Why social media can be a distraction

Effective Growth StrategyCranfield School of Management are repeating a study that they conducted 1 year ago amongst marketing directors.  This study explores the operational and strategic priorities for marketing directors.

You can contribute to the study if you are responsible for strategic decisions click here

The previous Cranfield study from 2012 revealed that marketers priorities were around media and especially around the new fashion for social media.  The writers think this is worrying and I agree.  Will it be different in 2013?  I suspect not.

Read the results click here

The reason for my post is to reflect on why marketers seem over preoccupied with media strategy in studies like this rather than the real growth drivers of product strategy, distribution strategy and innovation.


For as long as I have been in marketing, marketers have complained about their lack of influence at the top table.  It is clear that finance, sales and operations have the power when it comes to major strategic decisions.  The observations made by Cranfield in this study describe this problem.  Yet then when asked about their priorities, marketers still focus is on a narrow part of growth strategy.

I have consistently noticed that the most effective growth leaders prioritise product strategy, distribution strategy and innovation ahead of media.  They see media as a part of the marketing mix and often a secondary part.

As an example of this, I have recently been involved with a group at the Marketing Society who are working on a marketing manifesto that exhorts marketers to focus on business fundamentals.  We also have been looking at the ways marketers build their credibility within the business so they can be more effective. The experienced marketers on this working party know that media is important but not the fundamental driver of success.

Most of the people I meet in business seem to understand this and understand what are the real growth drivers.  But then this study arises and I wonder why we get these results?  It remains a bit of mystery to me as to why we still see results such as are seen in this Cranfield study.

Tip of the week

I am a big user of social media.  It has a role to play and you ignore it at your peril.  It is true that for some new and smaller businesses they built their customers with social media, so it is a priority for them.  But many businesses built their business in other channels and social media cannot deliver the reach and penetration that they need to get growth.

We all know that we don’t buy stuff because we find it in social media we buy stuff because it helps us solve a problem we have got and it is available to us and we can find it when we need it.  This is why product strategy and distribution strategy are the growth drivers

Be clear on your business fundamentals.  Make your priorities on the real growth drivers.  they usually lie in product strategy, distribution strategy and innovation. Experiment with social media, but do not be distracted.

Google moving in on the market research industry


Remember when bookstores dismissed Amazon and the music industry resisted digital. This post from Denis Labelle shows how Google is expanding its offering in the market research business.  They now have a number of products including online surveys and consumer panels.  They are going beyond  web analytics and optimisation into all types of market research.


Time for the MR industry to wake up. These products from Google offers businesses a quality of insight and tools that used to be far more expensive. This looks like it could well be better than what many MR companies offer.

I am particularly impressed with the offer from +Paul MacDonald on Google consumer surveys

My only comment is that Google are possibly allowing too much customisation.
There is best practice in survey construction and analysis. Market research should use more of this standardized best practice rather than each study being created from scratch in a way that allows less expert users to make mistakes that have been made by others.  These tools can help us learn from the mistakes of others and just use what has been proven to work.

But this looks very very interesting to me. Especially Google’s innovative way to attract respondents at lower cost. The MR industry is in the line of Google’s sights. Look out.


Here are the links shared by Denis Labelle in his post on Google+ where he talks about how to get to know your Customers with Google

Analytics: Free online tracking tools to optimize your site
YouTube Analytics: View detailed statistics about your videos
Consumer Surveys: Custom market research made easy
Trends: Explore past and present search trends
Think Insights: Consumer trends, marketing insights, industry research

Google Website Optimizer > google.com/websiteoptimizer
Google+ Page: Give your business a home online, and let you build relationships with your customers > www.google.com/+/business/