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Soundbites for Success: Boldness Has Genius, Power and Magic

February 14, 2011 by  


Here are a few soundbites I found useful, from the Marketing Society Annual Conference I attended last month.

Be bold. “Boldness has genius, power and magic” – Goethe.

“Go global.  UK products are good.  UK prices are good (due to the weakness of the £).  Go and find customers.  BRIC is the big opportunity.”   Dennis Turner, Chief Economist, HSBC.

N.B.  According to George Osborne (who looks like a boy on his gap year according to Dennis) we currently export more to the Republic of Ireland than the BRIC market combined. So the opportunity is huge.

Matthew Pinsent’s top tips for success:

  • Share early

  • Give honest feedback

  • No good leaving criticism until it’s too late.

“It’s not the big that eat the small it’s the fast that eat the slow.” Damon BuffiniPermira.

“Do the right thing for the customer and align the business behind this.” Damon BuffiniPermira.

“Stand out in a crowd.”  James AverdieckGu.

“Start with a great product.”  James AverdieckGu.

“Don’t forget to promote a positive post purchase experience.  People can forget why they made the decision, particularly if they are buying the product on behalf of someone else.” James AverdieckGu.

“Obsess about the detail and the customer experience.”  Mark PriceWaitrose.

“Hire someone brilliant.”  Martha Lane Fox.

The Major Advantages to Storytelling

January 11, 2011 by  


Two nice stories – short and sweet but well worth re-telling - from the Marketing Society Annual Members Conference, 2010.

Seeing is believing!

James Averdieck, formerly of Proctor and Gamble, prevaricated for a long time before he started a company to make the sort of chocolate pudding he only ever found in Europe.   Finally, spurred on by family and friends, he made the leap.  He left P&G.  He perfected the product and then briefed a design agency to come up with the packaging for him.

At his second meeting with the design agency they told him that they had bad news.  During their research for the packaging they’d discovered a chocolate pudding, manufactured by a Swedish company called Gu.  It was already on the market and selling really well.  They put the packaging on the table in front of him.  He nearly cried.  2 years’ work down the pan.  His dream in ashes…

“Cheer up James,” they said.  “We’re kidding.  It’s your product.  It’s your brand.”

Gu was born.  They now are the go to brand for squishy chocolate pudding products and sell into Waitrose et al with a £20 million turnover.

It’s a lovely story of how to sell creative work.

Customer care, no matter the customer

The same James Averdieck, now Founder and Managing Director of Gu Chocolate Puddings Ltd, has a dog called Willoughby.  The children love him.  Even James is quite fond of him.  But they were going on holiday and Willoughby had to go into kennels.  The children were very upset.

James chose a kennel called Dog Holidays – because he thought it was clever that, by changing the term, they’d changed the owner experience from ‘guilt’ to ‘here’s something that makes me feel better’.

They lived up to their name.  When Willoughly arrived they made sure they knew where he liked being scratched.  And after they got back they emailed him a picture of Willoughby’s holiday – a shot of Willoughby and his new friend Patch going for a walk together.   Their repeat purchase is assured.

Now who says clever marketing stuff doesn’t work?

A Rose By Any Other Name

October 19, 2010 by  


Thank goodness for Shakespeare.

He knew how to coin a phrase which you can use and abuse to your heart’s content.  In this instance it’s to make a point that was well expressed at a recent B2B-centric dinner hosted by Sir Paul Judge on behalf of The Marketing Society, in the UK.

‘People respect the techniques (of marketing) and use them.  But they don’t call them marketing.’

This sentiment was echoed round the table.  Marketing was thought of by senior executives, partners and board directors as ‘brochures and balloons’.  The activities which marketers themselves would described as marketing were variously referred to by senior management as ‘revenue generation’, ‘business development’, ‘key account management’, ‘contract management’, ‘growth drivers’, ‘relationship development’ and ‘business networking’.

In common with other marketing discussions, how best to measure ROI was a major theme.  What was definitely new in a B2B context was the open acknowledgement of the role of emotion in contributing to the actual purchase decision.  Hence perhaps the difficulties in producing a clear ROI, not only because of the recurrent problem with linking broader activities directly to sales, but because they are actually part of the business process, not a separate function.

So B2B marketing is alive and well in large corporates.  Just don’t call it marketing.

This post was originally posted on The Marketing Society Blog.

Have You Seen the Muffin Man?

October 13, 2010 by  


Earlier this year, I attended a CBI Council meeting.  As always, it’s fascinating to listen to how a wide variety of companies are dealing with the world as we know it.  Service businesses in the main come out well – perhaps because they are more agile and able to adapt their services to what’s needed in the current marketplace.  So law and accountancy firms are seeing a reduction in
contract briefs but an increase in resolution or winding up orders.  All sounds a bit ‘ambulance-chasing’ but it means that they’re still in business, still employing people and still keeping the economy turning.

What was agreed overall is that companies have reacted differently to this recession.  Rather than laying people off they’ve changed their working conditions (a la Honda).  Rather than closing, they’ve sought to diversify.

Which brings me to the Muffin Man. Recently, I bought some muffins off a stall in Cambridge market.   They were about 4 times as expensive as the ones you can buy in Sainsbury’s.  But they were
handmade by the stall holder, who was charming and we had a long discussion about how hungry kids are when they come out of school and how muffins were just right.  Trouble is, the children hated his muffins.  But, I reflected, as I threw them in the bin, at least I’m keeping the economy going by buying them in the first place.  Although perhaps I should suggest he diversifies  – into aggregates.

Time to Start Thinking Differently About Digital Marketing

October 12, 2010 by  


The obsessive focus by marketers on acquisition makes less sense in the current climate. Marketers have transitioned their activities from offline advertising to online advertising,seeking ways in which to use social media to, well, advertise – despite the fact that that’s not how the medium seems to work.

For a start, markets are retracting, making the retention of customers an essential exercise. Secondly, customers are more likely to be influenced by what peers say about product or service on a social networking site than by an ad, and never more so than in B2B decision making where advertising has always hovered around a mere 15% of marketing spend.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – has your business grabbed digital marketing by the horns? What are you doing that’s engaging?

Communications is a Service, Not a Cost

October 11, 2010 by  


Looking through the Marketing Society’s 50th Anniversary book ‘The Future of Marketing’, sponsored by Accenture. These words stood out particularly, from Ian Livingstone, CEO of BT: ‘From a customer point of view, irrelevant advertising is an imposition. Truly relevant advertising is a service.’ Too true Ian.

But I’d go one stage further than that. I’d actually say: Truly Relevant Service is Advertising, or at least ‘publicité’ as the French would have it. Businesses have always understood that the experience of the brand is as much to do with the people and the service as it is to do with the promotion. More so in many cases as B2B marketing budgets have always been smaller than

So, I’d like to see the Future of Marketing in B2B as one in which marketers get involved in service delivery, not just comms delivery. Oh, and I’d also like to see a major B2B brand talking about business audiences in the next edition of the Marketing Society book. But suspect I’ll have to wait 50 years for that.