Sometimes other people tell the story so well, you just get out of the way.
Click through to this simple, powerful presentation.
Randy Baseler, CEO of Boeing and noted CEO blogger writes: “My colleague Blake Emery, who has the unique title of Director, Differentiation Strategy…”
What a great idea. A person whose sole focus is to differentiate the brand, the products and the services from competitors. It’s explicit, it’s on the agenda. I understand that on the average payroll there may not be room for a “Director of Differentiation” but there is still something really valuable in the idea.
Maybe rather than having a Director of Differentiation, you could have a loose team of people consisting of customer service, sales, product, services, operations, finance and marketing.
Marketing might take the initiative, but you rotate the chair between the participants to ensure everyone is engaged and committed. The agenda is clear from the start: “what can we do, what do we need to do, to improve our differentiation.”
Many marketing thinkers now believe that marketing success in the future will rely more on “baking in” the interest, i.e. doing things that are of interest to your customers. (see Mark Earls post here and my follow up here)
In my post I wondered aloud about how to get this type of new thinking implemented under the pressure of delivering day-to-day results. If you believe that this is the way of the future for marketing and branding, then maybe a Differentiation Task Force is a great first step.
Derrick Daye from Branding Strategy Insider met with Jack Trout, the marketer who developed the classic “Positioning” concept with his co-author Al Ries. It’s an interesting read, and this is one of the thoughts Jack shared with Derrick:
Not enough CEO’s are intimately involved in the marketing process. They are the ones usually failing.
He has met more CEO’s than I have, but could it also be that the CEO’s he refers to consider “the marketing process” as a tactical activity? Do they see marketing as advertising, selling and PR rather than building a valuable brand?
I would argue that most CEOs are intimately involved in the marketing process, but they probably wouldn’t call it that.
When they make fundamental marketing decisions like going into a new market, acquiring a new company or developing a new product, they involve technical and financial people, but not too often marketers, because marketers only come in when it is time to sell and promote. Yet as the representative of their customers, marketers should be very much involved.
Maybe the issue therefore is not that CEO’s are not intimately involved in marketing, but that that they could involve marketers more in marketing.
I emailed Jack Trout to let him know about the wikipedia entry on Positioning which showed the names of Gary Sinclair and Mart Reilly as the authors of his (and Al Ries’) legendary marketing book. Between my email and my blog post on the subject, someone has changed it back to “Jacques Trout” (Jacques??) and Al Ries. Looks like it was just a bit of vandalism.
So in some ways Wikipedia works; it is self-correcting, as supporters would say.
On the other hand, how many people have seen the entry in the meantime? How long had it been like that before someone picked it up?
Is it significant? I think so. People are turning to Wikipedia in droves and use it as an Encyclopedia; for them it is the final word on a particular issue.
Here are the website traffic stats for wikipedia.org versus Encyclopedia Brittanica over three years:
Quoting the wrong author in your marketing essay is probably just embarrassing, but what if there is an entry on you, your firm or your product that fundamentally changes someone’s perception?
Will they check back once in a while to see if it has changed? I don’t think so. It’s a very tricky problem.
Well, not according to Wikipedia anyway. This is the entry:
A product’s position is how potential buyers see the product. Positioning is expressed relative to the position of competitors. The term was coined in 1969 by Gary Sinclair and Marty Reilly in the paper “Positioning” is a game people play in today’s me-too market place” in the publication Industrial Marketing. It was then expanded into their (my bolding – dk) ground-breaking first book, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”.
There is a lot of argument about the power of Wikipedia, its accuracy and what it can do to your brand. This is probably someone’s prank (as anyone can edit the page) but either way, I don’t think Jack and Al will be too impressed with this attribution. Or what it does to their respective brands. People take Wikipedia seriously after all…
PS: Scroll to the bottom of the wikipedia entry and you’ll see they are mentioned in the references,
The old marketing (read advertising) paradigm thinks along lines:
Above the line – broadcast advertising, tv, print etc
Below the line – direct mail, one-to-one marketing, CRM
Online – any internet driven marketing activity or structure
Off-line – any marketing activity that is not using the internet
Its a redundant idea.
Customers see no lines. They don’t care. They are not aware. They simply want to have a good offer of a relevant product or service. They want to deal with you in whatever way they choose.
There is no “online” brand strategy and “off-line” brand strategy. There is only a brand strategy. Well, you hope there is.
Wikipedia is getting more relevant, useful and influential every day. I had a look at the “Marketing” entry and thought that their “definitions” section. It provides a good illustration why people struggle so much with the definition of something that is “almost as old as humanity itself.”(See “History” section)
This is the opening definition: Continue reading
Seth Godin’s marketing definition from his recent post :marketing morality.
If I get you right here Seth, “the story” is everything you do to be remarkable, from your product/service to the customer experience, the price; everything.
“Spreading it” however is what many people see as marketing. I like this one, as long as you know the thinking behind it or it could be mis-interpreted as advertising and promotion.
I started my marketing consulting/services business based on the realisation that many small and medium businesses in the B2B sphere have few, if any, dedicated “marketing” resources. What I mean by that is there are few people with “marketing” in their title, or people who are formally charged with “marketing”.
Those people with “marketing” in their title are in most instances responsible for marketing communications; keeping the website up to date, a newsletter, maybe some PR and organising the occaisional customer event. However, if you want to talk about revenue, profits, customer aquisition, differentiation, competitors, loyalty or any other “marketing” issues, you talk to the Sales Manager. Or the CEO. But not “marketing”.
Here is my point; using the word “marketing” in conversation is meaningless unless you give an immediate description of what bit of it you are referring to. Don’t ever assume that you and the person you are talking to actually understand it to mean the same thing.
(Come to think of it; what is the point of a word that means something different to virtually everyone? If a key responsibility of “marketing” is communication, why have we not been yet been able to sort this one out?)
Search Google for the “definition of marketing” and you’ll see what I mean. If it is confusing to marketers, how on earth do we expect non-marketers to understand what we do, when we say that we are “marketers”.
This is what the American Marketing Association came up with in 2004: “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
Somehow I just can’t hear myself using that the next time someone asks me “what is that you do, exactly?” (And incidently, I don’t think it’s right either; what if my marketing goal is to attract more talented employees to the organisation? They are not customers, is it therefore not marketing?
So I have decided that the only way to go is to write down what it is that we do, exactly.
How about this: I assist companies in creating, developing and maintaining profitable relationships. Far from perfect, but I think people will relate to it better than the official version.
The confusion of what marketing is, should be, or should do is never going to stop. We’ll need a new word. Seth Godin wrote about “The myth of the CMO” (Chief Marketing Officer) on his blog, the myth being the fact that they are in charge of marketing.
I feel sorry for Judy Verses. She’s the Chief Marketing Officer of
Verizon, a brand that is justifiably reviled by millions of people.
Is Verizon disdained, mistrusted and avoided because Judy’s not doing a great job? Of course not. She’s doing a great job.
The reason we hate Verizon is they act like a monopoly, have ridiculous policies, a lousy call center, a bad attitude, plenty of outbound phone spam and crazy pricing.
We hate Verizon because of all the things Judy doesn’t get to influence or control.
The myth of the CMO is the C part. They don’t get to be the chief of the stuff that is really what marketing is all about today. CAO, maybe (Chief Advertising Officer) but not CMO.
He is right of course. The real issue is probably that “marketing” the way it should be covers the entire organisation, from the frontdesk to the person who sends out the invoices, to the engineer in product development. Now who is in charge of those people? The CEO. Is he or she a marketer? Sometimes, but not very often.
The best change marketers with the ambition to influence real outcomes has is to become the “trusted advisor” to the whole team on anything to do with customers.
If old style “advertising” is going to be replaced by an increased focus on word of mouth, driven by customer experience than this paradigm will have to shift. There’s no option.