The Formula for Successful Market Programs – Finally Revealed

Awhile back, we wrote an Industry White Paper titled “Market Technology: The Missing Link.” In its simplest form, Market Technology outlined a methodology, which advocated that a company’s market program (effectiveness) was, as critical as, the product and services that a company engineered.Possibly, more important – especially for small-to-medium, sized companies that had to get it right out-of-the gate and did not have the margin for error that larger firms have. Market Programs can make or break a firm. This article discusses a process orientation to define/develop effective, Market Programs, which can impact several areas:Vertical Industry/New Market Development
Product Launch Introductions/Roll-Outs
Competitive Attack Campaigns
Target Account and Opportunity Base Development
Distribution Channel & Strategic Alliance Development/StimulationAs we overview this process, it is necessary to insert a critical role in the organization – the Market Programs Designer. No matter what your firm calls this role, it is essential to have a defined “owner” and skilled individual on staff that can translate critical business insights into effective Market Programs. Without this, your organization will be driven by bold ideas that stumble along or go nowhere.This is the primary reason that many CEOs are reluctant to put the power stick in the hands of Marketing and invest. If they have been let down by the lack of results in past efforts, it only makes it more difficult for the Marketing Team to have a voice. This may explain the reason that Marketing defaults to trade show coordination, product support, lead generation and collateral development, as their primary focus in many organizations.Here is a summary of the process steps to feed/fuel effective, Market Programs development:1. Research Phase (Doing the Homework) – this does not have to be a strict, empirical study. For each program, a range of outside sources should be tapped to obtain or reinforce the insights needed to develop a baseline program profile.For example, if the focus is on New Product Introduction, then engaging with Industry Associations/Groups that cater to your target segment (niche) and key customers and prospects (and even some ringers – competitors’ customers that selected them over your firm) can be engaged to gain critical insights. Cover your bases – obtain pure, unsolicited responses on Market characteristics, buying attitudes, evaluation/selection criteria, price points, problem-set, perceived or derived benefits (from use), key applications, packaging considerations, economic factors, competitive influences (tactics, options, alternatives, etc.), timing, cost/return considerations (breakeven scenario), roll-out incentives, etc.This can be garnered in thirty days or less and once you develop a knack, it can become a continuous process. Once the data is collected, have some of your “bright lights” interpret and translate the various inputs into a general Profile. Make sure that this step is not contaminated by individuals that will either incorrectly translate the data or influence it to be what they want it to be. That will only result in ineffective program definition, as we move through the process. Imagine implementing a Program where the timing or other factors were flawed or misjudged – it happens and it results in a bust program.2. Program Profile – the profile is the baseline that will direct you to the make-up and elements that will fuel and shape the Market Program or campaign. The profile is a composite of the results of the research phase and the translations/interpretations that were made.Example: Let’s say that your front-end, research indicated Middle Management (those with the problem to solve), within target accounts were ripe for change (given the capabilities of your new product launch), however Senior Management was uncertain or found it difficult to introduce change into the organization, at this stage. To ignore this input and launch a new product targeted at Middle Management (user community) and not factor-in sentiments of Senior Management and timing of launch – may be detrimental to program success.Certainly, a necessary element of the program may be to conduct an educational webinar for Senior Management or to develop a series of Industry briefs that could bring them up to speed. Each element that was derived from the research phase must be sorted-out this way and then transferred to the Program Profile. When each element is outlined, it is then necessary to evaluate and select the overall, make-up of the campaign.This would involve priorities and trade-offs, based on what would work with the target audience, funding availability, resource loading, desired or needed results (tangible and intangible), market readiness/demand, competitive barriers and other factors. These indicators will lead the Market Programs Designer to make the necessary selections on the vehicles and platforms that make-up the campaign.Example: If the target market (segment) for the new product launch is the Avionics Market (Airborne Platforms) – with emphasis on surveillance and reconnaissance applications and Program Managers and Engineering Management being the key prospects – it would be doubtful that Twitter or Facebook would be selected, as critical elements. LinkedIn might be an element of the program, however depending on your internal trade-offs (like sense of urgency and budget availability) – E-Mail Marketing may be chosen, as a lead.Direct- response programs, Webinars and other direct vehicles may also be selected to support the program. These are the type of considerations that must be brainstormed to derive the Marketing Mix for each program or campaign. We prescribe integrated marketing programs that combine different program elements into one campaign, although this must be well-grounded and justified. Each campaign must also have “metrics for success” that will set the targets to be realized and attained.Examples: to support the product launch campaign, the following target objectives might be set (tangible) – to generate $1.5 Million sales over baseline, due to new product launch, by December 31, 2011 or (intangible) – to achieve best in class reward at upcoming MTI event for new product introduction.3. Implementation – whether you represent a large company, a small-to-medium, sized firm or start-up – conduct a pilot phase to a well-rounded, target audience to iron-out the program, before full product launch.This will allow you to gain valuable insights that can be factored-in to strengthen the overall, make-up of the campaign. Obtain key insights not only from prospects/customers, but also members of the Sales/Support Team and Distribution Partners prior to formal launch. Their insights will make a difference and in many cases – they are the implementation arm that will drive your program to success. This approach will breed ownership. Enroll them early and often and provide them the right combination of motivation, recognition and reward.4. Management and Reporting – to reinforce the point – assign an owner to each Market Program or campaign for the program life. This individual will be accountable for all aspects of the program, serve as, a focal point/interface to both internal and external program participants and manage and provide program linkage.Program reporting must be simple, useful and not imposing for program participants. The emphasis is on generating information that will determine how effective the campaign is (at different stages) and capturing vital and timely data to make mid-course, program corrections. The program owner must be an individual that has respect, within the organization and has power and clout to get things done.5. Program Continuum – although most programs and campaigns have a life-cycle, it is necessary to note that the Market Programs process is self-perpetuating. As a program goes through different phases, there may be occasions where a program needs to be refreshed, redefined, combined with other initiatives or programs or obsoleted.6. Putting it all together – An early-stage, technology provider decided to change its focus from varied commercial markets to the Defense and Military Market with emphasis on training and simulation applications. Their business suffered from a lack of focus and a range of discrete commercial projects that provided no sustainable base of business. The company secured several projects directly with large, Defense Contractors and could see the potential of establishing its innovative, 3-D Simulation Platforms, as a standard within this large and potentially, rich niche.Their dilemma was that the company and its technology were literal unknowns and they were not well-connected with the TOP Defense Contractors/Integrators, and Program Offices/Agencies that were key to their success. The company was in the midst of introducing a 2nd generation platform that not only would change the rules, but also determine the survivability and continued success of the operation. Where to start?Step 1: the company conducted a front-end, research effort to identify the TOP 50 Defense Contractors (cross-division) and the companion Program Offices/Agencies that represented its prospect set. This included full contact data on Program Managers and Engineering Management – the primary target audience.Informal sessions were conducted with a prospect sample to gain insights into current methods of training/simulation, competing alternatives, price bogies, applications emphasis, budgetary cycles, funding allocation priorities, etc., which provided a base of understanding. The information collected was then translated/interpreted by company principals, with the help of an outside, Industry specialist.Step 2: a baseline profile was developed, which outlined the key elements captured in the front-end, research. Primary insights revolved around the buying attitudes/opinions of the target audience, strength and weaknesses of competitive offerings (included in-house solutions), cost/pricing considerations, delivery vehicles (web-based, preferred portable devices, etc.), risk profile of prospect audience (would they buy from a small, unknown technology company), budget availability and timing, etc.This output also paved the way for determining the “right” program mix and fueled the positioning/messaging and format that supported the program.Step 3: the program was implemented with the following elements:-3-Phase E-Mail Communique – this segmented campaign introduced the company and built awareness and credibility, as a dedicated Defense & Military technology supplier. Phase 2 outlined the technology with example applications, based on real customer projects, with the 3rd mailer setting-up the target audience to attend a powerful, problem-solving webinar – which encouraged potential customers to bring some of their toughest problems to solve.-Media Coverage – featured interviews and contributory articles were set-up with major, Industry publications to reinforce the company’s commitment to the Defense & Military Market and promote its new product introduction.-Target Account Development – direct sales efforts were directed at the TOP 10 Defense Contractors/Integrators (cross-division) and selected, Program Offices/Agencies – LinkedIn and other social media vehicles were leveraged to reach and engage with target prospects. A well thought-out and executed plan of attack to crack these accounts open was put in-place.-Distribution Channel – to broaden the company’s coverage and build a rich, opportunity base, an active recruiting and selection program was initiated to create more “feet on the street.” The selected Reps were well-connected with the target audience and conversant in simulation and training systems.-Collateral – creative material was developed to support the campaign – with emphasis on Customer Project Profiles – many of which were implemented on iPad and other portable media devices. This allowed the company to reach a broader audience and “strut its stuff.”Step 4 – a Senior Manager was assigned Program ownership. Reports were generated bi-weekly at the start of the program, which was extended to monthly, as the company gained more experience with the program. As the company ramped-up its new Distribution Partner Network – the reporting requirements became more diverse, but meaningful. There were several shifts in the program format, during the campaign based on new insights that were derived from prospect and Rep Partner inputs.This particular program is currently in-motion and will be driven for the balance of 2011. To-date, the program has created an active forecast and rich, opportunity base for the technology company, put them in the media forefront, established them with key contacts, within the TOP 50 Defense Contractors (cross-division) and netted them Industry awards for the impact their simulation and training platforms are having on redefining standards and for their innovative use of portable media devices to demonstrate product capabilities and application benefits.So – how’s your Market Programs methodology holding-up in this tough-as-nails, Market Economy?

First Line Manager: Understanding Vested Interest

Vested interest exists. This means an individual has a special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to their own personal advantage. Or, there are groups that seek to support or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit.A first line manager’s vested interest are in their functional area goals. A first line manager’s external business environment is also important. Effective first line managers must support a balance between their and others’ vested interest. A first line manager is like a fish in water; the fish contains water and is in water. There is internal business vested interests and external business vested interests. Let us consider these interests.First consider, a business’s internal interest and the manager’s role in each. There are two types of first line managers; functional line managers and general managers. I was a functional line manager as a restaurant manager, an accounting manager, and a territory sales manager, in these roles, my success was dedicated to that function. I was a general manager of hotels and a Business Office Manager; in these roles, my interest was in accomplishing all the functional goals of the organization.Functional first line mangers have to make sure their area of responsibility is accomplishing the assigned departmental goals. A functional manager’s is a success if their departmental goals are accomplished. Managers that are removed of not successful. Acceptable managers goals are within the acceptable range. Managers that consistency exceed their goals are considered for higher management. They are top performers. Here is the rub, functional managers must maintain a delicate balance between their department’s interest and other department’s vested interest.As a District Accounting Manager I approved the credit on sales contracts for appliance sales, a marketing function. If I was too selective marketing did not make quota and the salesperson salary suffered. If I was too lenient, the marketing department made above quota and the salesperson was very happy. In my accounting function was responsible for the payment of the contracts. I reported to a Division Accounting Manager who expected me to collect the money for the appliances. I received my promotions and my bonus on how effective I was in collections not in sales. This is the conundrum of a first line manager; how do you carry out line goals while not alienating other departments.Now think about this, if a first line manager wants to become a general manager, they must keep the other departments goals in perspective. Other first line managers must know, even though, you have departmental interest; you understand other departments have vested interest. You must be seen as cooperating with them to make every manager and the company successful. This is very important, and an extremely difficult balance.If you want to progress to a mid-level manager within your functional area, cooperation with other departments vested interests is important. A mid-level functional manager most times reports to a middle level general manager and higher level functional manager. Progression to a functional middle manager is difficult, most times, you have to be on the top of the department’s functional goals. In addition, you must be acceptable to the mid- level general manager. A mid-level general manager will not want a line functional manager that creates problems for other functional areas as a mid-level functional manager.Now, consider the first line manager as general manager. I was a first line business office manager and general manager, I was responsible for all the functions of the company. I had an interest in the accomplishing the goals of accounting, marketing, and operations. I had goals in each of these functional areas. I reported to a middle level general manager. I was given these positions because I was a successful first line manager. Also, I was chosen for these positions because of my expanded activities in the community and within the company. I achieved my functional goals and helped other departments make their goals; or, I would never been given these general management positions. As a general manager my energy was divided among the functional areas of the company. My success was based on my teams success in all the functional areas. I had a vested interest in all functional areas. Now, I had to deal with reporting to functional middle managers whose vested interest was in their area.Second consider, a business’s external interest and the manager’s role. A couple examples are the vested interest of Labor unions, and the community.Labor unions are an external vested interest. Unions present a unique problem for a first line manager.I remember my Dad explaining mistletoe to me. Mistletoe gets it food from the tree. If the tree dies the mistletoe plant will die. I wondered if the mistletoe knew it could kill the tree. Labor unions have a vested interest in keeping the union alive. Do they care if the business survives? I think that to a great extent a union does.As a first line and general manager, I had to contend with union concerns. This meant, I became an expert on the union contract. I realized the written comments in the contract did not always mean what they seemed to mean. This conundrum meant, I had to know the memorandum of understanding of the comments between the company and the union. Also, I made use of a company industrial relations person when there was confusion.A union employee’s interest was not always in the best interest of the company; it was with the union. Seniority is a vested interest in unions. This means that seniority was a interest of union employees. Our contract gave certain entitlements for seniority. I had to know how to manage seniority. If I was not careful, union employees would use seniority entitlements to their advantage. For example, union employees that reported to me wanted all new vehicle to go to the senior employee. This entitlement was not in the contract and was not in the interest of the company. I refused to allow the senior employee to get the new vehicle. Why is knowledge of the contract contents important to a manager? If you are not careful, you will set a precedent in your department that will be used against the company in negotiations or arbitrations.First line managers must understand community interest. First line managers must at times place these community interest ahead of company and personal interests. This is very important today because of social media. A manager must always be aware of risk management and ethics in their decisions. Some decisions may seem correct for your department or company; but, will not for the interest of the community. Your decision could become a risk management issue for your company.Consider, General Motors, because it did not consider the interest of the community when it did not recall the cars because of the starter problem in their cars. This decision had a tremendous negative impact on the image of General Motors with the public.I will not continue with other examples of invested interest first line managers must consider.The point is, a first line manager must be sensitive to other’s vested interest; then, manage their vested interest accordingly.

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7
My Dad repaired most of our shoes believe it or not, I can hardly believe it myself now. With 7 pairs of shoes always needing repairs I think he was quite clever to learn how to “Keep us in shoe Leather” to coin a phrase!

He bought several different sizes of cast iron cobbler’s “lasts”. Last, the old English “Laest” meaning footprint. Lasts were holding devices shaped like a human foot. I have no idea where he would have bought the shoe leather. Only that it was a beautiful creamy, shiny colour and the smell was lovely.

But I do remember our shoes turned upside down on and fitted into these lasts, my Dad cutting the leather around the shape of the shoe, and then hammering nails, into the leather shape. Sometimes we’d feel one or 2 of those nails poking through the insides of our shoes, but our dad always fixed it.

Hiking and Swimming Galas
Dad was a very outdoorsy type, unlike my mother, who was probably too busy indoors. She also enjoyed the peace and quiet when he took us off for the day!

Anyway, he often took us hiking in the mountains where we’d have a picnic of sandwiches and flasks of tea. And more often than not we went by steam train.

We loved poking our heads out of the window until our eyes hurt like mad from a blast of soot blowing back from the engine. But sore, bloodshot eyes never dampened our enthusiasm.

Dad was an avid swimmer and water polo player, and he used to take us to swimming galas, as they were called back then. He often took part in these galas. And again we always travelled by steam train.

Rowing Over To Ireland’s Eye
That’s what we did back then, we had to go by rowboat, the only way to get to Ireland’s eye, which is 15 minutes from mainland Howth. From there we could see Malahide, Lambay Island and Howth Head of course. These days you can take a Round Trip Cruise on a small cruise ship!

But we thoroughly enjoyed rowing and once there we couldn’t wait to climb the rocks, and have a swim. We picnicked and watched the friendly seals doing their thing and showing off.

Not to mention all kinds of birdlife including the Puffin.The Martello Tower was also interesting but a bit dangerous to attempt entering. I’m getting lost in the past as I write, and have to drag myself back to the present.

Fun Outings with The camera Club
Dad was also a very keen amateur photographer, and was a member of a camera Club. There were many Sunday photography outings and along with us came other kids of the members of the club.

And we always had great fun while the adults busied themselves taking photos of everything and anything, it seemed to us. Dad was so serious about his photography that he set up a dark room where he developed and printed his photographs.

All black and white at the time. He and his camera club entered many of their favourites in exhibitions throughout Europe. I’m quite proud to say that many cups and medals were won by Dad. They have been shared amongst all his grandchildren which I find quite special.

He liked taking portraits of us kids too, mostly when we were in a state of untidiness, usually during play. Dad always preferred the natural look of messy hair and clothes in the photos of his children.