It takes marketing strategy to build a strong brand and business

Marketing is about more than just marketing communications. So is brand-building. Ask any first year marketing student. So why do I keep seeing headlines like:

“RIM hires new marketing chief to get new message out”

I read this in the Globe & Mail and had my usual reaction—what a lot of nonsense.

But why do I say that?  The problImageem is right there in the headline. Does anyone really believe that RIM’s problems with Blackberry can be resolved by getting the message out? I seriously hope that RIM’s mandate for Frank Boulben, the new CMO, is a lot more than that.

If this was just a reporter’s bad headline then it wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s not. This kind of thinking is pervasive. We’ll just change the message, throw more money at it, and advertise our way out of trouble. Unfortunately this is a road to almost certain failure.

The day this article was published I received messages from two friends, both senior marketing executives, each of whom declared that the new CMO is already in the cross-hairs and his failure is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.

But maybe not. Hopefully it was just a bad headline and that Mr. Boulben will address what most pundits would agree is RIM’s bigger problem—its marketing strategy. That is why the Blackberry brand is in so much trouble—it’s not simply a problem with its marketing communications.

It’s probably safe to say that RIM has been vanquished from most of the mass consumer market by the relentless focus of competitors such as Apple and Samsung. So RIM will need to figure out which customers it can serve better than the competition given its competencies.

With clarity about the value being sought by it’s current and intended markets, RIM will need to ratchet up its R & D to ensure a continuous stream of value-enhancing innovations both with respect to its products and services, and also its business model. It needs to move fast so that potential competitors will find themselves at a growing disadvantage.

Mr. Boulden, as the new CMO, should be deeply involved in this whole process. Only then will he be in a position to communicate the compelling value that RIM is creating and able to deliver to its customers.

RIM’s business success will be driven by their ability to create and deliver compelling value to its customers. Without figuring out what that is first they won’t have a word to get out. Maybe the headline should have read:

RIM hires new marketing chief to refocus its marketing strategy

Because, in the end it’s all about building strong brands and businesses. And that’s about a marketing strategy that creates, delivers and communicates compelling value for your customers. The customers you choose to serve. And that is what this Blog is going to be about.

About ashleykonson

STRATEGY CONSULTING | EXECUTIVE COACHING | CORPORATE TRAINING | KEYNOTE SPEAKING | Ashley Konson is the Managing Partner of Global Brand Leaders Inc., a new kind of brand consulting company dedicated to making brands and their teams leaders across the globe. He is a Brand Leader, Business Consultant and Award-Winning Educator, and a recognized thought leader and fervent advocate of the premise that strong brands and businesses achieve and sustain their market positions because they are strong Inside out™.
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9 Responses to It takes marketing strategy to build a strong brand and business

  1. Good article Ashley. Your insights on the Globe article are on target. What is RIM’s mission statement and vision statement? A Google search produces few results. My take is that RIM is a company lacking a strong identity or purpose.

    RIM was too slow at developing an ecosystem that integrated developers with end users. Apple provides a secure venue to sell (or give away for free) apps and a trusted and secure source for end users to download apps.

    I believe that RIM has much bigger problems than a marketing strategy. The best marketing strategy in the world will not make up for shrinking sales and customer base; and products that are not competitive. RIM can no longer coast along trying to match Apple and Android features. Unless they blow away fans, critics and competition with the next release, Rim will slide into obscurity.

    • ashleykonson says:

      Thanks for your comment Michael. Look to future posts where I will discuss the similarities between business and marketing strategy for organizations like RIM.

  2. yguterm says:

    Congrats on the blog, Ashley. Too bad for the Canadian economy, but it might be too late for RIM and it will most likely follow the fate of Nortel.

  3. Lynn says:

    Great blog post Ashley. I’ll definitely sign up. Can’t wait to learn/read more on how to “create and deliver compelling value for customers”. That’s the piece of marketing strategy many struggle with doing well.

  4. uppi says:

    Awesome blog post Ashley – looking forward to reading more posts!

  5. Sunith Lobo says:

    I’m sorry Ashley, I don’t agree that its marketing strategy alone that can save RIM. Its beset with poor product and has long since been surpassed by competitive brands that are better attuned to user needs and functionality.
    and looking ahead, Apple minus its protectionism afforded by the US Govt, will be the next brand to fade. After all Apple did take some serious mis-steps in the past and it took Steve Jobs to come back and re-focus the company’s product development pipeline. This time, there’s no turning back…. SIRI is uni-accented, and ill equipped to meet the needs of a global market.

    • ashleykonson says:

      Thanks you for your comments Sunith. Perhaps we see the terminology differently. For me Marketing Strategy = Brand Strategy = Business Strategy. Blackberry’s proposition seems to be losing steam in the face of competition from Apple and other players in the industry. My point was that its problems can’t be fixed through marketing communications alone. It needs to rethink its business strategy.

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