Marketing’s Most Important Role?

There’s something really quite strange that happens in organisations of all sizes all over the planet all the time.

Marketing people (very intelligent ones too) get into rooms with white boards and start planning who the company should target and what they should target them with.

They will each have their own approach and model (you hope) and they will happily discuss and debate the next marketing initiative for as long as they are able until they are happy that they have it all mapped out, the next great “big idea”.

The really good ones will have invited some sales people to the discussion too (although this is rare as sales people tend to think this sort of thing is for the “coloring in department” and marketing people think that the sales folk won’t get it).

Either way, in matter of a few meetings out comes the latest initiative and quite probably a brand new value proposition and set of sales and marketing messages.

All good then..?

Well maybe, but what if I told you that 9 times out of 10 this was all just one big fat self-deluding guess. 

It feels great to tick the boxes, produce the messages and get the programme out. Everyone gets a pat on the back and sits back and waits for the orders to roll in.

Sometimes they do.

Most of the time they don’t or (what’s probably worse) what comes in is not what you expected at all, in fact every order is different and needs a different set of services, skills and products to serve it and likely they will deliver cash at different rates and profit that’s all over the place too.

In most instances it just doesn’t really deliver what you expect it to. I know personally of global corporations who spend vast sums on programs that net no business at all – I bet you do too.

So what’s the problem?

Well there’s a little more to it than meets the eye…but…guess who wasn’t invited to the planning meetings or workshops. Guess who’s input and views and experience you didn’t take into consideration.

Strangely the last person organisations are happy to talk to when it comes to building new programs or propositions, is the customer.

It’s bizarre. It’s actually as if the marketing team are afraid to ask to meet with and speak to the customers or even perhaps that it didn’t dawn on them to ask at all.

I met with a very senior executive from a global corporation last month who told me that often his team would come to him and say “what do you think about this value proposition?”. And his answer was “why do you care what I think?”…”One thing I can guarantee you is that I am never going to buy it”. “Have you asked any customers?”. …..

Consistently “out-smarting” the competition

You will no doubt have noticed that there are few prizes in the business world simply for trying hard. Organisations that are consistently out in front are those that plan to be, those that invest in being there and those who constantly re-evaluate what it takes to stay there.

Don’t think for one moment that getting ahead and staying there is the preserve of those with the deepest pockets and the greatest resources.

Very often vast organisations that invest $Ms in insight, knowledge and competitive data have absolutely no ability to capitalize on it. That doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it means they’re complex. It means that some one, somewhere in the company knows what the competition is up to (for example) or what the next emergent trend or driver is to impact the market, but that insight never reaches the places it needs to in order to deliver the killer blow. These organisations survive by critical mass.

Smaller organisations can and need to be smarter.

For smaller, more agile organisations who can act quickly on insight; real-time and rapid intelligence can be a huge competitive advantage and can be key to getting and staying ahead of the pack.

If you could have your own team of researchers working for you overnight – what competitive insight would you want them to deliver direct to your inbox by 7am the next day?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Competitor Wins and Activities
  • Customer¬†Intelligence
  • Market directions and trends
  • Product/Service/Technology changes
  • Prices/Competitor Pricing strategies
  • Deep dive analysis on a competitor, a customer set or similar

Let me know, I’d appreciate it and you never know your wish may well come true!