Managing Marketing: Text, Cases, and Readings

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780029037201
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1984
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 522
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 1.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Questions and Answers about Case Learning
Plan of the Book

I. Managing Marketing: An Introduction

1 Introductory Note
2 Case 1. Computer Devices, Incorporated
3 Case 2. Atlantic Aviation Corporation: Westwind Division
4 Case 3. The Gillette Company: Personal Care Division

II. Marketing Actions: Managing Marketing's Subfunctions

5 Introductory Note
6 Case 4. Sales Force Management: Kramer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
7 Case 5. New Product Development: National Mine Service Company (A)
8 Case 5. National Mine Service Company (B)
9 Case 6. Trade Shows: National Mine Service Company (C)
10 Note. Get More Out of Your Trade Shows
11 Case 7. Pricing: The Hertz Corporation
12 Case 8. Distribution I: Concept Devices, Incorporated
13 Case 9. Distribution II: Binney and Smith, Incorporated
14 Case 10. Summary Case/Sales Force Management II: Frito-Lay, Incorporated (A)
15 Managing Marketing: Exercise I

III. Managing Marketing Programs

16 Introductory Note
17 Case 11. Program Management I: Frito-Lay, Incorporated (C)
18 Case 12. Program Management II: North American Philips Lighting Corporation
19 Case 13. Program Management III: Decimalization of the Currency in Great Britain
20 Case 14. Managing Key Customers I: American Telephone and Telegraph Company Long Lines Department -- National Account Selling (AMC) (A)
21 Case 14. American Telephone and Telegraph Company Long Lines Department -- National Account Selling (B)
22 Note. Major Sales: Who Really Does theBuying?
23 Case 15. Managing Key Customers II: Applicon, Incorporated
24 Case 16. Managing Key Customers III: American Telephone and Telegraph Company Long Lines Department -- Charter Financial Corporation
25 Case 17. From Programs to Policies: Alcan Aluminum Corporation -- Building Products Division
26 Managing Marketing: Exercise II

IV. Managing Marketing Systems and Policies

27 Introductory Note
28 Case 18. Marketing Culture and Theme: Benco, Incorporated (A)
29 Note. Market Success Can Breed "Marketing Inertia"
30 Case 19. Marketing Organization: Benco, Incorporated (B)
31 Case 20. The Marketing Audit I: Benco, Incorporated (C)
32 Case 21. The Marketing Audit II: Macon Prestressed Concrete Company, Inc. (A)
33 Case 21. Macon Prestressed Concrete Company, Inc. (B)
34 Case 22. The Marketing Audit III: Macon Prestressed Concrete Company, Inc. (C)
35 Case 23. Allocation and Control: Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. (A)

V. Integration and Conclusion

36 Introductory Note
37 Case 24. Summary Case: National Central Bank
38 Managing Marketing: Exercise III
39 Summary Note. The Nature of Marketing Practice: Contributions from the Literature
Index of Cases

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First Chapter

Chapter 1 Introductory Note

Marketing has made great strides in the last two decades toward strategic maturity. From its growing arsenal of models and analytics, the discipline increasingly helps managers tailor strategies to market requirements. Yet, when it comes to guiding the effective implementation of these strategies, the academic literature is silent and the self-help books ring hollow. The critical need of top management in the eighties lies not in new answers to the strategic questions, but in increased attention to marketing practice. What are the signposts of good marketing management which can translate clever strategies into bottom-line results?

The purpose of this chapter is to explore good marketing practice. I call this focus on the practice-based, tactical side of managing marketing activities marketing implementation. Understanding marketing implementation requires:

* Investigating what is unique about marketing practices
* Discriminating strategic problems from ones of practice in marketing
* Developing a vocabulary for and a way to think about marketing practice problems
* Generalizing management guidelines for good marketing practice

This chapter is only a beginning at each of these tasks. The points made here are based on three years of clinical research on 30 situations and in over 20 companies done during the development of a second-year course on Marketing Implementation at the Harvard Business School. The student will have an opportunity to analyze for himself or herself many of the cases alluded to here. Therefore, these thoughts should be taken as a preliminary "starter" framework for marketing implementation about which each student must develop his or her own deeper understanding.

Marketing Strategy and Marketing Acts

By marketing strategy, I mean the goals and objectives directing marketing activities. By marketing implementation, I mean the specific actions through which management actualizes its strategies. Consider the following example:

A pipe company invented a new kind of triangular drain pipe 180 percent as efficient but only two-thirds as materials-intensive as its current line. The new marketing vice president wanted to price the new pipe high, on the basis of value received by users. However, he believed that neither other top managers nor the sales force had the discipline to implement a high-price program without reverting to the volume-oriented, price-per-pound logic which made the firm successful. How can he change the marketing "theme" of the company so management can exploit its innovation?

What to do strategy is clear to this manager: value price, encourage cannibalization of existing lines for the new one, and reap increased profits. How to do it well is problematical. The firm, a privately held family company, had a history of producing very large quantities of pipe. This pipe was sold at low margins to cover fixed costs and keep the plants at capacity. Plant managers were paid on the basis of volume of pipe produced per minute. The sales force thought in terms of "shaving" retail prices to meet tough competition in this mature market. The firm's management unwittingly encouraged this commodity culture with a measurement system that tracked the selling price of each pound of plastic made into pipe. The vice president rightly worried that just setting a high price on the new pipe, or declaring a "marketing program" for the new introduction, would not be powerful long-term weapons to combat the entrenched way of doing things.

From this example, it can be seen that problems of marketing implementation involve both "hard" and "soft" issues. There are hard questions of what specific actions should be taken to implement the new pipe introduction, and of which company resources should be decked against it. There are also other, soft questions about execution policies, marketing systems, and those who would lead the marketing effort.

What's Unique About Marketing Practice?

Performing any management task raises a host of practice problems. Many of these are internal to the firm, such as building cross-functional cooperation or making management systems do what is needed of them. Marketing shares these problems and, to this extent, marketing implementation raises practice concerns similar to other business functions and to general management.

What is unique about marketing is that it "owns" the company's customer and trade relationships. Its tentacles reach out to, and its every act is reached by, these two key relationships. This means that, whatever "good practice" is in doing the marketing job, it requires a juggler's skill at keeping three very different balls in the air. Exhibit 1-1 shows this triple interface of company, customer, and trade relationships in marketing practice.

The first circle on the exhibit refers to the relationship of the marketers to other marketers, to other management functions like sales or production, and to the business systems making up the firm. Relevant questions about internal practice, for example, include how well marketing and sales interact, the marketing-manufacturing interface, and the reporting and control systems used by managers in order to monitor marketplace results.

The second and third circles reference parties and problems outside the firm. The second concerns relations with intermediaries or trade distributors, and the third reaches to the end-user himself or herself. How well is the trade being managed? The end-users? Is the flow of information between the field and the company truly two-way, or are customers "unfortunate constraints" on management's otherwise perfect plans?

The exhibit shows quality in marketing practice as "goodness" at this triple intersection of company, customers, and trade. We shall have more to say about marketing quality below.

Which Is It -- Strategy or Implementation?

Strategy and implementation form a circle, or cycle, each affecting the other. While it is well known that strategy affects acts, an equally important generalization is that execution also affects marketing strategy, especially over time. Because they are intertwined, it is sometimes difficult on first examination to distinguish problems of marketing strategy from those of its execution.

Despite this fuzzy boundary, it is not hard to diagnose marketing implementation problems, or to differentiate them from strategy shortfalls. When a 50-person computer terminals sales force sells only 39 of the company's new line of "smart" microcomputers during a sales blitz in which sales of over 500 units were forecast, is the problem with sales force management or with the strategy move to the smart machines?

Assigning the symptoms to strategy causes does not fit the available evidence well. The company is experiencing eroding margins on its sales of "dumb" terminals because of intense competition from a major vendor. Additionally, the smart terminals category is expected to grow by over 500 percent during the 1980s. The product itself, a portable terminal with built-in printer, has many benefits desired by the target market.

Assignment of the poor sales performance to marketing implementation causes better fits the situational analysis. The average company sales representative earns over $50,000 annually from dumb terminal sales alone. Consequently, there is little sales force hunger to struggle with an unfamiliar new product. Worse, sales incentive compensation on the new machines was set lower than on the old ones, a puzzling implementation move. The old terminals, moreover, have a selling cycle only one-half as long as the new ones, and require no software knowledge or support. Here is a case where poor execution stifled good strategy.

The computer example asserts an important diagnostic rule about strategy and implementation. When strategy is good, poor implementation can disguise that fact. Thus, it is difficult to assess the worth of marketing strategy when execution problems mask strategic adequacy. This condition is shown in Exhibit 1-2, where the computer company falls into the lower-left cell of the matrix.

The exhibit crosses the appropriateness of management's marketing strategy with the excellence of its marketing implementation. When both strategy and implementation are excellent, all that can be done has been done to assure success. When strategy is inappropriate and implementation poor, failure is the probable result. However, failures may be especially intractable, for management can be tempted to blame all its problems on the perhaps more visible poor execution of its plans, rather than questioning its basic strategy. Hence, it may court repeated failure by devising better ways to execute bad strategy.

When marketing execution is poor but the firm's strategy is appropriate, management may not trust in its strategy soundness because of implementation inadequacies. What can happen here is that management assumes the strategy is inappropriate, changes it, and hastens marketplace failure. The "trouble" cell on the matrix drives management toward marketplace failure because inadequate execution masks good strategy.

The remaining off-diagonal cell of Exhibit 1-2 has unpredictable results. When strategy is inappropriate and execution excellent, good implementation may drive the firm more quickly toward failure, just as the engine on a plane in a nosedive serves only to hasten the crash. But there are times when excellent execution can make up for inappropriateness in strategy, as when field sales offices "modify" headquarters directives they know are disastrous. Because it is impossible to predict whether excellent execution coupled with inappropriate strategy will hasten or stave off marketplace failure, I label this the "roulette" cell.

Marketing Implementation

In his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig writes a catalog of traps which can sap the mechanic's resolve toward quality work, and lead to poor cycle repairs. He tells, for instance, how a five-cent screw holding an access cover can, if stuck, render a $4,000 motorcycle worthless and the mechanic a frustrated wreck headed for a really major mistake. Managers need a vocabulary of marketing practice, labeling its screws and covers. From this, we can investigate how the manager practices marketing, and catalog execution traps as well as learn from successes. What follows is my vocabulary for and a model of marketing implementation, with special reference to some things that go wrong when marketers "work on the motorcycle."

Marketing execution takes place at four levels in the firm: actions, programs, systems, and policies. The actions level is the five-cent screw one uses for marketing, while the policies level concerns the theory of the marketing motorcycle. Further, individual managers bring or fail to bring to the job some critical skills which foster or inhibit execution efficacy. Good marketing practice is a complex function of the level at which marketing is carried out, and the skills of the practitioners.


At the lowest level of execution are marketing actions, which involve marketing's subfunctions, like selling, trade promotion, or distributor management. These low-level marketing tasks are the fundamentals, the "blocking and tackling" of the marketer's job. Many firms and managers have real difficulties with these low-level actions. Often, the difficulties experienced are ones of never really having addressed the fundamentals, as when a firm doubted the worth of its trade show expenditures but continued regularly to spend $1 million and uncounted management hours solely because "we have to be there."

Yet, how does management know if its promotional allocations are spent wisely, or whether these monies ought to be reallocated to increased sales force manning? How are its products to be priced, absolutely and relatively, with regard to other items in the line and the competition's entries? Actions-level problems like these are among the most frequently encountered by practicing managers. Many of the actions problems experienced by firms involve the sales force or distributor management, for that is where trouble often occurs in low-level marketing execution. The computer company cited above is one illustration.

In the best managements, by contrast, there is real facility at handling marketing actions tasks. No management is good at everything, but the better marketers concentrate on doing an outstanding job at a few marketing subfunctions and an adequate job with the remainder. Frito-Lay, for instance, is an example of a company we'll study later which refined a single actions-level skill, distribution, to such heights that it now serves as the competitive base for all the company's programs. Gillette, another firm in the book, has made a science of advertising in the same way. For many others, there seemed to be a willingness on management's part to ignore the "down-and-dirty" marketing details, to assume they'd get done, and to trust that someone, somewhere, had the ability to take care of them.

At the programs level, management is concerned with blending marketing actions e.g., pricing, selling, product development into an integrated program. Programs usually have either a product or customer segment focus, and are management's attempts to blend its subfunctions together coherently in product or customer "bundles." Management of a line of shampoos/conditioners, or instituting a program for key accounts, are examples of such focused integrations of marketing's tools. If marketing subfunctions are the blocking and tackling of the job, programs are management's "playbook" by which the customers will be courted and the competition confounded.

A graphics computer vendor we'll learn about, for example, wished to install a national account program to better service its few but growing key accounts. A manager very successful at national account management in another firm was recruited. He was given a secretary, and a presidential mandate to "put a key account program together." How, exactly, is this to be gone about?

Perhaps he should attempt to create a headquarters-based dedicated national account sales force, with the attendant risks that competition with the sales vice president his superior and a very successful sales force implies? Or, is he better off working in a dotted-line capacity through the firm's sales managers, attempting no sales or service coordination beyond simple persuasion, and running different risks?

The presence of many clever marketing programs, a great "playbook," is not a sign of good marketing practice by management. Where strong execution systems and policies don't exist, these programs go off in all directions, resulting in diffusion of effort and random results. Where strong action-level abilities are not present, clever programs fail for want of the basic skills needed to actualize them. Without subfunctional soundness on the one hand and clarity of purpose on the other, management often seems to dream up "Statue of Liberty" plays that it has neither the focus nor fundamental skills to make work.

At the level of marketing systems, we are concerned with the firm's formal organizational, monitoring, budgeting, or other overlays which foster or inhibit getting the marketing job done. Such systems can be as mundane as voice telecommunications or as advanced as retail point-of-sale computers. Other examples of management systems do not so much invoke technology as they do ritual. Are middle-level marketers prohibited by tight job descriptions from spending enough time in the field to know the customers? Systems, put in place to serve managers, invariably wind up driving them, and not always in useful directions.

The systems most critical to effective execution often are those concerned with monitoring ongoing marketing efforts and with allocating money, time, and people to the multiplicity of marketing jobs that need to be done. Almost invariably, except for the most exemplary firms, marketing systems are perceived as and operated as if they are impediments, not facilitators, to good practice. The formal organization, a human system, is particularly problematic in this regard, though often overcome by management's skills at circumventing it.

The situation in all but a few companies suggests that formal systems for organization, intelligence, personnel management, and the like are politicized, inadequate, and often debilitating to effective marketing conduct. The best managers, however, make up for these deficiencies by a combination of modifying management systems to suit their own unit's needs, and by substituting their own monitoring, organizing, and allocating skills to get the job done in spite of system inadequacy. I deal with some examples of such "subversion toward quality" in the Skills section below.

Finally are marketing policies, which may be as mundane as recruiting, compensation, promotion, or other corporate policies as these are "locally interpreted" by the management implementing them, or as esoteric as marketing culture, theme, and quality of leadership. The local interpretation of corporate policies by marketing management is an important but poorly understood phenomenon. For example, what are the effects on morale and execution efficiency when a marketing vice president uses discretionary budget funds "illegally" to blunt a hiring freeze in his or her division?

Two kinds of policy directives are especially important to good marketing practice: policies concerned with identity and ones concerned with direction. Identity policies help managers know "who they are" as regards their jobs and help set the tone of "how we do things around here." Marketing culture and marketing theme are the two most prominent identity policies. Direction policies help management keep its perspective on "where we are going." Marketing strategy, which is not the major concern of this book, and marketing leadership are two primary direction policies.

The last set of policy variables -- theme, leadership, culture, and even marketing strategy -- makes up the core of what management intends by way of general direction to its systems, programs, and actions, and also composes the "implementation frame" within which all marketing practices occur. These special variables are discussed further in the following section.

Exhibit 1-3 shows the four levels of marketing practice. The concentric circles show the increasing generality in marketing implementation levels, from actions to programs to systems to policies. The fact that the outermost circle bounding policies is partially open reflects the fact that marketing culture and the other policy variables both direct practice and are often changed by it.

The Implementation Frame

The frame around the circles in Exhibit 1-3 is four-sided. Like the motorcycle mechanic whose actions are bounded by the shop owner's facilities, equipment, and even attitude, all marketing practices are bounded by theme, culture, leadership, and strategy.

Marketing theme is a fuzzy but important term which refers to management's understanding of what it is about in the marketing function.

For instance, in one firm, it was obvious from management's interactions that there was no shared understanding of "how we do things around here" regarding marketing. Some executives held a conception of the firm as a commodity vendor whose only hope lay in blue-sky R&D projects, with the attendant implications of that view for current marketing and sales efforts. Others felt that the driving force of the company was in its basic lines, and behaved accordingly. These divergent themes were visible to others from managers' actions, which often were at variance because of their conflicting understandings. The net result was a confused and ineffective sales effort, a divisive trade, and unhappy customers.

By contrast, in another firm management and all the salespeople could repeat and believed! that "we are the premier vendor in the country -- our products are great, but we compete on service." Management's shared understanding and commitment to continually reinforcing this simple theme promoted exceptionally effective sales force performance and consistent customer perceptions. Whether exhibited through training programs reinforcing the theme with behavioral suggestions for the drivers or in top management's frequent "field days" with drivers and its insistence on strict quality control, this theme constantly was in evidence.

Marketing culture is a broader term than theme. Where theme often can be verbalized, culture is the underlying and usually invisible "social webbing" of management which supports habit and tradition. It subtly but powerfully restricts inappropriate behavior as well. While it is possible to write volumes on culture, this is inappropriate. The student or manager "soaks up" a firm's driving and often unsaid rules from close study of nuances in each case study and in each management situation.

For example, when management in one firm was asked why it was planning a $700 million manufacturing expansion to support a new product line which test markets showed might supply the planned-for capacities, but most likely would supply one-half the volume, the marketing vice president responded, "We don't see much sense in trying to chin ourselves on the curb." Contrast the culture implied by this statement with the golden plaques to be found at every AT&T installation which say, "There is no task so urgent we cannot find a way to do it safely." To observe culture in the cases you analyze, look to what management says, what it does, and the objects with which it surrounds itself. Ask yourself, "What is it like to work here?"

Though it has become fashionable in general management and marketing to blame shortcomings in practice on culture, it is undeniably true that some top marketing managers are high-quality leaders and some aren't. The former are inspiring by their willingness to get out in the field, clever at designing simple and effective monitoring methods, and impressive from having driven their understanding of the business to a powerful simplicity. Others are not such good examples or leaders, being either overly complex or, alternatively, uninformed about the business, unwilling to leave their leather chairs for the tough questions from the field, and inspirational only as models of what their juniors hope not to become. The quality of marketing leadership has a far-reaching effect on the quality of marketing practice.

From my observations, time and time again it is the absence of clear policies, especially clear theme and strong leadership, which accompanies intractable marketing implementation problems. For example, in one company we'll analyze with very good functional product development skills, management seemed to have difficulties with its marketing programs. The root cause was that management had failed to define, refine, and communicate any clear theme even to its own development people, much less to its customers. The company's excellent but limited development resources, consequently, were diffused over more projects than could hope to find coherent completion. The firm perpetually got to the market late, disorganized, and disarrayed.

Whether a strong theme and culture are arranged by top management example, the personal charisma of a single manager, or formal policy directives seems irrelevant. The critical question is whether these intangibles of theme and clarity of culture exist as a powerful but unquantifiable feeling that imposes itself on an observer in the same way it inundates the firm.

Of course, the implementation frame recognizes that practice must be guided by strategy in marketing. However, instead of assuming that the formal plans, growth-share matrices, and the like are the alpha and omega directing practice, the student or manager who would achieve good marketing practice must attend to all four levels implicated in execution, and all the variables found there from trade show expenditures to theme.

Managers doing the marketing job, moreover, bring with them some skills which can "patch up" poor systems or even unclear themes in useful ways, and it is to these that I turn.

Implementation Skills

Exhibit 1-3 also shows that each level of marketing implementation also implicates four skills, or management processes:

* Interacting
* Allocating
* Monitoring
* Organizing

Indeed, there is a subtle but powerful relationship between levels and skills. While the organization a system may inhibit effective execution, the managers informally may organize a skill a network to get the job done well anyway. While the monitoring system may be politicized and inadequate, the marketing manager may construct informal back-of-the-envelope ratios that allow him or her to monitor the business anyway. Thus, inadequate levels can be patched up with excellent execution skills.

Interacting is the first execution skill. The marketing job by its nature is one of influencing others, often under conditions where the marketer has no power to impose his or her preferences on them. How, for example, does a product manager get the sales force to devote "enough" time to his or her entry? How is R&D, production, and even top management to be "arranged" to make the product a success?

Good interaction skills are needed with outsiders as well. The marketer must deal regularly with a parade of helpers used to execute the marketing job: for instance, advertising agencies, consultants, manufacturer's representatives, and dealers. The task of managing them effectively is often more difficult because their interests may not be completely coincident with the interests of the firm. Many marketers, for instance, do not do a good job of managing their distribution networks because they fail to take into account the common conflicts over control, money, and support which arise between "marketing partners." Several of the early cases deal with these sorts of interaction dilemmas.

Interacting skills appear to be of cross-cutting importance at all the execution levels. The social intangibles of relationship inside and outside the corporation have much to do with the quality of management's marketing acts. Inside, where cross-function competition and infighting are the watchwords, failure is the usual result; where shared zeal and vision prevail, so does better marketplace results. Outside, where top management regularly interacts with key customers and trade, for instance, execution invariably is better. This should not be surprising, because marketing is executed by and with people. What is clear, however, is that marketing management cannot leave the "people" aspects of execution to specialists and hope that this critical skill will take care of itself.

Allocating time, money, and people also is a critical skill, in terms both of financial and human capital. For example, how much money and management time should a crayon company executive we'll meet him in the Programs section of the book allocate to servicing his displays in key account outlets? Or, how can rising demonstration costs be controlled in selling business jets by the general manager we analyze this case in the Introductory section? The efficient allocation of people is an equally important, but even less well understood, budgeting skill.

The greatest barriers to good allocation appear to be three. The first is that too many resources are allocated regularly to mature marketing programs. Second, too few resources are allocated to risky programs, especially when these are in their infancy and in need of infusions of people and cash to succeed. These two traps may be called "traps of resolve," because they represent a commitment to the easy road of doing things the way they have been done in the past.

The third allocation barrier is often too little management attention decked against the low-level marketing actions, like pricing. Note that I said "attention," not "money." Often management thinks money can substitute for time where low-level marketing subfunctions are concerned. It can't.

Monitoring skills involve the construction and maintenance of feedback mechanisms, often informal ones which work independently of the company's formal systems, which can be used to measure and sometimes to control the results of marketing activities. According to one manager, being given the task of monitoring a marketing program can be likened to being given a control panel on which the dials and levers are dusty, broken, and only sometimes connected by wires running out to the field. The trick, he points out, is to be sure that the wires are not "just dangling off the edge of the desk unconnected to anything."

The ability to know how well results compare with management's moves might be thought to be readily available to almost any manager in today's data-oriented companies. Yet, except for some exemplary performers, the marketing groups in many firms are weak at constructing simple, reliable, and understandable monitoring mechanisms which do not get corrupted by the politics of the situation or formalized into behemoths which acquire lives of their own. It was most rare that management, for instance, had any idea of profitability by account. Most had no data on profitability by segment, and the majority could not obtain profit by product line and, certainly, not by individual product. Where excellent individual managerial monitoring skills were not invoked to create "quick and dirty" schemes to fix the inevitable shortcomings in formal systems "Accounting won't give it to us that way", results frequently were disastrous.

The final marketing skill, organizing, refers to management's skill at developing informal marketing structures. This skill is most necessary, because often the formal organization, a system, keeps people from doing their jobs in the most efficient manner. Consequently, the best managers subvert it with their own skills at network development, whether that requires a formal "reorganization attack" on the existing structure or a more subtle campaign of insulation from it.

From observing a number of marketing organization changes, and a larger number of informal "adjustments" made by managers superb at organizing, my sense is that the formal organization attacks, the complete restructurings accompanied by fanfare and consultants, almost always are less effective than management's subtle but powerful informal networking in providing an environment for excellent practice.

An Implementation Matrix: Levels and Skills

Crossing the levels of marketing implementation defined with the skills just discussed, we obtain the marketing implementation taxonomy presented in Exhibit 1-3. The matrix categorizes many situations which managers face in getting the marketing job done, and can serve students as an organizing device and managers as a useful diagnostic. A typical marketing implementation issue representative of each level and skill is given in the cells. Many of the cases in the book are summarized on the matrix. Note that each question in the matrix is a "how" one.

Good Practice in Marketing

From this catalog of practice problems, at each level of marketing implementation and with each marketing execution skill, it might sound as if many of the cases we'll study concern managers troubled with practice problems. That is so, though there are also examples of excellent marketing practice. The management of marketing is problematical for all but a very few companies, and then comfortableness often is restricted to a few functions or programs within the marketing discipline.

Yet, some fraction of managements show truly excellent marketing implementation, and it is from them that some simple but powerful differentiating characteristics of good marketing practice emerge.

* In the best firms, there is a strong sense of identity and of direction in marketing policies. There is no confusion, and little substantive disagreement among management over"who they are." Further, the leaders are strong and able. There is, indeed, clarity of theme and vision.

* The best implementers appeal continually to the customers, including the trade or distributors, in several unique and worthwhile ways.

Customer concern is an ingrained part of the culture, and always occurs in the theme of the best implementers. Interestingly, distributors are seen as customers in these firms, and management has as its primary objective the maintenance of a partnership with distributors and end-users. Good implementers are not less profit oriented than the poor; quite the opposite. Yet, managers best at execution take special care to see that the end-users also profit, in terms of true value for money expended. The trade profits in more traditional ways, with dollar margins, but also benefits from being construed as key accounts by good implementers. In the firms less able at implementation, either a partnership never is formed with these two key marketing constituencies or, worse, a focus once held has been lost.

* Management is able and willing to substitute its own skills for shortcomings in the formal structure in the best firms.

At United Parcel Service, the story is told with some pride of the regional manager who took it upon himself to untangle a misdirected shipment of Christmas presents by hiring an entire train and diverting two UPS 727's from their flight plans.2 When his top management learned of his acts, he was praised and rewarded. The culture supported the manager's substitution of skill for structure, and the regional manager was "combat ready" to substitute his judgment for the structural breach.

* Finally, in the firms best at execution, top management has a distinctly different view of both the marketing structure and its marketing managers than did bosses in other companies.

There are several ways in which this distinctly different view manifests itself. In the best companies, with no exception, the importance of the managers dominates the importance of the structure. That is to say, marketing and other managers are top management's "key accounts," and are treated with a latitude not found in other corporations. I have expressed this elsewhere as the' 'good leaderspoor followers" rule. It says that top management in companies good at marketing practice permit challenging, questioning followers because it is not always possible for those at the top to be right. The poor followers continually threaten the tendency for policies and structure to become religion, which causes management to lose its flexibility in times of change. The common theme shared by all the managers holds the organization together.

Top managers in the best companies view the marketing structure differently as well, however. They tend to encourage a philosophy of "allocation extravagance with program pickiness" in marketing investments. It is not always so easy to get new programs approved with these managers, but the ones that are endorsed are staffed, funded, and otherwise fully endorsed to maximize their chances of success. Instead of putting the firm at greater risk by such concentration, the full endorsement of fewer sound marketing programs gives these managements the critical mass they need to make the programs work in good times and bad. This has been the experience of one business jet distributor we'll study later, which has weathered the recession in much better shape than its more diffuse and programmatic peers.

Again, in the best firms management concentrates on one or a few marketing actions which it fosters and nurtures into a competitive distinction. If we put the strong theme and culture, program pickiness, and functions-level concentration together, the composite which emerges is that the firms best at marketing execution encouraged soundness at the top policies level and the bottom actions level, rather than flashiness in the middle programs level.

Marketing Quality

When all is said and done, quality in marketing practice is not a guarantee of good marketplace results -- there's just too much luck, competitive jockeying, and downright customer perverseness to hope for that sort of predictive accuracy. Rather, good marketing practice means high quality of management's coping behavior when faced with the inevitable execution crises threatening to blur its strategies for managing customers and middlemen. Individually, such day-to-day threats are not much to fear. Taken collectively, they are strategy-killers.

Introducing Managing Marketing

The first three cases in the book introduce marketing implementation concerns. As with all the cases in this book, there often are significant questions of the goodness of management's marketing strategy as well. However, the real issues in these cases revolve around how to get the marketing job done well, perhaps making up for strategic incompleteness or even inadequacies with execution excellence.

Computer Devices, Incorporated, introduces the topic with a thorny sales force problem faced by a small firm making a new strategic thrust into small computers. Mr. Stofer thinks his problem is one of sales force organization or management, clear implementation issues. Or, is the real issue that the strategy for moving into "smart" terminals is insufficient, and that the sales force's poor performance during the contest is indicative of this strategic inadequacy? How does the manager or student tell when there is a marketing strategy problem which needs fixing, versus implementation issues that must be remedied? Is Computer Devices "mostly" a strategy case, or one of ineffective marketing implementation?

In the Atlantic Aviation Corporation case, the vice president of the division is concerned with the way his general manager hands out demonstration rides. Are demo costs too high in this division? Why is Mr. Graham concerned about them, anyway? How could you institute a policy for demonstration rides which would not impede the flexibility of the selling process for complex and costly business jets, but yet give needed controls on this expensive part of the sale to the division?

Finally, in the Gillette Company: Personal Care Division case, a young and highly effective brand manager has data she feels show that what the advertising agency is recommending for her new brand will most surely harm its introduction. How does she deal with the problem, and act in a manner good for the company, for her new brand, and, not least of all, for herself? She has only her lunch hour to plan for her meeting with the vice president, who strongly favors the advertising agency's suggestions. Like all the cases, you need to make some decisions, quickly.

As you analyze the cases which follow, it may be helpful to try to place them on the levels-by-skills matrix given in Exhibit 1-4, or to define the "frame variables" of culture, theme, leadership, and strategy as these occur in Exhibit 1-3. Again, you might wish to look for some of the components of good marketing practice I have suggested here or, better yet, invent your own scheme for deciding how well management in each of the cases is practicing marketing. Most of the cases in this book represent situations where there are always strategic as well as implementation questions about management's marketing conduct. Often, however, you will take the place of a manager needing to analyze the strategic situation, but who then, regardless of strategic incompleteness, must make the generation of "right conduct" his or her "sole study and business," as Ben Franklin would have put it.

Copyright © 1984 by The Free Press

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