Conference of Champions
July 13, 2005
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail: email@example.com
On May 12, I had the privilege of addressing Unilever's marketing champions at the Conference of Champions held at a New Jersey resort. Mr. Glenn Baptiste asked if I would pick a topic dealing with Consumerism. I chose the topic of "Getting up close and personal with the consumer." Glenn stated that the conference would be informal and the dress would be sports wear. I chose to wear University of Kentucky warm-up pants and a local high school T-shirt.
The sports wear gave me an excellent opportunity to tie in the concept of champions with information. I pointed out that one of my bigger thrills in life has been my association with a little school in northern Kentucky by the name of Beechwood. My two sons had played football for them in the 1970s and now I had grandchildren playing for them, too.
Beechwood is one of the smallest schools in the state with only 952 students in grades ranging from kindergarten to the 12th grade. This year they won the state football championship and during the past 15 years they have won the championship eleven times and runner-up three times. The amazing thing is that they win without any outstanding talented athletes. Of the 28 seniors on the team, only two received college football scholarships and they are to Georgetown University in Georgetown, Kentucky, an NAIA school. Over 50% of the players, however, received academic scholarships.
How do they keep winning? They do it with a little intelligence, great team spirit and some very sound information. They know their strengths and weaknesses but more importantly, they know their competition. Their scouting program is something to see in action. Their success is definitely information based.
Just as Beechwood is a champion because they know their competition, those of us in the consumer products business who know our competition and consumers will also be champions. And that was what I wanted to talk to them about, "Getting up close and personal with the consumer."
Within three weeks of the presentation, I saw how easy it was to benefit from a personal and up-close experience. My son and his family were visiting us from Georgia. He is a financial analyst for a national restaurant chain. While here he decided to visit a local restaurant that has been having income problems. One unannounced lunch visit uncovered previously unknown problems.
Personal management observations can uncover opportunities that the professional mystery shopper may easily miss. Management's interaction with the consumer should be considered a standard part of their scheduled work routine.
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