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…

 

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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.

I wrote this book (see below) for different folks:

    • Business Leaders wanting to build an amazingly resilient business
    • Marketing Professionals
    • SEO Professionals
    • Management professionals
    • Wikipedia – who maintain a completely wrong definition of Marketing on their site but refuse to change it
    • People who think Wikipedia’s definition of Marketing is right

Download a FREE copy of my latest book – The Four Faces of Marketing http://bookboon.com/en/the-four-faces-of-marketing-ebook

Ideally, of all industries, TV SHOULD be one that embraces ‘marketing’ with a passion… not only to best understand their clients, but it SHOULD be their business to understand the element of PROMOTION, which they are key to supplying,12.5% to 25 % of the marketing mix, and, in B2C marketing, sometimes over 25% of total expenditure.

However, TV management has been systematically destroying itself by overtly breaching every possible concept within the arsenal of strategic marketing managers’ armaments.

Is it no wonder that Channel Ten (sometimes called the Simpsons repeat channel) can hardly raise a rating?

Is any EDUCATED business strategist surprised that Chanel Nine has turned, in panic, to mass retrenchments?

Is there damning evidence that ABC executives are actually surprised that ABC is finding itself higher placed in ratings than ever before?

What free to air TV management in Australia has done wrong is ample content for a three year full time marketing course – on “How not the embrace the knowledge and methods of proven strategic marketing management”.

This could NOT have come at a worse time for marketers, particularly FMCG marketers, who desperately need a spearhead promotional medium that can reach big grabs of population awareness in a single investment decision.

In the old days, when TV was content first and cost-cutting last, when imagination and creativity led content decisions instead of revenue grabs, “me-too-ism” and short-term snatchers of high profit, HUT (homes using Television) was at 98% and high ratings were challenging high 40’s.

Even the highest ratings now rarely enter the 30’s.

“Oh, it not TV executives” is the cry, “Its the Internet”. BULL! If TV executive shad embraced 1% of strategic marketing expertise they would have been able to undermine the Internet becoming a medium of choice for leisure time, and significantly reduce households from developing new habits, and from web sites seducing a reluctantly disenfranchised population. Even now, they could turn this enemy into an ally, if they gave countenance to marketing strategy.

What on earth justified undermining the cultural norm of Australians joining together for their 8:30pm Sunday movie? Who actually believes that relying on one quality content show will satisfy a remote-loving viewer for a week.

What purpose did de-regulation serve but the permit such offensive and disruptive proportions of advertising that people reached for their i-phones or lap tops for respite? What self-deceptive denial allowed TV management to allow this terminal policy to perpetuate?
Anyone with formal marketing training can easily see senior management of free to air TV has no understanding of consumer behaviour, rudimentary life-cycle theory, the Boston Matrix, or product portfolio management, of segmentation, of brand management, of targeting and positioning, of modified vs straight re-buy buying behaviour, of new product development, of trending, and certainly no idea of the concept of blue-ocean strategy.

So fatally and fanatically arrogant that they ‘know better’, the free to air TV industry will most likely be regarded in history as laughable as Ken Olson, president, chairman & founder-Digital Equipment Corp., 1977, who said… “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.

In theory, of course, FTA TV is saveable. But, in practice, it would take a ferociously focused and determined Board of Management, with the support of shareholders, cooperation of middle management and budget to match, to turn things around at this late stage.