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I am delighted to announce that my book WHY SHOULD ANYONE BUY FROM YOU? published by FT Prentice Hall is now available for pre-order on both Amazon UK and Amazon US.




Trust in business is at an all-time low. If your customers don’t trust you, you can spend as much time, effort and money as you want on marketing campaigns, branding and advertising and it will barely move the needle. This revealing book shows how the only reliable route to sustainable business growth and profit is to build trust in your company.Why Should Anyone Buy From You? exposes the startling truth about the impact of trust on business. It is occasionally a damning indictment of current business practice and frequently an optimistic take on how companies can achieve deeper, more trusting andultimately more profitable relationships with their customers, shareholders,employees and other stakeholders. People may be more cynical, more empowered and less trusting than ever before but it is possible to learn how to create a trusted business and brand. This book shows you how.Here’s what some very smart people are saying about the book:

“The relationship between what a business does and says in winning trust is complex –if you want to understand it better then read this book.”
Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy Group UK

“A thoughtful, engaging and often challenging exploration of trust in brands today.”
Nigel Gilbert, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Media

“Why should anyone buy this book? Simple, basini is one of the few marketing thinkers who genuinely challenges the status quo.  His ideas on trust, on brands and on the future challenges for marketing will change the way you do business.”
Mark Ritson, Associate Professor of Marketing, Melbourne Business School

“This book cuts to the heart of the brand relationship – trust -in a refreshing and eminently readable manner.”
Mike Hughes, Director General, Incorporated Society of British Advertisers

“Trust is not just a pre-requisite for doing good business, but is the fundamental bedrock of a sustainable society. Read this book, reflect on it and then get straight out there and do something about it.”
Tom Farrand, Co-Founder, The Pipeline Project & Good For Nothing


Innocent, the European smoothie brand now partly owned by Coca-Cola, have created a tie-up with Peace Day which was 21st September. This is a great example of how a brand can drive a connection with the market through a social good.

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In last week’s Marketing Week there was an article that I contributed an interview to called Beyond the Boardroom Walls written by Lucy Handley. It is well worth reading.

The central premise is that marketing can change behaviour positively and negatively. Using the skills, creativity and ideas of marketing it has the potential to make an important contribution to solving some of the issues that we face in our society and world.

I explored some of these trends and ideas in my recent presentation at the 3rd CMO Conference and in a presentation I co-authored with Tom Farrand from Pipeline called the True Value of Brands. Both can be seen at my slideshare site.

If you have ideas or thoughts on these issues or the social role of marketing then please comment below.

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Last week I gave a talk at the 3rd Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Conference in Zurich entitled:

Leadership in Marketing: from shareholder value to stakeholder value.

You can see the presentation at my slideshare site.

The presentation can be summarised through the following themes.

Marketing has been fantastic at creating consumption which has been the engine of the increase in material standards of living in the West. But that consumption in its current forms is becoming a drag on well-being not a way to increase happiness and well-being, it is also massively unsustainable as populations grow and more aspire to a consumer lifestyle. This together with the increasing sophistication of marketing, cynicism of the media and lack of understanding of why business exists means that trust has been eroded. Marketing is at some level culpable for the over-consumption that is an acute threat and more generally consumption which is a chronic threat. Leadership in marketing will be seeing these issues and responding to their challenges in a way that can restore trust and legitimacy for brands, business and marketing.

Some of these themes have been recently covered in an article that I contributed to in Marketing Week and also much of this thinking comes from the other blog I founded:

Phew, there it is (now you don’t need to look at the presentation!)

Please if you have comments or thoughts please share them.

Thanks for reading,


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What is the Future of Marketing? It is a question that has, and does, vex me considerably.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Marketing Leadership prompted by Mark Choueke’s call for leadership in Marketing Week. He got a good reception for his article, and rightly so, and he followed it up with “Join the Marketing Plan for Marketers” which is worth reading.

The need for credibility is undoubtedly crucial and we need to avoid our industry turning inwards and defaulting to the seemingly age old, “we’re not wrong, we are just misunderstood” excuses. We must not default to the position that the solution to any lack of standing as a profession is solved by just needing to “market” marketing within businesses and “to the board”. We need new ideas and a vision for marketing’s role with the organisation.

As I mused on this I turned to my almost untouched (shame on me!) copy of “The Future of Marketing” for inspiration. This beautifully produced book was recently published by the Marketing Society for its 50th Anniversary. My depression deepened as I read the collected thoughts of 50 CEOs, from the “world’s most successful companies”, no less, in answering the question “What role will marketing play in the future success of your business?”

Guess what the answer is? A lot of “consumer is boss”, a truck load of “digital”, some “it’s all about growth” and shockingly little on sustainability (apart from good old Unilever). Andrew Marsden’s introduction boils it all down to “absolute agreement about one thing that will not change” – the battle for consumer’s trust.

What’s interesting about these snippets from these CEOs is that, by definition, what these CEOs think is the status quo. They extrapolate from the current trajectory of the world and their businesses to predict the future. Envisioning a radical future is hard for anyone but it is impossible for them. Incidentally this is compounded by the shocking lack of diversity in the group. Strikingly there were only 2 women and 2 non-white males in the group of 50!

I think marketing is on a collision course with the future. Our current marketing paradigm is inextricably linked to the driving of consumption and the creation of habits of consumption. This is the economic purpose of marketing: to ensure that demand outstrips supply permanently and profitably in a world of plentiful energy and resources. Economic growth has been the single minded outcome upon which we have built our brands, our marketing models and our rasion d’etre.

But unabated growth cannot continue. Rising populations, increasingly “middle class” and consumerist, means that there will be increasing competition for scarce resources. And marketing is already at some level becoming the thing to blame.

My hunch is that the future of marketing is not merely, or even, a “more consumer focused / digital / growth oriented / sustainable” (delete as appropriate) future but a complete reversal of the current paradigm:

We’ve been used to selling more stuff, the future will be about selling less stuff.

We’ve got great at creating new propositions, the future will be making things last.

We’ve become expert at making people value “goods”, the future will be helping people value what is “good” in every facet of their lives.

We’ve used advanced techniques to satisfy consumer wants, the future will be balancing outcomes for the common good.

Just big boned

And lastly we’ve become hooked on helping our businesses, our economies, often our customers, and in turn our wallets grow “fat”. The future of marketing will be helping people enjoy being “thin” by consuming less and conserving more.

This is an exciting opportunity for those businesses and brands, and their marketers, to move into a completely new and fundamentally more future oriented landscape.

How do we get there? I’ll tackle this in my next blog posting which you can get by signing up to my RSS or email feed – click here.

What do you think is the Future of Marketing? Have your say below.

Thanks for reading.


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I was over at Sky a couple of weeks ago and picked up these internal flyers. They cover four areas:

“Do the right thing” – responsibility
“Reduce your footprint” – environment
“Get involved” – sport
“Be inspired” -arts
They are a good example of a brand rounding out its internal brand perception through a range of activities linked to its core business but not in a direct way. Most marketers think about focus, focus, focus – but this often leads to a mono-dimensional brand perception. Sky are covering a range of topics here that will connect with a much broader range of people internally and externally. The fact they are pushing these activities internally indicates that they want employees to feel proud of the brand and magnify through word of mouth.
You can learn more about these activities by visiting:

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In 1413 Filippo Brunelleschi discovered how to represent the three dimensional world on two dimensional pieces of paper. “Linear perspective” caused a revolution in art that suddenly allowed artists to use paint, brushes and canvasses to create valuable new imaginings that still today add value to the eyes that view them. This new perspective, quite literally, unleashed an emergent way of thinking based on human-centred naturalism that became one of the philosophical underpinnings of the renaissance.

This powerful reductionist system of representing reality through a set of rules and mathematical constructs can illuminate our current economic challenges. We are facing significant challenges today as a consequence of the free markets that have powered our economic and societal development over the past 200 years. Challenges which have never more chillingly been exemplified by the unfettered market dominance of the past 30 years with its 3 year dénouement where we were taken to the brink of financial collapse.

Through the free market system and its invisible hand, we fooled ourselves that we had discovered an infallible system which took the complex multi-dimensional world and its inter-linked human, economic and environmental consequences and by clever perspectives and maths reduced it into two dimensional form. The resulting construction of the free markets markets, a version of linear perspective, where we thought incentives were aligned to create never ending “goods”.

But unlike the great artists of the Renaissance who gave us a lasting form of value through their art we have been proved wrong. Unfortunately it turns out that the incentives embedded in the linear perspective of the markets were certainly not capable of balancing finely tuned impacts in the real world.

This I think will be the emergent conclusion drawn from the experience of the past few years. It is reflected by much of the current debate about new economic and societal models that is moving from the fringes into the mainstream.

The questioning and emergent thinking takes time to filter through the food-chain. Hearts and minds need to time to process and change behaviour. Nowhere is this truer than in big banks. Often these organisations make glaciers seem strategically nimble.

Banks in the growth-obsessed, market-driven economy are the “top predators”, despite all their protestations that they “are doing God’s work”. The banks are the masters of market driven linear perspective. They act on instinct to out-perform the incentive systems they are given. As long as the markets operate within given parameters banks make huge amounts of money because they are so good at conquering the system.

Like a lioness hunting the last zebra on the savannah, they don’t think, they just do. This is why they don’t say sorry for what the real world sees as mistakes. As a pride of lions feast on this last zebra they don’t consider the wrong or right of their actions they act on instinct within a clear incentive structure devoid of any morality or any critical thinking.

If our banks are the top predator then might it be tempting to think that, like lions and markets, banks are amoral? Drawing this conclusion would be wrong. Abdication of responsibility cannot be justified because once the PowerPoint decks and Excel analysis is put aside, all businesses are run and operated by thinking, feeling human beings. Businesses both large and small, bank or not, need to operate within in a moral framework. If they step out of this framework then we should call them out as immoral.

This has been sharply exemplified in different ways in the past week by two very different situations: the unfolding scandal at the premier investment bank Goldman Sachs and much closer to home the FSA report into complaints handling at UK banks. None of the institutions involved will ever say sorry for what any commonsense reading of the situation would be seen as mistakes. Obsessed with the incentives of the markets no bank thinks that anything they do that delivers against the market construct is wrong, irrespective of the wider real world implications.

Goldman Sachs and one particular London based Goldman banker Fabrice Tourre are currently under investigation for a series of trades that the SEC maintain the bank knew were worthless (or “shitty” as one of their bankers described the deal in an email) and therefore broke the rules of the market.

An exchange during the testimony of Mr Tourre with a US Senate Committee was particularly revealing. When asked by Republican Senator Susan Collins whether he agreed that he had “a duty to act in the best interests of Goldman’s clients”? He replied: “I believe we have a duty to serve our clients, with respect to our role as a market-maker, by showing prices to clients and offering liquidity.”

This model of duty offered by this banker is one devoid of morality: the top predator creates the market devoid of any responsibility to think critically about the consequences of their actions. The question that is asked is: Does it allow me to fulfil what I am being incentivised to do? The two dimensional world relies on the blind assumption that incentives are aligned with creating good; no critical thinking or judgment on wider impact is needed. This isn’t just Goldman Sachs and these deals, this two dimensional amoral thinking exists at every trading desk in every major bank in the world.

The next example is much more down to earth. The FSA yesterday released a report into complaints handling at UK banks. This report identifies that most UK banks have “poor standards of complaint handling”. There are many issues identified but most tellingly some of the contributing factors are cultural: senior management not caring and staff being incentivised to make the complaint go away rather than handle it to a satisfactory resolution for the customer.

Complaints and their handling are a perennial problem in banks because the linear perspective of the markets doesn’t value customer satisfaction or “going the extra mile” – it values profit and efficiency. Until banks are measured on and structured to deliver three dimensional balanced real world impacts then complaints will never be resolved properly – it just won’t be important enough in a construct that assumes never ending profit growth is always a “good” and where consumers are inert.

Markets may be amoral but their participants cannot be. As we search for a new model we need to create a more balanced, probably less efficient, set of incentives that we don’t slavishly follow but critically engage in. We need to reclaim responsibility for our individual and collective impact as businesses and brands. Then, like the Great Masters of the Renaissance, we might just be able to create “goods” which last for 500 years and still retain the power to take your breath away.

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[This first appeared in the other blog I founded:]

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Ask most people in and out of business about branding and they will tell you its the name, colours, and logos of a company. Ask them about marketing and they say it is about flogging more stuff. But surely CEOs and other senior managers don't think this do they? They must understand the strategic importance of positioning and segmentation as we brand a company. Or the complexities of consumer insight, proposition development, and pricing as we create consideration and preference, generating ROMI, as we market.

Actually in most businesses I think the strategic understanding of these opportunities and processes is poor even at the highest levels. And we, as marketers, do a bad job of communicating these differences; we are supposed to be experts at getting ideas to spread – yet we can't even do it with our own profession. This is compounded by the modern obsession with branding and brand value.

Go back to the 1930s and marketing was a pretty basic process of simple advertising shifting more product. Sure Procter & Gamble were "managing brands" but most marketers were just flogging stuff that they didn't have much of a hand in developing. Most of the interesting work was happening in PR. Following the Second World War and strategic marketing starts to take off. I insisted that anyone who worked for me read the classic Theodore Levitt HBR paper Marketing Myopia (if you work in marketing and haven't read it shame on you). Levitt made the case for marketing to move beyond a sales stimulation function to one that created value through owning the process by which a company could tap into consumer needs and create branded propositions which became long term profitable assets.

Marketing was doing OK during the 1950s and 60s. The post war growth in consumerism proved the case day after day that this strategic approach to marketing worked. The marketer was a respected member of the team. But then something started to breakdown. Whether it was the oil crises of the 1970s putting the break on consumption or cost cutting in the 1980s, or the rise of the services sector in the 1990s, marketers seemed to lose the strategic agenda. Suddenly brand was the asset we were all managing. The marketing process seemed to lose its magic at creating tangible value and was replaced by intangible value. Companies started investing in their brands – there was money to be made, and value to be built, through the name and logo. Run a few workshops, develop a few names and designs, and then implement. Even better that the CEO was prepared to attend some of the workshops! This was much easier than working in the strategic marketing salt mines. This focus on the surface was conveniently supported by the prevailing Zeitgeist of the 1990s and 2000s. Fashion and celebrity was what caught people's attention.

I think we are at a turning point once more. The worst recession since the 1930s has broken something again. We are still in the eye of the storm but opportunity comes from thinking about the long term impacts. It's ironic that in all major recessions innovation and entrepreneurship actually increase despite the economy tanking. Talent comes out of big businesses and capital chases new ideas as returns wither elsewhere. The successful innovative start-ups disrupt markets and steal share from incumbents. They are closer to their customers, deliver better value and find profitable niches.  In turn this means that the incumbents need to raise their game. Richard Lambert, the Director General of the CBI, said at the RSA on Monday night that the last 20 years had been an aberration of business and capitalism. The link between access to capital and risk was weakened and seemingly "leverage" (or debt to you and me) was seen as an almost guaranteed way to make money. The broader impact of businesses on society and humanity was subsumed by the out of control growth obsessed markets. We now see it was all so unsustainable.

Forgetting humanity when humanity is your route to productivity, customer satisfaction, and even investment was clearly never a long term winner. This gives marketers the biggest opportunity for decades to re-engage and move away from the surface obsession with branding and go back to creating extraordinary value by leading the charge of putting humanity back into business. That's what a marketer has the potential to deliver on the board. Combine this with creative vision and an ability to communicate and we might just see the re-emergence of strategic marketing and marketers as long term value creators.

What do you think? Do you think that marketing needs to reclaim a strategic agenda? What's your experience?

Please comment and share your view below. 

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Saw this CityIndex campaign on the Waterloo and City line this morning.

I’m sure that it is a strong insight for traders but it’s such a shame that losing out on great experiences such as spending time with your kids or holidays is so often a signal of a life out of balance. Of course there is the counter argument that this new app allows these traders to take holidays or spend time with their children (otherwise they would be tied to their screens at the office) but surely we should be encouraging more balance and not celebrating the behaviour which arguably contributed to the mess and hubris in the City over the past few years.

Another example of marketing which will probably work to sell more stuff but not care for the common good.

What do you think? Feel free to comment.