Marketing an Organization
I ask all of you to be patient with this, in a way it could be considered my life's work. I planned to put this system forward in a book, but I don't want my ideas used to further and strengthen consumerism-something I think of as the cancer that will cause our extinction if we fail to recognize it and direct our energies to our real needs as human beings. Before we start with the actual marketing system, I want to give you an overview of my career so that you can see that it is a system that works.
I had the good fortune to work with a man who knows more about business, marketing, and market research than anyone I have ever met or read (and that is a considerable number people from the world over). During that time I began to see that the products that succeed, in spite of the best efforts of those marketing them, are the ones that mean something to those who make them, those who recommend them, and those who use them. I then had the chance to put my insights into practice, first in Mexico and then Internationally and they worked extremely well. How well? I was living in Mexico and working for a privately held firm and I was number 2 in the company and the number 1 spot was, and is being held by the owner. I took a chance and took the job of Market Research Manager at Wyeth Mexico, S.A. de C.V.
This was a big risk. In most pharmaceutical firms in Mexico, the Market Research Manager gets about as much respect as a kicker of a football team, but the Marketing Dept. was in complete disarray. After less than months with the company, nothing was done in the department without my approval. Two months later, the President instructed me to write the entire marketing plan for the coming year. When I asked how I was to work with the two therapeutic area managers and their product managers, he told me not to work with them. I was to write the entire plan, for the company as a whole, for both therapeutic areas, and for every product. At the same time, he expanded my responsibility to Manager of Business Development. To make a long story short, after three years with the company, I was given the additional responsibility of Director of Women's Healthcare – the company's most important franchise. After 12 months, we doubled our market share of one product line and the annual growth rate of the sales of the other line in terms of tablets sold went from 3% to 18%, even though we had to double the price of the product during those 12 months.. After that, three and a half years as an employee of Wyeth Mexico, I was transferred to Wyeth-Ayerst International as a Product Manager of one of our product lines. Ten months later I was named Director of Women's Healthcare.
During the past ten years that I have been incapacitated, I have had the chance to effect a minutial review of every research report, every market analysis, every consulting project, every marketing plan, strategic review, as well as every strategy and tactic I and those who worked with me made during my career. What follows is a description of how I succeeded, even though I might not have been completely aware of it at the time.
Understood correctly, marketing is nothing more than a process of definition. At the most simple level, a company or an organization takes raw material applies energy to it and creates a product. What has been forgotten (if anyone was ever been completely cognizant of it) is that these three things are the same regardless of the nature of the company or organization.
The real raw material of any kind of economic organization is people. Not the “we recognize that our most valuable resource is our people” platitude found in every worthless exercise known as “mission statements.” Here “people” should be understood as anyone who intervenes or can intervene in the creation and adoption of the product.
Energy, as it applies to any economic organization, is information. Information is at the heart of the activities of any organization and it is subject to the same forces as those set forward in the laws of thermodynamics – especially entropy. Even monetary resources are a form of information. Money really is nothing more than a measure of the rate of adoption of your product and a symbol of the possible leverage you may be able to exercise over the raw material.
Finally there is the product. This is the most difficult thing for many to understand, but the product is not the thing that is sold. The product is what it means to be a person who: designs, creates, discovers, makes, recommends, sells, buys, and purchases (or joins) it. In short, the product is a culture. If it is not, it is simply a commodity that is replaceable by any other similar commodity (the failure to recognize this was the cause of the tremendous decline of the American automobile companies). What then are the things produced by companies or organizations – cars, planes, food, medication, books, services, etc.? These are the tools with which the raw material is worked and converted into part of the product: the culture - everything done by the company or organization.
What does all this mean for “The Blitz”? It means that we must establish and create a very trenchant, concise definition of who we are, why are we together, what we offer, and to whom we offer it. This is much more than a mission statement. I have observed a number of companies and divisions of companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on these and I have participated in the role of consultant, observer, participant and moderator. I have never seen a company really benefit from the exercise. The reason for the failure of mission statements is the same reason party platforms are meaningless: They are designed to appeal to everyone and to offend no one. In turn, the culture definition works because it gives people (the raw material) a short declaration that informs their decisions about the product/culture and an immediate and strong emotional link to it. In our case, THE BLITZ.
Two of the the best statements of culture I know of are those of the Marines and that of West Point: Simper Fi and Honor, Duty, Country. They are short and cannot be misconstrued. They may not be always followed, but their meanings are clear. (I do not want to enter into the controversies surrounding the Armed Forces. But, if every officer really internalized these words, the conduct of the officers and the behavior of the enlisted men in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been much different.) We must come up with something like these two or three words – stones that are the foundation upon which every decision is made, every alliance is built, and to which everyone is absolutely committed. These statements also demonstrate another aspect of successful statements of culture, they are positive. An organization might want a statement like: “We oppose everything the Tea Party stands for.” It is short and to the point and provokes an immediate emotional response, but it is a very big trap.
There is one very significant problem with negative culture statements. Groups who adopt this statement cede the initiative to the group they oppose. The opposition then becomes the ones who act and those opposing them becomes the ones who react. This is what happened during the mid-term elections. Progressives reacted to the Tea Party (which is precisely what those dedicated to serving the plutocracy wanted). We went on the defensive, we tried to reason with the country and demonstrate that the Tea Party and those behind them were wrong; and we lost the House and barely held onto the Senate. Instead of defending the accomplishments of the Democrats during the past two years, we should have ignored the Tea Party and the Republicans. We should have made it very clear where we are going, of the way ahead for the country, and the prosperity we seek to create for all Americans. If we had communicated this to the country, we would be in a very different place.
If we are to follow the system, we must develop our statement. The Philosophy of Blitz expressed in the “Leftcheek deuce” blog is a great description of our cultural values. But, now comes the hardest part – finding a short, (3 to 5 words if possible) statement that expresses our values and that creates an immediate emotional impact on whosoever reads or hears it. And, unlike mission statements, it cannot appeal to all and offend no one. The definition of the other parts of the marketing plan come very easily once we have our statement.
My suggestion is that we adopt a new word for our statement of culture:
Life, Freedom, Prosperity, Dignity, Transparency
Once we decide on our statement of culture, we can then move on to define the tools we will offer to convert our raw material into our product.