The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Marketing Too Important ....

....To be Left to the Marketing Department

By Brian H Meredith
From the NZBusiness Magazine"Marketing Maestro" Archive.
First published August 2004

Some years ago I was travelling around the world on a business trip which included visits to Europe, UK, US and Asia. My baggage failed to arrive with me on any sector on the trip except the last one – must surely be something of a record?

Most of the time it caught up with me after a day or two but the effect on the trip was significant, including a horrified CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Executive who, never having met me before, approached me in the palatial, marbelled lobby of their Ottawa Head Office with the greeting “Oh my god! We’ll have to change lunch!”

I was wearing the jeans, t-shirt and raincoat that I had travelled from London in and which, at that time, where the only clothes that I possessed in the world. (I might add that the raincoat was Christian Dior but that didn’t stop her cancelling our reservation at a flash hostelry and taking me to a Chinese restaurant in a suburban shopping mall).

Two big marketing gaffs in this story – British Airways and their staff argued the toss over my baggage for fully 8 months before I finally achieved a settlement with them (after I had gone as high as the CEO and they had deployed lawyers!).

And CBC, who had failed to take even a millisecond to establish the facts of the matter before souring a relationship that had not even begun and then added insult to injury by presenting me with an obscure CBC recording of some orchestra or another together with a coffee mug with their logo on it (wonder what I would have got if I had my Italian silk suit on?)

The people I dealt with in each instance were not Marketing people, either by designation or inclination. Each did real damage.

By contrast, on the same trip, my wife and I took a side trip from London to Amsterdam in order that we could have dinner together at the Grand Hotel Krasnapolski – the place where we had our first meal together having met for the first time the day before. Our overnight luggage failed to arrive and we arrived at the hotel with nothing to wear for our celebratory dinner except the clothes we stood up in.

During check-in we were regaling the clerk with the story of our woes when a formally dressed Front of House Manager approached us and spoke the following words:

“Welcome to the Krasnapolsky, Mr & Mrs Meredith. I couldn’t help overhearing your story and I am so sorry to hear of your distress. I will, of course, liaise with your airline and do all that I can to retrieve your bags but, in the meantime, I wonder if I might try to ease your distress somewhat by upgrading you to our Africa Suite with my compliments. Perhaps this, in some small way, will make up for the difficulties you are experiencing”

This man was not a marketer by designation but boy, oh boy, was he a marketer by inclination. We were blown away (in fact, I think Heather may well have had a discreet sniffle, given the romance of the occasion, tinged by the baggage frustration but touched by the hotel’s welcome and actions).

Pause and reflect, if you will, on the contrast of the companies involved here – British Airways lost the bags and then proceeded to have lawyers argue the toss. CBC seemed more concerned about my sartorial elegance than the relationship that was to begin with our meeting. And the Grand Hotel Krasnapolski had done nothing wrong, yet poured liquid gold into the relationship at the very moment that it began.

CEOs often don’t understand marketing (see earlier Marketing Maestro columns), CFOs seem only to know that it “costs” them money (how sadly deluded they are) and Marketing Departments seem overpopulated by star struck bunnies who appear convinced that Marketing is about campaigns that produce and disseminate increasingly facile or banal advertising, literature, sales promotion, Press Releases, etc. etc. These people wear their advertising agencies like they wear their Hugo Boss suits.

May I humbly share (or reiterate) one of life’s great truths with you?

Almost everything you need to know about marketing can be taught to you by a half way decent Front of House Manager in a luxury hotel.

And the rest will come with years and years of experience gained through being in business and by giving a damn about the concept and its role at the centre of the business universe.

And the real secret is to make sure that your organisation is chock full of people at every level and in every role who understand the simple, yet vital, concept that “Customers are the ONLY place the money comes from” so treat them accordingly or pay the price.

Someone once said “Marketing takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master” And I would add “and it is way too important to leave to the Marketing Department”


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