Why So Many Huge Companies are Floundering in the Digital Age.

I explain the detailed reasons “why” in my book, “The Four Faces of Marketing” which readers can download below… but summarily, Companies aren’t “good” or “bad” it’s their decision-making leaders that are the important variable!

In larger companies like P&G, Unilever & General Mills, those with operational skills are promoted to strategic positions where they simply don’t have the tools… they are smart, street wise and intuitive, convergent thinkers, but lacking in knowledge and missing the ability to think divergently… They’re like Nokia’s execs, believing, “We did everything right” when they are doing too much wrong… They’re performing “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” management routines… with extraordinary high salaries, and the major shareholders of similar ilk are blind to their shortcomings.

Until these Companies nurture balance in their “Hierarchies of Marketing” they’ll continue to flounder.

Old Warren Buffet really nailed the curse of Corporate Business when he coined the term, “Corporate Cancer” and identified his “ABC’s”… When companies exhibit Arrogance, Bureaucracy and Complacency, they’re either done for, or in for a LOT of pain!

If you’re keen to know more, get my book from http://j.mp/ALLmktg

confused business leaders

Many great executives lose sleep every night wondering “what am I doing wrong?”

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CEO evaluation, identify a good CEO

Is your CEO a Time-bomb?

They say, “Cream Rises to the Top”, and generally it does… rancid or not!

How can you determine if the CEO, leading the Company you have your life savings invested in, or who is the employer controlling your professional and financial future, or is the head of the organisation you’re counting on for your security… is adequate for the job?

 

Here’s some symptoms to look out for that are sure give-aways your CEO is NOT up to the job.

 

1. CEO gives employees, investors and stakeholders no idea of the Company’s Mission and Vision statements.

Particularly staff, but everyone who contributes to the business, should understand their “reason for getting out of bed in the morning”. Without direction, how can people apply initiative, work as a team, and contribute top “the cause”? The answer is they can’t, and frustration, boredom, and complacency prosper, becoming the “norm”. For customers, if you say a “the lowest cost air-travel possible, their expectations come in ‘line’ and less customer dissatisfaction & complaints follow, with less costs, less staff pressure, … etc. (you get the picture.)

When CEO’s arrogantly boast profits inherited or experienced due to incidental or fragile circumstances (usually circumstantial) you want to watch out for short term profits that don’t dissipate faster than they came.

 

2. The CEO doesn’t understand the Hierarchies of Marketing.

My favourite quote for this year is borrowed from David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, who said, “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people”.  He was expressing an understanding of STRATEGIC MARKETING, in a world where OPERATIONAL marketing people are the functional folk who manage our daily marketing activities.

If your CEO doesn’t intimately understand the Hierarchies of Marketing, he’ll be loading his team with operational people delivering clever tactics, but in the absence of a single holistic strategy. Business will be reactive not active, budgets will be way out, production shortfalls and overruns, desperate discounting and high pressure sales drives… pressure, pressure, pressure, cost, cost, cost… while R&D will be minimised, market research will be nominal or “postponed till next financial period, and so on.

In the words so Sun Tzu, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

 

3. The CEO doesn’t Thoroughly Understand that Ethical Options are a Huge Business Opportunity and Not the Problem

Social media, the internet and globalisation, and all the communication ramifications have changed the game… It is often said, “Those that don’t observe the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them” and history has proven – so often – that when the “masses” discover contempt from the “elite”, heads role!

There is no reason a corporation can prosper and be immortal… companies don’t fail, its leaders who fail to run them properly who fail.

People want ethics and need satisfaction… it is up to C-level executives to deliver and they will secure customer loyalty. What’s incredible is that innovation using creates blue-ocean opportunities, and companies that deliver always prosper even more so. Imagine if tobacco companies had self-controlled their greed and capitalised on customer goodwill and brand equity? Marlboro was the 7th most popular brand in the world – it COULD have spawned industries! Imagine if building industry had introduced an innovation to replace its asbestos voluntarily at any of the times points since 1918 when it was discovered to be dangerous. Ethical leadership could have created HUGE opportunity in every time this was ratified, in 1933, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1964. Ethical leadership would have led to R&D with something better/safer/ newer. They could have “upsold” and avoided the legacy of corporate criminality. Imagine if petrol companies hadn’t bought up and buried alternative energy patents decades ago when they wanted to protect their businesses… So many companies might still exist if their CEO’s had vision through an ethical high-road expressed in Corporate Values.

 

4. The CEO Takes Bonuses and High Salary Regardless of Company Performance

Any CEO who puts personal gain before their Company can’t be trusted to lead. If they don’t have “skin in the game”, a sense of balance, dedication to employees, customers and shareholders before themselves, a higher purpose than personal wealth, beware.

 

4. The CEO Doesn’t Intimately Understand the Importance of Balancing all the Elements of the Marketing Mix.

If your CEO perceives the word, ”Marketing”, to mean sales, selling, promotion, advertising, getting people to buy stuff, marketing communications , and doesn’t recognise the 8 “P’s” of Marketing… you’re doomed.

 

My firm surveyed every Australian IPO over 3 years during the 2000’s and found almost everyone, WITHOUT a Marketing qualification of the Board, experienced a less than issue price per share. EVERY company with Boards inclusive of a marketing qualified board member, had a higher than issue-price market value per share. Not one failure/collapse, was experienced by tertiary qualified marketing representation on the Board.

 

Remember, businesses don’t fail. Brands don’t fail. Products don’t fail… It is Managers, leaders, decision-makers who make wrong decisions who cause failure.

 

Why Do Businesses Stray from the Proven Path to Making Billions?

I recall the adage, “Not advertising is like kissing someone in the dark… YOU know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.”

Market research tells you:

  1. If there are any kissable people in the dark,
  2. How to find them,
  3. What sort of kiss they would like, and
  4. How likely you are to enjoy it.

It is so, so easy for big businesses to make billions… why don’t they?

If research can tell you EXACTLY how to achieve your business goals, why doesn’t EVERY business do it?

THE FIRST, OF TWO REASONS, is that bad research has a GIGO effect (garbage in, garbage out). With most executives undertrained in how to brief research, appraise and assess its implementation, and interpret the findings (properly) in concert with strategic marketing know-how, research can simply go to waste.

The second reason is (in Warren Buffet’s words) because of “Corporate Cancer”… where arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency, combined with operational micro-thinking, dilutes or discounts the demand for, and reverence towards, market research.

In the high-profit, high-growth days of B2C (FMCG and Consumer durables), research was conducted with finesse, expediency, discipline, regularity and concise interpretation.

Nowadays, few executives demonstrate any respect for, tight management of, or scientific approach to the art of research … and the results speak for themselves.

We can all probably name brands that are weaker versions of what they were, and trace it back to a departure from the disciplines of marketing strategy built upon good research.

Where is the once-dominant Sharp brand? How long can Nestle last, relying on its long-term cash-cows? How out of touch and behind is Kellogg’s? What happened to Spillers? Where’s Ampol? Grace Brothers? Criterion Furniture?

The Hurdles to the Billions

Remembering that products don’t fail, businesses don’t fail, brands don’t fail… it managers making bad decisions who fail… It is possible to remove the hurdles for failure by opening business leaders’ minds to more productive and proven methods: Commissioning and utilising market research!

In 1983/4 when My Dog had failed to launch successfully for Mars, their Product Manager asked me for help. All I did was read the research overnight, and it was clear the positioning for the re-launch had to be “for fussy eaters”: 33 years later My Dog has not made less than $250M annual sales… simply founded on good interpretation of good research.

In 1994, simply reviewing the research data for Mersyndol revealed that 95% of sales came from the 5% of heaviest analgesic users, but Mersyndol loyal users were forced to buy another brand to avoid drowsiness. In a 20-minute meeting, my identification of this and suggestion of a “Mersyndol Light”, led to the launch of Mersyndol Day-Strength, that has generated around $200M p.a for the past 23 years.

All those billions came from objective interpretation of quality market research.

IF companies REALLY want the Billions, bad research won’t ‘cut it’.

Interpretation without the synergy of understanding strategic marketing science also won’t ‘cut it’. (e.g. Brand adoption theory, innovation theory, brand equity, brand loyalty, involvement, BCG Matrix, and about 100 other key models.)

But, with good market research… well planned, well conducted, well interpreted, and well respected and followed… the path to billions is simply “finding out what people want and giving it to them”.

How easy it that? So why don’t or won’t business leaders do it?

I think it would be healthy and beneficial for anyone to share thoughts, perceptions experiences, and concerns… or just comment…

 

Digital self-promoters constantly claim the Internet has “changed the face of Marketing forever” and is a totally new, “game-changing” phenomenon. This is misleading and divisively untrue.

Yes, Marketing COMMUNICATIONS has changed… just as it did when the printing press was invented in the 1400’s, and offset printing in the 1800’s. Marketing COMMUNICATIONS also experienced varying aspects of change with the introduction of commercial radio around the start of the 20th century, and again in the mid-to-late 1920s when talking movies took off.

When TV took off, post WWII, a bold advertising industry also claimed, “TV has changed the face of Advertising forever and is a totally new, game-changing phenomenon”.

Sadly, business has regressed over the past 60+ years from understanding that ANY medium of communication is just that… a medium of communication. MANAGING MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS IS NOTMARKETING‘!

Too many “think-they-know-what-they’re-talking-about” snake-oil salespeople, touting their wares, have shortened, deliberately or in ignorance, the terminology, “Marketing Communications”, incorrectly using the word “Marketing” as a synonym.

Too many lawyers, accountants, administrators, salespeople, secretaries and other professionally trained business people have been dubbed “Marketing Manager” without proper training because they’ve had to take on decision-making about advertising and promotional issues. Decades later these folk believe they “know Marketing”.

Too many digital gurus are pushing their wagons and promoting their solutions as ‘marketing’ when they simply mean “promoting” or “selling”…  It appears if you say something over and over long enough, people start to believe it.

Some of us were shouted down in the 1980’s when the terminology “Direct Marketing” was coined… is was (if fact) direct response marketing communications, but the cowboys who rode the profit-scalping era found it easier to shortcut the expression.

From there, things went downhill to where…

  • “Content Marketing” is bandied about as an intelligent phrase when its literal meaning is absurd… the management of online information dispersion is not Marketing.
  • “Marketing Automation” is the expression used by providers of Marketing Communications Management automation.
  • “Social Media Marketing” is another misleading term meant to describe management of communication using social media.

But when you get loud and aggressive hawkers and canvassers of their own ‘batch’ of services they are pitching, anything that impresses the ignorant masses is worth using… so, the word “Marketing” so poorly understood by those outside the profession, becomes the victim.

The weak-kneed and ineffective academic community haven’t helped matter either. A LONG way from the strategic experts that were the heroes of the 60’s – 80’s, academics have evolved into pure theorists drilling down on niche specialist areas of focus, while lacking any commercial competency along the way.

TRUE MARKETING

Marketing has been, and always will be, management of exchange. It is primarily the pursuit of efficient and sustainable exchange management by simultaneously coordinating the elements of the marketing mix, being Product, Price, Promotion (Public relations, Personal selling, advertising and all other forms of promotion; digital or analog), Distribution, People, Processes and Positioning … contextually within the framework of controllable and uncontrollable factors such as PESTLEED and 5 Forces.

Marketing professionals are extensively educated in analysis and interpretation of industry, product, market, channel, supply and demand data, far beyond digital and online information data. Economics, behavioral science, mathematics, pure psychology, business management, financial management (budgeting, forecasting, cash flow, funding, sensitivity, etc, etc.), law AND technology are just some skills a professional marketer picks up in their training.

The Internet is a tool, nothing more

For me and those like me, decisions about investment in digital AND analog media are made from professional understanding of “Marketing”. Any other course of action is literally, the tail shaking the dog…. and should be avoided.

43 years of Marketing… And it struck me that I have been obsessed with perfection of application and implementation of marketing excellence for 40 of those years – holy hell!

To be fair, my blind faith in commercially-usable academic knowledge has been the major reason I have pulled off some record-breaking successes in my career… by simply taking proven marketing science and applying it.

So, it’s no wonder that my peers shake their heads in dour and reluctant tolerance to what we call the “dumbing down” of skills and knowledge in the world of Marketing.

In particular, we’ve seen an awful downward slide in the quality and output of market research… reviewing studies done for clients who should have known better, but didn’t.

Is it the client’s fault for not have the skills to be a discriminating buyer?

Is it the researchers’ fault for not setting a standard and mentoring their clients to understand the importance of asking the right people, the right questions, in the right way?

Is it the pure academics, devoid of commercial experience, who are to blame for not delivering the education necessary in marketing graduates?

Is it the academic institutions that should be kicked for appointing inappropriate teachers of marketing for the hundreds of students who are paying for, expecting but not getting, skills that will empower them in commercial marketing roles?

Where does it stop and who will stop it?

Applying some of the theories of Marketing, we might predict that the commercial world will ultimately reject the inferior products now being delivered by academia… forcing academic institutions to return to the belief that only working practitioners marketing can teach it,  which was the original springboard of Marketing into wide-spread fame.

In the meantime, the absence of properly trained Marketing strategists, and the substitution of operational trained under-educated executives TRYING to make prudent business decisions likely to leave many of them face-down in puddles of business problems that shouldn’t even exist.

Absolutely, and without exception, any business that has been successful, accumulated profits and held major market share, should NEVER, that is EVER, g broke, die, or even experience a failed product launch.

Only when management goes wrong, get arrogant, or complacent, of suffers belligerence and apathy borne of bureaucratic inefficiency, do organisations begin to struggle or worse.

And ONLY, when leaders are empowered with strategic marketing knowledge and input, as well as authority to act and utilise this knowledge, will market leaders stop going broke, losing to competitors, or make other terminal business management decisions.

The questions is three-fold:

  1. What proportion of executives are drowning in puddles?
  2. How many partially strategic executives are face-down in shallow water?
  3. And how nay are truly able to survive in the deep?

 

The Hierarchies of Marketing

 

Many of my followers enthusiastically support my Hierarchies of Marketing model that identifies the need to ‘balance’ Operational Marketing abilities in organisations with with Strategic knowledge.

The heterogeneous functions within the Marketing Profession

The heterogeneous functions within the Marketing Profession

The basic premise is someone who can lay bricks may not be a natural choice to evolve into the designer for a building like the Opera House: Despite years of experience and loads of confidence… he/she simply may not know how much he/she doesn’t know! (Likewise, a younger person who looks after Marketing Communications collateral and organises trade shows, may not be the best-trained executive to take over a higher, more strategic roles just because they’ve “been in marketing” for 15 years.)

Operational potency and prowess (knowing how the business works, inside-out) have long been respected in day-to-day management; while contemplated, educated and scientific input has been dismissed or resisted. Galileo’s scientific explanation that proposed the planets did not rotate around the earth, to Louis Pasteur suggesting milk processing to control harmful bacteria, are historical examples of OPERATIONAL people harming progress in their disregard for their ‘theoretical’ advisors.

History of Mismanagement Repeats Itself

It was operational leaders of Fairfax in the 2000’s who dismissed the threat of the internet: There operationally skilled CEO insisting that the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) would forever be the ONLY way consumers would find a job, buy real-estate, or a car!

The finance & banking industry listened to Operational folk and gagged the strategic advice of specialised theorists prior to (perhaps causing) the GFC of 2008.

Led by operationally cluey folk, the traditional retail brands in the retail fashion industry now sit on the brink of crippling demise!

IN the midst of retail collapse, success stories abound of those quick to take up online retailing gazumping their more powerful but less responsive competitors.

So many businesses are now still struggling to adopt to the online world… many fashion retailers burdened by traditional shops that drain overheads and exhaust working capital, while slick on-line fashion retailers guzzle down healthy loads of profit.

Poor Old Sampson

Sampson is an old school friend who was a natural entrepreneur at 14. It was Sam who organised our first school dance. It was Sam who, year one after leaving school, first made the newspapers for entrepreneurial excellence. It was Sam who bought the first Porsche (cash) before the rest of us turned 21. It was Sam who grew his business nationally with dozens of retail stores around the country…. It is now Sam who is bleeding a 6-figure, monthly loss. Trapped by faith in operational colleagues, and the smoke and mirrors of “good-time” (operationally skilled) consultants and peers, Sam dismisses the strategic counsel that could save his fortunes, slingshot him into new, winning business success, and eliminate his struggles to slow the bleeding and develop “me-too” systems to follow (too late) his internet-entrenched competitors.

Lack of Strategic Management Expertise is as Bad as Missing Operational Talent

When the opportunity of online retailing first became feasible, the future was so obvious for strategic folk, but so difficult to convince their operational counterparts, that some strategists “jumped the fence’ to try their hand at operational activities… with mixed results… that only encouraged operational leaders that these strategic opposites were wrong.

Regardless, the KEY POINT is that businesses short of strategic leadership (not tactical ideas guys, but properly trained and qualified strategy planners) are inevitably temporary business entities… they’ll survive, even prosper is ‘good times’, but fold like a deck of cards as soon as innovation (such as disruptive technology, economic change, socio-cultural metamorphosis, etc.) occurs.

Online Retailing as a Mandatory Channel of Distribution

Online Retailing, for MOST product categories and industries, has become a viable, if not mandatory, channel of distribution. Innovative businesses have already secured positioning and infrastructure to prosper.

Although innovative businesses have already secured positioning and infrastructure to prosper, traditional retailers can still profit from their understanding of operational issues by combining comprehensive strategic thought, to secure sustainable competitive advantage in online retailing… but only with open-mindedness and hunger to maintain and build existing retail businesses into ones that will persist in the future.

It means taking what you know, adding the proven, scientific tools of marketing strategists TO the new skills of digital promotional experts… AND THEN the traditional skills of advertising and promotions specialists, WITH the specific skills of qualified web development and IT gurus…

Summarily, opportunities for domination in online retailing still exist “SUBJECT TO” some factors

“First entrant advantage” has gone. Now, marketers need the formal, disciplined knowledge of TRAINED marketing strategists, who understand the plethora of market alternatives, and business dimensions, above and beyond buyer behaviour dynamics and 8P’s inter-relationships, to identify, build and nurture sustainable competitive advantage: Massive opportunities can erupt out of Type II (Dynamically Continuous) Innovation, but Type I (Continuous Innovation) will prove a hard battle!

21st Century Marketers must coordinate and/or integrate online and physical distribution channels: It is time for traditional retailers to pursue Blue-Ocean strategy and avoid the red-ocean tactics that no longer serve adequate return on investment.

 

Anyone wanting to discuss the above, other strategic issues, retail online generally, or Hierarchies of Marketing,  is welcome to respond … or visit http://bit.ly/OnlineRtlg

 

 

 

 

Product Development that Wins Overwhelming, Profitable Sales

It is a mad world we live in… so close to the wood, we rarely stand back and enjoy the trees, let alone the whole forest. In MARKETING terms, we’ve been distracted by Marketing Communications (with all the digital hype) and forgotten the other 7P’s of Marketing.

If you do recall proper Marketing Management, just for a second, you’ll recall that new markets arise daily, and new products that better satisfy the needs of market segments are the fast road to blue ocean sales, profits, market share, success, and return on shareholders’ funds and outstanding EBIT.

Product Development Delivers Competitive Edge

The operational focus in FMCG led them to discover that over 50% of profits come from products launched in the past 3 years.

Clever strategic marketing by banks has helped them reap millions in extra profits, without increasing transactions, simply by developing new products that better match the needs and wants of certain market segments, while better matching the capabilities and efficiencies of their organisations.

Product Development Is Getting More Sophisticated

As New Product Development consultants, we have seen a constant sophistication since we began 19 years ago!

It is time to share new and proven updates on New Product Development… changes in thinking, methods, adaptations.. as well as a reminder of the basic Laws of Exchange and the correct strategic directions and actions to take in certain, pre-set circumstances.

For instance, in just a few years, the Stage-Gate process for New Product Development has gone from academic indifference to usage by 80% of USA corporations!

Training Workshop on 2016 Issues, Techniques & Methods In New Product Development

Why not catch up, train some new executives, revitalise some old ones, and tune-up your whole Product Development team by attending my upcoming Product Development course in Kuala Lumpur this June?

You can download a brochure from this link , http://j.mp/kl16prodDEV

Feel free to post questions in the comments section so I can reply and with answers that may help others.

It would be GREAT to see you there!