Special Guest: Gema Castellano, Director Informativos.net

When everything is on the move, it’s time for marketing to stop and think

These are not good times for the corporate world, mired in the depression of the domestic market and internationalisation plans full of paradoxes and unknowns to be cleared up. The changing trend in consumption-forced by the economic downturn and the evolution of new paradigms created by the continuous development of technology -generates uncertainty and, therefore, a revival, sometimes hysterical, of the natural tension between sales and marketing departments.

A few days ago I met a businessman who was forced to declare his business bankrupt at the beginning of the economic downturn in Spain, in 2007, but who discovered how to redirect his talent- ultimately reinventing himself-by exploiting the value of his contacts and knowledge acquired during his former professional life.

Now he is dedicated to helping Spanish companies to set up in the United Kingdom, with a very high rate of success and satisfaction.

Whilst providing me with some information on his new job, one thing-above all others-caught my attention. This businessman, having changed to a profession that for decades has been called an “intermediary” and that we now know as “broker”, “adviser” or even “influencer”-due to our penchant throughout the ages to define, in the most sophisticated way, each and every role in life-heartily lamented the inferiority complex invading Spanish companies when they go into foreign markets, their inability to recognise their own merits, their difficulties in communicating their products or business models, and because of this, their lack of prestige and inability to create added value.

The result is that the Spanish product, despite its quality, is bought only “by price”. And if the consumer can pay a little more, preference goes to an Italian or French product, even though it may be of inferior quality.

Surely, by now, the sales and marketing departments of companies in the process of internationalisation that are reading this article have already entered into in depth discussions and also, how could they not?, in conflict. It is to be expected. Because despite the interpretation of the theoretical rivalry in office meetings between “marketing” and “sales” as a positive and stimulating factor, the fact is that the usual way, especially in times of economic downturn, is to invest too much energy, resources and time blaming each other for mistakes that revile business results and impede attainment of the objective, which is simply to generate value for the company.

However, it seems that both “marketing” and “sales” departments suffer an onset of vertigo when faced with the prospect of an absolute revolution in consumption patterns. What to do when markets and trends are changing so drastically that strategies expire before the expected result is achieved?

Maybe seeking help in “group” knowledge and observing the international strategies of the “big” corporations is now a more effective way to try to be creative and original. It’s a question of optimising resources. Large companies invest astronomical budgets into sophisticated market research to intuit new trends before they are consolidated, so it may not be a bad idea to follow their lead.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the study by Bain & Company 2013

Luxury Goods Worldwide Market, which insists, for example, on data of transcendence such as that which asserts “the growth of the luxury market in America has surpassed that of China, for the first time in decades”.

“The hyper-growth of recent years was destined to ease off”, says Claudia D’Arpizio, shareholder in Bain & Company and author of the study. She adds “The upside for luxury brands is that they can now change their pvious strategy, which was very attached to maintaining the present frantic pace, to shift focus to planning for the future”. Main message. Slow down and reflect, because a strategy based on outdated truths leads, inexorably, to failure.

And of what use are these data for a medium-size company that wants to internationalise?

Let’s see. According to Claudia D’Arpizio, the future strategies of “big” companies are aimed at promoting “online” sales; they are immersed in this whilst calmly “rethinking” their future on the new international scene.

Many changes, too much information and high risk place marketing experts on the edge of a precipice, leading them often to blindly “try” or to do nothing at all out of fear. This is without the pressure from the company and sales department, which have the responsibility and obsession to sell at all costs.