Gutsy

If going with your gut is a good idea, does indigestion affect your decision? A recent eruption on an executives’ forum centered on the role of gut instinct in decision making, which applies to marketing as well. One camp lobbied for using detailed marketing research to make sound and measurable business decisions. The other mob insisted some things are beyond research, and that instincts about market shifts were not to be ignored. Both were right … and wrong. Market research is wonderful. I make good money doing it for businesses around the world. But even reams of quality information may not present the whole picture. When Steve Jobs and crew developed the iPhone, there was a leap of faith concerning the readiness of the market for an entirely new mobile computing paradigm (well, not entirely new … Palm had mastered pocket devices without cellular connections for years). Research might confirm … Continue reading

Survey Sadism

I was abused for want of a smoothie. I have recently habituated Jamba Juice, a now sprawling franchise that started SLO (San Luis Obispo). In a well-intended effort to assure satisfaction, they randomly offer customers the opportunity to get two smoothies for the price of one if they complete an online survey. Nice approach, and I was willing to participate given that I perform a lot of market research via surveys and understand the benefits. Willing that is until I hit the second screen. After passing the first page of questions, their survey software politely announced that I was 3% done – I had a long road still ahead. I continued, mainly to see how long and horrible their survey instrument might be and did not find out for another five minutes. Avoiding critiques about some survey mechanics (there were flaws), I can safely say the survey was far too … Continue reading

Warm Coke

One drop of water makes a difference. In marketing and product design, the accumulation of tiny details motivates people to want. I would argue that Apple designed the iPhone with a critical mass of tiny little features, and the one huge feature of simplicity. Together they wowed the world. In marketing, knowing the motivations of your target audience and subtly tickling each fancy creates an irresistible offering. Which makes me wonder when Coke forgot this reality. Coke is one of the best marketing machines on Gawd’s grey earth. From cuddly polar bears (who in real life can rip the flesh off a seal in seconds) to kumbaya songs suited to the hippie era, Coke touches consumer sentiments and constantly creates product preference (being a Georgia born southerner and former Atlanta resident, I have natural bias about their product anyway, as do most people south of Masson and Dixon). But Coke … Continue reading

Antisocial Media

“Twitter is an ‘all about me’ place. So is Facebook. Both will be replaced with something else someday.” The radio host who said this, a man who lives in the social space as part of his livelihood, was making a fairly shrewd observation. Perhaps the condition is temporary, but most social media is about micropublishing, allowing everyone and their grandpa to broadcast to anyone who remotely cares. As proven in the last election cycle, everyone voicing their opinions and preferences online strains the patience of others, and over time reduces the desire to participate. As a young store clerk in a Forever 21 outlet recently said to me “Facebook is too noisy. Nobody my age hangs out there.” Sadly, a lot of marketers are in the “all about me” mode of social, and achieving the same sad results. I scanned a few B2B twitter accounts to spot check social activity … Continue reading

Segment Sense

Ten out of ten start-ups don’t segment their markets well or at all. Oddly, a number of temporarily successful companies don’t either. Segmenting is one of the essential marketing strategy disciplines and yet the least practiced. Many start-ups skip it thinking that they intuitively know their market segments or, worse yet, that they will try-and-pivot their way to success. Of the companies that at least take a stab at segmenting, they often do a poor job. One of our earliest clients – a post-IPO success story facing an industry shake-out and forced pivot – confided they had chosen an industry verticals segmentation plan because “It’s as good as any other.” Such lackluster segmentation sentiment is dangerous because segmentation is the foundation for your go-to-market strategy, and the one that accelerates early revenue while solidifying a survivable niche from whence to grow. Failure to segment is tantamount to failure. Let us … Continue reading

Tidal Waves

Death of the caterpillar is the birth of a butterfly. Someone should mention this to the publishers of every major magazine. Pew Research, the busy bodies constantly reporting on what we people are doing, recently noted that magazine advertising rates are sinking faster than congressional approval ratings. Advertising pages in the top magazines have dropped an average of 18% in the last year, repeating an annual trend that began in 2008, two years before the original iPad was introduced. At this rate magazines will soon pay you to read them in the distant hope that advertisers will care. Every market changes, but some change very fast (the iron ore industry moves a bit more slowly than high tech and publishing). Established franchises can disappear when their markets rapidly change if they fail to see, accept and respond to the change. Microsoft has publicly confessed that they were slow to respond … Continue reading

Stop Researching

“Researching to 100% assuredness is 100% stupid,” surmised a wise old marketer. Marketing research is essential, but so is action. Perfect knowledge is impossible in the same way as constantly moving one half of the remaining distance toward an object. At some point you have to stop researching because diminishing rates of risk reduction make no since given the cost of research and the costs of delay. But like many alcoholics, knowing when enough-is-enough is clouded by your direct participation. One way to triangulate when to quit researching is to pair the costs of too much research verses too little. We all do this informally, but two problems evolve from hipshot restraint. First is that everybody has a different perception of risk based on their perspective. Start-up entrepreneurs are likely to short research in order to get to market quickly – to obtain first mover advantage. They will override the … Continue reading