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!

In the zenith of the years of excellence in advertising and marketing, the seller controlled the balance of power.

Taking the empirical science of “Marketing” revealed by diligent and breakthrough academic work, with open and dedicated support from industry, sellers were industrious about applying the newly discovered “Marketing Concept” – finding out what consumers wanted and delivering the combination of those wants to accurately identified market segments.

Those were the days were a segmentation study was an annual necessity, trend analysis was a routine discipline, conjoint analysis, decision tree analysis, qualitative and quantitative research were in balance and strategic marketing tools were respected and followed.

Now, in the years I consider the nadir of “Marketing”, the word “Marketing” is more often misunderstood than understood. It is rare to find someone who has conducted a segmentation study in the past seven years, and if they have. it is unlikely the research conducted can be, or is, compared to that of the past… so trends are hidden and management is uninformed.

Branding is confused with image, artwork, and name. Brand equity is not measured or considered in context, considered in brand portfolio planning (if that even exists) or future product design and planned innovation.

Consumers are left in a vacuum-like netherworld of me-too brands, and categories filled with homogenous offerings. They are thrown little to make judgement upon, with advertising drowning in the depths of weak marketing leadership from clients and vague briefs that offer no focus or direction.

Left to their own agenda, advertising agencies are forced to deliver anything they can, from gimmicks to creative excellence in advertising, which may or may not spark some level of unsustainable brand equity, only to be admonished by their clients when things ultimately go wrong.

Consumers are disarmed from having passion for their favourite brands… often helped by cost-cutting of those who should be the brand ambassadors, but fall victim to the inevitable urge to extend a brand, or worse, alter the product in such a way as to undermine it.
Abandoned by the brands they once loved, the consumer delegates their weary preferences to the household shopper, who is less involved in brand loyalty and more inclined to economic enticements.

Nowadays, caught in the vice-like grip of 50% off, or buy BOGOF, the preferred brand is dismissed as of secondary importance, and price-led brand switching, convenient shelf position, or accidental or ambivalent alternative brand selection, has become acceptable.

Responding in the most destructive of all ways, national brands who cost cut, abandon brand equity building, restrain innovation, decrease market research, and have, and continue to, lay a path to destruction: Fertilising the ground for the onset of premium house brands and private label brands that will choke the life our of the diminishing brand loyalty that marketers have allowed to proliferate over the past 20 years.

The question is, “Is this a ‘swings and roundabouts’ scenario?”

Will ‘Marketing’ skills and talent regain popularity and rebuild a world of heterogeneous and loved brands or has the era of beloved brands passed away?

I’d love to see innovative and profound marketing management rise again, mainly because I love the craft and believe the power and the responsibility that goes with it belongs solely to the seller.

It is easy to lose a fight when you are more willing give up than to employ some self defence and fighting skills.

The academic study of Marketing was initially undertaken to make business decision-making easy… and it worked! Marketing decisions that religiously, if not fanatically, followed the technical revelations of academic marketing teachings, have worked, and worked, and worked.
In my career, every single marketing plan based upon the teachings of my studies, and implemented accordingly, has “hit-the-ball-out-of-the-park”, so to speak.
In my 3rd year at Uni, a recent graduate guest lectured on the launch of Moove & & Good One in the 70’s, explaining how they simply applied text-book marketing theory and would up with the most successful marketing outcome in the history of milk marketing. It was text-book theory that was used to save and re-launch My Dog & in the 80’s.
With reverence to the KISS principle, after 13 years of studying marketing, 38 years of applying it, 7 years of teaching marketing at University, I can confidently suggest that the core to successful marketing comes from knowing the segments in the market place and targeting and positioning to attract preferred segments.
So, with segmentation being the virtual “road to riches”, you would think all marketing executives would scramble for any segmentation market research above all else, and covert the opportunity to get as much as possible to empower them and simplify their whole function.
Alas, few good marketers stand in the ranks of business, and many of these are constrained by superiors whose limitations create the black holes into which fall opportunity and money.
Reality slapped me in teh face recently, when my firm decided to systemise a method of empowering clients with segmenatation knwoledge, and offfered a promotion… 2 (ideally sequential, not mandatory) segmentation studies, worth around $160,000 for just $60,000 – with an $11,000 social media marketing promotion thrown in. This offer was sent to a select 60 key individuals I know needed a market segmentation study.
Can you guess the response?
Now these guys KNOW that “the segmentation studies they get now” – are likely (at best) to be performed by the guys that taught market research to their current suppliers of market research, so its not a matter of quality.
Loyalty? OK… is that loyalty well advise in the light of the best interests of shareholders? Is it in their own best interests to miss out on more frequent, timely and recent information? Given that fresh segmentation information could make the difference between growth or deletion, between profit and loss, between market dominance and market share erosion, wouldn’t it be worth the effort?
To a great marketer – this would be a great opportunity… there are just too few of them about.

What is the Marketing Concept? What is the basis of all marketing management?

Is it not meet the customers’ needs with available resources?

Is pushing an imperfect satisfaction of needs, via advertising, personal selling, tricky copy and negative options, give-aways and incentives, going to imbed success in a brand?

Is a badly thought-out product or brand extension, timed well or not, a failure because of insufficient advertising?

Not necessarily.

Looking at the purpose of a marketing expert’s being: For all exponents of the marketing profession, there is one focus… The needs and wants of the markets (or the targeted segments in which you are interested).

IF the market NEEDS advertising, if the ACTUAL product (as opposed to CORE product) includes imagery and positioning, then the marketer’s responsibility is to deliver those needs. In delivering the needs of the target audience, a marketer maintains brand equity, and thus, the life of the brand/product.

If the marketer just invests in advertising without understanding the customer, life cycle is bound to prematurely terminate, brand decay will set in, and brands will die…. in response, of course to substitutability, imitability, comparative value and rarity.

This turns focus not to the science of marketing but the skills abilities and talent of marketing management personnel.

Does management “get it”? Do they really UNDERSTAND ‘marketing’ or do they perceive it hype, advertising, or selling? Are they CAPABLE of embracing and applying marketing science, or simply charismatic diplomats, climbing the corporate ladder? Are they EMPOWERED with funds, autonomy, flexibility and leadership support to implement? Do they have the ACUMEN to pull it all together and planning skills to imbed the direction for years to come?

[The answer, by the way, is that ego and corporate arrogance, stop people like us helping people like them 😦 ]

There are no specific strategic models for FMCG brands to manage lifecycle because any generalisation would be fictitious nonsense.

The secret for ALL marketers is market segmentation.

Until decision makers recognise that there is no singular ‘market’, but a unique combination of segments that make up an individual market, we are unimpowered.

“Markets’ are as unique as people, segments as unique as human characteristics. Noses vary, size, hair, eyes, teeth, skin… just as segments are different. Individual products must be made to fit the attractive/targeted segments.
Just as nose drops may be useless as skin moisturisers, some products or brands may not appeal to some segments.

Brands can and do survive anticipated life cycles as a result of disciplined marketing strategies based upon trend analysis and rational strategic response to changes in segments.

Brands fail when companies choose to deliver what is easiest for them rather than what is demanded by the market. You can’t maintain a brand without market satisfaction. You can’t go wrong if you achieve market satisfaction.

But we can delve deeper into brands than that… For example, several years ago “Marlborough” was the 7th most valued brand in the world. Tobacco giants could have brought out new products to extend the life of the brand… not cigarettes, but other “Marlborough man” themed products… capitalising upon this brand equity and developing it according the changes in the market at a core product level – where the core product for growing segments was not ‘tobacco smoke for inhalation’, but (as a result of long term brand positioning) became ‘virile and manly country & western masculine image’. [For more on “Core Product see: http://www.launchengineering.com/ModelsLawsRules.htm, for more on “Market Segmentation see: http://www.launchengineering.com/Market_Segmentation.htm%5D

In summary, the commercial reality is that lifecycle is almost completely a function of competency of management rather than some ‘cosmic inevitability’. If management can identify and respond the change, a brand can live forever.

Ultimately, it is the 5th “P” of Marketing, PEOPLE, (in this case executive acumen) that make the difference between brand immortality and brand decay.