Friday, December 3, 2010

Cereal Box™ Marketing with The Bosson Group

Cereal Box™ Marketing from The Bosson Group

Inside every company there is a fortune of untapped wealth waiting to be mined, refined and cut into fine diamonds. That “fortune” is of course the power of creativity locked away in your workforce. Boardrooms have often thought it might be good to incorporate frontline views of a wider spectrum of company departments into the whole of their sales/marketing strategy.

But how do you acquire real wealth from unrelated individuals functioning in completely different company job descriptions? How do you combine the observations of a customer service rep with an engineer and someone from accounts payable all at once into some cohesive form of real intelligence (and here’s the real issue) – How do you do this without bringing your operation to a complete standstill?

Cereal Box™ is a way to get your entire company involved and excited about the decisions that impact the way your company thinks and what it does. This is more than a pretty ingenious way to explore potential in new and existing markets - this is a program that puts your employees on the front line, fighting the war to make your company greater. Their desire to see your company succeed isn’t new information, but what is new is a method you can execute to make use of their innately creative ideas. These people share something vital – they possess a “feet on the ground” view of the battle that is taking place in and for your markets.

Your engineers, estimators, customer service reps, and sales and management people all have something in common with one another, they each possess a definitive and singular view of your business as it affects your customer. In addition to that, in the light of today’s crushing economic environment, your employees have an integral stake in your company’s success. As our market landscape shrinks the survival of an individual’s employment becomes more than an issue of their own efforts…it becomes something they view as a member of your company “team”. Most employees know the best way to insure their continued employment is to work in a successful environment. Not only must they contribute their personal best but they must hope for and – in every possible way – provide to the greater prosperity of the whole company (not just their cubicle or office).

Americans consider their jobs to be one of the most important and defining elements of their lives. Most of the truly dedicated professionals; young or old - officer or foot soldier, see the company they belong to as the team they support and they are always willing to give much more than companies ever ask. Not in paperwork, phone calls, reports or time at work, but in how their ideas might help the company improve.

Listed as one the most important aspects of our adult life, our careers often seem out of our control.  That helplessness can be a dreaded and frustrating experience for most people - not because of anything you do (although that’s not always true), but because of what you don’t do – and that is to ask them their opinion.
When we independently asked company employees if they were willing to participate in “contributing ideas” to help their company explore new marketing opportunities, knowing that 90% of what they would do would happen at home and off campus, the overwhelming response was “Yes!” Your employees want to get your attention. They are often tripping over themselves to tell you exactly what they think.

They want to contribute to their own success. They want to be a part of the company’s success. They are waiting for you to ask them – “What do you think?”

Cereal Box™ by The Bosson Group can show you how to practically and strategically take advantage of your company’s inherent resources to make new inroads to existing clients or new markets. The question of marketing for any company is a complex process and different for each company. We couldn’t possibly cover all the different venues for marketing/branding in this paper. What we will cover here is Cereal Box™ by The Bosson Group

The project is fairly simple to execute. Any box company can sell you a short run of boxes that will fold into something like a cereal box. I got these for .68 each and purchased 50 for one client project*. I’ve purchased less and paid a little more and had larger projects that required a couple hundred, so it really depends on your company and how many people you want to get involved.

Provide three boxes minimum (unfolded) per team member or as many unfolded boxes as a team member might request (children and spouses at home may want to get involved – some companies have even invited client members or community organizations for goodwill). The idea is for the team to get together and come up with THREE WAYS TO SELL EXISTING PRODUCTS TO NEW MARKETS OR THREE NEW MARKETS FOR EXISTING PRODUCTS OR (WITH SLIGHT MODIFICATIONS) THREE ENTIRELY NEW PRODUCTS AND MARKETS (OR ANY COMBINATION OF THE ABOVE). But it’s not limited to new markets or products – how about THREE WAYS TO CREATE NEW PRODUCT APPEAL – THREE WAYS TO BETTER SUPPORT YOUR CUSTOMER – THREE CONTESTS THAT GET MORE NEW COMPANIES INVOLVED – THREE NEW IDEAS FOR SEMINARS OR CONFERENCES – THREE WAYS TO IMPROVE SALES, REDUCE COSTS, ENHANCE COMPANY IMAGE…the team idea proposition is almost endless!

The basic structure for Cereal Box™ is simple enough. Usually three to five teams of three to five people each. Each team should include people in your company who might not otherwise have a chance to either work together or collaborate over work issues. One team of three might include; one from engineering, another from sales and the last from customer service. A second team might include someone from management, IT and marketing. A third team might have someone from customer support, another from accounting and a third from shipping. This way you have people with very different views on how your business is conducted, received and employed by point of process personnel in client companies who ultimately share the same objective; company wealth. If you have fewer departments, mix the people up from relevant groups and put together fewer teams. For best results…

1.There shouldn’t be less than three teams with a minimum of three people per team.
2.All members of each team should have some direct interaction with your customers.
3.Whenever possible never have two people from the same department on the same team (exceptions might be customer service and technical support or people with billing questions where sometimes the lines of relativity get blurred).
4.Never more than five teams of five people each (once you properly analyze the intelligence you have gathered and the effectiveness of the program you can always create new teams and run the contest over and over again).
5.Cereal Box™ teams are selected either by managers, employee elections or random selection (draw from a hat).
6.Each team must have a leader responsible for reporting back to upper management. Speaking of upper management, a good rule of thumb is to include someone from sales, marketing and the boardroom – but if you are smaller or you want to simplify things, pick the person who will most profit from this (marketing makes sense).
7.No matter how you elect to put together the teams, make the announcement a company event and get the teams involved. One easy way is to give each team a name (try to be more creative than “the red team and the blue team”). You can even let them choose their own team name (just the names they select may tell you something about what you can expect from their desire to work together and the level of creativity you might expect). One note: Make certain names are not controversial or border on tasteless (be forewarned this can happen no matter how innocently)
8.Reward each department and have a winner, both team and individual, providing some general incentive for the most popular or contributing team member. If their families are involved have some Little Contests pepper your Cereal Box™ program. For children of employees, suggest an art or essay contest whereby the student who submits the most creative art or poignant essay on “Why daddy’s company is good for the community” is presented with a $500 donation for their favorite school activity or approved charity (make sure you have a list - you don’t want them contributing to something dangerously political or religious).  Or ask the winner to do something with the money that helps the community and have them report back to you for your monthly newsletter. And what do you do with an eight year olds’ art? How about using it for your next year’s employee Christmas card or for the cover of the monthly newsletter! Big Contests for employees on the winning team can be a day off, tickets to a local sporting event or maybe even a sit down lunch with the CEO to talk about his or her contribution, but try to stay away from giving cash, it tends to never be enough and gives the program the “must do” commitment feeling, which sucks the fun out of it.
9.Keep the company appraised on how each team is doing and don’t let the contest last more than a few weeks (certainly no longer than four weeks).
10.Allow teams to meet once a week for a couple of hours at work (maybe even throw in a lunch for each team if budget allows) but make it clear that much of the creative work should take place at home.
11.If you decide to do this without our supervision, make sure you establish firm but fair rules like how much time they can spend on the project at work. You must insist there are no unauthorized meetings off campus with anyone – period. Have rules on where, when, how and if they can include customer input (usually get them to have customer questions approved by the team leader). Approve all email content designated for inter or intra-office communication. Supervise their work but don’t be Machiavellian

Results vary but the experience as a whole for individuals and the company are usually massively impressive on many levels. You cannot conduct the program without learning some rather hard and wonderful truths about who you really are. Over the years we have used the program successfully on several clients. One company found a way to improve the click-back rate on an incidental email product from about 1/2 of 1percent to over 7 percent and, with a slight engineering change, created a new product and named the product.

The Cereal Box™ marketing program engages individuals from different company departments who would normally never have an opportunity to share insights and new ideas.

This is a controlled, manageable and creative exchange process which can and will increase your brand awareness and sales by embedding your company’s personality and enthusiasm across a broad spectrum of your market rather than the more typical explosive single point impact created with normal sales and marketing efforts.

Think of the efforts from Cereal Box™ as being an open hand with all ten fingers gripping your customer as opposed to a single fist pounding one target area.
Cereal Box™ is simple to organize, effective in bringing your own company people together as a team and a powerful way to impact your market and engage your customers on a wide range of relevant issues.

Cereal Box™ is a gift you give your own company. Infuse your company with a new sense of unity. Promote a healthy dialogue and reward new ideas. Discover new talent you might otherwise have never seen; creating venues that are fresh and uniquely constructed, speaking the native language of your markets.

Typical disclaimer
Of course not everyone can participate all the time and some people may not be a fit for such a program. The Bosson Group has engineered a quantitative, behavioral and predictive tool which evaluates tests and assists in the selection and proper cross-section of personnel to participate in your company’s own unprecedented marketing event. Each team member is carefully considered and their department’s contribution weighed for just the right balance in customer service, marketing, sales, engineering, IT services and management representation.

We reserve the rights to the name Cereal Box™ and it would just be in bad taste to use it as your own anyway. No promises are guaranteed or implied in this communication. Results vary and even more when you try this on your own. Please don’t call for more hints or suggestions if you attempt this yourself and without our input – we don’t want to be unfriendly but we can’t provide assistance without accepting liability. People, places and types of business all, individually and collectively, affect how to structure your event and this communication carries many generalities and no specifics. So a word to the wise – use common sense if attempting this on your own. Yes, you can hire us to set the program up so you can run your own event internally without additional compensation to The Bosson Group.


*send to info@thebossongroup.com for a full copy of this report with photos

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