My seven keys to happiness

My experience led me to understand that the pursuit of happiness is something that, apart from unexpected drama, comes from your inner self. The way you can balance good and bad moments of life will guide you to some kind of fulfillment. In order to reach that state, let me give you my seven keys to a happy life.

  1. Have a dream!
  2. Go away from toxic people !
  3. Believe in your inner feelings !
  4. Practice the art of « creative paradox » !
  5. Look for lazy times and…Carpe Diem !
  6. Go after responsibilities, not after power or money !
  7. Know your values and live in accordance with them !
  1. Have a dream! A dream so strong for you that you naturally will do everything you can to reach it.  This dream should be strong but not necessarily big. It may seem unreachable for others but you know that  « you » can do it. When I was 18 year-old, my dream was to live some day in the USA. I had this in mind and I knew I would do it. There was no doubt in my mind. There was a vision and whatever the way, I would do it. Go back to your childhood and you will find back your dreams !
  2. Go away from toxic people! This is something we learn with time. So, my young friends, beware of people who are poisonous. There are always some of them around. They sometimes want to make friends with you but they’re jealous and envious. They get you in trouble and want to take advantage of you. You don’t see it at first. But your real friends or parents soon feel it. You generally deny the fact. But as soon as you have doubts, put them aside as quickly as you can
  3. Believe in your inner feelings ! We always thinimages.pngk that our reason should dominate our emotions. We were taught that at school, at home, everywhere. Although we think that reason is the base of what we call « rational decisions », it’s actually the base of « rational analysis ». Decision is human, not rational. We are not robots. Let our feelings play a major role. Our feelings are our true self !
  4. Practice the art of « creative paradox » ! Life is made of trade offs. Faced with a number of decisions, in business or life, we always balance between various desirable but incompatible solutions. We tend to be dichotomic : it’s either black or white, good or bad, nice or nasty… The world is now too complex to think that way. and we can be lost in dead end situations with all the stress that goes with it. So, be creative, look for the « and » instead of the « or ». Accept and practice the black and white, the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
  5. Look for lazy times and…Carpe Diem ! Being overcharged makes you feel good but it’s an addiction and addiction is always dangerous and leads to burnout or depression. Besides that, never stopping work, family or social activities makes you loose your abilty to have a sound judgement on facts. It cuts your mind from creativity and emotional intelligence. So, have your own regular lazy moments. It does not need to be long but it has to be regular. And be good to yourself ! Carpe Diem is a latin aphorism meaning « Pick up each day as a ripe fruit as tomorrow is uncertain».
  6. Go after responsibilities, not after power or money ! We live on this planet to accomplish some task for the good of mankind. If not, why are we here ? Most of us have the chance to go beyond mere survival issues and do something worth. It can be little things or big things but we should feel responsible. If you have the chance to be cherished by life, take on more responsibilities. But don’t chase power, honors or money. If you do, you will loose your freedom and abandon your responsibilities. You will be unhappy. Soon or later !
  7. Know your values and live in accordance with them ! it takes some time to know about your values sometimes. When we’re young, we often have some generous values. We believe in what is good, we want to change the f…ing world that our parents or society left us inheritance. Then, with age, we tend to forget these values. We’re more egocentric, too serious, too reasonable. So we loose our power to change the world and we tend to feel frustrated. Well, it’s time to restate your values, select the most important ones in your eyes and check if your life is in accordance. If not, be brave and change your life ! When you’ll be really old, it will be too late to regret it.

 images-1.jpeg

Check your current life and see if you have the keys to happiness. If not, find them ! You’re worth it !

Be inspired and Spice Up your life !

 

 

Advertisements

Send the 4 P’s to the museum of marketing !

I meet a number of professionals almost every week, some of them quite young, and I’m still surprised by the persistence of old mythical models in business. It seems impossible to read reports or hear presentations without being confronted with the 4P’s, the Porter 5 forces, some SWOT’s, etc. Generally tinkered and badly applied by people who never read the authors’books. It’s just a mess !

This is the case for the famous 4P’s. A lot of people think marketing equals 4 P’s. It’s just terrible !

Think about that:

  1. The 4 P’s model was developed in 1954, more than 60 years ago by Prof McCarthy (not by Philip Kotler as many believe). Do we still drive 1954 cars ?
  2. The 4P’s don’t take into account segmentation analysis and targeting / positioning decisions that are key in strategic marketing
  3. We are no more in the marketing of products. We are now marketing concepts: we sell solutions, service, image, customer experience . The 4P’s doesn’t take that into account
  4. The 4P’s mix in the same category strategic elements (pricing) and operational elements (promotion): it doesn’t make sense
  5. The 4P’s neglect the essential idea of value creation through branding, experiential marketing, service programs,… all took much importance in recent yearsimages.png

So, please, look for other models when you think about marketing ! Or maybe forget about models !

According to James Donius, Managing Director at Marketplace Measurement Worldwide, « a Marketing Model is a stylized representation of reality that is easier to deal with and explore for a specific purpose than reality itself. (Lilien, Rangaswamy) » – See more at: http://www.innovationglobalnetwork.com/pov/443/DEFINITION_OF_MARKETING_MODELS.html#sthash.ZR5RfcVW.dpuf

The problem is that the reality is quite complex and ambiguous today and trying to simplify it and to put it in a rigid costume leads to a distorsion of that reality. We should find other ways to express our views. See the reality through different lenses.

Modeling should not be oversimplifying. I recommend that we describe real phenomenons through a think back step and stop approach, starting from the decision we want to make (e.g., choosing a SPICE UP positioning concept), listing the questions we need to answer to get to that decision, then specifying how to get these answers, and so on.templates-22.jpg

I have no space to detail this here but do not hesitate to contact me should you be interested to discuss moreabout it.

We might not have found new solutions yet to describe the complex realities of today but something is sure : forget about the 4 P’s and send it to the museum of marketing !

Be inspired and Spice Up your marketing !

Follow me on youtube  http://bit.ly/2fC2QtU

 

SPICE UP your strategy !

Most of the time, when I read strategic plans, I’m struck by their triviality. I think : « another bunch of platitudes ».  No specificity. No creativity. No excitement. I don’t want to criticize my friends working in top consultancy firms, or others in megacorporations, but I must say that I rarely found anything vivid in their technocratic strategies.

Time of classical strategic analysis has passed. The world is too unpredictable and the notion of tradtional competition itself is obsolete. And when I see some of my students still pulling out the old 5 forces Porter model out of their bags, I ‘m just frozen !

Fotolia_44604161_XS-v3.jpg

Strategic thinking should be supported by new paradigms. A number of entrepreneurs will even argue that you don’t need strategies. They’ll talk about agility and design thinking, creativity and innovation. But these are methods and attitudes. Strategy is about setting directions, making clear decisions and giving sense to action.  Being in a middle of chaos or lost in a jungle doesn’t change anything to that.

As a number of my colleagues, professors and analysts, have been addressing these issues recently, I’d like to point out another way to think of strategies. This comes out of my understanding of a number of cases I have been observing, analyzing and teaching.

Whatever method you used to generate your strategic scenarios, I recommend that you SPICE UP your final option.

SPICE UP is a model I developed a few years ago to understand how you can better position a brand or a corporate value proposition. S.P.I.C.E stands for Sexy, Personality, Intelligence, Community and Emotions. U.P. means Ultimate and Personalization. If you’re strong on all these points and if you can blend them into a distinctive concept, the chance is you can build a strong, great, distinctive story around it !

images.png

Let’s take an example. Apple, the biggest capitalized company in the world, is a S.exy brand. People don’t buy apple products on reason, they just want them ! So much that they’re ready to pay an enormous premiumvs competitors. The brand has a strong P.ersonality, long associated with its founder Steve Jobs. Apple is a company promoting I.ntelligent solutions for intelligent people . They created an extremely strong C.ommunity of users and ambassadors. Apple plays constantly on E.motions. Finally, Apple means for its. fans « the U.ltimate choice ». And they engaged very soon in product design that would entail P.ersonalization.

So, it’s time to SPICE UP your strategy and create more value than ever ! 

Be inspired !

Where is your mentor ?

We all need mentors.  It’s a question of good balance, better performance and…happiness ! Look at great sports(wo)men or great show performers. They may be at the top in in their field, they may master all professional skills, they may excell in using the newest techniques but they nevertheless work day by day with a personal coach.

In business as in life, mentoring brings the serenity needed to face new challenges. You can’t make wise decisions if you don’t sit back and reflect in a non-stressful atmosphere, with no interference from outside pressures or hierarchy. You need to share and reflect. You have to voice your doubts in full confidentiality. Then you’re ready to go back to the field.

oneness-28.jpg

Most of my younger friends agree with me on the idea to be mentored but they often ask me : « Where can I find my mentor ? And by the way, what is a good mentor ? ». Actually, answering the second question first might help answer the first…

Mentoring is sharing experience for a better performance and a better being. So you need to be mentored by someone who is a good listener. Someone who will not judge any of your thoughts or behaviors. Not judging but understanding. Someone who will not make decisions in your place but clarify the options, suggest new alternatives and illuminate your mind.

Experience is another thing you will look for in a mentor. If you need to solve strategic business problems, look for someone who already experienced strategic problem solving. If you need to share human relationships issues, search for someone who faced a number of relationship situations in the past. A mentor is not a friend. Rather a benevolent person who will reassure and push you to go over your own limits.

Mentoring is a one to one interaction, based on trust and understanding. It’s the process of providing personal advice on how to approach business problems and life. Trust is something you can’t formally define. You need to feel it. And it works both ways. As a mentor myself, I met some mentorees who were not sincere about their intentions. They had a hidden agenda linked to internal politics or a need to gain power instead of improving themselves. In that case, I could not trust them and declined mentoring them.

So, where can you find a suitable mentor ?

Mentors-Image_2.jpg

Some big groups offer that opportunty to young managers. They assign an internal mentor, a senior executive not working in the same team or the same country. But it’s not frequent. So, you need to be smart. Go networking with people older than you. Locate « good people », those who listen and talk rarely but wisely. Let your feelings play. Ask for a lunch or dinner and share some problems unformally, just to see. If you feel comfortable, you might ask for more.

If you want to have a more professional approach, go for a professional mentor. It may look expensive sometimes but actually, the time you need to spend with him or her is quite limited, so overall, it’s great value.

Be inspired.

 

 

FINTECH, the new playground for marketing professionals

My team and I put together the Fintech Marketing Hub inspiration days this last week (http://www.fintechmarketinghub.org) and I got inspired by a number of young Fintech entrepreneurs who are challenging the banking and financial services industry. The Solvay Fintech Marketing Hub is an innovative independent world-class lab specialised in the marketing of tech-based financial services. We launched it 2 years ago with the support of a major actor in the finance industry.

A number of you may not be aware of the huge development of this new branch of finance. Fintech becomes a sector competing with traditional services like banking. It’s made of startups allowing customers to access a service (payments, investments, crowdfunding, peer to peer lending…) with no intermediaries. Banks are worried. Some are not conscious of the danger of cannibalization. Some others now realized how fast they could be replaced by these new players and are moving towards collaboration with them. But it’s the same clash of culture as we saw a few years ago in other industries.

As marketer, I’m most interested by detecting and understanding the new challenges appearing in these businesses. One of the goals of the Fintech Marketing Hub is to help Fintech entrepreneurs to address these challenges in the most agile way, train them and also advise them so they can be more successful.

disruption.jpeg

Let me first restate what marketing means today.

For a long time marketing was restricted to a support function aimed at just generating more sales. Then, it evolved as a set of techniques aimed at delivering value to customers and generating satisfaction. This led to the emergence of customer-focused corporate cultures, solution-based products and services, customer care programs and the like. This is called demand-based marketing.

Now we entered a new era, a time when marketing is at the heart of the entrepreneurial process. Detecting opportunities, practicing creativity as the source of innovation, setting up new business models leading to market creation. We call it innovation-push and it’s the new game of marketing.

This new game means new rules but we don’t know yet what these new rules are. We must invent them day by day. Of course we have new buz words like « agile marketing », « content marketing » or « digitalization » but most entrepeneurs I meet ask me basic questions like « how can I recruit more customers ? », « how can I make my customers loyal ? », « how can I build trust in my brand ? », « how should I price my services ? », etc. This is reinforced by the fact that most Fintech managers are coming from the IT or the financial worlds and lack marketing knowledge.

Marketing-playbook-is-broken-resized-600.png

That’s why Fintechs are an ideal field to invent marketing of the future. Marketing of the past is easy to grasp ! Just google « marketing plan » and you will see dozens of templates, book references or articles that will inform you about what was (and still is) usually done. But it is of no use here !

We face new challenges like :

  • How do we make sure that our product meets a market ? And by the way , which market ?
  • Besides a product, what is the real « value proposition » ? And how should we price it ?
  • How do we differentiate our business vs competitors now and in the future ? Who are the real competitors ?
  • How do we set up a strategic marcom plan ? Target, content, tools, budget…
  • How do we recruit enough customers to reach breakeven as soon as possible ? What are the right customers to go after ?
  • How do we create and monitor customer delight ?

Success of business comes from a smart combination of strategy, marketing, money economics and supply chain architecture. The new Fintech sector now needs to address marketing issues in a professional way. Marketing people can find here new opportunities to show their talent !

Be inspired !

For those interested in knowing more about Fintech, here are some links :

http://fintechmarketinghub.org

https://fintechbelgium.be

https://www.lookandfin.com

https://edebex.com

https://www.easyvest.be/en

https://www.ewala.co

https://www.tricount.com/en/

http://www.ibanity.com

My seven rules for today great marketers

The world is changing. Consumers are changing. Marketing is changing.

However, when I observe some young marketers, I sometimes feel like I’m watching politicians. They enter the profession with a lot of ideals and after a few years it seems they forgot all of them. They are taken by the job. They are prisonners of their ambition. They forget about the ultimate goal of marketing – i.e. creating value and delivering satisfaction – in order to focus on short term sales and profit because they think they will be judged on that !

Besides the fact that it’s futile, this attitude is also pointless and useless in the context of today ‘s marketing. That’s why I want to offer here my seven rules to follow if you want to always be a great marketer.

1. Practice real marketing, not fake marketing
It’s just basic but very often forgotten. Real marketing is the process of generating a long term sustainable flow of revenue thanks to a mix of 3 ingredients : customer loyalty, strong reputation and constant innovation. If you focus on short term sales, you’re not a marketer, you’re a salesperson. If you focus on short term profit, you’re not a marketer, you’re a finance person. Explain that your boss !

2. Forget about models: real life is never as in the models
I’m used to see students and young professionals use models. They feel comfortable drawing matrices, tinkering a SWOT or swinging everything into a business model canvas ! Most of the time, it’s poorly done. It does not have the substrate necessary for understanding the key issues.
Forget about all that. Organize your ideas differently. Create your own model, your own canvas, your own plan. Make powerful analysis based on your own reality. And forget about the 4p’s, it’s just all stuff of the 1950’s !

3. Understand the world and immerse yourself constantly in the society
Great detectives like to smell the scene of the crime ! They don’t stay in their office. They’re in the field. Great marketers also. To address customers’needs and understand behaviors, you need to penetrate the society. Not only your own circle of millenials but also and foremost all layers of the population. Not only your own country or city but also other places in the world. Not only on some days or weekends but at all times. Every 4 or 5 years, take 3 to 6 months to travel around. Open your eyes and your ears and rediscover the world.

4. Be a citizen: responsible, respectful, militant
Marketing today is about being engaged. Brands should mean something else than quality, reliability and seduction. As a marketer you have a strong influence on society. You have the power of words, the power of action and sometimes the power of money. It’s a high responsibility. Use it wisely but use it. Don’t use demagogy to sell your stuff. Respect the customer, respect the product and respect yourself. When time will come to reflect on your life, be sure you’re proud of what you did as a professional.

5. Be sexy but not over-sexy: be genuine and authentic
Marketing is about seduction, right ? Seduction is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to engage in a relationship. But as Tom Martin wrote in Advertising Age                   « …seduction is hard. It requires time, patience, skill and a willingness to give before you get… »  In marketing as in real life, fake behavior may get you short term recognition but will eventually result in some kind of disaster. Consumers were often mistreated and have been too often deceived. They became suspicious. Authenticity is what will make you win the hearts of your clients !

6. Have an immense culture: read, listen, discuss
Complex, paradoxal, ambiguous. This is how our world is now. It makes it hard to understand, even when you rely on the best experts to help you. And most people became so ignorant today that those who are cultivated have a definite advantage when comes the time to perceive reality and find great solutions. Cultural intelligence has never been so crucial for leadership and success. Be distinctive. Spend time, much time, to build and maintain a solid CQ (Cultural Quotient). Read less business books and more essays. Attend conferences, discuss with philosophers and devour TEDx talks

7. Sleep with your customers 
When I started my career in marketing at Procter & Gamble, my boss took me in his office and urged me to take home a full load of P&G products. « You should use your products » he told me. « You should love your products. You should sleep with your products ». He was right. At that time, product marketing was the ultimate strategic posture. Today these times are gone. Marketing is about offering solutions to customers, bringing them the most value, oversatisfying them. To do so, you need to know your clients intimately. So, if he were here today, my ex-boss would say : «…know your customers, love your customers, sleep with your customers… » 

Marketing may be about technique but it’s about attitude and mind openness before all ! A marketing person should be madly curious, a fierce fan of new trends and intensely passionate. S(he)’s the one who will open the eyes of her (his) organization, stimulate everyone’s mind and fight for innovation and creativity of all.

Be aware of your responsibility and be inspired !

Why we should bring the customer back into the boardroom

It’s been more than 10 years since McGovern,Court,Quelch & Crawford wrote an article called Bringing Customers into the Boardroom https://hbr.org/2004/11/bringing-customers-into-the-boardroom. As a founder of the Fondation des Administrateurs, a Belgian association advocating the professionalization of Board of Directors, and as the holder of the marketing Chair at the University of Brussels, Solvay School of Economics and Management, I was doubly interested by the topic.

If we look at the situation today, i’m afraid that board discussions continue to focus more on investments, corporate control, company performance and the like… Strategic decisions are the prerogative of Board of Directors and yet, marketing is still believed by some board members to be some kind of operational function, guided by the outdated 4p’s model. For those directors, strategic marketing decisions (choosing markets to be in, positioning adequate value propositions, creating value through the portfolio of businesses,…) are away from their immediate worries. It’s pitiful and dangerous in a VUCA type of business environment.

Unknown.jpeg

I advocate an equitable distribution of the subjects to be treated in Boards. Strategic marketing issues are as important as financial, social or nominations ones. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about a Board discussing on a new corporate logo or giving intuitive advice on an advertising campaign ! I’ve seen so many of these meetings turning out to be a « discussion de café du commerce ».  I’m talking about (1) being informed on key market trends, (2) reviewing the company positions on strategic market segments, (3) understanding competitive dynamics, etc. The key is to avoid the so called Kodak syndrome and keep alert and agile on the strategic fields. http://oser-performer.com/2015/08/22/oser-performer-50-how-could-your-company-avoid-the-kodak-syndrome/

To be practical, I recommend here after a number of measures that a Board Chairman could take to bring the customer back into the boardroom. After all, marketing is all about delivering value to customers to generate so much satisfaction that they want to be oyal to you.

  1. Invite real customers at a board meeting at least once a year

As Hans Hickler put it in a 2015 excellent article in the Huftington Post,«  Adding customer discussions to the Board agenda is an important part of a broader customer engagement strategy with the board, including the regular review of customer survey results, engagement metrics, segmentation reviews. But nothing beats engaging directly with the customer ! » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hans-hickler/invite-your-customer-into_b_6693278.html

  1. Create a strategic marketing committee

Besides the usual audit, strategy and nominations committees, etc. we should have one caring for the follow up of the marketing function. Linked with the strategy committee (I recommend 2 members attending both the strategy and the strategic marketing committees), it should watch and monitor closely marketing plans and KPI’s and, as importantly, signal changing market trends quickly enough to the board. Remember that  IBM took nearly two years to realize that Apple was more than some kids playing in a garage !

  1. Include marketing performance KPI’s in the Board dashboard

Financial reporting is about past and present. Marketing reporting is about the future. KPI’s like customer satisfaction index, customer churn rates (https://www.ngdata.com/what-is-customer-churn/) and other relevant metrics may be signals of future performance. But, more than that « boards need a thorough understanding of how their companies are meeting customers’ needs and how their marketing strategies support those efforts https://hbr.org/2004/11/bringing-customers-into-the-boardroom. Board members should be critical and demanding as to the why’s and how’s and challege non specific answers.

  1. Be sure to have marketing specialists on the board

Marketing is as technical as IT, supply chain or accounting. Yet a number of people, even professional managers, still believe it’s intuitive and within the reach of all. Actually, it’s not ! Especially today ! With the emergence of new analytical tools and new metrics, with the development of 360° multimedia marcom and with the advent of sophisticated marketing intelligence systems, marketing is now technically tough to understand. So boards should not be the hostage of a management team informing them about things they don’t understand with a new obscure jargon. Boards should have seats for marketing professionals.

  1. Have a regular evaluation of the marketing talents

Marketing today includes classical and progressive methods. The war for talents is real today and especially for marketing functions. The CMO role is way different from what it was 10 years ago. We need teams who ally analytical hard skills with softer creative skills. We need passion and ethics. We need a deep understanding of emerging trends and proactivity to take opportunity of them in the most agile way. It’s hard to find marketing executives who can manage teams like that ! Not only should we find them but we also need to keep them long enough so they can really influence the business.  Boards should consider this issue as being of the highest priority.

images-1.jpeg

Marketing and customer matters have been considered by Boards as secundary isues for too long. Today, in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment, no company can consider the future with « sleepy confidence ».

Marketing is the engine of innovation. Its strategic role is to ensure the long term sustainabilty of revenues and corporate reputation. That’s why Boards need to get involved !

Be inspired !