Foreword by Rajiv
Former President of eBay marketplaces,
Skype, and PayPal
in Residence at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management
We Live in Interesting Times
is evident all around us. Digital technology and mass media have forever changed the average length of major events: events
that would have spanned decades in past centuries play out in years, or even months in our time. In his path breaking book,
“The Singularity” futurologist Ray Kurzweil refers to the inability of the human brain to comprehend a constant
rate of change…the times we live in are
only set to become even more interesting.
Witness the current recession, already the deepest since the Great one. Emerging from
the depths of this recession there is a good chance that global consumers will never behave in the same credit-crazed, free-spending
ways again. Or will they? Or will the old behavior morph into something new? What lies ahead? What other shocks await our
global, interconnected markets that impact lives of farmers in India and traders in New York with breathtaking synchronicity.
backdrop, the hapless CEO is desperately trying to make three, five and even ten year bets of resource allocation, whilst
fielding the intense scrutiny of customers, employees and shareholders. Leading an organization during such trying times is,
to put it mildly, challenging. Uncertainty often encourages risk aversion, which in turn leads to analysis-paralysis and organizational
rigor mortis. But today’s environment also offers a unique opportunity to leap ahead of the competition by embracing
the new world order and managing with, rather than against, change.
when they Zag
Marketing Through Turbulent Times is a timely book. Jenny Darroch provides an excellent overview of the current
economic times and links together the disparate themes of recession, democracy and individual depression and explores the
role of social media and democracy. The recent fall-out from the election in Iran is only one compelling example of social
media giving newfound power to the commons.
We know that social media is here to stay. We also know that social media has already
substantially altered the way in which we communicate. The challenge for CEOs and marketing managers today is to embrace
this technology and, instead of ignoring technology that might be hard to fully understand, embrace it and become leaders
in the formation of best practices. Rather than allowing the current economic times to become an excuse for inactivity, Marketing Through Turbulent Times aims to provide a roadmap for leaders wanting
to grow their organization or start new ventures.
Embracing and enabling change is certainly consistent with for “high-tech”
companies such as Google, eBay, Skype, PayPal, but it also applies to companies in more established industries. No corner
of the industrial landscape will remain untouched by the forces of this change.
Good Luck Beats Good Strategy
approach to managing change has often involved building detailed scenarios of the future and planning for alternative scenarios
and understanding sensitivities. However, this approach is fraught with issues. To quote Yogi Berra, it is tough to make predictions…especially
about the future! Luck beats strategy any day. A far better approach is to maximize your chances of luck. Execute against a variety of promising avenues. Open the company
to information from outside. Stay close to start up’s in your industry. Delete the word “cannibalization”
from your corporate vocabulary. If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will. Any singular strategy that is
built on a singular world-view of the future is highly likely to fail.
from the World’s Marketplace
Drawing from my own background, apart from its obvious success, eBay also provides
an excellent example of a healthy and functioning market that I believe has had a profound impact on the way consumers expect
to be treated when doing business with any organization. With eBay, buyers have access to good information about the items
they want to purchase and buyers only pay what they believe an item is worth. Sellers learn to communicate the value proposition
of their items in a way that meets the needs of their target market. To be successful, sellers need to receive good feedback,
and good feedback requires sellers to be customer focused. Marketing Through Turbulent Times addresses these issues in the section covering growth through excellent
execution of the current marketing strategy.
Further, by acquiring PayPal, eBay changed the nature of its business, which ultimately
begs the question of “What business are you in?” Is diversification something to fear? No, not at all. What
is important is to recognize the dynamic nature of business and therefore be willing to adapt as the organization evolves.
Lessons from Drucker
Jenny Darroch encourages us to look at the business through customers’
eyes and to understand the needs customers seek to satisfy when using a product or service. As a former student of Peter Drucker,
I am sure that he would have approved. It
is easy to forget about the customers’ perspective when we are faced with substantive economic challenges but Jenny
Darroch reminds us that during such difficult times, it is perhaps even more important to remember that customers are the
reason you are in business.
Marketing Through Turbulent Times provides a roadmap for leaders who want to generate growth through excellent execution
of the current marketing strategy while also adopting a more disciplined approach to creating growth by identifying problems
and solutions. While Jenny Darroch was motivated to write Marketing Through Turbulent Times in response to the current recession, I believe the ideas contained
within the book are enduring.
July 31, 2009
Darroch, Jenny (2010). Marketing through Turbulent Times, Palgrave Macmillan. Reproduced with the permission of Palgrave Macmillan.
also: http://us.macmillan.com/marketingthroughturbulenttimes and http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=376971