How well connected are we with the real world?

When I listen to the great and good in the news, there does seem to be mounting evidence of a surreal detachment from the real world. We are facing a harsh reality that the nation and businesses have some big debts to pay back. However
 
Royalty:  Prince Andrew hiring private planes at tax payers expense to go to Davos to the world economic forum  .
 
Civil servants:  Mark Thompson's private flights courtesy of the Licence payer, because it was terribly important he dashed home from his holiday to sort out a staff problem.
 
Stephen Hester's  £9.6m package for managing a business wholly underwritten by the tax payer and is guaranteed it cannot fail.
 
Politicians:  Duck houses moat cleaning, phantom mortgages etc. But now I have heard MP's arguing that their bullet proof pensions are perfectly reasonable and the problem is not that their pensions are too generous but that the private sector is at fault and is too mean for withdrawing final salary pensions.
 
Ministers and opposition politicians talking as if they can continue to spend money and not realising that the electorate knows an adjustment is needed.  Gordon Brown's slip up that we face zero percent growth in spending is an illustration of the psychological dilemma.
 
Business Leaders:  I heard three eminent business leaders on Evan Davis Radio 4 slot profess, without blinking or stuttering, that when they meet staff (sorry colleagues!) they have perfectly normal discussion with them. They argued that they always find out exactly what the staff thinks because staff (sorry colleagues) do not tailor the response to impress the boss. (You would never think of doing such a thing!)
How can we stay in touch with reality? .
   
You know this is important for you to make the right decisions for your business. If you do not, you will lose touch with customers and they will drift away and the business will flounder. This is about more than being customer driven, it is about being realistic regarding what you try to accomplish and about the kind of role and relationship you have with your customers.
 
The most successful leaders manage to keep in touch with this, they do it through good instincts (Margaret Thatcher), good research (Tony Blair), talking with people (David Cameron).
 
Less successful leaders miss the beat, (Gordon Brown) start paying too much attention to what their immediate direct reports are telling them (Neil Kinnock, John Major, Ian Duncan Smith) and do not reach out to the wider market or audience.
 
This is not just about market research and talking to customers it is about having wider antennae by using multiple sources.
 
We need to find the same thing for our businesses and to understand customers. What is available to us to ensure we stay realistic? Here are 3 thoughts to get started.
 
1. Seek to understand what customers have done and why Do not take too much notice of they say they will do. Future behaviour is hard to predict. Funnily enough customers cannot predict their own behaviour. But it is possible to ask them and understand their current needs and frustrations.
 
2. Find ways to track what people are saying about your business. Get away from the bubble in your head office. Find out what they say behind your back (being British we are too polite to tell you to your face). If you are high profile enough then social media networks provide feedback on this. It is time consuming and expensive to track but it is real and â€oewith the beat”. This seems a more practical use of social media than trying to insert ads into conversations between friends.
 
A good example of how customers do not want to say things to your face comes to me from conversations with John Yates Smith a Val d'Isere chalet operator (YSE). He is amazed at how often when something goes wrong in the chalet (lights, fridge hot water etc), that customers keep quiet about it all week, then go home, moan to their friends, then even write a letter of complaint. But they do not tell him whilst they are there when he could fix it.
 
Any more thoughts on how to stay in touch with customers and keep our antennae switched on would be very welcome.  Please post comments on this blog.

What can we learn from Marketing Society Award winners?

I initially hesitated to use this title, since I am acutely aware of the conventional wisdom that winning an award can presage a period of poor results.  "Pride comes before a fall" and all that. 
 
However, this year all the Marketing Society Award winners seem to have followed one of the golden rules for success.  In order to be successful they did not just unearth a powerful new insight from customers and come up with a new idea, but they also had to engage with the rest of the business. 
 
They all work XF (cross functionally) and maybe even set up XF teams.
 
Here are a selection of the award winners.
 
Sainsburys – feed the family for a fiver
The O2  – venue launch
Hovis  – re invigoration
UPS – The UPS widget
Cadbury – Bring back Wispa
McDonalds – Feel proud to work at McDonalds
More Than – Personal Customer Manager
 
See all the winners click here
 
All of these initiatives require project team leaders who inspire and mobilise their peers in other functions (such as commercial, operations, merchandisers, product development, finance, and HR) to get behind the ideas and make them work. 
 
How can marketers do this?  In searching for wisdom on this I had a look at Tom Peters material.  He has made it his mission to promote the idea of cross functional co-operation and understand how to make it work.  He has published this paper. 
 
"XF-50" 50 ways to enhance cross functional effectiveness and deliver speed, service excellence and value added customer solutions. 
 
Click here to download the paper from Tom Peters
 
Now 50 is a lot of tips to take in and deal with, so we pulled off our own favourites and reworked them into a top 10.  Here they are: 
 

Top tips for marketers on customer led project teams 

 
How to harness powerful customer insights and create a plan for growth
 
These are not necessarily the whole answer but they do offer a refreshing challenge to the ways many of us have worked in the past.  
  1. Jaw Jaw Jaw – Talk XF co-operation value added at every opportunity.  Become a relentless bore.  Be happy to be in meetings, meetings are real work that get things done.
     
  2. Explain to everyone that WE make it work or not.  Its not THEM.  The outside world is not the problem.  The enemy is us.
     
  3. Put everything on the internal web.  This helps - a lot. ("Everything" = Big word).  Provide open access to the data, information, ideas, all available to all, transparency, beyond a level that is sensible.
     
  4. All functions are created equal.  All functions contribute equally.  All=All
     
  5. Use the words, "partner", "team" and "us" until we want to barf.  (Words matter a lot)
     
  6. Never blame other parts of the organisation for screw ups.  Blaming is an automatic firing offense.
     
  7. Get  'em out with the customer.  Rarely does the accountant or bench scientist call on the customer.  Reverse that.  Give everyone more or less regular customer facing experiences. One learns quickly that the customer is not interested in our in-house turf battles.
     
  8. Choose team members based on their co-operation proclivity.  Find people who want to work XF, promote them into your team.
     
  9. Create an XF honest broker or ombudsman.  The ombudsman examines XF friction events and acts as conflict resolution counsellor (perhaps create a formal conflict resolution agreement).
     
  10. Lock in XF co-operation.  This should be an explicit part of the vision statement.
Our approach "The Growth Game" is built on the premise that XF co-operation is critical to success.  We believe this is one of the chief reasons why our clients succeed and get great results.  See more details  click here

Are you assuming too much?

Sorry that we have been neglecting this blog and our ezines for the past 4 months.  But we have not disappeared, just got busy with helping our clients solve their problems. 

I heard this quote the other day that prompted me back into action

“One of the most expensive habits you can adopt in a business is to assume you understand something that is fundamental to your success"

Business leaders can be tempted to make assumptions rather than ensure they really try to understand some customer issues.

Here are nine assumptions that business leaders sometimes make but can result in misleading conclusions.  If you are making any of these assumptions it will probably be limiting your growth prospects.  Do you ever assume that

1.      You must tell the customer how great you are?

2.  Customers are happy based on customer satisfaction research results?

3.  You know the most important reason customers buy your products?

4.       If you lower the prices sales volume will increase?

5.  You don’t need to ask the customer what his problems are?

6.      You should do something because the competition is doing it?

7.      You should do exactly what your customers tell you?.      

 8.      Customers want to buy everything from you not just what you are best at?

9.      We already know enough about the competition?

In our experience successful businesses do not assume.  They work hard to understand.  They seek to unravel the mysteries of how customers choose what to buy and so become more attractive to more customers, who then buy more of their products and services more often. 

Perhaps you have made some assumptions that you later regretted.  If you can let us know what they were we would be really pleased to hear them.  Post them in the comments or send them to us by email

Are you bogged down by too much email and too many meetings?

This post is triggered by seeing this headline in the excellent Utalkmarketing daily bulletin

Brand managers are frustrated by admin

Being weighed down with administrative duties is the chief obstacle facing today's brand managers, according to a new survey from Sun Brand Technologies. The survey revealed that 92 per cent of brand managers spend between one and three hours a day on these inward-focused activities including reporting, chasing colleagues for information and dealing with missed deadlines. Half of all respondents felt that the higher up the management ladder they progressed, the more time they spent on administration, leaving fewer hours for research and new product development (NPD). 
 
This is a common issue that we hear about.  How often do you hear the statement "I have had so many phone calls, emails, admin work or meetings today that I have not had time to get any work done".  But is this right?  Is it such a bad thing to be talking with and communicating with colleagues..  Our marketing team effectiveness work suggests that spending time on this is a good thing for brand managers who aspire to be successful and effective.
 
The mission of a marketing team must be to champion the customer throughout the business.  Clearly this does require time spent on generating insight, creating new product ideas and great marketing campaigns.  However our own work on effective marketing teams and how to increase the customer orientation of the business suggests that time spent on internal communication and getting the organisation aligned with your aims is extremely valuable.
 
Arguably, this is the role of the marketing team in a larger organisation.  The marketing job is not just to come up with great insights, fantastic campaigns and wonderful new products.  Marketing needs to harness a wide range of skills ideas and resources to get the business focus on delivering products and services that customers want to buy.
 
The most successful customer orientated businesses have marketing teams that are well regarded by the rest of the business.  We discovered through our own research and reviewing studies by leading academics that these marketing teams were characterised and distinguished by three things:

  • Spending time communicating with all functions in the business
  • Talking in a language that the business understands (not marketing speak)
  • Using robust tools for measurement and tracking what is going on
Less effective marketing teams in businesses that were less customer orientated spend less time on these things.
 
So maybe spending one to three hours a day on these inward-focused activities including reporting, chasing colleagues for information and dealing with missed deadlines is not such a bad thing after all!
 
Is this still relevant in a downturn?  There is plenty of evidence from previous recessions that businesses who stay customer orientated are more likely to survive and will eme rgr in a stronger and healthier condition.

If you want to read more about how marketing teams can help businesses stay customer orientated.  Please read our marketing influence report which you can download here.

Are you only doing the things you are best at?

if not you are probably struggling to get enough growth or find yourself competing on price.  I was reminded of this by two features in Marketing Week yesterday. 

One was about Reckitt Benckiser who have just posted results with revenue up 20% and beating all their targets.  The other was about Tesco online who are enjoying good growth in their core grocery delivery and Tesco Direct businesses, but are pulling out of house sales, flowers and clothing as they are losing customers here.

   

Reckitt_4
The most striking thing about the Reckitt’s brand list is how each product as the best at what it does
, and in each case the product focusses on a narrow task. e.g.

Vanish – removes small difficult stains
Finish – dishwasher tablets
Calgon – removes hard water deposits
Dettol – anti bacterial cleaning
Airwick – air freshening
Lemsip – flu treatments
Nurofen – fast pain relief

      

Tescoeverylittlehelpslo
Tesco’s forays into markets that might seem attractive (flowers, house sales, clothing) have struggled as they end up being one provider competing on price or offering various new features.

Big brands also do this.  They must be the best at something.  Coke has a broad appeal and sells some generic soft drink values as well as its own brand personality, but it wins by being more available than any other brand. 

Mobile phone handsets that are winning at the moment seem to do one thing especially well.  Sony Erricsson have a walkman range focused on music, Samsung really attend to style and feel with a lot of designs so that friends can each have a different one.  Nokia and Motorola have struggled to stand out more recently.

This has got me thinking – what is it that Differentiate does best?  The best way to find out is to ask your customers.  I plan to ask our customers and ezine readers in the next ezine.

Identify what you do best and then narrow/specialise your business to deliver this and focus on selling to the people for whom what you do best is what they want.

In the language of the Growth Game – what you do best helps you define the characteristics of your Power Categories.  This is where you should specialise and focus. 

Reckitt Benckiser did not win by trying to take Unilever, P&G and GSK head on, they found specific niches where they could be the best and they focussed on these.  If big players like this find specialising is the route to profitable premium priced growth.  I guess we can all learn from that.

Fabulous brands will disappear overnight?

Lord Bell of Chime communications was quoted as saying this at the ISBA conference

"If we don’t take action, fabulous brands that spent millions building their reputation will disappear overnight."

The issue referred to is action to dissuade the government from imposing further restrictions and controls on advertising in areas such as unhealthy foods, cars that are bad for the environment, alcohol etc.

This post is not about about the merits or demerits of advertising controls, but to challenge the astonishing presumption that a great brand could not survive without advertising.

Some of the greatest and most fabulous brands of the 21st century became great brands long before they invested in broadcast advertising.   How did they do this?  They created products and services that people wanted and executed them better than others.  Here are a few plucked from the Superbrands top 500

Google
Microsoft
Yahoo
Rough Guides
Facebook
Denon
Easyjet
Ebay
Rolls Royce Aerospace
Eddie Stobat
Blackberry

And some others
Innocent
Pret a manger

Brand reputation and durability is built upon people’s day to day experience of the brand or what they hear about it from other people.  How did people discover these brands and services before they started advertising?  It will be different in each case but we know from our Power Channels analysis that whilst TV ads can be influential, word of mouth, previous experiences, being available in the right places are often the drivers of growth.

I would beg to suggest that the "fabulous brands that will disappear overnight" are not really so fabulous.  Great brands that deliver things that customers want and make themselves available in the right places will be sought after and customers will find them.  If advertising is restricted then brand owners will create new ways to make themselves famous.  I am not so sure their destiny is tied to the availability of mass market advertising.

Having said that, advertising is a powerful tool and persuading the government to back off is a good idea. But to do this we will need more powerful arguments than this one as advocated by Lord Bell at ISBA.

Footnote:   People’s day to day experiences are shaped by the way the business
delivers Power Attributes to the Power Categories.  This work underpins
the brands success.  Customers and prospects then discover this through
the Power Channels, which include advertising, but there is much more.
(definitions click here or sign up here  to get our free paper "The Growth Game").

Is your growth constrained by a lack of resources or a lack of action?

Last post we discussed marketing influence across the whole business.  But
according to some commentators, there might be a recession soon.  Does this mean
marketers influence will decline even further.  You may have less money to spend
and fewer resources.  It will put pressure on costs as growth gets more
difficult.

So should you react in a different way as a
result
.
  This week we show how "internal entrepreneurs" get growth. 
This is the same whether the market is growing rapidly or stagnant.

The
first thing is to focus on action; doing things rather than analysis, research
and meetings.  I was reminded of this when reading Tom Peters blog
and saw this quote.

Any project worth doing is worth doing because in
some small or large way it challenges "the way we do things around here."
Moreover, it is a given that bosses are primarily hired to be cops who make sure
that we do things "the way we do things around here."

This dilemma
is often resolved by a select band of individuals who drive for practical steps
that will create growth.  These team members refuse to accept the processes,
always find ways around the restrictions and "kick down doors" to make things
happen.

This select band are the internal
entrepreneurs
.
  They will work with limited resources.  Internal
entrepreneurs push their ideas with conviction and energy.  They also recognize
that they must win people over and cannot achieve their goals by just pushing
their ideas.  However they are willing to push back and are not put off by
objections and obstacles.  We have noticed they can exist at many levels of the
organization.  This is not just a feature of senior management.  What are their
behaviours?

We recently worked with someone in a 7m business who used
this "internal entrepreneur" approach and it has worked, two years later this is
now a 12m business.  They also operated with some of the constraints of a larger
business since the business is owned by a multi billion global business.  But
they did not have access to additional finance from this larger business.  The
resources available to them were only those generated by the revenues of this 7m
subsidiary. 

Here are our practical tips based on the
behaviours we have observed in this case and others.

  • Identify the five top drivers of growth on the business and ensuring the
    whole team understands them.   
  • Translate the 5 drivers into practical actions and review them every month
  • Refuse to accept that it is OK to miss objectives due to a need to adhere to
    process.  When obstacles arise, the question is how do you get around this? 
    What else could we do?
  • Develop a great enthusiasm for celebrating successes.  Make the office area
    full of boards with updates on progress, pictures of successes, statements of
    intent and performance vs. targets.
  • Evaluate all activities using three simple questions, what works, what does
    not work, what could we do better?  (Always start with the positive
  • Always talk about the customer and understand the customer needs.  Underpin
    decisions by robust insight.  All ideas were tested with customers.  This can
    involve very low cost market research tools that the team created and managed
    themselves.
  • Be clear about the working environment you want and the type of people this
    required.  Ensure all new recruits are interviewed and tested against this
    profile.

So if you are the boss, make sure you have some internal entrepreneurs in
the team. If you are the team, try being an internal
entrepreneur

If you want your team to understand how to do
this
look at  our programmes on  increasing
marketing influence
  (you can also read our papers on
this.

Differentiate supports internal entrepreneurs with The Growth Game
which is an approach that works to translate insights into practical steps for
growth that have the support of the business team.   Our best clients are often
"internal entrepreneurs; they know a lot of this stuff intuitively and use our
approach to not only develop their ideas but to sell them to the business
teams.

If any of you have experiences that relate to
this
,
please let us know, either by private email or post comments under this article

Does your team ever struggle to win support for their plans?

The subject of marketing influence and
effectiveness has hit the marketing press
again.  Deloittes have
done a global survey and Marketing published the findings last week.   It is a
great survey based on authoritative opinions of 217 C level executives mainly
CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs.
 
This reminded me that 10 years ago we published
two papers
in co-operation with The Marketing
Forum.
  These were based on survey
findings from over 500 senior executives across all the business functions.  One
paper was about marketing influence and the other about the future of marketing
as a business function.
 
Get our
papers
click
here
 
Some things have changed
reading both 1998 and the 2008 papers I noticed that Marketing is now more
central to strategy for the CEO.

Now 81% of CEO’s see marketing as a key driver of
growth
  "the chief executive is much more open to talking about
marketing these days"  CMO 2008

However
what has not changed is
that marketing teams remain
detached from the rest of the business
and
often do not own
the customer agenda within the business.

In 2008 – 77% of C-level respondents believe their employees do
not fully appreciate the value of marketing
  "I worry that I am seen
as too specialised compared with my peers in other functions"  CMO
2008

In 1998 we found marketers do not
communicate well with the rest of the business
and are often
seen as specialists who spend a lot of time talking to each other and their
agencies but not enough time engaging with their own business.   Our report
identified three characteristics of typical marketers that help to explain
this

  1. Marketers lack breadth and are
    conspicuously more loyal to their own professional development rather than
    broadening their career within the company
  2. Marketers tend to be highly creative and
    analytical.
      These strengths quite often go with weaker people
    and team player skills
  3. Colleagues in other functions have much better
    people and influencing skills
    and this helps them exert more
    influence within the business.

Our conclusion in 1998
was
 

The
marketing profession was optimistic about its future
.  The rest
of the business wants it to succeed.  The role of marketing is to champion the
cause of the customer throughout the business and ensure the business meets the
needs of the customer in a profitable manner.  In many ways marketers are well
equipped to do this.  The have the respect of the business for their creativity,
intelligence, technical skills, energy and drive.

BUT

Marketing teams must develop new skills
and operate in some different ways if they are to deliver this
role in an effective manner.  It is essential that marketing earns the respect
of the business so that the whole business becomes market led.  The key to this
would seem to lie in new communication skills and having robust tools for
identifying opportunities, analysis and measurement.  Without this the creative
brilliance and smart analysis will lose its impact.

Since then, we have
found that marketing teams who do spend more time working cross functionally and
engage the whole business in their plans end up with much greater influence, are
more highly regarded and create stronger top line growth.

This insight shaped the development of the
Growth Game. 
Our whole approach is  designed to
overcome these issues 
 
Get the Marketing influence
report
click
here

It is also instructive to examine Deloittes
conclusions in 2008

  • There is often a misalignment about the role of marketing amongst board
    members
  • CEOs must help the CMO to align the organisation around growth
  • The role of marketing is often misunderstood
  • Marketers need to broaden their commercial skills to play an increasingly
    strategic role in organisations
  • The focus on marketing measures is intensifying
Access to Deloittes report click
here

If you recognise any of this, then take a look
at our marketing influence programme
.  This works with the
marketing team and includes a 360 degree department feedback.  This programme
encourages the team to think about why they should view the rest of the business
as their customers, how this will help them achieve their goals, where they need
to improve their communication skills and how to engage other colleagues to
accomplish this.
 
Marketing influence programme – click
here
 

 

Do you struggle with too much data or not enough insight?

Tabloid newspapers are powerful communicators and
can exert influence on how people think.  One of the most effective
tools they use (and abuse?) are concepts that simplify reality and
allow people to see what is happening.  So a politician is
"beleaguered", a celebrity is on the way "up" or "down",  a government
is either "on a roll" or "stumbling".  Many people say that the papers
influence opinion and they argue they just reflect it.  But whichever
of these is true they cut through lots of data and create insight.

 
As marketers we need to create insight and become powerful communicators
to win over the business to our ideas for growth.  There are often many
ideas but this is accompanied by great uncertainty about which will
produce the right results.  This uncertainty seems to derive from two
sources.  Either there is too much data, so it is difficult to sift out
what is important or there is a shortage of real customer driven
insight because there is little market research available or affordable.
 
 
Have you found yourself sitting through analytical or descriptive presentations that provide some interesting content, but few actionable recommendations? 
 
Or sometimes have you found yourself struggling to come up with
insights and unable to justify the investment in high price market
research to create the customer understanding that will bring clarity
to your decisions?
 

One of the breakthrough tools we have developed to cut through data and create insight
is to develop "really useful concepts" that help you to see through the
mist and bring clarity to decisions about what to do.  We have found it
makes a huge difference and supports a cost effective approach.

  • When there is too much data, the "really useful concept" slices
    through the data to bring out the compelling insights.
  • When there is not enough money for new research, the "really
    useful concept" supports a structured approach to thinking through the
    issues and coming up with answers.  This approach may be done with
    customers or just your colleagues in the business.
You will probably have heard us talk about the concepts we use.
What characterises all of them, is that they are built around an
important business decision rather than just descriptive of an approach
to analysis or discussion.
 
  • Power Categories – where should we invest to get the most profitable growth?
  • Power Attributes – what features and benefits most powerfully influence customers to choose our products?
  • Power Propositions – products and services that deliver power attributes.
  • Power Channels – where does the product or service need to be seen and be available so our customers will discover it and can buy it?

We also have two additional ideas that have provided valuable support.

  • Rocketing – the tendency for customers to trade up and spend disproportionately on things that are really important to them
  • Internal Entrepreneur
    – describes the skills and behaviours of the people who can make things
    happen and influence the organisation to change and actively create
    growth.

We
were recently challenged about why our website and our conversation
does not use the conventional language of the brand marketing world
.
So why we do not talk about market segmentation, brand positioning,
marketing communications, brand pyramids, brand wheels and so forth?
The question caused me to think about this and reflect on whether by
being different, we are just confusing the issue.  In our experience
this marketing speak can encourage debate, but often does not lead to
decisions.  So we plan to stick to these "really useful concepts"
because they are just that "really useful".
                                  
We know that internal entrepreneurs succeed when they become great communicators.
Maybe we can learn from the Tabloid press and use simpler more powerful
concepts.  When our clients adopt these "really useful concepts" they
find it helps to create a common understanding about the decisions that
the business must make.  This helps engage the business team and win
support for the ideas. 
                                  

What is it that makes a concept "really useful". It must have the following characteristics

  • It creates insight about an important business decision or action.
  • It communicates.  It is easy to grasp and possible to have an idea
    of what it is about from the title.
  • It is adaptable and can help you derive insight from robust data or management discussion.
  • It has been proven to work through robust analysis or previous practical examples.
 
 
 
What "really useful concepts" do you use to make decisions?  If
you want to share them, you can look at the blog version of this article and post a comment.

                                  

 
 
 
 
 
Our next due date for an ezine is 25th December, so we will skip
that one and the next issue will be a New Year perspective on 2nd
January.

                                  

In the meantime have a great holiday break.  The Differentiate
team will be taking the chance to get some skiing in.  But we are back
shortly after Christmas and will be fired up for the New Year.

Are marketers truly Growth Champions

Recently I read an article about marketers as "Growth Champions".    This article was based on a survey conducted by Booz Allen during 2005-2006 and covering 2000 senior marketing executives.  See http://www.strategy-business.com/press/article/06206?pg=all

The article identified 6 approaches to marketing leadership and marketing structure in the different companies (the % figures below refer to the number of businesses of that type found in the sample).
   
Marketing Masters (40%) have a solid grasp of traditional marketing fundamentals and are clearly competent at the kinds of activities that marketing has always conducted.  However, they are not so involved in establishing the strategic growth agenda, and they are not as likely to provide high-level strategy recommendations to the CEO and other business leaders. They are also less likely to rely on standardized processes and tools to provide efficient service. Marketing Masters deliver superior revenue growth and profitability.
 
Senior Counselors (17%) guide the CEO on marketing strategy. They rarely lead product innovation or new business development, and have severely limited decision rights over new markets, new products, or even promotion campaigns. They deliver average revenue growth and profitability.
 
Service Providers (15%) merely provide advertising, promotion, and public relations service at the request of the company’s brand and product teams. Service Providers serve companies that are foundering behind their industry peers.
 
Brand Builders (12%) are efficient providers of such marketing services as communications strategy, creative output, and campaign execution in support of the company’s key brands. But their role and decision rights on strategy and investment are all but negligible. This category seems to deliver average revenue growth and profitability.
 
Best Practices Advisors (9%) work with individual business units to maximize marketing effectiveness and efficiency by bringing best practices to advertising, promotion, public relations, and other activities. This profile has a low correlation with above-average growth, but they are profitable.
 
Growth Champions (9%) see themselves as "owners" of their company’s key growth-support functions, whether or not these fit into conventional definitions of marketing practice. They lead general management activities as product innovation and new business development; they approve large investment decisions to enter new markets or launch new products.
 
Only Growth Champions correlated clearly with better performance; teams in this category are 20 percent more likely to exhibit superior revenue growth and profitability for their industry than marketing departments in the other five categories.
 
Growth Champions share several significant characteristics: 
  • They can identify their contributions to revenue growth, and they gain added authority from their ability to define return on investment (ROI).
  • Their members have a broader range of capabilities than their counterparts in other companies.
  • They use standardized tools and processes for efficiency.
  • They are proactive, not reactive, in providing both guidance and services that they believe add value to the senior leadership team.
We have observed that the clients who have been most successful at using the Growth Game principles have used it to assert their authority and to ensure they deliver each of these 5 points.
 
There are some strong similarities between this Booz Allen survey and some work we have done with 6 client companies about increasing the influence of marketing on the businesses growth agenda.  We will share our conclusions in the next ezine.
 
Ezine sign up If you want to get this kind of content delivered to your inbox, then go to www.differentiate-it.co.uk to sign up.  You can see examples of previous ezines in the links on the right hand side of this blog.