What Ries Doesn’t Get About Execution
The Brand Autopsy Archive Project
1,400 posts since December of 2003. That’s a lot of HMOs (hot marketing opinions) served up on the Brand Autopsy blog. For this week, we’re going to revisit five vintage posts from the Brand Autopsy Archives. Enjoy...
BACKSTORY | March 29, 2011
I’m a big fan of Al Ries. He co-wrote POSITIONING with Jack Trout in 1980 and its become a bedrock marketing strategy book. His recent Ad Age articles about branding in the today’s social media world and the dangers of discounting are spot-on. However, I disagreed with Al’s article from March 7, 2005 saying, “Marketing is 90% strategy and 10% execution.” The following post explains the importance of execution in making retail magic happen.
Originally posted on March 8, 2005
There’s been some blog chatter on Al Ries’ latest Ad Age article, “What CEOs Just Don’t Get About Marketing.”
I think Ries’ penchant for hyperbole is overshadowing the crux of his argument that good execution of a bad marketing strategy will not deliver exceptional results.
However, I can’t blame anyone for jumping all over him when he writes such blanketed statements like, “Marketing is 90% strategy and 10% execution. With the right name, the right target audience, the right position and the right timing, most marketing programs are bound to work. The difficult part is the 90%. The easy part is the 10%.”
Has Ries undervalued the importance of people (employees) executing a marketing program? Oh yes ... he has grossly undervalued the importance of people making marketing happen.
I just don’t buy his argument that most marketing programs are bound to work if the right name, right audience, right positioning, and right timing are in all place. I also disagree with his statement that the easiest part to a marketing program is the execution.
My experience at Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market tells me marketing is more like 35% strategy and 65% execution. A so-so marketing strategy can deliver exceptional results if those responsible for executing it are informed and inspired to make retail magic happen. The real trick is how best to solve for informing and inspiring customer-facing employees to make retail magic happen.
Brand Examiner Paul and I wrote about one such way we solved for informing and inspiring Starbucks partners to make retail magic happen in a Fast Company blog posting from December of 2003. Click here to read about Blended Beverage Bingo.
So … from your experience, what % of marketing is strategy and what % is execution? Is it 90/10 or is it more 35/65?