LTT Business Bulletin - October 2014
Diana Terrones, Director of DT Consulting
“Stop thinking about marketing!”
As a marketing person I should give you some marketing ‘top tips’ right? However, in 25 years of working with CEOs, that is rarely where I start.
Instead, I usually share my insights on the three areas I often address before I begin any meaningful marketing activity.
1. Business before Marketing
Setting growth targets and being very specific about the kind of business you want to generate is the best focus and advantage you can give yourself.
Many years ago I went to head up Commercial Marketing in a large law firm in London. The senior partners were so excited to have a ‘brand expert’ on board to finally get new brochures, better events and nicer golfing umbrellas. They were very happy until I told them that they would get nothing from my team until we had created a business plan for each of the 7 Practice areas.
‘You don’t understand LAW Diana, that’s not how it works.’
‘I don’t need to understand law’ I said ‘there are 4000 lawyers in this firm to do that! I do understand business and unless we know how we want to grow and in which markets, then a new brochure simply will not turn the business around.’
6 out of 7 Practices completed a straightforward business plan with me. Their resulting marketing strategies were specific to their individual needs and they all picked up new clients and a renewed sense of purpose.
The 7th Practice did not buy into my passion for focus, my lack of legal experience in general or me in particular. Instead, I put a very diplomatic marketing manager onto their practice to do their bidding and together they created another brochure and of course, much better golfing umbrellas. They continued to lose business.
2. Know your Target Market and Purchasing Drivers
Being very clear about your precise target market and why they are interested in your brand is key to the success of all your business and marketing strategies.
Nobody’s target market is ‘everybody’, but I do hear that a lot. You know when you send an email to many people asking for various actions nothing gets done, but if you ask specific people for specific actions, then you get results? It’s the same thing with marketing. Your product or service should speak to a specific area of the population and be desirable to them, but not out of reach.
I worked at Sony Europe in the early 90s as their brand guardian. Surprisingly a major problem country at this time was France where everybody loved the brand, but sales were 7th in the market according to Nielsen & GfK.
They had been running a long standing & very stylish Ad campaign for years, “if you can dream it, Sony can make it” which finished on a shot of a very famous and expensive apartment overlooking the Seine. Speaking to shoppers at several retail outlets, I was overwhelmed by the love and regard everybody had for the brand.
The problem was that the average French electronics consumer assumed they would not be able to afford a Sony and didn’t even put it on their shopping list. Sony France had successfully positioned Sony in the same realm as Bang and Olufsen and in so doing, had alienated 70% of their potential market. Very desirable but completely out of reach for their real target.
3. People & Passion will build your Business
As a CEO, you create the culture in your business. Let me say that again because this point is often missed. YOU create the culture in your business.
Be bold in stating the kind of business you want, the kind of people you want to surround yourself with and the kind of behaviour you will not tolerate.
This is the culture that you create and it should be one that makes you and your employees want to come into work every day and results in business success. And if you feel uncomfortable about making a bold stance, shaking your spear and saying ‘this is how it will be’, let me explain what will happen.
You will leave a cultural void in your business that will become filled with other people’s ideas of what a business should be. Sad but true, most people’s experience of how a business runs includes blame, bullying, disrespect, hierarchical decision trees and poor management styles.
When people come to a new job and unless there is something else already in place, this is the culture and the frame of reference they will unwittingly instil in the void you have left.
Hire people who are smarter or have greater experience than you in some areas. Respect their ability to challenge you and teach you something new. And then get out of the way and take any roadblocks with you.
If you hire good people and enable them to do their job, they will happily run your business and challenge you to always think bigger and better.
Be humble and know that some of the people you work with are better than you at many things, but you are the one that brings it together and in that, you are uniquely brilliant.
Diana Terrones is a marketing consultant. With 25 years in UK, Europe & Australia both as a marketing head and a consultant, she is determinedly pragmatic about taking the mystery out of business and marketing, and enjoys coaching CEOs to get the business basics right. Diana can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org