Cuno: "Your surveys and your focus groups are predictive." That's a myth. You gather people in a room and say, "What would you do if you saw this commercial?" If they all say, "We'd buy the product!" you think you have a winner on your hands, and you roll it out.
When you ask people to imagine how they're going to react to something, number one, they have absolutely no clue how they will react. But they don't know that they don't know, so they're going to do their best to give you an answer. So what people think they're going to do and what they [actually] do are two different things.
Boldt: Why exactly is it better to "prove it before you promote it"?
Cuno: It should be fundamental. But many people still use advertising as some kind of adornment, rather than some kind of selling tool. Advertising started out as this proxy salesperson to move product. Somewhere along the line, people started attaching metrics to it in terms of how many people do we reach? How often do we reach them, and how many people remember the message? Over time, somehow the industry started using those metrics as measures of success as opposed to how many widgets did we sell? "Awareness." "Reaching frequency." "Awards garnered." Advertising was invented for a lot more than get your name out there-it's to sell widgets!
Boldt: What are a couple of secrets for making every marketing dollar count?
Cuno: One secret is don't trust your gut intuition. Set up scientifically valid tests. Don't settle for mythology you've always heard. You don't have to test everything, but look at the sources of information you've got: If it's "everybody knows," challenge that. Understand that human behavior in the marketplace is largely predictable and that's really important. The trick is to really discover what that human behavior is that's predictable, then you can create test scenarios where you watch how people react. Do not ask people to predict what they would do in a given circumstance. Watch what they do.