Thursday, March 5, 2009

Arizona not marketing itself to Fortune 500 firms

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, January 19, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

I love marketing. When The Arizona Republic recently ran a headline: "Marketing pro makes the business case for hospice," mentioning Gordon Fitzgerald, I immediately got on the phone to contact him. Don't know if it was years of reporting, or being a reporter for Billboard magazine, I just naturally think I can talk to anyone on the phone, including Jimmy Carter.

Maybe that's why a few years ago I called my hero, Philip Kotler, the man who wrote the book, literally, on marketing. Kotler defines marketing as "The societal marketing concept holds that the organization's task is to determine the needs, wants and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors, in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's and the society's well-being."

Fitzgerald explained that he grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich.. Talking to him made me realize that states like Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, which have many times the corporate headquarters as Arizona, have better marketers. Arizona only has three Fortune 500 headquarters. Thankfully one of those is in northeast Phoenix, Allied Waste.

When I went into marketing 30 years ago, I had a disadvantage. I had a journalism degree and newspaper experience. I had to learn a whole new world. I ran to some of the leading experts, including Alan Center in San Diego, the man who literally wrote the book on public relations. I got an MBA in marketing. Fortunately my marketing professor, Jim Meiggs, who moved from Denver with many corporate headquarters, to Detroit, with even more headquarters, ended up retiring to Sedona several years ago. Meiggs became my biggest marketing mentor and resource.

I threw myself into this passion of learning all I could about marketing. Too bad I haven't found that the case with many marketers in Arizona. I have met marketers at the vice president level, making high six figure incomes, who don't even know the 4-Ps of marketing, Price, Product, Promotion and Position (place). I have often had to explain what position is.

Even Fitzgerald sees the lack of marketing finesse in Arizona. The Republic noted in its opening sentence, "Hospice care could be marketed better, Gordon Fitzgerald says."

Recently I read a book by financial author and radio show host Dave Ramsey. Arizona is home to another financial expert, Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Both Kiyosaki and Ramsey agree on the advice: Get as much financial education as possible.

Getting as much education applies to those plying the marketing craft in Arizona. Marketers should make sure their companies review marketing plans annually. Corporations -- and government -- should make sure their marketing people are as passionate about marketing as Gordon Fitzgerald is. They should be reading blogs, books, attending conferences and seminars. So many marketers in Arizona are ignoring the words of author Tony Hillerman, who impressed upon me, "Stay current."

What I have seen in Arizona is a lack of marketing research. Marketing cannot be done from a gut level or from "experience." Without quantitative data, a company is losing money.

I have seen too many companies hiring or promoting marketers whose background is as a secretary or similar experience. They aren't even reaching to the level of retired teachers or professors for marketing hires. There's at least one well-known corporate headquarters in Phoenix that utilizes this practice. It is doing well in its field, but imagine how much superior it'd be if they hired real marketing professionals.

Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation, but the state can only boast of three Fortune 500 companies. It appears someone is not doing their marketing by bringing more headquarters here or creating greater wealth for the ones we have to get them on the Fortune list. Arizona's representation on this list has actually fallen in the past decade.