The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Telecom Brand Taking Multiple Hits

by Brian H Meredith

The Telecom saga of recent times is a text book example of how a Brand can be seriously damaged by a series of unplanned behaviours.

Marketing practitioners too commonly limit (or have limited for them) their input and activities to the planned messages of marketing – visual identity, advertising, literature, product launches and the rest.

And yet, here at TMB we estimate that planned marketing activities contribute as little as 15% to the overall marketing effect on a Brand. The rest is contributed by the rest. And the rest comprises every unplanned behaviour in which the Brand engages or unplaned outcomes that result. We refer to this as the TME (Total Marketing Effect). Every behaviour should be planned in the context of its desired outcome from a marketing perspective, irrespective of any other perspective that is present and appropriate.

The Telecom Brand appears to have suffered, for some time now, at the hands of innumerable unplanned behaviours and their effect on the Brand.

So why do businesses still place their marketing thinking and practice in a functional box?

And how can the TME factor be taken account of in order to minimise the risk of unplanned behaviours having a damaging, or worse, a devastating, effect on a Brand?

I wonder, for example, how many marketing brains came anywhere near the concept, strategy development and practical implementation of the XT Network or were Telecom’s marketers simply briefed to develop the classic marketing requirements of Launch and Promotion of the Network which, by then, may well have been a given? I don’t know the answers but sure hope someone will develop and publish the case study.

And where are the marketing brains in the ongoing Emergency 111 debacle? Are they involved in a working party tasked with urgently resolving every aspect of this problem or are they simply deployed to deliver the “spin” when the proverbial hits the fan? Again, I don’t know the answer but I don’t doubt we could all learn a lot from the answer if it ever sees the light of day.

In simple terms, the solution has to be to turn unplanned behaviours into planned behaviours. This is simple to articulate but a lot tougher to do – it requires understanding, commitment, resources and energy. But it is vital.

Next, the overarching question of the role of marketing people needs to be addressed – do Marketing Departments need to have their Brief extended to being responsible for the marketing implications of absolutely everything a business does? (which is certainly a feasible idea in my opinion).

Or do businesses need to turn all of their people, in every department and at every level, into marketing savvy “Mini Marketing Directors” in order to spread that responsibility across a much wider plain?

The answer needs to be either or both, dependent on the nature of the business concerned.

However, one thing is for sure – if a business leaves the outcomes of its unplanned behaviours to chance, the effect can be catastrophic.

Brian H Meredith


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