Are you driving your marketing strategy into the wall?

Are you driving your marketing strategy into the wall?

So many businesses run their marketing as a series of  unconnected tactics in the hope some will stick, instead of developing a consistent, integrated marketing strategy. But imagine if a racing car was designed that way, outsourcing strategy and expertise in pieces to different specialists, consultants, agencies and ‘gurus’. And imagine the marketing manager in charge was required to win a race by driving it.

The wheel and tyre agency convinces the car’s owners that the secret to winning a race is larger wheels and wider tyres for greater traction. They then explain how their fee is calculated according to the radius of the finished wheels, before going on to demonstrate how monster trucks have achieved fantastic results in recent races in the US.

The mechanical developer insists better performance is down to an expensive, custom-built gearbox of his own design instead of relying on the proven, standard model the competitors will be using. However, he refuses to make any modifications to fit it into the car as it would take too long and compromise the pure, best-practice nature of his build. “Easier for you to change the brief to fit. Or even better, change the shape of the car,” he says.

The fibreglass consultant solves every problem she comes across by arguing the need for more streamlined aerodynamics. This sleeker body shape requires a custom fibreglass mould, but a custom mould also adds a further fee on top of what was previously quoted. Oddly, the final result is extremely similar to all the other custom moulds lying around the workshop.

The combustion expert offers a special fuel system guaranteed to increase speed, performance and fuel efficiency. This he demonstrates by attaching it to a specially modified Honda Civic going downhill with a strong tailwind. He insists the inconclusive results gathered from dodgy measurement tools would be even better in the vastly different scenario of the race track.

And so the owners squeeze the budget to meet all of the competing demands, because they don’t know enough to properly question the various claims. Now there’s no room left in the budget for a windshield, roll cage or seatbelts, but as no one can show how these contribute to winning a race they are left out. “Show us the return on investment of a seatbelt” is the theme of one particularly tense pre-race meeting.

Race day. The completed car sits on the starting grid like a blot. Monster wheels over a metre high sit under a car body so streamlined the driver can barely sit in it. Bolted to one side is a large tank housing the special fuel combustion system. The bespoke gearbox is so huge and complex it takes up almost all the remaining space and includes gears the driver has never heard of before. (The second exhaust system wasn’t delivered on time to be added, but the contractor still wants to invoice as he claims the need to have it ready by race day wasn’t specified in the signed statement of work.)

The driver points out that the steering wheel is almost unusable, but the owners say that it was very, very expensive and designed by the best in the business. If the driver can’t use it it’s his fault, not the steering wheel. The designers (a team of ten) go on to proudly point out the convenient push button controls on the wheel to work the iPod and adjust the stereo volume settings. The driver reminds them that the car doesn’t have a stereo because it’s a racing car. The designers shrug and say all of their steering wheels come with those buttons as standard. “We’ve won awards for our buttons. But because the wires are dangling and don’t go anywhere, try not to brush against them with your knees. You might short out the electrics in the dashboard.”

The car pulls away from the starting grid in a mess of noise and crunching gears, because the state-of-the-art gearbox wasn’t designed to work with such large wheels. The fuel tank welded to the side destroys any aerodynamic properties of the custom bodywork, creating more drag down one side of the car and making handling even more difficult.

The driver fights to control the car, but on the second bend loses control. The car crashes hard into the side wall. With no seat belt the driver’s injuries are severe. But that doesn’t matter for long as sparks from the gears ignite the special fuel mix, bursting everything into a ball of flame.

Watching from the pit stop, the various agencies, consultants and experts all shake their heads. “If only you had a better driver, you would have won that race,” they say to the owners, before adding that the next car should have even bigger wheels, sleeker bodywork, an even more complex gear system and a second fuel tank as redundancy should the first ever explode again.

Following the race, the fibreglass consultant writes a presentation on how to squeeze inexperienced drivers into tighter, more aerodynamic spaces for an upcoming conference . It receives a lot of views on Slideshare from other fibreglass consultants who share it repeatedly.The combustion expert immediately follows the winning race team on Twitter and starts networking by asking them what fuel mix they used to win. The wheel and tyre agency posts a case study to its blog that suggests the owners failed because they had chosen the wrong race to try to win. “A monster truck rally would be better,” it concludes. The mechanical developer tells the story at the next ‘Gearbox Down Under’ meetup, demonstrating how his gearbox would have saved everything if it wasn’t for the unnecessary wheels spoiling his design. The mechanics in the audience buy him many beers.

The driver is soon forgotten.