Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Hitchhikers Guide to Marketing?


I've been rereading "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" recently. First off, love this book, it appeals to many of my sides. The geek side loves the weird, creative sci-fi and my intellectual side revels in all the satire sprinkled into the (very twisted) storyline.

At one point in the story, the main characters find themselves on a ship full of marketers, accountants, and other "middlemen". They had been told their planet was doomed and that the entire population was to get into 3 giant ships and colonize another planet. The great thinkers in one, the middle men in a second, and the people who did the actual work in a third. They gave the middlemen a "head start". Turns out they just wanted to get rid of the middlemen.

Once the ship lands on what later is revealed to be prehistoric earth (yeah I told you the plot was bazaar) they begin trying to establish a civilization. After 500+ committee meetings, nobody has so much as discovered fire. One of my favorite quotes, and perhaps this strikes me as so funny because I'm now in marketing, is when a marketer in the group says (regarding their failed attempts at discovering fire) " you know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them."

This got me thinking. Is it possible that we, as marketers, get so caught up in analysis and research that we lose sight of what might be a simple, elegant, and easy solution?

I'm not saying that we should just wing it with every new idea and product. There is a reason for research, a good reason, but does that sometimes get in the way of true creativity or blind some of us to the simplest solutions?


Dan Emery said...

That’s a great post Andy! I like the fire/marketing quote. I know I’ve been guilty of over analyzing and then discovering an easier, simpler or better solution after-the-fact. Sometimes implementing an idea and letting it grow naturally works better than controlling the path of growth. If you control the path of growth you could limit the creative offshoots that may occur. While there are benefits to having expectations of a specific path, things change as they grow. Flexibility is the key. Not even the best laid plans are 100% perfect and you must be able to analyze and adjust as you go.

Covey says it best. “Begin with the end in mind.” That doesn’t mean the end will be as you planned it; but you should have a goal in mind. What are you trying to achieve?

Tim McApine said...

I totally agree Andy. The 100% rule is killing credit unions' ability to innovate. Unless everything is 100% guaranteed and tested with zero risk, nothing seems to move forward. nd this constant fear of failure and fear of regulators isn't helping matters.

Andy said...

I totally agree with both of you. I feel like many CU's are stuck at an impasse where they want to differentiate or do something out of the box, but are terrified to do anything other than the same old, same old.

JD Valerio said...

Sometimes, as you well know, credit unions are able to turn-the-tides when it comes to new ideas, technology, etc.

However,I too get frustrated with the veto power that has been handed to the folks in "IT" and slow decision making processes.

Testing new ideas and strategies on a micro-level are always fun and exciting. Proving success on a small scale with test groups can help to secure more dollars for bigger tactics in the future.

Credit Unions in the USA don't have the budgets that multi-billion dollar asset banks have, thus they can't afford that much risk with marketing $$ because they don't have that much to risk.

Therefore, good planning is vital to not wasting valued marketing dollars.

That said, I still agree with you that credit unions in USA are moving too slow when it comes to keeping up with the ever evolving marketplace.

Not to be ageist, but I think a lot of this has to do with the average age of credit union members and credit union boards. There is a generational gap between the credit union workforce and credit union governance and leadership.

1. Easy-to-read and understand ROI success stories from other credit unions will help turn the eyes of CU boards and leadership.
2. Keep hounding and asking - it pays off eventually - I know from experience.
3. Establish a bench mark for current ROI so that when you do get the funds to implement a new exciting marketing campaign - you have a historical record to prove how much your campaign contributed to success.

All of these ideas are nothing new to anybody in marketing. But as I write down these thoughts I'm inspiring myself to continue to do my homework and prove ROI and to secure more marketing dollars for new tricks and tactics.

Good post sir, I feel your pain! I also believe that you will eventually win the battle for more funds for innovative ideas.