Nuts & Bolts - Book Club: Where Did Common Sense Go?
Marketing guru Jack Trout is not interested in discussing the creative endeavors of the marketing world. He wants to talk about what a mess the industry is, and that's not going to make marketers happy.
Trout's solution comes in the form of his latest book: "In Search of the Obvious: The Antidote for Today's Marketing Mess." With 40 years of experience, a successful marketing firm—Trout & Partners—and a lengthy client list, Trout is certainly someone marketers should listen to.
Trout liberally peppers the book with case studies of highly visible marketers. "I'm not trying to be mean, but, because of their visibility and history, [these marketers] present wonderful lessons learned the hard way. Lessons you don't want to repeat," he claims. But they're not all failures; he shares the successes of BMW and Papa John's, as well as the many positive and negative tales of Volkswagen.
While traditional tactics such as segmentation, data mining and customer retention are all key to marketing programs, Trout reminds us to avoid putting the cart before the horse: "A flood of data should never be allowed to wash away your common sense and your feeling for the market." In a world where ad agencies increasingly focus on creating 30 seconds of entertainment instead of actually selling their clients' products and marketers endlessly tinker with brands, readers must remember that the most important task is to differentiate their products or they'll be lumped together with competitors.
"In Search of the Obvious" provides practical tips, such as the four steps to creating a solid marketing process. However, Trout gets a bit repetitive, rehashing case studies from different angles, but it's forgivable based on the amount of information he shares. Trout leaves us with this: "If you are willing to use your common sense and keep things simple, you should be able to reach that obvious solution. If you can't do these things, find someone to help that can." Perhaps this is apparent, but looking back at some of the blunders made by Coca-Cola, General Motors and Anheuser-Busch, it's never a bad idea for a refresher.