Bill Matassoni; ex-McKinsey partner
A memoir, Marketing Saves the World, and 20-episode documentary, The Bill Matassoni Show, about the strategies to outwit, outplay and outlast the competition.
“A swashbuckling adventure!”
Every now and then, someone comes along and makes the subject of management both fun and insightful. That’s what Bill Matassoni has done in his memoir—a combination of compelling stories and contrarian substance—that covers his forty-year career selling what he calls “ephemeral things.”
In addition to the memoir, Bill plays host to a series of videos that are entertaining, irreverent, and filled with his conviction that marketing is the primary driver of progress in both commercial and social markets.
We will soon release Bill Matassoni’s memoir and documentary series. If you would like to read a bonus chapter, view advance content and receive other exclusive strategy material, please sign up below.
Bill, a former McKinsey and BCG partner, distills his life, loves and lessons in his captivating memoir on the evolution of the modern marketer. He presents an entirely new way to think about unlocking value in market spaces, not places. Using his experiences as a canvas on which to share his ideas, Bill recounts his adventures—and they are adventures—working for The United Way of America, McKinsey, BCG, Ashoka and other organizations where ideas were the product and emotion was as important as function.
We learn about how Victoria’s Secret “democratized” luxury, why beer might become a nutritional product, BCG’s efforts to compete with McKinsey and vice-versa, Bill’s wonderful wife Pamela and the important role of social entrepreneurs. As Bill pays tribute to his talented colleagues, The Bill Matassoni Show and Marketing Saves the World teach us how to find new dimensions of value that make the world better by enabling multiple stakeholders to win.
It is about capitalism with a capital “C.” Says Bill, “Forget about sharing the pie. Make it bigger.”
This program is now one of the four pieces of business scripture we recommend all clients to master. Strategists will praise The Bill Matassoni Show and Memoir of a Marketer as a strategy series with a capital “S.” However, it is about more than that.
It is about unlocking value and finding solutions which make the world better, and where everybody can win. It is about capitalism with a capital “C.” Bill’s ideas have been used with great results in the electric car and luxury brand start-ups.
Universities, organizations, bloggers, influencers and other cool people looking to make the memoir and documentary available to their audiences should contact Bill’s publisher and agent, Kris Safarova, on kris (at) firmsconsulting.com.
Shot on location at a Philip Johnson Glass House, The Bill Matassoni Show and Memoirs of a Marketer is exclusive to Firmsconsulting. The documentary consists of 3 seasons with season 1 released. The Apps, memoir, documentary and limited edition book were produced over a 3 year period. The Apps, documentary and memoir are only available to Firmsconsulting Insiders.
Bill started his management consulting career in 1980 when he joined McKinsey & Company. He was a partner for almost 20 years, responsible for building the firm’s reputation and protecting its brand while working closely with many colleagues worldwide. He was publisher of the McKinsey Quarterly and responsible for much of McKinsey’s internal communications, including the creation of McKinsey’s systems to manage and disseminate its practice knowledge.
Bill left McKinsey to join Mitchell Madison Group, a strategy consulting firm he helped take public through its sale to USWeb/CKS in 1999. He thereafter joined The Boston Consulting Group, where he headed a group responsible for innovation, marketing and communications for over five years. As at McKinsey, Bill worked closely with several of BCG’s thought leaders to develop their ideas and turn them into consulting assignments. Bill retired from BCG a few years ago and founded The Glass House Group, a consulting firm that helps professional service firms with branding and marketing issues.
Bill is a graduate of Phillips Andover (1964), Harvard College (BA Literature, 1968) and Harvard Business School (MBA, 1975).
For many years, Bill was on the board of trustees of United Way of America and United Way International. He is now on the board of trustees of First Book and a senior advisor to Ashoka, an organization that invests in social entrepreneurs. He remains interested in the management and marketing of professional services firms and social marketing.
The Limited Edition Memoir
Key points from the Memoir & Documentary
Reimagine the market spaces, not places, and dimensions of the market. Bill encourages everyone to think about marketing spaces rather than places and to redefine the dimensions along which they will compete in that space. This idea that marketing is a literal and representational exploration of space is the central premise of the memoir. His examples include lingerie, treatment of incurable diseases, and beer among others. In one example, weaving in his personal life, he talks about the potential to change the conversation about beer.
Beer companies have traditionally competed on patriotism, taste, alcoholic content etc. What, he asks, if beer was good for you? There is an opportunity for beer companies to redefine the beer space by focusing on the inherent nutrition of beer. In doing so they will create new markets and serve new customers.
“We tend to think of beer drinkers as fat guys on bar stools,” says Bill. “There is a significant segment who thinks beer is part of a healthy diet. That includes Pamela and me.” He adds, “Forget the 8 glass of water we are told to drink each day. Find a good six-pack.”
Capitalism works when marketers find solutions to problems that consumers care about. The memoir offers the compelling idea that marketing is not about selling. By solving problems marketers create new markets and better mankind. Today is reminiscent of the narrative from the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese were supposedly beating us, and the Soviet Union was threatening democracy.
Many thought it was game over for the USA. In the 1990s innovation led to a surge in productivity and democracy’s triumph over totalitarianism led to the opening of new markets. Like then, we should not give up on capitalism because it’s not broken.
Today we face better competitors and unfair competitors. It means we need to find new market spaces and new dimensions to outwit, outplay and outlast them.
Go behind the scenes on some of McKinsey’s (and BCG’s) most important strategy decisions. Under Marvin Bower’s mentorship, Bill became McKinsey’s first marketing director in 1980. At the time BCG was developing a reputation for better ideas and insights. McKinsey was seen to be losing ground in influencing the most important business leaders.
Rather than compete with BCG on having the best insights, Bill and his colleagues changed the conversation to position McKinsey as a “leadership factory.” It was in fact producing more CEOs than any other organization in the USA. It served leaders and it turned young men and women into leaders, but McKinsey had never identified itself to the external market on this dimension.
Leadership became the important dimension along which McKinsey competed and the memoir lists the three concrete steps McKinsey took to implement this change. Its competitors became top companies such as GE and IBM. There were no consultants in this space and “leadership” helped it claim premium fees.
The modern marketer’s role is to solve important problems and, in the process, create previously non-existent markets. Marketing today can be very shortsighted in its goals and ambitions. Marketers tend to focus on brand, products, websites that go click in the night and sales metrics.
Bill persuasively makes the argument that the modern marketer’s role is to solve the real problems that matter to customers and society at large. He offers the wonderful example of a national blood pressure campaign he worked on early in his career. The traditional way to encourage people to treat their high blood pressure had been to scare them by focusing on the dangers of the disease.
Another, more effective, long term approach was to make treatment an act of commitment and love for your family and the people who love you. Compliance with therapy went up with this new approach. It changed the conversation from fear to fulfillment.
Applying architectural principles is a new dimension of strategy and marketing thinking. Much of Bill’s thinking is influenced by a Philip Johnson glass house he bought and restored with his delightful wife Pamela Valentine. The house is featured prominently in the memoir and documentary. Johnson was trying, after he built his famous Glass House, to reconceive the idea of spaces in a home.
What space is inside a home and what space is outside? Bill’s insight was the same thinking could be applied to most problems. Are we competing in the right market space? Should we step outside this market space? Along what dimensions must we compete to operate in this new market space? The memoir offers numerous examples of this thinking and the very measurable results of changing.
“Marketing,” says Bill, “is a highly visual discipline, both literally and conceptually.”
Many of today’s major social problems could be solved by redefining the market space. Bill makes the strong case that some of the toughest social problems we face today can be solved with this type of thinking. For example, one young man in a South American country noticed that the best students did not get into the best schools.
They lacked both money and access. he decided to change the system by which their education was financed, using an idea that the economist Milton Friedman had proposed decades earlier. Instead of loaning money to students, he offered potential investors a share of their future earnings. So, the more money they made in the future, the more their investors made; and the less.
Not surprising, now that the best students had the funds to enroll, they did quite well after graduation and so did the investors who bet on them. Those schools that regularly produced successful students became the most attractive to investors. They were happy with their returns and the students were happy with the fees they paid. Much better, they realized, than paying off enormous student loans.
This new approach has now spread to other countries in South America and is starting to take hold in the US.
Conventional analyses have their limitations. We need to involve multiple stakeholders and find higher ground, not common ground. Bill believes that marketers can do a better job against these challenges than policy makers, regulators and other players. He believes they can help competing parties create more value for themselves and others.
Both economic and social value. They can do this not by finding compromises that satisfy different players, common ground, but by instead finding higher ground. By keeping everyone’s eyes focused on the right goal—the right new dimension. Whereas the formula used to be create, communicate and capture value, in multi-stakeholder markets, it becomes create, capture and share more value.
The memoir comes with a 20-episode documentary containing more insights and explanations. In addition to the memoir, Bill plays host to a series of videos that are entertaining, irreverent, and filled with his conviction that marketing is the primary driver of progress in both commercial and social markets.
Shot on location in their Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Bill discusses his life, lessons and insights about marketing in over 20 episodes shot in 4K. Viewers can see Charlie Perry’s Nespoli sculpture which encouraged Bill to think about “bending” marketing spaces and walking around them.
Bill applies the central premise of his memoir by reimagining the print version of the memoir. What if a book was not just a book? What if the book was a visual statement allowing the reader to understand the concept of spaces and dimensions before it was even opened?
The limited-edition version of the memoir supports a hand built scaled version of Bill & Pamela’s glass house and does just that. Readers can see the concepts before them and explore the premise of market spaces and dimensions as conceived by Johnson and utilized by Bill.
What was released?
The Bill Matassoni Show, shot in 4K in a Philip Johnson designed Glass House, Bill plays host to a series of 20 videos that are entertaining, irreverent, and filled with his conviction that marketing is the primary driver of progress in both commercial and social markets.
Limited Edition Print Memoir, this book (picture above) visually demonstrates how Bill and Pamela’s home, a curated Philip Johnson Glass House featured in the memoir and documentary, inspired his concept of spaces and dimensions
App, both the memoir and documentary can be accessed and viewed through a custom designed app.