Brian Creath

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Marketing Gurus Are Giving The Really Good Ones A Bad Name.

In Advertising, Brand, Brand Strategy, Corporate Marketing, Marketing, Positioning, Strategy on January 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm


Have you noticed an increase in the number of marketing gurus? Geniuses, too. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that these labels are often self-proclaimed, or bestowed by a book publisher or publicity firm. Funny. The smartest people I’ve ever met in marketing never considered themselves gurus, or geniuses. Then again, they were too busy successfully practicing the craft of marketing with real businesses to consider such fodder.

Practicing? Yes, the business of marketing is a practice. Tempered by the fires of time and experience. Integral to a commercial enterprise. The business of being a guru, is about…well, I’m not really sure what it’s about.

As this post is written, Google returns 751,000,000 results for “marketing” books. Some are seminal. Some are important. The majority are not. But increasingly, our culture embraces any kind of celebrity–warranted by deed, or not. And the realm of marketing is no stranger to this trend. Unfortunately, as more people seek ‘guru’ status and vie for attention, the points of view they espouse have become increasingly obscure, and in many cases, simply wrong.

A business writer once referred to me as a strategy guru. Back then I laughed. Today, I denounce my title.

As the adage goes, “those who can’t, teach.” Apparently, they also write books. And give seminars. And speak at conferences. Problem is, building real brands and real businesses is a bit more challenging than delivering a PowerPoint to 30 people at the Dayton Ramada Inn.

Nope, for my money (and I hope yours), give me the practitioner. The one who folds trends and new points of view into a long history of marketing perspective. The one who can think and do. The really good one, not the guru.

(By the way, if you need strong marketing practitioners for your business and brands, I know a firm that can help.)

While I’m working on my next post, I hope you’ll read about how Cohesion helps organizations build stronger messaging to increase consistency, lower cost and drive growth, here.


Old Is Wrong. New Is Right. (A Fool’s Guide to Marketing.)

In Brand, Brand Strategy, Business strategy, Marketing, Strategy on January 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm


Brands are dead. Advertising is dead. Marketing is dead. All one need do is Google* any one of these terms for proof. Right?

Yes, marketing has (and is) changing at an astonishing pace. As is business, communication, and our entire society. Simply ponder the fact that, according to Eric Schmidt, we create as much information in 48 hours now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.

But change is not death. In fact, in many ways, change signals rebirth. Take the idea of brand, for instance. Today, the concept of brand has migrated far from its humble beginnings as a mass-medium proxy for product benefits. Now, this overriding philosophy drives the thinking of political campaigns, religions, individual people, and more. However this powerful concept is applied, the idea behind brand thinking is (still) that a thing (person, product, concept, or other) can carry a perception that is greater than its day-to-day function and form.

Social media doesn’t change this fundamental premise, or signal its death, although it may certainly change the methods by which one accesses, or understands a brand.

What it does mean, however, is that those brands that simply gave lip-service to the idea of brand (let’s call them the shiny new logo people, for now), have and will, die an even faster death. These are the brands (and the companies) that confused a brand with advertising. Or a new identity. Or (fill in your surface strategy or tactic, here.) Once, it was said that, ‘a good ad will make a bad product fail even faster.’ Now, this tenant can be applied to what social media is doing to poorly developed brands.

Does this mean that brands are dead? Certainly not, except for the ones that should have died, anyway.

The web and social media are rapidly forcing organizations to embrace the functional benefits that every customer already wanted in the first place. Customer service. Free delivery. Better pricing. For commodity products and services that compete (and competed) in areas where there is negligible product, service or concept differentiation, functional benefits ARE the point of differentiation. New logos and taglines for these companies never were the answer. (Unless, of course, these logos and taglines were part of a bigger brand and marketing strategy that addressed functional benefit.)

The more science and technology is applied to marketing, the more we need to collectively remember how and why marketing strategy works. The new tools we have at our disposal today can create incredible speed and efficiency. They cannot, however, take the place of solid strategic (business and brand) thinking.

(By the way, if your organization is looking for stronger brand and marketing strategy, I know a firm that can help.)

While I’m working on my next post, I hope you’ll read about how Cohesion helps organizations, here.

*Note the uppercase indication that this is indeed a brand name being used as a verb.