Thursday, 30 August 2012

What’s happening in Innovative Marketing Strategy class?

We are nearing the completion of the unit on Innovative Marketing Strategies. The unit coordinator, Professor Donnel Briley (Chair of the Marketing Discipline), has imparted his truly global interpretation of marketing strategies. Having lived and studied in North America, Europe and Australia, Donnel’s vast cultural experiences are exemplified through the cases studies he presents.

My favorite part of class is when we contrast regionally or culturally dependent marketing strategies versus strategies that have a more universal appeal. There seems to be no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to marketing strategies as human needs and social boundaries define humor and success from one region to the next.

In this economic climate, marketers can be faced with developing marketing strategies that can be easily adapted to be suitable for varied cultures. Has there been a marketing strategy that has really struck you as universally appealing?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

McDonald's Sponsorship Case Study

Another Olympic Games has come and gone. And while Australian swimming may not have done as well as usual and are looking to review their performance, one organization that performed well in this period was McDonald's in Australia.

Obviously, we're not privy to the detailed financial results of McDonald's or their ROI on their significant investment as a major sponsor of the Olympics in London. But what is impressive is the way that McDonald's in Australia leveraged their Olympic association.

Love them or hate them and no doubt some people will argue that McDonald's should not be associated with sporting events - but that is not the point here. The point is that the way that McDonald's has executed its Olympic sponsorship provides a great case study for how other firms need to implement sponsorship strategies.

Sponsorships have become a common part of a communications platform, particularly for larger firms. It is estimated that around 1% of marketing budgets are allocated to sponsorships, as they have unique advantages over other forms of promotion, particularly in the area of building a positive brand association.

Gone are the days where the sponsorship arrangement would simply be the payment of the funds and then adopt a 'hope for the best' approach. These days, most sponsoring firms would recognize that they have to work hard at leveraging and highlighting their sponsorship connection.

That's why McDonald's approach in Australia provides an excellent case study. They introduced a range of short-term menu items, with each tied to a previous Olympics, such as the Sydney Stack and the Beijing Chicken, along with a Coca-Cola Olympic glass give-away sales promotion.
This overall campaign clearly connected McDonald's and the Olympics, gave them additional products to sell, added variety for their regular customers, and gave the opportunity for different promotional messages and a value-adding sales promotion.

Overall, McDonald's has demonstrated a far more effective way of leveraging a sponsorship, rather than simply running ads saying that they are 'proud sponsors’. What are your thought on the issues surrounding the Olympic sponsorships? Should a company such as McDonald’s be a sponsor of the Olympics?

Geoff Fripp
Lecturer – Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 23 August 2012

When’s the best time to return to University?

Is there really a best time to return to university? After a few years into your career you might begin feeling less sense of achievement. Perhaps the challenges you originally thrived on are gone. The determined amongst us are contemplating our next move. That could involve a change of careers, or perhaps even climbing a rung or two higher on the career ladder.

Many people who feel this way have reached a crossroad. Their options include either continuing what they are doing or to return to study to advance their career. How old is too old to return to university as a post grad student? It seems that the average age for a post-grad student in Australia is 35 years old. Rather than benchmarking yourself against that number, perhaps it’s better to think about what you want to achieve by having a postgraduate qualification.

What are the benefits of doing a post graduate degree such as a Masters of Marketing early in your career life as opposed to after 10 years of work experience?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Is the macro-environment really a PEST?

When marketing students learn to consider the macro-environment in the development of their marketing plans and strategies, they are provided with the acronym PEST as a simple way of recalling political, economic, social and technology factors.

But this view stems from the traditional business outlook that environmental change was essentially a nuisance and that stability was preferable.

But one only needs to look at the recent financial results of Apple to see how outdated that view is in today's world. Currently, Apple generates 75% of its revenue from products it did not have five years ago. Their highly successful iPhone and iPad products were hardly on the Apple drawing board in 2004, yet today are responsible for an amazing transformation of this company.

Back in 2005, Apple looked to protect their flagship product, the iPod, from potential sales damage from the enhanced capability of smart phones. And due to their limited technical expertise in this market at that time, Apple's first foray into the smart phone market was via a joint venture with Motorola. It was only after this disappointing effort that they decided to go it alone and in mid-2007 the first iPhone was launched.

Within five years, Apple was essentially transformed into a different organization. They are now among the most profitable companies, and are also ranked as one of the valuable brands, in the world. Here is a firm that is now brimming with confidence, resources and profitability and eagerly awaiting further environmental change.

 So is the macro-environment really a PEST? A simple rearrangement of these letters transforms it into STEP. A step forward, a step upward - certainly true for Apple and perhaps a much better way to think about change and the opportunities it can provide organizations. What are your thoughts?

Geoff Fripp
Lecturer – Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 10 August 2012

Marketing is getting infinitely complex.

Marketing is getting infinitely complex.
But here is some context to help you deal with that complexity.

Today’s marketer not only has more channel choices than at any other time in history, but the number of channels is increasing every day. Plus they are often operating with effectively less budget, to deliver higher, more accountable performance, while a waterfall of data thunders down upon them.

No wonder we often feel overwhelmed. No wonder many marketers are suffering decision paralysis as they wade through the mountains of options and data trying to decide the best strategy.

In response our reptilian mid-brain has us longing for a simpler time, as a way of protecting us from an ever-lurking fear of failure.

The problem is not complexity

Let's bring some context to this complexity.

In 1999, the IBM Knowledge Management Team developed a Cynefin Framework (a welsh word), which provides new approaches to communication and decision-making in complex social environments. Sounds like a good description of the marketing function - right?

The Cynefin framework has four main domains: 
  • Simple in which the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all.
  • Complicated in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or investigation.
  • Complex in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect.
  • And Chaotic in which there is no relationship between cause and effect at all.
In the context of marketing, the market systems we deal with are at best complicated, but usually complex. Yet often we find ourselves mistakenly developing strategies based on the incorrect assumption of a simple system where cause and effect are obvious.

Understanding that marketing sits in the complex domain creates opportunities for better dealing with the challenges of complexity.

Change your approach to testing and learning
The first insight is that in this domain it is impossible to develop best practice, or even good practice. Instead, relationships between cause and effect manifest as emerging practice. This requires us to probe, sense and respond to the market. It means that marketing activities are actually probing the system, observing the changes that occur and responding to these changes, both negative and positive. This is seen in practice as marketing moves from a succession of individual campaigns to a process of constant engagement.

Collaborate to create new solutions and mutual value

The second insight is that complex systems require us to develop truly collaborative approaches to market. Not simply co-ordination and cooperation, but collaboration leading to creating mutual benefit and value with the many stakeholders within the system. In media we are seeing this collaboration between many of the traditional and the newer media providers and their customers leading to new intellectual property, functionality and utility.

Simply learn to deal with complexity
At the core of our survival mechanism we crave simplicity, the fact is that marketing has never been simple. There were perhaps fewer options in the past, but within the context of the Cynefin framework marketing primarily exists in the complex domain, never the simple.

Marketers need to embrace this complexity and evolve processes and strategies for dealing with complex systems. This means that many of the modes of operating that are based on the simple domain assumption of an obvious relationship between cause and effect will need to change too.

Darren Woolley
Managing Director and Founder
TrinityP3 Strategic Marketing Management