Where Marketing adds its greatest value

Shortly after I got up this morning, I strolled over to Marketing Over Coffee for a quick shot before heading off to work and found this great article, entitled How to restore the faded luster to marketing by Rich Guha.  In my opinion, it's a "must read" for anyone looking to build a business or aiming to build a career in marketing.

It's about the big picture

Referencing management heroes such as Peter Drucker and Ted Leavitt, the article discusses what companies have lost as marketing becomes more specialized. Guha advises marketers that wish to add significant value to the business to:

  • Step back from tactics and understand the "theory of the business."
  • Understand what are the ways to measure performance which drive market value.
  • Understand which levers in the business will increase market value.
  • Regard tactics as components that can only be used with an understanding of the entire business plan.
  • Understand the customer and end user intimately.
  • Focus on Product, how it is priced, presented, and where it is available to customers.

It takes intimacy and integration to hit the mark

In short, he emphasizes the importance to successful businesses of a) understanding customers' needs across the spectrum (yes, back to the 6 Ps*) and b) understanding which levers in the business will increase market value.  Without these important capabilities, front and center, companies often end up missing the mark and spending way too much on "marketing".

Guha quotes Drucker as saying, "If Marketing were to do its job perfectly, Sales would not be needed."  In other words, if you really understand all aspects of a prospects' needs , products would sell themselves.

This is not the same as "build it and they will come".  The needs to which Guha and Drucker are referring, go way beyond the product features and benefits.

Upfront investments in market intelligence save money

Nevertheless, Marketing can't do the job perfectly.  That would require mind reading.   Still, an upfront investment in marketing research can save a lot of money down the road-if either the product, or its promotion and distribution, will cost a lot to accomplish.

There  are many ways to gather prospect  information from surveys to customer shadowing to watching click streams.  The key is knowing what you're looking for, and how to use the information you get.

Else, you're likely to miss the market window.  Or, if you're "lucky" spend a lot of money on  rework until you get it right.

Start with deep customer insights

Therefore, a lot of companies are investing in developing buyer and user personae before making the much larger investments in product development and content. They capture the "voice of the customer" and then create archetypes for the three to five most important roles at the companies in their target market.

To bring these archetypes to life, many companies give them names.  These examples help multidisciplinary teams discuss and figure out "What Jane would do" or how "Mike would like to receive information".

Test, iterate, refine

The most successful companies do this in an iterative fashion.  They gather information, form hypotheses, test their hypotheses, and then refine their hypotheses until they hit the measures they've set as goals.

Use high-fidelity prototypes

In the development world, see Eric Ries and Cindy Alvarez' work on lean start-ups (although there is broad applicability for other product development groups).  In the usability world, see Jared Spool's and Carolyn Snyder's work on high-fidelity prototyping.

Watch customer behavior

As for communications, hypothesis testing is now the province of analysts that study click streams.  There, however, companies are still working out the timing .

Since digital communications are relatively inexpensive to produce and deliver,  many companies delay testing until after they launch.  It's too early to have definitive data on how early missteps affect branding, or the extent to which upfront research could have prevented extensive rework.

Marketing never stops, always changes

Nevertheless, it's not a perfect world.  You can't anticipate all customer needs upfront.

Things are always in flux.  Economic conditions improve. Regulators introduce new rules.

Technology innovations make the improbable possible. Competitors' actions cause priorities to shift.  For these reasons and others, it's essential to gather information on an ongoing basis.

Assess which actions will have the greatest impact

As mentioned above, however, it's equally important to know how to use the information you gather-or as Guha notes know which levers will increase business value.  This is especially important in a tight economy where companies can only afford to take the most effective actions.

Too often, companies focus too much on one of the "P's", to the detriment of the overall marketing effort.  Engineering firms will sometimes focus all their efforts on fine tuning the product, while "marketing organizations" expend too much on a particular type of promotion, relative to the return they'll get on that investment.

Embrace diversity

This is where true marketers, who work with multidisciplinary teams, add their greatest value.  By understanding the whole customer, his/her environment, and impending change, he/she can help the company optimize the resources it takes to unite customer and solution.

Wondering where to start?  Test your preparedness by drawing on your market knowledge to create a compelling value proposition.  Or, learn more about the value creation process, first.

*Product, positioning, packaging, pricing, promotion, placement (sales channels or distribution)

 

This blog

by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

42411

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

74603

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

47384

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

87005
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
19910

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

54496

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

79144

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

24516

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

62894

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

33894
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
100865
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
25166

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

51348
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
26985
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
31299

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

98228

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

32483

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

109116

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

59583

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

38534
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
65464

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

91282

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

52364