“Growth is Magic!” Not my words, but the conclusion of McKinsey and Co in a recent article that examined the factors most correlated with creation of shareholder value and long-term business success. Data shows that growing companies have lower costs, better margins, superior employee morale, an appreciating share price – and demonstrably longer CEO tenure. Its hard to disagree with McKinsey – growth is magic! So why aren’t we better at it? It’s a strange paradox that, despite its crucial importance, many companies are downright bad at positioning themselves for sustained profitable growth. A recent Bain survey concluded that “9 out of 10 management teams fail to grow their companies profitably” while, even more shockingly, academic and author James Allen found that “90% of companies fail to hit the growth targets in their annual reports”.
To kick of the Marketing Society event series for 2018 in Hong Kong, we gathered to hear and discuss the “Growth Director’s Secret” with Andy Brent, author of the book of the same name. Over an early morning breakfast, we were all keen to hear what the big secret was. Through his marketing career at blue-chip companies in the UK and Hong Kong, combined with recent research for the book, Andy believes he has discovered the secret to what companies need to do to drive sustainable, profitable growth. Much needed given “most companies are surprisingly bad at delivering it . . . only around 10% of companies grow profitably for any sustained period”. So, what is the big secret? “The key to sustained, profitable growth is becoming the default autopilot choice for your target customers”.
Over a clear Hong Kong skyline and pretty good scrambled eggs, Andrew Brent kicked off the Marketing Society’s first event of 2018, Under the Spotlight: The Growth Director's Secret. With CMO tenure at Boots, Barclays and PARKnSHOP under his belt and with his book shortlisted for a slew of top awards, there aren’t many more equipped to be placed under the spotlight. Like many, Andy has come to view the behavioural sciences and, more specifically, the dual process function of decision making (system one and system two, thinking fast and thinking slow, etc.) as the key to unlocking more effective marketing strategy. He’s by no means the first to point out that fallacy of appealing to our rational Mr Spock, while allowing our irrational Homer Simpson instincts to run riot in the shopping aisle. What differentiates Andy's approach (and what prevents it from feeling like another spoke on the Kahneman bandwagon) is the ambition of its application.
10 things to see in our Clubhouse by our editor, Elen Lewis.
The average person’s thumb scrolls through 300ft of feed every day. That’s the height of the Statue of Liberty. I know this because I attended a Facebook talk recently and I paid attention, instead of scrolling through my phone. Thumbs are pretty cool. Or, to give them their correct, loftier description: opposable thumbs are pretty cool. Opposable thumbs, I seem to remember, were why the cats in that strange Cravendale ad from several years ago were so wrought with jealousy. Because, if cats had them, they’d be able to open the backdoor and get to the milk. Instead, cats have claws, which means they can open human flesh (if you don’t serve them the milk like a good human). Don’t pity them. Apologies, I’ve gone off on a tangent, a bit like when you’re looking at Instagram one second then suddenly find yourself scrolling through The Glamorgan Gazette’s gallery of an ‘elegantly wasted’ Santa the next. …Just me?