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Ed Burghard: Marketing Authority and Determined Competitor

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Ed Burghard took the first step in his journey towards marketing excellence in a rather unusual and unprecedented manner. It occurred when he made a proposal that he knew might result in the loss of his own job.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in theoretical mathematics and driving more than three hours at night, while working full time, to obtain his MBA, Burghard worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Norwich Eaton. As manager of operations, Burghard assisted the marketing department with computer simulation models for volume forecasting, which initially piqued his interest in marketing.

“For me, the concept of brand building was appealing. I viewed the entire process as a multivariate model with generally predictable outcomes, given sufficient insight into buyer behavior. It also appealed to my personal sense of competitiveness. I hate losing, and marketing appeared to be a career path where I could compete head to head and test my skills,” Burghard said. In 1982, Norwich Eaton was acquired by Procter & Gamble (P&G), whereupon Burghard was given an assignment that would forever change the direction of his career.

Norwich Eaton employees were asked to evaluate Norwich Eaton departments and missions in relation to the corporate structure utilized by Procter & Gamble. After the completion of the three-month research period, each individual was required to present his or her recommendations to the director of marketing. Burghard told the director that the sales component of his current department should be redistributed to sales administration, with support for computer simulations to be obtained as necessary from company headquarters.

“As soon as I finished my recommendation, and he [the director of marketing] accepted it, he turned to me and said, ‘Well, now what do you plan to do since you’ve talked yourself out of a job?’ And I said, ‘I plan to work for you in marketing.’ I explained my background and my passion to him, and I got my start as a brand assistant in the P&G company,” Burghard explained.

After that unique beginning, Burghard rapidly ascended the P&G ranks. This is best demonstrated by the fact that Burghard was designated a Harley Procter Marketer in 1999. According to Burghard, this is a competitive lifetime appointment from Procter & Gamble that is bestowed by the CEO and CMO on individuals within the corporation who possess acknowledged mastery of the craft, have built brands, and can teach others to do the same. Burghard is currently only one of 12 active Harley Procter Marketers worldwide.

Q. What was the last CD you listened to?
A. Eric Clapton's Unplugged (Malted Milk, Before You Accuse Me, and Tears in Heaven). I also listen to Chicago, Bread, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles.
Q. Throughout your lifetime, what movie have you watched the most?
A. The Replacements with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. When Keanu comes back to lead the team to victory, I still get misty eyed. I also love Rudy, Hoosiers, and Remember the Titans. Movies where the underdog wins over seemingly insurmountable odds inspire me.
Q. What was the last book you read?
A. Story Telling: Branding in Practice by Klaus Fog, Christian Budtz, and Baris Yakaboylu. Before that, I reread The Brand You 50 by Tom Peters and Marketing Places by Philip Kotler. On a video front, I'd highly recommend The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. My long-term read is the multi-volume World of Mathematics. I am making slow progress though.
Q. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
A. I actually prefer gelato. I'm a sucker for almond flavored or pistachio.
Q. If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you spend it doing?
A. Photography. It is my artistic passion.

In addition to being a Harley Procter Marketer, Burghard, an executive on loan from P&G, is currently executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition (OBDC). Burghard’s overarching responsibility in this capacity is to “build a globally competitive brand that will enable Ohio to compete for an increased level of capital investment.”

Burghard believes that in order to achieve this goal, the organization must manage its efforts with the notion that “a brand is a promise.” This means that potential consumers have specific expectations regarding what their experiences will be like if they choose to invest in Ohio. Consequently, it is vital that the OBDC ensures that the promise continues to be relevant and authentic. If the organization is able to accomplish this, Burghard believes that the organization will eventually become a crucial factor in Ohio’s economic development.

One of the biggest challenges to realizing this, though, corresponds to the discipline’s current development and application, particularly on a global scale. “Europe is at least a decade ahead of the U.S. [in terms of place branding] and, as a consequence, better equipped to compete in the global-capital investment market. Brand America is declining, and we will soon be facing a crisis in our ability to compete with the EU and emerging Asian countries, notably China and India,” Burghard explained.

Competition is a reoccurring theme for Burghard and is directly related to Burghard’s disdain for losing. “I’m always leery of marketers who feel that second place is acceptable. That doesn’t mean that on every occasion a marketer is going to win…but if you accept losing, then I think it takes a little bit of the edge off of your desire to figure out how to improve your product or service to better meet the needs of consumers.”

The idea that better meeting the needs of consumers is key is one that Burghard’s mentor, AG Lafley, continually reinforces. “AG Lafley’s focus on the consumer as boss has helped me keep focused on what matters most in branding-delivering an experience that delights the consumer,” he said.

Burghard believes that mentorship and education are both vital to a marketer because, above all else, this is a field where what you know directly impacts how successful you can be. “I believe you are always an apprentice in this journey of branding mastery. It is important to be a voracious learner. If you truly love the craft, it isn’t hard.” And he is quick to point out that you increase your pool of knowledge not only by being taught by others, but also by teaching what you know.

With that, Burghard offered this advice to anyone hoping to pursue a career in the marketing field. “Don’t settle for mediocrity. There are too many mediocre marketers in our profession, and the world doesn’t need another. Get committed to becoming one of the best, or choose a different path. Never settle for second place.”
On the net:Ohio Business Development Coalition

Procter & Gamble

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