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…

 

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!

The Objective of the following is to empower business leaders to achieve breakthrough, profitable sale growth: Here goes…

Understand What “Marketing” is

The first thing a CEO MUST do is recognize the definition of the word, “Marketing”… Believing that “Marketing” is simply the “1 ‘P’”, Marketing Communications, or “P=Promotions” … maintaining a perception that “Marketing “ is simply advertising, promotion, publicity and tricks , fluff and ‘smoke and mirrors’ or ‘sales support’, just locks CEO’s into a world of pain.

A CEO MUST understand that “Marketing” is actually the complete function of “managing exchange”… combining disciplines that include:

  • Quantitative methods
  • Market analysis
  • Consumer and buyer behaviour
  • Motivation leaning & either psychological skills
  • Pricing optimization and strategic management
  • Distribution and supply chain control & Management
  • Sales Process
  • People
  • Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning, AND
  • Internal Politics

Understand the Hierarchies of Marketing

It is sheer suicide to allow a person who has been in one industry, working there way “up” over the years, to rise to a Marketing Leadership role, without having secured tertiary or specialised STRATEGIC management education.

Why this has happened in Marketing, is abhorrent. But imagine, promoting a nurse to brain surgeon, because he or she worked in a hospital for 25 years?

Imagine, promoting a receptionist to Senior Tax Counsel because he or she worked for a tax account for 20 years?

Imagine, promoting the stewardess of a Qantas jet to head pilot, because she’s been flying for 30 years?

Its is MORE stupid to hand over strategic decisions for a business to someone who’s expertise has been buying print, organising photos, copy editing brochures, or drafting advertising schedules… sheer madness!!!

Understand Segmentation

A “market’ is nothing more that a corral of heterogeneous segments.

As soon as I hear naïve commentary that starts off with “All people want” or “Everyone wants…” I shudder!

As soon as you start treating your customers as cookie-cutter copies of each other, you have definitely, absolutely undermined your sales and profit opportunities.

As soon as you confuse your corporate identity from your branding, you are sunk!

McDonalds has limited itself by lacking strategic competence at this level. So has Telstra – big time! Woolworths (operational giants, strategic dwarfs) have no idea what they are missing. Even Apple, debatably excellent marketers, are cruising for a bruising… watch THEM decline if they don’t ‘get it’ soon!

Mars owns the global canned pet food market because is recognizes and rends to the existence of segments – you don’t maintain 85% market share for 30 years without a GOOD reason! But even the mighty can fall.

The Hurdle for Business

The issue is REAL Marketing has been defamed into an ancient art form by the self-interested opportunists of the operational strain… people without qualifications, who lack understanding and knowledge, always push people away who threaten their power.

Snake-oil sales people, with fast tongues and greedy motives will put down common sense to play on emotion and fear. Comedy and doubt, to feather their own nests and ANY cost.

The solution lays within the grasp of so any open minded CEO, COO of CMO

Leaders of organizations MUST be operational. They must know their businesses.

The opportunity costs is they cant have the strategic competence of those with different skill sets.

One of the best CMO’s I have met in years recently told ne he enters a meeting hoping he’ll be the least expert of all participants and that he’ll learn the most… but many business leaders perceive they know it all or should appear to know it all… with outcomes synonymous with the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

There are a significant number of strategically skilled consultants and experts across the globe who do understand strategic marketing in its complete sense, and who can contribute to decision making strategically.

GREAT CEO’s recognise their own weaknesses as well as their strengths. Greater one’s act decisively and do something about it.

Want some more insight? Download my free e-book, THE FOUR FACES OF MARKETING, here… http://j.mp/ALLmktg

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.

Are you betting everything, your future, your financial security, your professional reputation, your life savings… on your upcoming product launch?

You’re not the first to be going through this nerve-wracking experience.

Are you fearful of the disappointing, gut-wrenching possibility, no matter HOW unlikely, that having spent months (even years) creating and refining a product you believe will truly help people, finally offering it for sale, that it might gather dust when no one buys it?

Wouldn’t you feel better with some sort of safety check, or protection against making an error of judgement, to remove any possibility of a single but crucial, launch-ruining omission, that could turn your product launch from a triumphant success into the mistake of your life?

Its great that every thing looks hunky dory. I bet you’re sure you’ve considered all the issues… but, even if you are100% confident you couldn’t possibly have forgotten, overlooked, or failed to consider anything… Isn’t it worth just double-checking the plan that might change the very course of your life?

Then why not take five smart minutes and do a Pre-Launch assessment? It is a proven, valid tool that measures the factors known to have significant effect on the outcome of product launches. It exposes oversights. It reveals hidden issues. It identifies any shortcomings and it suggests possible improvements to your product launch plans so you nail success.

The executives of Launch Engineering, a marketing consultancy dedicated to the scientific application of marketing knowledge to product development & launch, have been developing, planning, marketing and launching new products and business concepts for over 35 years.

Now, they have digitised key findings into a simple online, do-it-yourself pre-launch analytical tool.., prelaunchchecker.com

Whether you’re trying to launch a new product for a big corporation, or a new business or even start from scratch, the unique pre-launch assessment gives you a disciplined, objective, academically sound, and commercially proven means of predicting your certainty of product launch success.

What makes the Pre launch evaluation so special is the sophisticated basis in which it was built… on the back of a huge University study that determined the key factors in successful product launch proven by then 40 years of commercial application. It is an unique method of making sure your product launch will be as successful as it possibly can, and a safety net that warns you before you launch a product that cannot succeed.

Let’s take a look at how the Pre-Launch Evaluation helps you identify and measure the variables so you make sure you have a winner, and launch it in the most optimal way…

The analysis addresses the key factors that are known to have a significant effect on the outcome of a product launch.

The scores that you give for each factor are than assessed according to the known significance, or value, of each and every key factor, so a mathematically generated performance indicator is produced to give an objective and non-emotional assessment of the likelihood of product launch success.

This final score definitively indicates probable product launch outcomes… AND has the bonus benefit of identifying the areas that need to be improved to improve the score and optimise the likely launch result.

Over the past 17 years Launch Engineering executives have used this method over and over again… and its NEVER failed!

To put it into perspective, its created breakthrough profits and income, and saved millions in avoidable losses.

Here, in more specific detail, is what this Pre-Launch Evaluation is all about:

* Works with any product category and industry type

* Identifies the significant factors while undistracted by issues of no or small relevance

* Presents a strong business case for investors or bean counters, cynics or worry-warts

* Assist effective marketing planning, particularly contingency planning as well as feedback and control.

* Fires off a warning cannon if the launch concept is faulty

* Based on the synergistic power of academic modelling AND commercial experience

Ready to get started? If you’re thinking it costs a fortune.. and that this is some sort of direct-marketing itch to squeeze you for money… its not!

In the contrary, it is a philanthropic attempt to save people from making boo-boos. Its our attempt the destroy the appalling failure rate of new products. We genuinely want to protect people’s lives, jobs, future, reputations, relationships and careers.

It ridiculous that the knowledge it there, and NOT offered to protect those many people who have lost their homes, their jobs, friends and family ties without the information that is available from a Pre-Launch Evaluation.

The reason we’ve digitised the Pre-Launch Evaluation is so people who are about to launch a new product and who desperately need it to work, people who cannot afford a failed launch, have a valid and useful safety fence.

Yes, its true our firm offers an advanced Pre-Launch Evaluation, where we send a crack team or senior consultants into a corporation to rake and study every facet and then develop a knockout marketing plan… but even the decision makers there can now see whether they NEED this, by first using the online DIY service.

If you want to dodge the product failure bullet, if you’re looking for peace of mind to confidently launch your big idea, if you want to glide through your launch with confidence, knowing that your dreams will soon be reality, then just check out prelaunchchecker.com.

If you’re serious about making your product launch a success, launching successfully and generating a real achievement that your peers and even your competitors will respect, you need to take action and get the odds on your side… If the fear of a failed product launch needs to be buried, or you just want to feel secure… you can resolve all concerns quickly, easily and efficiently.

At worst, you’ll sleep easier knowing your plans, hopes and aspirations will be a reality.

When you ‘nail’ a product launch, you’re everyone’s hero: Your suppliers revere you, your boss admires you, your bank manager congratulates you, and your staff worship you as you collect accolades for your marketing and entrepreneurial prowess…

(… Unfortunately, if you do fail, it the reverse.)

We want the success outcome for everyone, so spread the news and get everyone using the prelaunch checker evaluation from now on?

The direct link is prelaunchchecker.com… but you can also get to it from the launchengineering.com web site

  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 … http://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!