No Sacred Cows

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”

general profiling

As a consultant engaged to devise a Marketing plan for an organisation, the temptation is great to recommend mighty changes from the status quo. After all, the recommendations must justify the fee. So, in many instances, change is for change’s sake and good things destined for the trash
along with the activities, mindsets and behaviour that have been hampering the organisation.
As the 1500s proverb cautions: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Having been involved with Sassda as chairperson of three sectors and as consultant on mining, water and pulp and paper, I think I know what makes Sassda tick, as well as what stands in the way of it being an extraordinary member-driven association. Does this association cast doubt
on my objectivity?

I hope not. Years of strategic consulting around the world, clients as varied as the People’s Republic of China (trying to become legitimate on world markets); the South African Breweries (preparing to become a post-apartheid world player); American Brands (embodying the definitive American entreprenurial spirit), does foster critical objectivity.

So it was, in March and April this year, I spent 20 days immersed in things Sassda.

Marketing is NOT JUST media and promotions, I learned long ago. It is the ‘gestalt’ of everything an organisation does that impinges on its target markets, from the manner in which the phone is answered, how meetings are conducted, products and services offered, to the tone of its communications.

The ‘gestalt’ I found at Sassda was rich indeed.

Instead of ‘coasting’ on the ‘Back to Basics’ columbus stainlesspragmatism of recent years, new Executive Director,
John Tarboton, with his rich experience in stainless steel metallurgy and foreign marketing, brought his quiet but assured leadership to bear on the motivation of the Sassda team and engaging with members. What I found, to my delight, is a small team of persons dedicated to serving the needs of Sassda’s most important target market, its members. Each Sassda team person has a visitation schedule to ensure regular visits to Sassda members.

As previously reported, John also made an in-depth study of not-for-profit organisations around the world (to ascertain what makes for extraordinary operations) and initiated a long-overdue Member Satisfaction Survey to which more than half of all Sassda members responded. The results provide a very clear picture of member needs.

This, together with the direction provided by the Strategy Session in January and useful information from Sassda staffers and elected officers, gave me an abundance of Sassda-pertinent information, true grist for my marketing plan determination mill.

After examining virtually every aspect of the Sassda operation that could affect target market perceptions of the association, I was very pleased to report that it is now in very good shape apart from its POSITIONING (how an organisation presents itself in order to be perceived by target markets the way it wants). The new positioning concept, the prioritisation and measurement of activities the addition of member-engaging activities/events and the addition of important target markets really differentiate the new plan from previous plans.

So, no, the baby never went out with the bathwater!*nd engineering

We can’t truly use the proverb, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but Sassda did come pretty close.
From now on Sassda is definitely on course to make it the extraordinary organisation John Tarboton believes it can be, especially since its Board and Main Committee has given full backing to an ED and his team who subscribe to two important English proverbs: “Fortune favours the brave” and “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Following is a brief overview of the Marketing Plan presented to the Sassda Main Committee on 6 May 2015 and approved by the Sassda Board of Directors for implementation in 2015/6. The unabridged version is to be found on the Sassda website.

Sassda Marketing Plan Overview – 2015/6
The Marketing Plan supports the Memorandum of Incorporation, Purpose Statement, Core Value Proposition and the Strategic Thrusts agreed at the January 2015 Strategy Review Session.

The principal Marketing objectives are:

1. Increasing awareness of stainless steel in Sassda’s target markets
2. Raising the profile of Sassda (the Association)

The markets will be ‘reached’ via Promotion and Marketing, Education and Training, the raising of Sassda’s Profile,
A strong positioning platform will allow for the creation of resonant advertising and other communications. The intention is to have messages that stand out of the ruck, creative yet with to-the-point messages. A major thrust in this messaging will be Life Cycle Costing (LCC).

Many more matters will be handled under this heading, including improved Sassda corporate identity, the staging of stainless steel conferences, ‘edu-fun’ events, industry-specific competitions, improved physical facilities, project house involvement (e.g. in-house stainless steel presentations), conference speaker engagements, industry editorial programme, etc.

Using an extremely effective range of training courses, Sassda will expand target audiences to include specifiers and end-users. This has already met with very positive results from architecture firms. Project houses and universities will be targeted.

Probably the most important aspect in raising Sassda’s profile will be the increased perception of Sassda as THE stainless steel knowledge base. A public relations campaign will generate increased awareness of stainless steel and its attributes (especially LCC). This will be complemented by advertising and a major general interest promotion.

Other areas of attention in the Marketing Plan include the identifying of new products and applications which could result in the growth of stainless steel conversion, continued involvement in the dti’s African trade fair programme and a review of Sassda Sector activity to increase real value to members.

The Sassda team is confident that the Marketing Plan implementation will deliver real value for members and result in Sassda becoming the ‘extraordinary organisation’ it should be.

Kent M. Keith may have been right in saying: “Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”

I favour Walt Disney’s philosophy: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Let’s begin!

*NOTE: This derives from a German proverb, das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten. The earliest record of this phrase is in 1512, in Narrenbeschwörung (Appeal to Fools) by Thomas Murner in whose book is the depicted woodcut illustration showing a woman tossing a baby out with waste water. It is a common catchphrase in German. Later, it was associated with the abolition of slavery, but without the loss of labour that slavery offered.

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