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…

 

Product launches should never fail

Those who follow me, are aware that I ascertain new product launches should never fail.

Of course this follows from the fact that products don’t fail… businesses don’t fail… it is MANAGEMENT that fails to do its job properly, who truly fail.

How Do Executives Allow Product Launch Failures to Happen?

But is it their “fault”?

Perhaps modern-day executives are victims of the business education they have been fed, or the hype delivered by self-promoted NPD ‘experts’ who push flawed theory upon susceptible executives.

Models that are popular these days include the new product development wheel (which I admit to having taught, in the past, at postgraduate level myself) and the Stage Gate model (the NPD wheel re-packaged to seduce operational marketing folk with summarial simplicity)… BOTH limited and incomplete as management tools .

Given the limited delivery of academic acumen, it follows when Product Development teams are employed according to their knowledge of such tools, when business teams meet, committees are formed, and decisions are made they are made on the premise that these models are valid; its no wonder that product launches end up being risky, or unsuccessful.

Its kind of like a meeting of the the flat-earth society…. every decision that flows is built upon belief in a model that is simply flawed… so outcomes must be equally as flawed.

Methodology that starts with “idea generation” as Step One…. is dooming you to an 80% failure rate.

  • Idea Generation must FOLLOW discovery of market needs, wants, desires and aspirations.
  • Idea Generation must Be founded on Purpose, Mission and Vision.
  • Idea generation must contextual to the resources available to the organisation.
  • Idea Generation must to FOLLOW discovery of market needs, wants, desires and aspirations.

“That stifles creativity and innovation” cry the masses of self-proclaimed innovation & ideas experts (some of who are clever guys).

So might it be, but there ARE better ways paths to new product development for commercial success than the two mentioned above.

Anyone, globally, should bookmark & use http://www.prelaunchchecker.com to ‘test’ if your product launch idea has merit…

For folks in South East Asia, click this link to find out about my 2-day Product Development workshop this June in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can find out more by visiting, http://www.yf-asia.com/product-development-for-bullet-proof-product-launch/

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.

Some of my followers might recall that I lectured in Marketing Planning at UTS Graduate School of Business between 2003 and 2009.

Others might remember I have written Marketing Plans for national and international companies, many FMCG,  pharmaceutical and consumer durables, a plethora of other big, small & medium companies, both B2B and B2C.

I may have mentioned that I routinely travel to Asia to deliver commercial workshops on Marketing Planning to executives of large national and international companies.

Consequently, I have spent some time and effort to develop an approach to Marketing Planning that takes:

  1. the profit generating tools from academic Marketing Planning, and
  2. the commercial implementation and reality-checked truths of Marketing Planning in the business world,

… and merged and coordinated both, to put together a Marketing Planning workshop designed to help professional marketing and strategic planning executives write break-though, winning marketing plans.

I’m delivering this  richly empowering “how to” this coming February 17 and 18, in Sydney, so I’ve attached a link to a page where you can get a brochure and more info, and I’d be thrilled if you, others you think might benefit, or professional colleagues who could do with some finesse in Marketing Planning, could attend.

I trust that you will give this some serious thought and, if its not for you, pass it on to someone who you think could use the knowledge.

You’ll be able to download the brochure, find information and booking options at..
http://j.mp/KOmktgPlans

And please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the content, or any questions.

“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.

Bottom line? Business success is the power of an organisation to embrace and support “Marketing” – not the lay person’s understanding on the word, which is usually “advertising”, “selling” or synonymous with “promotion”… and not the common executives understanding that is vaguely of completely unaware of the Hierarchies of Marketing, but the true, holistic understanding of “Marketing” as the complete and disciplined skill set that coordinates and controls “the management of exchange”.

In the business world, inclusive of $20M per year corporate executives, powerful money managers, billionaire entrepreneurs and powerful motivational speakers, only a small percent truly understand the nature of Marketing and it extensive power.

“Marketing” permeates through organisational behaviour, financial management, production management, human resources, legal and compliance, logistics , I.T. and every other business discipline within commercial activity.

Experts, properly trained, in “Marketing” SHOULD be leading companies, or at least in positions of power within a Board of Directors… but too few people understand what “Marketing” is… what a “properly trained” marketing person has within their skills set, and MOST importantly, how hopelessly inept non-marketing trained executives can be a building strategic, long-term immortality into their organisations.

Every week, I see and speak to leaders of big companies who stare at me like confused goldfish when I tell them there is a better, more profitable way.

Their arrogance and their ignorance, (9 times out of 10) means their stumble on in the false belief they know better… while investors lose millions, trusting employees lose jobs, economies suffer sub-optimal economic benefits and waste pervades the commercial universe.

6000 staff are about the be needlessly laid off by Malaysian Airlines because their (operational) management can’t see a way out of their situation.

Telstra Australia loses at least 7% of it potential revenue because senior management wont listen to proven marketing theory.

An Australian leading health food company has troubled division because they have delegated strategic responsibility to operationally potent, but under trained, middle management.

Macquarie Bank arrogantly throws its weight around to strip money from assets when greater profits than they imagine lay hidden beneath the surface in the purest form of “success leads to arrogance leads to failure” stereo-type on the modern era.

This is all happening now while quiet achievers are doubling sales, increasing profits by 25%, scalping competitors in FMCG by as much as 5%, or launching a succession of products with no failures.

I’d love commentary from those that agree, AND from those that disagree AFTER they’ve taken time to read my free -e-book, available from j.mp/ALLmktg

Too many marketing strategists believe their own BS! Pricing Strategy, Communications strategy, Online Strategy, branding strategy etc. isn’t genius… it is obvious, common sense that evolves out of the fact that perfect knowledge leads to perfect decisions.

I’ve had an extraordinary number of commercial successes in my career, record-breaking ones… NOT because I am one bit smarter, more intuitive, have more street cunning or am unusually lucky, but because I persevered long enough in learning my trade to be able to recognise the one, inalienable truth of business: If you genuinely know what the customer wants and can give it to them, they WILL buy!

The absolute secret, of all extraordinary business success, is knowing the customer.

Is it REALLY that simple?

Whether it is the individual or the segment – yes!

There are so many examples of this across the internet, in each of our careers, recorded, diagnosed, studied and reported by academics around the world, and demonstrable in every case study and high return annual report… so why do we complicate and confuse, cloud and cover this fact?

Think about it…

Pricing Strategy: In particular Value-Based pricing? Know the customer!

Communications strategy: In particular advertising & positioning? Know the customer!

Retailing: In particular store layout, ranging, staffing, location? Know the customer!

Manufacturing: Everything from branding, sizing, packaging, new product development, distribution strategy? Know the customer!

Why is the business community in denial?

When FMCG hummed a merry tune, the industry habitually committed to segmentation studies annually… but as operational executives with corporate political skills rose in a culture of corporate arrogance, costs were cut to carve out larger profits, ignorant to the fact they were really blunting competitive advantage and digesting brand equity.

In adequately training marketing personnel, briefing and sustaining market research of questionable quality, undermined the payback from segmentation studies and other market research.

Over the years, the team at my firm has written strategy for transport, banks, FMCG, commodities, utilities, government that has generated record-breaking results, unimagined sales growth, and extraordinary profits… why? Simply better understanding of the customer – EVERY time!