What has Manchester United got to do with Marketing?

Everything you say? Nothing? Are we talking customers or fans? We ask Peter Draper, former Group Marketing Director for Manchester United who is speaking at the Malaysian Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Conference on March 21 for answers:

What is the Magic of Manchester United that marketers can learn from?

The words of the fan chant say, "There's only one United!". And I believe that's true, so it's quite difficult to replicate the 'magic' of Manchester United into any business, particularly outside of sports or entertainment.

The 'magic' is LOVE.....and fans genuinely love their sports and entertainment heroes and teams in a way that most businesses and brands can only dream of. That said, some brands old and new have managed to do that and they then nurture that love over time by continuing to appeal to their own fan base in a way that brought that love and appreciation in the first instance.

Think about Apple or Nike or Ferrari or AirAsia....brands I think are true to themselves and their customers. They know what they stand for and try to deliver against customer expectations every day.

Manchester United, and other football clubs, try to do the same. In MU's case I believe it's a commitment in trying to achieve excellence both in team and business performance. On both scales.....they take some beating!

Do you think Malaysian brands will become world leaders?

Of course. It seems to me there's no shortage of hunger or intellect and there's a good and growing home market in which new and innovative businesses can develop from green shoots and thrive over time. Importantly, there's a more stable economic and political environment in Malaysia and in its close neighbours form a perfect environment in which to encourage business investment, both from within and outside Malaysia.

One example I'm familiar with is the infrastructure and over-arching development plans in Johor and the Iskandar area. Here lies a tremendous opportunity for the country as a whole to embrace.

FASTrack Iskandar, the recently announced integrated autosports business and entertainment development, is a great example of local government working with outside investors to deliver outstanding quality....probably unique in the world of autosports. The recent commitment to a high-speed rail link from KL to Singapore through Johor adds weight and substance to the idea that Malaysia is forward thinking and committed to creating an environment for businesses to thrive.

What do you think marketers must do more of?

Listen to customers. Only through understanding the real needs and feeling of customers will brands and businesses deliver to expectations.

Malaysian marketers should also 'trawl the world' for ideas that have worked in other markets and can be replicated or bettered in Malaysia.

Businesses should find the best marketers on the planet and find ways to get them to work in Malaysia to improve both businesses in a direct way and help Malaysian marketing gurus of tomorrow grow in understanding and stature.

What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your professional life and the lessons gained…

Not a mistake but, to paraphrase Mr Sinatra, "regrets, I have a few....", as I think most people have in business.

The opportunity not grasped fully. The one that got away. Not being bold enough at times, and not being circumspect enough at others.

And, given that I also worked in basketball for 10 years.....not being able to slam-dunk!