Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Research and Common Sense

If you are a marketer with a big budget, there is a very good chance that market research is part of your plan...whether its part of concept testing, copy testing, surveys or focus groups. Yet, in spite of all this research, one still comes across marketing disasters that leave you questioning the role of research.

One such marketing disaster was the launch of the New Coke in 1985. Why did the New Coke fail even after extensive product testing, focus groups and a test market program in Kansas? And more importantly, what does it tell us about blindly following research?

This is where some common sense may save the day. Don’t just follow data... Question it. Ask why or why not. Don’t go so deep into the data that your intuition goes into sleep mode.

Incase of the New Coke, the company did not ask why. They seemed to have downplayed insight that had emerged from focus group that indicated the possible public impact. In his book "For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It”, Mark Prendergast talks about how a small minority, of about 10-12%, felt angry and alienated at the very thought, saying that they might stop drinking Coke altogether. Their presence in focus groups tended to skew results in a more negative direction as they exerted indirect peer pressure on other participants. Instead of tapping into this insight, and asking “why”, Coke chose to give more significance to surveys that were less negative. And the rest as they say is history.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Common Sense Tip of the Week

When it comes to website design… we all want a cutting edge, cool and sexy website for our products. Our wish lists include fancy animation, music, video and other popular web 2.0 tools. However, what we forget to consider is – who is the audience? Is my wish list really relevant to my target audience or does it just make me look good in the board room?

For e.g. when building a hospital website, focus on organization of information, on font size, on content, on search optimization. Spend the marketing dollars to build tools that can help the patients and their families…rather than fancy flash intros.

If you find your self saying to yourself, I know that… I urge you to think again. The best of us fall into the trap of focusing on what we want for our firms/products website rather than focusing on what our audience wants from the website

Monday, February 4, 2008

An introduction to "CS"

Growing up, when i would ask my dad a question that had me perplexed or confused ...very often his response was "CS"

What he meant by this cryptic acyronym was "Common Sense". This was his way of teaching his little girl to think through the situation at hand--to gather information, to process, to digest--and to come up with her own answer...rather than be handed the answer on a platter and take it on face value

So what does this have to do with marketing? Almost everything.

As the marketing landscape rapidly changes in this digital world and the media consumption habits of consumers evolve every minute, marketers overloaded with information and options are overwhelmed about how to reach their marketing goals. It is here that "CS" can saves us from making marketing blunders. How often have we come across a marketing initiative that tanked and thought "What were they thinking". This is where CS steps in.

While my attributing marketing sanity to two letters might seem too simplistic, there is some truth to it... And that is the hypothesis that this blog is out to test.

Can CS help us marketers keep it real in this rapidly evolving digital world?