In a 1992 article, Peter Dickson formulates what he calls “a General Theory of Competitive Rationality”. Believe it or not, the theory has nothing to do with physics, rocket science or nuclear bombs. It talks about marketing.
The essence of Dickson’s theory is that everything is constantly moving and the marketing planner has to adapt. Competitors are constantly changing what they offer, how they price it and how they talk about it. Customers are constantly changing their tastes, what they want and their willingness to pay. According to Dickson, the successful marketer closely studies these changes and makes calculated moves to take advantage of gaps that appear.
But there is a problem!
Among all this dizzying movement, marketers are often stationary behind computers for hours on end, engaged with admin and clearing inboxes. In some companies it has gotten so bad that brand managers – especially the more junior ones – will only leave their desks for a serious toilet emergency. Even lunch breaks are taken whilst sitting at their desks!
You have to ask yourself: just how do you spot the next gap in the market when all you do is sit at your desk?
To be a good marketer, you have got to be out and about. You need to be close to the action – talking to customers, reviewing the value chain, observing competitor activity and interacting with the sales team.
You need to be in the market, to understand the market. You need to understand the market, to take advantage of it.
Maybe this explains why so many product launches are failures. They are conceived in a stationary position, in front of computer screen – far away from the real action!