Thursday, January 21, 2016

A New Term for Bosses: "Employee Empowerment Advocates"

While we all read countless blog posts on a daily basis, how many stand out? What makes a particular post stand out? I read an excellent post quite some time ago, and not only the title but the message have remained with me.

The question posed by the post was, should we banish the word "boss" from our business vocabulary? There are so many negative connotations with the word boss stemming from how a boss supervises his or her employees to how he or she interacts with them in casual situations. However, since the boss oversees departments and teams, assigns projects, and conducts performance reviews, it is clear why the individual known as the boss is in charge. (Recall all the Dilbert cartoons?)

We've all seen people change overnight when they assume the title of boss. It's as if a light bulb goes on in the individual's head, and he or she is no longer able to communicate or empathize with employees. This does not create a positive working environment – and the boss is the reason.

So, what can be done? The memorable blog post recommended shifting from the term boss toward a more educational term of mentor. But that really doesn’t go far enough. Titles are not the only thing that must change in order for workplaces to become more productive and positive.

Corporate cultures must change, and in the process, anyone who has the privilege of supervising employees, teams, and departments must evolve. These supervisors, managers or leaders must be genuine advocates for their employees. They must provide their employees with the tools to do their jobs as well as the authority to make decisions to improve customer experiences.

In the words of leadership expert Mark Herbert, "Leadership is a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room…It requires you to block and tackle for others."

So, would you use my term for your boss: Employee Empowerment Advocate? If it improves your workplace culture, I invite you to adopt my term.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Marketing Highlights from 2015

With 2015 now history, it's time for my annual "Top 10" marketing highlights post. What campaigns were great? Which were duds? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history as memorable as Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad? 

What do you remember from the 2015 marketing reel?

With a quick nod to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

Number 10:
Google changed its corporate name to Alphabet. While the search engine did not become Alphabet, the name change came as a surprise, especially since the term or infinitive, "to google something" has become part of everyone's life when conducting online research.

Number 9:
Volkswagen endured a scandal with diesel-powered vehicles that significantly tarnished its brand equity and impacted sales. Audi, an affiliated brand, recently cut its ad dollars - so the scandal was not short-lived or something that only impacted VW.

Number 8:
The movie "Furious 7" drove into movie theaters following a memorable ad campaign that honored the memory of actor Paul Walker, who played a large part in the movie franchise but died before the movie was completed. Large billboards depicted the group of actors gazing toward an image of Walker.

Number 7:
Two technology powerhouse brands, Adobe and Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership to provide brands with customer intelligence by connecting data from sales, marketing, and customer service. According to Mark Zablan, president of Adobe EMEA, "Together, Adobe and Microsoft are joining forces to create the industry’s first large-scale solution for connecting the customer experience across all customer touch points and helping companies communicate much more effectively regardless of where customers are in the lifecycle."

Number 6:
Caitlyn (formerly, Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine following a life change that brought the transgender issue into the mainstream. Following a life of Olympic medals, this transition was shared on TV and in print, and in the process, created a new personal brand.

Number 5:
Following the birth of their first child, a daughter named Maxima Chan Zuckerberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan announced that they would donate 99 percent of their Facebook stock worth an estimated $45 billion through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a newly formed group that will initially focus on education and health.

Number 4:
Sesame Street introduced a character with Autism to help children on the spectrum learn life skills and also teach awareness about autism. The new character named Julia was part of Sesame Workshop's "See Amazing in All Children" Initiative.

Number 3:
Starbucks ended the year with a controversy termed "Red Cup Gate" when it launched its holiday cups with solid red and green logo but without any holiday-themed designs. According to the company's VP of design and content, "This year, we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories." Social media was full of noise, but most fans ignored the controversy and simply purchased their favorite holiday drinks: gingerbread latte, pumpkin spice latte, eggnog latte, etc.

Number 2:
With the long-awaited arrival of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in theaters, fans of this nearly 40-year-old movie franchise had much to celebrate. But on the marketing front, the subtitle should actually be: The Brands Awaken. Co-branding opportunities that promoted the movie popped up everywhere: Jeep, Dodge, Fiat, General Mills, Kraft, Costco, Verizon, Subway, Duck Tape and more.

And Number 1 on the 2015 Marketing Highlights List:
Donald Trump evolved from business tycoon and TV host to Presidential candidate. While some may question his viability for this position, there is not doubt that he can teach everyone a thing or two about building a powerful personal brand.

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2016 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credit: Stuart Miles via