By Simon Bere
Guerrilla Marketing and The Secret Causes of the Global Marketing Mediocrity in Businesses and How to Address it Permanently and Effectively.
My latest research on the state of marketing in today’s small, medium and large corporates shows that marketing is still not given its due place in many companies and businesses around the world. Almost all small and medium businesses do not engage in serious, formalised marketing activities, while in many big companies and corporates, marketing is still regarded as a peripheral activity that demands very little of the attention of the board room; marketing is not regarded as a mandatory strategic issue. In most companies where there is some kind of formalised marketing including having a marketing function and someone designed to be responsible for marketing, budget allocations to the function compared to other functions shows the importance these companies attach to marketing. Few boards and few chief executive officers fully understand just how important marketing is for their success.
Most board leaders and chief executive officers believe that if they are doing ok with their current status-quo in marketing, then either marketing is not important or their marketing is operating at full throttle. Both views are mistaken.
Doing ok does not mean that marketing is not important because by improving marketing performance, companies and businesses can dramatically improve their performance and results and achieve to as much as ten times the financial and market results they are currently producing. The overwhelming majority of companies-and most do not know it-are operating below 20 percent of their potential.
By now, serious business owner and business leader must have heard the powerful arguments on the importance of marketing for business success. For example, Peter Drucker, declared that marketing and innovation are the only investment areas in business while the rest money spent in the business is expenses. Another prominent marketing guru who has helped hundreds of companies and businesses achieve phenomenal success through improving their marketing argues that ignoring marketing is like draining blood from a human being and expecting the human being to survive. I completely agree with the view.
Ignorance of Marketing and Its Importance
I will argue that 80 percent of the times the poor performance and even collapse of companies and businesses can be tracked back to poor marketing and ignorance of marketing. By ignorance I mean “not paying attention to” marketing. One can have the knowledge of marketing and still ignore it. This is very common in many businesses and companies around the world.
Poor Definition of Marketing
Marketing has not been immune to the definition crisis that other disciplines such as leadership, strategy, management, performance, business, entrepreneurship and organisation face. The majority of business and company owners, leaders and manager never invest time in clarifying their theory to a point where they have the best possible theory for guiding their practice. Ask ten people in the same executive team or management team to define marketing and you will most likely get ten different definitions some of which many be poor, wrong or incomplete.
Bad or Poor Theory of Marketing
Bad or poor theory of marketing is more widespread. Very few people can explore for a better theory of marketing beyond what they get from academic textbooks, which books can have very different bodies of marketing theory, some coinciding and others conflict. In addition, the theoretical boundaries, scope and content of what constitutes marketing differs from one author to another, making it is difficult for most to have the best possible theory of marketing to guide their marketing practice. Few people are willing to continuously invest in expanding and deepening their theory of marketing in turning the theory into practical weapons for marketing practice.
Academic Complication of Marketing
Academic theory of marketing has produce very important and powerful concepts, ideas, models, tools and approaches to marketing. However, the same has also in many cases complicated marketing, with some experts and intellectually producing thick volumes on marketing, thus placing marketing beyond many who many not be academically gifted or motivated enough to indulge in copious explanatory volumes of marketing text in search of what to use in their marketing. In addition, some of the methods, for example in marketing research, are too complex for many to understand. In real world marketing, people need simple concepts, ideas, tools and model to use to guide their marketing practice. They need some push button or plug and play solutions the same way you do not need volumes of book explaining how your mobile phone works but just how to operate it. They need a do this, do that, kind of knowledge and information and much less the complex details of what marketing is and how it works. Practitioners do not have to be intellectuals.
Poor Recruitment of the People to Lead the Marketing
The corporate world is stuck with a flawed recruitment model which uses criteria that either do not indicate performance potential at all or that are poor indicators of the candidate’s on the job performance potential. This is not just in marketing but also in other roles such as ceoship, management, general leadership, sales, board membership and board leadership. This flawed model is as follows;
- Formal academic qualifications
- Years of experience
- Vaguely or poorly defined “competencies”
- Other criterial from some ill-conceived job adverts templates
This model has serious limitations and the corporate world sticks with it either because those in charge of recruitment are not aware that this model is deeply flawed, or because they are too afraid to change it or they are not humble enough to admit it or they have vested interests in sticking to what they know is a flawed approach.
This model assumes a very direct link between formal marketing academic qualifications and on the job marketing potential, meaning the formal marketing knowledge is the most important key to on the job marketing performance and that number of years of experience imply progressive improving in on the job marketing performance. Experience measured by how long a person has been in a role has no direct correlation at all with performance; neither does it mean that the number of years the better the candidate. In many big companies, people at the top especially in positions such as marketing can get away with underperformance because they have big budgets and their companies have settled well enough to perform well riding on the momentum from the past marketing efforts. In other words, I can argue that, in stable economic environments, companies can go for long without and new marketing effort; they can go on marketing auto-pilot for a long time and still produce good results but not better until they hit serious marketing turbulence that requires direct intellectual intervention by the marketing leader and his team. One can have ten years of zero personal impact on the marketing results or at least minimal.
In addition and most importantly, formal proof of having learnt marketing does not mean that if you have no proof that you have learned marketing it means you do not know marketing and you cannot produce respectable marketing results. First, there is a lot self-education that goes on outside the formal academic institution and some self-educated people in marketing can have a lot more knowledge of marketing over time than those who get formal marketing education. Second, attributes such as personality and natural thinking abilities play a big role in on the job marketingthan marketing knowledge. For example, not all people have the same potential in creativity or problem solving or strategic thinking or communication or interpersonal relationship; one who possesses these can outperform someone who has formal marketing education but lacks in the same.
For the record, this is not dismissing formal marketing education. Formal marketing education is important and does make a difference but it is a mistake to treat it as the all and all that contributes to real world marketing performance. Learning marketing is very important, formal or informally. But formal marketing education today still focuses too much on the knowledge and ignores the skills and the qualities. It focuses on the subject of marketing and much less on the marketers as people; the person.
Lack of, or Limited,Training Education and Development of the People in Charge of Marketing
Many small and medium business founders and owners suffer from lack of, or limited marketing training, education and development. Not understanding just how important marketing is, almost all African small and medium businesses focus on selling their wares and they do it tactically without any serious investment in building a serious sales function and without any training, education and development in sales.
Most big businesses and companies have some marketing departments staffed with some marketing people. The problem is that most of these people come into marketing from the formal business schools and with formal education in marketing. But like in many other roles or jobs like leadership, sales, HR, they have knowledge most are very sharp intellectually in marketing, they know their staff. The big problem is that few of the same people have been introduced into skills and capabilities; they have much less of training and development. They do not have the complete set of core marketing skills to make them deliver their best marketing performance. Worse still, most have never engaged in assessing their natural strengths and also establish what natural strengths related to marketing they possess so that they put themselves in the marketing roles that match their best natural gifts. For example, strategic marketing and operational marketing and marketing research are different marketing roles that required different combination of core skills sets and natural abilities. This is the concept of role-personality fit. Many people in marketing positions are misaligned with their natural strengths. A head of marketing who lacks in strategic thinking cannot achieve the same level of performance as a head of marketing with the same academic qualifications and experience but who is extremely gifted in strategic thinking. There are big differences in strategic marketing, operational marketing, tactical marketing and research and investigative marketing.
Poor Justification of Marketing by Those in Charge of Marketing in Organisations
Many people leading marketing functions do not fully understand just how important their roles are. They fail to justify to their top leaders the vital importance of marketing and why the marketing function deserves a bigger role and better budgets and resourcing that they currently get.
Many marketers have struggle to link marketing activities and effort to financial results. This is the reason why there is always a constant struggle between heads of finance and heads of marketing. Heads of finance are rarely schooled by their marketing counterparts on how the direct impact of their marketing activities on the financial performance of their companies and organisations; leading to many chief executive officers and their heads of finance to view marketing as an expense rather than an investment. Chief executive officers and heads of finance see marketing people spending huge sums of money on marketing activities but without any financial justifications that make sense to the chief executives and heads of finance especially in terms of the return on marketing investment and effort. This is the major reason why many companies see cutting marketing budgets as a way of saving companies from collapse when they hit financial hard times.
Many marketers suffer from lack of thinking mathematically and scientifically in their approach to marketing, creating a huge gap between finance and marketing.
Over relying on Formal Academic Marketing Knowledge and Academic Qualifications
Many people over rely on formal academic marketing qualifications and knowledge. They believe that to practice marketing they must first have formal academic marketing education. Others, especially those with high level formal academic qualifications, depend too much on their qualifications. Some believe that what they have learnt in school in academic marketing defines the final boundaries of marketing knowledge. They forget or ignore that marketing is a fast evolving discipline and what any university program can teach is only a sample of a vast field and most of which education is more designed for the marketing intellectual than for a marketing practitioner. This is a big thinking mistakes in marketing.
Guerrilla Marketing and Its Role in Marketing
Guerrilla Marketing was established to address the challenges businesses and companies with little financial resources face in the field of marketing especially in competing with bigger and more resourced companies whose approach to marketing is dependent on huge financial resources and the availability of big budgets. Contrary to what many people think, Guerrilla Marketing is not in competition with traditional marketing; it serves a different type of people and companies, those who either do not have enough financial resources or those that want to be more efficient in their marketing. Guerrilla Marketing is the most recognised marketing genre and the ground breaking book on marketing has been translated into more than sixty different languages and sold at least 20 million copies.
Guerrilla marketing is about using unconventional marketing approaches to achieve conventional marketing results. Instead of relying on huge financial resources and marketing budgets, guerrilla marketing uses a combination of non-monetary resources and unconventional marketing methods and approaches including using time, imagination, creativity, relationships, principle and ideas instead of money. Guerrilla marketing focuses more on results instead of activities.
Guerrilla marketing is not just for small and medium business but many large companies have also embraced guerrilla marketing approaches and guerrilla marketing itself is now a course offered by many universities and business schools around the world.
Guerrilla marketing is not the opposite of conventional marketing; it dramatically improves the performance of traditional academic marketing.
If you want audio-based mini course in guerrilla marketing, or some basic to advanced training or consulting in guerrilla marketing please email email@example.com or whatsapp +263-77-444-74-38
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