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  • Six Principles to Survive and Thrive in Turbulent Times

  • …a Marketing perspective from Neville Pokroy

    Canadian Business Magazine: January 26, 2009


    The CEO Poll: Dark skies ahead

    Canadian business leaders think the economy will get a lot worse.


    We haven’t seen the worst of it yet. That’s the message from the 136 Canadian CEOs surveyed about the economy by COMPAS Inc.


    More than 60% of the respondents believe the Canadian economy will become “somewhat” or “a lot” worse over the next six months, whereas 20% say it will remain about the same. Only 14% of the CEOs say the economy has already hit bottom.


    Ah, the doom and gloom is there for everyone to see. And with good justification. Unemployment is rising. The global economy, and that includes many Canadian companies, is really starting to hurt.

    However….is that what our focus should be? At this challenging time, maybe we are looking at the wrong things. Maybe we are looking at the problem and not the solution. Maybe, just maybe, our focus needs to be on WHAT WE SHOULD DO ABOUT IT – from our own individual perspectives.

    As a marketer, I always look for the opportunities. To do something better. To do something different. To do anything other than feel sorry for myself and to fall into a “doom and gloom” trap. I ask myself, “where do I look for these opportunities and how can I take advantage of them – they must be out there somewhere; they always are. And fortune does always favour the brave.”

    The model for good business always starts with a good foundation. Just like a secure building needs to have a firm foundation. So, that’s where one needs to begin. Shore it up – make it stronger. Make sure it isn’t leaking or crumbling. Give it a good shake and make sure that the core is strong. Then build from there – again.

    But wait!. Maybe that’s not the way to go. Maybe what should be done is to cut back on everything and just lie low. Surely that’s the right strategy? Save everything we can now. Cut our investment in new products or services. Cut people. Cut marketing – it’s all just extra cost right now. We have to survive and that’s the only way to do it. Right? Right…???

    Well maybe not.

    Let’s think about marketing and what marketing is meant to be. Here’s a real practical definition of marketing:

    Marketing is the thinking part of selling – deciding what products to sell at what price, with what channels of distribution and how to promote them. It is a planning, positioning function.

    This should be differentiated from selling which can be defined as:

    Selling is a producing, doing function. It involves carrying out the plans and providing information on how well the plans work or do not work in the marketplace; this in turn could require that a new marketing (strategic) decision be made.

    Marketing is about creating the environment for business to be done, and then generating that business. People will only buy from you if the following things are in place:

      1. They are aware of you and what you have to sell
      2. The are interested in buying
      3. They want what you have to sell
      4. Only then can they make their purchasing decision

    Yes it happens in that order, and it starts with creating and maintaining the awareness in the market of your company and your products or services. If you disappear from your customers or prospects radar there is no way you can move them to steps 2, 3 and 4.

    So, simply cutting back and not spending could almost become the death knell for your business. Be warned.

    Look at these 2 boxes. Box 1 below has your company in there. It is one of many companies in the market that are actively marketing themselves. There are many messages and a lot of noise in the market – right? This represents normal market conditions. Time yourself. See how long it takes you to find your company (you are a slightly larger X).


    Did you find yourself or did you give up in the attempt? Once again, sounds like normal market conditions to me…

    Now, given that many companies in your market have adopted the “save money and hide strategy”, look at Box 2 below – many of your competitors have disappeared from the radar. This is a likely scenario in the slow down. Time yourself again. See how long it takes you to find your company (once again, you are a slightly larger X – identical as in the previous example). Tip: you are not in the same position as the market conditions have changed with fewer competitors in it.


    I bet you found yourself much easier this time, right?

    (Note: at the end of the article you will find the answer to these two Box puzzles)

    The ultimate answer to this conundrum is to be SMART. Don’t cut back blindly. You will probably disappear from the radar. What you should do is market SMART. And to do that there are SIX Critical Principles that should be adopted. They form the basis of a strategic marketing framework that, if adopted and successfully implemented and coordinated with the rest of the business will increase the odds of you succeeding during the turbulent times we are in and ultimately thriving when we come out from the darkness.

    Here are the SIX Critical Principles:

      1. Focus your efforts on your Core business areas – for example: know what products and services are most profitable.
      2. Ensure you understand and focus on your target market – for example: know your customers and their needs.
      3. Ensure that your business positioning, offering and differentiation is relevant and unique.
      4. Perception is reality and communication is key.
      5. Marketing productivity – example: make sure your chosen tactics are the most appropriate, including the way you decide to distribute your products or services. Test and measure where possible.
      6. Coordinate. Coordinate. Coordinate.

    So much can be written about each of these principles. However, dealing them with on a superficial level is almost as dangerous as not dealing with them at all.

    Mastermind will be running a workshop on March 24th where such principles across Strategy, Marketing, Finance and People will be discussed in detail and attendees will be provided with a set of actionable steps that they can use back in their offices on the same day. It is hands-on and practical. You will make this come alive for YOUR company.

    Attendees that will benefit most will be C-level executives and above in mid-size businesses that generate $5mil – $100mil in revenue. Such executives who are looking to Survive and Thrive through these Turbulent times should be attending. Click here for full details/registration. Register soon – space is limited.

    Neville Pokroy is a Founding Principal of Mastermind Solutions Inc., and consults in the areas of strategic marketing planning, as well as in the development and execution of marketing strategies and plans. He assists companies who require marketing expertise to plan and fully execute marketing programs. Neville’s business background includes retail and consumer goods marketing, as well as consulting with entrepreneurial businesses in markets as diverse as computer software, bankruptcy, communications, pharmacy retail, industrial wholesaling, legal, healthcare and recruitment.

    Click here to find out where to begin with SMART marketing