Utterly provocative and trenchantly the author dissects the most common malpractices in marketing and helps to get your brand back in shape. Try to profit from other people's mishaps, strengthen your brand essence and make your brand resistant to crises. This book is definitely worth reading and a true enrichment to both beginners and experts in marketing.Contents:The core essence of marketing.The direct path to your consumers.The price of making mistakes and how much they are allowed cost.Ten comprehensible propositions on unerringly accurate marketing.
Dr. Wolfgang Frick studierte Betriebswissenschaft, Publizistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Er blickt auf 30 Lehr-, Studien- und Berufsjahre zurück. Als Marketingverantwortlicher leitete er die Geschicke von über 30 regionalen, nationalen und internationalen Marken. Heute entscheidet er auf Konzernebene über Sortimentsmanagement und Marketing.
1 MEDICAL EVIDENCE I
1.1 WITHOUT A PHILOSOPHY MARKETING IS DOOMED
For millennia, philosophers have sought to both comprehend and define man's existence and relationship to the world he lives in. The result of all this mental effort is that there are as many points of view as there are thinkers in this world, leading us to the conclusion that up to now, no one has yet come up with a universally valid solution! However, like so much in life, there is no clear wrong or right - even though one viewpoint might make more sense than another. We can easily apply this philosophical analogy to business matters, even though, in this case, on the surface at least, the hard facts seem to matter the most.
So much for theory - but what's much more exciting is what can be experienced in practice. That's why I would like to draw on my own very personal impressions and experiences throughout this chapter, starting with my academic years. While attending lectures it was always a real effort to keep my eyelids open, even for a short time, before the professor's monotonous murmur would send me drifting off to the 'Land of Nod,' especially when they were trying to teach us about corporate culture and the relevance of a coherent philosophy. That said, however, for me the theme itself was far from boring as it has always been as clear as mud that all our marketing actions should be influenced by two things: a personal identification with a corporation plus the natural social interaction with each other that should never be taken for granted. However, the older I get the more it strikes me that it's becoming harder to find brand-evangelists with a real die-hard commitment for what he or she does and, worryingly, what's even more difficult is to retain them as employees! One direct consequence is that only in very few cases, is the impact of the corporate message successfully communicated throughout the value added chain. This is a feature not only of more mature corporations, but also younger 'entrepreneurial' organisations, since an embedded commitment to a continuous marketing philosophy (which starts with recruitment and flows right through to outsourcing) can only be found in very few companies. Although it is common knowledge that a motivated employee is as valuable a company asset as raw materials, without a clear marketing philosophy this potential is lost. So where is the market differentiation? It's no surprise that the product ranges are becoming more so similar to each other in so many markets, where companies compete on price rather than on brand values.
In situations where a philosophy is far from evident or where there is an obvious lack of commitment, warning bells start to sound. A marketer who tries to hide behind visually and esthetically elaborate brochures and spurious guiding principles has nothing specific to communicate. That's why, dear readers: stick to clarity and simplicity, two noble fellows who will prevail at the end of the day. Why? Because as crash barriers are to road traffic so are sound guideline principles to marketing. Both of them are only useful if you can recognise them instantly!
PATIENCE AS A VIRTUE, ESPECIALLY FOR THE IMPATIENT
Marketing is rather like homeopathy - having faith in it can work wonders, although it usually does take some time until you can see first results. Therefore, I thoroughly recommend that even the most impatient readers amongst you should take time to discover that a marketing philosophy comes first and foremost from an inner fortitude and conviction while being further defined through attention to detail. So to make this work you need to introduce your in-house philosophy throughout your entire workforce, from the maintenance man to the switchboard operator and on through your senior team. A company hierarchy is fine when expressed as an organogram where responsibilities are being defined - but this meaningless if your philosophy is not actively working all the way onto the store shelves!
However, even I have to admit that in everyday practice you sometimes don't have any other option but to rely on people who are often the least reliable. Though even in this situation a brand-managed business will generally fare better, as they tend to attract employees who will adopt their philosophy because their recruitment criteria are more focused. Hard to believe but it's as simple as that - at least where a commitment to a core philosophy ranks first and foremost!
Let me reinforce that a little by throwing in a brief question - 'Does your external sales team know your philosophy - really know, that is?' Well, it's a common belief that family businesses or owner-run businesses work that way; so let me offer two examples:
A very successful Austrian energy drinks producer who has refocused extensively on their Marketing.
A conference hotel in Nuremberg, Germany that was voted 'Hotel of the Year' for the tenth time thanks to its uncompromising service-philosophy.
In both cases, the company philosophy has been championed by the owners but has also been fully assimilated throughout the workforce hierarchy from management down to trainee. So here's my plea - A well-defined marketing philosophy is the key to success particularly when married to a commitment to uncompromisingly adapt your own actions to underpin the philosophy. Some talk about it, some watch others do it - but some actually do it! Guess who are the most successful?
Naturally there are always going to be practical restraints such as the demands of the bottom line, cost and revenue-orientation etc. The big question being, of course, what compromises are you prepared to take? For example, the 'added value' of a brand could possibly be enhanced through a deliberate approach to put 'Identity' above other decision criteria. A dilemma that highlights just why marketing can often be considered an art form, in this case the art of renunciation - 'We are not going to do this because it will harm the brand.' - Only someone with absolute faith in the brand, and thus in their marketing philosophy, could confidently act this way. It is therefore up to us marketers to curb any tendencies towards adopting 'multi-philosophies' and instead try to focus on a robust one that actually works! Employees like to be stirred not shaken, unlike James Bond's vodka martini. Consumers will quickly pick up on the underlying culture too - a happy efficient and customer focused philosophy is nothing if not infectious.
So very often it's the small gestures in everyday life that make such a big difference. A friendly 'hello,' 'thank you' or 'you're welcome' can boost the motivation and enthusiasm necessary to bring a certain philosophy to life. Many conversations that I've had in this regard have proved me right. You wouldn't think so, but a good, open, friendly and caring attitude is often sufficient to overcome any lingering skepticism and reluctance to embrace the philosophy.
However, a word of warning, it's not enough to hide behind empty platitudes such as 'the human angle' or 'people come first' - Believe me I can barely stand to hear those expressions anymore. First of all, cannibals have long been practicing this and secondly, everyone and their brother seems to be coining those phrases since we've started living in this 'touchy feely' age.
And, last but not least, if I'm being absolutely honest - in our free market economy the asset side of the balance sheet is always the hard basis for a business. When your staff start to realise that they have been either 'been led up the garden path' or 'had wool pulled over their eyes' you will find that your employees are quicker than you think to see through any meaningless posturing. So, be on your guard! Shall we explore an example? Here's an oft-stated claim: 'Our customer's satisfaction is our top priority.' Sounds good, right? Now here's a little story drawn from personal experience:
I'm a regular customer of a well-known German automotive manufacturer serving the higher end of the market (and priding itself on efficiency & professionalism) but on one occasion I struggled to obtain a replacement vehicle from one of their dealerships and once I actually received the car the fun began. The tank was more than half empty and the car was also missing the tax disc for the Swiss autobahn that I needed for my daily commute to work. Fortunately, I noticed the missing tax disc before I joined the autobahn. I quickly called the dealership and asked my customer service representative (a guy I've known for years) - if to save time was it ok for me to purchase the tax disc at their expense? First there was total silence, eventually followed by an apology - saying that he would first have to double-check with the boss! Not the most encouraging of responses. A query like that really needs to be dealt with quickly and - as importantly - in a friendly and soothing manner. Their reaction spoke more about giving priority to the costs of a potential claim rather than anything related to customer satisfaction!
Now, you might ask yourself whether I still drive that same brand of car or if the dealership has profited from saving those 42 Swiss Francs? . Well, you probably know the answer to both questions. Which brings us to the conclusion of this chapter. Why not send your management team to a 'business philosophy' osteopath or chiropractor. If the diagnosis shows the presence of some backbone then you know you've got the right people.
Then, you just...