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.

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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 two most common threats to big corporates can be ORGANISATIONAL and/or ENVIRONMENTAL.

 

As I’ve often said, “Companies don’t fail. Businesses don’t fail. Products don’t fail. Brands don’t fail… It is Leadership and Management that causes these to fail.”

 

In Woolworths case, their internal issues are their sheer refusal to believe that anyone outside their company knows anything worthwhile. It reminds me of the saying, “Only a fool knows everything” and Woollies, for all their admirable knowledge, expertise, and ability, are sailing 5º off course, right into the proverbial Titanic’s iceberg!

 

They stubbornly have refused the recent counsel of a previous CEO who has told the Board, that WOOLWORTHS has chronic “ABC Corporate Cancer” (a term coined by Warren Buffet that identifies the destructive combination of arrogance, complacency and bureaucracy). This is clearly observable when you consider their absence of strategic leadership in overcoming the long-running Coles Price war, their botched and re-botched Every-Day Reward loyalty programs, their high staff turnover in Marketing & Strategy personnel, and turnover of Chairman and CEO.

 

So THREAT No 1, the Denial in recognising the ORGANISATIONAL aspects of ABC, is sending WOOLWORTHS cascading towards disaster. They need to embrace a humility and adopt attitudinal shift to listening to and accepting external advice.

 

The often spruiked Einstein-quote of “Doing what you have always done, and expecting a different result is insanity”, might apply in the face of their diminishing success over the past 10 years.

 

Threat No 2 is an External One. WOOLWORTHS see Coles as their major competitor. While Coles struggles against WOOLWORTHS, Aldi is left to grow consistently at 7%+… Why can’t WOOLWORTHS see the writing on the wall, or at least the significance of this trend???

 

WOOLWORTHS (and Coles) have adopted the short-term, and brand corrosive pursuit of private label and house brands, at the expense of branded products. They have made enemies of FMCG companies that they should be partnering with to undo the generic attack on brand value. They should be encouraging brand equity development and new product development, and supporting brands in ways they never have than before.

 

Instead, they connive to squeeze what little is left in profits for their FMCG partners, forcing budgets dry, eliminating insights for NPD by research, or revenue for brand equity development.

 

So THREAT No 2, the Denial in recognising the ENVIRONMENTAL aspects of ABC, is undermining their own competitive advantage and market positioning, creating an industry and a market place that is becoming more willing to reject WOOLWORTHS as a preferred solution to its needs.

 

Inevitably, of course, the WOOLWORTHS Board will retire, fat on its Directors’ Fees. WOOLWORTHS senior executives will ‘migrate’ to other retail organisations, employed due to their position and political savvy, rather than their failure to save WOOLWORTHS, and WOOLWORTHS will become a company that older people “might remember”.

 

It the poor shareholders of WOOLWORTHS , the faithful investors who trusted the Board and senior executives, for whom I feel sorry; particularly when WOOLWORTHS could return to favour dominance and mega profits, by simply jumping form their self-imposed pedestal and holding cap in hand.

 

NB: WOOLWORTHS were offered a means of generating $400M is EBIT p.a. in 2007… and two senior executives individually approved the concept… but shuffles in management and politics… combined with insurmountable corporate arrogance quashed that concept regardless. Now they’re in trouble – go figure!

Both academically, and commercially, Pricing Strategy is poorly understood.

Pricing is not a skill that is commonly well taught or well implemented – either in Australia or globally.

Even many known and vocal “pricing experts” fail to deliver much more than Pricing “tactics” and implementation methods, pricing debate and model interpretation, rather than empowering you with key Pricing Strategy for senior management decision-making that creates enduring profits.

Which is why I am conducting my upcoming Pricing Strategy Workshops, one only B2C Pricing Workshop on August 21 & 22, and one only B2B Pricing Workshop on August 23 & 24, in Shanghai.

These workshops are genuinely SO IMPORTANT, particularly for CMO’s, Marketing Directors, CEO’s COO’s and aspiring corporate leaders. They are unlike Pricing workshops you may have been exposed to before… they are the connective tissue between pricing and corporate governance, and unless your pricing is perfect, you’ll hone real value by attending.

In these workshops, the key issues, methods and functions of strategic pricing will be addressed, so executives can confidently embrace and apply real pricing strategy and innovative pricing approaches that could revolutionise their businesses and create metamorphic improvement in profit outcomes.

With many Pricing Strategy “experts” focused on operational, rather than strategic, issues… Pricing Strategy has often be seen to be simplistic and “light-on”, often relegated to the Finance or Accounting department, or subject to pressure from sales-driven executives, eager to achieve volume budgets, at the cost of profit margin.

These workshops will turn that approach on its head and open your minds to new thought, perception and paths to success that might otherwise stay hidden indefinitely.

I’d urge anyone who has senior marketing responsibility to join me.

Why not download the brochure from…

for more detail or fire some questions at me in the comment section?

I haven’t delivered this type of workshop since 2014, and there’s fresh material as well as topic matter than inspired past attendees from companies like Nestle, Subway, Dell and others. In fact, a delegate to my last workshop, who now heads up the global management teams for supply chain, said, “Your Pricing Strategy workshop was one of the best marketing strategy workshops I have ever attended!”

There are already some interesting delegates booked in … why not come and add extra dimension and deal with YOUR pricing issues?

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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.