there is a widely held belief, especially among top management, that marketing is nothing but common sense. And nothing is more common among CEOs than the belief that they have a full deck of common sense.
Marketing is 90% strategy and 10% execution. With the right name, the right target audience, the right position and the right timing, most marketing programs are bound to work. The difficult part is the 90%. The easy part is the 10%.
Execution depends primarily on people. And people are people. Do you suppose Dell has better people than Hewlett-Packard and the other PC manufacturers? Is that the reason, according to one estimate, why Dell makes more than 100% of the PC industry’s profits?
Not the way I see it. Dell’s strategy — be the first to sell direct — drives the company’s execution. If you sell by phone or the Internet, there’s no need to have an inventory of finished computers or computer parts. You build to order. You force your suppliers to deliver parts on a just-in-time basis. That’s only one of the many “executional” advantages of a direct-only strategy.
A strategy of better execution
Good strategy improves execution. As a matter of fact, good strategy can be defined as a strategy that will allow better, more consistent execution. “We fall into error,” says history’s greatest military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz, “if we attribute to strategy a power independent of tactical results.”
Good execution cannot change or improve a poor strategy.
It was Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard who said, “Marketing is too important for the marketing department.”
Marketing is in trouble.
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Al Ries is the author or co-author of 11 books on marketing, including his latest, The Origin of Brands. He and his daughter Laura run the Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries. Their Web site is Ries.co Al Ries