On March 23, 2018 Erin Lyons wrote What would you consign to Marketing Room 101? for Marketing Week Live where, among others, Mark Ritson and Colin Lewis, Marketing Week columnists, made comments worth discussing further.
Mark acknowledged a topic I wrote about in January 2018: Online marketing doesn’t exist. It was good to see that some awareness is developing of the damage all this digital buzz is doing to strategic marketing, the real thing. It was less good to find no mention of my article, but that’s my ego speaking.
It was what Colin said however that captured my attention:
…there is a misconception that people who haven’t worked at big brands like Procter & Gamble or Kraft Heinz are lesser marketers.
And he added
What makes the person selling sugared water, better than the guy working in B2B?
Colin: your point could be perfectly ok if you had just asked the question without expressing your opinion.
In fact, you cannot know why selling sugared water makes better marketers, simply because you never worked for any of those companies doing real strategic marketing. That is, you have limited knowledge of the subject you discuss.
It’s not sugared water. It’s what consumers need before they even know they need it
There are three fundamental reasons why marketers working for Procter & Gamble are better marketers, and all three reasons are built upon the concept of learning. Marketers at P&G learn (in-house and from real marketers):
- How to understand the mind of consumers
- How to create meaningful strategic statements
- How to think and write
In short, all those B2B marketers who aren’t properly trained (an MBA doesn’t do it yet) tend to improvise while P&G marketers follow a rigorous tested method. The keyword here is tested.
P&G invests 0.5% a year of their revenues in data and intelligence. That tiny percentage adds up to over $300 million. Add that to the some $7 billion they invest in communication and you will easily understand why they test (aka validate) every single relevant aspect of what they do. Add the fact that all this testing creates a knowledge base you won’t find in a B2B company and you have the answer to your question.
It is the methodologically accurate and heavily financed approach they apply to marketing that makes the person selling sugared water better than the guy working in B2B.
The sad thing is, B2B companies haven’t yet understood that it is time to quit playing at marketing and start to develop real marketers, in-house. After all, many B2B companies invest heavily in marketing too. They just keep harvesting ridiculous results for their efforts because their marketers aren’t real marketers yet. They are engineers without proper strategic training who play monkey marketing. The good thing is that the B2B companies that finally begin doing proper strategic marketing may experience results beyond their wildest expectations.
By the way, by saying sugared water I assume you refer to Steve Jobs asking John Sculley (back then Chief Marketing Officer at Coca Cola) if he wanted to keep selling sugared water or make history. Jobs was undoubtedly a brilliant mind and he was blessed with a scarce resource: common sense. However, common sense alone isn’t enough for most of us with less brilliant minds than Jobs.
B2B marketers who aren’t properly trained (an MBA doesn’t do it yet) tend to improvise while P&G marketers follow a rigorous tested method.
Marketers must be properly trained by real marketers, and companies like P&G train their marketers better than any other company.