The other day I read an interesting entry on Hungarian HR expert, Tamas Kelko’s blog.
He outlines a chronic illness that has penetrated small and medium sized organisations over the years. He refer to the situation in Hungary but the problem is more global.
He points out that in order to increase revenue, business owners must focus on marketing. Many years ago, Peter Drucker outlined the importance of marketing when he said…
“Because its purpose is to create a client, the business has two – and only two – functions… Marketing (you get paid for creating a customer) and innovation (you get paid for creating a new dimension of performance). Marketing and innovation produce results, all the rest are costs.”
So, our business owner hero knows he has to focus on marketing, but he doesn’t really know marketing. After all, he’s a subject matter expert, an IT guru.
So, he runs an ad in the local paper or even Craigslist, in which he’s looking for a marketing guru with a university degree in marketing (possibly MBA) and many years of experience.
No he doesn’t hire a copywriter to write the ad because he thinks any idiot can write a job advertisement. No big deal.
And the applications are flying in…
And since the ad is so vague, by the afternoon, he is knee-deep in applications.
By next morning he’s up to his balls with application printouts.
The applications were piling up so fast that he needs wings not to drown in them.
Then, based on whatever random criteria, he selects a guy with an MBA and four years of experience at an advertising agency and a couple of awards to his name.
“This is what I need.” – Our hero thinks.
He checks the guy’s references. The marketing guy checks out as a good guy.
What our hero neglects to ask is that if this guy has ever produced any revenue. He gets bamboozled by the guy’s awards and smooth and slick agency talk.
So, he offers him good salary, benefits, bonuses, amazing working conditions and even a company car.
Time is ticking by but by the end of the new marketing guy’s first year in the position, still nothing has happened.
What the hell is going on?
Our hero business owner thinks back to the interview process…
He remembers that the candidate was very quick to ask about the budget, but when he asked the candidate about how he had improved the bottom line at his previous employers, the candidate got rather confused…
- I’m not sure what you mean
- Well, I was in marketing not in sales, generating revenue wasn’t my job
- Marketing cannot be measured with money
- Why, was I supposed to generate revenue?
But our hero marketer used to work in an ad agency and his job was to spend the agency’s clients’ budgets to the last penny and win advertising awards.
Creativity and wards meant promotion. It wasn’t about helping clients to generate revenue.
The reality is that out of many applicants, only a few can make positive differences to their employers’ bottom lines. Most of them are lots of smoke and no fire. Big hat and no cattle.
Also, in most universities what they teach is business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. That is, marketing commodities to the masses. There are only a very few (I know only three) universities in North America that teach business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
So, when most people with marketing MBAs (2 years of B2C Kottler therapy) land in the B2B world, they just stand there like a deer being caught in the headlights.
Here is the other problem.
Marketing, especially with the proliferation of the Internet, is changing very quickly.
But in academia, it can take years to get a new curriculum accepted for teaching. So, if you write a curriculum on Social media in 2009, it won’t be considered and accepted at least before 2012. So, in 2012 you start teaching something that is already obsolete because by 2012 social media won’t be the same as it is today (January 2010).
A few years ago Jeff Walker released his Product Launch Formula, but in academia it’s still not taught.
Social media has been around for a while but academia is still hesitating as to whether or not to recognise it at all.
A few weeks ago I was listening Jeffrey Krames’s audio book, Inside Drucker’s Brain. While Drucker was a guru and a guiding light to the entrepreneurial world (that produces the majority of GDP for most countries), he was a black sheep to academia. Only a very few textbooks refer to his name in the form of very short footnotes. But none of his 39 books is recommended reading at universities, accept at Claremont Graduate University (then known as Claremont Graduate School), where he developed the country’s first executive MBA programs for working professionals.
So What Can Business Owners Do
I suggest two actions.
1. Business owners must understand marketing pretty well. They don’t have to become marketing masters themselves, but must understand the principles, so when they hire marketing consultants for help, they can have intelligent conversations and the owner understands what the marketing consultants is talking about.
It’s hard to hire a competent marketer if you don’t speak marketing English. And this applies to any profession. How can a business owner hire an accountant if he doesn’t know what EBIDTA is?
Yes, the business owner must be a bit of everything. He has to have an oversight on everything, otherwise he gets screwed by unscrupulous “experts” and “gurus” whose number is growing rather fast.
2. Business owners must grow great marketers in-house. This is important because this way the marketer is developed in the company’s specific culture. Marketing knowledge is one thing but the company’s culture and values create the infrastructure within which marketing operates.
For instance, the car industry is famous for its bait and switch marketing methods and dirty, unethical sales practices. It’s not surprising if you consider that the car industry is a typical “cheat, lie, deceive and cover your arse” environment. The motto is to make money whatever (maybe short of murder) it takes.
The overall organisational strategy must be in alignment with marketing strategy. That’s why the business owner must be in charge.
Yes, it’s a good idea to discuss things with a marketing consultant to make the most of your marketing strategy, but the business owner must be in charge.
And once you and your consultant have developed a marketing strategy that is in alignment with your organisational strategy, then you can hire some implementers. Yes, it’s a good idea to keep your consultant on a retainer in case some questions come up around implementation, but you don’t need the consultant permanently on the project.
And for implementers hire good people with drive, energy, enthusiasm and passion for marketing.
Then you can organise an in-house marketing academy for your people.
Give them resources and put each of them on the path of individual professional development.
- Joe, by the end of 2010 you go through these materials and become a kick-arse copywriter.
- Jen, by the end of 2010 you go through these materials and become a kick-arse SEO expert.
- Jim, by the end of 2010 you go through these materials and become a kick-arse WordPress expert.
Remember, these people already have an innate talent and affinity to these topics, but you empower and enable them to become masters of their crafts WITHIN your company’s culture.
As they learn their crafts, they also absorb and experience the culture of your company. They become one with your vision and mission.
And these are the people who stay with you through thick and thin.