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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Strategic Thinking in 2012?

Here's to 2012. I'm sure most out there are happy to get rid of 2011 and hopeful that 2012 will rid us of what is now a 4 year and counting slump. 2011 kind of ended like it came in - with shortsightedness on all fronts. None of this was better epitomized than the emergency bill passed by Congress and signed by the President that extended the payroll tax cut for....wait for it.....2 months. Yes, 2 months. 60 days. That is what we've come to in Washington - Congress and the President bickering over tactical band aids that do nothing to improve the quality of life in the long term. But this shortsightedness isn't just reserved for Washington, DC. I continue see business, and specifically the marketing of brands, take the exact same route - ignoring the long term health of brands for a short term fix. Everyone is thinking about making this quarter's numbers and forgeting about long term brand building initiatives. Marketers are refusing to acknowledge that many of the things they are implementing to ensure that volume is achieved will damage the long health of their brands. You had to try hard this Christmas NOT to buy something at some sort of a discount. (If you bought anything this Christmas for its full retail value, then no offense, but you got snookered.) What happens to consumers when they continue to see low price points? They start expecting it. When they start expecting it, they refuse to buy products at anything but the discounted price. How many times have you heard or even said yourself, "I'll wait until it goes on sale?" In other words, the discounted price starts to become the internal reference point - and all of a sudden the value of the brand has gone down. Sure, the discounts may enable the brand team to claim they've hit their numbers, but at what price (pun intended)?

My hope for 2012 is that we all start looking at things with a longer term perspective. Let's try to apply some strategic and long term thinking to our brands, our careers, and our lives. It will be the only way we get out of this mess that we have put ourselves into as a result of our shortsightedness.