• RSS CEPSM NewsFeed

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


I am delighted to announce that I have a new blog site . I think you will find it a big improvement from my present blog site . It has a lot more resources and articles and I am in the process of categorizing my blogs so it will be easier to find stuff.

The link to my new blog is  http://www.jimmintz.ca/

 Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing
Jim Mintz
Managing Partner, CEPSM.ca
E-mail: jimmintz@cepsm.ca

Twitter: @jimmintz
Blog: http://www.jimmintz.ca/

Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Strategic Sponsorship Marketing For Municipal Governments

In my blog THE CASE FOR MUNICIPAL MARKETING , I discussed the importance of marketing for Municipal governments. In these very difficult financial times, municipalities are looking for ways to generate revenue without raising taxes . Sponsorships at the municipal level has become an option for some  but if not done right it can be a real fiasco . So if you are thinking about developing a sponsorship program for your municipal government I suggest you put October 17th 2011 on your calendar and come join us for the  Municipal Forum on Sponsorship, at the Grand Hotel & Suites Toronto

Municipalities face relentless pressure to “do more for less.” To achieve this, creative sources of revenue must be found, and various forms of corporate sponsorship naturally look like the low-hanging fruit.

But it’s not that easy. The offices of civic leaders across the country are littered with corporate sponsorship programs that do not reach their potential – programs that receive tentative or restricted council approval, get lost on the drawing table or subjected to public criticism, even outrage.

In addition to these barriers, many municipalities are also not well equipped to address the numerous challenges of implementing a successful and sustainable corporate revenue program. Some of these challenges include:

  • How do we take a strategic versus a fragmented approach toward corporate revenue development?
  • How do we structure a program that leverages our assets effectively?
  • How do we strike a balance between corporate “wants” and the public fear of over-commercialization?
  • How do we gain buy-in from elected representatives, staff, community stakeholders?
  • How do we implement our program cost-effectively?
  • How do we achieve early success?

Join a select group of forward-thinking municipal leaders at the Municipal Forum on Sponsorship, October 17 at the Grand Hotel & Suites Toronto. Under the expert guidance of my colleague Bernie Colterman, Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) you will discover how to meet these challenges head-on by examining trends and best practices in municipal corporate revenue development from Canada, the United States and internationally.

Who Should Attend?

This workshop and forum is ideal for middle to senior managers from municipalities and other public institutions who are currently involved in or considering Sponsorships, Naming Rights or Advertising as a source of revenue for their organization.

What You Will Learn:

  • Strategic Approaches to Implementing a Sustainable Municipal Corporate Revenue Program
  • How to Identify and Package Sponsorship and Advertising Assets
  • Techniques for Valuating Sponsorship and Naming Rights Assets
  • Positioning, Branding and Marketing Your Municipal Corporate Revenue Program
  • Infrastructure Considerations for Delivering and Managing the Program
  • Key Elements of an Effective Sponsorship and Advertising Policy
  • Strategies for Gaining Internal (and External) Buy-in

The workshop-style format will include a combination of presentations, case studies, break-out sessions and engaging discussion.

At the end of the day, you will be able to:

  • Take a more professional, strategic approach towards corporate sponsorships and naming rights;
  • Implement a process for identifying, packaging and marketing municipal assets;
  • Develop a Sponsorship Policy framework that supports your program.

An exclusive forum and workshop for municipal leaders
Presented in conjunction with Strategic Sponsorship Marketing: The Canadian Summit®
October 17, 2011
The Grand Hotel and Suites
Toronto, ON

Click here for the municipal forum agenda.

Click here to register for the forum.

Branding in Politics Fact or Fiction

Political branding is always something that intrigued me as in some ways it is one of the purest forms of marketing.  Those in politics are wise to understand the principles of positioning, brand development, and consumer brand marketing. In fact, getting a politician elected might be the ultimate marketing/branding challenge. In my blog Political Parties should have Marketers run their Campaigns, I discussed the importance of marketing strategy in politics

However one thing that has always intrigued me with political campaigns is that branding and positioning, although planned by political parties, are not always truthful and sometimes rely on old inaccurate stereotypes of a political party and/or their philosophy. For example one of the most popular ones is that Liberals are tax and spenders and Conservatives are great fiscal managers who are very careful about spending.

If you ask the public to describe the difference between Liberals and Conservatives, inevitably one of the things they would mention is the issue of spending and taxes based on this stereotype.

So as a little experiment, I decided to find out if there is any truth to this notion of Liberals are spenders and Conservatives are “fiscally prudent. Here is what I found.

 The worst deficit spending in Canadian history is a Conservative legacy, not one of the Liberals according to Steven Pate.  The Conservatives have been in power under 2 Prime Ministers in the last three decades. In both cases they showed an alarming record of deficit spending. When Brian Mulroney took office, the Canadian debt (adjusted for inflation) was about $250 billion. In ten years, the Conservatives almost tripled our debt to $630 billion. It took the Liberal government another 12 years to pay down that debt to $500 billion. After a brief respite, the  Conservatives are back into deficit spending, with our debt on the rise again.

In the past few years, under the Conservatives, the number of public servants has soared, government spending has skyrocketed, and the deficit has bulged. Some of these results – spending and the deficit – are due to the severe recession, to which the government responded, as did governments throughout the Western world.

But even before the recession, the Conservatives had shown themselves to be big spenders, allowing government spending to rise about 6 per cent yearly. This spending, combined with lower taxes, did away with the large surplus the Liberals had bequeathed the Conservatives. Source

In the USA, most people believe that Democrats are big spenders and that Republicans are tight-fisted. The evidence leads to a very different conclusion. Since 1970, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.

In the twelve years that a Democrat has sat in the White House, spending has increased at an average rate of 1.29% per year; during the 22 years of Republican presidencies, government spending has risen at an average rate of 2.12%. In other words, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.

During the 20 years Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress, spending has grown at an average rate of 1.84% per year, more than double the average rate of 0.89% per year during the six years the GOP ran Congress. (During the other eight years, when control of Congress was split between the two parties, spending grew at an average rate of 2.52%. The split-control years all occurred during Republican presidencies.)

When Democrats controlled the White House plus both houses of Congress, spending grew at 1.70% per year, slightly below the average growth rate of 1.83% for the entire period.

The slowest spending growth occurred when a Democrat sat in the White House and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Spending rose by an average of just 0.89% during the six years of this situation, which all occurred with Bill Clinton as president and Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House.

During the 14 years Republicans controlled the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, spending grew at an average annual rate of 1.92%. During the eight years with a Republican president and a split Congress, spending grew at 2.54% per year.

The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus — with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit — and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. The Obama legacy is still to be played out but finding themselves in a very “deep hole” over the past few years Obama has spent a tremendous amount of money with stimulus funds to try to dig the USA out of the deep hole. Source

Will the facts, figures, or statistics inform voter’s decisions? I doubt it as people believe what they want to believe and giving them the facts won’t change their mind. Liberals are branded as tax and spenders and Conservatives as great fiscal managers.

Let me know what you think.

Marketing Strategy… the key to Success in Private & Public Sector Marketing

People are always confused with the role of marketing. A recent article by Al Ries in Ad Age makes some very interesting points.

For example who decides?

1) What products and services to offer;

2) What to name those products and services; and

3) What distribution channels to use to sell those products and services?

Clearly this is the role of marketing but Ries points out that with companies large and small, he doesn’t see many marketing people calling the shots on 1) Products; 2) Names; and 3) Distribution.

Instead, Ries points out that unfortunately marketing people tend to focus on “communications” issues. They spend most of their time figuring out how to interest prospects in their organizations products and services.

The Mantra for our organization (i.e. Centre for Public Sector Marketing) is “Strategy before Tactics” and we clearly understand the need and importance of communications but they are only the tactics of a marketing program. The other half, the more important half, is strategy.

As Reis points out the two are related. In order to improve the communications, it often is necessary to make changes in strategy. In products, names, pricing, distribution, etc. And who is in a better position to suggest such changes than an experienced marketing person?

But as Reis point out it is top management people who are calling the shots on marketing strategy? And in most cases management people who are not trained or knowledgeable about marketing. Would top management without an engineering background make engineering decisions, probably not? But marketing … no problem.

Reis describes the most recent Presidential race for the GOP as an example of lack of marketing strategy.

“So far, there are eight Republican presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

Do you know the verbal position of any of these eight?

I don’t think they have any.

Doesn’t anyone remember “Change we can believe in?” After Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, I would have thought that any future presidential candidate would summarize his or her campaign with a few memorable words. But so far, no one has.Apparently, nobody wants to be tied down to a single idea or concept. Everybody wants to be free to expand their campaigns in all directions, depending on which way the wind blows.

Take Jon Huntsman. “He resigned  as the U.S. ambassador to China, but already Jon Huntsman has a logo, a musical theme, a small arsenal of promotional videos, a Hollywood narrator and a line of travel mugs, lapel pins, baseball caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the distinctive H of his infant presidential campaign. He even has a generation named after himself. Generation H, his campaign calls it.”

Jon Huntsman has everything except a marketing strategy. Source

See my blog Political Parties should have Marketers run their Campaigns

What is strategy anyway?

 According to Wikipedia Strategy, a word of military origin refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics. Strategy has been extended beyond its traditional fields, military and grand strategy, to business, economics, game theory and other fields.

Ries discusses the Marketing Warfare material that came out of his book by the same name.

He quotes the famous Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, the world’s most-famous military strategist, “Keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. The fundamental idea always to be aimed at before all and as far as possible.”

He explains it this way “strategy is like a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle. Turn it one way to increase the concentration and out comes a powerful stream of water that could knock down a child. Turn it the other way and out comes a fine mist that wouldn’t harm a butterfly.He points out that almost every military strategist recommends “concentration of forces,” while almost every business strategist recommends “scatteration of forces.” Everything about marketing strategy parallels military strategy. The principle of force. The superiority of the defense. The advantage of flanking. And most importantly, the principle of focus.” 

There is one difference. Marketing is about brands, not companies. Apple has become the world’s most-valuable company, not by expanding the Apple brand, but by launching new brands: Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Is this what marketing has become? A discipline that execute strategies designed by somebody else?Source

Let me know what you think.

Why Marketing Matters More Than Ever in the Public and Not-For-Profit Sectors

In today’s economically challenged and constantly changing environment, most government and  non profits are still operating with the same traditional models and these are simply not working anymore.  And with the need for increased efficiency, accountability and transparency in all sectors, along with a requirement to be more strategic in the prioritization and delivery of programs, services and other social initiatives, the need to innovate couldn’t be stronger.

Simply stated, marketing is a process for working smarter. As Phil Kotler and Nancy Lee point out in their book Marketing in the Public Sector: A Roadmap for Improved Performance “marketing turns out to be the best planning platform for a public agency that wants to meet citizen needs and deliver real value.” Public agencies can benefit from bringing a more conscious marketing approach and mindset to their mission, problem solving and outcomes. Marketing is not the same as advertising, sales, or communications. It is these skills and more. It involves a customer (citizen–centered) approach, one that helps address citizen complaints, alters their perceptions, and improves performance. It is a disciplined approach for conducting a situation analysis, setting goals, segmenting the market, conducting market research, positioning, choosing a strategic blend of marketing tools, evaluating results, preparing budgets, and formulating an implementation plan. Here are six key practices that publicly driven organizations and professional associations need to adopt to thrive in these challenging times.

They include:

1. Adopting a Brand and Brand Promise that is Consistently Communicated and Demonstrated

Your brand is what people say about you and too many public and not-for-profit organizations don’t take the time to define their values and more importantly, how these values should be reflected in everything they do, from an association representing their members at the national policy level to a municipality delivering first-rate services to constituents.  Government organizations in particular, can no longer afford to be “all things to all people”  and must begin to articulate who they are, what they stand for and how they promise to deliver on those values.

 2.       Adopting a Client-Centered Mindset

Too often, public or member-driven organizations plan and implement programs without consulting their clients and are left wondering why these initiatives are not getting the anticipated take-up. An effective organization asks their clients    what they want first – and then plan accordingly.

3.       Taking a Strategic Planning Approach Towards Program / Service Delivery

Organizations that do not take a strategic marketing approach are usually operating in a “reactive” mode. Adopting a strategic approach towards program or service delivery forces an organization to focus its efforts on priorities, rather than applying a “bandage” to a wide range of never-ending issues.

4.       Adopting Social Media as Core Audience Engagement Tools

With more than 25 million Canadians on the web, public and non-profit organizations have the opportunity and tools to extend their influence far beyond traditional borders. Simply stated, if you are not actively engaged in social media  and digital engagement, you’re not “in the game”.  

5.       Increased Use of Partnerships to Leverage Resources and Create More Impact

Public and not-for-profit organizations need to focus more on strategic partnerships as a means of leveraging resources, enhancing service delivery and communicating with greater impact. Most organizations don’t have the resources  to implement programs on their own and as a result, end up with mediocre efforts when it comes to communicating message or delivering programs and services.

6.       Taking a Strategic Approach Towards Cost Recovery or Revenue Generation

To be successful over the long-term, organizations need to take a strategic approach towards revenue development.  Many organizations   jump from one “low hanging fruit” to another without any rationalization, creating a “knee-jerk” reaction that usually results in wasted time and effort. Marketing provides a focus by helping organizations identify their value in the market and delivering on that value for revenue.

To find out about CEPSM training programs in public sector or non-profit marketing

 Join us now

Professional Certificate in Public Sector and
Non-Profit Marketing

There is a rising need for highly skilled marketing professionals in the public and non-profit sectors to effectively bring their organization’s products, services and messages to the marketplace.

The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing is uniquely designed to equip participants with the information, tools and solutions necessary to skillfully and mindfully navigate their way through the fascinating and complex world of marketing. This program engages participants in a rich learning environment that reinforces theory with practical, real-life examples based upon the extensive experience of the instructors.

Why You Should Attend

  • Develop an action-oriented, strategic marketing plan for your organization.
  • Become skilled at setting realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals.
  • Learn how to communicate messages effectively to key stakeholders and the public.
  • Share experiences with marketers in your sectors and expand your network.

Who Should Attend

Managers working for government, crown corporations/agencies, non-profit organization and associations who are responsible for:

  • Marketing programs, products and services targeted to the public, business and government.
  • Sponsorship and partnership development.
  • Membership development and revenue generation.
  • Exhibit and event marketing.
  • Social marketing, community outreach and public education programs.
  • Strategic communications, media relations and media advocacy.
  • Online and web marketing, social media and digital marketing.

Register Today

Bye bye, Miss American Pie

Just got back from vacation and spent a fair bit of time listening and watching the US news. I have always been a tremendous admirer of the USA. I love their entrepreneurship and as a marketer have always loved the  marketing that comes out of the USA.  So it with great sadness that I see a great nation losing some of its luster for reasons (i.e. the debt ceiling) that are baffling.

Why does a country that produces the greatest business persons, entrepreneurs, scientists, entertainers’ athletes etc. produce such mediocre politicians?

While listening to the woes of the USA over the past few weeks it made me think about one of my favourite songs.

In the autumn of 1971 Don McLean’s American Pie entered our collective consciousness, and many years later remains one of the most discussed popular music ever produced. A cultural event at the peak of its popularity in 1972, it reached the top of the Billboard 100 charts in a matter of weeks, selling more than 3 million copies; and at eight and a half minutes long, this was no mean feat. This was no ordinary song. What set American Pie apart had a lot to do with not totally understanding what the song was about, provoking endless debates over its epic cast of characters.  But however open to interpretation the lyrics may have been, the song’s emotional resonance was unmistakable: McLean was clearly relating a defining moment in the American experience—something had been lost, and most Americas at the time knew it. Opening with the death of singer Buddy Holly and ending near the tragic concert at Altamont Motor Speedway, Americans were able to frame the span of years the song is covering—1959 to 1970—as the “10 years that the USA had  been on their own.” It is across this decade that the American cultural landscape changed radically, passing from the relative optimism and conformity of the 1950s and early 1960s to the rejection of these values by the various political and social movements of the mid and late 1960s.

Coming as it did near the end of this turbulent era, American Pie seemed to be speaking to the precarious position the USA found itself  in, as the grand social experiments of the 1960s began collapsing under the weight of their own unrealized utopian dreams, while the quieter, hopeful world receded into memory. And as 1970 came to a close and the world this generation had envisioned no longer seemed viable, a sense of disillusion and loss fell over the USA; Americans weren’t the people they once were. Source 

Sound familiar? Again America is going through a major transformation.

I used to think America would solve its problems, after all else failed. Now I’m not so sure. The political class is looking more dysfunctional than ever. You can’t help but be depressed by the game of debt-ceiling chicken being played in Washington.

“The only thing that unites the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington today is their mutual desire to suppress the truth. Nobody wants to come clean about how deep the fiscal hole really is. None of the players trying to negotiate a deal has anything to say about entitlement programs such as social security, Medicare or Medicaid. Together, these account for more than 40 per cent of all federal spending. All sides are silent on what Robert Bixby, executive director of the non-partisan watchdog group Concord Coalition, calls the underlying structural deficit. Even the toughest version of the deals on the table will shave less than one-half of 1 per cent from the entitlement spending that’s mandated over the next 10 years”. Source

What is really troubling is the impact that the Tea Party has on the country’s politics. For the record I am a strong proponent of people having a voice in politics but there is always a danger when you let a “squeaky wheel” overpower all other opinions.

Very few sensible people support spending money you don’t have; this is true in running a government as well as running a family budget or a business. But anyone who seriously believes that the USA will be able to significantly reduce their debts and deficits without generating more revenue is “dreaming in Technicolor.”

For example almost half of the U.S. federal budget today is accounted for by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If nothing changes, these three programs will consume more than 100 per cent of the U.S. budget in 25 years’ time. PIMCO bond king Bill Gross argues the U.S. situation is actually much worse, when one includes the unfunded liabilities of Social Security ($8 trillion), Medicare ($22.8 trillion) and Medicaid ($35.8 trillion). Silicon Valley venture capitalist Mary Meeker calculated the balance sheet for the U.S. if it was a company, and estimated that USA Inc. presently has a negative net worth of $35 to $40 trillion.

This is clearly unsustainable and is why there must and will be major cuts to social programs in the U.S. in conjunction with significant tax increases. Source

Winston Churchill once quipped that “the United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”

I wish my American friends well as they are going through a rough patch and hope sanity and common sense will prevail among their politicians during this very difficult time.

Are our Universities Broken?

A controversial article in the Globe and Mail on Universities  provides some perspective and insights on some of the challenges at academic institutions, particularly undergraduate programs. Most students take courses from “itinerant graduate students”, large classes especially in first and second years are not supportive of learning, and use of multiple-choice tests instead of essay questions is the trend in universities.

The dropout rate at universities in Canada is at an all-time high (56 per cent finish their degrees within six years)”. Universities are rewarded for getting bums in seats, not for educating and graduating them. Educating undergraduates is just about the last thing most professors want to do. They’d rather not have the students around, because they’d rather do research.

The author also points out that universities are unaccountable for results, if, by results, we mean successfully educating students. In the reward system of universities, its research, not teaching, that matters. Professors are rewarded not for turning out high-quality graduates, but for turning out books and papers – even if they are unread. This perverse system stubbornly persists; despite the fact that everyone knows it’s absurd. Some research, especially in the sciences and medicine, matters a great deal to the advancement of society. But a vast amount of it does not.”

Richard Vedder, a leading U.S. critic, has argued that the higher education system has pawned off the responsibility of educating students “in favour of pursuing a whole lot of self-interested research (which the majority of undergraduates are not involved in) that for the most part, doesn’t matter.”  He argues that we should spend less time worrying about university access for all, and more time on the “scandal” of the billions we waste on unsuccessful efforts to educate students who fail to graduate. “The focus of higher education reform should be on increasing the quality of our college graduates,” he writes. And that will never happen until students count for more than articles in unread quarterlies.

Continuing on with a series of articles in the Globe  the author suggests that we’ve been told that higher education is the key to prosperity in the post-industrial age. Our policymakers and politicians insist that expanding access to higher education is crucial to our economic fortunes. The trouble is this will only work if higher education actually succeeds in turning most students into better reasoners and thinkers. It does not.

Academically Adrift, a book that is today’s must-read in higher education circles found that a large number of students learn little or nothing in university. More than a third shows no improvement in their skills at all. The authors found that universities are full of “drifting dreamers,” with high ambitions, but no clear life plan for reaching them. For these students, university is primarily a social experience, not an academic one. (The research included only American universities but there is no reason to suspect the situation is any different in Canada.)

What does the research tell us according to the authors? They’re not hitting the books. On average, students spend only 12 hours a week studying, and are academically engaged for no more than 30 hours a week. Thirty-seven per cent spend less than five hours a week studying. Many academic programs are not particularly rigorous or demanding. Less than half the senior-year students surveyed had been required to complete more than 20 pages of writing for any course in the previous semester. Even so, graduation rates are stagnant or decreasing. Only 34% of American students finish a BA in four years, and only 64% in six years.

A lot of students are very good at strategic management of work requirements — that is, getting a degree with as little work as possible. On many campuses, students and professors have what the authors call “disengagement compact” – a mutual understanding that “I’ll leave you alone if you leave be alone.” The reasons aren’t hard to find. Because students are considered customers or clients, client satisfaction is tremendously important. Also, most professors would rather not teach. On average, faculty spend only 11 hours a week on preparing and delivering classroom instruction and advising students.

It’s a good thing that universities aren’t car companies. If they were, they’d be out of business. As higher- education critic Richard Vedder puts it, “We are sending too many kids to school to learn too little to get jobs for which often the little that they do learn is not even necessary.”

Why do we keep forking over billions to institutions that don’t deliver what they promise to so many of the people they are supposed to serve?

Our universities admit too many people, not too few. According to Ken Coates, dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo, and Bill Morrison, a retired history professor from the University of Northern British Columbia, they’re full of people who probably shouldn’t be there. Their new book, Campus Confidential,  is a bracing reality check that should be essential reading for would-be university students, their parents and anyone who thinks higher education holds all the answers.

The authors state that Canada already has one of the highest postsecondary participation rates in the world. Nearly half of all high-school graduates go to college or university. Tuition rates – especially for affluent families – are a bargain. Virtually anyone who wants to can get in somewhere. But many students aren’t sure why they’re there. “Canada’s national conceit is that all students who want to go to university should have the chance.  Other countries are not so egalitarian. They limit access to publicly funded universities to students who’ve demonstrated aptitude and motivation. The dirty secret of our system is that a dismally large portion of students you see on campus will fail to graduate.

The vast expansion of higher education hasn’t smartened up people. Instead, it’s dumbed down the standards. As most employers will attest, a BA degree no longer certifies that the holder will be able to read, write or communicate. And many (if not most) undergraduates are not interested in the material they’re studying. “The widespread perception is that fewer and fewer of them are participating beyond the bare minimum required for a degree,” the authors write.

Meantime, the return on investment for a general undergraduate degree has fallen sharply. What Canada really needs are people with trade and technical skills. There’s enormous demand for medical professionals, certain engineers, IT technicians, millwrights, plumbers and electricians – but not so much for BAs in sociology. Our graduates are mismatched to the job market.

On top of that, today’s university graduates aren’t just competing against each other – they’re competing against graduates from around the world who can handle our knowledge jobs at lower cost. Higher education by itself can’t solve Canada’s competitiveness problems. For that, we’re going to need a lot more smarts about what higher education can and should deliver.

Public Sector Decision Making 101or How to Kill a Dead Horse

Someone sent me this and I thought I would share with my readers. Enjoy.

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians in the United States, passed down from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get another horse or walk. The common sense approach.

In the Public Sector, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies is often employed, such as:

  1. Change riders.
  2. Buy a stronger whip.
  3. Do nothing: “This is the way we have always ridden dead horses”.
  4. Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses.
  5. Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse’s performance.
  6. Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse. (Can be as useful as a saddle when it comes to protecting your rear end!!)
  7. Harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase the speed.
  8. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
  9. Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is.
  10. Re-classify the dead horse as “living-impaired”.
  11. Develop a Strategic Plan for the management of dead horses.
  12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  13. Modify existing standards to include dead horses.
  14. Declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than many other horses.
  15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position. (But, the competition for positions is fierce).

Yes that is how we do things in the public sector and why very little gets done.

What is A Canadian?

In today’s Ottawa Citizen I read and article by Drew Gough titled A wanderer’s guide to patriotism. The author seems to be struggling with his Canadian identity and understanding what it is to be a Canadian. He mentions that in his travels he makes sure to sew a Canadian flag on his back pack because of his fear of being identified as an  American . He states “Sure, I was proud to not be American, but I didn’t feel quite proud to be Canadian, if only because I didn’t know what it meant.”

He ends his article by stating “Though it may be healthy to be challenged in this way and to try to come to terms with oneself (as an individual or as a nation), most 20-something Canadians will stumble with the question of “What is being Canadian?”

So this blog is written to all of those Canadians who are struggling with their Canadian Identity.

A few years ago I had something cross my desk that just blew me away. There was a report in the world news that someone in Pakistan had placed an ad in a newspaper with an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian-any Canadian. Who in God’s name would want to kill a peace-loving people like us Canadians kind of boggles my mind but I guess there are a lot of unbalanced people out there.

Any way according to this item I read (which unfortunately does not have a source) an Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so that they would know one when they found one. Here is what he wrote.

“A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux or one of the many tribes known as native Canadians. (Note he forgot our northern neighbours the Inuit). Canadian religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada, they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognizes the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least,-the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who build Canada.

You can try to kill a Canadian if you must, as other blood- thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but, in doing so, you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be Canadian. “

Now if you are a Canadian or a citizen of the world and after reading this you do not have a lump in your throat, than you are a lost cause. Isn’t odd that it took an Australian to describe a Canadian? Although frankly I am not surprised considering the wonderful treatment I received each time I have travelled to Australia.

So Drew I hope this will help you and your 20 something friends better understand what it means to be a Canadian.

Happy Canada Day.

Face-to-Face Marketing… still one of the best marketing tactics

I recently received a notice that stated the following “The Government of Canada Exhibitions Program has had a successful run showcasing the Government of Canada’s programs and services across Canada. With Canadians turning more and more to the Internet to find information about government programs and services, the time has come to discontinue our coordination of this program.”

In other words the government has decided that since Canadians are turning to the web for information there is no need to send people out into the community to talk to Canadians face to face. What short-sighted thinking! I am also willing to wager that the bureaucrats and/or politicians who made this decision don’t have a clear understanding of marketing. You would think that the government which has become so impersonal and irrelevant to many Canadians would want to be out there talking to their constituents face-to-face rather than sending them to a web site. What about those who don’t surf the web but who do attend local exhibitions on a loyal basis every year?

Can you imagine advising a politician that he/she does not have to “press the flesh” and participate in events where they meet with their constituents face-to-face because everything about them is on their website? And of course, now politicians have twitter, facebook and other interactive tools to get feedback from their constituents so why bother going to events? He or she would probably tell you to “take a hike”. But those same politicians who cancel face-to -face programs like the Government of Canada Exhibitions Program are doing something that they would never do to themselves.

It is extremely unfortunate that the government is not taking an integrated marketing communications approach. We live in a multi-channel world and different audiences need different communication strategies. Frankly, there are those who believe that traditional approaches like face-to-face marketing have to be “ditched” or “discarded” because social media and digital engagement and websites are the only ways to communicate with Canadians. It’s not either / or. It’s the art of the sum of the parts working together that gets results.

With respect to face –to-face marketing, there is a myth that the medium is retiring and we are moving on to bigger and better things. Face-to-face marketing actually includes everything from live events, seminars, workshops, outdoor events, trade shows, and conferences. The younger group, known as generation Y, or those born between the 80’s and early 90’s, highly depend on technology not only for work, but for personal relationships as well. The rise in people’s need for technology to function has led others to believe that meeting with people face-to-face is not necessary anymore and has become a “fossilized tactic”. So what is the point in wasting money to meet with people face to face if it is an out-dated tactic?

The point is that meeting face-to-face is absolutely effective and vital to building strong relationships with your audiences. People who are wrapped up in the virtual world still have a strong desire for personal relationships, which is what they falsely try to attain through technology. All relationships are the same, whether it be a work related relationship or a personal relationship, they all need to make that face-to-face connection. By using technology you may lose that relationship.

People have bought into this myth that face-to-face interaction is no longer important and have begun adapting to technological alternatives. But, face-to-face marketing has, and always will be effective; it is a strategy that best fits public sector and non-profit organizations that tend to work with a limited budget that need to influence key stakeholders and opinion makers.

Whatever the rationale behind a face-to-face marketing effort, one of the underlying benefits is that the event itself is as much a part of the message as the content. There are times when technology just doesn’t do the job and face-to-face marketing is required. What can face-to-face marketing offer a marketer?

  • It provides you with the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders and very targeted populations;
  • It is most appropriate when some form of personal intervention or interaction is required to deliver detailed information, address barriers and concerns, build trust and gain commitment; •
  • It is an excellent way to compile data and build a community;
  • It provides fast and flexible solutions in a changing environment; and,
  • It is a proven process to speed up the decision-making / behaviour change process.

Face-to-face marketing can begin a lasting relationship between the target audience(s)/key stakeholders and an organization using the simplest and oldest method of communication – one person speaking to another. Events and exhibits and educational tactics like workshops and seminars should be considered as part of the face-to-face strategy.

Let me know what you think