19 Nov

“Director, Differentiation Strategy” is a title at Boeing

Randy Baseler, CEO of Boeing and noted CEO blogger writes: “My colleague Blake Emery, who has the unique title of Director, Differentiation Strategy…”
What a great idea. A person whose sole focus is to differentiate the brand, the products and the services from competitors. It’s explicit, it’s on the agenda. I understand that on the average payroll there may not be room for a “Director of Differentiation” but there is still something really valuable in the idea.

Maybe rather than having a Director of Differentiation, you could have a loose team of people consisting of customer service, sales, product, services, operations, finance and marketing.

Marketing might take the initiative, but you rotate the chair between the participants to ensure everyone is engaged and committed. The agenda is clear from the start: “what can we do, what do we need to do, to improve our differentiation.”

Many marketing thinkers now believe that marketing success in the future will rely more on “baking in” the interest, i.e. doing things that are of interest to your customers. (see Mark Earls post here and my follow up here)
In my post I wondered aloud about how to get this type of new thinking implemented under the pressure of delivering day-to-day results. If you believe that this is the way of the future for marketing and branding, then maybe a Differentiation Task Force is a great first step.

08 Nov

Boom! Brand reputation damaged.

We have less than 4% unemployment in Australia. People are screaming for good technicians. The last two web projects I worked on were almost completely driven by the client’s recruitment needs.

Now imagine you are the company in the search result below. Potential customer or employee searches for your brand. The first entry is a company with the same name, the second is you, and the third is someone telling the whole world not to work for you.

I’m not saying it is fair. I’m not saying it is right. But it is the reality.


If I was in HR, Sales or Marketing for this company, I would make sure that I engaged in that conversation very quickly.

02 Nov

Yes, but how do you prove it works?

Mark Earls believes that marketing “communications” is the wrong focus for marketers and that instead, we should be making sure our client/company does things that are worth writing about. He writes:

“Too often communications seek to simulate and fake the interest that companies, products and services are missing. Or distract from the very obvious lack of interest.

No, it’s much more about doing things, baking in the interest otherwise faked and then suggesting and encouraging consumers and employees to do stuff together around this.”

It makes a lot of sense: people increasingly ignore advertising and PR spin so the effectiveness to sell stuff is reducing. At the same time, if you do something special/interesting/important people can now spread the word for you with a click of their mouse. Even without a PR agency.

But it’s not happening very much. Why?

It’s hard to demonstrate tangible results quickly. The pressure to deliver results and outcomes NOW is immense for everyone. To do what Mark is talking about requires a significant investment in time and resources.money.jpg

It involves people across the company to work together in a way that they are not used to. It takes a significant amount of leadership to revolutionise the way you look at marketing.

Anyone who is involved in marketing knows how hard it is to get support for initiatives that are medium to longterm in any case. Especially if you can’t provide any proof that it will have a measurable result.

So, to get there, how do we demonstrate that “doing things, baking in the interest” is more effective than doing what we are used to doing? And how much more effective will it be?

I support the idea. I think it’s what true marketing is all about. The challenge is to come up with a strategy to introduce this approach that will cut the mustard with the people who are paid to think in revenue and profit. Maybe we should make this a new online project for marketers. It is The Age of Conversation after all.

Update: sincere apologies to the owner of the photo I took off Flickr: I can’t find your name anymore so no attribution…