How Marketing Department Lost It’s Gusto?

There’s little we hear today about Marketing Department (or Division) these days? Don’t we? What we hear about Marketing today is about launching events after events. The department role has become launching organizers. They are very good at dealing with event coordinators, medias and gifts companies. Is that what Marketing department supposed to do?

Well, at least that’s one of it, we called it marketing communication. Ideally, what is marketing? What is the main function of marketing department? How should we measure marketing success? Why marketing matters? Let me.

“What Is Marketing? “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved July 2013 by American Marketing Association – AMA)”

Source: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing/

According to Peter Drucker, “The two basic functions of a business enterprise are Marketing & Innovation. All the rest are costs. Marketing & Innovation produce results. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Source: Peter Drucker, What Is A Business?

If the purpose of business is to create customer through innovation (Drucker), the purpose of marketing is to help the organization sees the satisfaction desired by the customers in terms of values and needs. This is where, in my opinion, the beginning of marketing department downfall, lately.

The marketing department as we know it, no longer help the organization sees the customers values and needs, neither, make effort to understand the customers values and needs. Yes, the customers are changing, fickleminded and indecisive. We know these customers behaviours for very long already, nothing new.

Marketing Activities

There are at least four main marketing activities. The 4Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) . The marketing department through its marketing activities, need to drive the decisions in these areas.

In Product – marketing department through its customers research, it will generate new products (or services) ideas and solutions. They will also look at the existing products, are they making profit? Or they are just product line up that is making losses year after year? The marketing team should have enough data on this. Do they have this data? The marketing department can only see what is in the pipeline but can they create new? Does the marketing team knows USP – unique selling proposition of the products (and services)?

In Price – marketing department will help set the pricing policies looking at the varying customer segments in their midst. They will know how much margin or mark up or profit or volume they need to generate for the business to grow. Are they making the decisions today? Or is it done by the finance group? How does marketing team influence this decision?

In Place – marketing department look at the distribution channel of the products. In today’s business, there are online and offline distribution channels. Does the marketing department has the people to do online marketing? Do they know the customers experiences in these two areas are different? How does the marketing team use the data collected? How does the marketing team work with the offline retailers, distributors and wholesellers? Do they have these strategies? Or is currently these being done by customer experience department? Or big data unit that is reporting to IT department?

In Promotion – marketing department set the promotional strategies including sales team deployment. Setting sales strategies, incentives and ammunitions. Is the marketing department still doing this? Or has this been delegated to sales department? Ohh yeah, this is also where marketing runs events to promote and advertise the “solutions” valued and needed by the customers. They do it through communication with the medias and PR companies. In promotion, marketing department also continually asssessing the brand value as seen by the customers.

After looking at all above, it turns out the marketing function as it was, has been broken down to myriad other units that are more specifics, more objective and relatable to the customers worldview as needed by the organization. Because of that, the marketing department is it was, without breaking it into many other units, will become too big, too slow and bureaucratic. That’s how marketing lost it’s gusto.

Wither Marketing Budget?

As a result, marketing department budget now filled with events budget and it become less strategic. In my humble opinon, marketing department too, has to be blamed. The people inside marketing team already out of touch with the customers realities. They department relies too too too heavily from the agencies, vendors and suppliers to give them reams of reports about the customers.

Marketing department rarely goes down to the “market” to talk to the customers. They refused to listen to the customers feedbacks and listen to their stories. Marketing department people prefer to man events at big and posh hotels while drinking coffee and smoke cigars – to them, the hotel is the prestige defined as “great branding” and “credibility” by the customers.

Marketing department create products in their office. They look at the quantitative data without an iota believe that they need qualitative data too – customers insights and pain points stories. Marketing department people do not go down to meet the engineers at the manufacturing plant to see the product development themselves. All they ask for are photos to make brochures and marketing kits. That too, the marketing department ask the agencies to go and get them.

Direction-less Heads

The marketing department also busy attending high flying and international conferences in the name of “benchmarking”, “new strategies” and “power networking”. Funnily, the one that usually get to go to these kind of pampered and full board events are the bosses of marketing department and above.

They go and come back – then nothing happened. The bosses snap loads of pictures of the slides and whatsapp them to the team. Instructing the team to do this and that – ASAP. The next year, the same bosses go again and again and again. It became the viscisous cycle that everybody knew – except the bosses. That’s how marketing department lost it’s gusto. With all the happenings in the marketing deparment, the top management should follow the advise of David Packard (Hewlett Packard), “Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing Department.”

The marketing department also detest any other department that take away their budget in the next financial year. Now the next upcoming department that, if not careful, will fall just like the marketing department, it is the IT department.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Advertisements

“It is common for all of us to seek our own path to success as we defined it. Time waits for no one.”

“While allowing room for failures is encouraged, employees should also be trained to be courageous to admit mistakes and pick up slacks.”

“Eventually, the core business will mature and stops growing. The owner should invest in parallel several years earlier in the next growth business so they are ready when the core stalled and profit would already be taking over as the next engine of growth.”

When Costs Kiss Goodbye!

Image credit: Kraft Heinz loses a lot of cheese as earnings send stock plunging to …

Interesting article about an investment company (private equity firm) that acquire food businesses (Heinz & Kraft Foods) back in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The firm believed these two companies could unlock more values by using ruthless focus on efficiency. They quickly employed radical cost cutting programs.

They fired thousands of workers, shutdown factories, used zero-based budgeting model (justify cost without regard of previous year spending), remove refrigerators (pantry) in the HQ known for stocking cheese sticks, set default settings of office printers (double sided with black toner) and limit meals spending during travel to $50 a day. Guess what happened next?

These initiatives and cost program led to industry-leading profit margins in less than 2 years! The stock price went up to more than $90 in 2017! See below.

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.51 AM

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.21 AM

But, unfortunately, it went to nose dive after all the radical cost programs deployed. From my research, Kraft Heinz overlooked the marketing bit, product innovations for their changing customers segments and valuable employees feedback that know how to run your operations especially in different market segments and countries.

Sometimes, big brands and companies make tactical mistakes like this. No doubt long history companies tend to have opportunities to go leaner that it was; things usually get complacent after awhile.

One of the videos, check it out.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/kraft-heinz-backers-face-reality-brutal-cost-cutting-isnt-enough.html

Lessons that we could take from here are:

  1. Look at at products and services innovations as growth strategy: There are probably a host of products that could be making money or probably there’d discover that most of the products are obsolete to modern customers. For the record, Kraft Heinz launched new products such as organic version of Capri Sun and expanded its condiment businesses. They tried, probably not enough time to see it through, perhaps these new lineups will grow later.
  1. People are not measured by their salary or price tag, rather by their value brings to the business: I tried looking for some human capital development strategies when the equity firm bought Kraft & Heinz, but I couldn’t find any. Although I may not a fan of “total spoon-feed your talent because you care”, I do believe the management should consider taking longer time to lay offs to ensure the tacit knowledge is transferred to the business. You should pay high for someone that could do more and pay less for someone who can only do routine work.
  1. There’s only so much you can do with cost efficiencies: Key for growth is innovation. I’d expect big brands and companies, should invest in ruthless innovation focus in three areas. First, new products and services that reflect current and future customers needs and wants. Second, leaner processes and automation to bringdown redundancies in capital & assets deployed and reduce wastages. Third, to find market creations opportunities that will need to be invested and R&D. You can read more about this from Clayton Christensen book titled, “The Prosperity Paradox”.

Innovations are for growth. Companies need to spend and invest together with their workforce to improve capability and capacity to innovate. I do hope to see Kraft Heinz able to come out from this plunge and see this only temporarily.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.comĀ