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3 actionable insights with… ANA chief exec Bob Liodice

'Measure everything,' says the ANA's Bob Liodice.

The Drum’s 3 Actionable Insights series asks industry leaders to give their thoughts on the actions our readers should take immediately. This week, Bob Liodice – who for the past quarter of a century has been working hand-in-hand with the marketers that make up the ANA’s membership – gives some practical advice as the US begins to open up. Below are his three actionable insights, which focus on getting the fundamentals right at a moment when so much can go wrong...

1. Draw up a blueprint for long-term growth

Marketers are in the business of driving demand. We’re in the business of satisfying shareholders and we’re in the business of being able to delight our chief execs. But I’ve found that focusing on short-term business management is perhaps the single biggest detriment to driving growth.

Marketing is an arena that is very complex, where there could be hundreds if not thousands of choices that can be made. It is always comforting to have a sound and solid strategy for driving business and brand growth for the long term. It’s important to have that because it helps channel your resources, guide your people and sets expectations for all of the constituents that you serve. And it also provides a pathway for stimulating demand, goodwill and great perceptions by your consumers and customers.

I’m not sure whether marketers always have that core blueprint figured out. It doesn’t matter what your situation is or the size of your business, you cannot go wrong if you focus your time and attention on ensuring that you’ve got a top-quality strategy for driving growth.

2. Leaders must nurture top talent and themselves

I know it’s simple to say, but you cannot succeed without having the very best of talent. This really consists of three core areas: developing great leaders, enhancing the quality of all of your people and having a profound respect for DE&I.

First, leadership is always a challenge because you always have a lot of experienced people that can exist in the leadership situation. They can fulfil certain activities and execute certain processes. But great leaders identify what their vision is and where they want to take their respective organizations. The styles and directions of leaders have a profound impact on the success of any business. You need to have the ability to develop great leaders. They don’t always just walk in the door. Sometimes they need some nurturing and development.

The second part is the teams that leaders have at their disposal should constantly be focused on the continuous improvement of their skills, elevating their craft and ensuring that they’re not only keeping pace but getting ahead of the pace. I’ve seen more leaders fail because they have forgotten to truly focus in on the development and nurturing of their teams.

The third part is the renewed and profound respect for DE&I. It has been proven, many times, that when you have a diverse workforce there is more potential for better performance. And now by focusing on inclusion – which up until a couple of years ago was not necessarily something that was top of mind – this success will only grow. Somebody explained it to me as diversity is like being invited to the dance, but inclusion is being asked to dance. That is just such a great symbol of what inclusion means. That invitation to be part of that workplace family is profoundly important.

3. Measure everything

Helping our members improve their decision making is fundamental to what we do as a trade association. What really tops the cake is measurement. The old saying that ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ is so fundamentally true and the state of measurement in our industry can certainly be improved. Within our respective organizations, there are a lot of homegrown measurements and there are a lot of standardized industry measurements, but the ability to acknowledge what are the most important measurements for your respective business or brand is critical. That provides not only the feedback loop for understanding the impact of your decisions but also being able to plan what types of future decisions that you’re going to make. I know that it is one of the most important elements for our board of directors. This is a major reason why the ANA is so focused in on measurement. It affects all individuals, all levels, all chasms of our industry. So, improved decision making, with one of the most important ingredients being measurement is essential.

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