What does PR Smith, or Paul Smith do?
Author, Speaker/Trainer & Advisor www.PRSmith.org + founder of SOSTAC® planning framework. Also founded the NFP Great Sportsmanship Programme to inspire youths through short stories about sportsmanship.
What route did you take to this role, i.e. what did you study in college, experience on the way?
B.Sc. (mngt) DIT, then I got my MII Graduateship studying at night (I had started working with a Belgian Multinational in Dublin). After two years, I was offered a position in our new London office, so I moved and watched a lot of live music almost every night! To avoid becoming an alcoholic, I signed up for evening classes: PG Dip Finance in Southbank Poly (now Uni). After that I wanted to do an MBA part-time but my multinational wouldn’t give me the half day off, so I resigned, started the MBA & simultaneously started marketing Christmas Crackers in the USA. This paid for my MBA and gave me confidence to market innovations (there were no crackers in the USA at the time!). I also started teaching accounting and marketing in five different locations in London – buzzing around on my Yamaha 125. I fell off three times in one day (I had never before, or after, fallen off a motorbike) – I learned that things happen in threes and got the final interview (re crackers) after sitting, sore and bruised in the rain in a puddle in a car park in Heathrow 30 minutes earlier [sounds like Monty Python ‘So you were lucky to be born in a cardboard box on a motorway’…!). Since then, I developed the SOSTAC® Planning framework and worked around the world in mostly innovative businesses.
How important do you think continued up-skilling and continuous professional development is to marketing?
Now, more than ever before, it is critical as (a) tech change is almost exponential (b) there is also a fundamental need for marketing orientated thinking and (c) refresh events/courses, like a book, if you get one great idea you win. If you get several – you are sucking the proverbial. Today, I am learning more about marketing than ever before – almost all free and online – continuously, everyday – trying to set aside time.
What benefits can attendees hope to obtain from attending your training course?
A solid crystal-clear logical structure for making plans and decisions amidst a chaotic fast-changing digital world. So, tools and techniques for digital marketing. Plus, the more general skills: how to write the perfect plan; how to make great decisions; how to reduce risk; how to create strategies; how to avoid classic errors.
What do you consider is the key criteria for training to be effective?
Enjoyable interaction and engagement with delegates. Carefully structured content.Memorable & actionable instruction (& content). Break everything down into actionable steps. Have reference material to look back on later when you need it. Measure where you are now (e.g. with your campaign results) then compare this to the results in the weeks, months, quarters and years to come. Also, an inquisitive mind requires confidence, so to gain confidence in what you are doing and be interested (and confident enough) to ask great questions to continually improve.
What do you believe are the challenges facing marketers today?
We create our own barriers by not talking turkey with the board and financial directors in particular. With digital, everything is much easier to measure e.g. ROI of a website, an app, AI bots, a campaign. Boards get this. We can now also quantify the value of our funnel – the financial value of a visitor, a prospect, a hot prospect, a customer and a lifetime customer. Also Sentiment Analysis and NPS, although criticised by some, but, they are numbers and boards like numbers. We have a screaming opportunity to break down this barrier and enter the boardroom. BTW don’t embarrass your FD in public but do ask: if he/she agrees that data is your greatest asset? When they say ‘yes’ ask them why isn’t in on the balance sheet then (in a friendly way). We are not the ‘colouring department’! We are the custodians of two of your three greatest assets: the brand and data. Help them understand this. One other challenge is of course keeping up with digital transformation, particularly, AI, and customer mind states (shortened attention spans, time poor, convenience driven and information fatigued customers).
What trends are shaping marketing strategies in 2019?
Integration of AI into marketing at all levels; Marketing Automation integrating with CRM; Developing constant beta culture (which may well be replaced by immediate AI predicting best campaigns, words, pictures, pitches – already happening). GDPR, of course, is good for marketing as it ensures we build and protect one of our greatest assets. Lifetime CX, Personalisation, Contact Strategies, ‘Always On’ campaigns, Audio search.
What are the current challenges and opportunities that marketers face around building long-term sustainable competitive advantage in 2019?
Harnessing AI (& bots), Data, IoT, AR/VR (& other new sensory experiences) & MA to add continuously add personalised value to the CX - also See Q6 & 7. Hyper competition is just warming up and the big data platforms are accelerating it. Beware of the Dark Web (see how it helped BREXIT & Trump www.PRSmith.org/blog ) & beware of rampant, unregulated use of AI & Data. Finally, purpose and human-centred marketing may determine the quality of employees you recruit.
And finally to whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
My co-author & founder of Smart Insights, Dave Chaffey; Ireland’s own Gerry McGovern; my client and friend, Dr. Eddie O’Conner and his latest outrageously innovative project www.SuperNode.Energy; Robert Pirsig (author Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), interviewing the late Professors Ted Levitt and Peter Doyle as part of the world’s first marketing training programme delivered on CDs (remember those?) and the late great Chris Berry with whom I had the privilege of sharing an office for 20 years and who still inspires me today.
Paul Smith is the lead on one of the Marketing Institute’s Marketing Strategy and Tactics course, taking place on 26th September 2019.