Even by late-May’s standards, it was an unusually hot and humid day this week as a major contingent of the tech press gathered up in Mahwah, New Jersey at the weirdest looking Sheraton you’ve ever seen – more rocket ship than hotel. We were summoned to a press presentation by D&M Holdings that promised to be more significant than those in the past. Little did we know that the heat of the day was presaging the hot presentation that was the subject of our gathering!
After a pleasant, if somewhat warm and sticky luncheon by the Sheraton’s pool, it was time to get down to business. Moving to the 12th floor, we emerged from the elevators into D&M Holdings-land. But wait, the logo on that hallway sign looks different…what’s up with that?
Those attendees who were observant clearly noticed the different name on the signage as we entered a large hotel suite – a preview of coming attractions. The D&M PR person walked us down a sort of red carpet runway with the D&M staff all waiting for us along the ropes as if we were Hollywood royalty. It was a bit of a strange sensation…as we in the press are typically behind the scenes – not the ones featured on a red carpet.
Standing off in the wings was D&M’s CEO Jim Caudill who appeared to me to be slightly nervous as he waited for us all to get seated. And there…staring us in the face on either side of the presentation area was a large sign showing a dramatic new logo with a solid “D” and a wildly wavy “M.” What the heck is that all about???
Then things got quiet as a corporate video began playing on the screen…you know the typical corporate stuff featuring D&M CEO Jim Caudill. Still in the process of getting my camera and writing pad ready, I only slightly listened. Then the real-life Caudill stepped up in front of the group.
Caudill is younger that you might imagine. He also comes off as smart and articulate – and clearly commanded the attention of all in the room. And, at least for this presentation, he was quite animated as he spoke about the many changes taking place at D&M. In a move somewhat unusual for a CEO, Caudill started the presentation discussing marketing by announcing the D&M Holdings was no longer D&M Holdings. Now, it would be known as D+M Group.
Not only that, but the company would have an all-new logo. Caudill admitted to me later in a private interview that the logo was controversial within the company. Flat out, some people do not like it. But, as Caudill told the press, whether you like it or not – accept it for what it is, a signal of a significant new operating model for the company. It is a small change…with a big significance.
Caudill told the group that the world is changing, channels of distribution are changing, customers shopping preferences are changing as they are migrating to the Internet. Previously, D&M failed to recognize that in fact “things are changing.”
But, Caudill said, “Great companies reinvent themselves.”
Now, “a lot of things are different about D+M,” he proclaimed. The company will take new marketing approaches…including more effective globalization. Caudill said that the company is investing significant resources into emerging markets…like China.
Let go of my logo…
By changing their name to D+M Group, the company is signalling that they will no longer be completely independent business units or silos…but will operate as an organized and coordinated group. Previously, as D&M Holdings, the company operated as 7 independent businesses.
The company chose to change their logo as part of this new operating model. The new logo design, Caudill said is more modern and freshens up the brand. The curvaceous “M” is meant to signify an analog waveform, but in a colorful, artsy, and modern way.
No performance anxiety here…
Also new, the company has adopted a tagline: “Performance is Everything.” This is meant to signify not only their products and technology, but also their business operations and customer support.
Drawing upon his consumer packaged goods background, Caudill said he was surprised to find product packaged in dull brown craft boxes. The company will dramatically increase its marketing investment, including new, more colorful and exciting box designs.
D+M Group will globalize its marketing, Caudill said. “We will take a unified global approach” to marketing such that there is a consistent brand image…everywhere. The company will triple its marketing investment and roll out 70 new products this year, the CEO told reporters.
“We are now operating as a group, rather than independent companies,” Caudill reiterated. “This is a whole new approach…we’re engaging customers in a richer way than in the past.”
We’ve got the talent…
D+M has invested in a dynamic and largely new management team as part of the restructuring of the company. Not only that, but the company will employ more marketing research, both at the consumer as well as the trade level. The idea is to gain new insight to drive management initiatives.
“We really feel that we’ve got the talent to execute the plan,” Caudill enthused. “2011 was a challenging year for everybody, but we worked through it and achieved our goals. This is just the beginning.”
No more ‘business as usual’…
Then Caudill turned the presentation over to D+M Group’s new President of Sales and Marketing-Americas, Brian Poggi. Poggi wasted no time in throwing down the gauntlet.
“We’re not interested in ‘business as usual,” Poggi proclaimed. “We are on offense now.”
And with that, Poggi went on to explain that 2012 would see “a different approach” from the company, starting with an all-new product development philosophy. Amplifying a point made by Caudill, D+M Group will introduce 70 new products in 2012…products that will feature improvements in three primary areas: expanded connectivity, ease of use, and new categories.
Poggi went on to say that the company has significantly revised its sales force and distribution network. “One year ago, we had thirty-two rep organizations associated with our various brands,” Poggi said. “Today, we have eighteen…a simplified go-to-market strategy.”
Keeping its promises…
Poggi also told reporters that, as part of their upgraded marketing investment, the company has launched all-new customer outreach initiatives, end-user research, and upgraded its talent. As Poggi was talking, he pointed at a slide with the line: “New Talent, New Insight, Better Support.”
D+M, Poggi said, has also “leveled the playing field” for sales of D+M brands sold through brick and mortar retailers and sales through online dealers, thanks to the launching of its UAP or Unilateral Advertising Program.
“We are an organization that’s going to keep its promises,” Poggi told reporters.