What type of marketing people do businesses need?

I want to make a claim. I think that many marketing people are simply project managers and administrators rather than business entrepreneurs.

Part of the reason for this lies in two tendencies.

1. Being given communications tasks of any sort from adverts to branding. The aim is to sell what the firm has not generate new value propositions and business models. This is actually a passive rather than proactive role.

2. Being trained in marketing analysis and decision making on conventional business school courses. Where collection of facts and describing ‘what’ matters rather than speculating on ‘so what’ and ‘now what’.

Here are two definitions:


Workers are those who provide support to a company. This support might include general office management, answering phones, speaking with clients, assisting an employer, clerical work (including maintaining records and entering data), or a variety of other tasks


The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services and business/or procedures. Entrepreneurs play a key role in any economy. These are the people who have the skills and initiative necessary to anticipate current and future needs and bring good new ideas to market

Read more: Entrepreneur https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/entrepreneur.asp#ixzz5UvIrzyl9 
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

So What?

What this means is that marketing people are deemed by the C-suite to be useful but lacking in commercial teeth and risk taking behaviour.

If you are a marketing professional you need to understand and be able to create and capture value. You need to generate commercially credible value propositions not indulge in emotional purpose and identity crafting as a goal in itself AND design competitive business models that blend value, relationships, channels and revenue making.

Learn how to create value propositions here

Be A Marketing Entrepreneur

Improve your marketing here

Free Chance to win $1600 worth of top selling marketing books


What’s your favourite theory of motivation? This is mine.

Forget Maslow and Vroom, Pavlov and Skinner this the social psychological view of motivation that unpicks intention and power. Have you worked anywhere where this isn’t the case?

How well do you know your customers?

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Customer knowledge and insight is the fuel that drives business success. You can learn from the experts by entering this amazing free prize draw before November 15th 2018 for a chance to win $1600 worth of marketing books an online b2b marketing course and 2 free consultancy sessions.

Get To Know Your Customers


Will You Be A Winner Of These Amazing Get To Know Your Customer Day Prizes?

Did you know that October 18th was Get To Know Your Customer Day? Running with the hashtag #GetToKnowYourCustomer we’re giving away a package of business development goodies worth $1600 to the lucky winner of our competition which goes live on 18th October 2018 and runs to November 15th that includes:

  • 11 books ($395 value)
  • 1 online course ($797 value) Designed and delivered by winners of the Sheffield Business School Inspirational Teacher Award Dr Simon Kelly and Dr Paul Johnston together with CEO of Shake Marketing and co-author of Value-ology Stacey Danheiser.
  • 2 one-hour consultations ($400 value)

Check out this link for more Get To Know Your Customer


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Knowing your customer relies on the art and science of making the perfect fit between what your customers are looking for and the product and service solutions you are offering. Now I find it hard to imagine that anyone in business these days isn’t customer centric. Ever since Philip Kotler published his article The Generic Concept of Marketing  back in the 70s the idea that understanding customer needs is crucial to business success is virtually common sense.

That said not everyone is good at and not everyone cares. I’m always amazed at Gordon Ramsey’s TV programme Kitchen Nightmares where he rescues businesses from failure and 9 times out of the 10 they lack any understanding of what their customers need and how they feel about the service and food.

A few years back I worked for gambling company and the typical phrase in the buidling was about the ‘little old ladies who play our coin-op games’. The whole place ran on a myth. When proper customer research was done it was discovered that the key customer a young man, typically in a trade, single and who spent a lot of time socialising in pubs and bars. So, one of the big problems I have come across is the assumption that product designers sales and marketing know who the customer is but often a quick conversation in the company and what comes out is no one really knows. There are lots of anecdotes about typical customers and often who the customer really is (the biggest purchaser, what they really need) isn’t know.

For me there are three essential things when it comes to knowing your customer:

  1. the ability to anticipate what people in general will need in their lives in the medium to long term. What sort of fuels will they use? How will they learn? What will the new space science industries need?
  2. the ability to conduct large surveys that quantify trends
  3. the ability to conduct face to face interviews on an ongoing basis

Ultimately it’s about showing an interest and caring about what people want and willing to pay for. If you can make their lives easier or improve their business then you are on to winner.













Who should drive the sales and marketing team training agenda. The HR manager or the Sales and Marketing manager?


Image credit Medium

When it comes to developing the skills and practice of the sales and marketing team who should be driving the training agenda is it the sales and marketing manager or the HR manager?

In larger organisations the planning for staff training lies under the broad remit of HR who, following training needs analyses create people development programmes and decide whether these are ‘make or buy’ decisions.

Any sales and marketing executive who abdicates the training job entirely to HR is missing a trick. Local and specific needs are always spotted first by the people in the function. They can also see what training is relevant. If they don’t step up then team training and education is likely to be quite ‘vanilla’ such as general leadership, problem solving, or communications programmes. The problem with this is that sales and marketing professionals often think ‘so what’ about this type of training and the reputation of their HR colleagues goes through the floor.

The other challenge is the time commitment. Sales and Marketing people, especially Sales people are actively engaged with daily customer demands so time for development creates a conflict of priorities. At the heart of this problem lies the issue of formal vs informal learning.

Social learning platforms are the ideal solution to this dilemma. With an on-line course busy professionals can dip in and dip out to suit their availability and learn functionally relevant skills at their own pace.

What should Sales and Marketing teams be learning?

One of the biggest challenges faced by any sales and marketing professional is how to generate more sales and profit and deliver customer value. Fundamental to this is learning how to create compelling customer value propositions. This is crucial in the face to face context of B2B marketing.

You simply won’t get specialised training on the vital subject of value proposition design with general sales and marketing development courses and it is unlikely that the topic is on the radar of the HR manager (please prove me wrong!) This is why we have created a complete on-line informal learning course on the value proposition creation and customer value building. Something you can invest in yourself, bring to the attention of the HR manager or simply buy with the sales and marketing budget.

Based on our top selling b2b marketing book Value-ology: Aligning sales and marketing to shape and deliver profitable customer value propositions the course is made up of video topic presentations and individual and team exercises based on a mix of our commercial experience, our university tutoring and our commercial and academic research. The module content is designed to be practical, straightforward and accessible so the emphasis is on management learning not abstract academic studying. You can even do the course on mobile devices. A full explanation of the course can be seen via this link.

Click this image to learn more course details.

on-line marketing course

If you are looking for ways to inspire, engage and develop your b2b sales and marketing team then this course is definitely for you.

To craft a value proposition that works for your business, download our free ebook: how to rock your customer’s world

Cutting Edge Marketing Management Thinking in Marseille

Off to Marseille to the IMP Conference this is the leading source of thought leadership in business to business marketing.

Dr Simon Kelly and I are presenting two papers on the sales and marketing interface and the role of practice based research for doctoral research.

Delighted too as we are getting great reviews for our book:




Flying out of Manchester via Frankfurt so a bit of a round trip. Will be posting key take outs over the next three days of conference insights and inspirations

#customervalue #b2bmarketing #businessstrategy #marketingstrategy #valuepropositions #imp2018

B2B Differentiation-three things you need to know

Sea of Sameness shutterstock_212221846

So you reckon you stand out in your market sector? You are the biggest, the best, the most customer centric. The competition follow your lead, they languish in your wake, they simply aren’t as good as you.

Ever heard of differentiation? Well Hey!…here I am*…and it’s probably not what you are expecting. The fact is a huge number of B2B brands literally swim in a sea of sameness. This insight is dramatically brought home in our white paper on brand differentiation in the Global Telecoms Sector which you can download here.

Swimming in a Sea of Sameness

Even if you don’t operate in Telecoms the lessons from our research are worth looking at. It’s clear that from the buyers perspective many B2B brands simply look the same.

The classic approach to B2B differentiation

Look across any business and three things are commonly used to differentiate. Price, Product, People. These are the three P’s of B2B difference. The only problem with this approach is that it generates a massive ‘so what?’ Buyers expect your prices to be competitive, your product to provide a good solution and your people to be experienced, innovative and attentive. There is absolutely nothing that makes a difference here at all.

So What’s Going On?

Alot of B2B marketing fails to take account of the psychology of differentiation. Unless you understand these things then standing out in the mind of the buyer isn’t going to happen. To differentiate your b2b brand from your competitors you need to think about three things. These b2b brand differentiation essentials will have a massive impact on your sales and marketing effectiveness.

1. Noticing Difference

Differentiation is about ‘being separate’. It is also about how we notice something for being different in the mass of information that we receive on a daily basis. The scientist Gregory Bateson in his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind pointed out that we are mentally geared up to pay attention to ‘differences that make a difference’. This he describes as receiving a ‘meaningful signal’ from the samey information that surrounds us. Now this is central to marketing guru Ted Levitt’s idea of differentiation and something that has been lost in the wash in the decades since he published his seminal article ‘Marketing Success Through The Differentiation of Anything’. The key word in Levitt’s article is ‘meaningful’ and its been totally forgotten. Levitt urged the pursuit of ‘meaningful differentiation’ not just differentiation for differentiation’s sake. So ask yourself  do you really know ‘what  the buyer finds meaningful’.

2. Brain Short Cuts

Humans need quick and easy rules about how to operate in the world without having to re-learn responses to every situation we are faced with. Imagine having to start from scratch and learn the right the thing to do when you wanted to cross the road. Life would become unmanageable. Cognitive psychologists call the rules we use ‘heuristics’. These are brain short cuts that allow us deal with everyday situations. Psychologists Tversky and Kahneman classified several of these ‘rules of thumb’ as they are called. One type in particular is important for CEO’s, CMO’s and sales and marketing professionals and it involves self deception. In other words the way we fool ourselves into believing something that isn’t true. Technically called a ‘judgment heuristic’ and related to the ‘fundamental attribution error’ it is common for many marketers to assume that they are unique and different compared to their competitors. Just take a look at the ‘About Us/Why Us’ pages of your three nearest competitors and judge for yourself how different you really are!

3. Being Relevant

Relevance is yet another marketing buzzword. So buzzy that its lost its meaning. In social psychology and communications theory it is crucially important. Relevance is what B2B buyers  use to ‘select’ one supplier from another. It is a faculty of buyers mind that is impossible for the supplier to control. Relevance is all about what the buyer sees as their ‘matter at hand’, the most pressing, top of mind issue or problem they or their organisation is facing. Unless you understand this and show to the buyer you understand this then all you are is another grey fish swimming in the sea of sameness.

What do you think?

Do you think B2B marketers need to worry about differentiation? Does the cream always rise to the top anyway and discerning buyers who know their supply network will always pick the best?


*paraphrased from Falling Down when Michael Douglas’ character Defens buys a Wammy Burger – ‘ever heard the phrase the customer is always right, well hey, here I am…the customer’



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