I have been doing a bit of Spring cleaning, trying to eliminate the clutter in my office.
In the process of putting some things, away, I looked through a book–Marketing Masters–that I wrote back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. (It was published 25 years ago this month. It’s out of print. So, believe me, much to my agent’s chagrin this is not a plug,)
True, the book was bit dusty.
But these messages, delivered by some of the world’s best marketers, are evergreen.
Here are six of my favorties.
“You are always better off having a point of difference in your product, instead of just coming out with a me-too and relying on your merchandising and advertising ability. People in an industry as competitive as ours who say ‘we are better marketers than our competitors that’s why we willl will win,’ are just fooling themselves.”
–Roger Enrico, the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
“There is great strength in size,but there is also great weakness. The strength is that people tend to believe that larger companies may know more, but with that positive perception comes a burden of inaccessibility. Coldness. Institutional. Not friendly. Not human. Not real.
“In other words, consumers say, ‘I know all those resources are there, but what does it mean to me?’ That’s the problem you have to solve.”
–David Bell, former president Bozell Group
“You cannot hire enough people so that you have all the good ideas. That is a bad concept. I think the right concept is to figure out who has the best ideas and figure out what you do best. You concentrate on that, and if someone else has a good idea, buy it and make it successful.”
–Don Kingsborough, the man behind the success of Teddy Ruxpin and Lazer Tag
”Fifty isn’t fatal.”
–The marketing department of Southwestern Bell in explaining why it went after a very profitable segment of the market that most marketers, tend to ignore. Their product? The Silver Pages designed to reach people 50 and older.
“You can’t use focus groups to create an idea. Focus groups can be used to bang ideas off of and get some sensitivity to an idea. But a focus group would create an Edsel.
“Let’s assume a world where there there are no fast-food restaurants, and you ask people where would like to buy a hamburger. They would describe a better Howard Johnson’s or a restaurant that would serve a better hamburger. They would never invent McDonald's.
“I don’t think focus groups can conceptualize new products becasue new products are beyond everyone’s frame of reference. So what they give you is incremental improvements on what exists. Or you get an Edsel. Something that is simply dumb. The role of the innovator, the creative guy, is to conceptionalize something.”
–Leslie H. Wexner, founder and CEO of Limited Brands.
”In corporate America, we are our own worst enemy, and bureaucracy is the tendency of the age. The bigger you get, the more insulated you tend to become and the less likely it is that you are ever going to see a customer. And our excuses for this are pretty lame. We are very busy. We have to go to meetings. Have to read the numbers. And, in doing so, you lose touch with the marketplace.”
J. Jeffrey Campbell, former CEO of Burger King and ex-Chairman of the Pillsbury Restaurant Group, which included–at the time of his tenure –the Burger King, Steak and Ale, Bennigan’s and Godfather’s Pizza restaurant chains, totaling some 6,000 units worldwide.
It’s amazing how well this advice holds up, even a quarter century later.
Paul B. Brown is the co-author of Just Start: Take Action; Embrace Uncertainty and Create the Future.