Return of the intermediary …..

Thought this article in the Independent fascinating.  Having spent years consulting on how to take out the “middleman” with lots of market maps and analysis of value we now seem to be moving to an era where the intermediary is a very significant source of value.  This suggests all sorts of intriguing ideas…..



In search of the Growth Hacker….


Sometimes things just creep up on you don’t they? I’m currently looking at what I need in terms of new staff for a major development push at work and someone I trust said “You need a Growth Hacker!” Yes, they even said it with an exclamation mark.

Never heard of it. But when I investigated it’s clearly me being slow. Assuming there are even slower people than me out there I thought, having now looked it up and reflected upon it a little, I’d blog about it.

Wikipedia defines it as follows : Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure”. A little more digging shows it as well established (on 4/5/14 I found 484,000 hits on the big G for the phrase “growth hacking” and over 500 jobs for “Growth Hacker” on However, it’s clear that the job description has not really settled down yet as the salary ranges are:

‪$40,000+ (230)

‪$60,000+ (164)

‪$80,000+ (86)

‪$100,000+ (33)

‪$120,000+ (12)

In addition to have a look at this website wide for other jobs around this cluster of ideas:

Given the variety in salary ranges and the evangelical language around some of the job descriptions out there (e.g “Growth Hacking is a relatively new discipline that is part marketer, part developer and part magician. The Growth Hacker moves the needle in a major way and has the primary focus of gathering new users by leveraging technology” ) does this new job title makes any sense?

The May to August 2014 internship mentioned in the previous paragraph identifies a really interesting set of characteristics applicants must have:

 – You must have a hustler-like personality. (Think Steve Jobs-like obsession with product, Seth Godin-like ability to know people, and Tim O’Reilly-like belief in data. )

– Javascript

Here are the common characteristics:

– Constant learner

– Aggressive at moving the needle

– Obsessed with moving the needle

– Enjoys pushing the limits (Dan Martell -“TOS are secondary to growth hackers”)

– Lives and breathes product

– Creative problem solver ( Jim Young “Its an art and science”)

– Everything is about growth (Hesky Kutscher “Why do you build anything that does not help you grow?”)

– Hunter-like instincts

Hmmm…. Every organisation needs most of this so I will looking to see how this job title develops and where it fits in the strategy-tactics continuum. It’s not quite what I’m looking for in the post I’m currently devising but it sure makes me think broader about the future.  Will growth hacking drive an organisation forwards or fade away as a subset of a marketing job description? Is it a social media marketer on steroids or a “big data” manager getting strategic?  Is it a new post for a new era?


A useful indicator of leadership…..

Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho  is turning out to be quite a philosopher and leader/business coach. There is a lot for us to learn from his recent comment below:

 “When people say he (Ibrahamovic) has a difficult personality, for me the difficult personalities are the players who don’t want to win, to work, to be the best. He wants to win, to work, to be the best. He has a big ego, big self-esteem, so for me to be his coach was no problem. We are… friends. We will stay like that. We respect each other.”

 There is something quite important in this. The special one indeed. Hope someone somewhere is collecting the wisdom of Mr M.


Thoughts of a MOOCer

I’m currently maximizing those small spaces in life which could be boring by getting up to speed with how MOOCs operate and looking for their role in executive education.   So in the quiet late evening in hotels, the odd moments when an Iphone download could be watched and those moments in my home office when my brain needs a change of focus I’ve been enrolled for 4 MOOCS – three Coursera and one FutureLearn.  One is essentially finished (Duke University – history and future of mainly higher education) one is a few weeks in (University of Rochester– the music of the Beatles) and I’ve just completed the first week for a third (UEA – the secret power of brands).  Yes, I did say 4 earlier … but the 4th was so bad that I’ve decided to allow it to rest in peace.  It may well have been my fault in not really understanding what it was all about that made it such a bad experience!  Two weeks in I un-enrolled.

Overall I’ve been pretty impressed though with what I’ve seen.   Clearly MOOCs  are a little flaky around the edges with, for instance, differences in sound and picture quality even within modules. Some sections of individual MOOCs have obviously been quickly put together, but in general I am learning useful things.

Assessment is an interesting dimension to MOOCs.   In the ones I’ve enrolled for assessment is pretty basic and not always well thought out.  However, the value of these things is currently in learning rather than awards.   Robust assessment has a long way to go when I’ve been allowed up to ten attempts at an assessment quiz.  Sometimes there is no loss of marks for simply choosing another option in multiple choice and sometimes there is.  Sometimes the questions are simply crazy as assessments.  Look at the following question then think about it.

What are the four types of paradigm changes in higher education that we have discussed? Check all that apply.





This lack of robustness in assessment is perhaps understandable when anyone can join up  – there is no student selection by the course leaders.  Such selection would be really difficult given that tens of thousands have joined up to each of the MOOCs I’m following.  Assessment is basic and the cynic would suggest this is to encourage students to pay for the extra certification that is available as, for instance, “signature” track.  A more positive view would say that this is part of providing an inclusive education and anyway, many who MOOC do so for the knowledge and learning rather than any award.  This category would include me.  However, should MOOCs wish to offer respectable awards then there is a huge amount of work to do here.

Peer assessments are pretty basic within the MOOCs and it is unlikely that you are going to fail fellow students who you have never seen unless it is a truly dire piece of work.  However, maybe that is the way it should be?  In addition I found myself assessing peer work in a very superficial way nowhere near the approach I have taken when assessing MBA, MSc or undergraduate work at universities I have worked for.  This is not a huge problem as the assessment is made possible for anyone to do regardless of whether they have ever assessed anything in their life before or not.      MOOCing has to be fitted around an already busy week for most of us and there is always going to be the temptation to simply tick the boxes as complying with basic assessment criteria and move on.

The online forums and wikis have been reasonably well, and responsibly, used.  It is clear from the comments on these just how international the MOOC audience is and I have absorbed some insights from the posts.    This approach does provide some degree of interactivity, as do the opportunities for people in specific geographic areas to create their own meet-ups.  Such interactivity needs to be developed even further.  For example, the otherwise excellent FutureLearn “Secret power of brands”, disappoints a little by having a significant number of slideshows of slidesets which do not even have a voiceover never mind a video presenter.

In summary, I think that MOOCs are likely to turn out to be a very useful addition to the executive education kitbag of options.   Now off to think about what that means for my new role and perhaps even influence they way they are adopted by executive education……..


New marketing workshop by Terry

On 20th March I am running a full day marketing workshop – “Strategic marketing planning in uncertain times: making the most of the recovery” –  at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich.  Fee: £350 per delegate.  Contact me for further details.    Expect leading edge thinking made practical.  This workshop will look at what is currently working for companies and will be a very interactive day.  

If you need a great overview of current marketing thinking and some practical tools and techniques for planning your way into the recovery’s quick wins then this could well be a great workshop for you to attend.

Now this is how to lecture on marketing…… thanks Steve

Even though NeXT workstations only sold about 50000 their imprint is in many later Apple products.  Just watch Steve talk here … the world changed around him so it didn’t succeed in quite the way it was hoped for.   However, his instincts are good and his lecturing style is clear and is as good as his more feted presentation skills.   Respect.

(Update:  I see the orginal video has now been taken down but have 2/1/14 chased another copy down on youtube.  If this goes too then it’s worth chasing it around youtube)



Making strategic marketing choices



I’m currently in the Middle East running marketing planning in-company workshops and thought I’d share my favourite marketing planning tool – the Directional Policy Matrix (DPM).  This is an excellent Professor Malcolm McDonald adaption of the GE/McKinsey matrix.  There’s a picture here of one we started to create earlier this week.

Why do I think this diagram is the core of marketing planning?  Well the two axes are essentially “Where’s the best business?” (Market Attractiveness) and “What’s our chances of winning it?” (Business Strengths).  Just what we need to know before making our final strategic choices, offer development, and priorities for the coming period

To be able to even plot these two axes the marketer needs to have a good understanding of the customers and competitors (Business Strengths model) and even more for the other axis he or she needs to understand just what makes good business for us (Market Attractiveness model) and our current strategies (to inform a weighting).

Once we can plot these with defendable information inputs we then have a one page summary diagram of our investment options to achieve marketing objectives.  And once we challenge the positioning of each plot and future potential, the outputs from the diagram will be chosen strategies based on a deep understanding of the business environment and our best options for the coming planning period and maybe beyond.

If you need a good strategic investment appraisal tool to help you choose between alternative possibilities I can’t think of a better tool to do the job than a DPM.   It will give you an excellent basis for the development of effective marketing strategies.  Check out Malcolm McDonald’s book on marketing plans published by Butterworth Heinemann  for a clear outline of how to construct a DPM.  See


Two recent books on decision making worth a read

Daniel Kahneman’s 2012 popular bestseller “Thinking Fast and Slow” is based on over 30 years academic research into decision making under uncertainty and has a large dose of practical heuristics and biases within its pages.  It’s a great read.  Get someone to buy it for you if you haven’t read it.

Hot on the heels of the success of Kahneman’s book it now seems that those responsible for UK competition policy are being encouraged to take more account of the impact of heuristics and biases and other behavioural economics effects.  A new book by UEA’s Centre for Competition Policy (CCP), launched tomorrow on 27th November 2013 at the Competition Commission, offers an interesting set of perspectives in this area.

You can get a free download of the book at:  and it is worth a read if you have any interest at all in the many influences on our bounded rationality and flawed decision making powers.  I’ve recently finished teaching my MBA course in Strategic Risk Management and it is surprisingly easy to make people doubt their rationality after exercises in such things as anchoring, and framing!  Both the Kahneman and CCP books will help us all understand why this is.

… another big ad, subtle message

Hot on spotting the Smith and Nephew approach to marketing by association with your customers I see Google India doing a great subtle emotional short film/ad showing what their customers do with their product and the outcomes.  Looks like a new subtle marketing wave forming?  SM – Subtle Marketing.  You heard it here first. .