Those of us, formally trained in Strategic Planning, can distinguish between ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’. We also know how and when to alter strategy, the importance of monitoring the market, watching trends and being deeply aware of life cycle, segmentation, product categorization and other strategic marketing models that many business executives simply ‘glaze over’ to, whenever these topics are discussed.

It is clear that Apple has the best of the best operational folk money can buy, and an appalling lack of strategic nous.

This is demonstrated by two glaringly weak strategic activities:

  1. the regression to Type I (continuous) innovation in its new product development (phones & macs), and the debatable wisdom of its only recent Type II (dynamically continuous) innovation. (iWatch)
  2. Pricing Strategy that is devoid of strategy, ignorant of segmentation shifts, that clearly undermines Apple’s future and growth.

I’ll leave the nature of innovation to another day… but Apple’s PRICING STRATEGY is in dire straights!

Yes, price skimming and profit gouging works in certain circumstances, but even naive marketing graduates understand cascade down pricing strategy.

Apple MUST be shouting down commentary from within about ‘value-based’ pricing, about elasticity of demand, about market development theory, or even when confronted by competition analysis.

Some VERY WEAK senior management must be at the helm to maintain the strategies of last year, when it is in fact THIS year!

When you observe, “it has always worked this way, way change it”, or “If its not broken, don’t fix it” in the halls of power… you know the empire is crumbling.

But Apple’s Pricing Strategy right now is building a road for Apple to end up where it was in the mid 90’s…

Apple needs HUGE strategy, NOW!

SOMEONE, needs to go in and identify their true PRESENT capabilities, not past ones.

SOMEONE needs to REALLY grasp the needs and wants of TODAY’S market, and tomorrow’s market, not yesterday’s.

SOMEONE needs to align and engage the whole corporation with love and passion for NOW, not yesterday’s.

SOMEONE needs to bake some humility into the APPLE pie!

Think about this…

Apple has cost leadership strengths, economies of scale, and brand preference (marketing advantage) … Why the f^&* are they still price skimming when they could own the market by by pursuing price advantage?

Their insistence on maintaining their 20th century pricing policies, have created massive competition, made the industry easy for nee entrants, built sufficient margin for others to establish brand equity, and (effectively) brought on high competitive rivalry that didn’t need to be there!

I defy ANY APPLE EXECUTIVE to show me complete and hard evidence that their pricing strategy is nothing short of ludicrous in today’s market… and even if they COULD present a case, I’d probably challenge the validity of the research.

But, mark my words, if Apple maintains premium pricing you will see decay of market share, better and more potent competition, and Apple’s slow fading into insignificance and decline.

  1. The word “Marketing” is used as a synonym for selling, promotion, or marketing communications.
  2. Marketing and Sales are at odds… see each other as different departments or business units, exhibit power tussles and can be uncollaborative. Sales people are left to do all the selling.
  3. There s no Marketing qualified executive on the Board of Directors
  4. The CMO or head Marketing executive does NOT possess an MBA or actual Marketing degree.
  5. Marketing Planning is NOT a priority and routine in your organisation
  6. Client satisfaction levels are below 85%
  7. There is high animosity between the employees and management of the Company.
  8. Your brand actually disturbs a proportion of your market rather than attracts it.
  9. Trade partners and stakeholder hold you in low regard.
  10. Market share and/or profitability are falling or steady.

If any of these symptoms exist in YOUR Company, you AT LEAST should read and consider, “The Four Faces of Marketing”, free at …

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!

How to tell if you have a dud Marketing Manager

Over my career I’ve mixed with charismatic, aggressive, confident, cocky, ignorant, vain and completely incompetent executives with the word “Marketing” in their title and job description.

Contracted to recruit Marketing Directors by recruitment agencies that recognise their recruiting personnel are unable to identify the wheat from the chaff, I’ve even spent sometime meeting and interviewing senior marketing people for senior marketing roles.

And having lectured (part-time) in a Graduate School of Business for a few years, as well as other Schools of Business from time to time, delivered marketing training workshops to marketing management executives of major national and international companies, plus the occasional industry keynote, I’ve got a reasonable handle on the talent levels in my peer group.

Recruitment specialists will agree
This is no correlation between existing salary and competence of a marketing person. I’ve met true, inspirational starts paid a meager salary, and absolute deadwood overhead cretins on >$250K.

The bigger the company, the more the lack of strategic and scientific marketing knowledge and the more operational and administrative marketing knowledge, the problem with that is it needs to be the reverse, at senior levels.

The less skilled the Board of Management, the less likely the skills of the Chief Marketing Officer are to be at the elite level.

Measures that suggest you have a dud Marketing Manager
Just as a witch doctor can know medical problems beyond their experience, neither can an unqualified marketing manager… if your marketing executive doesn’t have a marketing degree, its just as dangerous as using a backyard surgeon.

If you want to test a marketing executive, ask them to define the word “marketing”. If they can’t do so in 25 words or less, in a way that really resonates and is profound, they’re ‘fluff and BS” marketing experts, not real ones.

If they can’t quote a guru, draft a marketing plan that actually comes to fruition, or guide the strategic direction of the business, they just aren’t up to the role.

And if they don’t quantitatively deliver more than they cost… you are simply sponsoring a snake-oil salesman as an unnecessary overhead.

Of course, operational knowledge is essential and readers wanting to consider a model for recruitment of ‘marketing’ personnel are urged to review the Hierarchies of Marketing at …

A few warning signs you have a dud marketing manager and weak marketing activity:
* The sales executives in your group think poorly of the marketing department
* The marketing executive has focussed on marketing promotions as a sole priority
* The first thing they do when they take on the job is change the logo.
* The last thing they do is study existing market research or demand new market research if there is none.
* The do anything before asking a LOT of questions and spending a LOT of time at coalface.
* The marketing qualification they purport to hold can’t be proven.

Finally, this is a cursory and summary perspective, and the conversation could go MUCH deeper… so add to the advice and leave a comment?

OK – where the hell is Mr. Dyson when you need him?

2 jobs I’d allocate to the inventive designer who re-thought the vacuum cleaner and designed a fan less fan are these:

1. A new fishing line: Lay-fishermen like me are already nodding their heads… reminiscing about tangled balls of fishing wire, that scene from “Something About Mary, with the fish hook” and the shudder of threat to deficit male egos when someone suggests fishing for a weekend activity. We need to dump long sticks that can create havoc when carried & stored, reels that no one really understands, and accidents waiting to happen with hooks. We need to solve the dilemma of adding/removing weight, and floats, and replacing hooks when those rocks eat ours for no apparent reason. It would also be helpful to see the fish taking a bite 🙂

2. Whipper-snipper, nylon wire edgers just NEVER seem to feed properly. It’s a hassle changing the wire, but the frequent break INSIDE the wire unit means frustrating stops for digging it out and starting again.

How do others feel – any other ideas for Mr. Dyson?

Has anyone seen the recent Cadbury ad, where a cow does a dance in front of the mirror? What an incredible misallocation of funds and how does Cadbury’s CEO stand the sight of his Marketing Director?

What a waste! If there were any accountability at Cadbury’s, we’d be seeing recruitment ads by now! Clearly this clown has no understanding of buyer readiness stages, the buyer adoption process, responsibilities when it comes to brand equity, the ability to read consumer behaviour, and about 1000 other marketing tools that he/she SHOULD understand. Surely, none of their consultants condoned this ad?

Further, the ad agency responsible should have resigned the account before letting their client make such a purposeless piece of communication.

Both parties should be ashamed of this TV campaign. Its ONLY claim to fame is it is a perfect example of how incompetence and absence of marketing communications talent can be so well displayed.

If I was a shareholder in Cadbury I’d be asking the whole Board to explain how such incompetence could possibly exist in the organisation, and what other levels of hidden incompetence exist.