Category: Ideas

Entrepreneur As a Skillset

Comment by Ray Carlson:
I found this article to be reflective of my career as a chemical engineer in the petroleum refining industry.  I had been involved in the Junior Achievement Company Program while in my early years at Northwestern University, and that relatively simple program gave me an entrepreneurial mindset that manifested itself in my subsequent career.
When making decisions on expanding a refinery or designing a new one as I did in Sweden, I had to develop business plans to show the economic viability of making such investments.  My actions were so-called ‘intrapreneurial’ because I was making decisions for my employer, not a business of my own.
Therefor, developing entrepreneurial skills can be of great value even if one takes a job because those skills can enhance the profitability of the business. Employers should be interested in those that we have trained and business plans they have developed.  Most employers and managers  have not done so and should appreciate having an employee that can do it.
ORIGINAL ARTICE from Talent Economy:
Being an entrepreneur in 2016 means more than starting a business and taking on risk. Today’s definition is more reflective of a skillset that larger organizations are finding incredibly valuable.

Entrepreneurs are the faces of innovation. They start new businesses that disrupt industries and create great value to society.

In 2016, being labeled an entrepreneur has taken on new meaning. Due to the allure of entrepreneurship created by the most recent wave of new technology companies, led by celebrity founders like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, the term is increasingly thought of as a skill, not just an occupation. These leaders label themselves as founders, CEOs, etc., even if they’re seen as entrepreneurs, writes a Forbes contributor. It’s often those who aspire to the status of Silicon Valley-esque business owners who label themselves as such, which is why the word is included on many resumes.

While some insist that people do away with the trend of writing “entrepreneur” on resumes, a growing opinion is that they can be entrepreneurial without having started a business.

Being entrepreneurial is a special skillset, and someone doesn’t need to be an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word to have it, according to Nathalie Duval-Couetil, associate director for Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “Capturing value is that entrepreneurship piece because you might have a great idea,” Duval-Couetil said, “but really if the idea doesn’t have any value to anybody that they’re willing to use or pay for it, then it doesn’t have any value.”

Large companies have found the value of operating more entrepreneurially in how they function. Methods such as agile and lean, development practices coined in the technology industry, have overtaken some formally bureaucratic organizations. Moreover, 2012 research from professional services firm Deloitte found that nearly half of the companies it surveyed reported generating higher profit margins when they became more entrepreneurial.

But what does it mean to entrepreneurial?

Purdue’s Duval-Couetil said that entrepreneurs understand the process of capturing values from knowledge or resources. Qualities and skills of these people include perseverance, willingness to navigate obstacles and ability to network and analyze market research.

Michael Marasco, director of Northwestern University’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, added that entrepreneurs typically possess qualities that include being hardworking, smart and focused on changing things for the better.

People who are entrepreneurial may exhibit these skills even if they’ve never started a business from scratch.

Are entrepreneurial skills learned or innate?

Duval-Couetil, who helps lead a university program in entrepreneurship, said that some people are naturally drawn to the idea of embodying the skills of entrepreneurship, while others take some time to discover their interest.

Nevertheless, many business schools have entrepreneur courses and certification programs. The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program at Purdue requires that students take introduction courses in entrepreneurship, marketing and management, two option courses for market-specific depth and a capstone course or experiential program.

Duval-Couetil said these courses are rooted in the fundamental definition of entrepreneurship: They help students learn how to take an idea to market and start a business from the ground up.

However, she also said that by virtue of taking these courses many students learn many entrepreneurial skills that are valuable toward their employment with large organizations.

For instance, an engineering student with limited sales or public speaking skills might take what they learned on these subjects in an entrepreneurship course and apply it to their future engineering job at a large company.

Northwestern’s Marasco said that these types of entrepreneurs — the kinds that work in large firms — understand the business and aim to make it better, so they bring up ideas, gain support for them, and then make compromises between what they want to do and what the organization aims for.

What can CEOs do to foster an entrepreneurial workforce?

To show that the company supports entrepreneurship, leaders can champion new initiatives, support new business and keep open channels of communication, Marasco said. This helps employees at the organization have a say in what’s happening and feel that they’re owners of the company.

Duval-Couetil advocated for training to gain greater awareness of the concept. But beyond that, it’s important for companies to create a culture that embraces the value of entrepreneurship and values entrepreneurial talent. “The smart companies are the ones that are figuring out ways to keep those people,” she said. “If you have kind of a bureaucracy culture, you can’t expect entrepreneurial people to thrive.”

Lauren Dixon is an associate editor at Talent Economy.

CLICK HERE  for the original article by Lauren Dixon, Associate Editor of Talent Economy.

Marketing: Brand Name is Rule No. 1

Original Title:

The Most Important Marketing Decision You Can Make

What’s In a Name? Pretty Much Everything

By . Published in Advertising Age on .


What brand name should you use?

Most marketing mistakes can be corrected. Not brand names.

Once you’re committed to a brand name, that’s usually it.

Eveready made that mistake. The long-time leader in appliance batteries, Eveready introduced a new alkaline battery in 1959.

So what did the Eveready company call its new alkaline battery?

The leading appliance-battery company introduces an alkaline battery brand? I’m sure nobody at Eveready gave the name problem a second thought. Eveready alkaline battery.

Six years later, the PR Mallory company entered the alkaline-battery market. What did P.R. Mallory call its alkaline-battery brand? P.R. Mallory alkaline battery?

No, it didn’t.

When you launch a new brand, you should do what P.R. Mallory actually did. Decide first what your new brand should stand for and then incorporate that idea into the new brand name.

“Long lasting” is the obvious idea an alkaline battery should stand for. So P.R. Mallory called its alkaline brand Duracell. And Duracell went on to become the long-time leader in alkaline batteries.

But what about the Eveready alkaline battery? Wasn’t Eveready first in alkaline batteries? It didn’t matter.

Eveready wasn’t an alkaline battery. In consumers’ minds, Eveready was a zinc-carbon battery.

But surely, nobody would make the Eveready mistake today.

How come Nokia called its new smartphone a Nokia smartphone?

How come BlackBerry called its new smartphone a BlackBerry smartphone?

How come Sony called its new smartphone a Sony smartphone?

In consumers’ minds, Nokia is a cellphone, not a smartphone. And BlackBerry has a keyboard, not a touchscreen. And Sony is a TV set, not a smartphone.

Even P.R. Mallory couldn’t resist the urge to put its corporate name on its new alkaline battery. For the first 16 years, Duracell batteries also bore the Mallory name.

Tide and Mr. Clean
Relatively recently, Procter & Gamble introduced two new brands: Tide Dry Cleaners and Mr. Clean Car Wash.

By a wide margin, Tide is the leading detergent, so why isn’t Tide a good name for a dry-cleaning service?

Would you like your tuxedo washed in Tide detergent?

No, no, no, you might be thinking, Tide is also a dry-cleaner. It says so on the signs in front of the stores.

But not in the minds of consumers. So with a name like Tide Dry Cleaners, the brand has two communication problems: (1) Convincing consumers that Tide is also a dry cleaner, and (2) Why consumers should use Tide rather than some other dry-cleaning service.

Mr. Clean Car Wash has the same two problems.

Why not reverse the process. (1) Start with the idea the brand should stand for, and (2) Pick a name that reflects the idea.

What’s a good name for a car wash?

In most states, there are Environmental Protection Agency regulations in place that require car washes to recycle or “reclaim” their water and treat it to remove all the dirt, oil, grime, sludge, salt and anything else. But in many cases, not all the water is recycled.

But most consumers don’t know that.

So Procter & Gamble could have engineered a car wash that recycled all of its water. Recycle100 Car Wash might be a brand name that could be trademarked.

Procter & Gamble is the world’s most-magnificent marketing machine. I’m surprised the company couldn’t come up with better names than Tide Dry Cleaners and Mr. Clean Car Wash.

The dubious benefit of specialists
Marketing is following in the footsteps of medicine. The medical industry is ruled by specialists. For an eye problem my wife is having, she has been shuttled between five different specialists. No one solves the problem, they just refer her to another specialist.

In marketing today, the traditional advertising agency is just another specialist, along with media specialists, direct-mail specialists, PR specialists, social-media specialists and brand-name specialists.

A brand-name specialist would most likely never suggest a simple name like Recycle100. It’s too simple. And perhaps difficult to trademark.

Much better is a word that can easily be trademarked like Fairlife for Coca-Cola’s new milk product.

“Fair” and “Life” have nothing to do with either the milk or the key advantage of the product which has 50 percent more protein than regular milk. That’s why it simplifies trademark issues.

We would have called the new product ProMilk to connect the brand name with its major advantage. Could you trademark a name like ProMilk? Perhaps not because “protein milk” could be considered a generic name for a new category. But it would be worthwhile trying.

A name that hammers the inherent advantage of your new brand is always your best choice. Take I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter which has become the second largest-selling margarine brand, second only to Country Crock, a brand that sells for half the price of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

The power of a visual
Many categories don’t lend themselves to focusing on a key attribute. So another effective way to become a big brand is to select a visual that has some relationship to the product you are branding. Then pick a name that reflects that visual.

There are plenty of names available. At last count there were 1,025,109 words in the English language. With more than a million words to choose from, there should be a few words available for a new brand.

Some powerful brand names were created by first looking for a visual and then picking a word to define the visual. Red Hat Linux, Gorilla glue, Roach Motel roach killer, Burning Man arts festival, Monster energy drink, Yellow Tail wine, Redbox video rentals.

Another effective technique is called “portmanteau,” combining two words together like durable and cell to form Duracell. (We usually call this technique “telescoping.”)

Telescoping has created brand names like Casamigo tequila, Silk soy milk, Teavana tea, Miralax laxative, Swatch Swiss watch, AirTran airline, Groupon coupons, Sakrete ready-mix concrete.

Brand names are important. The right brand name can pay dividends for decades to come.

Duracell is now more than five decades old. And still the market leader.

Marketing: Battle for Territory

Original Title:

Being Customer Oriented Isn’t the Best Marketing Strategy

Focus on the Competition and Then Do Something Different

By . Published in Advertising Age on

What wins in marketing today? The conventional wisdom is “customer centricity.” As one pundit put it, “Connect with customers based on their behavior or where they are in their purchase or life cycle.”

Who can argue with that? I can.

In 2009, we started working in China with Great Wall Motor. At the time, the company made trucks, sedans, minivans and SUVs and marketed them under nine brand names: Coolbear, Deer, Florid, Haval, Lingao, Peri, Sailing, Socool and Wingle.

So what did we recommend? We recommended that the company focus on Haval, its SUV brand.

Why SUVs? The company’s research showed that Chinese customers preferred sedans because they were more prestigious.

On the other hand, Chinese customers thought SUVs were practical vehicles with no social status.

So we figured the other 28 Chinese automobile companies would focus on sedans because they were customer oriented and that’s what Chinese customers wanted.

And that’s exactly what they did, leaving the SUV field open for Great Wall to dominate.

As a result of being competitor oriented (and not customer oriented) Great Wall became the largest, most-profitable Chinese automobile company.

What do customers want?
If you ask customers what they want, they often say, I’m happy with the brands I buy, but I’d really like something better and cheaper.

That’s why companies spend billions of research & development dollars on Plan B. Developing “better” products and services.

Then they spend many additional dollars advertising their better products and services. But what do customers think when they see an advertising message for a better product?

Unless the brand is the market leader, they don’t believe the advertising. How can this be? If the brand were actually better, it would be the market leader.

Doesn’t the better brand win in the marketplace?

Ironically, that’s what management also believes: the better product wins in the marketplace. Hence the emphasis on research & development.

Yet year after year, the same brands continue to maintain their leadership. Heinz in ketchup. French’s in mustard. Hellmann’s in mayonnaise. Land O’Lakes in butter. Campbell’s in condensed soup. Morton in salt. Domino in sugar. Swans Down in cake flour. Coca-Cola in cola. The list is endless.

So many companies move on to Plan C. Selling their better products and services at a “cheaper” price.

But if a brand is cheaper than its competitors, customers think it can’t be as good. Starbucks didn’t become successful by selling cheaper coffee.

Heinz and Hunt’s
What do customers think when they see a small bottle of Heinz ketchup selling for $1.89 and the same size bottle of Hunt’s ketchup selling for $1.49?

Hunt’s can’t be as good as Heinz.

Some consumers, of course, buy Hunt’s to save money . . . even though they consider the brand to be inferior to Heinz. So the lower price produces sales but makes it impossible for the brand to ever dominate the category.

If better and cheaper doesn’t work, then what does work?

Be different
“Think different” was the Apple slogan years ago, and the same idea can work today. After the success of Red Bull, hundreds of energy drinks were launched in the American market. (In the four years between 2005 to 2008, there were 956 brands of energy drinks launched.)

Weren’t some of those 956 energy-drink brands better and cheaper than Red Bull? And didn’t some of those brands have the backing of a major beverage company? (Coca-Cola introduced three energy-drink brands: KMX, Tab energy drink and Full Throttle.)

So which brand became a strong No. 2 to Red Bull? The better energy drink or the one that was different?

The one that was different. Monster, virtually the only energy-drink brand that was launched in a 16-oz. can, became a strong No.2 brand with 37% market share.

Full Throttle, the Coca-Cola brand, has a 1% market share.

Marketing is like warfare
In marketing, you compete with competitors for customers. In warfare, you compete with enemies for territory.

Focusing on customers in marketing is like focusing on territory in warfare. If your enemy knows your territorial objective in advance, it greatly simplifies its defensive strategy.

On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler launched the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The objective: Moscow in the north.

Six months and millions of casualties later, the German offensive was halted short of its objective.

So Hitler changed his strategy and launch a second major offensive on July 17, 1942. The new objective: Stalingrad in the south.

History repeated itself. Six months and millions of casualties later, the German offensive was halted short of its objective.

What should Hitler have done? He should have launched his attack in the middle of the country so his ultimate objective was in doubt.

The line of least expectation
That’s what B.H. Liddell Hart, the greatest military thinker of the 20th century, called this strategy and many powerful brands have followed this approach.

How many customers wanted more expensive coffee before Starbucks was launched? Very few.

How many customers wanted Greek yogurt before Chobani was launched? Very few.

How many customers wanted a “touchscreen” smartphone before the iPhone was launched? Very few.

When your brand takes the line of least expectation, you can be pretty sure no other brand will be doing the same thing. And that’s what builds powerful brands.

Being different.