An entrepreneurial approach to strategic brand management is vital to win in the market. Growing a business is equally challenging and exciting when internal and external factors affect the marketing function. Thus, it is imperative to approach these challenges with intelligence, a great heart, and creative skills.
Structure supports company strategy and not the other way around. The ability to understand the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and adapting it will make one an effective marketing person. This will give you a good grasp of how far you can manage your marketing mix.
Embrace the Organization. Having worked for different companies in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and Telco industries, I have learned to be more adaptive and develop a more sensing approach which made me a good agent of change in the organization.
The core marketing management function is the ability to drive the support groups and other units in the organization to support your marketing strategy. In my marketing career track, I have witnessed good marketing individuals fail, not because they have bad ideas, but because of the failure to make the organization follow or support the strategy that marketing wants to execute.
One key learning I got from our COO in Asia Brewery, Mr. Michael G. Tan, is to always simplify execution. Focus on two to three key strategies and ensure 100% execution.
Identify the Right Problem. One key learning I got from McKinsey Consulting is to always focus on identifying the right problem first: crafting the solutions will be easier and action plans will be more effective. Trying to solve the wrong problem is a waste of time and resources. Thus, spend more time analyzing the problem and don’t rush into solving it. When having difficulty, change your frame of reference; it will give you various perspectives on the situation.
Unlock Consumer Insight. The best brand idea is always anchored on a truthful consumer insight about your product or brand. The intercept of the purchase occasion and consumption occasion would be a good consumer insight window. Conducting a focus group discussion research will not guarantee good insight, but it will be the source of information that will help you unlock the consumer insight you are looking for. It will not guarantee the immediate success of your brand, but it will give a higher probability of success, given a well-balanced marketing mix derived from research.
A good, balanced marketing mix is fundamental. The vital part is a clear understanding and familiarity of the target market in order to develop an effective communication plan, while utilizing the right consumer touch points across different marketing channels. The positioning must be conveyed in a clear and engaging way to the consumers.
If we revisit how C2 Green Tea was launched, a similar approach was done with Vitamilk Soya Drink. Both brands blazed the trail by promoting the category itself, focusing on the benefits of green tea for C2 and soya beans for Vitamilk. To complete the formula, agility or speed to market is imperative. Al Ries, a brand positioning guru, will tell us that once we own a particular category – once we’re first in the mind of the consumers – it will be difficult for competitors to penetrate and challenge the equity that you have already built in the minds of consumers.
Just Try. Never be afraid to fail. I have had a number of failed new products and programs in my career, but I always try to learn from my mistakes and listen to the people around me. No one in the organization has a monopoly of good ideas. I listen to each idea and try to process them, removing my own personal biases. Marketing biases occur and even companies experience these without them knowing. I’d rather take the risk and learn, than fail to take the first step.
Continuously Improve. I’m blessed to be accorded the guidance, mentoring and validation of distinguished people in our field – Mr. Josiah Go, Mr. Edwin Totanes, and Mr. Michael G. Tan. Through their example, I’ve learned the importance of being inspired and being inspiring.
With that, I’d like to share the stages of three “I’s” that helped me in my career.
- Interact. Interact and engage the people in your organization. Some of the solutions to basic problems may come from an interdepartmental team. Engaging more people in your organization widens your circle of influence.
- Inspire. Marketing, through the collaboration of key people in the company, drives the success of the organization. The more people we inspire, the easier it will be for everyone in the organization to support the brand or marketing objective. The best brand ambassadors will be the company employees. If they know, believe and understand the brand, they will be your brand guardians.
- Innovate. Once you have a good understanding of your organization in which you have high involvement and interaction, you will be able to inspire the people around you to revisit the way they do business or approach challenges. This creates a culture of change and innovation. Innovation is not just doing something new; it may also be eliminating things that do not add value to the brand or the company.
All of the above will be effectively carried out while fueled with the following attitudes, values, and skills:
- Be visionary.
- Have self-confidence.
- Be a good communicator with unlimited energy.
- Have strong passion.
- Bring back the glory to God.