One of the profound things I learned after 13 years studying “Marketing” at Uni, from tutoring & lecturing in “Marketing” to MBA students and debating “Marketing” with my peers, is the commercial advantage of using academic knowledge that has meaning and relevance in the commercial environment.

FOR MARKETING CONSULTANTS

One of the things taught in higher Economics is that “super-normal” profits only comes to businesses that fall into the economic industry-classification of “Monopolies” or “Monopolistic Competition” (e.g. Oligopolies), while industries where competitors, existing in “Perfect Competition”, inevitably will not maintain long-term “super-normal” profits.

Likewise, in Strategic Marketing Industry Life Cycle Analysis, we KNOW that high margins and premium pricing is much more difficult in “Market Maturity” than in “Growth” and that all industries are likely to enter “Industry Shakeout” at early Maturity stage, primarily because it is more profitable to merge, than it is to grow organically.

Experts among us might shout “in professional services, price is a yardstick of quality” and “Price is in-elastic” but only when the service is heterogeneous in the mind of the buyer.

Product Management “Product Analysis” theory tells us that augmented product metamorphosises into actual product over time – in the case of Marketing Consulting this means clients expect Marketing Consultants to know more, deliver more, contribute more, be more…

History shows formidable marketing successes over the past 40 years have routinely originated by applying higher-level strategic marketing models, so are we NOT  being negligent in ignoring these rules in any marketing consulting business, and industry?

There is a saying, “Only a fool knows everything” that might convert to, “Everybody has something uniquely special they can contribute”… Even Philip Kotler said, “Marketing takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master”, although I’d debate this… I believe Marketing takes a lifetime to learn and is impossible for a single individual to “master”.

Why No Single Marketing Consultant Has ALL the Answers

Think about it… There are 8 “P’s” of Marketing… The 4 “P’s” that everyone (who does a basic business course) learns: Price, Product, Place & Promotion…. are the simplest, but even these  simple topics are complex and extensive.

For instance, JUST “Promotion” breaks down to:
1. Advertising,
2. Public Relations,
3. Sales Promotions, and
4. Personal Selling

… AND, that small subset called “ADVERTISING”, requires professional training in Mass media (Digital, TV, Radio, Print to name a few), direct marketing (CRO online, post, off-the-page, and others), web (YouTube, SEO, PPC, SEM, SMM, CRO, content)… each requiring creative, production, media buying and implementation skills…. coordinated with position, targeting, segmentation, buyer behaviour, buyer adoption stage… and 1001 other professional specializations.
… BUT PROMOTION ALSO INCLUDES Public Relations, Sales Promotions, and Personal Selling… which are all (if not more) as complex and arduous as advertising.

How can an Advertising Expert be a Marketing Expert?

Look at “PRODUCT”… there’s branding, portfolio management, new product development, market research management, packaging, product typing, product differentiation, product management… and on… There’s Boston Matrix, Ansoff Matrix, Brand Equity Management, the Product-Service continuum, levels of involvement, etc, etc and all these vary across 2-5 segments!!!

How can a Product Management Expert be a Marketing Expert?

“PLACE (Distribution)” and “PRICING” are even more complex and divergent… and that is before we move into PEOPLE, PROCESSES and so on…

… and then the synergy can be lost by silos that divide (and cannabalise) marketing efficiencies…

What Would Marketing Consultants Do (in Theory) to Maximise Their Value, their Efficiency & Their Profits?

The business world NEEDS to understand & adopt adopt the “Hierarchies of Marketing” – or some model like it – because, right now, the profession nurtures those who “don’t know how much they don’t know” as employers, naive of the depth and breadth of the discipline of “Marketing”, hire one person to be a jack of all trades instead of many that they should really recruit. (Feel free to request a copy of my [free] e-book, “The Four Faces of Marketing”.)

There is opportunity businesses to make HUGE bounds forward by NOT hiring a ‘gun’ Marketing Manager, for say $170,000 pa, but appointing a Marketing Consultancy for the same money and getting a team of leading experts who collaborate and delegate work to team member/s best qualified to deliver exceptionally good output.

There is a HUGE win/win here… the customer gets BETTER STRATEGIC MARKETING input, and generates better marketing OUTPUT, makes more money, re-invests more… and the marketing firm shares success accordingly.

The only ‘catch’ is the marketing consultancy HAS to deliver exceptional, extraordinary marketing… which no individual can possibly do.

My colleagues and I incorporated Launch Engineering 10 years ago and brought in the best possible minds we knew – in the key areas of Market Research, Information Management, Digital Implementation, and so on, but a small, boutique firm will always reach a flattened sales curve: The world isn’t quite beating a path to our firm’s door as much as we’d like. Why? Well there’s a host reasons that go beyond this post, albeit great strategists cannot yet be 100% brilliant in all operational marketing disciplines.

Should boutique marketing consultancies merge, or compete, and why?

If other marketing consultancies, reading this, see some merit to the points I’ve made, perhaps they would care to offer some feedback and comment… … and tell me, “Should boutique marketing consultancies merge or compete, and why?”

If you’ve read this far and want to delve deeper into Marketing “science”, PLEASE read (for free) about the Hierarchies of Marketing, and other marketing issues, in this e-book by downloading from this address…
http://bookboon.com/en/the-four-faces-of-marketing-ebook

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.
…. EVERYONE LOSES!
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.