Paul Adams, Adams Marketing Group

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Paul, you are the owner and Director of Adams Marketing Group. Can you please tell us a little bit about your background and your business?

I began my career in a sales role and then moved into an Account Management role with DDB Needham. It was here that I had the pleasure of working on the McDonald’s account. This was an exciting time, as McDonald’s were in expansionary mode, which meant that their advertising budget was forever increasing.

During this time, we had the benefit of learning from the US marketing and advertising campaigns, but we also launched new ideas in Australia. It was a great experience to be part of a big agency team working on a major account.

As a client, McDonald’s were outstanding in thought leadership, marketing strategy and execution. My time working for McDonald’s taught me about the value of learning from other markets, both from their mistakes and their achievements.

In 1986 I was invited to America to visit DDB Needham’s New York HQ. There was a very awkward moment when they learned that I was a star performing Account Exec and NOT the Chairman of Needham’s Australia, which was who they thought they were getting to meet!

After leaving DDB Needham, I had a few marketing stints as Marketing Director of Kraft Foods and Ferrero Rocher, before coming up to join North Power (now Essential Energy) in 1999 as Marketing Manager, moving my wife and two young kids up with me. I found that the pace was a bit slow compared to what I was used to, so after a little while I made the decision to go out on my own to start Adams Marketing Group.

My business model has evolved over the years and now includes a team that provide a range of marketing services from strategy to advertising, right across the spectrum. Our clients are based both locally and in Sydney.

The ideal client for us are typically people who believe in the cause of marketing. We apply an attitudinal segmentation; we want to work with organisations that truly believe that marketing can add value.

We have a range of clients and with all of them, marketing plays an integral role to the business, and I’d like to think that I am a valued part of the team. A great example of this is the Ocean Club Resort, who have gone from strength to strength by investing the appropriate resources into our marketing to get a result.

We’ve experienced some major changes in the marketing industry over the past 20 years. In my opinion, the ability to connect brands with their target audience via digital channels has opened up some incredible new communication opportunities; however, the principles of marketing remain largely the same. What are your thoughts about this?

I think this is really good insight, and I agree wholeheartedly with this. There are a lot of communication opportunities these days; however, if the rest of the marketing mix is not optimised; i.e. Product, Place, Price, Promotion, you won’t be successful in your marketing efforts.

Promotion is important; however, the other principles you refer to essentially make up the other 75% of the marketing mix. It only takes one of those four Ps to be weak, for your marketing campaign to fail. Regardless of the latest digital channel available, the fundamental laws of marketing will always apply.

Given the nature of our fast-moving and ever-changing industry landscape, what do you anticipate as some of the major considerations for organisations to include in their marketing planning for the next 12 months?

Each industry has its own success factors. However, there are some foundation principles that should be considered. Firstly; plan for success. Secondly; understand your client’s media consumption habits. Thirdly; value the power of your database. On this point, I am often amazed at organisations who want to blast out with an all singing, all dancing marketing campaign to attract new customers, when they are already sitting on a gold mine – their past and existing customers.

Finally, use marketing metrics for better decision making. You need to understand what’s working with your marketing and what’s not, before you can make informed decisions about marketing spend.

What would you class as your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ll leave it to others to talk about my achievements! All I can say is that I must be doing something right, as I’m still here after 14 years of being in business.

What do businesses need to survive and thrive?

Have a point of difference.

What is the most rewarding part about your role as a Marketing Consultant?

It’s a simple thing. It’s when a client says thank you. It’s such a small thing, but it goes a long way. A simple “thanks for doing what you do” makes my day. As such, I like to reward my team by saying thank you as often as I can. I think it’s important to make them feel that they are valued and that their opinions are appreciated and that when they speak, I listen. Empowerment and a feeling that you can participate is a powerful motivator. I’m thrilled when a client asks for my opinion and values what I have to contribute.

And what are some of the biggest challenges you face within your role?

The biggest challenge for me is to get my clients to think long and hard about their customers and to ensure that they are placing their clients at the centre of their circles and then working back.

Some organisations can often focus too much on their business objective when they make decisions about a marketing solution. An effective marketing solution will come from understanding the customer, listening to them, and tailoring a solution to their needs.

This often stems from a cultural phenomenon where business owners dwell on sales metrics and profit, before they think about the customer. Something a lot of people don’t realise is what’s best for the business is actually what is best for the customer. It can sometimes be hard to switch this thinking.

And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?

Kerry Packer, simply because he was a legend who defied all the trends. He bought when people were selling and sold when people were buying.

Gerry Grace was the Inaugural Marketing Manager of McDonald’s in Australia. I learnt so much from him. He once said that “marketing is too important for only the marketing people to own”. In other words, he understood that there was no point measuring foot traffic with a state-of-the-art store tracking system if the customers’ experience once they were in the restaurant was going to be a negative one.

Jack Welsh was the former Chairman of General Electric. He transformed GE from an engineering based organisation to a marketing driven one, achieving compound annual growth of more than 10% for 15 years running.

I’d also invite Peter Drucker. He was an academic back in the 1950s who astutely witnessed what Unilever and Proctor & Gamble were doing at that time, which was transforming their organisations from a sales driven one to one driven by marketing. By employing marketers, Unilever started started conducting market research so as to better understand the customer. This approach proved to be so successful, that by the mid ’60s there was not a large organisation in the USA that didn’t have a marketing department. He essentially started the idea of organisations incorporating a customer centric culture. For this reason, he holds a special place in my heart!

Thanks for your time, Paul.

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