What on earth are we good at?

What skills and experience do we have? Who would want to work with us? Why would they want to work with us? Would anyone be prepared to pay for services we provided? What services could we provide?

The list of questions you encounter when you are setting up a company are challenging to say the very least. It’s an incredibly humbling experience and not for the faint hearted. In attempting to keep your options open many people will take the approach “I can do everything , just ask!” Quite quickly I made and then realised this mistake. In offering generic services I lost differentiation and my unique value proposition.

I was pondering the benefits and drawbacks of generic vs specialist during one of my daily walks from Richmond to Kew along the Thames Path in England. I quickly came to the conclusion I needed to “Seek first to understand and then be Understood” Stephen Covey – Habit #5 in order to determine the specialist skills and programs I could provide to customers.

I spoke to a LOT of different friends and former colleagues. Lot’s of lunch’s and coffee’s and the odd glass of wine or two. 🙂 I asked for open and honest feedback and WOW did I ever get it. Some were polite and kind, others were not. I listened to everyone and I learned a lot. To all of you that helped me during that time I remain eternally grateful.

The result of these conversations laid the foundations for New Journey Marketing Ltd. Dedicated to MARKETING. Where everything we do is personalised, delivers tangible value and is FUN for you and your team!

Lot’s of companies provide Sales readiness Training and Technical training. Countless Marketing agencies offer Marketing services for advertising, digital, PR and the like. Educational institutions offer courses for Marketing professionals and team building, coaching and mentoring companies offer generic services for everyone.

Who looks after Marketing departments? Who focuses on Marketing Readiness? Who provides programs and services designed to enhance the skills of Marketing teams? Who offers coaching and mentoring for Marketing professionals? Who offers team building events designed especially for Marketing Teams?

I decided to explore this insight with Julie Kerry. Over afternoon tea we discussed the challenges facing Marketing professionals and teams. Discussing the programs and services they required and lamenting the fact that “Marketing Readiness” services were so hard to find.

So we decided to stand up for the rights of Marketing people around the world. No longer would we allow Sales and Technical teams to get all the readiness love. We would empower Marketing team with readiness designed especially for them!

Truth be known that’s not what we said. The actual conversation went along the lines of …… hey no one else is really focused on Marketing Readiness, let’s do it!

Six years later we have run over 75 Marketing Program deliveries in 30 countries around the world providing services to over 500 Marketing professionals. The results delivered are above and beyond our expectations. Our programs are always measured on a scale of 1 poor to 5 excellent and our lifetime average is 4.5.

The comments following anyone of our programs are consistent ….

  • “Very productive and useful for alignment and team building. Original and attractive delivery with fun exercises.”
  • “Fun & interactive session that brought great alignment across different teams & departments”
  • “I loved it! The best planning workshop I have experienced, really integrated approach.”
  • “Everything makes more sense. It gives a sense of direction and order to what we need to do and how.”
  • “Relevance. This is the first workshop with outcomes directly related to my job.”

We now proudly offer Marketing Services designed by Marketing Professionals for Marketing Professionals and Teams. So if your interested in Connected Marketing Planning, Optimised Partner Marketing, Sales & Marketing Alignment, Marketing On-boarding & Mentoring or Marketing Team Building & Development we would love to hear from you, contact New Journey Marketing!

Thank you for taking the time to read our inaugural blog post. We PROMISE the next ones will all be shorter and filled with insights we have learned over the last 25+ years in Marketing. If you would like to know more please take a look at our NJM Blog to read our views and have the opportunity to share yours.

 

Nick McGrath & Julie Kerry

 

I want to run an event ….

…. and we need a new logo and maybe some t-shirts!

If you ever want to upset a Marketing Director this comment is guaranteed. Equally if you ever want to upset a Sales Director pouring scorn on this type of request will bring you into immediate conflict.

So how do you get Sales and Marketing teams to work harmoniously together? Respecting each others ideas and suggestions at the same time as embracing new ways of working together.

I would always aim to start by establishing mutual respect and understanding on the numbers. Marketing needs to analyse the addressable market opportunity for the sales team. Understand the competitive landscape, drill down into the revenue (actual and forecast). Understand the drivers behind consumption and utilisation of the companies products, solutions and services. Above all else they need to take an active part in supporting the Sales team in driving pipeline velocity. Breaking down the barriers that are stopping deals in the pipeline and providing the sales team with tools and resources to over come blockages to deal closure.

Simply creating more opportunities and stuffing these into the pipeline isn’t necessarily going to deliver success. How many times have you asked the question “Where are we on the new leads marketing created for you?” only to receive the comment “The leads were c**p” or “Sorry haven’t had time to review them, I am far too busy.” Insert large sigh and groaning noise here!

So next time you are faced with this situation try something new. Listen to the sales teams suggestions and then build on their request. Transform it into a connected Sales and Marketing campaign by defining and agreeing the customer journey with everyone. Begin by asking open questions. “Who would you like to invite to the event? How many customer do you feel you can get to attend? What do you think they are keen to hear about? When would you like the event to take place?”

Once you have the basics in place then go away and design a Modern Marketing Campaign that identifies the lead nurturing stages involved in getting a customer from point of enquiry following an event all the way to a closed deal and invoice. Define a set of Service Levels and KPI’s assigned to Marketing and Sales on the costs and ROI from running the event. Make sure that everyone aligns on targets for BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) Qualified leads, Sales engaged prospects driven into the pipeline and ultimately signed contracts and deployments. After that hold EVERYONE accountable for the targets and results. Shared success between Sales and Marketing only ever happens when you work closely together.

Jointly celebrating success and openly acknowledging areas for improvement on all sides. I will let you decide the merits on the new logo and t-shirts! 🙂

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

 

 

You want to me to work with WHO!?!?!?

Sitting in my office and minding my own business. Relaxing into a lovely coffee and getting busy with e-mail reading and deleting. The sun was shining and the birds were…. ok you get the picture it was a lovely day about to go horribly wrong!

I received an urgent e-mail requesting an immediate conference call from my boss. You know the kind of e-mail that automatically makes you question what you have done recently and who you may have upset. What other reason could possibly make my boss want me to drop everything and get on a call with him?

The call began with the words……. “Hi Nick I have an opportunity for you!”

Now those of you that are used to working in a corporate world will appreciate this opening statement is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it means your boss sees you as a go to person that can be trusted with responsibility and results. On the other hand, it means you are about to receive another top priority objective on top of your already full plate!

On this occasion the “Opportunity” related to working with an exceptionally difficult and demanding original equipment manufacturer across EMEA. We had just signed a new agreement with them for our company’s products to be pre-loaded and now an integrated Sales and Marketing campaign was required to help promote the new SKU’s to their channel partners. When I realised the size of the opportunity I didn’t know if I should GRIN or GROAN! If by some miracle I could get a campaign together and deliver timely results it would quite literally make company history.

I went to see the Partner filled with aspiration and hope. Undaunted by the challenges ahead and inwardly shaking at the conflicts I was almost certainly going to be confronted with.

The initial welcome meeting went smoothly, no issues. Everyone was professional and polite. Interested in working with us on a campaign that was a real Win / Win for both companies. Then the hard work began. When it comes to Optimised Partner Marketing success or failure is in the detail of planning and execution. You need to listen to the concerns your partner has. Write them down. Discuss them in detail. Explore options to overcome the challenges and never try to side step or sweep them under the carpet. The challenges, and the problems they are causing, won’t go away even if you try REALLY hard to ignore them. Trust me they won’t. They will simply get bigger over time and ultimately destroy the campaign and in some cases the entire partnership.

The approach I took was a simple one. Create a clear and compelling Vision of Success. Keeping working on this with your Partner until it becomes a SHARED compelling Vision of Success for both companies. Acknowledge it will face challenges on the journey into execution. Identify and openly discuss each challenge. Explore with the partner different options and solutions. Seek coaching and guidance from others on approaches we should consider. Make resolving each challenge a FUN experience by introducing new and innovative ideas. Don’t be afraid to throw crazy ideas into the discussion. It shows you are thinking creatively and who knows the crazy ideas are often the ones that lead to market making breakthroughs.

Thankfully the opportunity I was given was a great success. It came down to team work with a host of people bringing amazing energy and creativity to the campaign. We built a detailed, structured and measurable execution plan and implemented it with rigorous attention to detail. Hard work and rewarding in equal measure.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

 

It’s not how much you have ….

…. it’s what you do with it!

Why is it that when you are beginning to plan and create an amazing new campaign or launch you face the question from everyone “How much budget will we have?”

As a Marketing Director I often groaned at this point. The engagement and determination from my Marketing team members begins to feel coin operated. As if somehow the greater the amount of money being spent on the plan determines it’s success or likely kudos for the individual. My responses varied from “as much as we need to exceed the objectives” to the flippant “roughly £2.99”.

When my response was then challenged the coaching began. I would use precision questioning techniques to explore the creativity the team had and then push them to answer the budget question themselves. Difficult questions like: “If you had a budget of One Million what approach would you take and what results do you think this would deliver?” Then followed up by “If you had One Hundred Thousand what approach and results” and finally “If you had Ten Thousand what approach and results.”

Then challenge them and ask if you only had Ten Thousand and wanted the results of a Million could it be done? Do we have the creativity and imagination to make the seemingly impossible somehow possible?

If you have the time and patience to take this approach the results can often be spectacular. With an energised team stepping up to the challenge and using their experience and creativity to try and deliver outstanding results at the lowest possible cost.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

1000’s of reasons why you can’t ….

…. just find me one reason why you can!

The number of times I have sat in a meeting with exceptionally bright people and lost the will to live haunts me. You too have been in the same type of meeting, be honest you know you have. A great group of really smart people are brought together. The agenda is clear. We have a Marketing campaign or product launch that needs to get planned and driven into execution. The stakes are high driven by executives in the company. The “Virtual” team are all on point to deliver and the meeting kicks off with the Goal and Objectives that everyone needs to own and share.

Then the ideas on execution start to flow. Big bold investments and plans start to take shape. The “Radiators” in the room are all driving for highs in performance and in market execution. Then disaster, the “Drains” wake up and start to explain in great detail the 1000’s of reasons why the ideas won’t work or the issues we will almost certainly face if we tried. Using their knowledge and experience to devastating effect by destroying the entrepreneurial spirit in the room and ultimately the execution we are likely to deliver. Please don’t misunderstand the point I am trying to make. You do need realists and pragmatists in meetings or you would face total anarchy and likely embarrassment in the campaign you executed. This being said it’s about being balanced in the reasons why you can’t do something and in turn being open to the reasons why you can.

So next time you are in a meeting and trying to get everyone to take a stretch target or try something completely new, listen to the realists and pragmatists as they are trying to save you from making a mistake. At the same time challenge them to use their intellect and experience to come up with solutions and not simply objections. Personally I have used on many an occasion the comment: “I deeply respect that you can find 1000’s of reasons why we can’t do this, I simply need you to now find the 1 reason why we can”.

It works, try it!

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

Life is about choices ….

…. and choices have consequences! When I worked at Microsoft as a Director of Marketing I had the great fortune of meeting a chap called Mike Pegg. A truly amazing man that was able to listen and coach you in all aspects of your personal and professional development. Mike and I talked about some troubling feedback I had received from my peers and colleagues in the company. A number had said I came across as “aloof” and “distant”. I have no doubt many used stronger words too! When I mentioned this to Mike he said to me “Life is about choices and choices have consequences.” He went on to explain that I can choose to wake up each day and go to work in a positive frame of mind OR I can choose to be grumpy and stay in bed. That’s my choice. Correspondingly it’s also the choice of the company to pay me for showing up to work or not! The lesson being turn up to work in a positive frame of mind and your likelihood of remaining employed goes up dramatically! It’s not rocket science, yet at the time it was a message I needed to hear. I then challenged Mike and said I am by nature a positive person and always actively engaged in meetings. I don’t get the “aloof” comments.

What am I doing wrong?

Mike went on to ask me how I walked around the buildings from meeting to meeting! Personally I thought he lost the plot on this question. Humouring him I said “Carefully one step at a time trying to avoid bumping into anyone!” He smiled and said that’s precisely your problem. I was now a fully paid up member of confused.com. Thankfully Mike rescued me by elaborating.

When you stand up from your desk and walk around the office or from building to building you will encounter other people along the way. If you have your head down or are looking at your phone or scowling lost in thought or walking fast with a determined countenance, people will see you and think “Avoid”. Net result an image of you appearing to be “Aloof” or “Distant” begins to manifest itself.

I spent the evening deeply thinking about the feedback and reflecting on my subconscious behaviour that was now top of mind. I then took a decision to make a positive change and see the results over time. The trick I used was simply changing all the watches and clocks around me and making them 5 Minutes fast. Then when the time came for me to go to a meeting I would walk slower, smile and acknowledge others along the way and happily stop for a quick chat. Within 2 months I enjoyed a massive turnaround in my knowledge and reputation. People began to stop me to introduce themselves and say hello. Others begin sharing news with me or seeking advice and guidance. The results were amazing. I learned a lot and was able to share and support others in equal measure.

Time and attitude can be your greatest asset or largest detractor. The attitude you bring to work and the time you invest in others are often key to success.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

Don’t confuse activity with results!

A number of years ago I had the great fortune of working with an exceptional PR Professional. She was relentless in her desire to promote the company and protect it’s image and reputation. I can recall on a number of occasions her literally breaking into the meeting room, dragging me out by the scruff of the neck and forcing me to phone a journalist. Regardless of my protests, concerns or prioritisation of other task.

No complaints were tolerated!

One particular day stands out amongst the rest. We were about to go into a review meeting with our PR Agency. A time to celebrate the hard work undertaken by everyone, drill down on the stats, facts, figures and charts and discuss future programs and campaigns. I asked her the question. “What is your greatest concern with the PR agency at the moment” Her answer “They are confusing activity with results.” They need to spend more time beginning the with the end in mind. Keeping focused on the outcomes we are seeking and stop spending a disproportionate amount of time reviewing and digesting our current position.

This comment stuck firmly in my mind. Whenever I now go into a review meeting I ask myself the very same question. “Are the team confusing activity with results?” It’s a simple way of keeping everyone focused on their objectives and stop them suffering from analysis paralysis. Helping them to see the light of insight on the journey they are taking and avoid the darkness of detail that often bogs teams and people down.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.