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 most fields of study, for example, medicine, the body of scientific study is held in the realms of academia: Knowledge, findings, advances, models and theories openly shared and proudly distributed, discussed passionately and debated publically… with advances evident and progress (relatively) steady.

Aahhh, not so with Marketing.

Here the boy of funding, knowledge, findings, advances, methods and models are greedily and selfishly concealed from exposure to other, and particularly competitive scrutiny and adoption.

Of course any competitive advantage is short-lived as executives within an industry move and secrets last only as long as 100% staff retention
This jealous guardian ship of knowledge not only diminishes the advancement of the science, its creates deterioration of the core knowledge over time, prevents additional development and adoption that may create further sophistications and development, and can be lost, devalued or discarded in the politics of corporate dynamics.
From a commercial perspective this is only the first ripple of loss that infects the world of marketing.
The effect of this propagates and protects the pure academic in marketing. Locked out of any real advances, the world f academic marketing now produces irrelevant revamp of already proven marketing models, with dubious new interpretations of arguable worth and little commercial value. Where marketing schools preferred commercially involved professors a few decades ago, the new leaders of academic marketing lack the grounding in ‘hard-yard’ commercial experience to bring high-commercial value concepts to the table… not that they can’t but because they are starved of material with which to work.
The research that they need is buried in the coffers of corporate research that is rarely mined to the extent academics are capable and keen to mine, lost in in-trays of operational marketing managers who forget 50% of what they learned in their marketing degree 20 years ago and the other 50% over the first three years they were in the work force.
So listless academics stroll the earth re-writing marketing knowledge honed in the 60’s, just like Michael Porter did with his 5 forces (nothing we didn’t know, and use, in the 70’s, just re-worked and published with a catchy headline), and marketing giants like Drucker are shoved sideways by the academic pressure to ‘publish or perish’.
The science of marketing brought us life cycle analysis, Ansoff’s matrix, the Boston Matrix, buyer adoption curve and led to partnerships that allowed us to view business problems using tools like the GE Matrix. However, the expiry of PIMS database is a symptom of the demise of the science that has spread in plague proportions.
The second commercial ripple of loss that infects the world of marketing is our marketing students, courses, lecturers and textbooks are suffering the decay of covert secrecy in marketing.
The third, chronic commercial ripple of loss that infects the world of marketing is our unwillingness, inability, arrogance and pride that blocks aptitude to recognise, consider, identify and utilise any valuable new advances that do escape the net of secrecy, selfishness and destructive critique.
Readers may wish to comment on this and offer solutions to redeem and advance marketing as a commercial science in the future.