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.
February 24, 2009
A lot in the press last weekend about the UK civil Service recruitment ad for a Director of Digital Engagement http://tinyurl.com/digitalengagementdirector
Ignoring the salary on offer mid credit crunch, was the fuss warranted?
It’s a matrix role with a small team and small budget but a very senior reporting level. But what’s its purpose? Well,for starters, the DeliveryDemon wants to know who is to be digitally engaged, what makes engagement digital, and what constitutes engagement anyway? Reading between the lines, it appears that the DDE will have to come up with those answers, apart from the ‘who’ – it appears that the recruiters are falling into the trap which marketers are climbing out of, and concentrating on the young while ignoring the existence of an internet-savvy older population.
Is it spin, or is there a real purpose behind the role? There are lots of weasel words – work with, act as, head of profession, feel they are accountable, work differently, break new ground, influence, embed…. All very aspirational and spin-like. There are also some apparently hard deliverables and measures:
- 6 months to deliver a strategy and implementation plan and show ‘concrete signs of momentum’ in executing it
- effective and efficient use of hardware and software
- introduce new techniques and software
- convene an expert advisory group
- effective use of digital spend
- save significant sums
There’s a distinct step into the contradictory with the expectation that a ‘world class’ pattern of usage of fast-evolving technology will still be seen as world class after sufficient time has elapsed for it to become embedded in the normal work of government. Look behind the spin. Does the taxpayer actually want to pay for something world class, whatever world class means? Or should the aim be something which works effectively and reliably without costing the equivalent of the budget of a small country the baleout cost of a large bank?
Only time will tell whether such a role can make government departments into more effective communicators through the use of a wide range of technology. The DeliveryDemon fears that the underlying requirement for effective communication has been lost in the focus on playing with new technology.
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?
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.
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.