputs to empower their creation. Global marketers want to provide them, but lack the experience and skill set which offers only mediocrity.

Both agree that they are an essential element for the success of their business.

In my next post I will present a methodology to create the sort of insights that I believe marketers deserve and give some excellent examples of insights at work.

Is this a scenario that resonates with you? How strong are the insights driving your brand?

I look forward to your comments and input.



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Hyperlocality & Micro marketing

The last post on what local marketers want from global marketing clearly resonated. There was some great feedback:

Oscar Fernandez Gallardo said “A great brand must have a global vision of business, but act locally, because the appropriateness of this strategy to the particularities of each market, will give you a competitive advantage over the rest. There must be two-way communication between them so that the union of business synergies in their implementation is optimized.”

Susan Zweibaum commented “Understanding local psychographics, needs and culture all play a role. Understanding the basic fundamentals and insights that drove the product introduction is fairly universal. It might just have to be tweaked to make it work in a local market.”

Before getting into the specifics of each of these areas, which I will do in later posts, I thought it might be interesting to look at some other people’s perspectives on this question. This area is gaining an increasing amount of coverage and attention. More importantly, from a commercial, brand building perspective an increasing amount of marketing investment appears to be directed towards this challenge.

Marketing Tribune ( interviewed Nicole Verburg of the wellness brand Rituals ( She talks about how Rituals leverage their global brand with local partners through micro marketing, targeted social media and local activation. Rituals sees the need to offer a global brand supported at a very local level. Whether this sort of refined deployment of the marketing mix can be successful on a wider scale, or in different categories is questioned, but it does reinforce the notion that for global brands to be successful they have to respond to local needs. I believe that we will see an increasing level of local tactical activation from major global players in the coming years.

The global organizations that are successful in implementing these initiatives will be those which are best at effectively sharing global knowledge and best practices, an issue I will delve into deeper in future posts.

It is clear that global players will increasingly need to attend to the needs of their local markets on a global basis, by providing them the tools and techniques to leverage their size. In an interesting post on their blog, Freeman International talk about how brands are now finding ways, through social media and CRM to offer consumers specific local content. It is something called: ‘hypoerlocality’ ( and an increasing number of companies are using techniques like this to cut through the clutter and offer consumers something more valuable and accessible than is possible traditional mass marketing. As long as electronic communication platforms remain as inexpensive as a means of reaching consumers, I think that an increasing proportion of marketing budgets will be funneled this way.

Back then to the world of traditional marketing and understanding how major global brands can play the ‘local’ hand. I mentioned in earlier posts how Omo gives local markets a great deal of freedom to execute the ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign for their local market. An alternative treatment of this global-local challenge has driven a small Hong Kong bank to become one of the largest financial institutions on the planet.   They have actually plugged into the whole glocal zeitgeist by defining themselves as ‘The World’s Local Bank (  Over the years, HSBC Bank ( has grown through differentiating itself and being defined by its glocal credentials: A clever way of demonstrated their global scope, while being sympathetic at the same time to local needs. I did not yet have a chance to ask HSBC marketers if this approach is demonstrated in the way that they do business, but it would not surprise me to find that the brand values are strongly embedded in the company’s DNA and that global marketing deliver what the local markets need.

The question I pose today is this: Are you working for a global brand where the central team understands and delivers what you need. If not, what should they be bringing to you, if yes, please share your experiences so we can all learn.

I look forward to your comments and input.


Posted in Benefits, Brand character, Brand Leadership, Brand Loyalty, Brand positioning, Campaign strategies, Communications strategy, Global Marketing, Marketing communications, Marketing Excellence, News, Personal branding, Promotions, Social Media, Targeting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Local Businesses Want from Global Marketing

This post was published first on Consumer Goods Club – where I am a pro blogger. I have started a discussion called the Global Brand Project.

My last post depicted the inherent conflict between global and local marketers. It asked the question what benefits do local marketers see from having a global marketing team in their business. This post suggests the key business areas where local marketers want support from global resources.

The language choice is deliberate. Notwithstanding the natural friction between local and global teams, I believe there are areas where most local teams would welcome and invite support from global marketing.

The want help with:

  • Strategy
  • Insights
  • Innovation
  • Best practices

Global marketers who understand how to deliver on these needs, create high-energy co-operation with marketers working together to build global power brands. For every brand driven by a visionary leader who has identified and successfully communicated a universal truth behind which the whole business has rallied, there are 20 other brand leaders facing resistance from local managers to that global vision. Addressing local markets needs breaks down this resistance.

Local management teams often complain that global marketers do not listen to their needs. The result: they fail to engage each other on areas of common ground – choosing instead to look for issues and challenges between them.

When global teams focus on these four areas, they create a valuable ‘reason to be’ with the local markets.

Strategy: The global team is privileged. They have oversight of the whole business so can compare, contrast and benchmark the performance of one market against the other, see the movement in category trends or predict future market developments in emerging markets. Setting and aligning the strategy should be a priority task of the global team. It lets the global team demonstrate they understand the business reality faced by their colleagues and engage them in discussion.

Insights: Power brands are driven by a universal truth or insight. Identifying, refining and then exploiting insights is hard strategic work. Few local marketers have time for this. They are focused on day to day execution of their marketing plan. Local markets expect the global team to be able to step into the consumer’s shoes and see what really motivates her. Local markets need global to divine these previously unknown, overlooked or under-appreciated attitudes & behaviors which can then be exploited. A great example of this is the way that Special K connects with consumers’ wishes for a convenient way to manage their weight

Innovation: New product development drives brand growth. Local markets want new news to share with consumers and customers. They rarely have the resources to develop breakthrough innovation and rely on the global team to deliver relevant, competitive products that support the brand positioning or deliver on a newly identified insight. P&G has created a $1bn business behind the product developments in its Swiffer business. In many companies innovation comes in the form of new products. Communication innovation is overlooked. Local markets need both from the global team.

Sharing best practices: Knowledge sharing can be a big win for the global team. The global team is are better connected and networked than local marketers and should be able to identify which processes, initiatives actions or training that have worked well on one market could successfully migrate to another.

To each item on this list I would add metrics. Business is managed by metrics. A global team that fails to demonstrate they understand this loses credibility. A recent survey Marketing Week reported many CEOs do not think their CMO understands the commercial challenges of the business – instead concerning themselves with metrics like brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Global teams that support their proposals and initiatives with meaningful commercially relevant metrics will be seen to deliver on local market needs more effectively than those that do not.

Are you in a local marketing team?

What else do you need from the global marketing team to be able to do your job more effectively?

Is there something more important that you want from the global team that is missing here?

I look forward to your comments and input.



Richard Kohn

The Global Brand Project

Written exclusively for


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Is Global Marketing the Final Frontier?

This post was first published as a part of the Global Brand Project, a discussion on global brands and marketing that I write as a pro blogger for the Consumer Goods Club (

I want to tell you about a very personal experience. Locations have been changed, the experience comes from my own professional life. The scenario was inspired by The Global Brand CEO (see below).

The Local Marketer

You have just been appointed the Marketing Director for Australia. You started off your career in the company as an intern direct from University and have been with the company for the last 20 years. You have held positions in sales, operations and for the last years have been building your reputation in the marketing team. All of that hard work has now paid off and you have been given the responsibility to run the whole marketing team with its substantial advertising budget.

Now you sit on the local management team, you have the ear of the business unit president and the respect of your professional peers in other companies who all acknowledge that your elevation was well deserved. Couldn’t be better?

Well actually, there is a little fly in the ointment. Your company has just announced that there are going to be some internal changes and a global category structure is going to be created. The CEO said a little while ago that if the company wants to grow in line with his strategy, then they have to innovate and that innovation has to be driven on a global basis. She thinks that the global category will make the process of innovating much more efficient if it is centralized. She’s seen some great examples of this like Unilever’s Dove campaign (, the global approach for Snickers ( and how Dulux transformed their products from paint to passion ( and she wants the company to aspire to this standard, ,

She’s also decided to establish a global marketing team who will drive a global banding approach and be responsible for sharing best practices across the business.

None of this sounds great. You have been asking for innovation from the hundreds of product developers that sit close to the European headquarters of your business for years, but they have never delivered anything that was relevant to your market – so you’ve been successfully driving innovation using your local team for years.

Also, your brands are distinctly local. They tap into the Australian psyche and have a fantastic heritage that’s not going to be understood by a global team. After all, Europe has been the driver for major changes in the last few years and none of them was any help to your market.

How are you going to react to this news? What will you do to make sure that your ideas are retained and the effectiveness of your campaigns remains undiluted?

The Global Marketer

Now let’s switch to the desk of the newly promoted Vice President of Global Marketing. You’ve been in company for long enough now to understand the business and you know how it works politically. You just gave your first presentation to your senior management peers and it went down like a lead balloon.  Your emotional intelligence tells you that the rest of your senior management team has not truly bought into the CEO’s global vision. They all nodded their heads politely when the CEO introduced you and explained how your appointment was going to be of real service to the business unit heads and would strengthen the business, but their body language throughout the meeting said something quite different.

You have shared your vision as to how by centralizing the product development resources you can radically reduce speed to market for innovations, how you will work to create those innovations driven only by consumer driven insight and the way in which taking a global approach to marketing will provide a strong foundation for developing power brands which will help the business grow.

Of course, you’ll need a new organization to support these changes, but you imagine that you can recruit people out of the business and although of course there will be some additional costs (which the business units will have to bear) the benefits to the business will by far outweigh any additional expenses.

Does anything hear sound familiar?

The Challenge

I think that this scenario is happening at an increasing rate in an ever increasing number of companies.

Here are my questions – which over the next posts we will answer. The posts will be based on the replies to these posts and comments that we will get from interviewees booked to give their opinions over the following weeks:

  1. What are the benefits that local marketers see coming from taking a global approach?
  2. What are the key challenges of working on today’s business environment that drive global marketers?
  3. Which parts of a brand should be global and which parts of a brand can be local? Is the category in which you work relevant in making these decisions?
  4. What case studies do you have of great global brand execution that demonstrate the potential that can be unlocked through effective global brand management?

The scenario was inspired by reading The Global Brand CEO, an excellent book on Global Brands I would advise anyone interested in managing global brands to read

I look forward to your comments and input.


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The Rise & Rise of Global Marketing (Part 2)

This post was written exclusively for where I am a pro blogger.

The article was published first on that site.

In part one of this blog I suggested that one of the drivers for the growth of global marketing has been an increasing pace and cost of change.  The expense of keeping up with the competition requires that any major launch be global because otherwise, how can you have any hope of recouping development costs.

In this second post, the discussion is around how companies have responded to the need to move faster by creating global marketing structures – without the necessary experience and knowledge about how to achieve this.

Because the pace of change is so much faster, the complexity and costs of running a business increase.  Companies need greater global marketing focus to exploit their investments. There is a major global program of brand rationalization under way that few people appreciate as companies make choices about which brands receive investment and resources behind them. I have personally overseen the quiet and unannounced death of tens of local or non-focus brands.

Focus brands, on the other hand, are responsible for generating an increasing percentage of revenues. P&G Focus on global brands Despite this, very few organizations are effective at leveraging their scale and it is hard to find multiple examples of excellence in rolling out global brand initiatives.

Global Marketing is a hard job. One for which few marketers are prepared. The global marketer is responsible for developing marketing strategy, building an operational marketing organization that works and for developing excellence and information management systems. All of this in a politically charged business environment where someone inevitably has to give something up to make this work.

For every successful Dove (Campaign for Real Beauty) or Johnny Walker (Keep Walking) campaign, there are many underperforming and unsuccessful attempts at going global, including some by the world’s largest corporations.

Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer yet they failed to expand their brand into Europe beyond their purchase of ASDA in the UK, returning from their European continental adventures with their fingers burnt and tail between their legs. Google cannot crack China and Renault cannot seem to develop their brand outside of their European comfort zone.

Why have they failed? Partly because the competence of developing global brands is still in its infancy. Of the 113,000 marketing leaders referred to above, very few have formal training in building and operating successful global brands. As I have found with my clients, global marketing effectiveness has become one of the key deliverables for marketing leaders.

How do we address this challenge? I think it was Patrick Geddes a Scottish town planner who first coined the phrase ‘think global, act local’. For many years marketers were encouraged to follow this maxim and be ‘glocal’.

I think this should be inverted. Today, we should be thinking local and acting global. That is how tomorrow’s organizations will be equipped to deal with the challenges of effectively developing global brands.

What do you think?  What should the role of global marketing be? How should marketing be structured to deliver on the potential of globalization?

I got inspiration for this post from a number of sources, but wish to give credit to The Global Brand CEO, by Marc de Swaan Arons & Fran van den Driest.

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