Author Archives: Steve McKee

A Humble Thought


The longer I’m in the business world the more I treasure the rare and refreshing virtue of humility. We’re all imperfect people, and marketing is an imperfect business where subjective decisions rule the day—unlike science, engineering and even accounting, there are no tenets of physics, mathematics or even generally accepted accounting principles that can definitively determine whether something is right or wrong, true or false, or will or will not work.

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If You Can't Innovate – Renovate!


Innovation is the lifeblood of any corporate growth strategy; companies that are content to stand still will be always passed by those who consistently think ahead. Yet innovation doesn’t always require mindbending, groundbreaking, out-of-the-box ideas. Sometimes innovations can come from simply making new connections or looking at things in a different light. Call them renovations. I was reminded of this ...

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Is Strategy Worth Your Time?


A recent piece in The Economist cites a study by Rajesh Chandy, a professor at the London Business School, who concluded that corporate leaders spend only three to four percent of their time thinking about long-term strategy. The rest of their days are filled with meetings, client calls, putting out fires and dealing with compliance issues, among other things. It ...

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When Cash Isn't King


In times of economic uncertainty, it’s wise to “store nuts”, as an entrepreneur friend of mine says. There’s no question that U.S. companies are doing just that, with nearly two trillion dollars in earnings sitting on the sidelines. But be careful. Commenting on the competing interests of management and shareholders, legendary value investor Benjamin Graham once said, “The more dubious ...

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A Painful Integrated Marketing Lesson


There’s never been a better time to be an amateur athlete, what with all the high tech, GPS-based gear out there that can entertain, advise, motivate, coach and track hikers, climbers, runners, cyclists and the like. That’s not as true, however, for swimmers. Admittedly, it’s a bit more difficult to use (not to mention strap on) electronic gadgets when your ...

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The Gap at GAP


Gap’s top designer, Patrick Robinson, may never go into a 7-11 again, having gone from promising hire in ’07 to out of a job in ‘11. As The Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Holmes recently reported, “[Robinson’s] departure after four years of lackluster results was yet another sign of Gap Inc.’s failure to breathe new life into its namesake brand, which ...

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It's a Great Time to be Stuck


Anybody who’s been in business for any length of time knows that, from a marketing standpoint, something fundamental has changed over the past few years. In an odd way, there has never been a better time to be a stalled, stuck or stale brand. Let me explain. In the old world – the world dominated by advertising – brands interrupted ...

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The Future is Past – Fast


Recently I attended a conference on new media at which one of the speakers cited the Men’s Health iPad app as “the future of publishing.” Everybody (including me) nodded, recognizing how well the magazine has adapted itself to the tablet platform. The app offers not only the ability to view the magazine as it appears in print, but additional features ...

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Will Groupon Become Irrelevant?


Groupon is hoping for a $20 billion valuation in its coming IPO. Yes, the company is growing fast, but as I wrote last month that its business model is suspect. And now, in addition to Amazon-backed Living Social, a host of niche competitors are nibbling at Groupon’s heels. More significantly, both Google and Facebook are getting into the online couponing ...

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