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?

 

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.

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.

One of the profound things I learned after 13 years studying “Marketing” at Uni, from tutoring & lecturing in “Marketing” to MBA students and debating “Marketing” with my peers, is the commercial advantage of using academic knowledge that has meaning and relevance in the commercial environment.

FOR MARKETING CONSULTANTS

One of the things taught in higher Economics is that “super-normal” profits only comes to businesses that fall into the economic industry-classification of “Monopolies” or “Monopolistic Competition” (e.g. Oligopolies), while industries where competitors, existing in “Perfect Competition”, inevitably will not maintain long-term “super-normal” profits.

Likewise, in Strategic Marketing Industry Life Cycle Analysis, we KNOW that high margins and premium pricing is much more difficult in “Market Maturity” than in “Growth” and that all industries are likely to enter “Industry Shakeout” at early Maturity stage, primarily because it is more profitable to merge, than it is to grow organically.

Experts among us might shout “in professional services, price is a yardstick of quality” and “Price is in-elastic” but only when the service is heterogeneous in the mind of the buyer.

Product Management “Product Analysis” theory tells us that augmented product metamorphosises into actual product over time – in the case of Marketing Consulting this means clients expect Marketing Consultants to know more, deliver more, contribute more, be more…

History shows formidable marketing successes over the past 40 years have routinely originated by applying higher-level strategic marketing models, so are we NOT  being negligent in ignoring these rules in any marketing consulting business, and industry?

There is a saying, “Only a fool knows everything” that might convert to, “Everybody has something uniquely special they can contribute”… Even Philip Kotler said, “Marketing takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master”, although I’d debate this… I believe Marketing takes a lifetime to learn and is impossible for a single individual to “master”.

Why No Single Marketing Consultant Has ALL the Answers

Think about it… There are 8 “P’s” of Marketing… The 4 “P’s” that everyone (who does a basic business course) learns: Price, Product, Place & Promotion…. are the simplest, but even these  simple topics are complex and extensive.

For instance, JUST “Promotion” breaks down to:
1. Advertising,
2. Public Relations,
3. Sales Promotions, and
4. Personal Selling

… AND, that small subset called “ADVERTISING”, requires professional training in Mass media (Digital, TV, Radio, Print to name a few), direct marketing (CRO online, post, off-the-page, and others), web (YouTube, SEO, PPC, SEM, SMM, CRO, content)… each requiring creative, production, media buying and implementation skills…. coordinated with position, targeting, segmentation, buyer behaviour, buyer adoption stage… and 1001 other professional specializations.
… BUT PROMOTION ALSO INCLUDES Public Relations, Sales Promotions, and Personal Selling… which are all (if not more) as complex and arduous as advertising.

How can an Advertising Expert be a Marketing Expert?

Look at “PRODUCT”… there’s branding, portfolio management, new product development, market research management, packaging, product typing, product differentiation, product management… and on… There’s Boston Matrix, Ansoff Matrix, Brand Equity Management, the Product-Service continuum, levels of involvement, etc, etc and all these vary across 2-5 segments!!!

How can a Product Management Expert be a Marketing Expert?

“PLACE (Distribution)” and “PRICING” are even more complex and divergent… and that is before we move into PEOPLE, PROCESSES and so on…

… and then the synergy can be lost by silos that divide (and cannabalise) marketing efficiencies…

What Would Marketing Consultants Do (in Theory) to Maximise Their Value, their Efficiency & Their Profits?

The business world NEEDS to understand & adopt adopt the “Hierarchies of Marketing” – or some model like it – because, right now, the profession nurtures those who “don’t know how much they don’t know” as employers, naive of the depth and breadth of the discipline of “Marketing”, hire one person to be a jack of all trades instead of many that they should really recruit. (Feel free to request a copy of my [free] e-book, “The Four Faces of Marketing”.)

There is opportunity businesses to make HUGE bounds forward by NOT hiring a ‘gun’ Marketing Manager, for say $170,000 pa, but appointing a Marketing Consultancy for the same money and getting a team of leading experts who collaborate and delegate work to team member/s best qualified to deliver exceptionally good output.

There is a HUGE win/win here… the customer gets BETTER STRATEGIC MARKETING input, and generates better marketing OUTPUT, makes more money, re-invests more… and the marketing firm shares success accordingly.

The only ‘catch’ is the marketing consultancy HAS to deliver exceptional, extraordinary marketing… which no individual can possibly do.

My colleagues and I incorporated Launch Engineering 10 years ago and brought in the best possible minds we knew – in the key areas of Market Research, Information Management, Digital Implementation, and so on, but a small, boutique firm will always reach a flattened sales curve: The world isn’t quite beating a path to our firm’s door as much as we’d like. Why? Well there’s a host reasons that go beyond this post, albeit great strategists cannot yet be 100% brilliant in all operational marketing disciplines.

Should boutique marketing consultancies merge, or compete, and why?

If other marketing consultancies, reading this, see some merit to the points I’ve made, perhaps they would care to offer some feedback and comment… … and tell me, “Should boutique marketing consultancies merge or compete, and why?”

If you’ve read this far and want to delve deeper into Marketing “science”, PLEASE read (for free) about the Hierarchies of Marketing, and other marketing issues, in this e-book by downloading from this address…
http://bookboon.com/en/the-four-faces-of-marketing-ebook

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

Roger Corbett, who was CEO of Woolworths on its rise to co-domination of Australian retailing, warned that corporate arrogance was the most dangerous threat to Woolworths’ future.
Could he be right?
In March, 2009, post GFC, American business analysts came to the conclusion… “Today, we face corporate arrogance that is almost transcendent and vastly more damaging than any of organized labour’s excesses”.
All to frequently, enraged experts, frustrated by simply ‘bad calls’ of businesses that have suffered by not following great advice, vent blame on…. “arrogant executives who use corporate leverage to implement an “our way or the highway” mentality”.
Is Woolworths in danger? Many thought Ansett would last forever, that FAI was rock-solid, that One.Tel, supported by a marriage of Murdoch and Packer, must be invulnerable. Even Qantas, also accused of outrageous corporate arrogance, but thought immortal, teeters on becoming the Asian Kangaroo.
Having heard Roger Corbett speak, I am convinced where there is smoke, there is fire, and while Woolworths may see movement into hotels and poker machines as a sure bet, I have too often observed profitable companies disappear into the mire of management by conceit that gives credence to the old adage “pride cometh before a fall”.

How to make a Marketing Plan truly POWERFUL? G.R.A.I.S.E!

Many, many marketing plans are dust collectors – they get written, put on a shelf and forgotten – basically because they do NOT help management get “the job” done.

But a GOOD marketing plan… is actually an everyday tool that makes marketing management and achieving marketing objectives a reality!

So what turns a rubbish plan into a brilliant, key focus of business activity? G.R.A.I.S.E!

Grip: It is soaked in reality (not some fluffy piece of verbose jargon) and is achievable, executable and implementable.

Relevance: It means something to every participant. It helps them understand their function and do it to the best of their ability

Action Steps: Every strategy (how are we going to achieve the objective) is broken down to an Action Plan, with indivisible, individual tactics delegated to a specific person, whose job it is to see the tactic is done to a quantifiable measure including a time-constraint.

Interdependence: Every participating department can identify how each relies on each other for the organisation to achieve the objectives.

Simplicity: It can be read and understood by every person it involves

Exposure: Don’t follow the plan and everyone in the organisation will know who has stuffed up!

So, how do you write a GREAT marketing Pan?

For 100 years academic schools of business have been chasing this allusive goal. Sadly, as academics become more academic, and less commercial, their distance for reality increases. And few are privy to the inner sanctums of the world’s most successful, and discretely quiet about sharing their methods, marketing planners.

Fortunately, launch Engineering, a consultancy that only recruits senior consultants with 25+ years of commercial experience in marketing management that MUST include an outstanding individual success AND advanced marketing qualifications, has provided the answer.

It’s a marketing plan workbook, in Excel format, that works like a guide to writing relevant and appropriate marketing plans.

Better than a marketing planning template, and worth thousands due to its real, commercial value, it is available for a hands for of dollars at Marketing Planning Workbook

ANY marketing professional will look at it and go so what… UNTIL they use it… then they’ll go this is POWERFUL stuff!

One senior marketing executive with a leading Asian Telco, said, “This is so good, I’m introducing is as compulsory in our corporation as soon as I get back to the office!”

This Marketing Planning Template Workbook has been used by government, large national and international companies, and down to small FMCG manufacturers, banks, and even SME’s. Results have spanned 20% growth to over 100% in as little as 18 months.

So if you’re a marketing professional, of any description, you’d be wise to grab this very useful marketing planning tool for the next marketing plan you write. And see just how good it really is in helping write a great marketing plan.

Or if you just need the Marketing Communications Plan, Sales, Plan, or a simple Marketing Planning Template in Word format for SME, try… http://www.launchengineering.com/marketing-plan-templates.htm