Friday, May 12, 2006

Random musings of a frustrated, tired and cranky Brand Manager...

Sometimes it feels like you just cant win. Disclaimer; the following is going to sound like a gigantic, winy bunch of crap- because that is what it is.

The past few weeks have been very challenging and filled with hiccups, mistakes, headaches, frustrations and a bunch of other tedious stuff. At the moment, I'm in the middle of multiple concurrently running projects- all with damned near simultaneous deadlines. Needless to say, It's hard to stay focused and see any one project through to completion. I have always been a big proponent for the saying, "better busy than bored". Now I'm eating those words very grumpily.

I am in the middle of creating/ planning/ writing/ crafting the next Masi catalog- which is going to be awesome by the way. There are countless details to take care of; models to use and ride the bikes, work with the Graphic Department to create a look and feel, come up with copy for the catalog (copy that tells a better story than previous versions of the catalog), determine photo shoot dates and coordinate the models and the bikes... and get bikes. Oh yeah, the bikes...

FYI; to all you budding Brand Manager/ Product Manager wannabes out there- you need bikes to shoot a bike catalog. Just so you know...

To steal from my competitors over at Specialized (please don't send your legal team after my broke ass)- Innovate or Die. (Trademarked/ copyrighted/ whatever Specialized Bike Company)
What nobody tells you is that the innovate part will kill you, so either way you are screwed.

One of the coolest and yet absolutely terrifying new challenges I've been given, along with the other Brand Managers at work, has been to spend the week working on a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. I can barely balance a checkbook (truth be told, that is my wife's job since she was an accountant) and here I am trying to figure out how to spend money and make it mean something. I kid you not, I spent at least an hour staring at the budget spreadsheet and didn't do a damned thing but stare and start to get an anxiety attack. It is a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity to have true ownership of what I do, but that is also very paralyzing. I mean, if I under-budget, then I won't have the money to spend if I need it. If I shoot too high, I look like a fool for not spending the money I thought I'd need, if I come in too far under budget. it's complex and frightening to a Piscean dreamer like me; numbers and money are not my thing.

Next week we have a three day long Branding/ Budget/ Marketing Summit out of the office so that we can be focused and undisturbed. It will be great for a number of reasons, but largely because I really enjoy the company of the people I work with. Our boss, Joe Hawk, is a great guy- and I'm not saying that to kiss his ass either. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed working with Jim Ford (the previous President of the company), but Joe is doing a great job and it is very exciting for all of us to have this new beginning and energy within the company. It's going to be a very, very busy three days and a lot needs to be covered, but it will also be a lot of fun hanging out "after hours" with the folks I share a building with.

The coming bikes will be incredible. I am so very excited about the work we've been doing. My partner in crime, Mike Varley (Senor Product Development Manager), and I have been working very hard to craft a line of bikes to blow your mind. I've also been working very closely with Rick Ortiz (Graphic Artist) and Pete Demos (Creative Director) to come up with beautiful looking bikes, ads and a new catalog. I'm really excited about the look and feel of things and I am very confident that you will be too... and some noise is going to be made... I promise. The new additions to the line (if I can get them in time to make this next line) will really get some attention and will be the next phase in developing the brand into something that recaptures the former glory and prestige it once had.

All of this work and travel over the past several months has kept me from being able to wax poetic about the accomplishments of both the A&F/ Inferno and Masi-Adobe teams. Both teams have been rocking their respective worlds. Both teams have been racking up the results as well and I will have race updates and pictures to share with you soon. A&F/ Inferno has been kicking serious ass and Mark Hekman has been one of the biggest ass kickers for them. Mark has gotten some great wins and high placings to be the top-ranked amateur crit rider in the national standings. Go Heksquatch! Andy Applegate has gotten a few TT wins as well and the rest of the team has been rock solid. Rich Harper continues to be the class clown, but the guy is also faster than hell! Even the little bullet Ryan Gamm got a nice big win. This kid weighs about as much as my shoes and he wins a big race! I'm very proud of the guys; CONGRATS! The Masi-Adobe team up in Canada has been spanking their fellow Cannucks around. Scott Goguen won the very grueling, wet and nasty Harris-Roubaix race- the opener of the BC Cup. More on that to follow soon... These guys have been lighting it up, up north, and I am equally proud of them as well. As a sponsor, I'm a pretty lucky guy. More results and pictures soon- here and on the Masi corporate website as well.

Another side effect of being so busy has been a big decrease in the amount and quality of blogging I've been able to do here. It's been a major frustration for me too, but I hope to improve things soon. As soon as the BIG projects get under control, I'll be able to get back to a more normal schedule of regular posts. I am going to try to come up with some more interesting interviews with some cool people as well. How'd you like that Bob Roll interview? Was that fun or what? I loved that one and hope to bring some more to this site and even start to do some podcasts as well. Hopefully I'll be able to repay your patience and willingness to keep coming back.

Ok, I'm going now... my beer is getting warm.

Tim

14 comments:

super rookie said...

i thought the blogging was getting soft. not as soft as your voice!

...

hey. i know an awesome model for Masi bikes. I can send you a head shot and a couple of photos that should be in the next catalog.

Beat said...

dude! grip the bar, your beer is BOILING--
bicyclesouthwindsorpete

Beat said...

oh yea, and it's NOT because of L eft S ide D rive!

Al said...

If you need a middle age, balding over-weight model for the catalog, I am your man!

Michael Wagner said...

"What nobody tells you is that the innovate part will kill you, so either way you are screwed."

Love that line. I think that is why so many don't innovate. Brands lose their difference and and then no one cares if they die or not.

So maybe it is guys like you that "innovate and die" so you can rise from the dead and afford come cold beer for a change!

Thanks for extending the conversation!

rich said...

Bikes man, we need bikes!

I;ve been training my butt off!! unlike that Hekman fellow who is just gentically stronger

Rich said...

And ahh, answer my emails Lackey!

:) I love you Timmy!

pedaller said...

From an ex-brand manager ..... the secret to a good marketing budget is to know how much you will actually be allowed to spend (based on previous budget or an Executive that will actually talk to you), add 15% (based on current and expected sales growth), then work out how you will spend it based on previous spending pattern data, and always tie it back to the marketing plan/action plan AND the business plan in order to make the spend watertight.
If it looks like you are going to come in under budget by the third quarter, increase the spend on the fourth quarter projects (distributed equally ofcourse so that it doesn't look suspicious), eg, choosing a slightly more expensive photographer on the basis that the previous photographer's work wasn't quite what you were looking for etc.
If you are going to come in over budget, you can either cut some corners on all the projects, or, abandon a project entirely (I usually stick a project in the final quarter that could be dropped if necessary or down-scaled to a cheaper option).
Goodluck :)

Donna Tocci said...

Breathe, Tim....Breathe...
Somehow things always get done.
As for who to shoot on the bikes, I seem to think that you are in a few shots in the catalog that's on my desk... ;)

Fritz said...

I know the feeling. I am buried in work right now. I'm glad I'm motivated working on something new, cool, and world-changing, but *whew*

James said...

Most everybody will stick around, so don't worry if the blogging gets a bit sporadic for a while. After reading this post, I am just looking forward to seeing those new bikes.

Anonymous said...

tim,
I ordered a little tiny violing for you...

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Thanks anonymous. My little tiny "violing" was broken, so I need a new one. You rock dude/ dudette!

stickboy said...

I know how you feel only mine is when it's time to write preseason bike and open the snowboard end of the biz in the fall.
Thanks for the hard efforts you put into the brand. This is our 2nd year running with Masi on the floor and we are so happy with the results...good component selection, quality paint jobs/floor presence, adjustable stems ala ATS kicks ass, model availability and customer service to boot.
Can't wait to see the new whips in September! (Dedacciai in '07 pleeeeezzzzz.)