Toward his honorable discharge from service and in pursuit of his second career, a colonel is interviewed for a CEO job in a large corporation.
"Why do you think you fit the job?" he is asked.
"I have all the relevant experience because running this company is just like commanding my brigade: You have employees, I had soldiers; you call it a stock room - we called it logistics; your HR is just another name for our adjutancy; we compete with the other units in the command just as you deal with your competitors!"
"OK,” says the interviewer, "How about the customer?"
"The customer?" retorts the colonel after three seconds of thinking, "he's the enemy!"
The Moral: FOCUS IS EVERYTHING
A discussion on LinkedIn’s Marketing Executives Group), started by Dr. Brian Monger, CEO at Marketing Association of ANZ in Melbourne, Australia, addresses this and other core marketing issues that sometimes we forget.
Monger posed the question: “How do you know when someone really doesn’t understand marketing?” What are the primary indicators - in your experience?” That discussion has drawn more than 300 comments to date. I’ve taken some of the best answers and turned them into three questions marketers should ask themselves on a regular basis.
1. When was the last time I listened to my customers?
People who’ve worked in the same industry for several years, often start to take it for granted. They’ve done the focus groups, the talking to members and customers and conducted satisfaction survey and needs analysis just the way they are supposed to. But are you really on top of what your customer needs. Let’s do a little self-examination here:
• Do you dislike visiting plants, stores, meetings or talking to customers?
• Do you talk with all the different departments in your organization that are connected to marketing on a regular basis – advertising, member services, web developers, social media experts, etc?
• Do you listen to what internal employees are telling you and act on their feedback?
• Do you read discussions on your LinkedIn, Face book and other social media pages, as well as tweets on your industry, and bring important information to your attention?
2. Is my marketing plan integrated across all the different parts of the mix?
There’s a big difference between marketing that creates opportunities, and sales which transform those opportunities into making money for the organization.
In my experience, marketing often begins before advertising, public relations and outreach. Many organizations decide to hire a communications or marketing firm after they’ve just redone their web site. This is a clear indicator that they don’t understand integrated marketing.
While many companies have a marketing plan, it does not account for every as Ogilvy & Mather puts it “touch point” by which an organization reaches its customers. As a result, branding is fragmented across different target audiences, and cohesive messages on what a company stands for and the value of its products or services aren’t always delivered.
The MEG members pointed out many times, that they know immediately that someone doesn’t understand marketing when they start talking about elements of the mix, without an overall strategy that drives the work.
Some of the comments on lack of integration and branding were:
• Marketers need to go back sometimes and remember the brand we have tried to build. A brand is a promise. To foster loyalty, it always has to deliver on the promise.
• Elements of marketing work together – it’s a unique blend of art and science.
• So many marketing departments continue to not connect a marketing activity to metrics and not tie it to a business goal.
• When they use words interchangeably such as marketing, sales, promotion, PR, publicity, etc ... without regard to context.
3. Do we have a clearly articulated marketing strategy and a flexible plan?
I’ve worked for marketers who had a clearly articulated marketing plan – and didn’t want to pay to develop one. But the plan resided in their heads which doesn’t leave much for those who are expected to implement it. Basically it was this is what we need to do, and this is how we’re going to do it. Then the rest was about sales, sales, sales.
Perhaps the best purpose of a clearly articulated strategy and plan is involving everyone who must implement it during development, and obtaining buy-in as you go.
One marketer reports, he used to have a sign hanging on his door that said, Just because you have always done it that way doesn't mean it is right (pictured underneath was a man getting run over by a bull at the running of the bulls in Spain). He reports, there are so many aspects to successful marketing: knowing what works and applying it, knowing when a practice doesn't apply anymore and being open-minded enough to look for new approaches to getting in front of your target audience.
(A version of this article was published by ASAE's Marketing Insights, March 2011, written by yours truly).