The Scoop @ MSCO


The Day the Music Died- II

The oval office committee meeting to discuss...All of a sudden the US, the longest enduring republic in the world, no longer has a President. Sure a suit sits at the historic desk in the Oval Office, but suits don’t Presidents make. And the best way I can express how disappointed I am at this, is that I voted for this suit twice.

What a pseudo leader. What a miserable marketer. Every nation, every company, needs a leader. He or she is the exponent that makes everything-the hard assets, the people, the ideas-greater than the sum of their parts. Right now, the US-the finest nation in the world-fails that test. Like Ford and GM and countless other companies that are essentially leaderless, it is twisting in the wind relying on committees to make decisions and we all know committees are the folks who turned the horse into a camel.

Bush Approval rating from Z-FactsLeaders have more than power, they have humility. They have the guts to admit mistakes. They have the agility to make mid-course corrections. They have the brains and the determination to find a way out of the inevitable setbacks that befall every nation, every company. They are never imperious. They are smart, shrewd and always pragmatic.

You don’t have to be a Harvard political scientist or a Wharton management guru to know when the person on top is simply a placeholder – in fact, the oft-quoted professors haven’t a clue about anything in the real world. All you have to do is drive your Chevy to the levy and you’ll see the levy is dry.

And you can listen to the Sounds of Silence. And it will be deafening.

It’s The Day The Music Died.

Mark Stevens


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Chasing Cars

Snow Patrol's

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Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” is one of those lightning rod songs that flies out of the magic of the creator’s mind and blows everyone away the first time they hear it. Like Halley’s Comet or a meteor shower. Zoom, the music enters your brain and you are in love.

Meteor ShowerWhat makes the song zing is the passionate and profound fusion of dreamy lyrics and music. It’s all about calling a time out in life and allowing the mind to free float. To draw cartoons. To imagine the impossible. To embrace the romance of life. To do nothing and in the process to do the most powerful thing in existence. To think with no rules. No preconceptions. No limitations.

This is the most powerful, liberating and exhilarating thing in the universe. It was a founding principle at the once great IBM. And the once great Microsoft. And the greater every day Google.

Sitting under a tree..So why has it been wiped off the agenda at virtually every company on the planet? Why is hardly anyone ever told;

“stay home today and just think,”

or“sit under a tree and chase cars”?

Mark Stevens,
What do you think about Chasing Cars?
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Take Cover Detroit

The Toyota SymbolSo there is no doubt that Toyota is the premier auto maker in the world. It’s quality numbers are in the stratosphere and its sales juggernaut is number two to GM only because, for political reasons, it wants to impose a slow death on the fat, dying cow from Detroit.

So in the midst of all of this Christmas dream of a success story, what does Toyota’s 64-year old CEO Katsuaki Watanabe think of this his global domination machine?

Well… that it SUCKS.

Extraordinary quality isn’t good enough.

Exceptional productivity is just not acceptable.

Amazing sales are a yawn.

Crazy? Polar opposite? Watanabe is doing the only thing that truly distinguishes the elite, top gun business people from the impostors. He is declaring war on his business not when it is faltering but precisely when it is riding a top of the world crest and virtually everyone else would sit back and marvel at the amazing thing called Toyota.Ass Kicker

Katsuaki Wantanabe The factis this guy is an ass kicker. I talk in my book Your Management Sucks about the importance of having Combat Eyes and Serial Skepticism. Do you know how much more valuable this is than a zillion feel good bonding fests?

When we all look at the businesses or departments we run, we have to know that some part or parts of it are in need of war.
Who is your role model:Katsuaki Watanabe or Bill Ford?
Mark Stevens

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6 Myths Of Marketing (Reprint of March ‘05 MSCO Newsletter)

This article was originally published in the MSCO Newsletter Unconventional Thinking in March of 2005. We have reprinted it here along with other newsletter articles by popular demand and to make it available to our blog recipients.

1. Advertising and marketing are the same.
To hell, they are. Advertising means buying space or time to relay a message. It can be important to marketing or irrelevant, depending on the company and its goals. We told one of our retail clients to stop advertising and sales went up.

2. The best marketing presents a company and/or its products as beautiful or creative or sexy.
Who says? I’ll tell you: the ego driven creators of beautiful/creative and sexy marketing. What they won’t tell you is that they don’t care a whit about your company’s Return on Investment from its marketing dollars. They just want to be told what creative geniuses they are. Sometimes the least “creative” marketing is the most effective. Wal-Mart’s marketing will never win a prize for aesthetics but it has built the best brand in the world.

3. Salespeople aren’t really part of the marketing process.
Nonsense. They are the centerpieces. Yes, there is a difference between selling and marketing, but if the marketing process leads to a sales team empowered to close, and the salespeople are not closers, sales will be few and far between.

4. With the right training, you can turn non-closers into closers.
Forgetaboutit! You can’t train non-salespeople to sell and you can’t stop salespeople from selling. Find the latter and pay them well.

5. Great marketing agencies are the ones that win lots of awards. So choose them.
Okay, if you want to borrow awards to place on your mantel then do so. But if you want sales to grow, go for the award-less agencies that live by the credo: the best marketing is the product of the least expense that results in the highest ROI. My marketing firm, MSCO, Inc., has won a few awards, I am embarrassed to say. The only one I am proud of, we received from Forbes for creating an ad that motivated more readers to act than any other ad.

6. Good marketing is based on rules.
You should spend x percent of your revenues on marketing. Great direct mail generates an x percent response rate. Hogwash to it all. Every company, every product and service is different: so how can there be universal rules? Rules are for schools. Results are for business people! If you are told that the best return you can get on direct mail is 1 percent, seek to generate 10 percent! Great marketing, inspired marketing, can be the most powerful force in growing companies large and small. The great marketers – Bill Gates, Mary Kaye, Tom Watson, Ray Krock, Sam Walton – avoided the myths, avoided marketing that sucks and drove their companies to the mount. You can do the same.

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The Myth Of The Call To Action

Every day, in conference rooms around the world, marketers and their clients are asking: So what’s the call to action?

One problem: there is no such thing as a call to action. Nothing that really works. None of the cheap stunts that may have worked in a simpler, bygone time. Back in the day.

What are you going to say? “Free Starbucks card to the first 100 people to buy a Volvo no one wants?” Wow, that will move those dated looking boxes on wheels. Not!

And yet the marketing folks who gorge on cliches as if they are wolfing down ice cream, don’t recognize that the only real call to action is a tremendously appealing product or service. An iPod. A PlayStation. A Honda Accord. A Starbucks cappuccino .

Which drives us to the key issue: Marketers must be concerned with what they are marketing, not just how they are marketing it. They need to impress their clients- admit to their clients- that no set of words from a hack copywriter is going to serve as a call to action. Is going to get people to open their wallets and buy. They have to do what they almost never do: Lobby to make the products better, cooler, more effective. To help their clients imagine and create products and services people will fall in love with. Does Manolo Blahnik need a call to action to sell his shoes to women? I can hear him laughing now. The shoes are the call to action, squared. Can you say the same about your product?

Mark Stevens


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