It's not enough that we do our best;
In advertising since 1966
Why has a practitioner with decades of experience decided to turn to teaching and consulting?
AFTER ALL, for a practitioner it's more fun to handle a practical project – helping the Client to sell more products, to win a contract, to recruit and support dealers and partners, to establish a presence in other markets. It's precisely this that's the purpose of real marketing and advertising!
Since the 1980s, I've sporadically conducted seminars and courses, lectured at business-schools, talked at conferences in Russia and elsewhere, and authored papers. A desire to concentrate on education and consulting have been emerging bit by bit, largely under an influence of my dissatisfaction with the low level of marketing culture and advertising in Russia.
Now that Russia's business, like the rest of the world, has entered the phase of severe competition, the name of the game for those who want to survive is marketing.
A few words about me
After my formative years (1955-61) at the Leningrad Naval Nakhimov College I joined the Moscow Institute of Applied Physics (MIFI). In 1968 I graduated with a degree in applied physics.
In 1966, when still a student, I found myself in a group of English-language copywriters at Vneshtorgreklama (a Russian abbreviation for “foreign trade advertising”), an unwieldy and amateurish institution under the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade, which produced ads in foreign languages for the constellation of foreign-trade organizations.
Ever since my life has been associated with advertising. Later on my interests widened to include marketing and PR.
In the late 1980s I began to attend courses in sales, marketing & advertising in the UK and elsewhere. But I was quick to discover that in those days in Russia's bizarre marketing scene I had to learn mostly by trial and error.
In 1989 I became Marketing Manager at Rank Xerox Moscow. In those days of emerging market economy in Russia everything had to be done from scratch, and I found myself being a kind of "village doctor" for a huge market of the then USSR. I was shaping and implementing marketing plans, creating and supporting a dealer network, training & consulting, authoring articles & speeches, organizing exhibitions & press-conferences, producing ads & other materials. In 1991 and 1992, I held off-site brainstorming sessions that improved things dramatically. Some believe that my RX slogan "We taught the world to copy" was much better than the later one "The Document Company".
On leaving RX I was active as an independent writer & marketing consultant. Among my clients in those days were Microsoft, Miraflores (a Spanish resort), Sexamtertropfen (a German liqueur manufacturer). Among my major Russian marketing clients were Russian Textile and Volski pipe plant (Menatep), Nikitin teas (Alfa-group).
In 1994 I joined Barron Micro, a Texan-based computer company, as vice president for marketing. My brief was similar to that at RX. In the US I won an ad pitch for brochures designed for the US market.
From time to time I publish articles on marketing and advertising in professional media.
Physics and… marketing
Experience with physics and high technologies initiated me to Russia's high-tech fields, their huge potential and... market helplessness. (My cherished dream is to author a book on marketing and advertising of high technologies.)
My years with physics instilled in me a very careful and even suspicious attitude to rigor – the rigor of the formulation of problems, research models and techniques (including in marketing and advertising), the rigor of the interpretation of results. And above all, the rigor of proofs. I was quick to discover? much to my surprise, that these are largely unheard of in marketing and advertising.
West vs. Russia
Work in senior marketing positions at Western firms gave me an insight into the psychology, business culture, management, decision-making, power structure, and other features of doing business in the West. I wasn't exactly surprised to have won an advertising pitch in the US. I am in a position to compare the West and Russia.
Overall, Russia is second to none in the difficulty of work in marketing and advertising. One the one hand, Russia, with its vast expenses of sparsely populated territories, is a classical marketing country; on the other hand, Western methods and approaches often fail here.
Russia is a huge marketing quilt, and there are no unified methods here – what works perfectly all right in Moscow, may fail even in St. Pete, let alone Tatarstan or Siberia. Everything has to be re-thought and revamped with more reliance placed on experience and intuition. Russia is a land for marketing achievers and creators, not for marketing bureaucrats.
Virtually by trial and error I had to improvise dealer networks for several companies, starting with Rank Xerox, to fine-tune marketing and advertising solutions to individual regions, to train dealers and clients many things ranging from sales to management. I leaned to earn money for my clients even... overcoming their resistance at times. But such is Russia at the moment.
In 1995 I set up in Moscow an ad agency Mekka Advertising. Among our clients (both Russian and Western) have been firms from high-tech, FMCG (consumer packaged goods), distributors and financial companies, sports clubs and stores, theaters, and media.
In 2003 the agency was transformed into a consultancy Mekka Consulting www.mekka.ru.
Articles and books
My negative experience of dealing with clients has prompted me to write a book "The Savvy Advertiser". It has passed through several editions and received much feedback from advertisers and experts alike. A book "Marketing Thinking" is as good as finished. I'm working on a book on copywriting and consider a book on high-tech marketing.
My attitude to marketing & advertising
I believe that nobody needs marketing for the sake of marketing and advertising for the sake of advertising. Marketing and advertising are only justified when they yield results.
There is marketing and pseudomarketing, the latter being a stillborn child of the scholasticism of formal marketing education at universities and business schools and the bureaucratization of corporate marketing departments. Real marketing is the creative process of meeting the Client's needs. Its core is creative marketing thinking (see "Pseudomarketing: scholasticism and bureaucracy").
Advertising is one of marketing methods. Its only task it to sell, not to win awards; to make money, not to practice "creAtinism".
A. Repiev School of Marketing & Advertising
In 2000 I set up a school to promote marketing thinking and creative skills in marketing and advertising. Its mainstay is a 4-month distance course. Also, we hold seminars in Russia and elsewhere. And consult companies.
I am asked sometimes as to why I chose a horse as a symbol of my school. The
fact is that I've been associated with The Horse all my live. I invite horse
lovers to my horsey site www.horses.ru
Repiev Marketing School:
+7 903 283-0188