Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble –Focus on Market Leadership

 

Getting profitable and staying profitable is how we help our clients, the critical element for all companies.  Being a market leader, while not an easy task, is certainly one way to help make that happen.  P&G has the largest lineup of leading brands in its industry, with 21 brands with over $1 billion in annual sales and another 19 brands generating about $500 million or more in annual sales.  In 2000, there were 10 brands over a Billion; today, they have 21.  During this period, the company’s revenue has doubled from $40 Billion to $80 Billion. 

 
Procter & Gamble is very clear on their objective to have superior products, not just in performance, but in consumer preference.  They have sharpened their focus on how to deliver this.  This sharpened focus has meant selling off or discontinuing a number of very successful brands, but brands that did not fit with an opportunity for global market leadership.

 
The company used to market a stable of brands and achieve market leadership through the combined sales.  For example, when I joined P&G in the early seventies, in laundry detergents, the company marketed Tide, Cheer, Bold, Gain, Duz, Dreft, Era, Liquid Tide, Ivory Snow and the first detergent, Oxydol.  There were probably several others as well that just don’t come to mind.  Combined, this provided market leadership.

 
However, it resulted in increased costs.  The brands competed against one another for sales force time, retailer promotions, shelf space, advertising, media time slots, in-store offers and most importantly, Procter & Gamble management attention.  As a Brand Manager, my task was to get a larger share of company effort so that I could increase my brand’s impact with consumers.  It was not uncommon for a great idea to be expended on one of the smaller brands and thus dilute its impact.  The company realized that it would be far better served to focus its efforts on the lead brands and make them clear market leaders.  The billion dollar brands are the result.


Today, Procter & Gamble has a very clear path for its mega brands to achieve market dominance.  All of the very best people, ideas, support and processes are given to one brand and not spread across multiple brands.  In fact, there has been an increasing tendency to “borrow” from one mega brand in one category to assist another in a separate category.

 
But what is the value of the Procter & Gamble experience for your business if you do not have a stable of billion dollar brands or are not the market leader?  How can you capitalize on the learnings from P&G’s experience?

 
Here are 5 tips learned from Procter, building the smaller brands or opening up new categories and industries for the company.

 
1.     Be choiceful in selecting the market / industry / geography in which you will compete.  Make certain that you have an opportunity to be able to gain a leadership position in the arena that you select, perhaps not immediately, but within a reasonable time frame.

 
2.     Focus your resources to build a solid base in one area and become successful before you move to additional areas.

 
3.     Hire and use “A” class people.  Your best investment will be in your people.  Skimp in other areas if needed since the great people will be able to over compensate.

 
4.     Take good care of your customers.  You would be surprised at how many companies we see that overlook their current customers in the drive to get new ones.

 
5.     Take advantage of consulting and contracting help to both capitalize on their expertise and keep your costs down overall.  This may sound self-serving, since we are consultants, but there is no substitute for experience.  We have used our P&G learning and knowledge to build substantial profitability for many companies

 

Market leadership brings with it many benefits that help companies get profitable and stay profitable.   We can help you.  Contact us anytime.

 Thanks.

 
John Maver
Founder & Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, December 1, 2014

What’s the issue? Business planning or just doing?

The recession continues and more and more businesses are failing - failing and being forced out of business, failing enough to have significant losses despite large layoffs and a desperate focus on cost cutting or failing through having little idea of how to turn the business around and keep a meaningful cash flow.

What’s the issue? Is it too much planning or too much action?

Are they failing because they have spent so much time creating the mission, vision, objective, goals and measurements for their strategic business plan that the opportunities have passed them by? Or are they locked in to outdated plans, programs and spending? Or is it more a case of having leadership that is unable to cope with the realities of today’s dynamic marketplace?

On the other hand, is it because they do not have a basic business plan that they are following and are just winging it? In this case, everyone is going full speed, but not in the same direction, no matter what you may think and certainly not toward a specific goal.

Or worse still, is it because they are faced with analysis paralysis and actually doing nothing? This cause a company to seize up and the organization grinds to a halt.

Actually, the failing may be the result of some or all of these elements. Business plans are a MUST for every company. However, they need to be actionable. And they need to be acted upon, adjusted and acted upon again. They shouldn’t be binder thick. In fact, we recommend that they be kept to one or two pages. Otherwise, they are not read, used properly or followed.

What are you doing in your company? If your company is struggling, is it due to over-planning for the business with concentration on the theoretical plan and not taking the appropriate action? Or is it all action and no known overall plan. Clearly, it can’t be an either/or if you are going to survive in today’s economy. It is a reasoned combination of both planning and action.

Do you have a written business plan? Is it simple and understandable to all? Has it been communicated to others?

Are they taking action on it? Are you adapting the plan based on the ever new market feedback? Do your customers know what you are trying to do and the benefit in it for them? Are they supporting your direction?

What are the results and what needs to be changed?

So many companies are focused on cost cutting that they are not generating revenue that is desperately required for cash flow and support and also undermining all future efforts. Now, and when the economy turns, it is going to be the company with the successful plans put into action and market honed that will prosper.

Managing in today’s turbulent times isn’t easy so don’t think you can do this on your own. Get some help from experts who have been there before and can help lead you through the problems.

This can be a time for you and your company to actually prosper but you have to do it smartly.

Thanks.

John

John Maver
President
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn


Lessons from P&G - False reasons for not doing strategic planning

Procter & Gamble spends a considerable amount of time and effort in gathering the appropriate data and developing the right strategic plans that can be followed to maximize effectiveness in the market.  As a result, they have a significant number of billion dollar brands from their world-wide effort.  Yet, as we have studied many other companies across a broad range of industries, we find that many companies are reluctant to undertake the simple strategic planning process and thus are not achieving the results that they should.

Here are the 7 most common reasons given for not doing strategic planning.  You can see why these could be considered to be false reasons and just stand in the way of the company’s success.  The lessons from Procter & Gamble show how these may be false.

1 The CEO believes they already have a plan in their mind.
 Too often the CEO believes that there is already a strategic plan because they have a rough plan in their mind.  The difficulty is that this plan is generally not data based and worse still is not communicated well or understood by the rest of the organization.  As a result, the organization does the best that they are able but seldom in line with the CEO’s vision or plan.  Valuable resources in people and finances are not focused and wasted.  If you want the plan to work, write it down and share it broadly.  This only makes sense!

2  A belief that funds for planning are not available. 

This is a great misunderstanding and is based on a short term view.  The investment of funds to do a strategic plan properly is generally minimal. The ROI is generally considerable.  Once the expenditure is made, the benefits start quickly and the business and profitability grow.  This is an investment that will pay big dividends in so many ways.

3 Focusing on too many other projects.


One of the reasons that there are too many other projects is that there is no well-known and followed plan.  A strategic plan is not only what the company will do but what it will not do.  Focused effort leads to fewer false starts with less wasted effort and rework.  Productivity increases.  The employees are happier and have less stress, thereby reducing turnover.


4 A Belief that the market will change


Many companies put off strategic planning because they expect the market will change.  Of course, the market will change!  But the purpose of the plan is to manage that change and not be managed by it.  The right plan can help companies to take advantage of market changes and gain a competitive advantage over competitors who have done no planning.  Develop the plan and review it, altering it to capitalize on market changes.

5 Not sure how to proceed
Executives at companies are smart.  They clearly have the intelligence to do strategic planning.  However, in many cases they just don’t have the training in strategic planning and should be active participants instead of facilitators.  Having a simple process like the one that we use at Moon & Stars allows the executives to lead the planning without disrupting the daily business.

6 Team doesn’t want to do it


Teams generally do not get involved in strategic planning.  They are just provided with new ways of doing business and of course there is always a resistance to change.  They need to be “pulled” into executing the plans.  At Procter & Gamble, all are involved and so they believe that they have a vested interest in the plans and an understanding of the benefits.

7 Takes too much time/ Waste of time

Actually, the strategic planning process can be built upon current data and knowledge and accomplished within normal work effort.  Almost immediately, it will become clear as to the activities that can be eliminated due to negative or low returns.  This frees up the time to do the planning and the activities which will have a long term positive effect.

Conclusion

Strategic planning is generally misunderstood and as a result these and other false reasons are held that prevent companies from getting the benefit of the planning.  We at Moon & Stars have had the opportunity to learn, not only how to do strategic planning, but to assist clients to develop plans that are specifically tailored to their situation.  The time and investment are minimal and the results are significant.  Procter & Gamble makes this process a common activity in which everyone participates.

What is holding you back from getting the business results that you might achieve?

 Thanks,

John
John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble on Strategic Planning

Are you leading your company in effective strategic planning?


A Difference

There is a difference between strategic planning and business planning.  Business planning is developing the plan of action to accomplish specific goals over time.  Strategic planning is understanding how the environment will change and how to best capitalize on it.  It is based on Core Principles of Purpose and Values.
 
 
 

 Procter and Gamble has made a number of changes in their strategic planning process and as a result has developed global brands of more than a billion dollars each.  They have harnessed resources and focused efforts.  It hasn’t been easy and they have had a number of personnel and process changes.

 Planning pitfalls

Here are some of the learnings that they have had so that you can be successful in your efforts.


 

1.     Not taking the time, energy or resources to secure the right factual information.  Too often companies rely on bad or no information.  Factual decisions are critical.
 
2.     Being resistant to change and ignoring what your planning process reveals.  Don’t toss out the good strategic planning work just because it doesn’t fit preconceived notions.

3.     Being unrealistic about your ability to plan.  This should be led by someone with the expertise to guide the team to make sound strategic choices.  It also will take time and follow up effort.  Create the time and give it the attention it requires.  The payoffs in doing so are significant.

4.     Not making sure that all major conflicts are clearly understood before you start to plan.  Don’t just ignore them and hope that they can be settled later.

 5.     Copying and pasting from old plans.  Strategic plans are “live” documents and are meant to take into account the changes in both the internal and external environment.  The old plan is just that – the old plan.

Every Senior Executive and most Directors and Managers agree that having an effective strategic plan is critical to business success.  We had that drilled into us at Procter & Gamble and the first basis for any recommendation was always the strategic fit.  We recommend that you adopt that philosophy in your company, too.

 Tips

·       Get the right process and leader.

·       Get the right team.

·       Get the required factual information.

·       Get the quality time set aside for the work.

 
Let us know how we might help.  We have a simple process developed and used by a number of top Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble.  And we have used that process effectively with many companies across a broad range of industries.

 Thanks.

John


John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lessons from P&G – Making the Number


How’s business?  Are you and your company on track to deliver the promised results for the year? 

 
Do you require a boost in performance?

While this is written to address the companies who are not at desired levels, the basic message holds true for those that are doing well and want to continue the progress.

We are entering the last quarter of the calendar year and incremental effort may be required.  At Procter & Gamble, this was the time to call in the experienced help.  It wasn’t just the senior management.  It was getting advice and assistance from others who had fresh ideas and could identify opportunities.  They had the experience to know what would work and what could deliver the number without increasing the resources.

In today’s world companies generally have the financing required and of course the product ideas.  It is the experienced management talent that is often missing. That was a big difference compared to Procter & Gamble where there was an abundance of highly trained and experience management.

So what can a company do today?  In some instances, the C level executive has the skills but not the bandwidth.  In others both the skilled experience and the bandwidth are missing.  In either case, there is just something missing and there is a gap between the required result and the ability to deliver it.  How does a company close this gap without the time and great expense of searching for and hiring full time the required expertise?

 
That is why I am writing this article!

The reason that we created Moon & Stars Consulting was to assist other companies to have access to the management experience that can be used in the short term to quickly fill this gap and be able to make the number.

How do we assist companies?  Working with the company team, we determine the key challenges and opportunities to deliver the number.  Then using our experience and perhaps that of other consultants with the strong Procter management training, we create the strategies, plans and the execution that will drive the marketplace results.

We know that this works because we have had success with hundreds of clients in addition to our Procter & Gamble businesses.

It is also very cost efficient, since you are getting significant expertise and only need use it in the short term until the plans are in place and generating success.  Not only are we really skilled at what we do, we are fun folks with whom to work.

For some of you, this may seem simplistic, but the ideas are important.  We would just like to support your efforts.  Let us know how we can help.  In any case please stay in touch.  We value our friends.

John Maver
Founder & Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble – Branding, an Example


 



“You can trust Tide to get clothes clean.”





As an ex-Tide Brand Manager, yes some time ago, I was privy to the extensive world-wide research and branding effort that has been done by Procter & Gamble on laundry detergents and in particular for Tide.  Tide as you may know is one of the “family jewels” of Procter & Gamble.  It serves as an excellent example of how branding is developed and the results it can provide. 
 
Tide was launched in the 1940’s as the second laundry detergent after Oxydol.  It cleaned much cleaner than the soap powders and didn’t leave any residue.  In its earliest times, research showed that women wanted proof that it would generate great amounts of suds since that was the signal that it had cleaning power.  The message was “Tide Generates Oceans of Suds”.
   
     





Of course, the branding started with the product quality and its ability to deliver on its promise of getting clothes clean.  Procter & Gamble had many practical scientists and product development people working on this brand and still does.  Its efficacy has been unmatched in the minds of the consumers since its launch.

As you can see from the slogan that became the bedrock of Tide’s marketing, “You can trust Tide to get clothes clean”, the tone and emotion of trust was established.  Consumers came to know that when they used Tide it would get their clothes clean every time.  Tide became a reliable helper in the household chore of clothes washing.

Branding is much more than just product and positioning.  The packaging was an important part of Tide’s success.  The vibrant colors made the product stand out on the shelf.  The bull’s-eye reinforced the single minded positioning of cleaning.  In fact, packaging research has shown that consumers can identify the Tide package as Tide even without the word Tide across the bull’s-eye.

The brand quickly moved to market leadership.  This brought with it economies of scale, increased store merchandising and a premium price.







Today, there are many forms of Tide that can handle the current fabrics and washing machines.  Many other detergents have been wiped out as the brand’s share of the category has risen steadily to over 50%.


 

Strong branding is essential for companies to maximize the impact of their product investment.  If you don’t have the resources to develop and direct this effort you will need to get it.

Let us know how we might assist you.

 Thanks,
 John

John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble – Branding



 
 All companies and executives know about branding but many are not familiar with how to use it or how it can affect the bottom line.  Over the years P&G has become a master of this and has many multi-billion dollar brands as a result.  A strong branding strategy can increase the awareness of a company’s products in such a way that establishes strong feelings and reactions and a favorable view towards the company as a whole.  Successfully out-branding your competitors is a continuous battle for the hearts and minds of your customers.  The proposition your brand strategy makes must be very compelling, attractive and unique among competitive offerings.  Done correctly, branding is that extra margin that companies achieve over generics or even store brands.

 

Building on the inherent values of a brand should be the core of any branding strategy.  Winning brand strategies starts with top-notch research.  Your target customer will determine your success.  Research with consumers will identify needs and then it is up to your branding to make the fit of your offerings fill those needs.  Consistency is a key here, since all aspects of the branding must fit together.


Make it your mission to get as detailed information as possible on their age, gender, income, shopping habits (online and off) and anything else of relevance you can determine. If you’re targeting a business market, these criteria will differ, depending on the industry. Understanding your target market and what they want is key to developing a winning brand.

 
The research will lead to the brand promise.  It states the benefit of buying and using your company’s products or services.  A great deal of time and effort at Procter & Gamble is spent on finding the right promise and making it competitive so that it stands out in its industry or category.   They know that it must be specific because specific is exponentially more memorable.

Creating a positive emotional association in your market for your product or service is key. It can create want and desire by the mere mention of your brand, product or service name. Needless to say, that’s powerful. For instance, the mere mention of Tide detergent makes buyers think of clean clothes. 


To create a brand promise that creates such emotional connections, it should be:

1. Grounded in the brand’s core values.
2. Clearly relevant and engaging to your target market.
3. Able to create some sort of positive emotional attachment beyond just being “good”.
4. Adaptable to the business climate in terms of how the basic promise is presented although the promise itself does not change.
5. Continually reinforced and consistent across advertising and marketing.

 
It is clear that branding can make a significant difference in the success of a brand and a company.  Without intentional effort, unintentional positioning will occur and that can spell disaster.

 
The Moon & Stars team have had long experience and great success over the years with branding and have developed solid procedures to help clients.  We are happy to share these with you.
 

Thanks,

 John


John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble – Integrity


 

 

We have written several times about core values of an organization.  Our experience at Procter & Gamble made us believers and we became accustomed to dealing with colleagues with integrity.  Those that didn’t got weeded out quite quickly as they came into the global headquarters.

Here is how integrity was explained at P&G. 

Integrity - We always try to do the right thing.  We are honest and straight-forward with each other.  We operate within the letter and spirit of the law.  We uphold the values and principles of P&G in every action and decision.  We are data-based and intellectually honest in advocating proposals, including recognizing risks.


As we formed Moon & Stars Consulting LLC, all with ex Procter people, we naturally assumed that integrity would be a normal part of our lives together.  Building on it we expected to develop a strong business that would apply that same integrity to our clients for their success too.


One can’t assume integrity in some others no matter what the pedigree.  You have to take the practical steps to confirm it.  You will find that the conclusions are not surprising, but so easy to overlook as you look for the best in people.

1 “Trust everyone but cut the cards.”  This is an old poker message and it means make sure that you keep a personal eye on the finances with regular review.  It isn’t enough to have a summary supplied by one person unchecked.  Go to the source and verify.

2 Never let one person handle the finances alone.  Make certain that there are at least two signatures on the bank accounts.

3 Work together and build together.  If you don’t give lack of integrity a chance to get started you can avoid much trouble later. 

4 If you find lack of integrity, rid the company of it immediately.  It is like a cancer and will spread.

These are simple actions and can avoid a great deal of pain to a company.  Don’t be misled by appearances.

If you need some help on this issue with your company, contact us.  We would be happy to help.

Thanks,

 John


John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lessons from Procter & Gamble – Valuing Experience and Expertise





What is the greatest challenge facing executives today?  It isn’t opportunity or drive or brain power.  Today’s executives are faced with more challenges, but less time than ever before.  Most are relatively new to their jobs as the average length of tenure for a CEO is just over two years.  They are being asked to handle issues like the experienced executives of old who have a great deal of expertise. 


      

 
Despite being very smart with boundless energy, the new management can be babes in the senior management ranks.


 

It would seem to make sense that the senior executives and particularly the CEO gets some help, at least in the short term, to do, teach and mentor.  The impact on not just productivity but on the business acceleration can be significant.  This doesn’t have to be a full time hire. Getting an experienced consultant with expertise can be the most cost effective.  Use them to provide the short term boost and then handle the business as before, but with the benefit of the new training.

 

At Procter & Gamble throughout our years, there were many senior managers available to help with a specific need.  They had faced the challenges before and had both the expertise and expertise to guide us.  As a result we didn’t have the struggles learn and understand how to best capitalize on the opportunities.  At Moon & Stars Consulting, we do the same for our clients.

 

Take advantage of the “grey hairs” and benefit from their expertise and expertise.

 

Thanks.

 
John



John Maver
Founder and Managing Director of Moon & Stars Consulting
President Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn