The Bean Scale

I’ve been reading Beans: A History by Ken Albala. Not really a book one would expect to gain marketing insights from, but, read on. In times of great disparity between the haves and have-nots (most of history) – as soon as you had enough cash to trade your diet of beans for meat – you switched and didn’t look back. Until of course eating beans meant your were connecting with your roots.   The biggest disparity appears to occur right at the line of ‘almost could’ vs. ‘barely can’ afford meat.  If you had just moved up a rung, then it seemed important not to be confused with the poor folks lower down the ladder according to Albala.  Become super rich and you could eat what you want – sometimes mixing inexpensive beans with expensive imported ingredients to show you connected…but no peasant ever served this! Albala writes that the … Continue reading

End Marketing Departmentalization

As I was looking around for current ‘definitions’ of marketing to satisfy my curiosity and I came across the AMA’s revised definition for marketing.  “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” A bit high falutin’ but an improvement over the old language that starts with: “Marketing is an organizational function…”  In the announcement from Mike Lotti, Chairperson of the Board they hit the nail on the head:

Rethinking Budget Cuts

The nice thing about a recession is that it reminds you how amazing capitalism can be.  Even though most of us are hurting pretty badly —budgets being cut, loans being called, sales dropping — there are companies out there doing well.  Thriving even. Why bring up the lucky few when talking about budget cuts that are hitting most of us?  As a reminder that opportunity always exists even when the economy seems to be completely against you. Even a Budget Cut can be an opportunity. Truth is, there is no need for marketing, business development, product innovation, customer relationships or anything else if your organization runs out of cash.  In today’s economy, the length of your runway (how long before cash runs out)  matters more than practically any other program you have. So, if cuts need to be made, make them quick, take care of people as best you can … Continue reading

You Can’t Hide from a Marketing Problem

There has been an ongoing discussion during the past few years about the integrity of business. (Think Enron, Haliburton, etc.) I think this conversation has been somewhat overstated given that the majority of business owners in the U.S. are honest and trustworthy people trying to succeed in a very chaotic marketplace. For the past several years, the marketplace has seemed to reward businesses that have a great “presence” but not always a strong delivery system. I have always hated the phrase “they can talk the talk but can they walk the walk?” But, for many businesses, the past decade focused on the talking and not worrying so much about walking. And I think it is because marketing has, as a discipline, taken a different role in business than traditionally wielded. We have, in some corners, become more about communications, ‘Q’ scores and “buzz” and less about building and growing a … Continue reading

Friday Afternoons

Now that summer hours are over and the snow has started to fly (at least here in Chicago) I think it is time for marketing departments to try to infuse Friday with excitement and creativity. (Actually all departments should but I will talk to the marketing team for now.) Plan regular “events” to help keep ideas flowing and to go into the weekend with seeds planted in the mind of your team. Keep them fun and high-energy. They shouldn’t be “problem-solving sessions” but stretching out to new and interesting thoughts. How about spending an hour with a spread of Jumbo Shrimp, Oven-Fried Chicken, and a 12-oz pound cake and see how many oxymorons your team can identify. Then take 10 randomly and see if you can figure out how each one applies to your business. Every great idea starts somewhere, maybe they have been hiding in the quiet of the … Continue reading