Photo Credit: ThaQeLa on Flickr

This last article of the year is about expectations. More precisely, top management’s expectations of marketers, and vice-versa.

Top management believe Marketing’s role is to grow the business. A very fair expectation.

We are given a product, a distribution channel, an existing (or not) customer base, and a certain budget, and expected to work our magic and improve the bottom line.

There is only a small problem with the above scenario.

Marketers are not magicians.

We can’t just take any product portfolio, any brand perceptions, and turn them into bigger profits. We have our expectations as well.

My personal expectations from top management are the willingness to focus and a commitment to innovation.

What could “focus” mean at the micro level?

Focus is narrowing your offering enough that you become the category expert and thus the number one choice.

Focus is reinforcing a single message, which should be your brand’s differentiation idea.

Focus is allocating your Marketing budget to only a few, high-impact initiatives, and execute them properly.

Focus is a long term commitment to only one or two ambitious goals.

Innovation does not mean that companies should invent something new every year. Innovation is the company commitment to reinvent itself in order to maintain its competitive advantage.

Let me explain why I think innovation is key to a company’s success. This is what’s happening in most categories:

One competitor launches a innovative product and service.

Customers are pleased and the company prosper.

Competitors notice the success and eventually catch up.

Your brand’s competitive advantage becomes a point of parity, something that customers expect to get.

In order to stay competitive, your brand needs to reinvent itself.

No Marketing expert can save brands that lack focus and adaptability. The market is too competitive, the consumers too picky.

That’s it from me for this year. I wish you and your families happy holidays and a prosperous 2014!