Syamrath Weekly: Marketing Arts and Science

I was a Management Development Program (MDP) module advisor, a course under Strategic Marketing Management, special tailored for SCG executives and management between 2011 and 2016. The course was held at the Dusit Thani Resort in Hua Hin.

I graduated MDP class 15 in 1999. Observing MDP class 25 ten years down the road, however, as nothing is as certain as change itself, inevitably, so has the Dusit resort and MDP model adapt. Historical, by definition, is stagnated non-progressive knowledge; e.g., knowledge connected with a study or representation of something from the past. Adaptation that progresses with ever-changing game-changing forces should at the same time conserve and strengthen hard earned reputable identity. The Dusit resort submitted to renovations and upgrades but the quintessential high quality services remains intact. MDP went through some fine tuning and updates but the culture of cultivating curiosity and relationship building remains organic.

During the 10 years I have had several opportunities to observe MDP courses and modules. On this occasion, from a Strategic Marketing Management perspective, or Industrial Marketing Management back in the time I took the course with David Bell, a casual falang professor with long hair.  Many subjects are basic marketing principles most MBA students would know such as the 4Ps, STP (Segmentation / Targeting / Differentiation), LTVC (Life Time Value of Customer), Price Sensitivity Conjoint Analysis or Branding. The professor was always more than happy to elaborate and connect subject to real world applications so we could grasp how they interact in the bigger picture, with both theoretically and real life examples.

One advantage to foreign professors is practical real life research experience gained through hands-on consultancy with leading corporations. Experiences that expand horizons. America, for example, is homeland to progressive mindsets that open the doors to a variety of ideas, trial and errors, innovations and bank on good concepts and practices accordingly to data-driven solutions.

In a typical session, professor David would capture the audience’s attention at the very beginning with an eye-opening pitch “marketing is too important to be left for the marketing department alone”. David Packard, a Hewlett Packard (HP) founder, was quick to point out, that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to do their job. It means that to do it well, all hands are needed on deck, i.e., from top to bottom across the organization matrix, regardless of section. Ideally, businesses exist to satisfy customer needs. The marketing department “serves as the main pipeline linking those needs back to the organization to further fine tune and produce products that in turn retain customers. Thus, unsurprisingly, everyone across the workforce needs to take marketing seriously – to at least know what satisfies the customer.

The world today, customers buy nothing they don’t want. Likewise, no company remains profitable from designs nobody needs.
How about a brain quiz: which of the following is a product if my imagination – doesn’t exists in this world?

  • High-society bottled water for dogs and cats Thirsty Cat! Thirsty Dog! (if the owner gets to drink Perrier, the pet shouldn’t be drinking tap water, right?).
  • Harley Davidson Perfume (a couple sprinkles before mounting the Chopper. Does it smell like engine oil?).
  • Colgate BoxFood (the more you eat the more toothpaste is needed?).
  • Smith & Wesson Mountain bike (gun lovers must be adventurous as well?).
  • Ponds Toothpaste (why can’t facial cream cross over to toothpaste when they’re both creams?).
  • Cosmopolitan Yogurt (selling food-for-eyes teen magazine isn’t enough, let’s branch over to sell real food, too.)

The correct answer is I made up none of the above. All products existed at one point somewhere in the world but are nowhere to be found today without hope of ever returning. 

Not because the marketing department was carrying out the work in silo, but because of the indifference to customer needs of the organization’s workforce across the board, itself. Perhaps, Latent Need, or a genuine need that sometimes the customer cannot articulate, was confused with No Need, where the customer gives a straight forward feedback that the product is, nonetheless, “not wanted”.

Unusual to the typical marketing course that I have attended was the fact that David elaborated at lengths to demonstrate that, beyond the art that everyone acknowledges it to be, Marketing can also be as tangible and measurable as Science, as well. Accordingly, I often felt like I was back in an Engineering class as the black board was covered with mathematical equations. It wasn’t the basic grade school stuff either, but complex calculus and integrations.

Actually “It was more difficult than what I studied in engineering,” I shared with the class students.

In reality, converting marketing to science is not far off from what the TQM system that SCG has applied to operation and administration, that is, to make decisions based on scientific facts and data as oppose to going with simply gut-feelings or unverifiable hunches. David’s model, they be Regression Testing to determine Price Sensitivity to price products and services in appropriate ranges, analysis of alternative products and customer choices, Features that must be inclusive in a product, analysis of both target customer groups and competitors of focus, all the way to customer value management and customer retention over the long-term. All of these models are designed to put things in a standardized perspective; evaluations based on actual Facts and Data precursors generated from real world customer behavior in the field, without human errors and limitations, confirmation bias and/or motivated learning.

Information in Motion vs. Strategy in Action: On the other hand, regardless of where actual Facts and Data ultimately lead to, no matter how complex and accurate the model used, and, despite our knowledge of which customer segments are most valuable, which to retain, which to compete for, which features are retaining who, which channel to utilize, which price range to go with, which marketing program and technique yields best results; should the marketers lack the creativity to capture and build on the information to further design actionable strategies and practices and implement them successfully, the acquired facts data and models will remain just that – information in motion – an Art up to interpretation.

Source: Syamrath Weekly No. 2/2559 by Syamrath Suthanukul, Managing Director, SCG Logistics Management Co., Ltd. (Internal Communication).

Compiled by  BLOG.SCGLogistics
Picture by (account : jill111, geralt, Wokandapix, freephotocc)

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