Marketers Spark a War in the Boardroom
October 23, 2009
All marketers should read the latest book by Al & Laura Ries, which describes the battle taking place between right brain marketers and left brain managers. The book, titled "War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don't See Eye-to-Eye--and What to Do About It " is an apt title for the battles that are taking place. I've been a big fan of Al Ries ever since his classic "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition" was published. Next to Aaker, Kotler, Hopkins and Ogilvy, this is one of the must reads for any marketer.
Left brain managers are taking over to the detriment of marketing. Those that can quantify results and make numbers dance tend to win over those that can see the ship sinking, even though the numbers add up. The trend is being exacerbated even further by the easy to quantify on line marketing results being a driving metric of marketing vs. the harder to quantify brand. On the internet mediocrity measured well often wins over brilliant marketing.
The difference in outcomes is stark when you look at Apple's Steve Job's as a right brain guy vs. General Motors management that is still playing the better features = better car game.
According to Ries, The fundamental problem is that CEO's tend to be left brain thinkers and CEO's tend to approve marketing direction. Since marketers speak and think in a different language, the two do not communicate well. It's why CMOs last for 26 weeks on average vs. the much longer lifespan of CEOs.
The other problem described by Ries is that left brain managers believe that they can overcome current consumer perception and what I call the "physics of marketing." Case in point are recent efforts by T-Mobile and Version to battle Applie's iPhone. New operating systems such as Android are being promoted as being superior to the iPhone. The consumer on the other hands looks at both providers as offering weak substitutes for what they really want, an iPhone. Who cares that other phones have better features.
Quantitative analysis is great when trying to optimize a campaign that is working. The only issue is, figuring out how what makes for a great campaign is a right brain activity that is more gut than numbers.
War in the Boardroom. Marketers and great ideas are the casualty.