Bill Matassoni, a former McKinsey & BCG partner, lays out his life and adventures in this swashbuckling memoir. You may also watch all 20 episodes of The Bill Matassoni Show within the app.
When we think about marketing we tend to think about advertising and the promotion of products and services. Maybe some of us remember Mad Men and Death of a Salesman. This is a story about an entirely unusual career in marketing—unusual because it focuses on selling what its author calls ‘ephemeral” products. It is a success story that takes many twists and turns as it recounts the challenges of promoting products as different as philanthropy and management consulting. How, for example, in the 80’s McKinsey changed its positioning to become a " leadership factory.” It describes how the author learned to convince people to take drugs that won’t cure them but keep them alive and how to convince investors to finance a student’s education.
Selling ephemeral things makes you think differently about marketing. “If you want to succeed,” says Bill Matassoni, "make sure you understand that the game is about constructing new market spaces with genuinely new dimensions. and realize that you need to redesign the systems that surround and deliver the value both you and the customer can now see."
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 and worked closely with many of his 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 for over five years a group responsible for innovation, marketing and communications. 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 (B.A. Literature, 1968) and Harvard Business School (M.B.A., 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.
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Marketing: Art and Science
Bill Matassoni's memoir begins with his early career, culminating in his partner roles at McKinsey and BCG. From the beginning, Bill brings a new lens to marketing, showing it is more than advertising or customer sampling. Through various examples across healthcare, professional services, and consumer products, Bill shows how marketing is a two-way street, where insights influence the design and direction of a product - or a professional services firm, and can be used to drive positive outcomes for customers, employees, shareholders, and external stakeholders. Bill's memoir is filled with useful advice for any role where insights drive success, regardless of its alignment with marketing. At McKinsey, he discussed how he sought to shape a brand centred on leadership rather than consulting or insights. At the Boston Consulting Group, he sought to develop a perception of being a trusted adviser to the client. Both of these are examples of Bill investigating the true value proposition for customers and aligning the firm to best deliver. Bill tells us to "Reach for the stars, not the numbers", which I think sums up his insights perfectly. Marketing is a tool that is both a science and an art, and Bill shows us how thinking across spaces and dimensions can lead to better outcomes for all.
Candid and instructive
Bill, thank you for sharing your candid observations and reflections on ups and downs of your career, dimensional thinking of marketing and its practice to some iconic organisations you have treaded privy to only a handful people at the highest level. Your first-hand experience with values and behaviours of some ‘well-known’ consultants of the last century in the making is equally instructive on how one might want to go about his / her career. Thanks also for inviting us to a glimpse of your private space at the Johnson House and hear the real narratives. Done the right way, marketing is impactful and fun!
In my opinion, great minds like Bill Matassoni, Steve Jobs and Alexander Fleming have a ‘method in the madness’.
Bill’s uncanny ability to draw on the concept of ‘multi-dimensional function spaces’ from his astronomy course at Harvard and apply it in Marketing to ‘seek new dimensions that re-define value’ is comparable to that of Steve Jobs and his serendipitous Calligraphy class.
Thought provoking quotes in the memoir like “If you want to change, you must change twice. You must change reality as well as perception” are my lifelong takeaways.
Thank you Bill for sharing this beautiful, cherishable memoir.
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