Saturday, 9 July 2011

Master Marketer - Interview with Prof. Malcolm McDonald

I am delighted to post this exclusive interview with marketing super star - Emeritus Professor Malcolm H.B. McDonald MA(Oxon), MSc, PhD, D.Litt. FCIM FRSA.

Malcolm, author of 43 books, was Professor of Marketing and Deputy Director Cranfield School of Management, is a graduate in English from Oxford University, in Business Studies from Bradford University Management Centre,  has a PhD from Cranfield University and a D.Litt from BradfordUniversity .  His extensive industrial experience includes a number of years as Marketing Director of Canada Dry.

He is Chairman of Brand Finance plc and five other companies. He spends much of his time working globally with the operating boards of the world’s biggest multinational companies.

In 2006 he was  listed by the Times as one of the country’s top ten consultants

He is Visiting Professor at HenleyWarwick, Aston and Bradford Business Schools and Emeritus Professor at Cranfield

Question 1: You are well known as a prolific author – particularly in the area of Marketing Planning. What attracted you to focus on this area

Although my first degree from Oxford University was in English Language and Literature, I couldn’t afford to go into teaching so got a job as a graduate trainee with an international company and then became a Salesman, then an Area Manager and then a Marketing and Sales Manager. I then decided to complete a Masters Degree in  Business and it seemed natural to focus on marketing. Then having served as Sales and Marketing Director for Canada Dry for a number of years, I wanted to pass my knowledge and experience to others, so I entered the Academic community,

Question 2: You have spoken and written on many occasions about the lack of relevant Market Segmentation in companies. Why do you think this is? How can they improve?

There are many scholarly studies that attest to the fact that market segmentation is the basis of successful strategy. The problem is, it is quite complex, both intellectually and in practice! Until it is taught properly in business schools and on marketing courses – which is not the case currently – it will continue to be a problem.  If you look at our perennially successful companies like Tesco, P&G, 3M and the like, you will find that successful market segmentation lies at the heart of their success.

Question 3: Digital Marketing and, in particular, Social Media seem to be ‘the Next Big Thing’. Are marketers getting carried away with the hype, and how can these tools and techniques be used the most effectively?

There is so much rubbish (hype) talked about new media, that the whole domain has become a bit like a fad. All technology has done is enable consumers to have more choice and to enjoy greater access to data. But consumers haven’t changed at all and unless suppliers segment their markets properly and understand the media and channel preferences of people in each segment, they will continue to be bamboozled by such media. Having done this, companies need to develop proper objectives and strategies for communication through these media.

Question 4: Why hasn’t marketing been recognised for the value it can create? Why isn’t marketing better represented in the boardroom?

The principle reason is that the barriers to entry to the profession are low and marketing as a discipline has been defined in such broad terms that in the UK alone, there are about a million so-called Marketers. The trouble is that few are professionally qualified, hence are seen by non-marketers as charlatans and indeed, most are. Until we have a critical mass of Chartered Marketers  (via CIM) – in my view, a minimum of 20,000 – only then can we lobby boards of directors to insist on professional qualifications for their hires. Just like the professions such as Accountants, we need to get ourselves into a position where we can INSIST that the only people in marketing who can call themselves “professionals” are those who are licensed to practice by the professional body. Above all, marketers have to learn to speak the language of the boardroom and in particular they must learn to justify financially the substantial sums they are accountable for.

Question 5: What advice would you give the Marketers who wish to increase their value and career prospects, and become more effective and efficient?

This is simple to answer. They must get themselves professionally qualified, preferably via a CIM qualification such as the Postgraduate Diploma. They can then proceed to become Chartered Marketers.

Additional resources.

For more information about Malcolm and his work visit; – presents the services provided by Professor McDonald and his team of consultants. – provides an overview of the market segmentation process developed by Professor McDonald and Ian Dunbar. – is about the marketing simulator developed by Professor McDonald and Ed Bradford used for training individuals, businesses, schools and universities in strategic marketing. – for the range of marketing books authored by Professor McDonald.

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