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What the wise Professor would have told you about Black Friday

“Some would have bought anyway. Others only buy when it’s a deal. Save your money”

It has been my pleasure and privilege over the years to get to know quite a few people smarter than myself and steal their ideas whenever I could understand them.

One of the cleverest was the late Professor Andrew Ehrenberg. He was called by David Ogilvy the finest mind in marketing.

You can read about him in Wikipedia, but if you’re as thick as me you’ll probably be mystified as to what made his work so important.

There are two reasons, the first being that he was a master of statistics, a discipline which rarely inspires the spirit of discovery among laymen.

The other is that what he discovered calls for a fair bit of work to understand and few marketers are inclined to take the trouble. Actually he bemoaned the fact that even among users of statistics very few paid any attention to his discoveries

But here is something he said that may interest you:

Promotions have only a short-term effect, and do not affect a brand’s subsequent sales or brand loyalty. The extra buyers during the promotion have been seen almost all to have bought it before the promotion rather than being the hoped for new buyer.

I met Andrew when I was writing a weekly diatribe in Marketing magazine, and interviewed him three times to see if I could pass on some of his wisdom.

I was particularly interested in the impact of discounts, like the ones referred to in that quotation above. When I quizzed him about it he suggested that almost all buyers of discounted goods fall into two categories.

The first one describes my partner perfectly. She has been busy buying all her Christmas presents during the great Black Friday ballyhoo. She is one of those who would have bought anyway, but always waits till the offers arrive.

The second is those cheapskates who only buy when there’s a deal. That describes me, pretty much.

I recall two remarks apropos what you have just read.

One I heard many years ago in Kyoto where I was taking part in American Express planning meeting. Also present was Lester Wunderman – the man who coined the phrase Direct Marketing.  I recall him saying, on the subject of discounts, “You are training your customers to expect bribes.

The other was Andrew’s reply when I asked, “What do you do when your competitor is running promotions and you feel you should respond?”

He wrote back: “Save your money”.



Wondering now much Big Data matters? Wonder no more!

At last, the amazing Ryan Wallman – Melbourne’s Mystery Marketing Wizard – reveals 5 startling ways big data will change your life

  1. With big data, you no longer need to make decisions. By the time you’ve sorted through all that data, the opportunity to do anything useful with it will be long gone.
  1. You will adore all the advertising you see. No more of that untargeted, relatively unobtrusive crap. Thanks to big data, you’ll get ads that know you intimately, follow you around obsessively, and invade your space at every opportunity like a mob of unhinged online stalkers. Who doesn’t want that?
  1. You can put creatives in their place. Whenever they present you with a creative idea, shut it down immediately by simply saying ‘Explain to me how this is big-data-driven’. Numbers are like kryptonite to those hippies.
  1. Big data allows you to do whatever the hell you want. Let’s say you collect some data that doesn’t support your argument. No problem; just go get some more data that does. The beauty of big data is not the data – it’s the bigness.
  1. You now have an immediate answer for any business question. Someone asks what your strategy is? Big data. A client asks how you’re going to increase their sales? Big data. Some idiot wants to know what the fuck big data is exactly? It’s big data. Idiot.


“In life you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate” – Chester Karrass

What you can learn about your career from the sacking of Brendan Rogers

I don’t know if you follow football, or have the slightest interest in Liverpool, but football is a bit of a religion there.

One famous Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly, said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that”.

As it happens I was born in Liverpool, got my first copywriting job there, danced in The Cavern before the Beatles were heard of, one of my sons has played guitar there – and I’ve even done a seminar at Liverpool football club.

Well, Liverpool has been having a hard time since Shankly’s day. But Brendan did a better job than anyone has for years. But football club owners are an impatient bunch and they replaced him with the charismatic Jürgen Klopp.

Was this a good idea?

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, doyen of Premier League managers since Ferguson has quit says “no”.

He thinks Brendan did a fine job. And Jürgen has had catastrophic results recently – but time will tell.

Now to some important lessons, based on getting jobs and later advising managers when I helped run the worldwide Ogilvy business.

The quote at the top is from one of the only two training seminars I ever attended – on negotiation

I learned several things, one of which relates to Brendan’s fate.

Brendan was frustrated throughout his tenure because he didn’t control transfers. He had to answer to a committee. Hell on earth!

Jürgen insisted before he started that he, not the committee, would have the last word.

What comes next is so important you should never forget it.

Your best ever chance to negotiate for what you want is before you sign that contract. They’re still in love with you. Afterwards? Forget it.

Brendan didn’t do it. Jürgen has.

I know; it takes balls to make conditions if you really want the job. But if you don’t do it you will be at risk from then on.

The second most important lesson is this.

Once you’ve got the job, immediately make it clear what you stand for and what you believe in.

That’s when everyone is excited and hoping you’re the Messiah.

Seize the moment. Afterwards will be too late.

Jürgen did it with charm as soon as his position was announced. (I imagine Brendan did too, by the way).

So there you are – except for one thing.

How do you get the job in the first place?

Well, perhaps my ebook How To Get a Better Job will help.

It’s the most popular thing I’ve ever offered on line. And it’s FREEEEE!

Most meetings are rubbish – here’s scientific proof.

(From a cleverer man than me. And very funny)

You may have to think about this but it will save you endless hours of misery, rage and frustration
Here’s an equation…              

N x (N – 1) ÷ 2

This shows the number of agreements required in a meeting where N is the number of people attending.

For example, when two people meet (N = 2), the number of agreements you need is 1 [work it out: 2 x (2 – 1) ÷ 2 = 1]. 

In other words, person A needs to agree with person B – one agreement.

And that’s it.

But when four people meet, it’s six agreements – AB, AC, AD, BC, BD and CD. [If you care – and who does? – the maths is 4 x (4 – 1) ÷ 2 = 6]

Obviously, it’s much harder to get six agreements than one.

And if you do the maths, you’ll find meetings of eight people require 28 agreements; and sixteen people require 120. This will mean big meetings take ages, and people rarely agree on everything.

You’ll have seen this at work. It’s all-too-easy to think “collaboration” means piling as many people as possible in a room to discuss things.

But this often leads to decisions taking ages, not happening at all, or being rubbish (that’s why they say a camel is what a horse would look like if it was designed by committee).

So, what to do about it?

Well, you have a few options. One is to reduce the number of people involved.  For instance, some/all of:

  • Only invite people who need to be there. One way to decide who could be to use the RACI model (this is a way of looking at each person’s role – are they ResponsibleAccountable, do we need to Consult with them, or only Inform them?)
  • Only invite people who need to be there – remember, you can always send the Actions Arising to non-attendees
  • Don’t attend meetings you don’t need to – you can ask to see the Actions Arising
  • Never allow big groups to discuss small detail (simply say “we’ll do the detail offline. For now, let’s just agree the main points”)
  • Where appropriate, split large groups into smaller sub-groups. One sub-group does a detailed first draft, to share with the wider group

I was once invited to a meeting to put together a complex proposal for a £ multi million project. There were – get this – 28 people there.


They asked me how I wanted to start the meeting.  I told them “by removing as many people from this room as we can”

Which they did. And we had a great meeting.

And they won the contract.

But if I hadn’t done this, we’d have needed 378 agreements. That was just never going to happen.

Action point

Which of your meetings has the most attendees?  And what can you do to reduce the numbers?

Also, which of this week’s meetings do you not need to attend?  Get out of one meeting per week, and you save about 50 hours per year – that’s a working week!

Now what you just read was from my esteemed colleague Andy Bounds.

In exactly two weeks from now you can join him and me in a meeting I strongly advise you do attend. And I should add that because I am such a slapdash old soul, and most of the seats are already sold you can get a very good deal.

I should also add that we guarantee every single attendee will get at least fifteen new ideas they can implement immediately. 


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“How to Lose Customers” an idiot’s guide, courtesy of The Halifax Bank

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology” – H.L. Mencken

Forgive me for trotting out one of my favourite quotations again, but it pops into my head almost every time I am screwed around by a bank.

We all know the smug wretches who run these shambolic rip-off factories are obscenely overpaid. Some were involved in the scams that led to the last economic collapse and should be in jail. But we sigh, and accept this as part of the filthy alliance between them and the politicians.

No; what really drives me crazy is their sheer incompetence. Even First Direct who get far higher marks than the others can fail – as when their fraud detectors stopped me drawing money in New York even though I had told them I would be there on certain dates.

But Halifax, who will probably be losing my business shortly, seem to be exceptionally clueless. Recently I spent a choleric few minutes when I learned my card had been declined not for a specific reason, but just because “there’s a lot more fraud about”. As a result I found I had not, as I imagined, paid for two airline tickets between New York and London.

Ask yourself this: a customer of long standing to whom you have extended up to £35,000 credit flies between those two cities 4 -5 times a year, every year. One day he uses his card to buy two more tickets.

Even assuming you have the intelligence of a 5 year old would you conclude this latest transaction was fraudulent?

(Victim shakes head and wanders off into corner sighing).


The hell with being “creative”. Try a questionnaire

Some techniques are so deceptively simple and obvious that people ignore them. They’re not “creative” enough. Well, screw “creative”. I like things that work. And questionnaires work like a charm

A while back Gail Brennan in Australia sent me a question about questionnaire responses.

Nobody knows more about this than my old colleague Andrew Boddington, one of the best direct marketers I know, so after giving my opinion, I referred her to him..

Below, after one or two comments from me, is his quick guide to what you should know about the subject.

One reason the questionnaire works so well is that it is very unthreatening.

People are often nervous when they realise you’re selling something. But they love to give you their opinions.

You just have to ask nicely and often amazingly high percentages will reply. By “amazing” I mean 50% and more.

When they do reply, this gives you an excuse to talk to them again … and again … and again.

Here is Andrew’s advice for you:

  1. People agonise over making the survey short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the questions seem ‘natural and logical’ to the reader, they will complete it, once the first few questions have been answered.
  2. If you have some questions which are more critical than others, make sure the survey has clear sections – the first with the main questions, then the next introduced with the words “You do not have to answer these, but if you do, it’ll mean x, y and z benefit…and will only take a few minutes more…”
  3. Response can be increased by a variety of details. A lot depends on the honesty in the introduction, why you are doing the survey, what is in it for the responder (altruism, sense of helping self or fellows, and maybe even the chance to win something in a free draw, as a gesture of thanks), explaining how the results will be used, and even how they can see a copy of the results (usually a simple summary).
  4. People love being asked for their opinion (‘your opinion matters to us’), so use flattery to increase participation.
  5. Make the introduction from someone they already might know and respect, rather than have no name at all. Even have it look like a letter, with a signature and photo for a touch of warmth.
  6. Much depends on the layout, the clarity of type face and typography, and the use of colours, tints and boxed sections make it look less daunting.
  7. It sounds radical, but question how much response is really needed. Statistically a lower response sample may be fine, so that the views are representative.
  8. Try a reminder mailing/emailing after the initial response has dried up from the first survey. Non-responders are not against responding, they just have busy lives, are lazy, like all human beings, so a courteous reminder will typically get half as much response again.
  9. Consider how/when the survey gets handed over, emailed or mailed. Is there a better moment, so they’ll be more disposed to take part?

To demonstrate just how powerful an imaginative questionnaire can be, I will take you back a good 25 years to when I was handling the American Express business.

One big challenge was to get people to move up from the basic green card to the more expensive gold card. I was pretty good at the copy for that – or so I thought.

It turned out I wasn’t not half as good as Steve Harrison and his art director (to my shame I can’t recall who that was). Instead of trying to beat my direct mail letters, they tried a different approach.

They put together a mailing that simply asked people – in a very appealing way – whether they wanted the Gold card or not, and why.

It slaughtered all my efforts. I think they got at least ten times more responses than me and as much as twenty times more to some files.

Of course, I was going for  sales, whilst they just wanted a response. But that initial response opened the door to lots of highly relevant follow-ups aimed at segments of the respondees; and it is relevance – “is this for me?” – not “creativity” that makes the big difference.

I have copied their idea more times than I am willing to admit. And more recently we have been busy segmenting our own list. The initial results are fascinating.


Which of these 7 silly website sins are killing your business?

Would you like 21% … 92%… even 200% more sales from your website? Then read this. Because I wager you’re missing some of these tricks. Most sites – not just a few – are guilty

However much time and money you throw at your website, or invest in SEO it’s all wasted unless you collect visitors’ details.

Most sites not merely lose sales but drive visitors away by failing to do so. I know this because I’ve been guilty myself. I’m sure I’m still not perfect.

  1. No email sign-up box?

Your website is not there for fun, decoration or to tell the world how wonderful you are.

It is there to sell.

But unless people buy what you sell on impulse very few are ready to buy right away. So if you don’t do everything you can to collect visitors’ names and email addresses, you’re crazy.

You only have to think what happens in real life.

There’s all manner of research into this, but it all comes to the same conclusion. Persistence is the key.

Years ago I read that that on average a real salesman makes the first sale after six visits. More recently I saw figures that suggested 48% of online sales come after your first two messages.

The figures will vary, of course. If what you sell is expensive or complex you can expect your first sale to come on average after months or even years.

Yet I would say nine out of ten websites make no serious effort to collects those precious names and email addresses.  Sheer insanity.

Once you have the email address you can keep talking – giving them advice and useful information. They start to trust you. To see you as an expert. To trust – and eventually buy – from you.

So make sure you have an email sign-up form. Make sure your visitors can’t miss it.

And offer something helpful so they’re more likely to sign up. A free report on something interesting, an e-newsletter, a free quote, a free catalogue, free webinar – whatever you find works best by testing.

Just adding a sign-up form can treble your profits – I’ve seen it happen.

Think of all those who would have bought from you if you’d been able to keep writing to them until they were ready.  If you think about the figures I just gave, not being able to do so is probably halving your sales.

We follow people up 197 times after we get their details because we never know when they’ll be ready to buy. It can take 3 years – and we’re not selling anything expensive

  1. Hidden contact details

Following from the above, I am simply astounded by how many websites hide their phone numbers and email addresses away where people can’t see them immediately and have to search.

It’s as though you decided to hide your shop in a back street where nobody will see it. Madness – and usually due to web designers building sites based on what they think looks good rather than what works. (And that’s exactly what so many do).

But tell me: how on earth can people get in touch with you if they have to work out how?

They’re not going to hunt around. People are incredibly imnpatient. You’ve got maybe two seconds before they give up and go elsewhere.

Your contact details must be so prominent even a child could find them. (You would do well to test this with a real child – I’m serious.)

Think it’s going too far to have your contact details appear several times on the same page?

Not at all. Just as only asking once for a response in a letter, e-mail or ad limits your response, so does only giving that address once.

  1. The wrong kind of photo – or no pictures at all

Are you using pictures on your site? Because you should.

And having the right kind of picture makes all the difference.

For God’s sake don’t use those stock images of grinning women, signposts, smirking buffoons in meetings or gawping idiots watching a presentation.

Everyone and his mother uses them – and for the most part they aren’t just unreal; they remind people of all the things they dislike about their jobs.

When you use an image everyone uses you are subliminally telling people you’re like everyone else. If so, why should anyone choose you?

Simply changing the size of an image can increase conversions by 7%. But that’s not all. What you show is immensely important.

Instead of a product shot or – please – not your premises, try your face. The conversion rate on some websites rocketed by 95% when they did just that.

Don’t forget a caption, saying something more than just your name and some inflated title. If you just say Call me on XXXXX if you have any questions that will help.

Maybe you think you need to show your products. Well, that’s fine. But try to show them in use, with a before and after if you can.

And if possible use pictures of your colleagues too. And give names. Don’t talk about “the team”. You’re not running a football club.

People like to see what results they get; and they buy from people – not corporations. The more human your site the better you’ll do.

  1. No video

The longer visitors stay on your website the greater your chance of selling or collecting their names.

Video helps. It can boost your conversions by up to 80% says eyeviewdigital.com.

The reason is simple. People are lazy. They prefer watching to reading.

Yet very few sites use video at all – and most who do use it badly.

Many don’t feature themselves. I touched on this above. But just think. If you could afford to speak to every one of your prospects face to face, your sales would go off the chart. Well, video is the next best thing.

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of Britain’s most successful financial advisory firms.

They have video interviews of fund managers on their site. Not only do the videos offer advice; they  introduce you to people who may be managing your money – thus building your belief in them.

And your videos don’t have to be slick or expensive. Ian Brodie, a marketing and sales coach I’ve worked with, uses lots of video on his site. It is his main source of new clients.

The videos are just him talking in front of a white background. Simple – and easy for you to copy. Don’t waste money having very fancy videos done by professionals. They seem less sincere.

And if you have case studies or testimonials on your site try video versions instead. People are cynical about testimonials. But this way they see real people recommending you. So much more credible.

  1. Talking features, not benefits

You visit a website looking for information and what do you find? Lots of boring stuff listing features and technical details of what’s on offer.

Sure, your widget comes in a range of attractive colours and is made of Plutonium – useful to know: but will it make me buy?

This is a common failing in copy – not just on websites. But it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. In fact it’s  often worse online because so many marketers still fail to realise a website is a sales medium.

Make sure your copy talks about the benefits of what you do. What do your visitors need from you? What problems are you solving? What makes them unhappy? Why should they choose you over your competitor?

And above all, what are the emotional benefits?

Use emotional language. No matter how techical the product, people buy on emotion.  And for God’s sake avoid corporate dead-speak and jargon. People hate it.

Focus on your headlines most. If people don’t read these, they won’t read anything else.

The right changes to a headline will increase conversions by 24%, 37% – even as much as 92%.

  1. You’re not testing

The great benefit of all online marketing is that it is incredibly quick and easy to test your messages and get more conversions and sales.

With Google’s free analytics software you see the results of changes you make almost instantly. So why wouldn’t you test?

Try putting your email sign-up box in different places. You’ll soon find the spot that works best.

Similarly, test your pictures, your headlines, your calls to action. Test the length and content of your videos. Will you get more conversions if you put a sign-up box under your video? Will you get even more if you mention the sign-up box in your video?

And what colour are the buttons you want your visitors to press? This might seem a trivial detail, but I’ve seen one colour outperform another by 21%.

You would be wise to test everything significant, and do so constantly. If you don’t your site will make the money it can and should.

Just be sure to test only one thing at a time. Otherwise you won’t know which changes made the difference.

You might protest that testing is great in theory but you don’t have time. But are you really so busy you can afford to throw away 21% more leads? Not to mention that 92% boost you could get by finding the right headline.

  1. Your site is hard to browse

The longer you can keep visitors on your site, the more likely you will sell. Make it easy for them to find what they want – and make sure there’s lots to keep them there.

But if your site is too big or confusing your visitors will give up – most likely never to return.

Ask yourself if you can cut some of your pages. Make the site easy to navigate, either using tabs or a sidebar – or both. Consider adding a search function: many people prefer this.

Remember, the advanced technology your web designers have is not in most people’s homes.

Smart record producers used to play their songs on cheap radios to see how they would sound to their customers. The same principle applies.

Test to be sure everything on the site works. And not just on the latest Macs – it has to work just as well for people at home using their kids’ PCs.

And it must work on phones and tablets. More and more people use them – in fact they have overtaken laptops.

If in doubt, keep it simple and keep flashy graphics to a minimum. The longer it takes your site to load, the more you’ll lose visitors

A PS – with a few laughs

Business is not always fun. Often it’s a downright pain

When I helped to run a big agency I always had one aim when clients came for a meeting – or I went to see them.

I wanted it to be fun. Such fun that they’d look forward to seeing me again. Can’t say I always succeeded. But I did enough to do well.

In the same way, the most important thing is to make visiting your website such a pleasure that people who go there stay there – and want to come back.

One of the most extraordinary – and profitable – websites I have ever seen is LingsCars.com. She is in a totally different business to yours, I imagine, appealing to quite different prospects.

But you can learn a hell of a lot by looking at all the ways she keeps people on that site. She uses every trick in the book. Brilliant!

Could you put something involving on your site? A quiz? A game? Something where people have to do something – to join in?

Give it some thought! And of course, I’m always here to answer questions. Drayton@DraytonBird.com




The triumph of bollocks – or how to “redefine” anything

Which worries you more? Your health? Or your health provider?

I once lived in Harley Street under a false name for seven years. This was because I owed so much to the Inland Revenue I didn’t dare show my face.

My friendly local divorce lawyer told me “I never met a doctor yet who wasn’t more interested in money than medicine.”

Later I heard that unkind joke applied to lawyers. It is not always true of either profession, I am sure. But I wager it is of medical insurers – which brings me to my experience this morning with AXA/PPP.

Though I have been their client for thirty years or more I have never called on them for anything except health check-ups. Beyond that I have simply noticed their prices have gone up a damn sight faster than the cost of living, whilst their service, if today’s experience is anything to go by, has deteriorated.

My story starts with a mistake. The estimable Kelly, my PA, booked me in to have a check-up with BUPA, not AXA/PPP. By the time I noticed this her damp derriere was plonked in a tent at some storm-drowned music festival so I couldn’t ask her why.

So I thought, what the hell, I’ll give BUPA a shot. But first I thought I’d check, so I went online. Mysteriously there was no reference to Private Health Checks on the AXA/PPP site. Just a suggestion that you can get them from your National Health doctor.

Very droll. I tried that with my doctor. Not much luck. The check was pretty cursory.

The entire reason I pay a bloody fortune to AXA/PPP is so that I can get stuff done properly when it suits me. The only thing I learned from their website is they have an absurd slogan they (which means me) must have paid some second rate plagiarists a fortune for – Healthcare/Reinvented. How pathetic is that?

Eventually I wasted 15 minutes ringing up a patronising woman who spoke so fast I could barely follow her, but told me they don’t do it anymore. They’ve offloaded it to Nuffield (slogan: For the love of life) and BMI (slogan: Serious about health. Passionate about care).

Let me pause to throw up before continuing …

Anyhow, what I wanted to know was the cost. I knew BUPA’s charges. Would these people rip me off more – or less? Ms. Snotty wouldn’t tell me. She just said I’d get a 25% discount. I don’t know about you but 25% off an unknown sum is pretty useless if you want to make a decision.

I then rang Nuffield where a pleasant lady told me in a couple of minutes what I wanted to know.

Eventually I went to BUPA, whose rates seem lower than AXA/PPP and had a pleasant enough experience if you like your prostate being tickled and don’t mind being hard sold the benefits of hearing aids.

I seriously believe that following the offloading by AXA/PPP of this essential service I will be contributing to two or three companies’ profits instead of one.

I also seriously believe that the word “redefine” in this instance means “abdicate responsibility for” and that it pays to train your telephone ladies to be pleasant as they represent your company.

Finally I seriously believe that if all the money pissed away on vapid slogans by companies’ witless marketing trolls were applied to doing a better job we would all benefit, the world would be a better place and my blood pressure would go down.



Is your marketing a sound investment – or a wasteful cost

If you are a marketer this makes unhappy reading. If you are a manager it may not surprise you. But don’t be smug

The news is shocking.

The overwhelming majority of CEOs do not believe marketers deliver the results they should.

The reason is simple. They are neither trained in, nor understand – even vaguely – the things they should.

You may doubt me. Could such strong statements be true? But they come from an independent April 2014 survey by the highly regarded Fournaise Group.

This unique organisation tracks and analyses the results of over 2.5 million campaigns annually online and off. They involve over 1200 firms selling products and services to consumers and businesses, all over the world.

The firms range from SMEs to Fortune 100 companies. No matter what you sell or who you sell to, what you are about to read is highly relevant

The report noted:

  • 90% of marketers are not trained in Marketing Performance & Marketing ROI.
  • 67% don’t believe marketing ROI requires a financial outcome
  • 64% rely on Brand Awareness as their chief way of measuring return on investment
  • 58%  refer to “Likes”, “Tweets”, “Clicks” and/or “CTR” as their leading performance indicators.
  • 31% think measuring audience reached is the way to assess return on investment

The report concludes witheringly that “Every Tom, Dick & Harry is a marketer lacking scientific and financial knowledge”.

What do their bosses think about this?

In another Fournaise report Chief Executives said marketers:

  • Talk about the “brand” (issues, values, equity, etc) but cannot link back to results that matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or market valuation (77%)
  • Focus too much on marketing trends (social media) because they believe in “New marketing frontiers” but cannot demonstrate how these are actually beneficial (74%)
  • When asked to increase ROI they understand it as cost cutting or negotiations with partners and agencies instead of top line growth regeneration: more revenue, sales, prospects, buyers (73%)
  • Ask for more money but cannot explain how much incremental business the money will generate (72%)
  • Bombard stakeholders with marketing data that mean nothing. (70%)
  • Don’t think like businesspeople. Focus too much on creative “arty” and “fluffy” side of marketing, not enough on business science. Rely on ad agencies to come up with big ideas (67%)

The gap between what marketers fondly imagine and how their bosses view them is considerable

73% of CEOs think marketers lack credibility. But 69% of marketers think their strategies and campaigns are effective – despite being unable to quantify or prove it.

Why did I suggest bosses should nevertheless not be too smug. Well, I still chortle when I recall a report that came out quite a few years ago. Over 1,000 top U.S. executives were sent a series of questions to establish how much they knew about marketing.

Their ignorance was such that the Wall Street Journal reported they would have got better marks if they had all answered “I don’t know” to every question.

I doubt if things are any better now, especially in Britain, where we have three big problems.

1. We have a higher percentage of executives to workers than in any other advanced economy. Too many clueless leaders; not enough people doing the work.

2. Top executives are handsomely rewarded whether they get results or not. Hardly an incentive – and a drain on profits.

3. We have a higher percentage of accountants among our chief executives than in other countries. This must be one reason for the rise of the procurement industry – and a crippling emphasis on numbers rather than quality or imagination.

The aim of marketing, according to  Sergio Zyman, who had such an impact on Coca Cola’s success, is “to sell more stuff to more people more often at higher prices”.

Perhaps over simple, as some marketing is to sell ideas. But if you’d like a few ideas on how to sell anything to anyone anywhere, you can join me and one of the world’s best salesmen on October 20th in London at Churchill’s War Rooms.