The Secret Marketer

This week, I’ve been out presenting to our sales teams around the country. I always enjoy standing up in front of the sales guys and spending some time hearing what is really going on at the sharp end. Speaking of which, I’ve always found that the best insights usually emerge after a few pints at the sales conference, yet we continue to pay research agencies thousands of pounds to facilitate focus groups with strangers.

My marketing team have become very slick at producing brand performance dashboards, but their reluctance to engage with their field sales colleagues does sometimes frustrate me. Memo to marketing: invite sales guys to the brand planning team. Not only will they add huge value, but it costs us nothing and they will be more likely to support our plans if they feel that they have been listened to. Simple stuff really, but I can’t – hand on heart – say that we are doing it.

Thanks to the diesel locomotive, my trek around the country has been relatively stress-free. Perhaps I am getting old, but I do seem to have hit a phase in my life where the train has suddenly become a first class and greener way to travel. Online booking, laptop power sockets and wireless connections combine to make my journey a productive one.

That said, the premium brand experience doesn’t fully extend to the on-board catering. Despite freshly ground latte being promoted on every available piece of point of sale, I was told that my very expensive business class ticket only secured a cup of instant – even if I went up to the buffet car to collect it myself.

Having previously worked in service retail, I sympathise with those marketers who battle against all the bureaucratic odds to piece together a consistent brand experience. It is a useful reminder that fast moving consumer goods marketing is relatively simple, given one has almost total control of your product and its presentation. I must remember this the next time I review the job pages of Marketing Week.

As I write this the refreshments trolley passes through my carriage. Just why is it that the sandwiches on trains are still so uninspiring? With the likes of Pret A Manger now operating at many stations, how hard can it be for decent sandwiches to be sold on board?
Mind you, at least the trains can be relied upon to be late with their menu changes.

Tuna and sweetcorn anyone?

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