Archive for June, 2011

Bax Interaction fine tunes its own marketing with a brand new website

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Bax Interaction’s new in tune website goes live today!

Bax Interaction, a Cambridge based marketing research, strategy and training consultancy, has launched a brand new website to clearly articulate its key services and showcase its capabilities.
The new site launched today has been created by Nextnorth using new platform technology, graphics and site map.

The previous site had been in place since 2007 and was seen by the company as increasingly dated and out of alignment with current web and marketing thinking. Its extensive use of Flash meant that there were problems viewing it on any Apple based devices and some of the other ways in which the site worked did not meet current best practice.

A key objective for the new site is to reposition the company to more closely match its capabilities to the needs and wants of its marketplace. The overall aims of the business are to fine tune the marketing strategies and activities of its clients. This is shown visually in the imagery used within the site. For example, a set of bass guitar tuners on the homepage shows the tuning aspects of the company’s services as well as being a clear link to the musical passions of the company’s MD, the importance of accuracy and adjustment are depicted in kitesurfing and surfing imagery and the need for marketing research to be highly-targeted and focused is shown by an archer on one of the new services pages ‘The Quest’(a fast, cost effective, questionnaire checking service).

A further objective was to bring some personality into the design to avoid it looking like yet another corporate marketing consultancy site.

Steve Bax explained the scale of the task set for the web design agency. “This was a tough brief for Andrew Clark at Nextnorth to undertake. The need to bring the personalities of the people involved together with the services being provided is not easy from a design perspective. I think that Andrew has achieved exactly what was envisaged from the original brief. The use of imagery that reflects both the nature of the services being offered and some of my personal passions, that are reflected in the ethos of the company, brings the site to life and clearly shows why Bax Interaction is different.”

Andrew Clark from Nextnorth said “Steve presented us with an interesting challenge of communicating Bax Interaction’s core business competencies through a vibrant and highly personal interface. We are delighted that the new website delivers on this objective as well as providing a flexible platform to expand the company’s business reach through the use of social media and targeted online services.”

Unusually for a marketing consultancy website, there are a number of guarantees being offered to reflect the confidence that the company has in its services. Bax Interaction is prepared to guarantee that following its recommendations will result in measurable, improved marketing effectiveness.

As a specialist marketing company openly averse to what it calls “should do” marketing this is a clear endorsement by Bax Interaction of the importance of having an effective, up to date website in the promotional mix.

Research – what is it good for?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Research – what is it good for?
Ever since Henry Ford uttered his immortal critique of market research “If I had asked people what they wanted, they’d have told me a faster horse” – the business world has been divided on whether it is instinct or painstaking market research that is the key to commercial success

Market research remains a sizeable industry. ESOMAR estimate in their industry report (1) that the market was worth some $28.9 billion in 2009. The UK alone was worth $3.2 billion or 11% of the global market. Globally, the manufacturing sector is the largest user taking 46% of turnover in 2009.

With research so important to many sectors, why is it that it seems to be such a taboo word with so many organisations that I speak with?
We wouldn’t go on holiday without looking at brochures, online, recommendations or reviews. We wouldn’t buy a car without exploring the options, road testing it and so on. We wouldn’t buy a house without looking at it, exploring the area, talking to neighbours, looking at schools nearby etc…
So why do we so often leave all of this good sense behind us in the workplace?

We tend to assume we know our markets – we assume we know what our customers’ wants and needs are and we assume that we are satisfying them! But are we?
There is a danger in making assumptions.

Latest estimates by Lightspeed (2) indicate that nearly 30% of all humans use the internet. Market research has been rocked by this – ESOMAR statistics show that 26% of total research spend in the UK in 2009 was on online research.

What has also clearly grown is the use of DIY online market research. This, of course, is not visible in the above statistics! It is hidden in overhead costs within those organisations using it.

Unfortunately, when DIY research is done badly it causes an increase in research ‘fatigue’ – people get tired of poorly designed questionnaires and it can encourage those who would have us believe that research only tells us what we already know.

There are other issues too – Changes in Data Protection regulation are happening now. If you are undertaking DIY research the onus of complying with these is on you.
Nevertheless, my view is that any research is better than none.
Providing you are complying with the core principles of being transparent and gaining agreement to what you’re doing from those that you are seeking to get data from – you are largely doing the right things.

I think DIY research is here with us to stay. The ability to reach our customers and target customers easily online is just too tempting to ignore. The secret is to use the services of researchers like us to get a professional critique of your approach. We are launching a brand new service called The Quest which does just this – quickly, easily and cost effectively.

Marketing and market research can answer a wide range of key questions for us:-

• What, where and when our customers and potential customers buying?

• Who is buying and, equally importantly, who isn’t?

• How does our organisation compare with our competitors?

• Why do our customers respond to some promotions and not others?

• What would customers and potential customers do if we changed the price, if we launched a new product or service, if we undertook a new campaign and so on?

• What do our customers REALLY think about us?

• What is happening in the marketplace and the business environment?

Primarily, research is about reducing risk. It can save you money.

If marketing is about matching an organisation’s capabilities to the needs and wants of its marketplace(s) then improving our understanding of how well we are doing that is vital.

It is the difference between bumping around in the dark trying to find the right way ahead or putting all the lights on and being able to see exactly where to go.

Undertake research, your future business or organisation’s success depends on it. By all means do your own research but do seriously consider getting advice on doing it well. Think about the key issues you need to explore in your organisation and market setting. What is it you need to know? Perhaps it is as simple as finding out what your customers and potential customers really think about you! But whatever it is seek the help of research specialists. They will be able to suggest the best way to research the issues you face.

In my experience – those that do marketing research are more successful than those that don’t.

Article by Steve Bax, Managing Director of Bax Interaction, originally published in on Brand magazine published by MOBAS Spring Summer 2011


1. Global Market Research 2010. ESOMAR Industry Report in cooperation with KPMG Advisory.

2. The Rise and Future of Online Research. David Day. Lightspeed Ahead Newsletter. Accessed 15.12.2010

What is marketing anyway?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

What is marketing anyway?

Sounds like a line from an old Howard Jones song – “What is Love?”

There are numerous definitions of this word marketing. Here are just some of them.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines it as

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably

What do we think of that one?

It sounds reasonable but does it set marketers aside in any way from anyone else in business?

A friend of mine, an ex Chairman of a board of directors that I sat on, said just this to me last week . He said “Isn’t that just good business practice? It is certainly what I do as a MD of a company. It is common sense to make sure that you are satisfying customer needs and doing so in a profitable way.” I have to say he is right so we need to look further.

The American Marketing Association revisits its definition every five years . Its last review was in 2007 and their definition is currently:-

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large

How about that?

Sounds a little closer to how non-marketers might think of marketing perhaps? Key words like ‘creating, communicating and offerings that have value’ all sound like how marketers might speak about their profession.

Still sounds like just good business practice though doesn’t it? What is marketing’s point of difference then? Where is there any mention of mutual benefit? A key missing element for me is the need for there to be some form of explicit mention of benefit to the organisation (institution(s)) that are doing all of this. Otherwise, for them, what is the point?

Philip Kotler stated ,in his book ‘Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control’ Seventh Edition published in 1991, “We like the following definition of marketing: Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging products of value with others.”

Very good but what does it mean to non academics and non marketers? For example, is there not a confusion between ‘need’ and ‘want’? There is much discussion recently that marketing aims to create ‘wants’ that might or might not address a need or needs. Do we really need an iPhone, for example? We can probably try to justify that we do but many of us just want one!

One of my key clients, in the professional services sector, recently stressed just how important this distinction is. She pointed out that many firms can provide what the client ‘needs’ e.g. audits, accounts, tax returns and so on and there is a tendency to focus on ‘selling’ these things to win new clients. However, she said “… the angle for marketing is to find out what clients want and then look at how the firm can deliver that better than anyone else.” This is finding a real point of difference.

So are we any closer to a definition that is crystal clear and explains what marketing is?

Perhaps we need to look elsewhere?

Malcolm McDonald stated in his book, ‘Marketing Plans: How to prepare them: How to use them?’ Second Edition published in 1989, that the marketing concept is “Basically, the central idea of marketing is of a matching between a company’s capabilities and the wants of customers in order to achieve the objectives of both parties.”

Any clearer?

I like the ideas of matching and of some form of mutual benefit.

He also wrote

“Finding out what the customer wants and providing it!”

Short and to the point but it could still be applied to a product development or sales person’s role couldn’t it?

My marketing lecturer , Stephen Godwin, back in the 80’s described marketing as:-

“Matching supply and demand for a mutually beneficial exchange”

As you can see this very much reflects a TWO WAY process


I like this too and have probably used this definition more than any others but does this really elevate marketing above good business management practice?

It may be easier to look at what marketing ISN’T!

Here is a short list

1. Marketing is NOT just about selling as Theodore Levitt explains:

”Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the NEEDS OF THE CUSTOMER by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with the creating, delivering and finally consuming it.”

This is clear to me!

2. It is NOT just ‘promotion’ or ‘advertising’.

A number of my clients over the years have said to me words to the effect of “ Oh, I didn’t realise that you were going to advise me on what to do with my staff and my internal processes. I thought you were just going to advise me on my promotional activities!”

These comments are often made by successful business owners or directors so if they don’t fully understand what marketing is!.

3. It is NOT ‘rocket science’!

There is a wide array of models, many of which are very powerful in delivering effective marketing strategies, but they can cause non-marketers to see marketing as ‘smoke and mirrors’. The principles of good marketing i.e. establishing where you and your target market are now and what you can do to get to where you want to be are sound and no more complex than any other forms of planning.

4. It is NOT just jargon!

Experienced marketers do know what they are doing! They have learnt both from academics as well as from their own and others experiences how to match an organisation’s capabilities with its chosen markets. Like many other professions, we can suffer from overuse of jargon. This does not help our cause.

5. But..there is no magic formula!

I often find that clients expect a magic wand to be waved and then everything will be fine. This is unrealistic – marketing cannot work magic. It can help to prioritise what an organisation should and should not be doing to address the issues found from looking at ‘where are we now?’ (the marketing audit). But the organisation still needs to take decisions, act, review and adjust plans as needed and accept the core principles of good marketing practice into its culture. Not always an easy task by any means.

6. It is NOT ‘party planning’!

One of my favourites! Obviously said ‘tongue in cheek’ but it is clearly what some organisations believe the marketing function to be. If you have read this far you are probably staggered by this perception from non-marketers but it can be what marketers are up against. For the record, marketing is not just about organising small events at the whim of company management!

So what aspects of marketing actually work? Why is it so important? If we ignore definitions and perceptions for a moment, let’s think about this:-

a) Planning works .

It really does. How can we know if we have got there if we didn’t know where we were going?

b) Keeping to a long term strategy works.

Sticking to the plan is generally the best way to realise your goals as an organisation.

c) Ensuring that you recognise that marketing is not just about promotion works.

Again, it really helps to consciously try to change your own perceptions as to what marketing is and what it can do. Then try to educate others by example as well as with the theories.

d) Having the right products or services at the right price, at the right time, with the right people and skills and the right processes, being in the right markets and knowing what your competitors are doing works!

e) Creative use of communications really works

To try to summarise all of this

So over to the adapted Howard Jones song line once again “What is marketing anyway?”

Here is another attempt at a definition that still works for the 21st Century:-

Marketing is ‘Matching your capabilities to identified market needs and wants for a mutually beneficial exchange’

Do we really need to worry over complex definitions though? Perhaps the last few words should go to Peter Drucker which are still so relevant today.

“…the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”

“Marketing is so basic that is cannot be considered a separate function. It is the whole business (or organisation?) seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the CUSTOMER’S point of view.”