This post is basically the same as last week's - I just thought of a new way to write the argument.

So if you've read last week's, you can skip this.

One day, Jonathan Topp-Guy - managing director of AdWow, one of the biggest advertising agencies in BigTown - had a eureka moment. Why were AdWow restricting themselves to solving crappy old marketing problems? It was just so damn limiting. Didn't they have the brainpower, the skills and the creativity to tackle real

business

problems?

So the next day, he made an appointment to see the CEO of FineBread.

"I'd like to know - what's your business problem?" he asked.

"Oh, I'll tell you," said the CEO. "The supermarkets are selling bread for $1, as a loss leader. They're killing us. We reckon it could be classed as anti-competitive practice, so I've hired an expensive firm of lobbyists to try to get the politicians to sort it for us. Can you help with that?"

"Um, no."

"All right, well can I tell you about our marketing problem?"

"Sure."

"We're struggling against our main competitor, TasteBread.

Consumers seem to prefer their

products over ours.

It's pure image, really, since the breads are

virtually identical. But it's a problem that's far from trivial - each point of market share we win from TasteBread is worth $7.5 million. Can you help with that?"

"Yes."

The next day, Jonathan Topp-Guy went to see the CEO of the well-known airline, SkyAir.

"What's your business problem?" he asked.

"Oh, I'll tell you. The price of jet fuel has shot up. It used to be 23% of our operating expenses, now it's 28%. That's a whopping 5% reduction in our margin. I've had several investment banks come in to talk to me and the CFO about buying fuel derivatives, but I'm not sure which is the right deal. Can you help with that?"

"Um, no."

"All right, well can I tell you about our marketing problem?"

"Sure."

"We could sure use some help advertising our new flat bed - it's better than any competitive offering, and a genuinely better experience for our customers - and we've run ads about it, but somehow the message hasn't gotten through. Can you help with that?"

"Yes."

The next day, he went to see the CEO of travel agency HolidayShop.

"What's your business problem?" he asked.

"Oh, I'll tell you. People are becoming more and more comfortable booking holidays online. It's only the older crowd who feel the need to come into bricks-and-mortar stores like ours. Currently we have 700 stores but we believe that in ten years there will be none. It's basically a dead category - a technological innovation has rendered our business model obsolete. Can you help with that?"

"Um, no."

"All right, well can I tell you about our marketing problem?"

"Sure."

"While we manage the decline, we're still spending millions of dollars a year on TV ads, but they're rather formulaic. I believe that if we had better ads, we wouldn't need to spend as much on media. Can you help with that?"

"Yes."

Look, I'm being extreme here, to make a point. Of course it's helpful to know the client's business problem, and maybe sometimes we

can

use our creativity to solve it. And hey, we'll at least then have more context around their marketing problem. But let's not be so self-effacing as to decide that

our marketing communications expertise is not significant and valuable. It is. 

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