INTHEBLACK presents... The Strategists

Ruslan Kogan, Joe Talcott, Glenn Cooper and CPA Australia’s Lisa Carroll | Photo: Michelle Mossop

Ruslan Kogan, Glenn Cooper and Joe Talcott share their vastly different, yet successful, strategies.

Business strategies take many forms. To stay in tune with the market, it’s crucial to create one and implement it, then adjust it – or, if need be, throw it away and start again. On this point, all three leading strategists who shared their insights at the first INTHEBLACK events agreed.

In sessions, facilitated by CPA Australia’s executive general manager of communication, content and publishing Lisa Carroll, they revealed the way they implement business strategy could not be more different.

Glenn Cooper is the chairman of Coopers Brewery, the largest wholly Australian‑owned brewery.

The company is 150 years old and has a family heritage of which the fifth‑generation Cooper and his staff are immensely proud.
 
Business operates at a relatively even pace and there’s a distinct focus on connecting the customer to the family name and its story.

Young entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan of kogan.com, which sells and makes electronic goods, operates at the other end of the spectrum – he challenges the status quo at every step.

His staff check customer behaviour data all day, every day, to see how the business can better meet the customers’ needs.

You might not think it, but kogan.com’s marketing team is staffed with more accountant types, punching the numbers and analysing the data, than creative types.

The third, and perhaps balancing, speaker was Joe Talcott, the marketing guru who runs the consultancy CREATISM.IS.

He was the brains behind McDonald’s long-running “i’m lovin’ it” campaign, which reinvigorated the then 50-year-old company.

Of all that data Kogan and his staff analyse, Talcott says numbers have always been at the forefront of marketing.

The difference now is “there is just so much of it”, he said. “Digital data has been individualised, so you don’t just know about groups of people, you know about you!”

Alex Gelman of ABBYY, Glenn Cooper, Paul Foley of Telstra and Mark Mitchinson of IKEA | Photo: Michelle Mossop

Alex Gelman of ABBYY, Glenn Cooper, Paul Foley of Telstra and

Mark Mitchinson of IKEA | Photo: Michelle Mossop

Company culture and its role in business success was a popular topic among the panellists and Kogan and Cooper again proved its vital role, no matter the context.

“I believe culture plays a big part in how your company operates and how it performs in the market,” Cooper said. “In particular, how your staff present themselves; the long heritage of the Coopers beer brand is the company’s culture. People still say ‘I remember your father, your grandfather’.”

The culture at kogan is vastly different. “We teach our staff to swim upstream, to innovate continuously, to question absolutely everything,” Kogan said. “It’s in the culture of the organisation.”

Staying upright in tough times or in the face of change is a challenge for any business, Talcott said. Instead of “deny, defend and die”, an organisation must be agile, creative and brave.

“Bravery, firstly to take risks – because they are huge risks – and secondly, the bravery to persevere,” he said.

Kogan said in order for any business to survive “it needs to have a competitive advantage over the rest ... work out what your competitive advantage is and flaunt it.”

The perspectives from two generations across three industry sectors provided great lessons and interesting anecdotes for audiences in each location.

This article is from the December 2013 issue of INTHEBLACK magazine.


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