Marketing Strategy… the key to Success in Private & Public Sector Marketing

People are always confused with the role of marketing. A recent article by Al Ries in Ad Age makes some very interesting points.

For example who decides?

1) What products and services to offer;

2) What to name those products and services; and

3) What distribution channels to use to sell those products and services?

Clearly this is the role of marketing but Ries points out that with companies large and small, he doesn’t see many marketing people calling the shots on 1) Products; 2) Names; and 3) Distribution.

Instead, Ries points out that unfortunately marketing people tend to focus on “communications” issues. They spend most of their time figuring out how to interest prospects in their organizations products and services.

The Mantra for our organization (i.e. Centre for Public Sector Marketing) is “Strategy before Tactics” and we clearly understand the need and importance of communications but they are only the tactics of a marketing program. The other half, the more important half, is strategy.

As Reis points out the two are related. In order to improve the communications, it often is necessary to make changes in strategy. In products, names, pricing, distribution, etc. And who is in a better position to suggest such changes than an experienced marketing person?

But as Reis point out it is top management people who are calling the shots on marketing strategy? And in most cases management people who are not trained or knowledgeable about marketing. Would top management without an engineering background make engineering decisions, probably not? But marketing … no problem.

Reis describes the most recent Presidential race for the GOP as an example of lack of marketing strategy.

“So far, there are eight Republican presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

Do you know the verbal position of any of these eight?

I don’t think they have any.

Doesn’t anyone remember “Change we can believe in?” After Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, I would have thought that any future presidential candidate would summarize his or her campaign with a few memorable words. But so far, no one has.Apparently, nobody wants to be tied down to a single idea or concept. Everybody wants to be free to expand their campaigns in all directions, depending on which way the wind blows.

Take Jon Huntsman. “He resigned  as the U.S. ambassador to China, but already Jon Huntsman has a logo, a musical theme, a small arsenal of promotional videos, a Hollywood narrator and a line of travel mugs, lapel pins, baseball caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the distinctive H of his infant presidential campaign. He even has a generation named after himself. Generation H, his campaign calls it.”

Jon Huntsman has everything except a marketing strategy. Source

See my blog Political Parties should have Marketers run their Campaigns

What is strategy anyway?

 According to Wikipedia Strategy, a word of military origin refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics. Strategy has been extended beyond its traditional fields, military and grand strategy, to business, economics, game theory and other fields.

Ries discusses the Marketing Warfare material that came out of his book by the same name.

He quotes the famous Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, the world’s most-famous military strategist, “Keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. The fundamental idea always to be aimed at before all and as far as possible.”

He explains it this way “strategy is like a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle. Turn it one way to increase the concentration and out comes a powerful stream of water that could knock down a child. Turn it the other way and out comes a fine mist that wouldn’t harm a butterfly.He points out that almost every military strategist recommends “concentration of forces,” while almost every business strategist recommends “scatteration of forces.” Everything about marketing strategy parallels military strategy. The principle of force. The superiority of the defense. The advantage of flanking. And most importantly, the principle of focus.” 

There is one difference. Marketing is about brands, not companies. Apple has become the world’s most-valuable company, not by expanding the Apple brand, but by launching new brands: Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Is this what marketing has become? A discipline that execute strategies designed by somebody else?Source

Let me know what you think.


Top Federal Bureaucrat Embraces Web 2.0 Technology

Well the penny has finally dropped in the federal government…yesireee. The top bureaucrat in the federal government,  privy council clerk Wayne Wouters states that federal government departments have to embrace the web 2.0 tools and technology that the rest of the real world uses . The introduction according to Wouters would allow more collaboration among workers , levels of government and Canadians. Here is the link to the report.

He goes on say in his report to the Prime Minister, “adopting Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis can help us to improve the productivity of our workplaces and better harness the skills and knowledge of public servants across the country. Moreover, the reality is that newer public servants expect an enabling workplace. They will not stay long if we fail to provide one. Canadians also expect the public service to take advantage of new technologies to help meet their needs in new and better ways. Increased innovation will help us become more effective and efficient. We need new ideas, experimentation and better implementation. However, I recognize that it is difficult to innovate when hampered by unnecessary rules. That is why unraveling the web of rules at both the public service and departmental levels must continue.” (Amen)

Well Mr Wouters how about allowing public servants to have access to social media channels. Many of you who don’t work in the federal government, may be surprised to find out that the majority of public servants at all levels have no access to most of the popular social media channels . No this is not China I am talking about but Canada … a country that was once the world leader in E- Government and  is now years behind most industrialized countries especially the USA which is years ahead of us.

This is clearly a result of short sighted senior public service management who are concerned that left to their devices and allowed access to social media sites like Facebook public servants would be spending  a good portion of their  day on a social media site.  As a retired former senior public servant, I find this absolutely regressive old style bureaucratic thinking. I certainly remember in the 1990’s championing the ability for public servants  in my Department  to have access to the Internet. Some of you may find this hard to believe but government departments at the time were charging managers for every internet site accessible to  staff which resulted in only a small percentage of staff having access to the web.

Mr Wouters also discusses the stifling bureaucracy associated with briefing notes (which are rewritten 10 and 11 times due to the ridiculous approval process ).  He also mentions the levels of approvals required to complete simple tasks. In the field of communications and marketing the amount of approvals now required by departments, especially in the past few years is quite unbelievable. This has tremendous impact on productivity, it takes forever to get anything approved and clearly affects the  final product . If you want to see an example of what happens when you have a cumbersome  approval system in the marketing and communications field see

Wouters points out “that government  systems are decades old and in  serious need of modernization to support their  operations. We must be more systematic about how we manage our knowledge and information. These are important government assets that should be captured and shared among individuals and across organizations.” Quite an understatement! Many departments are still working with old versions of Microsoft Office and some are still using Lotus Notes… an abomination .

Finally Wouters states “I encourage deputies, assistant deputy ministers, executives and managers to break down the barriers to effective collaboration,support innovation and the use of technology, and better manage information and knowledge. Enabling people and being more open to new ideas and approaches will be necessary if we are to truly unleash excellence.”

Yes Mr Wouters … Governments have to be open to new ideas, especially when it comes to technology.  You are recruiting thousands of young people in the public service (and there are thousands in the systems) and most are are up to speed on the new technologies and they find it totally regressive to work in an environment  where new technologies are not embraced but rather banned from the workplace.

I just wanted to remind readers of my blog to register for MARCOM Professional Development, taking place June 10 & 11 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the program  or review the speaker roster , then I strongly encourage you and your colleagues to review the great line-up, make it part of the training plan and register before April 16.

Here are our key note speakers:

Mitch Joel: President, Twist Image

He is a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert, community leader, Blogger and Podcaster. In 2008, Mitch Joel was named Canada’s Most Influential Male in Social Media. Mitch joins MARCOM to deliver the Opening Keynote on June 10th.

Terry O”Reilly: Age of Persuasion Host CBC Radio.

O’Reilly looks at what animates creativity and how the art of persuasion informs our culture. He delights both general audiences and advertising veterans, pointing to trends and dispatching timeless lessons. O’Reilly is an ad man in love with the promise of advertising but not blind to its shortcomings. Attendees of MARCOM 2010 will hear Terry deliver a keynote on June 11th.

I will be involved in the following sessions at MARCOM:

June 9, 2010 – Workshop

09:00 – 16:30 Social Marketing Planning – Implementing an Effective Campaign

Jim Mintz | Director, Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

One of the biggest challenges in Social Marketing Planning is the Implementation stage. Many organizations develop great plans, but poor execution leaves them wondering why they didn’t achieve the desired results. In previous editions of MARCOM, Jim Mintz has taken participants through a proven process for developing their social marketing strategy and plan. At MARCOM 2010, you will learn how to transform Strategies into Action! Jim will briefly review the social marketing plan process and then move into detailed discussions surrounding how to successfully implement your strategy. In this tough economy it’s important to ensure maximum impact for marketing dollars; especially when you are moving from planning into implementation where the majority of your budget will be allocated.

You will learn 7 key areas for social marketing plan implementation:

  1. What questions to ask when working with marketing and communications suppliers;
  2. How to develop a creative brief to ensure your communications agencies remain on strategy;
  3. The Do’s and Don’ts for smooth supplier relationships;
  4. Innovative ideas to fully leverage a limited budget;
  5. How to present and “sell” your social marketing strategy to management;
  6. How to approach and capitalize on strategic alliances;
  7. How to evaluate your campaign progress and success.

Take the next step: Join Jim Mintz and move your plan into action!

June 10, 2010

08:30 – 09:45 Session 1: “Leading the Charge” Panel: Learning from Marketing-Driven Organizations in Government

Facilitator: Jim Mintz | Director, Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing
Karen Dufton | Senior Director General, Service Canada, Head, Marketing and Communications
Greg MacDougall | Director, Communications, CATSA
Lisa Allaire | Director General, Production and Advertising Services, Department of National Defence

What is a marketing-driven organization? What are some of the challenges faced in transforming a bureaucratic culture into a customer-centric organization? How do you get buy-in across the organization? These are some of the questions that will be answered by our panel of public sector marketing leaders who will share their experience and expertise on how they are creating a dynamic marketing culture in their organizations and what you can do to advance marketing as a powerful business transformation tool.

Hope to see you there.


The need for integrated marketing communications in public sector marketing

Here are excerpts from an article I recently wrote for a federal government newsletter called “Within Reach” on the need for Integrated marketing Communications.

The article is entitled “Integrated Marketing Communications: A Holistic Approach to Government Communications”

Over the past few years I have noticed both as a consultant working with government clients and as a professor teaching students who attend our Professional Certificate Programs at Carleton’s Sprott School of Business, that there is an inclination on the part of public sector marketers to separate advertising from other marketing communications tactics. I believe there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon; some are bureaucratic and others can be explained by a lack of knowledge and understanding of marketing communications and advertising.

First, a little history: About twenty years ago, marketing departments created silos for each of the various marketing communications functions; planning and managing them separately with different budgets, views of the target market, goals and objectives. In many cases, there were separate units or divisions within the same organization managing various marketing communications functions.

Then, companies began to change their operations to embrace the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC) which involved coordinating the various marketing communications elements along with other marketing activities that were communicating with the organization’s target audience(s).

Experts in the field of marketing communications found that IMC serves to emphasize the benefits of harnessing synergy across the promotional tactics in order to build brand equity of products and services. The central tenet of IMC that distinguishes it from conventional advertising is that each medium enhances the contributions of all other media. In other words, the combined impact of multiple elements (e.g., television, print, radio, Internet, direct response, public relations etc.) can be much greater than the sum total of their individual effects.

As IMC became popular, companies set more strategic objectives with their advertising agencies and their own internal functions to ensure better coordination of the use of a variety of marketing communications tools to achieve their goals rather than relying primarily upon mass media advertising.

In the traditional advertising agency world, many responded by acquiring or setting up public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing, and interactive expertise and touting their capability to meet all of their clients’ IMC needs. In addition, companies began looking beyond one-stop advertising agencies to other types of marketing communications specialists to develop and implement various components of their plans. Today it is not unusual for organizations to outsource their requirements to a number of different types of specialized communication agencies.

So why did organizations, including government most recently, move to the practice of IMC? A key reason for this paradigm shift was that marketers recognized the value of strategically integrating the various communication functions rather than having them operate in silos. The move to IMC also reflects an adaptation by marketers to a changing environment, particularly with respect to demographics, psychographics, lifestyles, and the influx of new media opportunities.

Although it can be said there are a number of reasons for the important shift to integrated marketing communications, the following are some of the major catalysts of note for the public sector:

  • By coordinating marketing communication efforts, organizations can avoid duplication, take advantage of synergy across communication tools, and develop more efficient and effective marketing communication programs.
  • The shift of marketing communication dollars from media advertising to other forms of promotion.
  • The movement away from relying on advertising-focused approaches, which emphasize mass media such as network television and national newspapers and magazines, to solve communication problems.
  • The fragmentation of media markets, which has resulted in less emphasis on mass media and more attention to smaller, targeted media alternatives.
  • The rapid growth and development of database marketing which has prompted many marketers to target consumers through direct mail, direct response advertising etc.
  • The growth of the Internet especially digital/on-line marketing, which has changed the very nature of the way organizations communicate and interact with target audiences.
  • Demands for greater accountability from advertising agencies and changes in the way they are compensated which motivated agencies to consider a variety of marketing communications tools and less expensive alternatives to mass media advertising.
  • Movement to social marketing in the public and non-profit sectors, which requires marketers to exploit all marketing media, channels and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals for a social issue. For more information check out the E-Learning tool at Health Canada or thesocial marketing planning work bookat the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing.

The most successful IMC programs require that an organization find the right combination or “recipe” of promotional vehicles, tools and techniques and coordinate their use. In a public sector organization that has not yet embraced IMC organizationally, it needs to understand that their target audiences do not distinguish between tactics. From their perspective they are receiving a message from the government whether it comes via television, direct mail, the Internet or an exhibit at a major event. Integrated marketing communications calls for a coordinated approach to planning marketing and promotion programs. With IMC, all of an organization’s communications activities should project a consistent, coordinated and unified message to each target market.

So how do you ensure that your communications are consistent and integrated? First, start by developing an integrated communications plan. ( the article describes the key components of the plan) Include all of the marketing communications tactics that you hope to use to reach your audience. This will help you coordinate all of the communications directed at your audience so that they receive a consistent, reinforcing message. There is nothing worse in marketing communications than delivering inconsistent or conflicting messages which tends to happen when you do not use an IMC approach.

If you want a copy of the complete article please contact me at