Coach vs. First Class

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

nogh said...
Jason Calacanis shared this image and I couldn’t help but repost it. While there is much that can be said about the difference between Coach and First Class, it’s hard to come-up with anything that demonstrates the difference better than this…nough said. 

Super Bowl Ads

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Super Bowl AdsWell, another Super Bowl has come and gone…While the ad rates continue to climb each year, from my perspective, the ads themselves seem to be declining in their appeal and their effectiveness. My belief is that with rare exception Super Bowl advertising makes no business sense whatsoever. My guess is that the Hyundai ads will appeal to those in the market to buy a car, and the timing of the Cash4Gold and H&R Block ads will also resonate will many. But for the majority of the companies who purchased a spot this year it will simply be a waste of good money, as they cannot economically justify the expenditure by any sane method of analysis. In reality Super Bowl ads are far from genius, and in fact more closely resemble irresponsible and frivolous action by advertisers. In today’s post I’ll point out the flawed business logic in purchasing Super Bowl advertising, and even provide a few suggestions to advertisers for better alternatives…

Okay, let’s do some basic math…A 30-second Super Bowl spot sold for more than $3 million dollars (that’s more than $100,000 per second) this year, and that’s just for the air time. If you factor in the costs for talent and production it is likely that the total costs for one 30 second commercial could cost between $4 and $5 million dollars. All of this is an attempt to catch the largest single group of captive consumers available on TV. Last year’s Super Bowl had more than 97 million viewers, and this Super Bowl is estimated to eclipse 88 million viewers. No doubt this is an interesting opportunity, but is this smart business? I think not, but read on and draw your own conclusions…

This years Super Bowl advertisers included Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Doritos, Hyundai, Monster.com, GE, ETrade, GoDaddy.com, Pepsi, Audi, Cash4Gold, Sprint and H&R Block among others. I don’t know about you, but other than finding Alec Baldwin humorous, and wondering why a Korean auto manufacturer understands the needs of Americans better than US auto makers, none of the ads I viewed while watching the Super Bowl will positively influence my personal buying decisions. I want you to take a few minutes and ponder the following questions:

1. How would you feel if you were a shareholder of any of the companies that advertised on the Super Bowl? Would you feel that this was a responsible use of funds?

2. How many bottles of Coke, cans of nuts, bags of Doritos, domain names etc. have to be purchased to even come close to breaking even on these type of ad spends?

3. Will you spend your money any differently as a result of these ads? The only thing I’m sure of is that I won’t purchase certain products from some of the advertisers who aired commercials that I thought were ridiculous or offensive. Even if the creative was good, I still find it an abuse of shareholder trust to spend corporate funds this foolishly.

For those who would say that Super Bowl ads are not about increasing short-term sales, but are intended to increase brand awareness and mind share I would dispute this thinking as well. There are any number of other venues and mediums that would generate better buzz than a Super Bowl ad…Even if you wanted to buy TV spots, just think of all the targeted cable TV spots that could be purchased with that type of budget…In many markets you can buy a 30 second prime-time cable TV spot for under $200 dollars which means you could run more than 35 ads per day for 365 straight days for the cost of a single Super Bowl ad.  

If these corporations really want to generate some positive brand play why not distribute these funds to shareholders or donate the money spent on Super Bowl ads to charity? The reality is that in most cases Super Bowl ads are pure ego buys and have nothing to do with rational business investments. If you are a shareholder of any of this year’s frivolous advertisers I would encourage you to voice your opinions and hold them accountable for their poor judgment.  For the two or three advertisers who had the right message to the right market for the right reasons…job well done.

When an Apology isn’t Enough

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

93 Year Old World War II Veteran Freezes to Death In Home

Not paying your utility bills should not result in death, but it did earlier this week in Michigan. Bay City Electric Light & Power moves to the top of my “Companies that Don’t Get It” list by turning off the heat of a 93 year old World War II causing him to freeze to death in his home. I can’t think of a single valid reason why this should have happened…this was clearly a case of administrative process taking precedence over common sense and compassion. An apology just doesn’t cut-it in this case. If the leadership team at Bay City Electric Light & Power has become so removed from its processes, and so disconnected from its customers that something like this can happen, they should resign immediately. I can think of any number of steps that could have been taken to prevent something like this. If the Bay City Electric Light & Power CEO wants to call me I’d reengineer their process at no charge…Furthermore, if you’re elderly and cannot pay your utility bills send me an email, or give me a call and I’ll make sure this won’t happen to you…Lastly, I hope the utility company that killed this man is paying for his funeral expenses. 

The Donald

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The DonaldThe Donald is up to his old tricks again…When everybody and their brother is looking for a bailout, the Donald simply engineers his own rescue by playing hardball with his creditors. Remember it was The Donald who said “If you owe the bank a million dollars the bank owns you, but if you owe the bank a billion dollars you own the bank.” This particular time around the magic number seems to be $1.25 billion dollars, which is the amount of the debt restructuring he’s trying to negotiate with bond holders. In today’s post we’ll take a look at “The Art of The Deal” Trump style…

Trump casinos received a two week extension today to reach an agreement with bond holders on restructuring $1.25 billion in debt. My question is this…Do you really think Trump cares whether or not the debt is restructured? He has previously sought Bankruptcy protection on two other occasions so why not a third time? What I’m trying to point out is that being cross purposes with creditors is not awkward for Trump, rather it is part of his strategic plan. What I don’t understand is why investors haven’t awakened to the game…Well actually I do; it’s called greed.

For some time now Trump’s business model has been to use his formidable personal brand and the cash flow from his casinos to leverage into real estate deals and business opportunities well beyond his repayment capabilities. He adroitly maneuvers investors and lenders into a position where if they don’t bend to his will by restructuring the terms and conditions of his financial obligations he’ll seek shelter in the safe haven of the Bankruptcy courts. Either way he wins…he reduces his debt service and buys the time to continue to grow his business at the expense of his investors and lenders.

While you have to love his chutzpah, I’m not sure you have to like his style, or his hair… 

More of The Same…

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Too much fun...Do today’s inaugural events resemble change or more of the same? Call me crazy, but while I wish President Obama all the best, I cannot for the life of me understand $175 million dollars being spent on his inauguration during this time of financial crisis. This is not change, but it is just more of the same on steroids…On election day I vowed to lend my support to the new administration for as long as it was earned. I stated that we all must now hope for great things from our new President, but we must also hold him accountable to uphold the standards of the office he holds and the country he represents. Not to be a party-pooper, but it’s time for my first accountability call…

My hope is that in the case of today’s celebration that one day does not make a trend. President Obama is clearly charismatic and affable. In fact, I even found myself starting to like him as I watched him interact with his family, the Bush family, the troops, volunteers and the like. I also understand that today’s historic event is deserving of celebration, and don’t begrudge him that. However, I believe the excesses of this inauguration are not in good form. At a time when our nation and its people are suffering from economic turmoil largely due to unprecedented financial excess, is this really the time to spend well more than 2 times what President’s Bush and Clinton combined spent on their inaugurations?

Wouldn’t it have been better form for President Obama to cut spending on his inauguration and lead by example? Wouldn’t it have been more inspiring if he had instructed the large list of corporate and financial donors to make contributions to charity and those in need in lieu of contributing to the inauguration gala?

I’m not going to belabor the point any further other than to say that I hope President Obama uses more wisdom and discretion in how he handles matters after the events of this inauguration day have passed…

It’s All About The Customer…

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

It’s all about the customer…Sync the timing of the message with the needs of the market if you want to achieve advertising success. The above ad is simply brilliant…Hyundai gets an A+ for innovative marketing during tough times, and at the same time gains entry into my “Companies That Get It” category. While I enjoy creative advertising, what I truly love is a simple, relevant, authentic message that resonates with its intended market. When the going gets tough, smart companies listen to the needs of their customers. What Hyundai recognizes that other companies fail to grasp, is that putting the needs of their customers ahead of their own, is in fact in their best long-term interest. The sad news is that the big three US automakers have been caught asleep at the wheel again…

Blogging for M&A

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Blogging for M&AI think it’s fair to say that Blogging for M&A has arrived when two banks merging spawns a blog. I saw a tweet (code for twitter post) from Dan Schawbel about the new Wells Fargo – Wachovia Blog which is dedicated to topics directly related to the Wells Fargo / Wachovia merger, and I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to applaud the efforts of Wells Fargo on this initiative. This is the first blog that I’ve seen focused on a merger, and I think it sets a brilliant example of a creative way to transactionally leverage the use of the blogosphere. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts about blogging for M&A…

While many mergers and acquisitions don’t live up to the hype generated pre-closing, it is the post closing issues dealing with the integration of culture, business process, systems etc. that actually causes many M&A transactions to fail.  Put simply, unless you’re considering an acquisition based upon nothing more than intellectual property value or to exploit break-up value, strong consideration must be given to the recognition that there must be an excellent cultural and organizational “fit” in order for any acquisition to succeed. By “fit” I mean a similar set of values and practices regarding the actual running of an ongoing business: business ethics, work styles, work ethic, a vision for the future, perpetuation objectives, leadership styles, and so on.

I’ve often mused that any idiot can put together a deal, but it takes real leadership to keep the deal together over the long haul. The preceeding paragraph constitutes the soft-side of the M&A business that takes place once the investment bankers have left the table. When the transaction team passes the baton to the operating team is when the real work starts. So what does a blog have to do with this? Think about it…what I’m really talking about here is communication and expectation alignment. What better medium could there possibly be to facilitate this type of interaction than a well conceived blogging platform?

Bottom line…as a CEO Coach my hat’s off to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf for not only creating a tool to align expectations and disseminate important information to all stakeholders, but also for authoring the initial post on the blog. Job well done John…

A CEO Worthy of Following

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

“A CEO Worthy of Following” is something that many workers long for. If you want to become a truly great CEO, then apply your focus on maximizing shareholder value over maximizing your personal W-2 and see what happens. Oddly enough, the more you focus on making those around you successful, the more successful you will become. As a CEO Coach one of the questions that I often pose to my clients is: Why should anyone be led by you? If as a CEO you don’t have a very good answer to this question (other than because I’m the boss), you might want to watch the above video profiling the CEO of Japan Airlines. All great leaders are willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.   

The Innovation Song

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

The Innovation Song you ask? That’s right…The above video contains a song performed by a Stanford student which was submitted for his final project for a class entitled: “Innovation and Implementation in Complex Organizations.” The song was intended as a tribute to Gordon MacKenzie’s “Orbiting the Giant Hairball,” a book which puts forth some thoughts on how organizations can better address the issue of innovation. The video is superb, and nails the issues surrounding a lack of innovation better than many more detailed case studies which I have read over the years.  Many a CEO could benefit from downloading this song on their iPod. If this project didn’t get an “A” it should have…

The Counter-Intuitive CEO

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

Great CEOs are counter-intuitive. They don’t subscribe to herd mentality, rather they use their contrarian instincts to exploit opportunities, to create advantage, to build strong leadership teams, to expand market share, and to increase brand equity. A global recession is nothing more than an excuse for poor leaders to assign blame for weak performance elsewhere. The counter-intuitive CEO (Great CEOs) sees an economic downturn as an opportunity to strengthen their organizations and to grow the enterprise. As 2009 draws to a close I want you to invest 10 minutes in watching the video above as it provides a strong validation for what I’ve been espousing to you for quite sometime in posts like: “Recession Proof Your Business” or “Beware the CFO” or “Young CEOs.” I wish you great success in 2009…   

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