Execution Breakdown: Sales Team Sent to Trade Show with Defunct Email Address on Business Cards

What separates the winners from everyone else when it comes to successful business execution?

Credit: iStock

Attention to details, or put another way, making sure the operational nuts and bolts are in order. Plus, doing that with a customer-focused mindset that’s spread across the entire organization.

It’s not surprising, with so much emphasis on high-tech tools, that the basic “low tech” stuff that keeps the trains moving can be overlooked or even dismissed. Sometimes, the new tools are positioned in sexy wrapping paper and target (take advantage of?) those always looking for the next shiny new object. Of course, others offer real utility and have staying power.

To be clear, technology and related wow tools can provide amazing ways for marketers and business people to succeed in their jobs. For example, last month I attended a presentation on artificial intelligence and machine learning, geared as an introduction for marketers. Cool stuff and important to know more about that.

The basics aren’t sexy but get the right things done well!

Last week, I reconnected with a former colleague at an industry trade show. It was great seeing him and we exchanged contact info.

The next day I sent him a short note, using the email address on his business card. The message bounced back undeliverable. Strange. Fortunately, I located a second work email address on LinkedIn (we’re connected), and resent my note. Someone he met at the trade show would not have been able to do that.

He responded as follows: “Sorry, we just changed our email addresses and we don’t have new cards yet.” Then, prominently marked in bold red at the bottom of his message was the real “NEW EMAIL ADDRESS” to be used going forward.

I share this story to reinforce my message about the nuts and bolts required for best execution. Continue reading

Interact with Customers in Real Time to Boost Satisfaction & Repeat Purchase

It’s good to ask your customer how was everything. It’s so much better to ask how is everything.

Learning in real time enables you to receive and process customer feedback so you can act and influence the outcome.

The team at the Hilton hotel in Fort Collins, CO embraces this philosophy. They reached out to me before and during my recent visit. Continue reading

Value Proposition: An Unlikely Source of Strategic Inspiration

“You just saved $63.00 by using your library!”

That statement was printed at the bottom of a check out receipt for two books recently borrowed from my public library.

Credit: Morris County Library.


The focus of my last post was providing action tips for instituting a formal system to determine how your products and services stack up versus competitor choices. It’s an important part of monitoring and understanding your strategic situation analysis.

Critical outputs from such analysis can include identifying competitive differentiation opportunities and developing a value proposition. Surprisingly, the library check out receipt is a wonderful example that can provide inspiration for this type of strategic challenge.


Credit: Morris County Library (mclib.info)

The statement “You just saved $xx by using your library!” is brilliant. Continue reading

Get-Started Action Tips to Evaluate How You Stack Up Versus Competition

The late New York City mayor Ed Koch created a personal, attention-getting mechanism for gaining input and feedback. He famously asked: How am I doing?

Business and marketing leaders have much to gain by utilizing a “How are we doing?” outside-in learning approach. One easy-to-implement way to get started is to conduct a regular program to compare your products and services versus other available options.

During my brand management days at Unilever, the marketing teams had scheduled “cuttings” during which they would compare their products to those of their competitors, review new products and/or generally explore options in the category. It was a cross-functional gathering including R&D and sometimes other colleagues. It fostered collaboration and led to productive and interesting conversations about the business, beyond the technical details.

It was also a fun part of the job, and vividly demonstrated why we all came to work each day: to provide great tasting products to consumers.

I remembered those product review sessions when reading about the keynote speech former Kroger and Harris Teeter executive Fred Morganthall gave during this month’s Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show. His advice has widespread relevance beyond the grocery business: Continue reading

Why The Return of “Geoffrey the Giraffe” Demonstrates the Power of Brand Marketing

A recent conversation with a business executive reminded me that, for many non-marketers, there’s often vagueness or even confusion about the term “branding” and its application.

I suspect it’s connected to a fuzziness about what marketing is/does in general and the use and power of brands, branding and brand management in particular. That’s unfortunate because excellent marketing and effective brand management can be cornerstones for strong customer relationships and sustainable long-term business success.

Take last week’s announcement that Kroger is mounting a major 2018 holiday season push to sell specially branded toys via the launch of Geoffrey’s Toy Box across a multi-banner network of nearly 600 supermarkets.  The branded store-within-a-store is a reconstituted marketing and brand concept created from Toys “R” Us intellectual property. More on this in a moment.

Credit: Geoffrey LLC.


First, as a general principle, when it comes to your products and services, it’s an excellent idea to brand them. Doing so creates a distinct identity and perception with your customer that can generate sales, establish differentiation and produce loyal, repeat business. Lack of a brand name may put you into an unknown, generic box with everyone else. Continue reading