Innovation: Law of the Littles

I have noticed recently that many of our client brands are consistently focused on the big problems — such as:



I have noticed recently
that many of our client brands are consistently focused on the big problems —
such as:

  • How do I reverse a
    10-year declining trend for this product category?
  • How can I get
    consumers to overcome my 40% price premium and stay loyal to my brand?
  • What kind of
    channel strategy will enable us to activate our programs in an integrated
    fashion across all customer levels?

While I agree that these are very big opportunities that require long-term strategic solutions, too many of our clients are acting like Chicken Little. Too many resort to quick fixes and ready-made tactics. What they fail to recognize is that the sky is not falling.

 I’m not saying that
these issues should not be addressed; they should be, and with great fervor.
When that long-term strategy is developed, as it must, brand experts need to
collect a variety of consumer, trade, and marketplace analyses that flesh out a
systematic plan for getting the brand back on course. Brand insights are a
prerequisite for creating a blueprint for action that will be effective in
tackling even gargantuan challenges.


Experience tells us that
challenges of this scale call on an organization to, as Apple so aptly put it,
“Think Different.” Original thought goes hand in hand with the
spending that brings it all to life. After all, you can’t stop ramping up the
volume while you are changing the category perception. You can’t pare back on
your outreach when you are rolling out a loyalty program for your most valuable

Problems that become big
ones for brands in fact are often the result of a marketplace or brand
situation that has been ignored for too long. Reactionary responses are akin to
using a watering can to put out a forest fire.

The point is, big issues
must be addressed in a big way — just don’t let them become a distraction to
getting the job done in the short term job. This is where we employ the
“law of the littles.” The law states that everything matters
everything —
and even the smallest
detail is an opportunity to improve 
production, service levels, and impact results.


While your team is
brainstorming a solution to its equivalent of brand world peace, don’t let them
forget to return that call to the sales team, approve that key account plan,
keep the spring project going, and get the holiday POS delivered on time.  It is amazing how many of our new
clients tell us that the thing they struggle with the most is keeping projects
on a schedule and delivering materials to the field. One client just missed
half their deadlines for account-specific opportunities because of their
inability to get budget approved. By the time they secured the funds, the
opportunities were no longer there.

Nothing burns the
credibility of the marketing team faster than overpromising and underdelivering
on timing or quality of materials. Let’s face it: these folks are on the front
lines and talk to your customers daily. You are wondering why second quarter
sales are lagging when the POS never even showed up. This should be an easy
fix, one that requires only a bit of process and focus to ensure improvement.
Even if you can’t get the project approved, you can make sure that you
communicate the delays and relay news of adjusted deliverable dates.

So before you start the
16th revision to your AOP, take five minutes and make a list of the “little”
things that you haven’t had time yet to get to. Get those done and I promise
the plan will still be there.



The Game Changer • Los
Angeles •