Category Archives: CORPORATE CULTURE

An overview of how thins are in corporate america



OK, in marketing the customer is king.  We all know that.  If marketing is not customer-centric it probably is NOT really marketing.  We all know that.

Or do we?

Why such a focus on competitive behavior?  I know John Nash just died and A Beautiful Mind was a great book (and a less than great movie) and Game Theory is very cool–but is it talked about in board rooms?  No.  I have never heard a CEO lean toward his CMO and ask, “Do you think our competition is doing prisoner’s dilemma?”  But a lot of attention is about competition to the distraction of focusing on consumer behavior.

I have set through many seminars and presentations on Game Theory and even been asked to teach a class on Game Theory.  While it seems important, and is certainty mathematically rigorous, what does it get us?  To me it functions more as an academic construct than an actionable insight.  Much like Michael Porter’s competitive intensity: have you ever used, or seen quantified, competitive rivalry?   Has there been a model quantifying the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, the threat of substitutes and new entrants?  It functions as an abstract talking point, like debating the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

That’s why I posit a knowledge of customer behavior over a knowledge of Game Theory.  Indeed, I suggest that a knowledge of the analytics around customer behavior is a substitute for Game Theory.  I can hear the gasps.

Stephan Sorger’s excellent Marketing Analytics has a brief description of competitive moves, both offensive and defensive. Below are summaries of each move but applied via consumer behavior.  This can serve as a thumbnail sketch of what I have in mind

Defensive Reactions to Competitor Moves:

Bypass Attack (the attacking firm expands into one of our product areas) and the correct counter is for us to constantly explore new areas.  Remember Theodore Levitt’s Marketing Myopia? If not, re-read it, you know you had to in school.

 Encirclement Attack (the attacking firm tries to overpower us with larger forces) and the correct counter is to message how our products are superior / unique and of more value. This requires a constant monitoring of message effectiveness.

 Flank Attack (the attacking firm tries to exploit our weaknesses) and the correct counter is to not have any weaknesses. This again requires monitoring and messaging the uniqueness / value of our products.

Frontal Attack (the attacking firm aims at our strength) and the correct counter is to attack back in the firm’s territory. Obviously this is a rarely used technique.

Offensive Actions:

New Market Segments: this uses behavioral segmentation (see the latter chapters on segmentation) and incents consumer behavior for a win-win relationship.

Go-to-Market Approaches: this learns about consumer’s preferences in terms of bundling, channels, buying plans, etc.

Differentiating functionality: this approach extends consumer’s needs by offering product and purchase combinations most compelling to potential customers.

My book, Marketing Analytics (Kogan Page, 2015) offers additional analytic techniques to quantify the causality of customer behavior.


Ok, prepare for a rant or two.

First, REPLY ALL.  If I ever find out who designed / enabled the easy to find and use REPLY ALL button I will go to their house and run over them with my truck.  Then back up and run over them again.

It should not be an option, probably ever.  It should not be an easy to use and easy to find option, probably ever.  face it, do you really really ever need to reply all?  Sure, maybe, once in a while.  But if that button was hard to find you would find that you really don;t need to fill up everyone’s mail boxes with all kinds of stuff, relevant or not.

I despise when our team sends back and forth to each other, little jokes, comments, funny pictures and videos.   I mean, if a couple of folks are having a ha ha ha conversation (“Oh yeah?”  “Sez you!”  “Yo mama!”) and sending it out to the entire 50-member group, with sizzling comments and cute pictures, that easily adds up to hundreds of emails.  99% of which are immediately deleted and 89% not even read.  (I have the statistics.)  Come on, people!

This week I got over 575 emails, over 300 were reply-all conversations back and forth.  Only 5 or 6 were relevant to me, those I needed to actually read.  I have a rule that puts in junk box now any picture or video attachments.

I’m the guy that now deletes any email not sent directly to me.  If you send it to a group you did not send it to me.  You do not need for me to specifically read it, you sent it to many people.  Any of them can read it and if I need to know something, I will find out.  That is, if you want me to read it, and if you want me to get the info, send it to me.  A little extreme?  Perhaps, but things are getting out of hand.

Remember that 1960s musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”?  Here’s an early conversation between two corporate types.

Guy X “Did you get my memo?”

Guy Y “What memo?”

Guy X “What memo?  My Memo about memos.  We’re sending out too many memos and it’s gotta stop!”

Guy Y “Okay.  I’ll send out a memo.”

Funny, yeah.  But not so funny.  So, stop the madness.  Be that guy in your group that says STOP reply all.

Second, elevator etiquette.  Look, everyone knows it, when the doors start to close you folks outside the elevator stand back and do not attempt to get inside.  That’s a universal rule.  That will stop the doors and for your safety the doors will slowly open.  Then let you in and after that will start closing again.  And probably stop because some other jack ass sticks his hand in to get on.  Again.  Groan.

Yesterday I got on the elevator by myself and the doors started to close.  When they had just about touched a slender hand slunk in and opened them up.  A Barbie wanna-be smiled at me and said ,”Sorry” and shrugged as the doors started to close.  Just before they closed I stuck my hand out and stopped them.  I walked just outside the doors and looked at her and as the doors began to close again I stuck my arm inside and stopped the doors and got back inside.  “Sorry,” I smiled.  She did not smile at me as the doors closed again.

So yes, there are jackasses out there like me.  But you don’t know which side of the elevators doors we might be on.  So therefore everyone please remember the rule:  when the doors start to close let them close.  Leave them alone.  Wait for the next elevator.  What are you in such a rush for anyway?  To read that funny email and reply all?  Jeez!

Third , come to meetings on time.  It’s not that hard.  It’s okay to even arrive a minute or two early.  I know what you’re trying to demonstrate: that you are so busy and so important that you can only run from one meeting to another and only get there after it starts.  Again and again.  Day after day.  So we who are already there have to set around and chit chat (Watch the game last night, what is Paris Hilton doing now, see the youtube video, etc.)  Or if we go ahead and start without you we will have to back up and start again when you arrive.  You have wasted everyone’s time.  If there are 9 people in the meeting and you are 5 minutes late that is 45 man-minutes that are spent because of you.  Again and again.  Day after day.

Now I know sometimes there is just no other way.  You really do have back-to-back and you cannot get to the next one early or on time.  But if it happens every day, several times a day (you know who you are) it is really just discourteous and disrespectful and no one buys that crap about you being so busy and so important.  A 10 am meeting means it starts at 10 am because people have begun to arrive a couple of minutes before 10 am.  It’s not that 10 am is the time people start to arrive and 10:05 or 10:10 it actually starts.  Because that likely will make it go over the 11 am ending time.

It’s like the speed limit sign.  When the sign says 55 mph speed limit, that is not a lower limit, but an upper limit.  That is not a minimum but a maximum.  Read the fine print.  When you are invited to a 10 am meeting it’s okay to be there one minute before, be prepared, and contribute and all will be well.  We will be much more productive.

Okay, the rants are over.  For now.