Len’s reputation as a Marketing Professor at McGill University was all about innovative thinking and careful planning. That seemed like a statement full of conflict, but when we reconnected, 15 years after I graduated, it was a formula that appealed to me and was totally suited to the challenges I had just taken on.
I had recently been asked to be global president of Wilson Sporting Goods. Wilson was a powerhouse brand in performance sports equipment. My charter was to make sure it continued to be, in the face of intense competitive pressures. At that time, at Wilson, you didn’t have to go far to look for opportunities….financially, operationally and strategically. One of those important opportunities was to overhaul, tighten, and refresh our communications approach….both internally, to rally our troops, and externally, to support our trade partners and touch the millions of consumers who trusted the Wilson brand.
I asked Len to join us to spearhead that effort. He provided good counsel and was a valuable personal “sounding board” as I developed our go forward plan. He had a positive impact on our messaging and even came up with a couple of powerful promotion ideas which gave us national publicity and goodwill at negligible cost.
With Len I got a well trained, widely experienced professional who was always looking for new and better solutions. He was also highly responsive and reliable. That’s a wonderful combination to have on any forward thinking team.
Your promotion event in Brussels to announce our takeover of the hotel there was an enormous success. The use of the team of St. Bernard dogs along with models to draw attention to our hotel and our ad campaign (“Swissôtel to the rescue”), was one of the most creative ideas I have ever seen.
The results were phenomenal, from a color picture in the local paper to the other publicity we received throughout Belgium and Europe. And the local awareness that was generated was better than I could have hoped for. I went to Brussels a week later, got in a taxi and asked for Swissôtel and he immediately knew where I meant; others have had similar experience, Those are the kinds of results we couldn’t buy with ad dollars.
The use of the dogs to be photographed with our clients at the opening reception was also a very successful concept. Our clients all have pictures of themselves with the dogs (and our hotel logo) sitting on their desks now.
Now I see why your company is called the Big Idea Company. This was a really big idea and it paid off for us big time. I hope we can work with you on similar events at our other hotels.
Barrocal, our ancestral estate is located on Lake Alqueva in the Alentejo. 780 hectares of vineyards, olive groves, wheat fields, pastured cattle, a traditional Portuguese Monte (estate village), even a large pre-historic monolith, evidence that people have inhabited this fertile land for thousands of years. Our intention is to develop a resort community integrated into traditional agrarian life of the estate.
I first met Len attending his all-day The Art of Strategic Marketing seminar for resort developers, in Lisbon. With case histories and anecdotes, Len took us through his unique approach to marketing for over five hours, analyzing insightful case studies regarding projects he had worked on. He covered a lot of ground, keeping the large audience engaged as he did so, emphasizing the importance of deeper market intelligence, sound strategic approach, and of course, “thinking big”.
Some months later I wanted confirmation that what we were planning at Barrocal was well grounded and achievable, so I invited Len to visit. We walked the land, the historic farm buildings, and went through the development plans. Later, at dinner, I asked for his candid critique, but I don’t think that was necessary as he speaks his mind, and makes good sense. He clearly liked what we were doing, and was confident there was a market for our product. He wisely saw that our timetable expectations might be too optimistic. In any event, we would be wise to prepare for that contingency. And, he suggested taking small achievable steps, pointing out that I could always press harder on the accelerator if things were going well. On the other hand having to apply the brakes during execution was often problematic. Len pointed out the most likely areas of running into trouble, based upon his experience with others.
For me, Len has been a knowledgeable and close counselor. I definitely recommend him to anyone interested in developing a unique approach to market strategy.
Len was one of my most influential professors at UVM. His innovative marketing strategy and planning course was a powerful experience for my early career. He framed marketing as a creative, iterative process, a fresh exciting departure from the textbook process that was the norm then. And, he thought BIG. The Bicentennial American flag project, the largest of its kind, was an inspiration to the nation and all of his students as we witnessed it come to life.
For 38 years I have been calling on Len to inject his unique creativity into leading brands and companies. First when I was a product manager at J&J, later at Atari where I was looking for new ways to attract the illusive young audience, for which Len delivered a brilliant idea.
When I went on to establish Pacific Marketing Group (PMG) as the largest independent marketing services agency, I often brought Len in on a consulting basis to generate big ideas and give our clients an edge. As I had hoped, he contributed to a number of client assignments, and new business presentations.
Later, as CEO of Netcentives, the leading internet loyalty company, immersed in the dot.com fever, one of my challenges was to inject experience and maturity. I brought Len on board for his disciplined approach to problem solving and to contribute his special brand of creativity.
More recently, as CEO of Healthline.com, I asked Len to help us better identify and leverage our user base, and to help us facilitate the user process in understanding and managing health information. Len had just pioneered a customer loyalty program for a large resort development company, a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. We were able to take advantage of that thinking and apply it to advantage in our industry.
Bottom line, Len pushes the envelope. He challenges conventional thinking with sound strategic insights and stimulates those he works with to greater creativity. That’s a combination everyone benefits from.
I first meet Len ten years ago. He was speaking at a Tourism conference in Barcelona. Our company was starting a big tourism/real estate project in a new, untraveled destination. Hearing Len´s unique approach to marketing convinced me we needed his help. A week later we had him flying to Portugal. We have been meeting here and over Skype ever since.
Len’s analysis, advice and “big idea” creativity have been reassuring and delightful. His clarity and wisdom have been the Holy Grail for our envisioning and strategic planning. He has provided invaluable counsel, especially where it counts most, at the critical early phases of product development. He helps everything fall into place, make perfect sense, the process sensible and fun.
Over the past year he has been helping us develop the strategy and brand book for EAU, our new water business appealing to environmentally conscious consumers. We are very pleased with the results.
This is not my typical recommendation. It is my expression of deepest gratitude for what Len has done for our business.
Boomerang Tool Company doesn’t want to remain a “small business.” As CEO, I am required to perform so many tasks, I often don’t know if we are on the right track in any given day, let alone our planned quarter! Enter Len Silverfine and the Big Idea Company.
I was introduced to Len by a friend, the CEO of a large company. I was intimidated at the prospect of revealing my ignorance and numerous shortcomings. Who wants to be exposed by an experienced executive when every day we have to look in the mirror and convince ourselves that we can compete on the big stage? Furthermore, I was certain we couldn’t afford the consultation let alone the execution of a new plan. My fears were not justified! Len has been a godsend to Boomerang Tool Company.
In 2008, Boomerang (as we affectionately call ourselves) set out to be a plier company. By 2011, we became a fishing tool company with a revolutionary product, The SNIP, that wasn’t even an idea when we started. Boomerang needed help to define itself and so did I. Len was gentle at first. A few hours later, we were ripping into our business with one goal in mind. Massive Success. The past year and a half has been exceedingly rewarding. With Len’s help, we have learned to focus, message and grow.
It is safe and supportive to share with Len. A quick meet-up in person or online will guide each of you in determining the value of going forward together. You’ll thank me later and perhaps one day you’ll see me on the water!