Interview with Dr. Savino Chiariello
Marketing & the current economic crisis...
Q. In your new book/manual “Il Marketing d’impresa. Elementi essenziali e innovativi”
R. I have always been convinced that in times of economic uncertainty or in times of poor sales, there is only one remedy: to study the market, the behavior of competitors, the consumer behavior with regard to products, and take appropriate action in accordance with the indications of the marketing man in agreement with the management. Of course, where there is no culture or knowledge of marketing tools such as, for example, the market study and the curve of products’ life cycle (which helps to develop new products in times of large profit and put them on the market in times of shortage of orders and/or in times of products aging), many entrepreneurs give up, with a declaration which often looks something like that: "I do not sell anything more, I just have to close the whole shebang, buy a villa by the sea and enjoy it. "
Of course, I do not say that the culture of marketing does resolve by itself the bad business situation within the current economic crisis which reminds the 1929 crisis and is now afflicting heavily Italy, and not only. But that culture helps both the existing businesses to survive and the new businesses, the so-called "start-up", to start on the right foot, as long as the Government does its part with policies to support enterprises, in particular by reducing taxes on businesses and workers, with policies of equitable redistribution of wealth and public investment: all interventions that have always worked either in the States of 1929 or in Europe of post war 1945.
Q. How can you overcome the cultural shortage that you have highlighted?
R. I do not want to be presumptuous, but I cannot give an answer except the following: by stimulating the entrepreneurs to read in person at least my book which is the only marketing manual in the economic literature, simple in structure, easy to read, very pragmatic and, above all, written specially for the entrepreneurs who, having usually little time, have now the opportunity of a rapid learning about the universe of the concept and practice of marketing. You know that I am popularizing the marketing notion since long time. This time, however, I wanted to address the message, more specifically, to small-medium entrepreneurs. On the other hand, if the entrepreneur is not aware of that notion, he cannot invest in marketing people and, consequently, he cannot aspire to a company life most enduring and in progressive growth, in order to ensure new jobs.
Q. But it is an expensive function for small and medium businesses
R. I have often been asked this objection. No, the function of marketing does not cost too much. In fact, it costs very little to begin with. Just use common sense. Usually, a small to medium business owner, who has awareness of the concept and practice of marketing, does choose a good seller and asks him to sell for the 50% of his time and for the other 50% asks him to study the market, the behavior of competitors, to visit the trade fairs in order to find new competitive products, to create a data-base information of customers and competitors: all that with a view to employ him full-time when he will be able to prepare a marketing plan in three to five years in which the company may rely for its success.
Q. How is changed, in these times of prolonged recession, the action for the promotion and sale of products and services?
Who knows the marketing has quickly adapted the business to the globalized market, primarily large companies who know the marketing forever. Of course, there are also small and medium-sized businesses who are familiar with the tools of marketing: they are niche companies that have their clients also all over around the world.
All of these companies are well aware that in times of crisis, with shortage of purchases, it is essential to emphasize the quality of products and services, sometimes with little innovation, even with a simple, new product packaging.
As for the promotion, market-oriented companies cannot escape the basic rule not to cut completely the promotional activity, especially spending on advertising. The latter, in particular, can undergo a rationalization but must never be eliminated entirely, otherwise the forgetfulness of the product by consumers. Let\'s take an example of a company that produces wedding rings and knows that marriages are celebrated mainly in May and September. Well, if before the company had a full page of advertising in two trade magazines and appeared three times a month in May and September and twice in the other months, in times of economic crisis the same company may reduce the budget, for example by maintaining the same frequency in the same magazines but reducing half-page advertisements. The idea, in short, is never to clear the mind of customers and potential customers of the existence of the product.
Q. You articulate the importance of a strict relationship between marketing and leadership; is it still possible today to implement a leadership that allows companies not only to survive but also to try to grow? And if that is possible, why and how?
R. I make a premise. I do not share some abuse of foreign terms that many people are offering all the time during their public speeches. Examples include the Italian Minister of Labour that in a recent meeting with the young people, lost for the high rate of unemployment and the uncertain future, intended to utter a word of encouragement by telling them "don’t be " choosy " in searching a job”: the result was an immediate loud boo, just to express clear disapproval. The case speaks for itself. What else to say. Recently, the foreign terms abuse has proposed words and/or verbal phrases such as "spread", "spending review", "fiscal cliff", "election day", and so forth.
In the book, it is true, I exalt the word "leadership" because it is, objectively, a beautiful word, which infuses positivity. In fact, I tried to explain it with etymological references. It is still the case to point out that "lead" is synonymous with "guidance" or the person who knows the way, the goal, the goal of common interest. And "leadership" means art, skill in leading a group of business, community, the government of a country. Thus, a "leader" is a person who "guides", and does not command, a group or activity. The command, the chief, the dux have now obsolete references that recall the past when people were very often treated as slaves. Now, I hope that the word "leadership" will have the most luck in its practical application in every activity and within each group of people, as it happens in Anglo-Saxon countries.
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