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I have to be honest about this book. I had to read chunks of it several times… and even then, quite a lot fired straight over my head. I have absolutely no doubt that this book will be important in academic circles. Similarly, that it will be ploughed through by the marketers of the future as they sit their Marketing Accountability modules at university. Indeed, it reminded me of some of the dusty tomes that I took great delight in flogging following my graduation. But does it have a practical relevance for professional services marketers? The answer has to be, ‘of course’… but perhaps not at face value… and not if you’re feint-hearted!

The book starts by stating ‘where marketing planning has failed, it has generally been because companies have placed too much emphasis on the procedures themselves and the resulting forecasts, rather than on generating information useful to and consumable by management.’ I knew, when reading this that it was an important statement.

In short, this book makes a very clever link between being able to measure the effectiveness of marketing with the way in which you plan it to start with. Rather than providing a random load of ideas on how to measure marketing, it demonstrates the difference between the marketing plan and marketing planning as a function. It takes you through the stages needed to plan your marketing and then represent it in such a way as management will find helpful and useful. Most importantly it demonstrates how following this process, and producing this structured plan, will provide clear ways to measure the effectiveness of your activity. 

When you put it like that you can see the value of this book. There is no denying the brilliance of its section on segmentation planning, nor its statement that building value should be seen as a two to three year strategy, with marketing viewed as an investment in this, rather than an annual expense. It has a superb section on budgeting and a check list of questions to ask so that you can develop a framework for measuring performance. There is an utterly inspired model for measuring brand equity as well as a challenging discussion on data management and its role within a business. Importantly, it puts marketing at a central point within the organisation and demonstrates its relevance to all other areas of a business. In short, it’s a very, very clever book.

Unfortunately, for my money, it’s rather too clever. You really have to search for practical relevance to day-to-day life. The academic brilliance is as impenetrable as it is undeniable. Whilst I do not, personally, believe that the professional services should apply only examples of theories practiced within their own sector, this book almost exclusively focuses on the commercial world.

To be honest this book left me wanting to rewrite it in plain English. It left me craving common-sense and a less theoretical approach to things. But perhaps I was trying to bang a square peg into a round hole. If you take it at face value this book is brilliant. It will go down in business history as one of the great academic guides. But when you start to apply it to real life… To a world of difficult partners and internal politics… To being under-resourced marketing ‘jacks of all trades’… Frankly, it just left me wondering if anyone would ever have the time to actually apply any of it.

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