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Strategy Before Tactics – the very foundation of marketing

By | Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News, Presentations | No Comments

Over the course of this trimester, I have been undertaking a sessional lecturing role at Kaplan Business School, teaching Marketing Principles to undergraduates and the Value Chain to postgraduate MBA students. Lecturing provides a great way of ensuring relevancy and best practice, by the blending theory with practical applications.

Marketing Principles is an introductory marketing subject and serves as the gateway into further studies within the discipline. Marketing theory has not changed substantially since its initial inception, although the discipline continues to evolve through research and new insights.

One of the fundamental principles taught to students is strategy is before tactics. Strategy ensures that the right tactics are executed in a timely manner while taking into account the available resource requirements and strategic direction.

2015-08-11-a-marketing-plan-informs-your-strategy

Unfortunately, misinformation is rife in regard to marketing, resulting in many non-accredited marketers promoting tactics without the research and insights that are required to achieve positive outcomes.

This is prevalent in areas like branding, where the focus becomes visual and style at the exclusion of the research required to map stakeholders, their decision-making journey, anticipated touchpoints and desired outcomes.

A brand ultimately needs to connect with not only customers but the entire value chain, including employees, directors, suppliers and channel partners. This is particularly important when partners may be supporting joint initiatives, that require each partner to convey mutually supportive value.

Unfortunately, there are many instances where a new brand is commissioned without undertaking these strategic stages. Similarly, many digital activities are undertaken without recognising the need for research and insights that guide the experiences required to create desired outcomes.

The execution of tactics is not marketing. Conducting valid research and determining suitable strategic insights is what marketing is actually about.

First year students are taught and assessed on this basis, and yet there are many instances of reputational and financial risks caused by people within business and organisations when they decide to execute tactics without valid strategies.

Redefining Marketing through Business Victoria

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Relevancy is a significant challenge facing the marketing profession. There are low barriers to entry, resulting in sources of contradictory advice, which causes confusion, as well as the potential for poor outcomes.

Business Victoria is the State Government’s Economic Development Department, responsible for supporting business growth. Business Month is held each August, culminating in the Small Business, Big Marketing Event held at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The Australian Marketing Institute's marketing specialists: Alex and the team

The Australian Marketing Institute’s marketing specialists: Alex and the team

Even though this event is focused on marketing, it has historically lacked any involvement from the Australian Marketing Institute until this year.
The Victorian Advisory Committee of the Australian Marketing Institute worked in partnership with Business Victoria to embed Australia’s peak marketing association within Business Month and the Small Business Big Marketing Event.

Nine members of the Australian Marketing Institute were invited to provide half-hour marketing clinics to participants, with the aim of demonstrating the depth and breadth provided through qualified marketing advice.

The attendees at Small Business, Big Marketing

The attendees at Small Business, Big Marketing

The event attracted approximately 700 participants on the day, with approximately 50 attendees visiting the Australian Marketing Institute and arranging a session.

Business failure delivers an economic and social cost to Australia as a whole, as well as communities and individuals. Inadequate marketing and lack of strategic insight are the top ten contributors to business failure within Australia.

It is incumbent on the Australian Marketing Institute to define the profession so we can mitigate the prevalence of bad marketing advice, that not only has a cost to individuals but also our economic potential.

It’s time we focused on Redefining Marketing

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News, Presentations, Resources | No Comments

Marketing faces the unenviable position of having low barriers to entry, meaning anyone can call themselves a marketer, without having either the credentials or experience to support these claims.

As a consequence, there is a significant level of bad advice, leading to poor results that not only jeopardise client outcomes, but also the industry as a whole. The prevalence of design and digital agencies purporting to offer marketing, is leading to misinformation and a rush towards ill-considered tactics. The association of tactics with the word marketing, including content marketing, social media marketing, telemarketing and direct marketing, is creating an environment where tactics are undertaken without the required research and strategic insights that are required to achieve the desired results.

We are in an environment where it is very easy to spend on ‘marketing’, but a lot harder to generate a return.

Meanwhile, brands are being created without the insights required to correctly determine market segments and stakeholders. These brands ultimately fail due to a lack of connectivity with the market context. Similarly terms like brand equity get thrown around, without an understanding of how it should be measured and evaluated to enable performance monitoring.

Marketing needs to elevate itself and reach the Boardroom. It cannot do this while it fails to speak the language of the board and absconds from responsibility.

Marketing is often one of the first functions to be downsized during times of economic uncertainty, simply because it has failed to demonstrate value, due to poor and incorrect reporting on outcomes.

Marketing needs a governance framework that provides the capabilities and capacity to engage the Board, maintain accountability and deliver measurable results. Our White Paper on Marketing Governance provides the framework for marketing to embark on this journey.

The Syneka Marketing Governance Framework

The Syneka Marketing Governance Framework

No longer should marketing be considered a silo that is immeasurable and unresponsive. Marketing Governance provides the toolkit to enable:

  • Strategic rigour and alignment with organisational goals.
  • Evaluation and assessment of risk, both internal as well as the external context.
  • Financial accountability by correctly budgeting cost centres and revenue generation.
  • The relevant roles and responsibilities required to plan, manage and deliver marketing outcomes.
  • Accountability through metrics and evaluation, ensuring that relevant inputs, outputs and outcomes are correctly identified across the customer lifecycle and measured.

While there is the impression that these issues may be limited to smaller businesses, the fact remains that marketing is significantly underdeveloped within Corporate Australia and government agencies, as much as not-for-profit organisations and new enterprises. Some of the most evident examples of marketing governance failure come from larger companies or organisations.

Time, money and reputation is being eroded due to poor marketing governance. Marketing Governance enables Marketing to reach and engage the boardroom, by stepping up and identifying that it needs and should do better.

Download our White Paper at www.synekamarketing.com.au/syneka-marketing-governance-framework/

Measuring Economic Uncertainty and its Effects – a Paper from the Reserve Bank of Australia

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The Reserve Bank of Australia recently released a draft discussion paper exploring the development of an uncertainty index, to measure the degree of economic uncertainty within Australia. The discussion paper identifies a number of variables that provide a potential indicator into the degree of economic uncertainty.

While uncertainty is more likely to occur during poorer economic conditions, the index can rise during better times, if there are unexpected economic occurrences. Factors identified in the report include sudden changes in monetary policy, foreign economic conditions and recessions. Interestingly, Commonwealth elections also appear to create a degree of economic uncertainty, particularly if the potential result is largely unknown.

Uncertainty has a significant impact on Australian businesses, with larger decision being delayed. The index identified a slowing of employment growth, as well as machinery and equipment purchases. Similarly, there are likely to be delays in strategic marketing planning, despite the opportunities that exist during economic uncertainty.

2016-05-13 Uncertainty

We previously explored Proctor and Gamble, which developed a strategic approach to identifying new customer segments during the Great Depression. Their strategic approach, supported by research and insights, enabled Proctor and Gamble to experience growth at a time that many others failed.

Proctor and Gamble was able to experience this growth because it developed a strategic marketing plan at a time when many others hesitated due to uncertainty. Planning is even more essential during uncertain times as it provides the ability to evaluate alternatives and to mitigate risk.

According to the index Australia’s overall level of economic uncertainty is currently below average, but is trending upwards. Rather than enable uncertainty to be an excuse for indecision, it should renew the need for a strategic approach that can uncover market opportunities.

The full draft discussion paper can be viewed through the Reserve Bank of Australia at www.rba.gov.au/publications/rdp

 

Marketing Governance: Mitigating reputational and financial risks

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News | No Comments

Good governance needs to underpin all aspects of a business or organisation and this holds true for marketing. Unfortunately, marketing governance tends to be substantially underdeveloped, with blurred responsibilities and a lack of sufficient oversight.

The most evident examples are seen in social media, where a lack of oversight and a failure to link execution with strategic direction, has resulted in significant public mistakes by businesses (including large businesses like Woolworths and McDonalds), as well as not-for-profit organisations (as evidenced through the failed YourTaxis campaign).

Marketing Governance defines the roles and responsibilities of the marketing function, by considering three core elements:

2016-02-29 Levels

  1. Level 1: Executive – Leadership and Direction – Marketing leadership and strategic direction needs to be established at an executive level. This is often the Chief Marketing Officer and the Executive Team, or a combination of the board and Executive Officer within not-for-profit organisations. The strategic marketing direction needs to be consistent with the organisation’s vision.  In particular, the entire marketing mix needs to be considered, to ensure that marketing has visibility and suitable influence across the organisation. Suitable structures should be developed to support the need for marketing to be integrated into other business areas.
  1. Level 2: Management – Accountability and Oversight – Management is accountable for delivering the strategies that will achieve the goals established through the marketing plan. Management should determine the appropriate activities and tactics (within budget and resource parameters) that will collectively achieve the identified direction. Management is responsible for oversight across these activities to ensure consistency and to evaluate results. Management should be empowered to not only measure marketing performance, but to adjust these activities if the expected outcomes are not being realised. As a result, management must be able to measure marketing performance and be fully aware of the customer journey and sequencing that is required to motivate action.
  1. Level 3: Implementation – Execution – Execution is where relevant marketing tactics are undertaken based on the decisions made by management. The execution layer can involve internal teams, external partners or a combined approach, but should always have a clear understanding of the outcomes required. It is imperative that execution activities are briefed correctly and that inputs and outputs are not mistaken for marketing outcomes. Management needs oversight over execution to ensure that outcomes are consistent and delivering anticipated results. Measuring marketing performance enables adjustments and to ensure that all execution elements are working as intended.

Marketing Governance is an area that is far too often overlooked, but is required to ensure the evaluation of marketing performance and to reduce reputational and financial risk.

Marketing, as a function, and organisations overall, need to develop capabilities in marketing governance so we can finally see an end to mistakes that never should have occurred in the first place, had oversight and direction been suitably established.

Setting the standard: Why accreditation matters for marketing

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News, Resources | No Comments

Imagine, one morning someone enters your office and tells you that they want 20% of your annual turnover because they have a ‘great idea’ to grow your business. They are unable to provide any evidence to support their claims, other than saying they have a ‘great idea’.

It goes without saying, but not many business owners or managers would contemplate making such a transaction.

Unfortunately, this is what marketing often looks like, with far too many decisions made on hunches or guesses, rather than a factual understanding of market needs, positioning and opportunities. As a consequence, marketing consulting and marketing services have a surprisingly low barrier of entry, with anyone able to claim they are a marketing consultant, expert, specialist or even ‘guru’.

Research into business exits often cites the lack of marketing insights as being one of the top ten causes of business failure. This is despite marketing spend often being between 10% and 20% of an annual budget.

The current approach provided by many who claim to provide ‘marketing’ is failing businesses and the wider community.

This is why accreditation matters for marketing, and is why we are so heavily involved with the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI). Accreditation has the potential to uplift the marketing profession and provide a benchmark for the delivery of marketing services.

No business would seek financial advice from someone that lacks appropriate accreditation, given the potential ramifications of bad advice. Yet we as professional marketers, have lost track of the amount of times we have been brought in to fix the mistakes made by pseudo-marketers. It is time to put an end to pseudo-marketers by recognising the definition of marketing (as defined by the Australian Marketing Institute):

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

Marketing exists to build the capacity of your business so you can achieve your business goals. This is why one of the core marketing concepts is the marketing mix (commonly known as the customer experience):

A strategic marketing approach would have asked the right questions: focusing on all elements rather than just promotions

The marketing mix highlights the areas that marketing needs to consider to enable business growth

The marketing mix shows the impact of marketing across a business, yet pseudo-marketers, the self-proclaimed ‘experts’, ‘specialists’ or ‘gurus’ will often only focus on one or two elements. This leads to disparate tactics that will create inconsistent outcomes, ultimately resulting in reputation and operational risks.

The Certified Practising Marketer - as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer – as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) designation is accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute and sets the standard for the marketing profession.

Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation assesses academic and professional experience to ensure that there is an understanding, as well as ability to apply marketing. Accreditation means a commitment to the Australian Marketing Institute’s Code of Conduct and the requirement of continuing professional development to ensure ongoing learning.

A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) understands that marketing is more than disparate tactics. A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) realises that marketing is the strategic alignment between business goals and marketing outcomes, resulting in a measurable and positive impact on business growth and innovation.

At Syneka Marketing we are proud of our ongoing involvement with the Australian Marketing Institute. Our founder, Alex Makin is the State Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute’s Victorian Advisory Committee and our leadership team maintains Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation.

Do not risk your business with pretenders that lack accreditation and industry recognition. Accreditation matters for marketing, just as it does for Accountants, Lawyers and Engineers.