There is a lot to learn from the SPC imbroglio, the feds must be delighted to have got away with their IR/”no more handouts” agenda intact as the Victorian government bailed out not only SPC, but their federal colleagues, albeit not a good look for the state version and federal version of the same party to take a different position on a matter that both are saying is fundamental to their philosophy.
But what can we marketers take away?
- Every conversation has many sides. Jan Carlzons great “Moments of Truth” idea from the 80’s hold true in the C21, but the moments have been multiplied by the proliferation of connected devices. Not only do we need to have to have those we used to call “front line” troops on the hymn-sheet, but we have to have everyone on the sheet, as the conversation is now much wider, and almost totally uncontrollable, unlike the past. Best you can do now is have a credible seat at the table. I wonder would Sharman Stone have had the same impact 25 years ago as she has had over the last few weeks? I suspect not. Her message would have been the same, but her ability to access consumers, interest and advocate groups, and the public would not. She may have got a sound bite on the evening news, perhaps a radio interview, and the local paper would have run it indefinitely, but would the rest of us have been aware of the Gaffs the PM made about the workers entitlement, the connections made with the car industry, the Cadburys decision and Tassal decisions? No.
- We do care about local industry. SPC sales soared after the publicity, Australians do care that local industry is being decimated, but not enough to buy more cars. Is the cause of agriculture is closer to our national psyche than cars? Perhaps the cost of a car Vs the cost of a can of peaches had something to do with it. It will be interesting to observe how a renowned marketer like Coke extends the effect. I doubt they will be able to, as they will just revert to the tried and true, the plan, and what has gone before, when the context has changed completely. Having the cultural agility to completely change the message is usually beyond hierarchical organisations. I would radically alter and expand SPC consumer communications to keep the mood alive, and the retailers on side.
- Marketing needs to be agile, and connected. Following the above point, the production of annual marketing plans that feed into strategic plans, with budgets, accountabilities, media plans, and all the rest remains a vital task, with the huge caveat that things move so fast these days, that marketers need to be prepared to respond instantly to stuff that emerges. That single twitter post highlighting a product failure cannot be left alone, you may choose to do nothing, but ignoring it is not an option, you risk the classic “United breaks guitars” response.
- Marketing is the driver of everything. Marketing used to be just another functional responsibility, usually seen as a poor cousin to operations and finance. No more. Those enterprises that continue to see Marketing as the producer of the ads and promotional material, diviner of new products, and artistes of the long lunch rather than an idea that is the responsibility of everyone to be a part of, the driver of perceptions, and the voice of the market inside the enterprise will not be long in the business.
How does your place rate?