computer board

by Anne Yeiser

What can you learn from the Silicon Valley marketing experience? Can the hard-won insights of a high-tech marketing consultant benefit you?

The Regis Touch by Regis McKenna is subtitled "Million Dollar Advice from America's Top Marketing Consultant." The author has worked with more than 150 companies in Silicon Valley and helped bring success to upstarts such as Apple and its Macintosh.

He learned by experience that fast-changing industries must play by a new set of marketing rules since the old rules assumed that technologies and markets change slowly.

McKenna reveals these major points...

The new marketing, like the old is a battle for positioning, but the new requires dynamic positioning which is achieved through positioning the company, not just the product.

In a culture where constant flux and radical change are the norm, one must focus on intangibles such as quality and leadership in carving an image, rather than on price or product specifications. That is the only way to combat the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that trail rapid change, and to survive when the unexpected occurs-- and it will.

Recognizing that complexity is a growing cultural phenomenon, a company must target a specific niche rather than trying to be all things to all people. Products must be viewed in terms of unique benefits to capture prospects who are diverse and demanding.

Product positioning must be shored up through word-of-mouth campaigns in the marketplace because buying decisions hindered by FUD are based on personal recommendations more than on advertising. McKenna outlines how to launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Strategic press relations and a good reputation in the financial community are also indispensable. All these elements and processes result in dynamic positioning.

Market creation, not market sharing, is essential in fast-changing industries. The traditional market-share strategies focus on advertising, promotion, pricing and distribution and on winning market share from others. Market-creating strategies instead emphasize 1. applying technology, 2. educating the market, 3. cultivating the good will and recognition of retailers, analysts and anyone between the customer and manufacturer who has an influence on the buying process, and 4. creating new standards. Marketing managers must think like entrepreneurs and be willing (allowed) to experiment and take risks.

Companies in the fast lane must be market-driven, not marketing-driven. Marketing-driven businesses stake their livelihood on advertising and promotion, while a market-driven approach 1. develops strong products, 2. requires the manager to understand the structure of the market, and 3. focuses on building relationships and strategic alliances with other people and companies in the marketplace. It uses advertising and promotion to reinforce positions, not to create them.

The new marketing is qualitative, not quantitative. Marketeers who rely on numbers can miss the action since extrapolating the trends of the past or the present "almost never works," says McKenna. Example: In the 1940s, computer companies estimated the total world market for computers to be several dozen. They obviously failed to envision the rapid spread of new applications, or the sharp decline in prices.

Qualitative marketing is based on intuition-- that sense of what is going on in the marketplace based on a broad-based, first-hand study of it. It takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, the perceptions and attitudes of customers and prospects, and the social and political trends of the nation. These factors are continually, creatively monitored, and marketing strategy is adjusted accordingly.

McKenna recommends:
»» a clear but flexible company mission,
»» internal and external audits to define company goals and market trends before strategies are laid,
»» roundtable discussions rather than lengthy marketing reports,
»» a company culture that encourages innovation,
»» an organization that enables fast decision making, and
»» selling to the right customers - those that make quick buying decisions, which often are not the [bureaucratic] Fortune 500.

He discusses 10 intangible competitors which marketing managers in fast-changing industries must confront. The first one mentioned is change. The U.S. auto industry is cited for ignoring the growing demand for small cars, which is how it lost market snare to the Japanese.

To discover McKenna's other nine intangible competitors, read The Regis Touch. To evaluate whether they might threaten your company, consult with us!

THE REGIS TOUCH, by Regis McKenna. Copyright 1985. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

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