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June 1996


The Sad State Of Marketing In Corporate America

The Situation Is So Bad, It's Unbelievable!

BY NADJI TEHRANI


Not long ago, we spent nearly one year looking for a qualified marketing manager. We advertised for the position locally, domestically and internationally, and we received upwards of 800 resumes. Candidates ranged from graduates of Ivy League schools to small, unknown colleges, and employees of Fortune 500 companies to mid-size and small companies.

Only Two Candidates Passed The Test!
I have developed what I consider a very basic marketing test. Judging by the candidates' accomplishments as stated in their resumes (and discounting about 50 percent of the claims), we selected only about 40 candidates to come in and take the optional test prior to an interview.

Here are just a few of the questions that over 95 percent of the candidates either left blank or failed to answer properly:

  • Define and describe the uses for database marketing, profiling, modeling and regression analysis.
  • Define the first and second laws of positioning.
  • What are the most important characteristics of an outstanding promotion piece?
  • Explain why telemarketing is outgrowing any other form of marketing.
  • Describe pre- and post-trade show marketing.
  • Define integrated, relationship and loyalty marketing.

While the candidates' experience ranged from 5 to 20 years, none had the depth of knowledge, creativity and marketing savvy we were looking for. Not only did most candidates not impress us with their knowledge, they lacked an understanding of the basic principles of modern marketing!

What made this situation even more unacceptable was the current salary of the candidates, which ranged from $35,000 to $95,000 per year! I wondered what these people were doing as marketing managers. How could they have performed as such without knowing anything about marketing? And how could they justify these unbelievably high salaries? To add salt to the wound, many candidates claimed to know telemarketing, but their test performances demonstrated otherwise.

And It Shows!
With an education grounded in science and engineering, I have always placed more value on action and true results than empty words, degrees from famous universities or years of experience at well-known companies. In our business, we constantly deal with a variety of companies and observe their marketing practices (or lack thereof). Consider the following four examples of marketing disasters.

Marketing Horror Stories
The Thankless Vendor. High-ranking officials at company "A" admit they have received over 60 percent of their qualified sales leads and new business from source "X." Their staff, however, is doing everything possible to harass the employees of source X instead of thanking them for the business!

Perhaps I'm crazy and perhaps these people wish to prove you can attract more bees with vinegar than with honey! If so, I can surely understand. But company A is not the first company to engage in this self- defeating practice. Not long ago, there was another who did the same thing until it tumbled to within inches of bankruptcy. To salvage the company, the board hired an intelligent businessperson who cleaned house and turned around the corporation. How? One of his first steps was to develop a strong relationship with source X. Why is common sense so uncommon?

The Thoughtless Proposal. Companies "A" and "B" are both vying for a multimillion dollar contract from company "C." Company C is engaged in a category of delivery systems and, like any other company, has numerous competitors. Company C actually prefers to award the contract -which is perhaps the prize of the industry - to company B. The executives of company B prepare their proposal for company C. They then deliver it using company C's number one competitor!!!! Can you believe it? Obviously, the contract was awarded to Company A and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Passive Marketer. Not long ago I attended a trade show and stopped at a certain booth to ask how the show was going for the exhibitor. The answer was, "Not good." I asked whether they did any pre-show marketing, such as obtaining the names, addresses, phone and fax numbers of the preregistrants so they could contact them with convincing reasons to visit their booth at the show. They hadn't even thought of doing so! Upon inquiring about the nature of their product they answered, "We offer facilities management consulting." I then asked, "How is an attendee supposed to know what you do?" The exhibitors turned to look at their own booth and saw no signs identifying their services anywhere. What the booth did display was one of my favorite foods - which is why I stopped in the first place! While they did know that the exhibitors across the aisle - competitors with an extremely busy booth who were holding a prize drawing - had received a significant amount of new business at this show, they still had not caught on. I explained that it was pre-show marketing. As I've stated previously, in successful trade show marketing, like anything else, you only get out of it what you put into it.

The Abrasive PR Department. Some companies seem to select public relations counsel without first doing their homework. Thus we find that often, many are so aggressive, obnoxious and ambitious, they alienate the editorial staffs with whom they are trying to forge relationships! Of course, this ill-advised, intrusive tactic always backfires. While the client will probably pay their firm tens of thousands of dollars to produce substantive media coverage, this type of firm will likely leave the client with a large bill and a small book of press clips! Again, an attempt to attract bees with vinegar! If companies practiced sound marketing, none of the above would happen.

Obviously the purpose of these case studies isn't to embarrass anyone or any company, but rather to reveal that most companies are not marketing effectively. Some are even their own worst enemies, as we saw above. The point is that the problems demonstrated in those stories are consistent with our very real search for a marketing manager.

How can you expect anyone to perform satisfactorily in a profession without knowing the basic principles of that profession? Would you take a stranger off the street and ask him or her to perform surgery? No! That person would have to be educated and trained first, in order to achieve and demonstrate competence.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but I don't believe the situation will improve until we begin teaching modern marketing principles in academia. I'm sad to say that only a small minority of the elite colleges and universities subscribe to our publication (e.g., The Harvard Business School has been a regular subscriber since 1984.) and most others are not aware of or even teach these principles at the university level. We certainly never see any college or university professors at Telemarketing� & Call Center Solutions™ (TCCS™) trade shows, the industry's first and most comprehensive educational resource. I know I have been harsh here, and I would love to be proven wrong. But until we can get professors to read our publication, visit TCCS™ and teach basic marketing principles and apply them at companies, I believe we cannot expect a significant improvement.

Internet And Call Center Expo™
I'm pleased to also announce the creation of a new exhibition and conference entitled Internet and Call Center Expo™, the world's first exhibition and conference of Internet applications for inbound, outbound, help desk and customer service call centers. This dynamic Internet and Call Center Expo™ (ICC™) will be co-located with TCCS™ FALL '96 and will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center, Atlanta, Georgia from October 9 - 10. For exhibit and attendance information, please see the announcement on page 89 in this issue and call 800-243-6002 or 203-852-6800 or visit our Web site at http://www.tmcnet.com

TCCS™ MONTREAL '96
Finally, I'm pleased to announce yet another much-needed conference and exhibition entitled TCCS™ MONTREAL '96, which is the first such event in Canada. The theme of the convention is Montreal as the hub for global marketing. We urge all to attend this extremely informative conference and explore business opportunities in Montreal. TCCS™ MONTREAL '96 will be held from November 6 - 8, 1996 (exhibit hall open November 7 - 8) at Place Bonaventure Convention Center, Montreal, Canada. For exhibit and attendance information, please see the detailed announcement on page 67 in this issue and contact us at 800-243-6002 or 203-852-6800 or visit our Web site at http://www.tmcnet.com.

We Thank You Very Much
In closing, we thank you for your fantastic support of TCCS™ SPRING '96 in Long Beach, California, which was a resounding success. This particular show was truly spectacular not only in terms of conference quality, but also in the depth of knowledge imparted and the interaction of major industry players. Certainly, many exciting days lie ahead for our industry as we expect growth to continue well into the double digits. And our future, thanks to your support, has never looked better.

Sincerely,
Nadji Tehrani
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief


Announcing A New Publication And Trade Shows

New CTI Publication

Our valued readers are already aware of our commitment to being the authoritative information resource on computer-telephony integration (CTI). In fact, we began covering CTI at its inception in the early 1980s. Of course, back then CTI was, for the most part, an expensive technical curiosity. But since then CTI has evolved considerably. It has become an industry in its own right, and is poised for explosive growth.

With CTI beginning to play such a vital role in the call center arena, more and more call centers are adopting this phenomenally productive, cost-cutting and profit-generating concept. It is known that proper implementation of CTI can reduce, for example, telecommunications costs by as much as 30 to 40 percent with vastly improved customer service and customer relations possibilities. We recognize that this burgeoning industry merits more editorial coverage; hence, we are launching a new stand-alone magazine called CTI For Management™. This publication debuts this June, and will appear every other month thereafter.

CTI For Managment™ will address the information needs of MIS managers, telecom directors, systems integrators and application developers. It will have a definite technical emphasis, and will thus complement the CTI section in Telemarketing� & Call Center Solutions™ magazine, which covers CTI's significance from a business perspective.

In CTI For Managment™, we will provide objective editorial information on:

  • Evolving standards.
  • Interoperability issues.
  • Techniques for application development.
  • The latest hardware and software.

In addition to running articles on the technology underlying CTI, we will publish in-depth product reviews prepared by MIS experts. In these reviews, we will discuss objectively the relative strengths of key CTI components such as application generators, voice cards, fax processing equipment, etc.

We urge you to contact our customer service department to receive a complimentary subscription qualification form by calling 800-243-6002 or 203-852-6800 or by visiting our Web site at http://www.tmcnet.com.


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