Behr Strategies Merges with Creative Producers Group

I am pleased to announce that Behr Strategies has merged with Creative Producers Group. Behr Strategies has enjoyed great success over the past two years in working with CEO’s, entrepreneurs and business leaders to align vision and strategy with marketing and branding to fuel growth and change within numerous organizations. Creative Producers Group (CPG) has enjoyed over two decades of success working with business and organizational leaders on engaging audiences and getting them to act. They focus on B2i, or Business to internal, building brands from the inside out. They help companies, franchises, and not-for-profits tell their stories through integrated marketing, communications and events focused on internal audiences such as employees, sales forces, investors, and franchisees. Clients include industry leaders such as BMW, Panara Bread, H&R Block and Curves.

I began conversations with Keith Alper (CPG’s co-founder and CEO) several months ago and felt the merger would be a great marriage and good strategic move for both companies. I am now part of CPG’s management team and lead strategy and business development efforts focused on B2i. The Behr Strategies brand will not carry forward but the Big Picture Thinking approached which I have developed and utilized with numerous clients for strategic planning around marketing initiatives will be incorporated at CPG.

For me, I now have access to an incredible team of producers, writers, designers, developers, and project managers that I did not have access to before and limited the growth potential of my company. CPG gets a proven strategic planning methodology for marketing initiatives and brand platforms, an expanded network of resource partners, and the talents and contacts that I bring to the agency.

One thing that helped influence my decision to merge with CPG was their track record of creating and investing in innovative ways to reach and engage audiences through storytelling. Technology and how we communicate has changed dramatically over the years and CPG has always been ahead of the curve. The most recent example is Vidzu, a turn-key web based TV platform for corporations. Check it out at Vidzu.tv. Also check out CPG at getcreative.com

My new contact information is:


Cutomer Service and WOM

Not too long ago, I wrote a post called WOM Worthy? I was eating lunch at my desk and reading Twitter when I can across a great headline which caught me attention and took me to a blog called think B.I.G. Blogger Ken Peters had a great post about customer service and talked at length about an exchange he witnessed at the Wendy's drive through which he used as an example of a company doing it right.

So back to WOM, if you read Ken's post you'll realize that exceptional customer service will also drive WOM. I'm sure the woman highlighted will tell a handful of people about her positive experience at Wendy's.

Speaking of great service, I was in Nordrom's in St. Louis over the weekend getting some new pants after my wife informed me that I needed to "retire" some of my existing dress slacks. The team in the Men's department there is always excellent. My wife went online to Nordstrom.com a week earlier to order a couple more pairs of pants that she just got for me in the past. They had an option to ship them directly to a store location and not have to pay any shipping charges. We were heading into the store over the coming weekend anyway to get some slack my wife picked the previous week altered so she chose that option. As I was getting fitted for the alterations, the sales associate working with us, who through conversation knew that we had ordered some pants online and that they were upstairs in customer service, offered to go up to customer service and retrieved them for us so. He saved us about 10 minutes of time and an extra trip (we were in a hurry).

I've explored other specialty stores and department stores for my clothes and always end up back in the men's department at Nordstroms. Better selection and far far better service. So Nordstroms gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me on being WOM worthy. After all, I'm writing this post.

Wendy's has a real opportunity to be the Norstroms of fast food if they can truly build it into their DNA in the same way. I wonder if the manger discussed in Ken's post had a chance to share this experience internally and was recognized for it?

Customer service rant over. Check out Ken's blog.


Change is in the air!

After two successful years working with business owners and leaders on strategic initiatives involving marketing and branding under the umbrella of Behr Strategies, I've decided to make a major change. I'm off on a week long vacation with the family to rest and recharge. After my return the week of July 13th, I'll be working on transitioning into a new role and will be announcing this change in a couple weeks.

I will not be making any additions to this blog for a couple weeks. Please revisit the week of July 20th for an announcement and more posts.



WOM Worthy?

Over the past month I've been intensely researching and discussion WOM Marketing. What are the key ingredients to a great WOM Marketing program? I believe that you must first evaluate the foundation of what you are planning to market. You can try to build in a WOM program into just about any marketing campaign but should you? What is clear to me is that certain products and services, and in some cases specific brands or causes, lend themselves better than others for WOM. So when you are engaged in your strategic planning efforts for your product launch or campaign, you have to start with the question "Is this WOM worthy?"

What makes something WOM worthy?

1. I would argue that the first criteria that MUST be met is that you have a great product or service. If it sucks, you'll get WOM but not the kind you want.

2. Does your product (or service or cause) do something for people? What do I mean. Here are some examples. Could someone say "Your product is something I _______"
- enjoy
- appreciate
- need
- fixed or solved my problem
- enabled them to accomplish something that I could not otherwise
- want
- love
You get the idea.

3. Is your product something people will openly talk about with others? Chances are that if its something very personal, like medicine for hemorrhoids for example, you probably won't go out of your way to tell others unless they are very close to you. If you discover a great restaurant or new show, you are much more likely to tell those you interact with. Now that doesn't mean you can't create buzz about hemorrhoid cream but it doesn't naturally lend itself to WOM so some serious creativity needs to come into play. Here is Gillette's attempt at something like that with this viral video. Not something guys walk around and talk about but the humor and creativity behind this will have pass along value. As of today the video had over 1.2 million views.

I would argue that if you hit these three points: great product, people enjoy it or find it useful, and its something people would openly talk about, then you probably have something WOM worthy. Once you've determined that your product is WOM worth, then you can work a WOM strategy into your overall marketing planning and get creative with it. Integrate WOM with other more traditional marketing components such as advertising, sales promotion and PR and you have all the key ingredients for a very successful launch or promotion.


Value of brands - article from Business Week

This if right in line from my previous post. Note this particular excerpt.

What Does Your Brand Stand For?
Ask yourself, what does my brand stand for? Try to answer it in one sentence without using the name of the product your company sells. Legendary entrepreneur Richard Branson was once asked, "What does Virgin stand for?" He could have answered "a great music store" or "a great airline," but instead he answered with one word—"fun." By focusing on fun from his earliest days as an entrepreneur, Branson's vision allowed him the flexibility to move beyond a single product. Today the Virgin empire spans some 360 companies. Branson instinctively knew how to differentiate his brand. Branson was able to adapt, change, and take advantage of new opportunities because he sold an experience.

Notice that having an aspirational brand core purpose and values can open thinking up to many business opportunities outside of your current industry.

How to Sell More Than a Product (full article)
In a coffee showdown with McDonald's, Starbucks' tried—and—true strategy has a lesson for entrepreneurs: Don't sell products. Sell an "experience"
By Carmine Gallo


Strategic Planning and Brand Strategy: Can you do one without the other?

Does your corporate brand influence and inform your strategic planning efforts? If your answer is NO then in my opinion, have a major opportunity in front of you. If you want to align your organization, create clear focus, and open up your team to a new platform that will generate innovative ideas, then take the time and effort to establish a corporate brand platform.

A corporate brand should align your entire organization around a common core purpose and set of values. To take Jim Collin’s lessons a step further it should also help you develop your organization BHAG and thus lead to a strategic plan around growth or change (Yes I really drank the ‘Good to Great’ and ‘Built to Last’ Kool Aid).

In every strategic planning engagement I undertake in my practice we always start with getting the leadership team to clearly define the company as they see it today being as specific as possible. We’ll outline # of employees, revenue, client mix, products & services, position in the market, competitors and so on. Then they are charged to define the ideal vision of the company in 5 or 10 years in very broad terms followed by those same measures we outlined in the today version of the company. Once we have defined a clear picture of the organization today and a clear ideal future I then ask “Now what is the core purpose of your organization; your North Star or guiding principal that informs everything to decide to do as an organization. I’m surprised at how often I either hear silence or several different answers from the team.

How can you define your strategy for growth or change without basing it on the organizations fundamental reason for existence. At that point, if its clear we don’t have an agreed upon corporate brand strategy, we back up a step and change our focus on defining a clear purpose, outlining the company's core values, their differentiators and brand promise. I do this “backwards” approach deliberately. The reason is that many business, not-for-profit and regional leaders do not see the many business and cultural benefits of a corporate brand and this helps to bring them into the right frame of mind. Most senior marketing execs get it but often the other leaders in the organization do not so we have to put it into a context they understand – strategic business terms. Just because you have a logo and tagline, doesn’t mean you have a brand.

Once you have that clear core purpose and values, its amazing how it can create a platform for better and more focused strategic planning. The mission (or core purpose) of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) for example is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Knowing this gives them a clear barometer for whether or not they should do or not do some major initiative. The question that Arnold Donald (former President & CEO of JDRF) used to always ask was “Does this get us closer to a cure?” It made it much easier to make strategic decisions with that simple question in mind. It also helped to inform the entire staff and board and keep everyone focused on the same over arching objective in everything that they did.

Also, if a clear core purpose is defined in a way that it outside of typical corporate speak, it opens minds up to more innovative ways to achieve that clear purpose. Do you think your employees are motivated and inspired by “creating shareholder value?” UPS shifted from delivery company to a global logistics company. Do you think they would have made that strategic shift if their mission was to be the best delivery company? The client centric “What can Brown do for you?” would have never been born.

So can you develop strategies without a solid brand platform? Sure but I think that is one of the differentiators between average and exceptional and inspired organizations.

I could go on also about the BHAG and infuse some thinking from Dan and Chip Heath who wrote “Made to Stick” but I’ll save that for another post.


Perfect Your Sales Pitch Workshop June 30th.

The highly focused workshop that re-energizes and re-aligns your sales pitch. Right before your eyes.

Despite recession, despite resistance, you CAN ignite sales again. IF you make re-imagining your sales pitch your personal Job One. Now more than ever, it needs to be perfect: fine-tuned, superbly strategic, and – dare we say it? – a little bit sexy. Our offer: we'll do that FOR you. Right before your eyes.

Commit to just one highly-focused “Perfect Your Sales Pitch" workshop. You’ll spend a morning with just five of your small-business-leader peers, and session leaders Mike Behr and Walt Jaschek, marketing gurus. Mike and Walt will double-team the white board to guide the group through energized reconstructions of elevator speeches that sell. We’ll focus on three key area of your pitch: the value you offer to your customers, differentiation from competitors, and creating urgency to advance the sales process. You will leave the room with a customized, re-engineered sales pitch, yours to propagate and prosper from.

The first workshop will be June 30th from 8:30 until noon, followed by lunch, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with your peers and practice your revised pitch. To make your reservation, contact Mike Behr at (314) 361-9804 x111. Workshop cost: $500 per person (limited to six people total).

P.S. Interested in a dedicated workshop just for you and your sales and marketing team? Contact Mike and we’ll schedule and plan a workshop around your specific needs. To find out more about Mike and Walt, visit the Behr Strategies website team page at : http://www.behrstrategies.com/team.php or find them on LinkedIn.