martes, 9 de marzo de 2010

Siete pecados (capitales o mortales...?) en la "Excelencia del Marketing"

In recent years, marketing excellence programmes have become ubiquitous in our industry. Although going under different names, the urge to improve marketing capabilities has seized most pharmaceutical companies, just as is predicted by industry life cycle theory.

This concept suggests that as industries mature and it becomes harder to differentiate technologically, competitive advantage flows from the ability to segment, position and deliver extended value propositions. Yet if one examines the results of this up-skilling frenzy, as I have been doing for 12 years at two of Europe’s leading business schools, one finds a disappointing result.

By and large, these firms describe their marketing excellence programmes as costing lots of money, even more time but delivering little tangible improvement in capabilities or performance. Why this is, an important finding of my work, can be summarized in seven fundamental flaws that are often embedded into the structure of marketing excellence programmes.

  • Sin 1: Data driven, not insight-led
  • No one would deny that the foundation of marketing excellence lies in market understanding; it’s in the interpretation of that term that things go awry.

  • Sin 2: Deluded by industry best practice
  • The idea that there is a single best way of doing something has its origins in manufacturing and has proven to be seductive to marketers looking for the best way of strategic marketing planning. But it turns out to be a marketing mirage.

  • Sin 3: Blind-sided to risk
  • The mantra of marketing has long been to maximize share and, by implication, sales and profit. In more recent years, this has been expressed in terms of return on investment and shareholder value creation. This is richly ironic since most marketing plans grossly neglect the things that shareholders really care about: risk and risk-adjusted rate of return.

  • Sin 4: Putting new wine into old bottles
  • In turbulent markets and facing tough competition, it is a truism that the best marketing strategies require change to make them happen. Significant changes in targeting and positioning, messages and channels are all typical outcomes of a robust strategic marketing planning process.

  • Sin 5: Looking under the lamppost
  • No serious marketing excellence programme fails to mention metrics and key performance indicators. But here, again, the industry obsession with hard data leads us astray. Because we can easily measure some things, like sales or call rates, we measure those things rather than what our strategy implies we need to measure.

  • Sin 6: Failing to learn
  • Almost every marketing plan stands on the shoulders of its predecessors. As a result, the quality of what is learnt from previous success or failure becomes a critical input into each new plan. To recognize this, good marketing excellence programmes contain an organizational learning stage.

  • Sin 7: Slaves to a defunct theory
  • As John Maynard Keynes said of other economists, many marketing excellence programmes are slaves to defunct theory.

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Dr Brian D. Smith is an author, researcher and consultant in the field of pharmaceutical marketing strategy. A research fellow at the Open University Business School (Europe's largest business school), Dr Smith consults widely with global pharma companies and is the author of over 100 books, papers and articles on the subject, which can be downloaded here. Both comments and requests for CDs containing all his past works on strategy are welcomed.

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