April 17, 2016

I Don't Have Time To Impact 2016

When I suggest that a Brand Response Marketing team be created to find new customers and protect the future of your company, I get a lot of push-back. A lot of push-back.
  • We can't afford to pay talent outside of our salary bands.
  • We cannot give a group of managers responsibility that is owned by a handful of Vice Presidents ... the VPs will get mad.
  • We cannot give out a 30% bonus to a team that generates a 30% increase in new customers. That's not fair to everybody else, and besides, bonuses are expensive. Is there a way we can reward employees without paying them? Maybe a breakfast at Waffle House? Our CFO could get behind that, and who doesn't love Waffle House?
  • We can't trust employees age 30-39. They need to work in the industry for a couple of decades, learn the ropes like we did, wait their turn, and then when we leave the industry, they can take control of the car and drive it.
  • If we build a Brand Response Marketing Team, we cannot conceivably impact 2016, it's already too late.
The first four examples are bad enough ... they represent a poor corporate culture.

The last example might make some sense. I have e-commerce clients that immediately implement my recommendations ... seriously ... if I tell them something on April 5, they implement it on April 6. But in the world of catalog marketing, the overriding industry culture will not accept rapid action ... the catalog planning process requires a 6-9 month lead time ... which worked fine in 1986 but it doesn't matter because that's how the industry works, so what do you do about that, Mr. Smartypants Kevin?
  1. Name Brand Response Marketing Team no later than June 1, 2016. Spend the next seven weeks identifying the talent that will be part of this team. Your e-commerce counterparts knock this out in two days, but this is the catalog industry, so a seven week search is achievable.
  2. Build your customer acquisition plan for 2017 ... you already know your likely budgeted number of new customers for 2017, so your plan is probably already 80% done. Have a plan complete by June 1.
  3. Your Brand Response Marketing Team must have their 2017 marketing plan in place no later than August 15, 2016.
  4. If any programming changes need to happen anywhere in the building, they are completed between August 16 and October 31. If your information technology team fails to support the Brand Response Marketing Team, then make a public announcement that this team failed the business and will not earn salary increases or bonuses in 2017 unless the situation changes by the end of the year. Then watch what happens!
  5. On November 1, 2016, you lock-in the number of new customers the Brand Response Marketing Team will generate, above-and-beyond the current plan. If your plan is for 100,000 new customers, and the Brand Response Marketing Team (BRMT) is going to increase newbies by 20%, then the new target is 120,000, and the BRMT is responsible for 20,000 of the 120,000. This fact is announced to the entire company.
  6. All new programs begin on January 1, 2017.
If you don't have time to impact 2016 (and your e-commerce brand competitors disagree with you), then follow (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) above and be ready to roll on 1/1/2017.


  1. Hi Kevin - thanks for this post! Been reading your stuff (and listening to your podcast) for the past few weeks now and trying to understand where you're coming from.

    Had a few questions about brand-response marketing:

    1. It seems you've seen this to have worked in bringing more revenue long term. Could you explain the mechanism by which brand-response marketing achieves this (or at least your best stab at WHY/HOW brand-response actually brings in more revenue)? Obviously, it can be a dangerous thing to tease out a causality mechanism from a correlation, but would be curious to hear your hunch.

    2. When should a company invest in a brand-response marketing team? An early stage startup? A growth stage startup? Only established companies?

    3. How would you launch a team like this when investors and execs have aggressive monthly revenue targets?

  2. 1 - This isn't an issue of revenue, though ultimately it leads to revenue. Most of my clients are having a terribly hard time finding new customers. Catalogers rely upon co-ops, online brands rely on Google/Facebook. Few of my clients actually have a Customer Acquisition Program, a stated process for finding new customers. Go back to my presentation from earlier this year for examples of companies who leverage a Customer Acquisition Program to find new customers (http://www.slideshare.net/MineThatData/customer-acquisition-the-story-of-2016-2020). Now, startups do not have the organizational background to handle what I am talking about - but to be honest, they are more likely to try the tactics in my presentation than my existing client base. The reason a Brand Response Marketing team is needed is because existing marketing teams are overly dependent upon co-ops, Google, and Facebook and have literally forgotten how to use in-house tactics to find new customers. By having individuals from all teams within a company, the Brand Response Marketing team avoids the problems the marketing team has ... for instance, the IT team cannot block a marketing initiative because they don't want to work on it ... they are much more likely to support the initiative because somebody from IT earns a bonus if the initiative is worked on. We have to include people from all over the company, so that the whole company focuses on Customer Acquisition. And by doing so, we incorporate all ideas, not just marketing ideas that the rest of the company hates. These are all problems that existing companies deal with.

    2 - Established companies should invest here.

    3 - You invest here because investors and execs have aggressive monthly revenue targets. If you ignore the 1-3 year window and only focus on monthly revenue targets, you will always chase monthly revenue targets with discounts and promotions, torpedoing the brand in the process. Somebody (you) needs to protect the future of your company.


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