Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Myth of Engineering into Marketing!

It was the latter part of 2013, which I happened to write a Marketing Plan with the collaboration of a leading car agent of Sri Lanka. It is an European brand which is standing not only in Sri Lanka for a long time, but also in the global market as a stylish prestigious brand. For the fair reporting purposes, I am not mentioning the name of the car brand, but if you are a car enthusiastic, I am sure i will hear you say, 'Oh! he is talking about this brand'

The story started with me sending an email to the car agent ( Yes, to the common mail)  asking for an interview to gather some information about the organizational culture, the structure, the current prices of each car models and to be honest to peek inside them to get an understanding about what is really happening inside that company. Because I do believe and I always believed that the better justice can be done to that brand in Sri Lanka.

" This Lion which roared and rocked Sri Lankan market those good old days is now suffocating!!"

That was the question which was haunting in my mind. My inner voice always shouted, "Why? Why? If its an awesome brand THEN, why can't it NOW?"

Days passed, after around one week I received this call from the secretary of the CEO of that company, asking me to come for a meeting with him. Yes, not-surprisingly I knew this is going to be ground breaking because I am going to meet a CEO! The cockles of my heart started drumming off, while the expectations of me getting a MP and ending up with another Gold medal was going up. Yes, you are right! I was putting down 2 birds with one shot. This is going to be submitted to SLIM as my final marketing plan as well as this is going to be the biggest and most complex marketing plan I've ever done.

I still remember it was this sunny morning I went to the head office of that car agent. The very 1st thing which I sighted was this old lady who was sitting in the front desk. I was shocked!!! I asked myself  "OMG! is this the person who is going to greet for the enthusiastic car lovers who are coming looking for most stylish, prestigious European brand??" NO, I am not gender biased, I respect the elders, but still SHE is definitely not the person to say 'hi' to the people who enter into that showroom. So that was my 1st impression about it which was not that good but not worst also. Actually with time while I was waiting till the CEO comes, I noticed that I am very wrong of being judgmental of her. She was the longest standing worker of that company who was serving them for more than 25 years. She became this mega friend of mine and we talked and talked a lot.Indirectly I was fulfilling the purpose of my visit since she talked a lot and I knew how to keep the talkers talking!

After sometime the CEO came and I was asked to come to his office. We started the conversation and  believe me, he was such a very good person. I learned a lot about the brand as well as I was very privileged to talk to the CEO of that company because i knew that i am taking the information from the springs of the big river. Every thing was very perfect until this lady came into the play.I didn't go there empty handed. I was halfway through my marketing plan and i was having many inputs from the research i have done before meeting them. So Mr. CEO asked that lady to come and listen to me. I thought " Oh! yes i have an audience to show off now. So this is going to be awesomER". But unfortunately after me spitting out the 1st sentence of the show off after her arrival she lighted up.

SHE:" Wait wait! By the way what was your name?"
I: "I am Malith, Malith Sureweere", I said proudly, though there is no reason to be.
SHE: "Your University?"
I: " I am from Uni of Kelaniya"
SHE: "Ah! Is that so? Is that an Arts degree or something?? So yes ### (CEO's name), we can't do this in this way. #### (CEO's name) we don't know about these local uni people. So we have to sign a memorandum of understanding before we proceed"

I was silent for about 5 seconds unable to wonder whether what happened to me. I saw even the CEO's face was changed a little. He being a foreign graduated person reflected his deepest apologies from his face for what going such a terrible to innocent me! ( I think)

What really pissed me was not that she asked to sign a document of nondisclosure. They have all the rights under the skies to do that because obviously, the local universities in Sri Lanka had already killed their good impressions and yes unfortunately I was a part of that system. What pissed me was that she asked whether I am an Arts person. I still remember the durr looks which she gave me when I said that i am from University of Kelaniya. Yes, we do have a huge Arts faculty. But does that mean all the people from Kelaniya are Arts people. Yes! Our Arts faculty is a treasure for us and we do respect them.I am a science undergraduate and a member of the best Industrial Management department in Sri Lankan university system. The reason for this big headed nature was later found that she was a SO CALLED Civil Engineer who was supposed to be mixing cement and laying tar on dirty roads but appointed as the top place of Sales and Marketing sinfully.

This sudden appearance of the supposed-to-be-cement-mixing lady marked the end of my interesting conversation with the CEO. She took me to her office and gave me her business card which was completely irrelevant for her to do because I was not at all interested of getting know of her, but yes I accepted it and card read,

#########################( Name) and B.Eng (Civil) bla bla bla

I was shocked to see an engineer being the head of Marketing and Sales. I asked myself " What's the wrong with these people??" Proving my doubt of she doing her duty as a marketer I continued my conversation with her.

She being the head of that Sales position has no what so ever idea about the Emotional and Functional values of that car brand which is 90% built on emotional values.

She doesn't have any understanding about the history of the car and the emotional bond between the users with that car brand. OK! She being a so called Engineer is expected to have a good understanding about the car's functionality. But NO! She was nil on that also.

If I happened to ask the question. " Do you know the definition of Marketing?" I am sure she will stammer more than me, I am born-stammering-person.

She was just a number cruncher. What she believes that when she spends Rs.1 today morning she should earn  Rs. 2 at the end of the very day, which is pathetic when it comes to Marketing.Yes, it works for accountants but not here. Marketing is a philosophy and its the central function of business which drives the business towards the dream of top class manager which they made concrete inside their corporate vision and mission. But no I wasn't having any intention to tutor marketing to that civil engineer whom is supposed to be on construction sites with "wadu basses".

My purpose of going there was not to make her aware of the ignorance.My purpose was to take some good inputs and write a good marketing plan which at least can be understood by the CEO who was a real passionate person about the brand which he is handling. So i singed the document and worked with that particular company.After around 3 months of sleepless nights i came up with an all new re-positioning and marketing plan for that brand in SL. And yes making my hopes came true i got a Merit Pass for that subject in SLIM PGDip thanks to them.

What I wanted to share with my readers is not my story of getting a Merit Pass for a subject. But the underlying story of Engineers forgetting what they are really supposed to do and peeking into others' washrooms. This trend of so called Engineers coming to Management functions and messing up in their jobs due to the non-alignment of integrity is something very common these days. The main reason for this is obvious. Yes engineers don't have enough jobs out there. Though they boast of them becoming engineers, the pathetic scenario is nowadays they tend to diversify into other areas which they are not-capable of functioning mainly due to the lack of philosophical thinking due to their traditional mathematical minds. For them everything is a mathematical calculation or an algorithm or a regression analysis which is complete non-sense if they are to function is a position like Sales and Marketing. It is quite stupid for the senior managers to hire engineers without going for a real marketer or a sales person who had gone through the hardcore practicing of Sales and Marketing backed by the piles of theories from social sciences to economics to behavioral sciences and psychology.

 Let me give you 5 reasons why an engineer should not be seated and talking about Philips Kotler's theories.

1. The Engineering Primitive Mentality of 1+1=2

In Marketing 1+1 doesn't equal to 2. It is more than 2 in case the marketer is expecting wisdom from what he/she does. On the other hand it should be less than 2 if the marketer is focusing on long term brand building than short term profit increase which is not reliable.

2. The Too Serious and Structured Mindset

The people who comes from doing long sums while they are undergraduates, can't suddenly become philosophers or risk takers just because they sit in a cozy management position which gives them a good car and fuel allowance. So this structured, too rational mindset is definitely not going to work with a philosophy like Sales and Marketing.

3. Money Mindedness of Men wearing Yellow Hats

Nowadays since too many are coming out from universities boasting them to be engineers, they are ready to work at any cost with cheaper salaries which drives engineers to do whatever it takes to increase the number of notes in their pockets. If given with good money, they are ready even to clean the show floor rooms. So the top managers should make sure they are not offering chairs to any tom and dick who come up saying that they are engineers and they can basically do any dirty work of the corporate.

4. Too Much of Logical Thinking

These people who comes from engineering backgrounds tend to do everything too rationally which drives them away from taking risks and being innovative. Especially when working with a function like marketing it is a must to think out of the box and be innovative if you want to remain the leader. So better to hire an ear ring wearing good marketer who doesn't look decent, than hiring a cunning yellow hats wearing-decent-looking person who is counting his fingers till the salary day comes.

5. The Born-In Wrong with the Men Wearing Yellow Hats

This is something which I thoroughly believe in. For a person to become a good marketer he/she has to make sure that he/she is having a very clear mindset to think big and creative. In most of the cases the engineers who graduate from the universities are counting their fingers (hands and in case  legs) to get married to the girl whom they caught hardly by spending after years and years of trying. Since they are not good at THAT subject ( you know what i am talking about) like marketers, they are always scared of losing their fiances which makes them collect money as soon as possible and marry and settle down. This builds too much pressure in them which in turn make them to leave the office sharp at 5, or take as much as holidays, spend the spare time wasting time on planning their wedding or selecting their engagement ring. But as the real marketers are not bothered of losing their fiances since they are very good at the keeping their fiances satisfied, they tend to be more focused on what they are doing, in this case when working in the office. Their duties of work are not considered as responsibilities, but as part of their passion. So always BETTER NOT TO HIRE someone who is keened to grab some money from your company just because he has to buy the engagement ring.

So may the relevant people understand why the Lion is in front of the lion's den while the rabbits are playing inside it..!!!! Yes, I do accept the fact that there are many talented engineers in Sri Lanka who do a great job for the betterment of out country. But the irony is there is a handful of them.

PS: This article was written with no intention of harassing a party or parties of the society but for the awareness and educational purposes only.


Nipuni Gallage said...

I'm not exaggerating or lying. This is damn awesome. Believe me, you are a born talented person with powerful and attractive writing style. Your enthusiasm and innovative thoughts surely will lead you to the climax of success. All the very best brother.. :) (Y)

Malith Sureweere said...

Dear Nipuni,

I do know very well that you are not exaggerating especially when it comes to criticisms and commenting. Thank you very much for your interest on reading my blog and encouraging me with your words. Keep reading my blog. Hope I will add some spices to your life by my words!

Nipuni Gallage said...

In that case you are more than successful as I'd collected so many good things to my life when I went through your blog. You're truly a gifted writer. Because, everyone can write something by using various kinds of so called techniques in writing. But everyone can't speak to the heart of the readers via their words or sentences. But here, with each word I read,I've imagined the situation which you're trying to explain, like a drama. No doubt,that's called the talent. Yeah, hope to read more and more interesting articles and add some spices to my life as u said.. :)

Malith Sureweere said...

Dear Nipuni,

I again really appreciate your encouraging words and for a writer believe me there is nothing under skies which makes him/her happy than the positive comments like these.

I thoroughly believe in the fact that when you write something which is appealing to your heart, you can make the same thing appealing to others' hearts also. Everything which come out from my mind to this blog reflects who really I am and what is really going inside my mind. So keep reading my mind, my blog.

Your commennts are the most precious of me as a writer because they help me to look at the same thing which I am talking about to look from another angle or another aspect of life. Thanks again!

Nipuni Gallage said...

It's a great pleasure to have such an awesome feedback from you. If my words have ever motivated or encouraged you, believe me, I can smile from ear to ear.. :)

''QUITTERS never WIN and WINNERS never QUIT''

Malith Sureweere said...

Yes of course your words did. And may I take the latter as a hint? Let me put it to you in this way. A QUITTER which I define is a person who quits not because he can't do something.He quits just because it makes him unhappy and doesn't let him to be whom he really wants.

Quitting always made me to become a better person,a happier one,so it is always better to quit than to stick to something which makes your life sucks.

There is a to-be-published idea of my blog,quitting in life and how it makes people whom they really are. So this whole idea of quitting will be comprehensively mirrored there! Keep reading Nipuni!

Nipuni Gallage said...

Well, what should I say? Obviously I'm speechless.You gave me an excellent explanation Malith. You have so much of "Star Signs" to become a good Author/Writer. So I hope you'll write many more interesting articles as u said and just keep in mind that I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.Cheers!:)

Malith Sureweere said...

Thank you for your interest on my blog! Keep reading Nipuni! I will come up with more amazing things with my coming posts!