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?

 

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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

 

 

 

 

When I was a boy, and asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?”, instead of saying fireman or policeman, I would say, “Be a time & efficiency expert”… having evolved into the quasi wish-come-true version of that, I find it enormously frustrating to watch, and doubly frustrating when my assistance is refused, because I can see the solutions, or alternatives, for businesses in trouble.

All around, I see businesses doing it tough, going bad, or just struggling. Other businesses appear to be raking in sales, but losing money through habitual and comfortable routine inefficiencies.

Sadly, bogus consultants, operational ‘experts who have failed to help’ and snake-oil sales folk, have all tarnished the promise of salvation, so these struggling companies – so close to the trees they can’t see the forest – struggle on… doing what they always do, and getting the results they have always gotten. 😦

Years ago, I came across research into how to stop a business bleeding, and how to turn it around, that is summarised below in 8 points…

  1. Accept you must do things differently
  2. Stop & plan: Work on the business, not in it
  3. Listen to your customer service & sales people
  4. Re-evaluate the capabilities of your advisors
  5. Listen to customers
  6. Study your closest competitors
  7. Milk every asset, call in every favour
  8. Move out of your comfort zone

But there are MANY ways to skin a cat.

I remember being served “Cuy” (cooked guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy) in Peru at the bottom of Machu Picchu…. Having just finished the trek and in celebratory mode, I recall eating regardless of the fact it looked and tasted like rat (and probably was).  The point is, that if you can identify a different market, and position a core product in a different context, you can satisfy new customers with old capabilities (even that pesky kitchen rat!).

THIS is a skill that is beyond operational thinking. It is the domain of power for creative strategists. and goes to the heart of most of the 8 points above.

When executives, who are struggling, say, “we have leading industry experts on our Board and they can’t do anything” or “I can’t afford consultant right now”… yet their inner voice tells them they are headed for doom, these 8 points may be the wake up call necessary.

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.

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.