It’s not WHAT the number is ….

…. it’s WHY the number is the number and HOW you are going to change it.

When I first started in a Product Marketing role this lesson was drummed into me at velocity. Coming from a technical sales background I thought success as a Product Manager was understanding the market place, the product, it’s value proposition and my intended target audience. For the first couple of months in the role this turned out to be true. Then I experienced my very first Quarterly Business Review and the real purpose of my role became a lot clearer.

Wanting to make a great impression I loaded up my biggest laptop with Excel, connected to the sales reporting database and DRILLED for England. Spending 100% of my time slicing and dicing numbers, working out my Qtr on Qtr % and Year over Year %, performance vs budget and forecast. Then I did comparison vs the US, Germany and France. After that I diced the numbers at a Product SKU level. Rapidly followed by a pricing and licencing perspective. I memorised the numbers. I could quite literally recite an entire A3 piece of paper filled with 8 point Arial data off by heart. Walking into the review armed to the teeth I had an attitude along the lines of “Bring it on pal, I know my numbers so let’s do this review thing!”

I settled into the meeting eagerly awaiting my turn. Relishing the prospect of 30 minutes of data wallowing glory followed by accolades on my numeric prowess. The review began and I started my monologue with a torrent of data that rivalled the world’s fastest auctioneer. Only to be stopped after 5 minutes with a question from the boss.

“On the performance vs forecast, can you tell me why the number is over?” my rapid response was “Over performance in Enterprise Commercial accounts, notably the finance sector, with a 22.4% increase in our volume licencing agreements.”

This was followed up with a repeat of the question and my first slap down. “Yes I can read the spreadsheet too. What I would like to know is WHY the customers are buying the product?” Undaunted I ploughed on and promptly dug myself into a bigger hole. “It is the British Market we are 10% ahead vs Germany and 17% ahead vs France, British customers like this product!”

Stillness then fell over the room with a silence that can only be described as deafening. I awaited slap down number two with mounting trepidation. Thankfully my boss decided this was a coaching opportunity. “Understanding WHY customers and Partners are buying our products is fundamental to your role. It allows you to identify HOW best to market the product in the future.”

I took the lesson to heart and never looked back.

It’s not WHAT the number is, it’s WHY the number is the number and HOW are we going to fix it. A formulaic expression being Data + Intelligence = Insight. Putting this into practice I subsequently spent 15% of my time drilling and analysing numbers, 60% of my time speaking to Customers, Partners, Sales Teams, Press and Analysts and then 25% of my time brainstorming and creating marketing campaign proposals based on the Insights I had learned. The lessons you learn the hard way are often the ones you never forget. Taking knowledge from these lessons, and then adapting accordingly, helped make me a stronger marketer.

If you are interested in securing Insights in your business then our Connected Marketing Planning or Marketing On-boarding & Mentoring Services may be of interest to you.

These are my views, please take a moment to share yours ….

What on earth are we good at?

What skills and experience do we have? Who would want to work with us? Why would they want to work with us? Would anyone be prepared to pay for services we provided? What services could we provide?

The list of questions you encounter when you are setting up a company are challenging to say the very least. It’s an incredibly humbling experience and not for the faint hearted. In attempting to keep your options open many people will take the approach “I can do everything , just ask!” Quite quickly I made and then realised this mistake. In offering generic services I lost differentiation and my unique value proposition.

I was pondering the benefits and drawbacks of generic vs specialist during one of my daily walks from Richmond to Kew along the Thames Path in England. I quickly came to the conclusion I needed to “Seek first to understand and then be Understood” Stephen Covey – Habit #5 in order to determine the specialist skills and programs I could provide to customers.

I spoke to a LOT of different friends and former colleagues. Lot’s of lunch’s and coffee’s and the odd glass of wine or two. 🙂 I asked for open and honest feedback and WOW did I ever get it. Some were polite and kind, others were not. I listened to everyone and I learned a lot. To all of you that helped me during that time I remain eternally grateful.

The result of these conversations laid the foundations for New Journey Marketing Ltd. Dedicated to MARKETING. Where everything we do is personalised, delivers tangible value and is FUN for you and your team!

Lot’s of companies provide Sales readiness Training and Technical training. Countless Marketing agencies offer Marketing services for advertising, digital, PR and the like. Educational institutions offer courses for Marketing professionals and team building, coaching and mentoring companies offer generic services for everyone.

Who looks after Marketing departments? Who focuses on Marketing Readiness? Who provides programs and services designed to enhance the skills of Marketing teams? Who offers coaching and mentoring for Marketing professionals? Who offers team building events designed especially for Marketing Teams?

I decided to explore this insight with Julie Kerry. Over afternoon tea we discussed the challenges facing Marketing professionals and teams. Discussing the programs and services they required and lamenting the fact that “Marketing Readiness” services were so hard to find.

So we decided to stand up for the rights of Marketing people around the world. No longer would we allow Sales and Technical teams to get all the readiness love. We would empower Marketing team with readiness designed especially for them!

Truth be known that’s not what we said. The actual conversation went along the lines of …… hey no one else is really focused on Marketing Readiness, let’s do it!

Six years later we have run over 75 Marketing Program deliveries in 30 countries around the world providing services to over 500 Marketing professionals. The results delivered are above and beyond our expectations. Our programs are always measured on a scale of 1 poor to 5 excellent and our lifetime average is 4.5.

The comments following anyone of our programs are consistent ….

  • “Very productive and useful for alignment and team building. Original and attractive delivery with fun exercises.”
  • “Fun & interactive session that brought great alignment across different teams & departments”
  • “I loved it! The best planning workshop I have experienced, really integrated approach.”
  • “Everything makes more sense. It gives a sense of direction and order to what we need to do and how.”
  • “Relevance. This is the first workshop with outcomes directly related to my job.”

We now proudly offer Marketing Services designed by Marketing Professionals for Marketing Professionals and Teams. So if your interested in Connected Marketing Planning, Optimised Partner Marketing, Sales & Marketing Alignment, Marketing On-boarding & Mentoring or Marketing Team Building & Development we would love to hear from you, contact New Journey Marketing!

Thank you for taking the time to read our inaugural blog post. We PROMISE the next ones will all be shorter and filled with insights we have learned over the last 25+ years in Marketing. If you would like to know more please take a look at our NJM Blog to read our views and have the opportunity to share yours.


Nick McGrath & Julie Kerry


It’s not how much you have ….

…. it’s what you do with it!

Why is it that when you are beginning to plan and create an amazing new campaign or launch you face the question from everyone “How much budget will we have?”

As a Marketing Director I often groaned at this point. The engagement and determination from my Marketing team members begins to feel coin operated. As if somehow the greater the amount of money being spent on the plan determines it’s success or likely kudos for the individual. My responses varied from “as much as we need to exceed the objectives” to the flippant “roughly £2.99”.

When my response was then challenged the coaching began. I would use precision questioning techniques to explore the creativity the team had and then push them to answer the budget question themselves. Difficult questions like: “If you had a budget of One Million what approach would you take and what results do you think this would deliver?” Then followed up by “If you had One Hundred Thousand what approach and results” and finally “If you had Ten Thousand what approach and results.”

Then challenge them and ask if you only had Ten Thousand and wanted the results of a Million could it be done? Do we have the creativity and imagination to make the seemingly impossible somehow possible?

If you have the time and patience to take this approach the results can often be spectacular. With an energised team stepping up to the challenge and using their experience and creativity to try and deliver outstanding results at the lowest possible cost.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.