1. Lack of responsibility
They have insufficient recognition of their responsibility to their employer and predecessors in continuing to diligently manage a brand equity, or a part of it, that has been carefully nurtured and built over – often a very long – period of time. Nor is there sufficient recognition of their responsibility to their successors in terms of passing on an asset that has been well-managed.
2. Ignoring past lessons
They often have no interest in the brand’s history, or in finding out what has led to its current position and status in the marketplace and company portfolio. They will therefore never discover the errors that were made previously, thus learning to avoid them again, or reveal the key insights that led to breakthroughs – and the reasons why.
3. Not getting to grips with the brand fundamentals
They frequently don’t take time to look at previously conducted market research to fully understand how perceptions and beliefs about the brand have evolved. At best, they will therefore simply reinvent the wheel and incur unnecessary costs, but at worst ignore a fundamental truth about the customer’s relationship with the brand and thus put at risk its core equity.
4. Fixation on the short-term
They are often fixated on the short-term, led by a need to maximise sales in the current quarter/year. How the sales are achieved, and the impact of price promotions on brand equity and profit margin, is of little importance.
5. Minimal financial understanding
They may have little or no awareness or understanding of the product cost structure, how margin is impacted by various activities, or how to calculate a return on investment on those activities.
6. Lack of strategic planning
Too often their marketing plans will consist of little more than a list of disparate activities with timings and costs attached, rather than being based on sound analysis and robust strategy development. Coherent strategies; objectives related to anything other than sales; assessment of alternatives; and evaluation of anything other than the execution of activities (or superficial metrics, such as ‘likes’) will be missing.
7. Prioritising career over brand husbandry
They may concentrate on making their mark as quickly as possible via some high-profile initiative, then move on – usually to another company – before the brand incurs any undesirable repercussions. At worst, senior management will allow the manager to implement a re-brand – i.e. not just changing the logo, visual identity and strapline, but the brand name itself, thus destroying its heritage.
8. Choosing agencies for familiarity, not expertise and knowledge
Too frequently they will sack the incumbent external agencies, who have quite probably built a painstakingly acquired understanding of the brand, the market, the customer, the competitors and the company, and install the agencies they have previously worked with. It feels good to work with their mates again, rather than to make the effort to learn about the insights and skills that the existing team possess.
9. High profile campaigns rather than brand strategy
They will work with their chosen agency to create a new brand campaign that bears no relationship to what has gone before, ignores the research findings on consumer perceptions, but enables the marketer to ‘make their mark’. (The campaign will probably be junked by the next incumbent, and the long-term tracking study – if there is one – will reveal it did long-term harm to the brand by sowing confusion with loyal customers).
10. Media choice guided primarily by fashion
Misguided managers will allocate their communications budget to the most fashionable and exciting media, rather than those that reflect the profile of their key target audiences and the brand objectives.
Good marketers take time to understand the valuable properties under their management, only make changes that are based upon real insights, and work on the principle that nothing should be changed unless there is a valid (marketing) reason for doing so.
Further discussion of this topic is welcomed.
Check out the ‘How to’ resource library for a comprehensive range of documents relating to the preparation of marketing plans, as well as the practical and conceptual issues surrounding their preparation and role within the organization. The resources include some downloadable templates and guides.
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