“Executives often fail to recognize that delivering high quality is not enough to gain a marketplace advantage; there must be a perception among customers that high quality exists.

David Aaker, professor of marketing at Berkeley

I ran across this quote from Aaker in an article on Reputation Management by Gary North. North was specifically talking about how Maytag went down the drain in a matter of months by squandering brand loyalty with shoddy products. But Aaker’s point is timeless — Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.

How many great organizations do phenomenal work and always go the extra mile for their customers — but nobody knows? They forgot to tell their story in a compelling way to the marketplace.

If your company fits this category, here’s what you need to know.

The marketplace must “perceive” value. That’s why I trademarked the phrase: “Perception Is the Reality we manage™.”   Before a perception can even be formed, however, you’ve got to be on your target market’s radar.

There is still tremendous client loyalty for great brands. In today’s hurried, over-produced world, however, they won’t tell your story unless you make it easy for them to do so.

The best way to do this is a little “prepackaging” of your message.

It starts internally. Do you know your unique selling proposition? Are your executive team members, board, employees and shareholders clear on your organization’s key strengths, messaging and go-to-market strategy?

In a survey of corporate employees, 95% said they did not know or understand the strategy for their organization. Shocking? Maybe. What this tells me, is we have work to do.

Employees are your chief brand ambassadors. If they aren’t clear on your message — you can’t expect anyone else to be either.

Let’s also take a look at your client or customer base. Do you regularly communicate with them in an engaging manner? Not to SELL anything — but to connect? Have you shared an insight or article with them? Have you reached out to them and shared your organization’s latest successes and tied those successes to a discreet customer benefit?

Marketplace advantage is achieved not only by maintaining high-quality products and services, but also by shaping perception in the marketplace.

Traditional advertising has a place in building awareness, but that’s shrinking dramatically. Brand ambassadors and some genuine fact-based earned buzz, will build your base and help expand your reach to new customers who are ready for a test-drive.

To read the full article on how Maytag, Dell, Schlitz and other organizations suffered from slips in quality and reputation go to: http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north579.html

 

Pam Gilchrist Celebrates Winning Three 2012 PRSA Blacksmith Awards With Strauss Troy’s Lucy McCormack (l) and Richard Colvin (r)

Leadership communications strategist Pamela Gilchrist earned a top Blacksmith award and two silver awards from the Public Relations Society of America Cincinnati Chapter for her work with law firm Strauss Troy Co., LPA.

Gilchrist earned awards for her brand identity research for the law firm’s recent rebranding initiative, the brand announcement news release and corresponding media placements. The Blacksmith entries were judged by a panel of independent judges from the Orange County, California PRSA Chapter.

Judges comments on the brand research included: “The research was excellent with solid outcomes. Beautiful graphics. Excellent results. This could not have been an easy task.” With one judge giving the work a rare perfect score of 100.

Additionally judges comments on the news release and resulting news placement on the front of the Sunday Business section of the Cincinnati Enquirer were: “Very comprehensive release touched on all aspects of the firm’s culture and purpose.” And, “Excellent placement…the company leaders should be very pleased.”

The research methodologies Gilchrist used included quantitative research, benchmarking, industry trends analysis and qualitative research to build a research-based brand platform and gain shareholder buy-in.

“Pam is a tremendous asset and this award is confirmation of the quality services that she provides. As we continue on our aggressive growth path, her leadership in cultivating opportunities that have big impact will continue to be invaluable. These awards are validation of this work,” said Attorney C. Richard Colvin, chair of Strauss Troy’s marketing committee.

“As we looked to the future, it was essential that we better align our brand with both our high-quality heritage and our penchant for providing personalized innovative solutions,” said Strauss Troy President James G. Heldman. “The branding work that Pam Gilchrist has done has really upped the firm’s game.”

About Pamela Gilchrist

Nationally recognized author and speaker Pamela Gilchrist, MA, APR, CPT, is chief strategist at the Gilchrist Group®. She optimizes outcomes to close the gap between strategy and success. Her work focuses on breakthrough business strategies, change leadership and high-impact communications.

Gilchrist has held top leadership communications posts inside three Fortune 500 companies and has consulted with organizations across the country to guide executives through a myriad of change initiatives, mergers and acquisitions and growth strategies.

She is president-elect of the National Speakers Association Ohio Chapter where she was recently named 2012 Member-of-the-Year and is also is featured in their new marketing strategies book: Speak More! Gilchrist is Accredited in Public Relations (APR) by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where she is a member of the Counselor’s Academy and has earned PR Professional-of-the-Year, Best in Show and many top honors including the Golden World Trophy from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA). Pam has earned top honors from Bulldog Reporter and has presented her Expert Influence™ Academy program at its national conference. Gilchrist holds a master’s degree from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s from Western Michigan University.

About Strauss Troy

Since its founding in 1953, Strauss Troy has stood apart from the competition by providing the highest-quality legal services in the most personalized, prompt and economical manner possible. As a full-service law firm, Strauss Troy has diverse expertise and a history of proven success. No matter what issue you face, the firm has the right professionals, working together as a team, to get you the answers you need quickly and affordably. Learn more at www.strausstroy.com.

Strauss Troy’s areas of practice include: Corporate | Business, Criminal | White Collar Defense, Domestic Relations | Family Law , Labor | Employment, Litigation, Municipal | Government, Real Estate | Finance, Tax Planning | Compliance and Trust | Estate Planning.

Strauss Troy is recognized as a leading law firm in the Greater Cincinnati | Northern Kentucky region and is a Martindale-Hubbell Top Ranked Law Firm™ in Fortune Magazine. The firm is recognized as a U.S. News & World Report Best® Law Firm, and many of its attorneys are honored as peer-rated Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Attorneys, Best Lawyers® in America, Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars. The firm is also listed as a top law firm by the Cincinnati Business Courier.

 

Enjoyed sharing personal branding strategies at NSA Ohio this weekend. We all have a brand, whether we know it or not. So be intentional. Image-crafting matters. As Bill Stainton said, you never know when a client or prospect is near. He was traveling on an airplane, reviewing his notes for a speech, when the woman sitting next to him said “You must be our speaker!”
While we work hard to craft a professional personal brand, perhaps Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon said it best: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
It is critical that your personal brand is aligned with your authentic self, intentional, aligned with your go-to-market strategy and crystal clear.
If you want to learn more, pick up a copy of Speak More and read my section “Get Passionate About Personal Branding.”

 

Grab the oxygen mask. While J.C. Penney tries to stop its free fall, torches and pitch forks are pointed at CEO Ron Johnson.

Here are a 5 things businesses can learn:

  1. Be careful what you wish for.
  2. Bring  data to support your position.
  3. Keep your customer top of mind.
  4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
  5. Pretty doesn’t make marketing effective. It’s the message stupid.

While there is no doubt that Penney’s needed change to stay competitive — was his radical reinvention strategy just too radical? Was it a “communications problem?”

“Improvement merely lets you hit your numbers. Creativity is what transforms,” said Johnson in a March 2012 Fortune article about his coming out party.

In my nearly 30 years of experience working with companies big and small, this statement is true. And working with an organization in the midst of transformation can be exciting. But, retraining behavior is extraordinarily difficult.

From a business standpoint, you have to have enough financial runway and latitude to drive a new strategy forward long-enough for stickiness. (JCP didn’t.)  From an emotional intelligence standpoint, that stickiness and new behavior can be incredibly tough to achieve — after generations of conditioning a set of shopping behaviors. (There was little communication on what specific actions JCP wanted customers take. And no sales, meant no call to action or motivation to “buy now.”)

JCP forgot something incredibly important — ASK YOUR CUSTOMER. (What do you want and how do you want it? Then, market-test the heck out of the concept to see if their buying behavior matches their wish list before launch.)

People like to feel like they are getting a deal. It’s psychological. It’s shopping 101. By competing on price, JCP had to make an incredibly clear and compelling case to the consumer. It didn’t. It’s a major fail whale.

And while I love beautiful marketing pieces, all of JCP’s environmental, scene driven photography didn’t sell one blender. Why? Because there was no compelling copy to describe the item, no customer benefit and no clear pricing.
Another multimillion dollar marketing mistake.

Customers are dropping like flies and credibility is gone. It will be a long-climb for JCP to recoup its losses.

J.C. Penney analyst: ‘CEO has to go’

Dallas Business Journal by Steven R. Thompson, Staff Writer

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 5:30am CDT

After J.C. Penney cut 350 employees from its Plano headquarters Tuesday, retail analysts said they are unsure how the company can continue to follow through with its transformation strategy. One analyst even said it was time for CEO Ron Johnson to leave.

“The next step is the CEO has to go, I guess,” said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-based Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment-banking firm. “Because if it stays like this, the question will be, ‘What credibility does he have to do anything?’ He will have lost all credibility.”

Davidowitz has previously made his position on the J.C. Penney transformation clear, saying Johnson “caused incalculable damage” to the department store chain.

Other retail experts expressed more optimism about J.C. Penney’s plans, even as they said they were uncertain about the company’s turnaround.

“It is probably more of the same as they try to reduce their cost, but they are under a ton of pressure,” said Dwight Hill, managing partner at the Plano-based The Retail Advisory. “I am still fairly bullish about their strategy, but I’m not sure Wall Street is going to be patient enough for them to continue to go down this path.”

J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) said Tuesday’s job cuts were part of the company’s plan to cut $900 million in annual expenses by the end of 2012. J.C. Penney executives declined requests for an interview.

The company needs to do a better job of communicating that the layoffs are part of a “multi-stage turnaround process,” Hill said.

“With sales dropping as they are, they have an even greater need to reduce this SG&A cost,” Hill said.

The drop in sales is mainly due to the lack of coupons, Davidowitz and Hill agreed.

“They’ve begun to realize the coupon and sales addiction probably runs far and deep,” Hill said. “And customers don’t want to go cold turkey.”

Davidowitz didn’t offer many solutions for J.C. Penney, saying, “I’d have to spend months figuring out what to do because the mess is so deep.” He still can’t believe that J.C. Penney would abandon its core customer so quickly in order to test a new pricing and marketing strategy.

“People in retailing fight for decades to get market share,” Davidowitz said. “And here’s the reason, because it costs a fortune to get a new customer. You advertise, you spend a fortune to get a new footstep to give you a chance. It’s what retailers work on every day, ‘Let’s try to get this customer to give us a little opportunity.'”

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/blog/morning_call/2012/07/jc-penney-analyst-the-ceo-has-to-go.html?s=print

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I was recently reminded of how easy it is to come up with a great vision for the future. At a high-level it seems grand, fine… like it will all work out.

The ability to execute well on the details and implementation is where many leaders struggle. The more people they share the idea with, the murkier the whole thing looks. Soon clarity and vision are lost in a fog of bureaucracy and status quo.

Always keep a clear view of the future in mind. When making organizational changes, operate with integrity and honesty… and a dose of humanity.

As businesses continue to struggle to gain footing in this reset economy — leaders shouldn’t be afraid to make necessary changes that will help them stay competitive — just remember that change always involves people. Bring them along with you and never forget to explain the “why” as well as the future benefit for the organization and your individual contributors.

 

 

 

 

COLUMBUS, OH – April 17, 2012 — Strategist and Speaker Pam Gilchrist will present “From Chaos To Clarity: Leadership Secrets To Optimize Outcomes” at the NSA Ohio Speaker Showcase at Mills James TV Production Studios in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, April 19th.

Passionate about adding impact, Gilchrist is a frequently requested speaker for corporate, association and non-profit organizations. Her leadership and life lessons will help you optimize outcomes and navigate what’s next. With her wit, wisdom and inspiring style, she connects with audiences at every level as she shares stories and reveals insider secrets of what works at top companies—and what doesn’t.

As chief strategist at the Gilchrist Group®, executives and organizations seek her expertise during times of dramatic growth and change to move from chaos to clarity. Gilchrist’s proven, international award-winning results grow businesses, guide leaders, sharpen brands and increase engagement.

For more than 25 years, she has held key roles inside Fortune 100, multi-billion dollar companies and consulted with organizations across the country on how to improve impact through breakthrough business strategies, next level leadership and branded high-impact communications.

Featured in the soon to be released book: Best Marketing Practices For Speakers, you will also find her stories in the New York Times best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons for Women and other publications.

Whether you are looking for a high-energy keynote or a great breakout session, learn more about Pam Gilchrist at www.pamgilchrist.com.

The NSA Ohio Speaker Showcase Event is being produced by Mills James. In addition to hearing some of Ohio’s top thought leaders, guests will get an exclusive all-access, behind the scenes pass to one of the top state-of-the-art production studios in the country. Mills James has a well-earned, excellent reputation for live, on location meeting and event production and video storytelling. To get all the details or register go to: http://bit.ly/nsaspeaks.

I will share my passion for Personal Branding and PR at the NSA Ohio ProTrack seminar on March 17, 2012. Look for insider secrets in future blog posts.

If you are a professional or emerging speaker this session is for you. At the seminar you will learn how to build a strong personal brand, develop a go-to-market roadmap and become a well-known “Expert with Influence™.”  The session will include tips on thought leadership, content strategies, website integration, public relations and social media.

Fellow NSA Ohio Speaker Jim Canterucci, CEO, Transition Management Advisors and Sarah Storer, senior content marketing strategist, The Karcher Group, will also present a session on social media. The live event will be streamed online using ustream. It begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Downtown Technology Center, 423 E. Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. For information visit: www.nsaohio.com

About:

Professional Speaker Pamela Gilchrist Shares Her Passion For Personal Branding & PR

Pamela Gilchrist, an international award-winning, Fortune 100 leadership and communications expert,  shares her wit and wisdom on Business Strategy | Change Leadership | Brand Presence | Influencer Engagement with corporate and association audiences across the country. As chief strategist and CEO at the Gilchrist Group®, she advises organizations on how to have more impact by focusing on breakthrough business strategies, brand identity and influencer engagement. She is well-known for her high-level C-suite coaching on thought leadership, executive presence and personal branding.

The Gilchrist Group®,is a strategic business consulting firm specializing in business growth, executive leadership and high impact communications. The firm has deep expertise in guiding organizations through times of significant growth and change. Founded in 1999, the international award-winning firm has significant Fortune 500 experience and serves clients in a wide-range of industries across the country. Learn more: gilchristgroup.com

As chief strategist at the Gilchrist Group®, Pam advises executives on how to have more impact to improve perceptions and connections. Organizations that need results during times of growth and change seek Pam out for her proven methods including: go-to-market roadmaps, executive coaching and high impact communications designed to increase influence and engagement.

A former Fortune 100 leadership and communications executive, she has held key roles inside multi-billion dollar companies and advises organizations across the country using her proven international award-winning leadership and communications methods. From business unit launches to crisis communications, Pam has counseled executives for more than 25+ years on how to improve impact by focusing on breakthrough business strategies, next level leadership and branded communications.

Pam’s combination of vision, executive management expertise and guidance helps organizations achieve maximum results. She has earned the highest honor in the PR Industry – a Golden World Trophy from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) for her customer engagement work at a Fortune 500 company before she turned 30. She was named PR Professional-of-the-Year by the Cincinnati Chapter of PRSA and her work has been declared “Best In Show” by her peers.

To book Pam to speak at your next event or to see her 2012 catalogue of speaking topics visit: www.pamgilchrist.com. You can follow her on twitter @pamgilchrist.

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Sharing from my friends at MarketingProfs — because I couldn’t say it any better myself…

A guest post by Margie Clayman of Clayman Advertising.

I had an interesting conversation the other day about branding. During the course of  the talk, one participant said something along the lines of: “Well, I think we are pretty much done with traditional marketing concepts. Times are changing.”

I fear that this kind of sentiment is pervading the world of social media—and not too slowly. Look at all the new definitions of a simple marketing concept like ROI (return on investment). Look at how the word “branding” has been so twisted that many people now think a brand and a logo are the same thing.

We are in some serious trouble here.

Marketing Facts You Can Count On

Let’s talk about the argument that “social media has changed everything” in marketing. Now, you’d be silly to say that marketing is exactly the same as it was 1,000 years ago, right? You can trace how just print advertising has changed over the last 150 years. But even though the world has changed in a lot of ways, some things remain stubbornly the same. Trees grow. The Earth revolves around the sun. You can rely on those facts. They don’t get ditched as soon as “the times change.” They may get updated a bit. They may have addendums. But they don’t get burnt up in the latest garbage heap.

Thus, it is with tried and true marketing and business concepts. Yes, the marketing world and the business world continue to change. Rapidly, in fact. But there are a few facts upon which we can rely.

1. You still need to make sure you are making more money than you are doling out.
2. Branding encompasses your reputation, how you relate to your customers, what customers expect of you, and your message across any and all platforms.
3. If you do not understand basic business or marketing principles, you run the risk of trampling your business (or your clients’ businesses) into the ground.

Those are just a few of the “traditional” concepts that people seem so willing to disregard.

Why the Hate?

The real question I have been pondering is: Why is there so great a desire to dispense with these foundational aspects of marketing and business?

The only thing I can come up with is that—maybe—if you did not work in marketing before social media exploded or if you did not study marketing, traditional concepts may seem intimidating. Folks who seem to be “gurus” on social media may not really feel that they can come out and say, “Gosh, I don’t really understand this.” And so, alternative realities are created.

I can’t really think of any other reason why such elemental concepts are being abandoned recklessly throughout the online world.

What do you think lies behind this seeming dislike of basic marketing concepts? Have you run into it in your own online reality? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Man Sticking His Tongue Out)

Margie Clayman is director of Client Development at Clayman Advertising.

http://www.mpdailyfix.com/why-are-marketers-hating-on-traditional-marketing/?adref=nlt031512&utm_source=mpt&utm_medium=myview&utm_campaign=basic&utm_term=strategy&utm_content=post

Professional Speaker Pamela Gilchrist

I hope that you can join me for my live Webinar, Friday, February 3rd, 4:30 EST

How to Network Best with CEOs as a Business Development Executive

In this webinar, ExecSense examines everything you need to know in 60 minutes regarding the best tips, techniques, and tools to meet more CEOs. Reach them online using social networking, and enlarge your circle of influence in the year ahead. The webinar is led by an expert on the topic, Pamela Gilchrist (Chief Strategist/Professional Speaker & Author, Gilchrist Group) and covers:

• What every business development executive should know in 60 minutes about best practices for networking with CEOs

• Learn how to use social media to position yourself and your area of expertise to be of interest to specific CEOs; speaking on conference, seminar, & webinar panels to display your knowledge on hot topics impacting certain industries; joining LinkedIn groups for CEOs; how to use your connections with lawyers and private equity professionals to reach CEOs; and 5 other techniques to immediately put yourself in front of more CEOs

• The best professional networking strategies to get connected with CEOs, including using LinkedIn, blogs, deals databases, and leveraging existing personal and professional relationships with ties to CEOs

• Specific case studies of how 5 business development executives significantly increased their connections with CEOs, how they made these connections and strategies for staying in touch with them, and their best tips and techniques you can immediately implement to make connections with CEOs in the year ahead

Upon registering, ExecSense will email you the dial-in phone number and all of the other relevant information and files to attend the webinar. You will also automatically be emailed the audio and PowerPoint files the day after the webinar in case you were unable to attend the live webinar (registration prior to live event still required). You can view the webinar on your computer, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Blackberry, Android and many other devices.

Register here: http://www.execsense.com/details.asp?id=4110

 

Good news: My partner ExecSense Webinars has just announced that it is turning two of my webinars into eBooks!

Public Speaking & Presentation Skills for Venture Capitalists

How Leading Communications Executives Are Using Internal Communications to Benefit All Aspects of Their Business

They will be available on Amazon.com (for the Kindle), Apple’s iBookstore (for iPad & iPhone), BarnesandNoble.com (for the Nook), as well as hundreds of other bookstores that sell eBooks for viewing on anyone’s computer or smartphone such as a Blackberry or Droid.

Stay tuned for details on the launch date.

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