How do you balance an entrepreneurial optimism versus unrestrained recklessness? And how do you stop your innovation and marketing activities being more reliant on ‘ hope’ – than reality? An excellent recent lecture at The Royal Society of Arts and Commerce (The RSA) – by neuroscientist and author Tali Sharot – whose latest work is ‘The Optimism Bias – Why We Are Wired To Look On The Bright side‘ – highlighted the intriguing tendency for more than 80% of us to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
In Dudley Moore’s classic 1990 movie ‘Crazy People’ the lead character, an ad-executive called Emory Leeson, hits on a novel idea for his new series of advertising campaigns: just tell the truth and stop the schmaltz and corny ads. His line for Volvo? ” They’re Boxy – But They’re Good”. And an on-message line to help promote the Greek tourism industry? “The French Can Be Annoying: Come to Greece – We’re Nicer”. Well, they do say all comedy is truth. And of course, with the natural hyperbole so common in advertising Dudley Moore highlights perhaps an inconvenient truth – that advertising is mostly not honest. But does that make it a bad thing?
There have been some heated debates across the innovation forums and sites over the past few months concerning the role of talented people in the innovation process. ( see this post by HBR’s Art Markman for example). Is innovation about just getting the smartest people, the greatest brains, the most dynamic individuals and waiting for their ‘eureka’ moment? Or is it about being smarter with the talent you have, creating a culture that challenges how things are done and finding systematic gaps in the market? Or – is it about something else altogether?
Sometimes a technology changes everything, not just within their own industry – but within those that connect to it. The trend becomes the ‘adjacent other’ – something from a different industry, area or market that impacts and changes yours. These changes, could open up new opportunities for you or they can be the springboard that your competitors were waiting for. Steam ships begat refrigeration, jet airplanes led the modern charter flight and tourism industry and famously microwave ovens – created a whole new way for blokes to prepare a curry, at half time during the match. Some marketers got up to speed, some missed it.
Brands and businesses do not really have relationships between each other. A laser printer does not set up meeting with the coffee machine and the old laptop case to have a chat about the relative costs of A4 paper. A delivery van does not have a workshop with a fork-lift truck to clarify a key delivery schedule. It is people – and the conversation between them that drives business activity, ideas and progress. Businesses have a legal status, missions, KPI’s, logs, processes and systems. But it is large complex, sometimes emotional, and often stressed ape like creatures such as you and me that do the talking and the listening. No matter what you do, or who you work for, if you’re in the business of marketing & innovation – you are in the conversation business.
LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) reports in the FT today that their race to secure £700 million of sponsorship for the 2012 games is nearly complete – with its current roster now including 41 domestic sponsors and 11 tier one partners from the IOC‘s ‘family. With the overall return to the UK economy now projected to be just 0.1% increase – on the back of £9.3 Billion of public sector investment – and in the middle of a deep recession, securing the support of valuable partners is a massive achievement from the LOCOG team led by Paul Deighton. However, as anyone who has managed large sponsorship, partnership and collaborative marketing projects realises – getting the deal signed is not the end – it’s just the start. As the race to acquire sponsors is nearing its end the relationship and partnership marathon is about to start…
Partnerships and alliances are good for business. Big business has always known this — from McDonald’s building global co-promotions with Coca-Cola and Walt Disney, to Nike building trainers that talk to your iPhone. But alliances can bring significant benefits for small firms too – something I discuss in this article within MarketingDonut. In the article I outline the four main partnership tactics that small businesses can use; (1) Revenue Partners (2) Supplier Partners, (3) Industry Alliances and (4) Promotional and PR. These are the kind of marketing programmes that are used by some of the world’s biggest brands – because they’re cost effective and work. So if they’re not already doing so, isn’t it time small businesses started to build these approaches into their plans too? For more information on partnership tips and advice see Benchstone.co.uk
- Solutions For Small Business Partnership No-No’s (andrewarmour.com)
In a recent article published in Marketing Society the editor of ‘Market Leader’ – Judie Lannon commented that marketers are getting ‘squeezed’ – as aspects of their role fall increasingly within the domain of others. She’s right of course – they’re getting squeezed. And to get away from the internal squeeze – marketers need to get out and engage and collaborate more. (You can see the original article and comments here. )
A bench stone is used to build and sharpen valuable blades and other important tools. Bench stones are specialist resources and some are even diamond coated. Over twenty years I have come to passionately believe that partnerships and alliances are vital and valuable marketing tools that when properly managed can give businesses a unique cutting edge – creating an advantage that is difficult, expensive if not impossible for rivals to replicate. And Benchstone Marketing Limited is established to support senior management, brands and organisations plan, pioneer and sharpen their marketing partnerships.
It was great to this week receive a re-posting of my Partnership Marketing Manifesto from the bona fide marketing legend – Gary Hamel. Currently Hamel is Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School and also the Innovation Architect at the very interesting website – The Management Information eXchange – MIX. Hamel is of course the author behind such seminal texts as ‘Competing For The Future’ , the superb ‘Alliance Advantage’ and a further seven leading books on competitive marketing and innovation. Why did I decide to promote a Partnership Manifesto within MIX?