My caretaker manager stint overseeing the sales team continues to dominate my working week. It feels like a perfect storm as we strive to manage a cost price increase, agree annual joint business plans with our customers and cope without a permanent sales director.
I am doing my best but feel slightly out of control, not quite able to give all of my direct reports the time they deserve. If anything, my temporary charges in the sales team are getting my full and undivided attention, whereas my brand team are being left to their own devices. Let’s hope that they don’t spend the entire budget while I’m not looking.
I have to admit, wearing two hats is harder than I thought. I have always enjoyed the healthy tension between the sales and marketing teams, however it is not a lot of fun being stuck in the middle of it all.
I also enjoy keeping a close watch on competitor advertising, but I have been viewing things through a slightly different lens lately. Sales directors tend not to look out for production values or clever scripts, but instead watch obsessively for the price offers being featured in so many of the ads. In the last few weeks Tesco has been advertising its buy one get two free offers. Pringles, Radox and Goodfella’s are among the brands being devalued.
“I have been viewing things through a slightly different lens lately”
In the same week, with my marketing director hat on, I read some PR coverage about the award-winning design agency that is responsible for the Goodfella’s packaging work. The agency is no doubt claiming that its design has driven unprecedented results. The agency is probably right though I doubt it has anything to do with its design work.
A few days later I saw a predictable response from Asda and Co-op, which were both featuring Pringles at better than half price. As they say, once you pop you can’t stop.
I do not envy whoever is in charge of the grocery national account team at Pringles right now. The brand team will be shouting at them for knackering the brand, the factory will be shouting at them for dreadful forecasting accuracy, trade customers will be shouting at them for running damaging promotions with rival retailers while in the same breath asking for the same deal themselves. Utter misery I suspect – and I should know, I am in sales.
These are the daily polar opposites of the grocery world. Welcome to my world. Brand building waffle meets hairy-arsed market trading. For the time being, I refuse to choose sides.