The post New Years effect

Unfortunately for most of us the holidays are long over (although many of our livers are rejoicing!). With 2010 a memory,  people are now making wishes and resolutions for this year. All of us are taking a look at ourselves and our lives, seeking to correct mistakes, recover the teen spirit, improve our relationships, go on a diet, hit the gym, quit eating French fries, etc…

But what has come of these resolutions so far?

Just a few short weeks after the New Year, what have we really changed in our daily habits and practices? Can we actually make our lives different and recover some “lost essence” immediately, without making long-term changes?  I am afraid not. We have big goals but set ourselves up to fail because we don’t really change our daily habits at all, yet we keep hoping the results will be different this time. This “post-Christmas effect” that we have as individuals I also see in several brands on the market.

What research agency hasn’t delivered an outstanding repositioning study or a brand essence study for a client that never moved forward? Who isn’t tired of repeatedly recommending the same changes to a client’s communications or to their daily shopper tracking studies? How often do we feel our recommendations are so obvious that they seem extracted from one of Kotler’s books? Yet our recommendations that it’s no use misleading consumers with a beautiful commercial and then delivering a poor product somehow keeps receiving budget.

As Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Unfortunately the above is a reality that affects everyone who renders consulting services, and it is a fact for many companies. The agency tries to explain the best path while the client absorbs the idea, smiles, applauds and then returns to business as usual. Instead of acting on the advice, the 100,083,939 new e-mails flooding our inboxes provides an easy distraction. Does this sound familiar? “This package change can wait until tomorrow; my customers buy it anyway.”  Or “Let’s have a new conference to discuss what was not solved in the last conference.” Or even worse, “Due to global alignment, our brand will keep this name, even if it means a swear word in our country!”

In a heroic attempt to make 2011 a better year and avoid returning to “business as usual” that doesn’t move anyone forward, I have assumed a new posture for my presentations (of course,  I always remain open to suggestions that can help me on the subject!). Here are my goals:

  • To present recommendations in a way that easily connects them, with clear steps to achieve the ultimate goal.
  • To suggest opportunities for partnering, such as with other companies that could help develop and solve particular issues.
  • To invite all stakeholders to each presentation so that they are fully informed and part of the process.
  • To help clients leave the meeting with a definitive timeline to reach the given recommendations and assigning leaders for each task.
  • To encourage shared goals to reach the objective. For example, the awareness growth target for a company’s brand may depend on the actions of both the media team and shopper teams working together.

Otherwise…of course! That packaging study isn’t actionable and joins the others in the pile on the floor.  Then you commission additional studies trying to solve the same problem as before. Next time,  let’s choose the leaders of the ‘to do’s’ and get them involved right from the beginning. The result? No more wasted budget. And 2012 is the year we finally achieve our goals!

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