The last five days have been special.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the 800CEOREAD business authors “Pow-wow,” where I got to learn from and connect with other authors, along with top publicists, publishers, thought leaders, designers, et. al. Very inspiring.
Wednesday night I flew out of Chicago to Zagreb, Croatia, arriving Thursday. It’s now Sunday morning, and I’ve had a powerful three days here. My speaking events on Friday, hosted by Josip Basic and his team at MPG Southeast Europe, included people from Sony Ericsson, P&G, Nestle, Phillip Morris, LG, among others. Since the events were followed by a 7-hour Christmas party, I had the opportunity to interact with many of the audience members. Joe and I spent the day yesterday exploring Zagreb, sharing ideas, brainstorming and learning from each other.
So, with the past five days devoted to great conversation and interaction, interspersed with time alone to write and think, what has crossed my mind? Here are a few highlights:
– Downturn notwithstanding, we all have untapped opportunities in our businesses. In fact, I’m convinced that most of our businesses have ripe opportunities, that have not yet been developed, which are of a scope greater than the negative effect of the downturn. Think about that for a second … it’s like losing a quarter, but instead of worrying about the lost quarter you go find the dollar bill that you know has been lying under the couch.
– marketing is dead. Long Live Marketing. I’m here in Croatia to talk about Brand Harmony and We Relationships with local representatives of global brands, many of which were built on old-school, brute-force marketing techniques. MPG, my host, is a BTL (“Below The Line”) marketing company that helps clients engage 1-to-1 with customers at events, with sampling, in-store, etc., diverting marketing spending from one-way advertising to multi-faceted, integrated programs that tell a richer story about the brand. Marketing success is contingent upon jettisoning the old advertising-based techniques, and recognizing that your challenge is to create a strong sense of Brand Harmony across many (all) touchpoints. MPG is thriving, and their clients are reaping great benefits by focusing on Brand Harmony instead of Brute Force. These people “get it.” (Croatia emerged from communism about 20 years ago, and emerged from war just over 10 years ago … maybe quick post-war development enabled creative marketing thinking, unburdened by decades of institutionalized advertising budgets.)
– The downturn is a great opportunity not to waste resources. You know, all of those silly ideas you’ve wanted to pursue, that are even more likely to fail in this environment? Guess what? Now you have a great excuse not to pursue them!
– Customer loyalty is your best, highest-potential, asset. Ok, I’m sounding like a broken record on this one. But are you focusing your biggest investments on building customer relationships? Let me repeat: For most companies, the best investment they can make in these times is in developing their existing customer relationships.
It’s not my style to write in lists, without summing those lists up into a theme. (More a personality quirk than a philosophy) But, hey, I’m enjoying my breakfast at the Hotel Allegra in Zagreb, thinking about the past few days. I’m in the mood to ruminate. (Thoughts, not food) I’m planning on developing some of these ideas a bit more, starting with my newsletter on Tuesday.
In the meantime, please share your comments. (I love comments)