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Finding New Marketing Methods

Old ways of doing business just won’t cut it when the world is changing so fast, according to Rishad Tobaccowala, ’82, CEO of Denuo, a unit of Publicis Groupe, for which he is chief innovation officer.

For example, many companies still draft three-year plans. “But three years ago in the marketing world, did anybody actually figure out that their world would be rocked by things like iTunes, Google, MySpace, and YouTube? No,” he said. Tobaccowala was keynote speaker at the 2006 Marketing Conference hosted by the student-led Marketing Group November 7 at Gleacher Center.

Tobaccowala said the problem for most organizations has nothing to do with the level of their technology, but rather in outdated approaches. “The big challenge today is that we tend look at things the wrong way,” he said. Standard ways of thinking won’t work. “When somebody basically tells me, ‘Let’s write a 700-page plan and then think about it,’ I say, ‘I’m going to go find myself another client. You’re dead,’” he said.

Successful marketers need to define objectives numerically, with dollar figures or other benchmarks, Tobaccowala said Rather than solely considering return on investment, he said, “I prefer the term ‘return on objective,’” Tobaccowala said. He also recommended marketers reiterate the objectives often, keeping in mind that there is no “right way” to achieve them. “Never trust anybody who says you have to choose either one way or the other,” he added. As an example, Tobaccowala pointed to cell phones, also called “handsets” and “devices,” because they perform more than just one function, like taking photos or sending text messages.

Given the networked nature of the world, manufacturers need to be sure their products are compatible with products and systems from other companies. “This is your handshake to the world,” he said.
Tobaccowala also stressed the importance of authentic behavior. “We’re living in a transparent authentic world,” he said. “You can’t fake it anymore.”

– By Mary Sue Penn