December 22, 2008

Marketing: Time To Change Our Ways

I’ve been chatting with some ad agency colleagues lately and it’s been an eye-opening experience. It's tough for a lot of them. But others are angry because of news reports are causing more fear. No one has their head in the sand, but the negative news certainly isn't helping.

There are plenty of clients who still want to promote and market their goods and services. Clients are more cautious but slashing marketing and promotional budgets is the wrong tact. It is tough ‘out there’ but if you focus on that, you will get what you wish.

We need to cut costs
If you replaced the word “marketing” with “coffee cups” how long would Starbucks or Tim Horton’s stay in business? If you replaced the word “promotion” with “steering wheel” how long would you be able to keep your car on the road? If you want to see your company decline, stop telling people you have a company.

Where’s the map?
Imagine you are driving in a snow storm. It’s 3am and the gas meter has been on empty for the last fifteen minutes. You are lost. All you see is the odd light on the side of the road, no signs to indicate what is there. How many gas stations could you possibly drive by without knowing it? And how long will that gas station stay in business without a sign out front?

It worked yesterday
Years ago I worked with a guy in radio who didn’t see the need for us to tell people the name of the station. I’m serious! He said: “Everyone knows who we are.” Really? He saw little need to do marketing or outside promotion because the brand was that strong. No brand, product, or service is immune to softening markets or competition. No company has survived on their past successes.

The community is much too fickle.

Spam scam and scram
It gives none of us solace to watch major household brands crack under the pressure. But the companies that will continue to thrive – yes thrive – will sharpen their proverbial pencils and find out how they will do it. Those “hows” include: more targeted marketing, paying attention to the marketplace and needs of consumers, customers, audience, community, and staying aware of all technology available to them. And most importantly – have something worthwhile that others want to buy or use!

The best marketing campaign in the world, conceived by the brightest in the field will have a very difficult time convincing people to buy-in if the product or service fails to deliver on its promise.

Now what?
One agency veep told me last week that their goal for next year is to increase their client base by 20% and billing by 30% by “offering clients a soft place to land”. His plan is to give fearful business owners realistic solutions to their marketing and promotion issues rather jamming people in to the same old tired ideas. He said: "The lemmings and laggards can stayed scared while I build my business."

The U.S. auto industry is teetering. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been doing things the same way for far too long. If you are unwilling to be nimble and change with your environment, you can expect diminishing results. No mandated production levels will increase consumer demand no matter how much you want it.

What’s in it for we?
Of course I have a vested interest in all this – I am a producer. But I am also a marketer, a writer, a creative guy and I enjoy when something well-made is well-marketed and sees a healthy profit.

What are your thoughts?


© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
leadership development business culture talent development human capital