The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect

I read this in AdAge.com a while back. Some of the things mentioned really stayed with me as a young pup in the marketing communications industry. I recently found the print out again in one of my files so I thought I'd post up some of the things that really impacted me:

  • Marketing communications companies are not being given a seat at their client’s strategic table. It’s the sad truth that no one in the communications business wants to acknowledge or admit.
  • More telling is how few communications professionals sit on corporate boards of large public companies. The "reason why there are few communications professionals on boards per se is that only a handful understand that communications is an amplification of business strategy — not something separate or apart from it. Certainly CEOs need to understand this as well.”
  • Somewhere along the way, ad agencies and other communications companies started thinking less about the strategy and more about selling execution. Worse yet, they started to fill their staffs with people who were craftsmen and not strategists. The result: They began to be viewed as laborers, not architects.
  • The only thing that binds people in an asexual entity called a corporation is an idea that people understand and live by.
  • The job of the communication strategist is to ensure the idea is big enough and powerful enough to convince people that the [business] goal is worth the effort and treasure.
  • How to Develop Good Strategy:
  1. First acknowledge that strategy is what you are selling. Not an ad. Not a logo. Not a list of public relations tactics. These are only executions and that makes them commodities to be evaluated subjectively, or worse yet, based on price of execution.
  2. Tell the truth. Suppress your excitement at having a revenue-potential client at the table and focus on the truth about product reality, competitive strengths and weaknesses and organizationalproblems and issues. CEOs have trouble determining truth from myth because everyone around them has an agenda to sell. To stand out, tell the truth.
  3. Throw out your factory — the daily special on the menu — to offer what the customer wants, not what you have in inventory. You must solve the client's business problem, not go in with your CFO's cost structure of how you have to utilize the specialized resources on your payroll.
  4. Focus on the client’s customer. Avoid the product attribute discussion that your client wants you to execute. Building a great strategy begins with an understanding of customer needs. And too often execution panders to internal audiences versus a strategic insight about the end-user.
  5. Hire people who think strategically. Now this may sound just plain dumb, but how many of you have recruiting policies in place where you go and visit Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Swarthmore, etc. in the spring to find the smartest, most imaginative minds in the world? How can you expect your organization to grow with the best talent if you don't have a program in place to find them?

Read the whole thing in HTML or PDF.

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