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!

 

 

 

 

If every SMB used a QUALIFIED marketing consultant there would be  a LOT less SMB’s but a LOT more successful corporations. If not, they’d either be large businesses, merged businesses or different businesses.

Small businesses are, far too often, stunted by the limited skills, incompetence, or timidness of the Owner, CEO, major shareholder.

Qualified Accountants, aggressive Sales executives, IT buffs, Workplace bullies, proud tradesman and rich kids can all end up owning or running a business. They are not bad people, and CAN be successful business managers, if they open their minds to, and receive, GOOD business advice.

Did you know advanced marketing training includes CORRECT responses to make for differing market and business conditions, and the Strategic directions and setting certain business circumstances and avoided in others is an area MOST people don’t assume falls under the responsibility of Marketing Management?

Big companies support heavyweight bureaucracy , sometime crippling politics, excessive salaries in top heavy management structures, and other IN-efficiencies of scale because they embrace productive business disciplines and scientific business principles.

SME’s are more likely to make decisions based on emotion, limited experience and education, the way they’ve always done it, or the cheapest option (likely to be the worst choice)…

Only advanced marketing professionals possess the balance of training and skills in the broad plethora of marketing disciplines, that include:

– Distribution Analysis & Strategy
– Buyer Behaviour Analysis
– B2B strategic methodology
– Marketing Accountability Analysis (ROI, Forecasting, Performance Assessment, Net Marketing Contribution)
– Marketing Communications theory specific to the unique factors of an individual business – rather than those that may be seen to have worked for other businesses
– Pricing Methods and Strategies
– SCIENTIFIC New Product Development
– Understanding of the factors that generate Sustainable Competitive Advantage
– Marketing planning >>> Resource planning >>> Management
– Brand equity, brand portfolio strategies, brand life cycle, etc.
– STP (Segmentation, Targeting, positioning)
– Innovation types, product types, life cycle types, gap analysis..
– The right use of digital, when analogue is still better, and how to maximize returns from both media options

…. and so much more!

The great Conundrum of Marketing is that decision-makers often know so little about the depth and breadth of Marketing, and self-proclaimed marketing experts who are perceived to be good at “Marketing” when their strategic skills are all but absent, far out-number those with REAL skills and true knowledge.

When leaders find the latter, and IF they listen, THAT is when a business prospers… A GOOD Strategic Marketing Consultant will more than pay for themselves (many times over) – that is HOW to recognize a good one, and that is why SMB’s/SME’s should search for and hold on to, a qualified strategic marketing consultant.

Better Sales from Marketing

Business people share a lust for sales. Great sales! Extraordinary sales! Record-breaking sales.

“How to get better sales” preoccupies them, drives them, absorbs them.  They pine for profitable sales, AND they crave sales that are as easy as possible.

Business turned to academia… Economics couldn’t

Economics couldn’t conjure up sales. Accounting couldn’t stimulate sales or forecast accurately. Finance couldn’t initiate faster, better or increased exchange…

So, from the insatiable hunger for ‘more’, NEED spawned the science of “Marketing”.

The Business Reason Behind “Marketing” as a Profession – How to Consistently Grow Profitable Sales?

In the 60’s , the discipline of modern-day “Marketing”, as a specialist profession, was really born. Out of the School of Economics, studies of true business successes were initiated when Industry said, “We want to find out why sales progress, and how to

Out of the School of Economics, studies of true business successes were initiated when Industry said, “We want to find out why sales progress, and how to re-produce these sales successes”.

Empirical academic studies and practical, industry-sponsored studies, quickly identified key models and concepts that became cornerstone to modern commercial success: Everyday tools to business strategists and marketing directors of successful companies around the world. A database of all the profit-making methods was even built, and maintained for over a decade (called “The ‘PIMS’ Database[1]”).

How to get best possible sales? Use appropriate marketing!

Sadly, many executives who are responsible for Sales, have built careers on – and only know – systems, routines and operational ways to get great sales… and, because there are many great sales people in most industries, these commonly shared methods undermine competitive advantage.

Generating extraordinary sales, record-breaking sales, and genuinely better sales, elude many., because what they THINK is Strategic Marketing is actually Tactical/Operational Marketing.

Strategic Marketing is the SUSTAINABLE path to profitable sales and growth, mostly evolving from planned and well-managed application of marketing science, marketing models and methods, complex and skilled permutations of advanced techniques, and marketing devices under-educated marketing consultants only wish they knew and understood.

Yes, there ARE exceptions: Dynamically Continuous Innovations and Discontinuous Innovations (which have recently been trendily described as “Disruptive Innovation”) but these will be short-lived without strategic marketing disciplines.

The Conundrum of Marketing

The Conundrum of Marketing is that few understand the breadth and depth of the discipline; the advent of the digital era has allowed  convincing sales people to twist and distort the meaning to their own advantage.

Lack of advanced understanding comes with lack of education. ANYONE who calls himself, or herself, a Marketing Professional, who hasn’t completed at least one full [dedicated] degree in Marketing, is far short of properly trained in strategic marketing.

However, they may be brilliant in Operational Marketing… so others, who are also ignorant of the extensive nature of the discipline, believe Operational Marketers to be competent and qualified in strategic marketing.

Operational Marketers, naïve of the knowledge that can be honed from strategic marketing training, themselves believe they have mastered their art.

They are like witch doctors completely unaware of modern medicine: They know what to do in a singular, unchanged environment, but are lost in new or unfamiliar circumstances.

This is how big, omni-potent businesses go bust.

In 1986, Fortune Magazine named Digital founder Ken Olsen, “America’s most successful entrepreneur”. He said there was ‘no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home’. OPERATIONAL thinking, not STRATEGIC.

In my earliest days I was guilty, myself, of a limited operational perspective and I have witnessed peers, friends, superiors, students, competitors, the most well-meaning and the most arrogant, ALL suffer the inevitable ignominy (and pain) of defeat, that could have been wholly and completed avoided if they’d only been empowered with strategic marketing skills.

Businesses don’t fail! Products don’t fail. It is PEOPLE who fail!

The evidence is around us … 90% of new products should NOT fail. 67% of businesses should not close within 10 years! Established businesses SHOULD be immortal.

In Australia alone, 44 business close down every day! A staggering 42% of business closed down 2003-7… BEFORE the GFC!

Product launches that fail. Businesses that close their doors. Corporations that lose millions. These are ALL symptoms of weak or missing Strategic Marketing.

To serve the global community and those who are willing to listen, I have penned a small book, to introduce those with an interest in sales growth, to the differences between operational and strategic Marketing.

IF you’re keen, you can download it from j.mp/ALLmktg or drop me a line & I’ll send you a copy.

———————

[1] Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies