Fourteen months ago, I turned more than a few heads in our industry by going from leading Hispanic marketing at McDonald's, a 30 year marketer to the Hispanic consumer with its deserved accolades as a pioneer and innovator, to trying to build the Batanga brand, a brand that had a loyal group of consumers and a unique product offering, but was trying to grow its reach. I am happy to report that Batanga has enjoyed a significant amount of success by growing the audience five fold in 12 months.
To be quite candid, the first few months, I was a bit of a deer in headlights. It was a world of new language and acronyms, a new currency of measurement, new roles, and an entrepreneurial environment that barely allowed me to keep my head above water. There were many moments that tested my mettle, but I am happy to say that those early challenges taught me a lot and have led to great successes. I spoke to my mentor often during this time and he guided me with two basic principles:
1. You must listen a ton and learn even more before you can truly begin to lead.
2. While there are many facets to great leadership, the ability to attract and inspire people in support of it are perhaps the most differentiating and enduring.
To that end, the accomplishment I am proudest of during this first year is, believe it or not, not our audience growth, but the team we have built. I said to anyone who would listen in my first week, “My goal at Batanga is to build a world class marketing organization!” It took some time to assemble but the complete team we have built not only within our four walls, but also with our agency partners, LatinWorks (to those of you that thought I was simply milking my agency search for PR value, it was too important a decision to not be thorough about the process.), the Alvarez Diaz Group, and KFM Advertising is one I would put up against anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Now that I am inside the digital space, I have to say that the most significant learning that I have had is that I don't know enough about this space and I can't learn it fast enough. Every time I think I am beginning to get a grasp of the space and its potential, a Facebook or a Perez Hilton comes along and revolutionizes the way we look at this space. I think those revolutions will continue to come at an even faster pace in the next two years. This is not a medium that will ever stop reinventing itself.
I have a newfound respect for my colleagues at agencies and clients that don't have this as their core piece of business and are trying to learn our space. To those folks, please keep asking us questions and learning about the space and continue to challenge all of us that are offering you opportunities to reach consumers through this space. To those that don't, you take this risk at your own peril, heed the warning that this medium is the future and you don't want to be the one left behind!
Please continue to try new things in this space in a smart way, but most importantly don't be afraid to take risks. The one advantage this medium has above all the others is that it is easy and inexpensive to test, see results, and adapt in real time. You don't have to wait until the end of a campaign to see whether or not it has worked. It is easy to continue to do things the way they have always been done with the partners you have always worked with, but this conservative approach may lead to small gains in the short term but likely will not lead to the type of long term brand growth that is expected in today's ROI world. Further, it will not allow the marketplace to innovate and grow.
No longer being the clear leader in the marketplace was one of my biggest adjustments. Clear and smart market leaders carry themselves a certain way and maintain focus on themselves rather than acknowledging a competitor nipping at their heels. My history has taught me that smart brands are very passionate about this point. To acknowledge a competitor is to give them credibility and focus attention on them. Batanga is making significant strides toward market leadership and will act like a leader. The application of this principle at Batanga will ensure that we will remain focused on OUR business and delivering great results to OUR clients.
As you can imagine, the words of Ray Kroc still are ingrained into my philosophy about acting like a leader, “If you are green you are growing, if you are ripe you are rotting.” Leaders never become complacent and lazy, they continue to find ways to innovate and become better because they are focused on self-improvement. Batanga's leadership in the digital space was most recently demonstrated by being the first major player in the Hispanic market to offer its clients the benefits of an ad network with our acquisition of Hispanoclick.
PS: If the folks at HispanicAd.com allow me to continue to share thoughts on our market through this bully pulpit, I will offer readers a candid perspective on our marketplace with a focus on the digital space. I look forward to being able to offer some perspective. As those of you that know me are very aware, I am quick to offer an opinion on most any topic. Please feel free to post comments here.