Posts Tagged ‘GM’

I LOVE FORD

November 18, 2009

Ok so although they’re not currently giving the attention my food and music fest deserves (Even though it was literally made for them), I’m really falling in love with Ford these days.  Through innovation, design, and in most cases, good marketing communications, the company has not only avoided the pitfalls of their two Detroit cousins GM and Chrysler, they just announced a third-quarter profit of nearly $1 billion ($997 million according to their press release).  So here are a few of the important lessons I’ve pulled out of Ford’s transformation.

1) Design and Innovation are key – Have you seen the new Ford Edge or Flex?  How about the Taurus?  The new Taurus is so well designed, so beautiful; you will be asking to drive one the next time you have a chance to rent it instead of asking for a Toyota.  And watch out for the new Fusion Hybrid, as it will be taking market share away from Toyota and Honda as consumers run out of reasons not to buy American. 

2) Separate yourself from the pack – With the exception of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, Ford steered away from advertising that speaks to the recessionary times as many of their competitors including Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, Hyundai have.  They also didn’t take government bailout money which gave consumers confidence.

3) Have a good spokesperson – If you are going the way of celebrity endorser, pick one that fits your brand.  Mike Rowe fits Ford like a glove…even better than O.J.’s.  Mike is the perfect American “everyman”.  His shows such as “Dirty Jobs” have a need for vehicles like Ford Trucks.  Rowe started out just hawking for that division, but as may have seen from the new ads, he can sell anything with the Ford badge on it.

4) Expand your market – Look around your town and I bet you will notice more Ford’s than you have in the past.  It seems that those who might have purchased a more expensive “prestige” vehicle a few years ago are very happy with Ford’s new products, price points, and value.  Remember that value isn’t just about price.  Ford is delivering a better product at a competitive price point compared with others in the category. 

5) Legacy is important in down times – Consumers are looking to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.  If you have been around for 100-years (unless you are GM), one gets the feeling there is a reason for it.  Their years in business give you a comfort level.  Ford Motor Company has been known since its inception as an innovative, forward thinking company.  Henry Ford made cars affordable for every American, transformed modern-day production with the Model-T assembly line, and through the wood scraps from that factory, founded Kingsford Charcoal.  Where cam we find that kind of innovation in our business?  We have still yet to roll-out paperless ticketing!

6) Market the experience – You might be sick of hearing me say this, but our marketing sucks!  Check-out the new Axe body spray commercials.  You get what the product does for you…NOT how it smells, how much it costs, where it is available…nothing like that. Consumers purchase based on an emotional response.  How are they going to get emotional about hearing an artist’s new single they don’t know, followed by a bunch of quick information about sponsors, pre-sales, sales, locations, who is promoting the show…and of course the famous “call to action”.  It is a new world…for over 20-years now.  It is time we catch-up. 

Full disclosure, I haven’t owned a Ford vehicle for many years. It doesn’t stop me from sitting up to take notice at the great changes they have made…and how easy it would be for those of us in Live and Branded Live Entertainment to follow their lead.  

How about we each come up with 3-new innovations in 2010?

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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LONG-TERM VS. SHORT-TERM

September 30, 2009

Every news outlet reported today on GM’s announcement to kill another of their brands, Saturn.  It seemed by everything I’ve read that Penske buying Saturn was a “sure thing”, but seems they’ve had second thoughts.  Now the brand that pulled-off one of the marketing coups of the century, by turning a car recall into a party with their first “Saturn Homecoming”, is closing after 23-years in business.  Guess GM had to make the move, but doesn’t it make you wonder why they were running so much advertising for the brand knowing they could be scuttling it any minute?  That’s what free government money gets you.  No accountability!  Maybe we are seeing a little of that in our business too.

One of the lessons they teach in the military is to “Prioritize Long-Term Over Short-Term Goals”.  They preach the same lessons in most MBA programs I’m sure, although it would seem that the folks on Wall Streethave a little trouble keeping those straight.  Anyway as an example in LT. CMDR. Jon Cannon’s book, “Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals”, he talks about tracking a dozen terrorists in a particular region of the world.  If the terrorists knew the Seals were watching, they would pull up stakes and move.  If you take out only one or just a few of them by moving too quickly, the troops risk of missing the others and giving them a chance to re-group.  The solution of course is to wait for the opportunity to take out all 12 terrorists simultaneously.

In our business today, we are seeing a lot of short-term versus long-term thinking and this is no way to succeed!  To go back to the military for a second, sure there are times when short-term is all you can think about.  Trying to survive in a fox hole surrounded by enemy troops during the Tet Offensive would probably be one of those times.  But once that enemy has been pushed back past a safe perimeter, it is time for a long-term plan to win the battle…then the war.  That was probably our problem in Vietnam, and now.  The U.S. didn’t understand the loses Ho Chi Minh was willing to take.  They didn’t really calculate how many years the Vietnamese people had been at war, how extensive their tunnels, supply lines and fortifications were.  Instead we just had what we believed was a long-term strategy, “Stop Communism”.   The American people really didn’t understand what that meant. 

Back in the day, record labels let artists take time to develop.  An act wasn’t expected to break until their third or fourth album.  Promoters, managers, and agents used to look at a band and say “in 10-years they will be playing arenas.”  Now we expect that by an artist’s second tour.  Jazz Fest, Coachella, Warped Tour, all great businesses that we admire.  All lost money for their first few years.  Sure we all get lucky sometimes as Tom Petty once said, but mapping out your long-term goals with those you work with will give everyone a sense of purpose and direction.  Bump in the road, you can change course but the long-term plan is still the mission.  There is nothing worse for moral than your team hearing about your company’s plans, directions, new products, etc, from someone other than you.  How many times lately have you heard from employees at certain companies, “what do I know, I only work here?”

Quarterly earnings are for chumps.  Sure leaders have to pay attention to them, especially at a publically held company.  But for a second think about the beginning of Jack Welch’s tenure at General Electric.  Forget whether you think he did a good job, whether he cooked the books, whatever.  At first, Welch was far from the shoe-in for the job.  Once he got the job, he was going to take GE in places it had never been before and at the same time sell-off parts of the company that made them who they were (such as small appliances).  Selling Wall Street on Welch’s long-term plans for GE wasn’t easy.  You can imagine the look on investor’s faces the first time they heard the words “GE Capital”.  Making investors and Wall Street believe in his long-term plan is exactly what Welch did.  He showed how with investment (we won’t call in sacrifice) in the future… and education to his team, the street, investors, the press, and anyone who would listen, the long-term goals of transforming GE could be achieved thereby making it more profitable for years to come.   

No reason why you can’t try that today.  Instead of the accounting person in your office asking for your yearly or quarterly numbers…how about a 5-year plan?  And not just the numbers, but how you plan on achieving those numbers?  When Michael Rapino first took over what is now Live Nation he spoke a lot about “value proposition”.  Michael told us how he was going to re-invest in the customer experience.  Then Wall Street and quarterly numbers got in the way and the new message became…”well everyone has at least one or two artists they want to see in a year”.  I don’t know about you, but the Value Proposition stuff sounds better to me. 

Speak with you soon…

Jim

This Is A Bull Market!

October 28, 2008

We have all read of great military victories where outnumbered forces win over far superior armies.  The Battle of Guagamela where Alexander and a force of 50,000 (or less) beat back over 200,000 Persians or Julius Caesar’s victory at Alesia, where his Roman army of 30,000-60,000 defeated over 300,000 Gallic tribes.  You see these same kind of remarkable results every day on sports fields and conference rooms around the world.   Teams, athletes, businesses that should easily win on paper are beat by those with inferior resources, skills, size, etc.  They do it through the will to win (among other things).  This is the attitude we are taking through our current economic downturn and we suggest you do the same.  It may be ugly on Wall Street, but in the Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses, it is a Bull Market!!!

Going to work everyday worrying about the economy is not going to make it better.  In no way am I suggesting you forget about it, in fact just the opposite.  Look at the recession as an opportunity to serve fans, talent, partners, brands, etc.  Find new ways to reach and talk with your consumers…start a dialogue…build or re-build a community.  Put the audience first.  Here are some suggestions (some may be painful) on how to win in our Bull Market.

1) Spend more time working on fewer projects. With the number of shows, festivals, and attractions we are putting through our markets, there is no way to do a great job on all of them so it becomes a numbers game.  Stop that shit.  If you don’t believe…don’t have passion, let it go to your competitor or same it for another time.

2) Marketing is not buying ads and putting shows on-sale! There are event and entertainment marketing people out there from Feld to Disney, AEG to Live Nation, who would love the budgets, staff, and tools that their counterparts at companies like GM and Unilever have to work with.  Take on fewer shows and maybe those budgets and tools will exist.

3) Spend time with your team thinking about price points. Consumer value is the name of the game here.  How many times have you put together a small focus group even within your own office to talk about how much a ticket or hot dog should cost?

4) Leadership is key to winning! Whether the CEO of a big company or President of “Me Inc.” you need to lead by example.  Show the world you aren’t scared and have a plan to move everyone forward.

5) Now is not the time to cut staff or marketing budgets. They are both easy targets during hard times but ultimately could and will have negative effects on the long-term heath of your business.  Cutting staff is bad for morale both inside and outside the company.  As for marketing budgets, any business that either increased or kept their marketing spend level during the recession of the early ’90’s came out ahead of their competitors when things got good again.

6) Look at winners for inspiration. Target’s numbers are down, Wal-marts are up.  Follow the leader when developing and or marketing your next event.

Yes, you can read “The Secret”, pray, or call Mom and Dad for advice (I do all the time).   They all may work for you.   For me, I think about the fact that everyone needs an escape from their daily lives.  Live entertainment can bring that to them like no other medium.  It is something you share with those around you…a moment in time that can’t be captured.  The other day, win guru Gary Vaynerchuk passed on a big money speaking gig because it conflicted with a NY Jets home game.  When I asked him why, he said something like “he could always make that money back but could never take back those Jets snaps”.

This is a Bull Market!!!

Talk with you soon…

Jim