There’s an elephant in every board room – and it’s us the marketers. Let’s not kid ourselves, left brain managers don’t think much of right brain marketers’ opinions. Why should they?
They come from a world that’s pretty much black and white, a world that ‘was’ or ‘is’. Left brainers are interested in process and procedure and proving certainty. Risk management is their bag. On the other side of the table, and the brain, are the marketers, people who see things in colour, whose only process is in ideas; big picture thinkers, always looking forward, non compliant, liberal, pluralistic and to hell with convention.
Most marketers want to know what a company stands for and demands descriptions in less than two words, while our opposite hemispheric demand lengthy explanations and an essay on past case histories.
Is it any wonder they are mortal enemies! What can be done, if anything? Importantly, is it worth doing anything? After consideration one cannot but conclude that something must be done because for companies to succeed they must find the balance. Organisations need both right brainers and left brainers and importantly they have to learn to respect each other for their unique abilities.
As a marketer, life is always made more difficult and frustrating by the manner in which management tend to view marketers and their unique way of thinking. For example, managers almost never respond quickly enough when marketing is the issue. They will create a brief that needs an urgent resolution – they say. But what happens when we respond is that the analytics go into a huddle and discuss the concept to death. The resolution was never quite as urgent as the problem it seems – funny that.
I’m not declaring war on these guys – yet, but I won’t lie and tell you I’m living in hope.
Let’s take an instance. After all that’s what lefties like isn’t it – case studies!
We talk about ‘brand’. Lefties see it as a pretty picture with nice colours that goes on the product, office door, signage whatever. To us it’s so much more. Brand is about who you are, what you stand for, how you behave, it’s your fighting crusader banner – it’s your personality, living and breathing via all five brand senses. It’s your voice; your smell; your looks; your feel and your touch. Staggeringly many companies don’t know who they are and this leads to enormous mistakes.
Seeing this problem, lefties investigate the cost cutting processes; the management structures; the product lines; prices. “Let’s get more efficient, faster, trimmer and slicker”. They still don’t know who they are. But they have done something!!!!
In their recent book ‘War in the Boardroom’, Al & Laura Ries make an excellent statement which pretty much sums up the hostilities. Relating to the different thinking of managers and marketers they say this:
“If consumers won’t pay more for your brand than they would for a commodity, then you really don’t have a brand, you have a commodity with a name.”
That pretty much sums it up. It’s a conundrum. David Packard, Co-founder of Hewlett Packard says, “Marketing is too important to leave to marketing people.” On the other hand marketing is too complicated to be left to management people who have little experience in marketing and don’t understand the principles.
Companies need ‘ambidexterity’ but the gulf is getting wider. If you want living proof, read and understand the Daimler/Chrysler mess. When Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler in 1998 it paid US$36 billion. It thought it had an efficiency problem. In 2006 its sales fell 7% and it lost US$1.5 billion.
Its problem wasn’t efficiency it was a marketing problem that left brainers refused to accept. Let’s face it, name one reason to buy a Chrysler? You can’t; can you? When they sold Chrysler, according to finance experts, it was worth just US$1.6 billion. (Daimler wrote down Chyrsler to zero).
So like it or lump it – it just has to be left, right, left, right: quick march… or we’re all dead.