Poor WW & Coles – Hard Frustrating Unsatisfying!

Spare a moment of sympathy for executives, senior management, C-suite leaders and directors of Woolworths and Coles.

Yes, they get paid well but at what cost?

For decades they have suffered in absence of the wisdom of the ages, best summarized by legendary strategist, Sun Tzu, who said…

“Tactics without strategy is the noise you make before defeat.”

Few people at either Coles or Woollies know what strategy is; many perceive tactics to be strategies.

A flotilla of strategy-qualified executives having spun through the revolving doors of Coles and Woolworths employment, and gone again; in frustration, meeting for coffee after retrenchment, echoing the words of those who have gone before, “It’s getting worse!”

You can only be sympathetic.

The conundrum is that everyone in-charge at both companies are operational A1 players. They know their business. They understand their operations intimately They sweat over very piece of data, every report. Every fact and figure they can gouge. They slave long hours. They grapple with silos, with politics, with hidden personal agenda, with bosses who don’t communicate well and suppress initiative.

Despite their best efforts, customer satisfaction is failing. KPI’s are increasingly hard to meet. Outperforming each other is hard enough, while Aldi continues to happily erode their market share… only slowed down by Metcash’s resistance to adopting blue ocean growth opportunities and FMCG suppliers’ willingness to surrender all their margin.

Where do you go when you’ve got nowhere to go?

Now Coles is abandoned by Westfarmers with Woolworths struggling in the wake of its Big W decay, Masters flop, and other lack-lustre performance outcomes.

Both are blinkered to the reality of their merchandising philosophies and combative relationship with suppliers, and the very stoppable (but not without strategy) flow of shoppers to Aldi.

Do what you always do… Get what you’ve always gotten

It seems incredible, doesn’t it, that the power of the two giants and the operational executive talent is unable to recognise their archaic approach to their problems.

Their resistance to change is formidable. Their unwillingness to accept they are tracing the 19th Century path of the American Rail corporation and the buggy whip industry, they are as resistant to change is News Corps and Fairfax were in the 90’s, they are determined they are doing everything right when they are doing a LOT of things wrong… just like Nokia, Blockbuster, Kodak and others…

When a past CEO of Woolworths warned them to beware of the ABC’s of Corporate Cancer, Arrogance, Bureaucracy and Complacency) their response was to evict him rather than heed his advice!

The Writing is on the wall

Lots of those that know, know! The wisest stakeholders abandon ship and the millennial naive are innocently walking into the web.

Tie will tell if I am right, but anyone reading this, who can observe a trend, may be shaking their head in acknowledgement of these observations.

Poor Woollies. Poor Coles. 😦

“Customers” are NOT identical. A “market” is only a corral of market segments. Until business leaders fully accept that fact, businesses will not do as well as they could, probably flounder at some stage, and ultimately fail as their competitors (who DO “get it”) out-manoeuvre them.

The Most POWERFUL tool in a business strategist’s arsenal is Market Segmentation

For years I have used market segmentation to successfully “breakthrough” and improve the direction of employers’ and clients’ businesses. Market Segmentation is the “secret sauce” which helps businesses find the best customers.

Multi-million-dollar outcomes have followed market segmentation. It simply is the single most powerful tool in the marketing manager’s arsenal of marketing tools.

Identification of market segments almost guarantees optimal decision-making

With superior segmentation, you can identify attractive market segments so you can target and position your marketing mix and best satisfy the needs and wants of your “preferred” primate target audience prospects. This helps you “marry” your capabilities and appeal to the potential customers who desire your unique offering. (Every offering is unique, but that’s another topic.) Market Segmentation secures sustainable competitive advantage and market dominance.

Better customer insight and segmentation

Using proven market research methods, Market Segmentation means you’ll best be able to deliver differentiation strategies that achieve brand loyalty and brand preference.

You can get insight into where your profits come from, how to improve them, and how to best spend your marketing budget to reap the greatest returns.

You get insight and direction for decisions regarding:

* Distribution strategies and channel management

* Product management strategies and brand management

* Pricing and discounting strategies

* Improving demand & identifying high return customers

* New product development

* Brand Equity movements and brand portfolio opportunities

And more!

Market segmentation studies help identify opportunities and threats, competitors and trends… all helping you maximise your competitive marketing advantage.

Are you doomed, or are you set up for success?

Outside of micro businesses (under $5M p.a.) if your business hasn’t undertaken a proper, professional segmentation study in the past three years, you’re cruising for a bruising.

Worse still, if you (or your business leaders) think “marketing” is a word that accurately describes “advertising” and/or “promotion”, you’re likely in for, or already experiencing, a world of pain!

Almost all of the most successful businesses in the world, certainly the most profitable and powerful companies, all undertake annual or bi-annual segmentation studies. It is typical to find businesses that have failed who neither understand the definition of marketing or undertake (proper) market segmentation.

Common Sense

When management meetings happen and someone says, “Everyone wants…”, “Nobody will…” or “Buyers prefer…”, you NOW you’re in trouble: Subjective opinion is no more than unsubstantiated assumption, and “assumptions are the mother of all mistakes”.

It makes perfect common sense to ask… to ask enough people to know, and then if you ask the right questions you get the right answers , and if you ask people what they want and they tell you… and you LISTEN… then it is an effort to go wrong.

Remarkably, this common sense escapes many operational executives who get caught up in micro-economic detail and “can’t see the wood for the trees”.

I wonder if this could explain why businesses fail, and why corporations don’t experience ongoing success and longevity.

Do you agree? Please comment and let’s discuss?

fighting

What Factors Make Sales People Successful?

I recently shared a Linked In comment, and in my keynote presentations and workshops discuss, a large & intense formal commercial study of selling skills, that showed only two significantly important factors determine a sales person’s success…

  1. How hard salespeople work (calls, preparation, & face-to-face time in front of a prospect or customer, no ‘brass-plating’, procrastination, or poor time-management), and…
  2. The distribution of speaking time between seller & buyer (the greater the percentage of time the buyer spends speaking, the greater the salesperson’s sales success, relative to team peers’ success).

As a throw-away I mentioned that increased average productivity across the whole team of salespeople occurs if they have access to, and understand, properly identified market segments but I probably DDN’T emphasize the point enough that If a company really understands its market segments and responds accordingly, then all the salesperson really has to do is take orders… the selling is already done before the sales meeting.

What Factors Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

Multi-national corporations, in the main, already know a about the world-wide crisis in employee engagement: With only 24% of Australian workers engaged, and with 202% productivity gains to be had from the 76% unengaged, employee engagement & organisational alignment has become TOP priority, particularly in the wake of Millennials displaying even greater need for engagement, than generations past.

An issue that doesn’t receive enough attention is that 18% of any workforce is made up of “disengaged” employees – ones that deliberately want to “sink the ship”. and THAT is seriously lose sales and detrimental to future opportunity!

If silos are known to exist, any decent leader should be tearing them down, YESTERDAY!

But how often do we hear about disconnects between Sales & Marketing teams?

I’m betting silos between research and other departments even interfere with distribution of segment identification and recognition… that information isn’t shared, synergy is lost, and sales results end up being suboptimal across hundreds of industries.

It is an easy bet for me, I have uncovered plenty of situations just like this over my consulting career, from doing marketing audits, deficiency analysis and even in competition analysis… through to ‘war-stories’ from delegates to my workshops who confess this goes on far too often.

Often the problem stems from CEO’s who are too busy with distractions… too complacent towards improving productivity, too cynical to believe that a small investment in correction will deliver a significant ROI, or just fearful that they might be “exposed” as less than 100% competent.

How Badly Do YOU think Silos Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

I’d be interested in any comments, observations, cases in hand, or thoughts readers have as to silos, sales productivity and leadership, relevant to these thoughts.

By the way, I use an approach that has helped FMCG, transport & big pharma grow corporate profits by as much as $250M p.a. that can be used to help all sorts of businesses… If you want to have a peek, check out: http://bit.ly/OpAudit

CEO evaluation, identify a good CEO

Is your CEO a Time-bomb?

They say, “Cream Rises to the Top”, and generally it does… rancid or not!

How can you determine if the CEO, leading the Company you have your life savings invested in, or who is the employer controlling your professional and financial future, or is the head of the organisation you’re counting on for your security… is adequate for the job?

 

Here’s some symptoms to look out for that are sure give-aways your CEO is NOT up to the job.

 

1. CEO gives employees, investors and stakeholders no idea of the Company’s Mission and Vision statements.

Particularly staff, but everyone who contributes to the business, should understand their “reason for getting out of bed in the morning”. Without direction, how can people apply initiative, work as a team, and contribute top “the cause”? The answer is they can’t, and frustration, boredom, and complacency prosper, becoming the “norm”. For customers, if you say a “the lowest cost air-travel possible, their expectations come in ‘line’ and less customer dissatisfaction & complaints follow, with less costs, less staff pressure, … etc. (you get the picture.)

When CEO’s arrogantly boast profits inherited or experienced due to incidental or fragile circumstances (usually circumstantial) you want to watch out for short term profits that don’t dissipate faster than they came.

 

2. The CEO doesn’t understand the Hierarchies of Marketing.

My favourite quote for this year is borrowed from David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, who said, “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people”.  He was expressing an understanding of STRATEGIC MARKETING, in a world where OPERATIONAL marketing people are the functional folk who manage our daily marketing activities.

If your CEO doesn’t intimately understand the Hierarchies of Marketing, he’ll be loading his team with operational people delivering clever tactics, but in the absence of a single holistic strategy. Business will be reactive not active, budgets will be way out, production shortfalls and overruns, desperate discounting and high pressure sales drives… pressure, pressure, pressure, cost, cost, cost… while R&D will be minimised, market research will be nominal or “postponed till next financial period, and so on.

In the words so Sun Tzu, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

 

3. The CEO doesn’t Thoroughly Understand that Ethical Options are a Huge Business Opportunity and Not the Problem

Social media, the internet and globalisation, and all the communication ramifications have changed the game… It is often said, “Those that don’t observe the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them” and history has proven – so often – that when the “masses” discover contempt from the “elite”, heads role!

There is no reason a corporation can prosper and be immortal… companies don’t fail, its leaders who fail to run them properly who fail.

People want ethics and need satisfaction… it is up to C-level executives to deliver and they will secure customer loyalty. What’s incredible is that innovation using creates blue-ocean opportunities, and companies that deliver always prosper even more so. Imagine if tobacco companies had self-controlled their greed and capitalised on customer goodwill and brand equity? Marlboro was the 7th most popular brand in the world – it COULD have spawned industries! Imagine if building industry had introduced an innovation to replace its asbestos voluntarily at any of the times points since 1918 when it was discovered to be dangerous. Ethical leadership could have created HUGE opportunity in every time this was ratified, in 1933, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1964. Ethical leadership would have led to R&D with something better/safer/ newer. They could have “upsold” and avoided the legacy of corporate criminality. Imagine if petrol companies hadn’t bought up and buried alternative energy patents decades ago when they wanted to protect their businesses… So many companies might still exist if their CEO’s had vision through an ethical high-road expressed in Corporate Values.

 

4. The CEO Takes Bonuses and High Salary Regardless of Company Performance

Any CEO who puts personal gain before their Company can’t be trusted to lead. If they don’t have “skin in the game”, a sense of balance, dedication to employees, customers and shareholders before themselves, a higher purpose than personal wealth, beware.

 

4. The CEO Doesn’t Intimately Understand the Importance of Balancing all the Elements of the Marketing Mix.

If your CEO perceives the word, ”Marketing”, to mean sales, selling, promotion, advertising, getting people to buy stuff, marketing communications , and doesn’t recognise the 8 “P’s” of Marketing… you’re doomed.

 

My firm surveyed every Australian IPO over 3 years during the 2000’s and found almost everyone, WITHOUT a Marketing qualification of the Board, experienced a less than issue price per share. EVERY company with Boards inclusive of a marketing qualified board member, had a higher than issue-price market value per share. Not one failure/collapse, was experienced by tertiary qualified marketing representation on the Board.

 

Remember, businesses don’t fail. Brands don’t fail. Products don’t fail… It is Managers, leaders, decision-makers who make wrong decisions who cause failure.

 

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 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

Better Sales from Marketing

Business people share a lust for sales. Great sales! Extraordinary sales! Record-breaking sales.

“How to get better sales” preoccupies them, drives them, absorbs them.  They pine for profitable sales, AND they crave sales that are as easy as possible.

Business turned to academia… Economics couldn’t

Economics couldn’t conjure up sales. Accounting couldn’t stimulate sales or forecast accurately. Finance couldn’t initiate faster, better or increased exchange…

So, from the insatiable hunger for ‘more’, NEED spawned the science of “Marketing”.

The Business Reason Behind “Marketing” as a Profession – How to Consistently Grow Profitable Sales?

In the 60’s , the discipline of modern-day “Marketing”, as a specialist profession, was really born. Out of the School of Economics, studies of true business successes were initiated when Industry said, “We want to find out why sales progress, and how to

Out of the School of Economics, studies of true business successes were initiated when Industry said, “We want to find out why sales progress, and how to re-produce these sales successes”.

Empirical academic studies and practical, industry-sponsored studies, quickly identified key models and concepts that became cornerstone to modern commercial success: Everyday tools to business strategists and marketing directors of successful companies around the world. A database of all the profit-making methods was even built, and maintained for over a decade (called “The ‘PIMS’ Database[1]”).

How to get best possible sales? Use appropriate marketing!

Sadly, many executives who are responsible for Sales, have built careers on – and only know – systems, routines and operational ways to get great sales… and, because there are many great sales people in most industries, these commonly shared methods undermine competitive advantage.

Generating extraordinary sales, record-breaking sales, and genuinely better sales, elude many., because what they THINK is Strategic Marketing is actually Tactical/Operational Marketing.

Strategic Marketing is the SUSTAINABLE path to profitable sales and growth, mostly evolving from planned and well-managed application of marketing science, marketing models and methods, complex and skilled permutations of advanced techniques, and marketing devices under-educated marketing consultants only wish they knew and understood.

Yes, there ARE exceptions: Dynamically Continuous Innovations and Discontinuous Innovations (which have recently been trendily described as “Disruptive Innovation”) but these will be short-lived without strategic marketing disciplines.

The Conundrum of Marketing

The Conundrum of Marketing is that few understand the breadth and depth of the discipline; the advent of the digital era has allowed  convincing sales people to twist and distort the meaning to their own advantage.

Lack of advanced understanding comes with lack of education. ANYONE who calls himself, or herself, a Marketing Professional, who hasn’t completed at least one full [dedicated] degree in Marketing, is far short of properly trained in strategic marketing.

However, they may be brilliant in Operational Marketing… so others, who are also ignorant of the extensive nature of the discipline, believe Operational Marketers to be competent and qualified in strategic marketing.

Operational Marketers, naïve of the knowledge that can be honed from strategic marketing training, themselves believe they have mastered their art.

They are like witch doctors completely unaware of modern medicine: They know what to do in a singular, unchanged environment, but are lost in new or unfamiliar circumstances.

This is how big, omni-potent businesses go bust.

In 1986, Fortune Magazine named Digital founder Ken Olsen, “America’s most successful entrepreneur”. He said there was ‘no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home’. OPERATIONAL thinking, not STRATEGIC.

In my earliest days I was guilty, myself, of a limited operational perspective and I have witnessed peers, friends, superiors, students, competitors, the most well-meaning and the most arrogant, ALL suffer the inevitable ignominy (and pain) of defeat, that could have been wholly and completed avoided if they’d only been empowered with strategic marketing skills.

Businesses don’t fail! Products don’t fail. It is PEOPLE who fail!

The evidence is around us … 90% of new products should NOT fail. 67% of businesses should not close within 10 years! Established businesses SHOULD be immortal.

In Australia alone, 44 business close down every day! A staggering 42% of business closed down 2003-7… BEFORE the GFC!

Product launches that fail. Businesses that close their doors. Corporations that lose millions. These are ALL symptoms of weak or missing Strategic Marketing.

To serve the global community and those who are willing to listen, I have penned a small book, to introduce those with an interest in sales growth, to the differences between operational and strategic Marketing.

IF you’re keen, you can download it from j.mp/ALLmktg or drop me a line & I’ll send you a copy.

———————

[1] Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies