Welcome to the new Secret Marketer

Well, hello there. I’m your new secret marketer, bringing you my experience as a marketing director on a weekly basis. I will not reveal my identity, but I am pretty sure you will soon begin to recognise my issues as your own.

I’m going to start by talking about something that should be familiar to you all – the corporate vision. At the end of last week, our human resources and strategy directors pounced on me, flattering me by saying: “You’re good with words. Do you think you could write out a new vision for us so that the chief executive can present it to the company on Monday?”

Now while I am grateful for the compliment, the idea that a company vision can be developed by one person over the weekend goes against the theory I have been taught during my career to date.

No matter, as I sat down on a rather long train journey on Saturday afternoon, I put my brain to task. Just what would be our corporate vision?

My first port of call was Wikipedia to understand what goes into a great vision statement – “a vivid idealised description of a desired outcome that inspires, energises and helps you create a mental picture of your target”.

I read on: “The best vision statements are summarised using a powerful phrase.”

As a marketing director, I should have a pretty good handle on where the company is going in terms of our product and service offerings for this year. Except that the doubts started to creep in.

Surely we should have had a vision before my team started to create products and services for our customers?

A quick check of our competitors’ vision statements left me feeling relieved, and gave me my second profound lesson. It was almost impossible to find out what any of them actually stood for. Sure, there was plenty of guff about their latest product, their latest sales promotion and how to buy products. But what does that tell anyone about the real company? What are they about? How do they do business?

But the real question is do vision statements really matter if all they are is a post-rationalising joining of the dots, and have been created by one person on a slow Saturday afternoon train, with some pretty dubious input?

Now, how do I break this to the CEO?

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