The 18th Immutable Law of Marketing – The Path to Failure

November 26, 2014

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate them at your own risk”. (Reis, A., & Trout, J. – 1993)” still inspires debate, reflection and grounding among professional marketers.

In reality, it’s an empirically proven list of importance leadership tools for quality CEO’s to consider in the course of nurturing a business.

Entering my 40th year in business, I reflect more frequently on the absolute truth of Law 18, the Law of Success, that says, “Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.”

One quip about consulting goes, “The people who want your advice don’t need it and people who need your advice don’t want it.”

This is so true with my existing clients right now… the one’s that collaboratively share, and open their minds, grow profitably and consistently…

Looking back over my career (this is not about me, per se, but demonstrations of real outcomes)

It was a humble executive that asked my to derive a strategy 30 years ago that has delivered $250M p.a. in sales for a FMCG brand that his company had fail on launch. It was humility that opened the minds of a large transport company, so I could create strategy that allowed them to find $250M in profit that had alluded them for years.

It was a humble pharmaceutical Marketing Director that opened his mind to my interpretation of academic models that created a new product line in analgesics that has generated $320M of sales in the past 20 years.

On the other hand…

It was sheer corporate arrogance that has stopped Australia’s leading retailer from securing $400M increase in EBT per annum since 2007.

It was defiant arrogance that had a senior finance executive turn his back on me when I suggested I might be able to help his bank deal with troubled divisions, resulting in a 2.5% slump in share price as a result.

When I warned Australia’s Childcare chain, there were indicators that showed they needed my help, told me they didn’t need help… two years before they went bust… the same with Sydney’s oldest confectionery manufacturer.

A few years ago leading Singapore Corporation told me they knew it all and pursued a 6-Sigma project. It ended up costing them $750K and they generated a 0.5% increase in profits as a result. Comparatively, my firm took the same idea to a similar corporation (without arrogant executives) in Thailand, that cost them only $150,000 and generated a massive 22% increase in profit.

When asked, as a child, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I naively answered, “A time and efficiency expert”. In my earliest learning years, I studied for a decade and a half to just to empower myself with the kernel of understanding that needed to grow for another 15 years.

Only in the last decade have I grasped that the key is political finesse and diplomatic charisma, COMBINED with street scars and academic knowledge, but the Catch-22 is that a single individual cannot possess both charm and ability. Arrogance is a cross that some bare openly and others try to conceal and other, still, deny exists.

Leaders can develop a culture that can hamper arrogance, but arrogant leaders will nourish it. Yet is seems unavoidable. Perhaps it is the business circle of life… creating opportunity for new, fresh organisations to grow, while mega corporations choke to death on it?

I’d be interested to hear what others perceive regarding Law 18, please comment, particularly if you have answers to dealing with Corporate Arrogance.

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