Marketing vs Delivery

February 27, 2009

Not to put too fine a point on it, marketing is there firstly to make us aware of stuff, and secondly to make us want to buy it. On the way, it may amuse or annoy us, pique our curiosity, give us ideas, leave us with a mental image. In summary, it’s a commercial tool which can add a little sparkle to life. At some point the consumer wants to come face to face with the real product, or concept, or whatever is being marketed. That’s when the marketing has to be backed up by the ability to deliver.

Recent events with a pretty mundane product started me thinking about the links between marketing and delivery. The product is a shampoo, and it became obvious a few years ago that the marketing people had lost interest in it. It disappeared from big stores and the customer service email address wasn’t bothering to reply to questions about suppliers. Eventually I tracked it down in an independent shop and bought in a stockpile. When the stockpile ran out I tried customer services again. No reply. The phone number was only manned a few hours a week. Eventually someone answered – ‘we sold that brand last year’.  ‘Brand’, note, not a product which needs to be delivered to customers.

Armed with the name and phone number of the new ‘brand owner’ I tried again. Interestingly, the first question I was asked was whether I had already phoned about the product – there’s obviously a market for the stuff if others are making as much effort as me to track it down. The new brand owner couldn’t name an outlet, either physical or online, and passed me on to their wholesaler. The wholesaler could say which outlets they supplied but not whether they supplied the shampoo to those outlets. In the event, neither of the outlets named stocked the shampoo.

A simple view of the world suggests that if customers are making an effort to track down a product, then that’s a *good thing* It’s marketing itself and all the manufacturer has to do is get it out there in the shops, and maybe give it a bit of a boost from time to time. And it’s a lot cheaper to retain existing customers than to attract new ones. So what’s going on here? With companies failing all around, surely no manufacturer can afford to ignore the existence of a product with such a loyal customer base that it requires no marketing to make people seek it out.

A look at the Keyline website offers no help to the customer, it’s all about marketing and brand acquisition. There’s a huge disconnect here. Physical products need physical delivery to customers and if that doesn’t happen, the marketing is a complete waste of time. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

The internet is evil……

February 19, 2009

Well, that’s what you would think from a quick search in the popular press and even in some serious sources. The internet is forcing us to do all sort of harmful things apparently. We have no free choice, we are at the mercy of the evil empire known as ‘the Internet’. What are the myths and what are the facts? For example.


Myth: Social networking sites damage people’s health by keeping people apart.


Facts: There are lots of people who increase the level of contact with friends by having conversations and sharing information online as well as face to face. There are lots of people who maintain online contact with geographically distant friends and relatives, to a much greater extent than they would if they relied on letters and phone calls. The same can be said of work colleagues. There’s no health harm in this. There are also some people who find face to face contact difficult. Without the internet they would avoid it. With the internet it’s possible to hide behind an invented persona, or avoid contact through using online shopping and administration sites. That’s not the fault of a piece of technology. It’s about the way we allow the social structure to evolve. Technology may intensify the effect but it’s not the cause.


Go back a little while and you can see similar pieces written about gaming and before that about television. They were blamed for sucking people in to unreal worlds. As with social networking, they can provide situations which allowed a blurring of the distinction between real and fantasy worlds. So do books and stories. That’s a reflection of the richness of the human imagination. Some people lack the ability to keep a foot in the real world and, for good or for bad, some of the content on the internet provides an enticing alternative existence.  The problem sits partly with the weakness of the individual and partly with the willingness of others to exploit such weakness. The technology is merely a conduit. And the people who blame technology have lost touch with the facts in exactly the same way.

Where is the news?

February 17, 2009

I’m hoping in this blog to look at news stories which demonstrate good or poor understanding of the need for aspirations to be backed up by a good understanding of how those aspirations can be delivered. I can’t do that today. The headlines may be summarised as ‘Woe, woe and thrice woe!’ Have our leaders been paralysed by the economic crisis?

Banks need a foot in the real world

February 16, 2009

Who, running a small business, would be able to pay out bonuses if they were begging the bank to extend credit terms because the business wasn’t making enough money to balance the books?  The owner of a small business feels bad if he can’t reward hard working staff but he knows he has to return the business to a viable state before there’s money for bonuses. Why should things be different for a loss-making bank subsidised by the government? The priority should be to return the bank’s business to viability, not to to use the subsidy to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. If that means that hard working staff don’t get a bonus, so be it. After all, many hard working taxpayers in other sectors  face short working hours or redundancy, bank workers are not a special case.

If a government steps in to act as the bankers’ banker, the government has a duty to act as a responsible banker. The government should have a clear purpose in mind when it makes the loan and the purpose should be a condition of the loan. The government should know how to tell if that purpose is being fulfilled. And, given that the money comes from the public purse, the criteria should be visible to the public who fund the rescue package.

Still testing a Twitterfeed

February 16, 2009


Why there’s a need for a Delivery Demon

February 15, 2009

DeliveryDemon believes that words and promises are all very well but in the real world you need to be sure that that there’s a significant probability that what’s been promised can actually be delivered. For example, if a government gives a shedload of taxpayers’ money to a bank to rescue it from failure, the government should have an understanding of what the bank needs to do, have an agreement with the bank that that’s what it will do with the money, and have a way of checking that what should be happening is actually happening. That’s one example, but in everyday life and business life, aspirations and promises are rife, and it’s risky to rely on them if there isn’t a visible path to delivery.

This blog share’s the Delivery Demon’s thoughts on delivery successes and failures.