Posts Tagged ‘Camille Morell’


One of the hardest things I had to do early in my marketing career was develop a compelling and unique value proposition for the group benefits plans offered by the insurance company where I worked.

In a price-sensitive, highly competitive market, we repeatedly asked ourselves how we could demonstrate and differentiate our solutions and services.

Our business strategy team agreed that when compared to our competitors’ capabilities, we offered superior customized solutions, outstanding customer service and integrated solutions.

My marketing colleagues and I decided that none of these capabilities could be used in our value proposition.  Not only were these capabilities becoming buzz words, but we realised also, that since benefits plans are tailored to the specific needs of our plan sponsor clients, customization was the expected norm as was outstanding customer service.  Furthermore, with clients using the services of multiple providers, it was also expected that our benefits administration systems should be interoperable and capable of being integrated with other systems.

We understood that to be meaningful, our value proposition had to speak to a critical customer need and had to be perceived as a bonus beyond the price paid for our solutions and services.

Multiple stakeholders.  Multiple motivations and priorities.

Staying away from buzzwords was hard enough.  What was even harder was crafting a compelling value proposition that worked for several stakeholders  – the benefits plan advisor who negotiated the best plan with the insurance company on behalf of the employer/plan sponsor client, the plan sponsor’s finance and human resources leadership teams, people managers and employees.

All of these stakeholders had different motivations and priorities.  Not all of them were decision-makers.  Some were influencers and others were the end-users.  All of them were going to be influenced by the value proposition at some point during the marketing, pre- and post-sales cycle.

Five steps to create a multi-stakeholder value proposition

Our marketing team did eventually define a compelling, overarching value proposition that worked really well for all stakeholders.  Here is a five-step process, which I believe can guide the development of a value proposition for multiple stakeholders –

  1. Identify stakeholders and their role in the purchase process
  2. Define the pain points/key issue, usually related to their mandate
  3. Identify the solution benefits each stakeholder requires
  4. Determine how value is created for each stakeholder
  5. Identify a common theme on how value is created for all stakeholders, develop a value proposition statement that reflects the theme and stands out from the competition.

The BIG picture – finding the common theme

Identifying how value is created for each stakeholder should always lead to a value proposition that is based on an overarching theme that resonates with all stakeholders and that can be expressed from several angles.  For example, “wellness” as the overarching theme can be expressed in terms of financial and physical wellness.  Financial wellness resonates with the CFO and benefits advisor, and physical wellness appeals to the CHRO and employees.

Focus on what’s important – finding the tipping point for each stakeholder

To bring the value proposition to life, it is important to identify the tipping point for each stakeholder audience, and then clearly state the way value is created without diluting the overarching value proposition.  For example, the CFO decision maker will almost certainly select the benefits plan that is affordable and contributes to financial success.  Therefore, in the marketing pitch to the CFO, the benefits and outcomes of the “wellness” value proposition should be explained in financial terms, demonstrating how investing in employee wellness will produce a positive ROI that translates to fewer or lower claims experience and higher workforce productivity.

A final word

In addition to using the 5-step approach outlined above, it’s important to bear in mind the following tips, when determining how to bring the value proposition to life –

  1. Understand the current and long-term bias of the organization – e.g. cost avoidance, risk management etc.
  2. Have the prospective client define what success looks like
  3. Build momentum through communication tactics targeting the decision-makers prior to the final sales pitch


See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.



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Although it was a cold day in winter, I had a warm and fuzzy feeling.  The CEO of the company where I worked pulled me aside during his annual Christmas meet and greet employee meeting, looked me straight in the face and said, “Thank you so much for all the great work you do for us, Camille.  We really value and appreciate your contribution.”  And for a few seconds after he said this, I felt as if I could have given the company back the bonus cheque I received a week earlier.  Personal recognition from the CEO was priceless.

So several years later, with most of them spent leading cross-functional teams and direct reports, I finally nailed down the real reasons why I entertained the absurd thought of refunding a hard-earned bonus cheque.

  • Essential alignment of personal values and corporate values

After a particularly unpleasant experience with a previous employer, I vowed never to work anywhere where management did not walk the talk of their corporate values.  More importantly, there should be no conflict between my core values of truth, integrity and respect and those of my employer.

Respect was listed among the company’s values.

Pulling me aside to say how much my contribution was valued was in my view, a genuine act of respect coming from the CEO, not just for my work, but for my personal and professional commitment to the success of the company.   I didn’t feel that he was being politically correct or doing his duty to be polite.

In later years when I did have to manage a department, I learned a very hard lesson.  If the personal values of a highly competent employee are not aligned with corporate values, the best designed bonus compensation plan is ineffective.

  • Personal recognition of a job well done is more impactful than a formal recognition program

The company had a formal recognition program, governed by a process of nomination and specific selection criteria.  Exceptional actions and contributions to special projects were recognized in the formal program.  The consistent delivery of good work was not.

Very often, the employee doing the most critical work is several steps away from the front line.  In my case, I was the one preparing the quotation and response to the request for proposal, and the data required for the finalist presentation.  This was my job.  My work was reviewed and approved through a long chain of command.  I felt honoured that the CEO had taken the time to find out who were the behind the scenes contributors.  His personal statement of appreciation meant more to me than seeing my name among the crowded list on the Recognition Program roster in the quarterly employee bulletin.

  • Fitting in & contributing to something larger than oneself

People need to feel that they are contributing to something larger than themselves, and that their contribution really makes a difference.  The CEO clearly made me feel that the company needed and valued my contribution.

Employee recognition and the employer brand

And this last point leads me, as a marketer, to make the connection between employee recognition and the employer brand.  The employer brand defines for employees, why the organization is a great place to work and sets expectations for employees’ experience throughout their career there.

Employee buy-in to the employer brand creates engagement, encourages discretionary effort and results in committed and outstanding performance, which is the basis for employee recognition programmes.  To be meaningful, the employer brand has to be brought to life, and if not, it remains an empty set of words.   

Bringing the employer brand to life is all about equipping employees to do their jobs with enthusiasm and building commitment to the company’s values.  To do this, I have three suggestions:

  1. Human Resources and Marketing should work together in the on-going management of the employer brand. When there are changes to business strategies, the employer brand must also be adjusted and communicated to employees.
  2. Business leaders and managers should commit to an on-going programme of internal, bi-directional communication activities so that employees understand the importance of the role they play in the success of the company.
  3. A mix of formal recognition programs and opportunities for leaders to give employees personal recognition goes a long way to motivate employees.


See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important



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Work Life Balance

Although I tried it for many years, I no longer believe in work/life balance, and here’s why –

The term work/life balance implies that there is work and then there are other things in life.  According to this way of thinking, finding the balance means that there has to be a trade-off.  In the end, one or the other suffers.

As someone who enjoys working hard, I do cherish time spent with my family and people I love, as well as volunteering and having my ‘down time.’   For many years, I tried unsuccessfully to find a balance between my work and all the other things I wanted to do in life.  Trying to fit in one hour of long distance running, preparing supper, spending quality time with my husband and family, working on communications plans for the two social activities I was involved in, working on my latest art project and then factoring in two hours commuting to an 8-hour day job… all left me tired, frazzled, overweight and unfulfilled.  Then I tried to cut down some of my social activities in pursuit of the ideal balance between work and the other things in my life.  I got the same result – not enough sleep, weight gain and frustration instead of fulfillment.

Then, one Saturday morning a few years ago, I woke up feeling tired.  I was overwhelmed when I read the uncompleted items on the previous week’s “to do” list that was running and ruining my life.  The reality check came when I tried to add another set of commitments for the coming week to the list of “to do’s.”

Realizing the impossibility of accomplishing all of the tasks, I had an honest dialogue with myself about what mattered most to me in my life at the time.   Instead of identifying specific actions, I considered what my priorities ought to be.  Here’s what I came up with –

  1. My spiritual well-being,
  2. My family and the people I love,
  3. Developing my talents and career and
  4. Serving other people.

Overarching all of these priorities was my health and well-being and the need for a holistic, balanced way of life.

What I realized was that if I stayed true to my priorities, I wasn’t making a choice between work and life.  My priorities covered every aspect of my life, of which work is only one component.

Since then, I have reframed my thinking about how I manage my time and energy.  Treating my priorities as assets and the hours in a day as a portfolio, I invest my time and efforts in activities that matter most while ensuring that my health and well-being are not compromised.  Since I’m most alert and productive in the early morning, I spend my first waking hours in meditation and getting ready to start my work day early, allowing for more time in the evening to spend time with my family and with people while being involved in social activities.  Then there are boundaries I set on the commitment and number of volunteering opportunities that I’m involved in.

It’s simple, but then again it’s not that simple.  Having it all is eventually possible.  It’s all about setting priorities and making choices that are appropriate at a given time in life.  As King Solomon stated, “For everything in life there is a time and a season.”  These are wise words to live by.

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

Visit my website www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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At the start of the New Year, marketers get busy. There is no shortage of advertisements promoting easy ways of losing weight and fitness centers offer discounted and affordable membership fees. Every book store has a collection of literature filled with articles and resources offering tips on better health, work-life balance and financial management – all with the aim of helping people stay on track with their New Year’s resolutions over the next twelve months.

It has been reported that the most common New Year’s resolutions relate to:
• Healthy lifestyle choices – weight loss, more exercise and better eating habits;
• Quitting a bad habit – smoking usually heads the list;
• Better work-life balance – to spend more time with family and on recreation;
• Getting finances in order; and
• Learning something new.

Behind these personal resolutions is the desire to achieve personal happiness and to have a better, balanced life. As most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in the workplace, our happiness and sense of personal well-being has to be impacted by our time spent on the job.

Creating a healthy environment in the workplace should be high on the list of priorities in every organization. The alignment of personal and organizational goals is a key indicator of positive employee engagement that translates into greater productivity and business success. As the leading management thinker, Peter Drucker, observed “A 10% increase of productivity would double the profits of most organizations.”

And although it is true that there are boundaries between personal and professional life choices, enlightened organizations and leaders are aware that programmes in the workplace that are supportive of their employees’ happiness and well-being are key ingredients in the mix of activities that support business success.

At the start of this New Year, consider setting New Year’s resolutions for your organization that support the alignment of personal and organizational goals of your employees.

Healthy lifestyle –
o Physical well-being promoted through structured physical exercise programs for employees
o Healthy and nutritious choices in cafeterias; and
o On-site medical assessments to identify early signs of chronic diseases.

Quitting a bad habit –
o Resources and tools that encourage employee engagement in their health and wellness.

Better work-life balance –
o Mental health and stress reduction practices like creating policies on the transmission of e-mail after business hours, and
o Enforcing vacation requiring that employees use vacation at least once every 12 months.

Getting finances in order –
o Partner with a pension plan provider or other financial services firm that offers on-line or otherwise easily accessible planning tools, financial planning seminars and easy ways of saving.
Learning –
o Leaders should coach employees and support their efforts to be even better workers and improve their skills. In this way they are likely to gain a greater sense that they are contributing to the company’s success.

Finally, employee happiness and well-being are impacted by workplace conflict. Some employees are more comfortable and accepting of conflict than others. However conflict in the workplace adversely affects team building and productivity.

Accessing resources to support conflict management, setting ground rules for team interaction and behaviour and creating an environment of open, respectful communication are some ways in which organizational leaders can support employees in their quest for personal and professional happiness.

In 2014, what’s your resolution to make your organization a great place in which to work?

This blog was posted on Yourworkplace.ca on 7 January 2014

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According to research by McKinsey & Company, about 70% of all organizational changes fail. Often, such failures are blamed on staff or on external constraints, such as cost, workload and legislation. Some say that it’s the fault of executives and middle managers who resist change to protect their areas of influence. Others cite the lack of clarity and misalignment of goals, objectives and commitment to change objectives.

One thing is for sure; it’s not the employees on the floor who cause change to fail. Front-line employees and those without management functions are not the ones who have a responsibility to manage change. That job rests squarely on the shoulders of the leadership team.

The underlying reasons for failed organizational change all relate to the lack of clarity and consensus particularly around fundamental corporate definitions. When you ask the questions, “What’s the corporate strategy? What does our brand stand for? What’s our mission?” you undoubtedly will get different answers from what is written on paper with the explanation from employees that what’s on paper is not what is experienced on a daily basis.

What can we do about this?

The lack of clarity and consensus is often the result of corporate silos—teams of people working on different priorities and having differing understandings of the corporate mission, vision, strategy and brand. They work separately, siloed in their areas of expertise, which doesn’t lend itself to a unified push in the same direction towards the desired organizational change and transformation. Consider the following:

A company wants to introduce new products that target an expanded clientele including customer segments that differ from its current customer base. To deliver the new products and serve the new customer segment, the company needs to recruit new employees skills that differ from the current employee base.

This scenario will impact the corporate culture, the corporate brand and the employer brand, and effort will need to be expended to ensure that current employees navigate the organizational changes, remain engaged and are retained.

The responsibilities and accountabilities for the development and management of the corporate culture, employer brand and corporate brand reside in different departments. HR is responsible for recruitment. Brand and company reputation are key factors in attracting and retaining talent, but HR does not control company reputation, external perceptions and image or the value of the corporate brand. People are the key factor in delivering the brand’s promise to customers, but marketing doesn’t control employees’ understanding of the brand, living brand values and delivering on the brand promise. Line managers are responsible for managing employees and steering them through change, and also for making recommendations for budgets and other resource requirements to effect change. But it’s the CFO who approves the budget and is responsible for assessing the impact of costs on the bottom line.

What’s the solution?

What really ought to happen is that HR, marketing and all other departments—sales, customer service, finance—should be working together to develop a fully integrated and aligned employee and customer experience that reflects the change that the organization is trying to implement. This can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Build consensus and executive buy-in. Agree on the objectives of the desired change and related impacts on the definitions of the corporate mission, vision, strategy and brand. This requires a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary approach. All executives must be involved.
  • Involve people in the change process. A good example is Meals on Wheels in the USA. Budget was approved for the purchase of special software to manage an expanded volunteer base, meal distribution and accounting. It was staff that helped bring each other up to speed on the new software that made the change effective.
  • Sponsorship in the form of an executive leader who will champion change and send a clear message that management is serious and supportive of change.
  • Transparent communication first – Make a compelling case for change at all levels of the organization. Clearly define what change and success will look like and the benefits to all stakeholders.
  • A well-planned and organized approach – Organization and planning always contribute to success. The plan should include actions to anticipate and address resistance to change.

This blog was written for YourWorkplace and published on 30 January 2013.

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