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
- 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 Telemarketingï¿½ & 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
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.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief