Monthly Archives: January 2013

Brand Strategy for Entrepreneurs

Smart entrepreneurs know that a good brand will help build their organization. They recognize the value that a strong brand strategy adds, and they make the effort to do the right things right.

I’ve met countless entrepreneurs with big plans. I’ve had the privilege of working with some great people, and seen a number of projects go from scribbles on a napkin to thriving reality. These projects are exciting and challenging, and it’s a thrill to be involved.

I’ve also seen plenty of dreamers—people with more passion than plans. It’s disheartening. These projects are challenging, too, but not because the work is hard. Instead, it’s just that the gap between capacity, reality and need is just too great for anything I contribute to be effective. It’s not that the idea is bad or the person is incapable. It’s just that they aren’t ready for the reality of being a successful organization, let alone a thriving brand.

As a consultant, I want you to succeed. It’s not only good for your business and our future relationship; it’s more satisfying work. There are a few things that I look for that gives me the confidence we are set-up for success:

I get excited when you have more knowledge about your business operations than I do. You bring more than an idea to the relationship. You understand the basic model behind your success, and you are focused. I bring brand knowledge and strategic objectivity—and often a fresh way of looking at things—for how you tell your story. But you have the passion and the expertise that will grow the business behind the brand.

I get excited when you know your budget. Talk of money doesn’t scare you, and you understand what cash flow can and can’t do for your vision. You know how much money you plan to earn; you know your fixed expenses and costs of your product; you know how much a typical business like yours makes and you’re prepared to invest in your success.

I get excited when you are well aware of your competition. Not just who they are, but why their customers love them. You’re competitive, not arrogant. You have a respect for the market that exists and you understand how your offer makes it better and different, or at least you’re ready to explore opportunities.

I get excited when you are more passionate about your vision than I am. Perhaps you can’t articulate it clearly—that is why you called me, after all—but you have a purpose that drives you. I get excited when I am the one bringing you back to reality rather than trying to bump you out into the stratosphere.

Most importantly, I get excited when it’s clear you want to work hard to create an experience that will captivate your audience. You reject the notion that you could compromise your values and cut corners on your brand execution since “its just the creative stuff, anyway.” You’re well past the idea that your brand is a defined by a slick logo or a catchy advertising. You know that your brand is at the foundation of your culture, your value proposition, and the experience you promise everyone—your brand captures everything that you want people believe about your organization—and it’s important enough to get your focused attention.

This is how I know you’re ready to do what it takes—not just what is fun and easy—to build a brand that will thrive. You’re smart; you’re committed; you’re realistic; you’re passionate; you’re a leader. This is how I know that you’re set up for brand success.

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Twitterchat: Ensuring Planning Converts to Action

On Monday, January 7th I have the privilege of co-hosting a Twitterchat with Ken Rosen (@Ken_Rosen) and Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE) in the popular #usguyschat. We’re talking about ensuring planning converts to action.

The timing for this chat is no accident—the experience of personal New Year Resolutions is a great analogy for organizational plans failing to convert to actions. We know from personal experience that good intentions and simple action steps aren’t enough to change well established habits.

In organizations, it is well understood that good planning requires that clear actions be identified and managed. Think of SMART. However, we are all too familiar with the challenge of good ideas which have fallen victim to the poor execution of the plan.

Being in the business of recommending and sometimes leading organizations through change, I am well aware that effective planning is harder than it sounds. Sometimes, just having a plan feels like success, and gives the impression that change has already occurred. There are many steps in effective planning to reach our goals—from blue sky ideas to specific activities—and planning takes constant leadership and management.

Why is there a breakdown in converting planning to action, and how do we make sure we set up our plans for success?

Join us in the discussion at 12pm (PST) on Monday Jan 7th, or feel free to have more discussion here.

Here are the proposed questions for the chat:
Q1 What are some of the signs that a plan is failing to convert to action?

Q2 Other than results, what do you look for to confirm that specific actions supported the success of the plan?

Q3 How do you ensure leadership’s desire to have a flexible plan doesn’t result in a lack of accountability and action?

Q4 When faced with unexpected outcomes, how do you know whether to adjust the goal, alter the plan, or correct behavior? #usguyschat

Q5 How often is the inconsistency of our team’s actions simply due to a lack of communication? #usguyschat

Q6 As a leader, what is the one thing you look for to know that your plan will convert to real actions? #usguyschat

(Bonus Question) Can good plans fail, or is failure just an indication that it wasn’t a good plan in the first place?

(Bonus Question) If we desire a corporate culture that encourages failure within processes, what are the repercussions when plans fail? #usguyschat