Every time Shelly Lazarus talks to executives who are managing through tough times, she poses a straightforward question: What is the value of a brand?
It’s a simple question that often leads to a more detailed discussion.
“Is is a revenue or a cost?” asks Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, an advertising firm that, over the past 60 years, has helped build some of the most recognizable brands on the planet. “I would argue a revenue driver. If you spend money during a recession, you can come out ahead. Those companies and brands that invested through this (recession) will come out stronger and ahead of their competitors.”
Lazarus shared her thoughts on brand value, managing through tough times, how to deal with Gen Y and the future of advertising at the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum 2009.On managing through tough times
The best thing you can do is state the problem clearly but stay optimistic about the outcome. It’s not ‘rah rah’; people can see through that. But you have to get yourself to a place where you see the path. And when you’re comfortable, communicate, communicate, communicate. You have to get out with people and share what’s going on so they can assess the situation and have an understanding of where you’re heading and feel a sense of comfort.
Everybody is looking at you to see how you react to the ups and downs of the marketplace. The biggest mistake people make in communicating is that in many companies, the last group of people that the leaders communicate with is the employees. That’s a mistake they are the most important constituency you have.
The second biggest is that you better not sugarcoat the news. You need to have a good sense that people in the company trust the leadership. And to have that trust, you need honesty and transparency.On managing Generation Y
This is a different generation in the workplace than the previous generation. The average tenure for Generation Y employees today is 16 months. You’ve got a sea change coming toward us that we have to deal with. But there are things you can do. If there is an expectation that jobs are episodic, is there something you can do with jobs in a company? Can you make the job more satisfying? And how do you create the balance they seek? We are dealing with a population, a generation really, that doesn’t want to do things the same way you do. You need to rethink the nature of the job.On the future of marketing
Less than 50 percent of our revenue comes from traditional advertising. There are so many new ways to communicate that we’re inventing it as we go along. But there’s a danger of fragmentation. It’s imperative to ensure your message and brand is consistent. That way, wherever people choose to find you, the brand message is the same.
No matter what you choose, a mix of media always works better than a single medium, and the more different media that you use, the better your results. But you need to know what role each effort plays and how it’s going to get to a transaction. Things are so fast that you can now move from ‘I never heard of that before’ to a transaction within 24 hours.
So, when determining where to advertise or market your message, be demanding. Find out how you’re getting from the first insertion to a sale. If that is your mindset, it becomes much easier to adapt.
How to reach: Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, www.ogilvy.com
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