50 THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN 50 YEARS OF MARKETING
By Greg Hoyos
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday August 9, 2018 – In my earlier advertising agency days, I would ride on clients’ delivery trucks, tagging along as they visited the retail trade, watching the relationship between the shop staff and the delivery teams. Often their rapport and deep connection was the difference between getting a bigger order or a more favourable shelf position than the competition. And these personal connections were more important than our expensive ad campaigns or brilliant strategy. It was a humbling lesson—one I’ve never forgotten.
We also used to roam supermarket aisles and chat up the store packers—the folks who actually put the products on the shelves—and decide how many facings to give each brand; they were always a fount of valuable merchandising information. Again, they could make or break your brand, and they were wonderful sources of vital retail insights.
Normally we focus on marketing front-runners – the CMOs, the Ad Men, the various team leaders whom we celebrate for their acumen and brilliance. They are indeed worthy of acknowledgement and praise (or criticism when they make the wrong decisions).
But all too often we forget the people down the marketing chain—the ones who actually make sales happen. I’m referring to the distributors, the salespeople, the merchandisers and so on. These people never seem to get any recognition, yet they are truly the unsung heroes, getting the product out to where consumers can actually buy it.
After all, a brilliant strategy is useless if people can’t get their hands on the item.
My wife and I were nominating brands which you can find anywhere in the world. We came up with personal care: Revlon, Colgate, Vaseline, Gillette. The very ubiquity of these brands is a testament to the teams of distributors working, unheralded, every day.
Today, it’s more and more the armies of Amazon shelf-pickers and warehouse staff who find and ship our products, still unappreciated and still fundamental to marketing success.
So let’s hear it for the thousands of people down the line, who are never heard about, but without whom we’d all be failures – or much less successful. God bless ‘em all.
Greg Hoyos is founder and chairman at GHA DDB. He started his first regional ad agency in 1970; has won five CLIOs (including the 1979 Worldwide Copywriting statue) and numerous Caribbean ADDYs; and is the author of ‘Marketing and Demand’ and ‘A History of Marketing in 32 Objects’. He can be reached at (246) 234-4110 or firstname.lastname@example.org