Philip Kotler, recognized Marketing Guru and Professor, said, “…most of the impact of marketing is felt before the product is produced, not after.” And yet almost everything we read about today is tactics for improving what Marketing does after the product is produced. My friends at the ANA did a study with McKinsey on the need for disruption in Marketing. Their findings were interesting, and yet none of them had anything to do with what Kotler claims provides the most impact, “before the product is produced.”
I wondered why that was. Could it be that Kotler knows less than McKinsey? I wasn’t ready to concede that point. A bit of investigation showed that the team from McKinsey that conducted the study consisted of their Digital Marketing consultants. That explains a lot.
If you bound the definition of Marketing disruption to those functions which occur after the product is produced and you only interview Marketers who have responsibility after the product is produced, which is what they seem to have done, then it should not be surprising that the focus for disruption will be after the product is produced.
No wonder Marketing continues to get less respect than it should. It seems to be self-focused (at least those who claim to represent it) on post-product release issues. No wonder some CMOs don’t want to be associated with the Marketing Communications-focused CMO and therefore want a new title. (I have posted on this more than once, but here is a good one.)
Shouldn’t the CMO assure the company is leveraging Marketing on the front end? Sure, many CMOs do not have these people working for them, but that should not mitigate their purview to assure it is done well. The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) has noted often that the majority of new products introduced fail (and in some categories it is the vast majority). They also note that an incremental investment in the front end of Marketing provides a better return than more money in R&D.
Apple spends relatively little as a percentage of revenue on the back-end of Marketing compared to other companies in its category. Yet its products sell very well. One might say, sure, they’re Apple. But Apple has almost never spent a lot on the back-end side compared to others and their first decade products (after the Apple II) were busts (Apple III, Lisa I, Lisa II, Newton, etc.) Getting the product right is more important than promotion and promotion is easier when you get the product right.
Chrysler could sell out the PT Cruiser in its day, while needing to resort to pricing promotions such as “Friends and Family” type pricing to move its other cars. The Oakland A’s baseball team, no matter the amount of promotion, could not regularly sell out its games … until they got a good baseball team.
Want to know where the disruption in Marketing needs to be: Leveraging before the product is produced not discussing the latest content strategy. This requires insights that can be transformed into new products, services, or business models. Marketing’s blind spot is in failing to recognize the insights need to come before the product is produced so it can result in profitable innovation.
It has been said that strategy and innovation have a cross-roads at insights. Given that effective strategies, executed well, driven by innovation can create sustainable competitive advantage, then for Marketing to be more relevant simply suggests they must drive insights.