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Harvey Chimoff’s article, Make Strategic Changes from Position of Strength, Not Weakness, is featured in the August issue of Marketing Magnified, the CMO Council’s monthly online journal.
|Harvey Chimoff defines and develops marketing capabilities in changing environments, particularly for marketing organizations in transition. He is a pragmatic go-to-market strategist and planner who delivers real implementation in B2B and B2C operations. Contact him at www.marketingworldblog.com.
MAKE STRATEGIC CHANGES FROM POSITION OF STRENGTH, NOT WEAKNESS
Why do leaders and companies seemingly wait until crises occur before making the tough go-to-market and organizational structure decisions needed to ensure healthy sales and profit generation? I break no new ground by reminding you that the best time to make changes is when your company is doing well and can adjust to the change rationale and ramifications in a positive environment. It just doesn’t seem to work this way, though. Perhaps no action is seen as being easier or safer, even though it’s the calm before the storm in many cases. A famous advertising tag line for FRAM® oil filters sums it up best: “You can pay me now or pay me later.”
Cal Baseball Example
Sound familiar, corporate warriors? Fortunately, this story has a happy ending along with an important lesson, as the baseball program has new life.
University officials announced on April 8 that $9 million of the $10 million required to support the team for the next 7 to 10 years had been raised, with the expectation that the remaining funds would be attained. The school said the “team’s supporters have not only raised significant one-time funding, but are also working closely with the university to develop a strategic plan to raise significant additional annual resources, beginning with the 2011−’12 season. This strategic plan will focus on improved game-day revenues, as well as additional annual gift and special event revenue. The plan being developed also calls for a substantial increase in the sport’s permanent endowment, seeded by some of the gifts already raised.”
Learn to Re-imagine Before Crisis Strikes
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Hannah Karp detailed some of the changes, including the installation of lights at the baseball field to help increase game attendance and revenues. She explained that other new ideas, such as ”voluntarily limiting scholarships, selling naming rights to the diamond, offering electronic game-day programs for smartphones, and even squaring off against major-league teams,” were under consideration. And the role of the baseball coach was expanded to include fundraising and marketing duties.
Think about the lessons for your company. The underlying go-to-market strategy for Cal baseball—university funding of the operating budget—was no longer viable. Barbour talked about how everyone learned ”important lessons that will serve us well in the future” and ”the degree to which we need to rely on private philanthropy.”
The painful truth is that Cal should have gone down the re-engineering path sooner instead of announcing the baseball shutdown. However, in this case, it’s possible that the crisis was, in fact, the reason for the program’s salvation. Maybe raising $10 million couldn’t have been done any other way. Regardless, at your company, don’t expect to be as fortunate. Take action before allowing a deteriorating situation to go too far.
By the way, as of May 16, the Cal baseball team was rated number 25 in the country, and special fundraising has saved the other sports as well.
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