Mike Monroe is the Digital Strategy Manager for Vector Marketing & Cutco. Starting in 2000, he had a 10-year field career with Vector where he ultimately headed up the Southern New England Division. Today, he contributes to the company’s social media programs, public relations, and research & development of digital innovations like Vector’s online recruiting platform (APEX) and virtual demo. Mike graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Program at Boston College in 2003, as the valedictorian of his major. The most important part of his business education came from working with Vector Marketing, and he is passionate about building the company’s brand for the future.
Q&A WITH MIKE MONROE
Q: What first got you into this interest in Vector’s brand and reputation?
- For many of us, our first exposure to Vector’s brand, at my age, was when I told the first person, “Hey! I’m going to be selling knives.”
- We now get our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th dose of it from the internet.
- Ryan Trembler once told me something which I still remember today. He said, “I’m going to work at Vector Marketing until parents are as excited for their kids getting a knife job as they would if they came home and said, mom! dad! I’m working for IBM!”
- In 2008, I actually had a prominent leader in my organization create an anti-Mike Monroe and anti-Vector slam-site. Ever since then, especially getting into the digital realm, which happened shortly afterwards, reputation became a very, very integral thing for me.
Q: What is it that creates reputation? that creates brand?
- There are really 2 things. The obvious one we’ve always talked about in Vector is the idea experience equaling expectation.
- As a leader in Vector, there really is tension because we work with people that in general don’t know Cutco or selling Cutco. What we do is create expectation and belief.
- The 2nd thing is simply transparency and truth.
- I have a quote on my whiteboard in my office which says “to be influential, we must be believable. In order to be believable, we must be credible. In order to be credible, we need to tell the truth.”
- People don’t judge us by our intentions, they judge us by our behavior.
- Reputation is very reactive, it’s a lagging metric. It reacts to something and perpetuates it as either good or bad.
- if we want to create better reputation for the future, what we really need t do is create better outcomes in the present.
Q: If I’m a sales rep, manager or CSP, how important should the brand be to me?
- It should be important, but what’s most important and what Vector has always been about is trying to do right by people.
Q: Let’s go back to something you mentioned earlier about reputation being reactive. Why is it reactive or why does it have to be reactive?
- How you’re esteemed is the idea of lagging reality. We’re in a constant state of wanting to make the business better and better. The question is that in the reactive piece of reputation, where is the proactive piece?
- Our opportunity right now is to do something that will allow us to influence the narrative of our collective brand story, better than we’ve done before.
- The proactive reputation is the top of the funnel, the level of impressions. This is where reputation management happens. I define this level of impressions as anything that somebody can hear, see or catch.
- The less obvious way we can manufacture impressions is by asking people to share it.
- One of the challenging things of making content is distribution, to get it in front of the audience that needs to hear it.
- You can’t make content that puts your offering, brand or yourself at the center of it. You can’t be the star. You’re not the story at the impression level, you’re part of it.
Q: What can the average Vector manager or rep do to contribute to this area of nuanced content?
- The question is when and how can we come to the table as influencers, thought leaders, impressive business leaders or impressive young professionals, and make it clear that this knife side of things, this knife piece helped me get there.
- This is what I’d call the roadmap for content creators. First thing is position. I’d want somebody who’s about to launch content to clarify their message.
- 2nd thing is personality. Find 3 adjectives for their personality and use them as measuring sticks for all their content. Having a personality is all about staying in your lane and being who and what you’re meant to be.
- The 3rd thing is to answer the platform question. Where do you want to show up? If you’re going to put out content in the world, don’t pick a platform that will be painful.
- The 4th thing is pace. You’ve got to build the thing as a habit.
- The last thing is product. What are you putting out there?
Q: As you look into the future, what are you most excited about?
- I’m excited about what Ryan Trembler said. Someday when kids tell their parents I’m going to be selling knives, they will say nice job! I’m so proud of you!
- I really want to underscore why the Vector-Cutco brand should matter to anyone who’s listening.
- if you’re a Cutco rep, you certainly want people to have positive associations with the Cutco product that will help you with your sales.
- If you’re a manager, you certainly want people to associate with selling knives as something that’s a great job for young people to have and help with recruiting and retention.
- If you’re an alumni, I’d hope you want to have a positive association with Cutco because you feel good about what the company has done for you and the role it has played to get you where you are.
- Strategies I want to underscore. The idea of making sure we are setting the right expectations.
- How we handle mistakes is really a key thing, owning it, apologizing and make it right.
- Also, how we handle negativity. Sharing good stuff, whether it’s your own stuff or things you’re learning during the experience you have with the Vector business.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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