A friend sent me a great link to a Mark Ritson rant in marketingweek yesterday. Mark Ritson is something of a God for many in the marketing business and sells himself really well. And so he should as he’s won more medals than Michael Phelps.
In the rant which you can read here, he recalled a recent evening in London where a friend told him how he had been ripped off by a brand consultant. Ritson doesn’t share how the friend was ripped off but goes on to outline a seven point system for identifying ‘shit’ brand consultants so you can avoid them like the plague.
The list goes something like this:
1) If the consultant mentions millennials, run a mile.
2) If the consultant offers advice without qualitative or quantitative research to back up his recommendations, run a mile.
3) The more concepts the brand consultant tries to sell you, the more ‘crapper’ he is.
4) If the brand consultant uses trigger words, he is unworthy. An example of a trigger word is Innovation. According to Ritson innovation ‘is a product orientated word and worthless as a result.’
5) Any brand consultant that mentions Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs should be shown the door – after you’ve thrown something heavy at him.
6) Likewise, if the brand consultant shows you a picture of a cow being branded.
7) And again, if they tell you reputations take decades to build.
8) If the brand consultant has a trademark attached to their special branding methodology or they use an acronym like ‘RESULTZ’ or ‘PERFORM’ then walk out of the room, but before you do write WANK on the nearest whiteboard.
9) If your brand consultant waxes lyrical about Steve Jobs and Apple and insists that what he did is relevant to your business, head for the door.
OK that’s a 9 point list but I’m only the messenger. So what do people think of his rant and list? Judging by the comments section, most of his fans agree with him. However, John Robbins of newzpoint blames ‘shit’ brand managers rather than shit brand consultants, “Although I can’t help but think the main reason there are so many shit brand consultants is because there are so many shit brand managers and the fact that you have to prepare a guide for brand managers because they generally can’t tell the difference between good and bad consultants is recognition of this.”
Robbins continues, “Try talking in realistic terms to a shit client (there are tons of them, easy to find) and most of the time their eyes glaze over because they find common sense rather tedious and prefer to listen to inflated bullshit as it excites them more. The emperors cloths continue to be sold and resold every day and no doubt will for sometime. As the old adage goes – brand managers get the brand consultants they deserve.” Powerful stuff from Mr Robbins.
Another comment from Claire who focused on the reference to the millennial segment, “I am apparently a millennial and I’m married with a kid. My brother and sister in law are technically also millennials and living it up with no mortgage in London. The idea that we are both basically the same segment for targeting is ludicrous.”
So what do I think of it? Well I think Mr Ritson is spot on really. I mean the concept of doing anything and making any recommendations without doing research is borderline criminal in my book. But the research must be focused on identifying value requirements of target markets and not be determined by age or decade of birth.
I mean, in an era when social media allows you to find like minded souls in groups on Facebook and other platforms, the concept of a ‘segment’ like 18 – 24 year olds or people born in a certain year or decade is rather naive.
Every customer is a segment now and they must be engaged with content that resonates with them. And that doesn’t have to be done through marketing. Indeed, it’s hard to do so, but it can be done when the prospect is researching the product or at the point of sale, after a connection or after a sale. If any segmentation is required, it should be separating prospects from existing customers.
Or as John Robbins said, the problem is often the client. If a client wants a brand consultant to go straight to implementation without doing any research, what is he supposed to do?
Should he walk away? Undoubtedly and many brand consultants probably do but if the economy were tanking and the pipeline was bare, who can blame them for taking the plunge? After all, the client will spend their money somewhere.
And besides, once on board the brand consultant can always try to convince the client to do the proper research.