Re-Imagine the World’s Oldest Profession; Rethink How It Adapts to Age of Social Media: No, Not That One; Selling…

Contrary to popular belief, selling is the oldest profession in the world. Long before anything else– the serpent sold Eve on desirability of an apple; and its in ‘The Book’ right after the phrase– ‘In the beginning… Hence no matter what you do, it’s always about selling… According to Dave Ramsey; selling is about connecting and that makes the magic happens, and if you fail to connect there may not be another chance… Great leaders are also great sellers, who understand the power of connections and relationships… There is little you can do in this world without selling, and if you look a little closer at every situation there is always a seller and a buyer…

Nothing happens until someone sells something! Or better yet, until someone buys something! Selling has evolved and continues to evolve into something difference; internet and social media have completely disrupted traditional selling, putting the power of decision-making in the hands of buyers, rather than sellers… Many organizations have come to realize that they must sell the way customers want to buy… They have learned that for them to sell better they must understand customers better…

Knowing buyer behaviors and preferences are keys to success in selling and that means being actively engaged on social media and carefully– listening, observing… and understanding; How buyers want to buy! When buyers want to buy! What buyers want to buy! even before sellers engage buyers about buying…

In the article Future Of Selling is Social by Brian Fetherstonhaugh writes: In the era of Facebook, Google , Twitter… buyers have as much control over the flow of information as sellers. Buying, which was once one-way interaction between informed seller and curious buyer, is now conversation between equals. According to Ogilvy; social media has had an enormous impact on buying behavior with a majority of sellers seeing social media as critical to their success…

But many organizations are not adapting fast enough, 68% of sellers say that buyers are changing the way they buy faster than their own organizations are adapting to it… Nearly one-half of sellers surveyed say organizations lack the– understanding, knowledge, commitment... about social media and its impact on the selling and buying process… Sellers to be successful must align their selling ways to be in lockstep with those of buyers…

In the article Social Selling? Hasn’t Selling Always Been Social? Paul Teshima writes: The idea of being ‘social’ so as to build a trusted relationship has been around since the beginning of time… The whole notion of social media is about building and maintaining relationships, which has changed how people buy and sell things… However, the vast majority of sellers on social media are passive users and rarely if ever, posting creative content that shows passion experience, expertise…The key to better selling through social media is by creating– engaging, interesting, relevant, buyer related content…

In the article Social Media Is Changing The Way Buyers Buy Stuff by Ryan Holmes writes: It’s easy to miss how fundamentally social media has changed how people spend not just their time, but also their money… The way people learn about products, services, evaluate them, buy them, interact with sellers are all being mediated by social media… An old selling adage says; one happy customer will tell 3 friends, while an unhappy customer tells 10… But in social media those numbers are increased by orders of magnitude…

It’s easy to say that social media is changing how people interact and engage with organizations, but it can sometimes be hard to see it up close and personal… And for the organizations that haven’t, the clock is ticking… and if they cannot or won’t make the jump they stand to see their customer base erode as it becomes ever more social…

In the article Re-Imagine Selling for the 21st Century by Ayelet Baron writes: The most important currency of the 21st century is– trust, relationships, community… The days of the traditional sales pitch, for most organizations, is coming to an end… and the important question that sellers must ask themselves and also know the answer to is; Who do you trust? And most importantly; Who trusts you? 21st century sellers must know how to bring people together around a shared purpose; and the interlocking currency is trust… and through trust– sellers and buyers can connect based on shared experience, ideas, expectations…

Selling in the 21st century is about applying two critical resources; ancient wisdom and great technology… It’s about seeing customers through the lens of sharing… simply share and connect with buyers who can benefit from the ‘things’ you have to offer… It’s a matter of recognizing people as artists and co-creators of something delightful by the collaboration of seller and buyer.. and It’s about truly believing in what can be created and having a passion for sharing it… The days of the patriarchy are coming to an end. There is power in the sellers and buyers co-creating solutions, but it requires a deep desire to know, to listen, to engage…

The world is changing, if organizations keep showing up in the same places with the same solutions they will get the same results… The dynamic of selling and buying will continue to shift… In the future (and future is now), organizations will be created in the image of their customers… According to Scott Marker; selling is learning up front; How customers want to buy: If customers want to buy online, then offer that choice… If customers want a simple transaction, then don’t go through a long relationship mating dance…

 

Shark Tank– TV Reality Show– Epitomizes the Frenzy of Investors Vs. Entrepreneurs in Deals for Funding Ventures…

The Shark Tank (TV reality show) is a prime-time feeding frenzy where investors (sharks) compete among themselves over investing in aspiring start-ups, while ruthlessly chew-up the founding entrepreneurs who are often unprepared in pitching their business… It’s unscripted, real-life drama were neither the sharks (who invest their own money) or the entrepreneurs (who represent a wide range of ventures) are actors. Sharks are multi-millionaire, multi-billionaire angel investors who made their marks, achieved their own brand celebrity… According to Allen Taylor; Shark Tank is more than just entertainment there are real business lessons to be learned… 

First and foremost, even if you are not an investor or entrepreneur you won’t get anywhere in business if you don’t know your value… The best way to win in business is to be prepared. Entrepreneurs who get decent deals on Shark Tank are the ones who know their numberswho anticipate questions while in the hot seatwho respond truthfully, intelligently… and then just maybe they walk away with a deal… In the world of business it’s either– eat or be eaten… You may not be a predator but if you don’t ‘think’ like one, you may very will be next predator’s meal... Hence, if you think like a shark you can avoid serious mistakes and survive to conduct business another day…

In the article Fact-Checked Shark Tank Deals by Emily Canal writes: On Shark Tank, the deals that are made on camera often are not the deals that are finalized… Some entrepreneurs walk away with life-changing deals, but more often than not, those on-air hand-shake agreements change or fall apart after taping. FORBES found that 319 businesses accepted deals on-air in the first seven seasons of Shark Tank and interviewed 237 of those entrepreneurs and discovered 73% did not get the exact deal they made on TV. But tweaked terms or dead deals don’t necessarily spell doom for a business; for many contestants, just the publicity for appearing on the show ended-up being worth more than the deal…

About 43% of participates interviewed said their deals didn’t come to fruition after the show. They attributed this to sharks pulling out of the agreement or changing terms to ones that didn’t work for them. Others canceled deals after getting term sheets that included unappealing clauses… Another 30% of participates interviewed said the equity and investment amount offered on-air changed after taping, but they chose to take the deal anyway. They said that the changes often occur during negotiations or in due diligence– investigations into a participate or their business before signing a contract… The goal of entrepreneurs going on Shark Tank is to make a deal, but if it falls apart it’s not always a tragedy. About 87% interviewed that didn’t get deals are still operating, and the others either; closed, acquired, sold…

In the article Leadership Lessons from the Shark Tank by Executive Forum writes: Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a leader in the corporate world, there is so much to learn about leadership from the Shark Tank:

  • Have vision: Sharks receive pitches all day, every day. Sometimes they invest in a product but more often than not, they invest in a vision. They’re not interested in the short-term win of selling a million widgets, they’re looking for the opportunity to dominate a new market, revolutionize a process, change the world… They want to see the vision beyond immediate strategy. Vision must come first, and a mature organization is no different. Yes, a new product or service might help you hit your numbers, but what’s the vision for where the organization is headed by 2020? When the right vision is in place, strategy will follow…
  • Know numbers: No matter how cute, flashy, or funny the pitch, if you don’t know the numbers, you won’t get a deal. At least once per Shark Tank episode, someone enters the tank with a decent idea but with no financial acumen to turn that idea into a profit. How did you arrive at your valuation? What does it sell for? What is the cost to produce? How big is the market? What is customer acquisition cost? These would seem like basic questions that any entrepreneur seeking investments would have prepped, but they don’t. Do the homework and be ready with answers that inspire confidence…
  • Read body language: Keeping an eye on which shark(s) is leaning forward, who just crossed their legs, who is taking notes, and who is nodding or tilted their head to the side… that can make all the difference. In the game of boardroom poker, these can be ‘telling’ signs that you need to not only pay attention to, but use to adjust your presentation…
  • Be all-in: The sharks rarely invest in part-time entrepreneurs. The sharks always say that if you don’t believe in the product enough to take a full-time leap of faith, then they shouldn’t either. Hence, no one wants a part-time leader either; so if employees think that you are not fully committed to the vision of the organization, then they won’t either…
  • Show passion: Passion is contagious. While numbers and proven track record are important they are not the only influencing factors. Time after time, sharks invest in a person rather than a product. They invest in a person because they believe that with passion and drive, and even if the product itself fails, the person is worth the investment. They’re willing to take a risk just to see where that person can take them in the future… Hence, a truly inspiring leader can do the same thing. Employees will follow a leader who has– vision, passion, energy… because they believe that they can create an exciting future…

In the article Shark Tank Teaches About Negotiation by Jerry Jao writes: Sharks mostly ask thoughtful questions so as to challenge an entrepreneur to think about their business beyond the scope that they have already defined… During negotiations sharks are looking for how an entrepreneur thinks, their insight, willingness to think in new ways. Negotiation is key part of business; learn to judge value, make good decisions on the fly, know when/how to counter-offer…

Seeing people under pressure is what makes Shark Tank an exciting and educational show to watch. However as a professional, you’ve got to keep your cool… If you’re feeling the heat and think that taking the offer is the best decision, you’re probably wrong. Step back take a deep breath, then consider the offer(s) soberly… Ask: What’s wrong with it? What’s right with It? If there are red flags then think about possible alternatives, before turning it down… Business people who make rash decision under pressure never come out winners…

Appearing before an audience of millions while getting drilled by experts will force you to think on your feet… Business people who can’t plan on the fly while the heat is rising will drown… If you don’t like an offer make a counter-offer: You have nothing to lose. The saddest outcome that happens on Shark Tank is when entrepreneurs, passionately pitch ventures, but then turn down the offer(s) without countering…

 

 

 

Power of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing– Its All About Buzz: Holy Grail of Any Organization…

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is the holy grail of marketing. It’s a source of easy promotion and it comes from the most credible source possible; a super-satisfied customer. According to Nielsen; 92% of consumers said they trust friends and family above all other forms of marketing when it comes to recommendations about products, services. According to Word of Mouth Marketing Association; personal word-of-mouth drives 54% of purchase decisions, but it cuts both ways: According to Seth Godin; word of mouth happens when a customer is delighted, or when they are disappointed, angry… It’s the latter scenario that brings most troubling consequences for this form of marketing. 

The core principle of effective marketing is to create things worth talking about, e.g.; unleash word-of-mouth, which is then amplified by the internet, social media… It stems from a real emotional connection with a product or service– it’s meaningful… Whereas the concept of ‘buzz’ is just ‘hype’ usually based on superficial realities, and they don’t last very long… It’s not that buzz is bad; there simply is not enough substance… Effective marketing is about– truth and value, not just buzz…

In the article Why Word-Of-Mouth Is The Best Marketing Tool by Jon Tan writes:  Word-of-mouth is immensely powerful, in fact, before making a purchase, consumers tend to listen to what others have to say. That’s why 90% of consumers tend to search for reviews before purchasing a product… In fact, 59% of consumers enjoy telling others about their experiences, both good and bad…

Surveys show that customers that purchase through word-of-mouth spend 200% more than the average customer and also make 2x as many referrals themselves… A consumer is up to 50x more likely to buy a product or service if it’s recommended by close friends or family. The greatest thing about word-of-mouth is that it keeps spreading, and it can go viral… It takes just 1000 customers to generate half a million conversations about a brand…

In the article Disadvantages of Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Angela Ogunjimi writes: Word-of-mouth happens both when a customer is delighted or disappoint… It’s the latter scenario that bring about the most troubling disadvantages of this form of marketing… Simply put, your customer’s rave reviews about your product or service comes at that customer’s good will… Unlike paid advertising, through which you choose the channel, audience, timing… of messages, word-of-mouth marketing is largely a product of chance, but you can control the way you treat customers…

However, word-of-mouth marketing has its downsides when a single unsatisfied customers or competitors takes to air waves– internet, social media, blog… with negative messages. Satisfied customers may peg you as being the greatest, affordable… which can help influence the ‘story’ about your organization: Or, not…

However, word-of-mouth only works well when it supplements a full-scale marketing effort that tells complete the story through multiple outlets… And it’s only effective when the customers have a positive experience, and not trickery or abuse. Spark the ‘buzz’ by exceeding the customer’s expectations every time…

In the article Word-of-Mouth: Building a Strategy That Really Works by yotpo writes: The power of word-of-mouth recommendations is huge, but for it to be effective marketers must create something worth talking about and then actively encourage people to talk about it… Word-of-mouth marketing essentially seeks to kick-start an exponential referral chain that drives continuous traffic, leads, sales for the brand…

However, word-of-mouth often has a negative side… There’s no quicker way to destroy a brand than by dissatisfied customers who promote negative commentary… These unhappy customers are much more likely to post public warnings about bad experience than satisfied customers making positive recommendation... Hence take note; upset customers can be perilous!

In the article Measure Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Doogan, Jørgen Vetvik writes: Word of mouth influence is greatest when consumers are buying a product for the first time or when products are relatively expensive… factors that tend to make people conduct more research, seek more opinions and deliberate longer than they otherwise would…

And be assured that this influence will grow; the digital revolution and social media have amplified and accelerated their reach to the point where word-of-mouth is no longer just an act of ‘one-to-one’, but also ‘one-to-many’ and ‘many-to-many’ communications, e.g.; reviews are posted, opinions disseminated through social networks. Customers even create websites or blogs to praise or punish brands…

The starting point for managing word of mouth is understanding which dimensions of brand equity are most important to a product category, e.g.; the Who, the What, the Where... For example; in skin care, it’s the What. In retail banks, it’s the Who… Word-of-mouth-equity analysis can detail precise nature of a category’s ‘influentials’ (people who make a difference), and pinpoint highest-impact messages, contexts, networks…

Clearly word-of-mouth marketing is an effective tool, particularly with ‘mobile apps’ for smartphones… Think about it for a moment: How many apps have you recommend to friends, family, colleagues? How many apps have you started to use because somebody told you about them? Let’s face it, word-of-mouth marketing for mobile apps is a game changer… There are millions of mobile apps available on the market but you cannot try them all, so you rely on the experience of friends, family… and they rely on you…

It’s contagious, people communicate– one-to-one’ and ‘many-to-many’ everywhere; at home, commuting, on the street, at the office, at parties… on social networks, on forums, blogs, emails… According to Elif Çetin; if you have product, service, app, widget… to show the world; whether an   organization or solo entrepreneur… spreading the word through word-of-mouth marketing is an imperative…

Venture Capital Funding Model– Danger of Dying, Irrelevancy: VC Firms, As Asset Class, Have Utterly Failed…

The story of venture capital (VC) appears to be a compelling narrative of bold investments, excess returns… however, the reality looks very much different. Behind the anecdotes about– Apple, Facebook, Google… are numbers that show many more venture-backed start-ups fail than succeed… and VCs themselves are not much better at getting good returns… According to Fred Wilson; biggest issue is simply too much money– billions of dollars continues to flow unabated into venture-backed companies but venture capital firms as an asset class have not outperformed other investments, e.g.; the stock market… since the early 90’s and will probably deteriorate further...

Things look even bleaker when you add in the additional billions that angel investors dish out, and growing interest from places like– Russia, Middle East, China… and rise of accelerator programs like; YCombinator, TechStars… and financing options like; Kickstarter, crowdfunding… According to Kaufman Report; many  institutional investors continue to pour money into these funds despite VC’s abysmal track record… The traditional venture capital landscape is shifting and VC’s must begin to rethink their business models and herd mentality that dominates the industry…

In the article How do Venture Capitalists Make Money? by Draper writes: Venture Capitalists are money managers, they raise money and manage it for other people who are the ‘limited partners’… The normal venture capital (VC) firm will raise on the–  ‘2 and 20’ terms. The ‘2’ is in reference to the management fee, which means every year, 2% of the funds raised go toward operations of the firm… So if a VC raised $10,000,000 fund, the fund would have an annual operating budget of $200,000 for life of the fund (generally 10 years). The ’20’ is in reference to ‘carried’ interest… VCs make most money off of the ‘carried’ interest rather than management fee…

This basically means that the venture firm gets 20% of the upside after they have returned the money being managed… Which is why venture capital is built on moon shots and not safe bets. Safe bets might give you 3–5x return over 7 years, but something like Google, could give you 10,000x… These are the normal numbers that many funds use, but every venture firm is different, In summary, VC firms are  paid in two ways:

  • Management fees: 2%/year of funds under management is common; over the ~10 year life of a fund, that’s ~20% of the capital…
  • Carried interest: This is a share of the profits on the fund before the money is returned to investors. The typical number here is 20%…


In the article End of the Management Fee in Venture Capital by Paul Grossinger writes: The ‘management’ fee is going the way of the landline for all but a handful of top-notch VC firms… Since the advent of traditional early stage venture capital in the 1980s, the industry has been dominated by a dual-compensation model; a management fee, to pay for running the firm over its lifetime, and a profit ‘carry’, to give upside to the partners… However, a new crop of investors are seeking to end the dual-compensation model… and reduce or end use of management fees and instead rely only on profit ‘carry’…

This charge is certainly not absolute or applicable in 100% of cases. Many traditional venture capital funds have strong, long track records and have produced excellent returns and the earned right to continue operating under whatever model they see fit. But majority of funds under management do not have such sterling returns. In fact, more than half of traditionally structured VC funds actually lose money. Contrast that with the ‘returns’ of active angel investors, individuals, which are much higher…

In the article Venture Capital Salary & Compensation by WSO writes: Successful venture capitalists can make a very nice living with less risk, and less chance of burnout than entrepreneurs… From analysts and associates to managing directors, venture capital salary is traditionally heavily weighted toward the bonus portion of the compensation, as well as ‘carry’… Much like private equity, venture capital compensation has a broad range but it’s usually a function of the fund’s performance, and much of compensation is tied up in ‘carry’, which can be rather large payout… According to Wall Street Oasis; rough VC compensation ranges based on user registration data is shown as follows:

  • Analyst: $80K – $150K.
  • Associate: $130K – $250K.
  • Vice Presidents: $200K – $250K + $0-1MM ‘carry’ bonus.
  • Principal/Junior MD: $500K – $700K + $1-2 MM ‘carry’ bonus.
  • Managing Directors/Partners: $1MM + $3-9MM ‘carry’ bonus.

In the article Venture Capital Is Dead. Long Live Venture Capital by Erik Rannala writes: There are rumblings that the traditional VC business model could be in danger of extinction, threatened by more contemporary investment sources such as; crowdfunding, super angels… While it’s true that the early-stage funding landscape is changing, VCs are hardly on the demise, nor are professional VCs losing ground to– crowdfunding, angels… Rather than looking at the funding landscape as a zero-sum game with one model rising up at the expense of another, it’s best viewed more as a continuum, with investors across the spectrum matching up with companies at the right stage of development or maturity…

Venture capital as an asset class has utterly failed and some suggest more than 1/3 of about 790 venture capital firms have turned into living dead… However, the venture capital lobbying organization (the NVCA) feverishly attempts to dampen the demise of the reputation of venture capital by quoting nebulous IRR (Internal Rate of Return) statistics that often hide the fact that relevant absolute performance comes from just a small number of firms…  According to Georges Van Hoegaerden; venture capital in its current form and deployment is by economic principle incompatible with finding the outliers of innovation…

It’s ironic, VC firms position themselves as supporters, financiers, and even instigators of innovation, yet the industry itself has been devoid of innovation for the past 20 years. Venture capital has seen plenty of changes over time– more funds, more money, bigger funds, declining returns but VC firms have not changed– they are structured, capital is raised, partners are paid… just as they were two decades ago. The VC industry that purports to be the promoters of innovation are, in fact, being out innovated from outside their own industry…

It’s Oxymoron– Managing Risk and Uncertainty: An Organization Without Risk is Organization Stuck in a Rut…

Risk is a basic ingredient for innovation… Risk implies uncertainty and an inability to fully control the outcomes or consequences of an event… It’s an uncertain world and organizations must accept the fact that they operate in a world of unknowable risk… According to Donald J. Riggin; regardless of the nature of risk it’s impossible to manage; in fact, the expression ‘risk management’ is an oxymoron, because if risk was manageable it would no longer be considered risk…

However, understanding risks is a critical step to knowing how to deal it… According to Steve Tobak; the notion that– Big Risk beget Big Reward is nonsense… Whether it’s the world’s top– hedge fund traders, venture capitalists, real estate tycoons… these billionaire insiders look for opportunities that provide asymmetrical risk/reward… This is fancy way of saying that ‘reward’ is drastically disproportionate to ‘risk’…

In the article Decision-Making Under Risk and Uncertainty by Samia Rekhi writes: The starting point in decision-making is the distinction among three different states of a decision environments: certainty, risk, uncertainty. The distinction is drawn on the basis of the degree of knowledge or information possessed by the decision-maker… Certainty can be characterized as a state in which the decision-maker possesses complete and perfect knowledge regarding the impact of all of the available alternatives…

Often when making decisions the two terms ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’ are used synonymous… Both imply ‘lack of certainty’, but there is a difference between the two concepts; risk is characterized as a state in which decision-makers have imperfect knowledge– incomplete information but enough to assign a probability estimate to possible outcomes of a decision…

These estimates may be subjective judgments or they may be derived mathematically from a probability distribution… Uncertainty is a state in which the decision-maker does not have enough information to make a subjective probability assessments… It was Frank Knight who first drew a distinction between risk and uncertainty; risk is objective, whereas uncertainty is subjective… risk can be quantified, whereas uncertainty cannot… Uncertainty implies that probabilities of various outcomes are unknown and cannot be estimated… It’s largely because of these two characteristics that decision-making, in risk environment, involves primarily subjective judgment…

All business decision-making have common characteristics. The traditional approach requires precise information and thus often leads management to underestimate uncertainty and risk factors, which can be downright dangerous for an organization… According to Hugh G. Courtney, Jane Kirkland, and S. Patrick Viguer; making sound decisions under uncertainty requires an approach that avoids the dangerous binary view of risk…

Available relevant business decision information tends to fall into two categories… First, it’s often possible to identify clear trends, such as; market demographics… Second, it’s also possible to identify not so clear trends, such as; customer psychographics…The uncertainty or risk factors that remains tend to fall into one of four broad levels …

  • Level one: Clear enough future: The uncertainty is irrelevant and risk factors are relatively low for making decisions… hence, management can make reasonable precise decisions… Also management can use traditional information gathering, such as; market research, analyses of competitor costs and capacity, value chain analysis, Michael Porter’s five-forces framework, and so on…
  • Level two: Alternative futures: The future can be described as one of a few discrete scenarios… Although probability analysis is useful it cannot precisely identify which outcome is most likely to occur…
  • Level three: Range of futures: A range of potential futures can be identified… A limited number of key variables define the range and most likely outcome can lie anywhere within the range. There are no natural discrete scenarios for the outcome. Organizations in emerging industries or entering new geographic markets often face this uncertainty…
  • Level four: True ambiguity: A number uncertainties and risk factors create an environment that is virtually impossible to predict. And it’s impossible to identify a range of potential outcomes, let alone scenarios within a range. It might not even be possible to identify, much less predict, all the relevant variables that define the future. This situation is rare– black swan events– although they do exist.

Knowing how to assess risk is an organizational competency that must be fostered for long-term sustainability… To do so requires new language and tools to facilitate effective decision-making and decisive action. According to Ralph Jacobson; in developing business strategy it’s important to determine an organization’s ‘risk appetite’, i.e.; how much risk it’s willing, and can afford, to accept… This involves identifying and understanding the scope of risk required in a decision. Typically there are four options– avoid it, accept it, transfer it, share it…

But often decision-makers are confronted with unknowns– these are ‘unknown unknowns’… These unknowns are things that haven’t even been thought of as possible– black swan occurrence– rare but they do pop-up every now and then… situations where management tries to understand more about what they don’t know, than what you do know... These are precisely situations where innovation thrives– it’s when innovators push the edges, challenge status quo, break boundaries in the realm of uncertainty and risk taking. According to Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan; uncertainty suggests taking risks, going beyond the known and knowable– thinking scared, thinking stupid, thinking different…

Thinking scared is simply understanding that fear drives all decision-making– it might be the fear of taking action or fear of not taking action. These twin forces often govern negative behavior… but they can also be marshaled and used for positive motivation– the fear of missing out is perhaps most potent motivation in many organization. It’s human nature to resist change and this same nature can be used to drive innovation that embraces risk and uncertainty, and thinks beyond scared, thinks beyond stupid, thinks beyond different…

Golden Rules of Brand Value– Get Relevant, Get Focus, Get Edgy… or, Get Lost in Competitive Noise…

Brand value; everybody wants it; many struggle to achieve it… Few brands truly attain it… According to Seth Godin; brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much customers will pay extra, or how often they choose– the expectations, memories, stories, relationships of one brand over alternatives… And opposite of value is when an item or service has little or no perceived value… which means customers are not seeking it out and when they do, it’s merely one of the many choices… so, very likely, the cheapest offering will get the sale…  

An organization’s ‘brand value’ is promise of reputation, experience, quality… It encompasses everything about an organization, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad… and it all depends on the consumer’s perception. Brand value is progressive– it  gets multiplied every time a consumer chooses a specific brand over other brands… Hence, a clearly defined brand value gives consumers something to connect to, something to stay loyal to, something to stand-up for…

In the article Core Brand Values  by Julia Melymbrose writes: Value stand at the very core of a brand. Value is the center from which everything radiates, including; brand’s look (design), message (voice), relationships (customer service)… A brand is much more than a simple logo; a brand consists of two main ‘external’ aspects– Visual Identity, i.e., logo, colors, typography… Voice Identity, i.e., tagline, tone, styles…  Plus, a very important third ‘internal’ aspect: Brand Value... Brand value captures the three Ps of brand: Purpose, Proposition, Personality… 

For example; When you say brand value, you usually think about a monetary sum, e.g.; no-name pair of jeans could be worth $19, while Levi’s branded pair of jeans could be worth $119… Clearly there’s a difference in value based on the brand. A brand’s value is not simply how much people pay extra, e.g.; $100 more for pair of Levi’s over a unbranded pair, but also how often they choose the brand and the reason(s) they choose it… remember repeat business is tightly tied to value…

In the article How Much Are Brands Worth? by Paul Hague writes: A brand clearly has value to an organizations, because the value of the brand leverages the organization’s position in the market… Also the monetary value of a brand (worth in dollars) has become part of an intangible ‘asset’ known as ‘goodwill’, which is the extra worth of an organization over and above the value of physical assets… This means that many major brands are capitalized with monetary (dollar) value, and included as an ‘asset’ on the balance sheet of the organization…

According to ‘BrandZ Global Top 100 Most Valuable Brands 2016′ Report; the brand value is defined as the dollar amount that a brand contributes to the overall value of an organization… In 2016, the value of the world’s 100 biggest brands saw a high growth of 133%, totaling $3.4 trillion... According to the Report; these organizations tend to leverage ‘innovation’ as their key differentiator for brand success… and that meant improved consumer experiences, greater revenue.

In the article How to Calculate Brand Value by Laura Lake writes:  What is a brand really worth? There are various ways to approach the valuation of a brand but since the concept of value means something different for different people, it’s difficult to get a consensus on one  methodology. However, it’s probably fair to say that brand valuation is more of an art than a science… But it’s important for organizations to identify, develop value for their brand, as well as, a value proposition for the brand. There are various methods for valuing brands and here are a few:

  • Cost-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation uses the accumulation of costs that were incurred to build a brand since its inception, and it includes items such as; historical advertising expenses, promotion expenditures, cost of campaign creation, licensing, registration… While costs can be collected and used, the total dollar amount does not necessarily represent the current value of a brand… The brand value using this method may be equal to historical or replacement costs for a brand, but not necessarily its market value…
  • Market-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation uses a comparison of an organization’s brand to other similar brands that were valued… It uses comparable market transactions like a specific sale of a brand, comparable company transactions, and/or stock market quotations… It’s the market-based value that a brand can be sold for on the open market… The brand value is equal to market transaction price, bid, or offer for identical or reasonably similar brands, but not necessarily its replacement value…
  • Income-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation is often referred to as the ‘in-use’ approach. It considers the valuation of future net earnings that directly attribute to the brand to determine the value of the brand in its current use… The brand value is equal to present value of income, cash flows, or cost savings actually or hypothetically due to the asset…

Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise of value… Brand value conveys– quality, credibility, experience… Many companies assigns a monetary value to the brand as an asset on the balance sheet, and it becomes part of the overall value (net worth) of the company… Branding is fundamental, it’s basic, it’s essential… and without a brand with value, it’s probably a good indication that the organization is valueless… According to Scott Goodson; brand value inspires millions of people to join communities… brand value activates passions that can change the fortunes of organizations…

The greatest brand value is built on a strong idea… an idea that an organization can hold on to, can commit to, and can deliver upon. But brand value needs to permeate the entire organization. When the entire organization is clear on the value of a brand and delivers on the promise of a brand– it fuels increased customer awareness, loyalty… and greater revenue growth.

CEO-to-CEO Lessons Learned– Peek in Corner Office: Challenges, Frustrations– Failure, Crisis, Fear, Uncertainty…

Being CEO is tough; world economies are expanding rapidly and companies are shaped by changing trends in– technology, internet, social media… and changing consumer mindsets and consumption patterns… New markets are emerging, old markets are disrupted, business models are becoming obsolete, new business models are pushing boundaries for the ways business is done.. No wonder the role of CEO is changing, but many fail to learn the lessons required to survive and thrive…

According to Evan Davies; CEOs must expand their thinking and become knowledge seekers, even when they think they know it all. They must make learning an active part of their day, seeking out experts, and encouraging the same of their team… It’s a global economy and CEOs would do well to understand the big picture– the business climate, market conditions, competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and strategic risks… Prevailing standards for corporate governance have become more formal, more rigidly codified, and more universal across international boundaries…

According to Kathleen Ekins: CEOs are sticking around longer than they should… The average tenure of a departing S&P 500 company CEO is 9.7 years. It hasn’t been that long since 2002, and study by Temple University suggests that this number could be problematic for many companies… The study measured the performance of CEOs over time and found the ‘optimal life span’ of CEOs is just 4.8 years. It concluded that after about five years, chief executives will rely more on their internal network rather than information that comes from outside markets…

This tendency to focus inward causes for some CEOs to become less attune to market conditions, customers, which ultimately hurts the company…  So, why do many CEOs over-stay their welcome when it can jeopardize the organization? According to Charles Wardell; there are three main reasons CEOs either, step down or are asked to leave:

  • Burn out or loss of enthusiasm for the job:  When CEOs begin to realize that their skills aren’t matching-up, or their enthusiasm is waning, or they’re tired of the constant responsibility…
  • External changes in the market: Often times the market dictates, causing the business proposition to change so radically that the skills of the CEO don’t mesh-up with needs of the organization…
  • Board of Directors decides enough is enough: Pushing a CEO out for whatever reason– age, competency, vulnerability… can cause turbulence and tension within a company, making for a less than ideal transition. A smooth transition at the top can never be guaranteed. This makes the change in leadership that much more scary, causing CEOs to stay-put longer than they should…

In the article Lessons CEOs Need to Learn by Rick Spence writes: Today, the captains of industry aren’t so much running the ship as manning the pumps, trying to stay afloat in the global marketplace. Not just in economic terms, but in all the categories that count, e.g.; leadership, innovation, leveraging technology, finding new ways to sell globally and mastering social media, which is crucial to reaching niche audiences…

According to Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, Nitin Nohria; CEOs must come face-to-face with some paradoxes in leadership, e.g.; the more power CEOs have the harder it is to wield it without demoralizing other stakeholders in the organization… Although the CEO bears full responsibility for the organization’s fate… but often they don’t control most of what determines it…

So how does a CEO succeed? First, he/she must understand the essence of the role, such as ; creating conditions that help others excel, spend time articulating strategy, installing sound processes, mentoring key people... Second, CEOs must learn and master the skills and insights that are required to run 21st Century organization… For example:

  • CEOs cannot run organization alone: As demands from external constituencies (shareholders, board members, politicians) mount, control over internal operations recedes… Shift from direct to indirect means of influence; articulate clear strategy, establish guiding structures and processes, setting values and tones… while selecting the right management team to help run the company…
  • CEOs giving orders is costly: Over-ruling the thoughtful decisions made at lower management levels erodes confidence… Decision-making grinds to a halt as subordinates begin checking with the boss before proceeding on anything. Instead, promote agreement about decision-making criteria, share power, and trust others to make key decisions…
  • CEOs often don’t know what’s really going-on: Bad news is often withheld from CEOs fearing that they will shoot the messenger. How to get solid information? Engage managers, employees… at all levels to hear– ideas, opinions, suggestions…
  • CEOs are always sending a message: CEOs every move and every message– inside and outside the organization– is scrutinized and interpreted… CEOs must carefully consider how audiences might interpret their every actions, communications…
  • CEOs are not the boss: CEOs boss is the board of directors. They set compensation, evaluate performance, overturn strategy, and fire the CEO… Yet many directors have limited knowledge of the organization– its industry, markets, competition, technology, management, employees, partners… It’s in best interest of the CEO to educate and regularly collaborate with the board…
  • CEOs are only human: The rewards and adulation that come with being CEO can tempt acts of hubris… Make a disciplined effort to stay humble. Revisit decisions. Find forthright people and listen… Maintain connections to family, friends, community, hobbies… to avoid being consumed by the job…

Why do CEOs Fail? According to Ram Charan, Geoffrey Colvin; It’s an intriguing question and one of deep importance not just to CEOs and boards of directors, but also to investors, customers, suppliers, alliance partners, employees, and the many others who suffer when the top man stumbles… Some pundits opine when they see problems with CEO’s grand-scale vision, strategy… Yep, CEO must go because his/her strategy is not working…

But is it really a flawed strategy? Not according to others who say; the strategy is sound, but it was bad execution; it’s not getting things done, indecisive, not delivering on commitments… Although pundits are not saying; the CEOs who fail are dumb or evil… In fact, they tend to be intelligent, articulate, dedicated, accomplished… They work hard, made sacrifices, and have performed terrifically for years… So how do CEOs blow it? Probably the most often cited reason it that they fail to put the right people in the right jobs… and the related failure to fix people problems in time…

Also, what is so striking is that most CEOs usually know that there is a problem but their inner voice suppresses it and they won’t openly acknowledge it, and take remedial action… As one CEO said; it was staring them in the face but they refused to see it; the failure was one of– emotional strength… They just weren’t worrying enough about the right things: execution, decisiveness, follow-through, people, delivering on commitments…