Monday, February 19, 2007

Everyone Thinks They Are A Marketing Genius

Marketing Joins The Top Ten List Of Things We All Think We're Good At

By David Miranda

The human spirit is a wonderful thing. Long live the human spirit.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who watch American Idol, particularly the tryouts, you can't help but grimace, smile, chuckle, cringe at those contestants who think, not only that they can sing, but more audaciously, think they are the next American Idol. Like the title of Sen. Barack Obama's best seller, it is the "The Audacity Of Hope". It is what is great about America. We are a nation where anything and everything is possible. But let's be honest, hope is not substitute for talent

I have put together a Top Ten List of things we all think we're good at.

  1. Singing

  2. Minding other people's business

  3. Holding one's liquor

  4. Being a better driver than others on the road

  5. Selecting the ideal mate for others

  6. Being the boss

  7. Understanding the opposite sex

  8. Being a better contestant when watching those on game shows

  9. Being a good listener

  10. Marketing
Yes, marketing makes the Top Ten List.

I have been in countless marketing meetings attended by lawyers, accountants, technology experts, operations executives, research analysts, etc. etc. All, by their comments, feedback, and suggestions. claim to be marketers. "I think the logo should be blue", "The tag line doesn't do anything for me." "I think the music in the ad should be a little more upbeat". "The ad needs more copy." Etc. Etc. Etc. All marketing experts.

A friend of mine, Sergio Zyman, the former CMO of The Coca-Cola Company, shared with me an interesting story. He had just finished some television spots for Coke and reported this to Roberto Goizueta, the late and venerable Chairman and CEO of the company. Mr. Goizueta asked Sergio for tapes of the ads. Asked why, Mr. Goizueta said he wanted to show them to his wife who had a good feeling for choosing ads and her feedback would be invaluable. Sergio, not missing a beat, agreed, but with one condition. "What's that?", Mr. Goizueta responded. Sergio replied, "On the condition that she buy all the cases of Coke that I am supposed to sell." Sergio went on to explain that the advertising was targeted to consumers who were going to buy Coke and Mrs. Goizueta was not the target audience." Mr. Goizueta got the point.

Good marketing is that which is targeted at the people who will buy something. In most cases, the people sitting around marketing meetings, particularly the non-marketers, need to focus less on their personal tastes and opinions and more on those who actually buy the stuff.

I highly doubt that a female CMO of a men's fashion retailer wonders how she will look in the fashions marketed. Or does a 50-year old CMO of a children's toy company actually select a marketing campaign based on his own toy preferences?

For those non-marketers in the world of business, I have two solutions. Either leave marketing to the marketers or learn marketing. Unlike singing, marketing expertise can be an acquired talent.