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Sharing Insights And Best Practices
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Sharing Insights And Best Practices
« on: 27 Jul, 2019, 09:15:48 »

Sharing Insights And Best Practices

A companywide communication system is the most basic element of global brand leadership. Managers from country to country need to be able to find out about programs that have worked or failed elsewhere; they also need a way to easily give and receive knowledge about customers—knowledge that will vary from one market to another.
Creating such a system is harder than it sounds. Busy people usually have little motivation to take the time to explain why efforts have been successful or ineffective; furthermore, they’d rather not give out information that may leave them exposed to criticism. Another problem is one that everyone in business faces today: information overload. And a feeling of “it won’t work here” often pervades companies that attempt to encourage the sharing of market knowledge.
To overcome those problems, companies must nurture and support a culture in which best practices are freely communicated. In addition, people and procedures must come together to create a rich base of knowledge that is relevant and easy to access. Offering incentives is one way to get people to share what they know. American Management Systems, for example, keeps track of the employees who post insights and best practices and rewards them during annual performance reviews.
Regular meetings can be an effective way of communicating insights and best practices. Frito-Lay, for example, sponsors a “market university” roughly three times a year in which 35 or so marketing directors and general managers from around the world meet in Dallas for a week. The university gets people to think about brand leadership concepts, helps people overcome the mind-set of “I am different—global programs won’t work in my market,” and creates a group of people around the world who believe in and understand brands and brand strategy. During the week, country managers present case studies on packaging, advertising, and promotions that were tested in one country and then successfully applied in another. The case studies demonstrate that practices can be transferred even when a local marketing team is skeptical.
Formal meetings are useful, but true learning takes place during informal conversations and gatherings.
And the personal relationships that people establish during those events are often more important than the information they share. Personal ties lead to meaningful exchanges down the road that can foster brand-building programs.
In addition to staging meetings, companies are increasingly using intranets to communicate insights and best practices. (Sharing such information by e-mail isn’t as effective—there is simply too much e-mail clutter. E-mail is useful, however, for conveying breaking news about competitors or new technology.) The key is to have a team create a knowledge bank on an intranet that is valuable and accessible to those who need it. Mobil, for example, uses a set of best-practice networks to do just that. The networks connect people in the company (and sometimes from partner organizations) who are experts on, for example, new product introduction, brand architecture, and retail-site presentation. Each network has a senior management sponsor and a leader who actively solicits postings from the experts. The leader ensures that the information is formatted, organized, and posted on an easy-to-use intranet site.
Field visits are another useful way to learn about best practices. Honda sends teams to “live with best practices” and to learn how they work. In some companies, the CEO travels to different markets in order to energize the country teams and to see best practices in action.
Procter & Gamble uses worldwide strategic-planning groups of three to 20 people for each category to encourage and support global strategies. The teams have several tasks. They mine local knowledge about markets and disseminate that information globally. They gather data about effective country-specific marketing efforts and encourage testing elsewhere. They create global manufacturing sourcing strategies. And they develop policies that dictate which aspects of the brand strategy must be followed everywhere and which ones are up to country management.
Another way that companies can communicate information about their brands is by sharing research. Ford operates very differently from country to country in Europe, but its businesses share research methods and findings. Ford UK, for example, which is very skilled at doing direct mail and research on segmentation, makes its technology and research methods available to other countries. That’s especially important for businesses in small markets that are short on budget and staff.