Here's a Sample of Stephen's Non-Fiction Writing from This Book:
Many people know my brother David and our partners took a small, local ad firm, founded as Martin & Woltz and renamed The Martin Agency, to national prominence. Before we sold it, The Martin Agency was cited as the “Hottest in the Southeast” by ADWEEK magazine. Later, it was named “Ad Agency of the Year” for the entire USA. Forbes magazine dubbed it one of the “Ten Great Ad Agencies of 2012.”
We all learned a great deal growing that business, not the least of which is how other companies work. Or don’t.
Nowadays, to help other firms reach the top of industries in which they compete, we put to work that knowledge. And though we may be best known as ad men, I can say with confidence it takes much more than smart advertising for a business to win. As an unidentfied advertising genius once said, “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.”
So why do some companies succeed and others fail? Communications and branding are parts of the equation, of course. But there has to be much more. That’s why we developed a process to insure a company or product isn’t killed by good advertising that induces trial that results in disappointed customers. Properly applied, the process insures the people of an organization embrace and live the vision we can help our clients create. David wrote a book some years ago explaining how a vision is created entitled, Be The Brand. We still use that process today as an initial step, as we explain in Chapter One.
This book, however, explains what must happen after everyone has embraced the vision. A team mentality must form and all have to pull together with a sense of urgency to bring the vision into reality. We call the way to make that happen, “The Martin Management Method,” or M3 for short.
What our method does is create a shared sensitivity, a sense of accountability and urgency in each employee. Time and again the method has worked to get everyone pulling his or her own weight––perhaps even more than his or her own weight––and when that happens, and a clear vision exists, success is bound to follow.
The genesis of our method goes back a long way. I’ll tell the story in brief. As a twenty-something ad executive, I’d just moved from Washington, D.C., to Richmond to partner with my brother in the firm newly renamed The Martin Agency. Soon after my arrival, I joined the local chapter of the American Marketing Association for the same reason others join clubs made up of people in their line of work––to network and get to know others in order to make a name for myself and to attract business.
After a year or so, I ran for office and was elected vice president of programming, which meant I had to line up the monthly speakers. There were five or six vice presidents of this club, each covering a different area such as membership, fund raising, and special events. The way things got done was through meetings of these officers, which were called “directors’ meetings.” To keep these meetings running in an orderly fashion, Robert’s Rules of Order was followed. At first I thought these Rules were kind of silly, but it wasn’t long before I saw how they served a purpose. They assured orderly procedures were followed, and they resulted in consistency. A notebook was kept of all the minutes of every meeting. This notebook also held pertinent information concerning what each vice president did during the year such as a list of contact information for suppliers, and copies of invoices for items that had been purchased. This made a lot of sense. Every year the membership of the American Marketing Association changed somewhat. And every year the list of officers turned over, and a new president took the reins. People found themselves filling roles they knew very little about. But the club’s purpose and direction and momentum continued because that notebook contained the information they needed to pick up where others had left off. In addition to the Rules of Order, the AMA also had a charter, bylaws, and written procedures. Without these, when new officers assumed their positions, it might have taken practically the whole year for them to get a handle on things.
At each meeting, the secretary kept minutes. These minutes served as a history and also helped keep everyone on their toes, because they were a public record of what the club had agreed to do. The only thing was, sometimes the minutes seemed to ramble, and often people didn’t do what they were supposed to do because the secretary had failed to make it clear who had agreed to do what and when they had agreed to have it done. The president of the club often ended up doing most of the work––along with a few others who could be counted on to follow through.
The following year, I was elected president of the chapter, and the notebook was passed to me. I was happy for the exposure that came with the position, but I realized I probably was going to have to work like a beaver to get my day job done along with what was sure to come with this new position. After all, I had no authority over any of the other officers or members even though I had the title of president. Everyone in the group was a volunteer. Any could walk at any moment, or decide not to follow through on a commitment. I had no power over them, nor any recourse such as a performance review.
The first thing I did was change the way the minutes were kept. In our meetings at Martin we used action reports, which are similar to minutes except that they cut to the chase. They don’t ramble on or recap a discussion, they report the decisions made and the actions to be taken. They clearly stated who has responsibility for the action and the deadline agreed upon to get it done.
Second, I didn’t just stick these action reports* in the notebook to sit there until they were pulled out again and read at the next meeting, I sent a copy to all of the directors whether or not they’d been in attendance at the meeting, and I sent a copy to anyone else who might in any way be affected by the decisions which had been made.
I didn’t stop there. Our chapter had a monthly newsletter and the president always wrote a column that appeared on the front page. I used that space to call attention to the people who had taken on different tasks, to give them a pat on the back for stepping up to the plate and committing to a specific date. I also praised those who had completed tasks already, or had made a special contribution.
And I didn’t stop there. The president always opened the monthly luncheon meetings, so I used my time at the podium to say who was doing what and the deadline they were working toward. I’d ask them to stand to give them recognition. People like to hear their names, and they like the spotlight. I’m sure the exposure made them feel warm all over because they, like me, had joined the organization in order to meet people, to network, and to become better known in the marketing community of our city.
Now consider this. After all that exposure—once all their peers knew what they were supposed to accomplish—do you suppose any of those people dropped the ball? Of course not. If they had, whose reputation do you think would have suffered? Theirs, of course. If they wanted business from other members in a position to send it to them, they knew they had to demonstrate they could be counted on. The result was that year’s volunteers not only followed through, they followed through in spades. They got more accomplished in more spectacular ways than had happened in anyone’s memory.
Awards Were Used to Motivate
The chapter gave an award each year called the Golden Candlestick to the person seen as having gone above and beyond and contributed more than anyone else. As the year unfolded, I often lamented from the podium that I didn’t see how we were going to choose just one recipient because so many had contributed so much.
This brings up another point. Awards can be a great way to call attention to people and get them working enthusiastically. My friend and former client Bill Monahan in his book, Billion Dollar Turnaround, writes about one he created called the “Top Performer’s Award.” Rather than just give bonuses and recognition to the sales force, he expanded this practice to include the rest of the company. Each year his primary team would choose top performers who had gone above and beyond what was expected in their jobs to achieve outstanding results. Everyone at Bill’s company, Imation, had the opportunity to nominate whomever they felt was deserving. And rather than recognize only the winners, Bill also included spouses and partners, so the impact of what had been achieved would be felt within the family as well as by peers in the company. Recipients came from all functions, from every level of the business, and from other countries as well as the United States. A daytime meeting would be held of the entire headquarters staff, where coffee and ice cream or cake would be served. Winners would be flown in from wherever they lived and worked. There’d be a guest speaker, and the winners would then receive awards in front of this assembly. Announcements of the Top Performer Award winners were sent to hometown press and included in the company newsletter and on the web site. They included a photograph of each and rundown of accomplishments that had led to the award. This practice became so popular and generated such enthusiasm that business units in the different countries began having their own similar award programs in addition to the worldwide program.
Praise is More Powerful Than Money
I learned something valuable that year as president of the local chapter of the American Marketing Association. Praise is a powerful tool, often more powerful than money. Praise works because it makes people feel good. Money can’t always buy that. And praise works for another reason. If everyone knows someone is supposed to complete a task—if all of their peers know because you praised them for taking it on—that person is almost surely going to do it, and do it well.
I have to say, my term as AMA president whizzed by. Things got done as they were supposed to. And you know what? Richmond won “Chapter of the Year” out of more than 140 chapters across the United States and Canada. It was the first time the Richmond Chapter had won, but not the last. And you know why? Everyone involved saw how to create a championship team. You can create one, too. You can reach the highest level of success and become the standout in your company or industry by following the process described in this book.
The process, by the way, has been refined and added to over the years to the point it now involves more than meetings, action reports, and praise. It has been fleshed out to a point it now can be instituted successfully in an organization as small as five people, or one that spans the globe. Those who have done so tell me that besides the thrill of victory that results from leading a winning organization, the biggest payoff is they won’t have to work as hard as they did back before they learned how to get colleagues and employees to become accountable and motivated by a sense of urgency to get their jobs done. Read ahead, and my partner and I will explain how you can do this, too.
Stephen Hawley Martin