Bringing It

I was struck with the challenge to “bring it” from some young hoopsters in my community. Since I have some really lousy days during noontime basketball, I often do not bring it at all. I immediately thought of all the entrepreneurs that “bring it” everyday to their business. What does it take to bring it? I may not bring it to the noon-time basketball scene like I did in the 90’s but I know what I can change and what I can’t. There are some places you travel to where you better be prepared to learn just how good the competition can be. Being globally competitive is definitely bringing it.

 Another way to improve and “bring it” is be curious and on top of trends and the impact of technology. Answers and data related to questions such as: What are you are doing today or not doing that could add value to goodwill (to your brand)? What additions or subtractions will bring more customer satisfaction? How do I delight my customers? If you don’t know where to start, look first at the essence of your brand, and then ask your customers, suppliers, and friends what is positively distinctive about your product or service. What have they heard “on the street” about you and your competition? What can you do to work on those particular areas? Given the scarcity of marketing resources, spend the most consistently on promoting your exemplary products with the greatest potential demand, rather than trying to sprinkle the budget around weaker programs to match a competitor’s offerings or shore up your weaknesses.

I recently interviewed Lindsay Bero, who is a former student of mine. Lindsay knows how to “bring it” in her work for Accenture despite being in her mid 20’s. A 2006 graduate who majored in international business, Bero says she squeezed every possible experience out of her Monmouth education, from singing in the Chorale and performing in an opera, to serving on the executive board of Student Senate.

Bringing it means taking advantage of international opportunities. Bero spent a semester in an exchange program with Umea University in Sweden and also traveled to Japan with other business students. Both experiences have contributed to the career success she is experiencing at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company made up of more than 223,000 employees who serve clients in more than 120 countries.

“My ‘ah-ha’ moment at Accenture was when I realized the extensive global nature of my work,” Bero said. “I work with a truly international team from all corners of the world – from India, to China, to the UK, to Canada. I’ve come to appreciate how critical and life-changing my semester in Sweden and time in Japan hav been to my contributions to a very global firm. My travels in college were an essential building block. I feel very comfortable traveling internationally for work and experiencing different languages, cuisines and cultures.”

Hired by Accenture in 2006, Bero supports the planning and management of learning engagements for the global Accenture strategy practice. She oversees the execution of the strategy practice and manages teams, working directly with her clients to help them achieve. Her goal is to transition her clients into a profit-oriented, learning-driven business environment. In short, she is responsible for ensuring that Accenture provides its clients with the best training in the market.

One of Bero’s responsibilities is to oversee the skill level assessment for each Accenture strategist. “Assessing the skills of very bright and motivated people certainly has its challenges,” she said. “Rarely do you find the individual who feels the lower-level course to brush up on needed learning is necessary. Each wants the hardest course and most challenging curriculum. Telling them that they need otherwise can bring about high levels of tension, to say the least.”

Each year, Accenture offers thousands of training courses globally, both in the classroom and electronically.  Accenture offers 80 percent more training than its competitors and this year was ranked by in an elite group of 20 companies as an industry leader in training outsourcing.

“The Accenture environment is ambitious, fast-paced and highly focused,” she said. “Consulting is a highly competitive field. Daily, we are up against firms like IBM and Deloitte, all competing for consulting projects and outsourcing assignments worldwide. My job is to make sure our people receive all the necessary knowledge and skills to remain competitive and stay ahead of the curve.”

The vast majority of the instructors she works with are top senior executives who have been with Accenture for many years.

One of Bero’s marketing projects is a program called Strategy College, a training seminar developed to offer more than 60 courses in one week to approximately 300 strategists. It is presented by approximately 60 faculty members and is offered eight times each year.

“You are one of Accenture’s best if you are asked to present,” she said. “Faculty share invaluable war stories and teach both theory and practice. Accenture employees are a tough crowd, so one has to be very good to keep such a bright class engaged.”

What competitive advantages will be most important as markets shift and technology changes the competitive landscape? What external factors are driving the need to change in your industry? For your ideal customer profile, are you becoming more competitive as a product or service or less so? Why? These are the key issues to discuss before preparing and investing a driving up perceived value through marketing intiaitives.

One proven way to “bring it” in your small business is to consistantly work on marketing intiatives that drive perceived value. Perceived value usually translates into increases in brand preference.  This is as true for choosing colleges as restaurants or travel destinations. So what determines perceived value and how can you enhance it? The answer in how to bring it lies in the specific marketing tactics you invest in to drive up perceived value and increase the tangible goodwill of your brand.