Friday, March 16, 2007

"Field Of Dreams" Marketing - Build It And They Will Come - NOT!

Hope Is Not A Strategy

By David Miranda

In the classic film, "Field Of Dreams" Kevin Costner's character heard a voice summoning him to "build it and they will come". The "it", of course, was a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. The final scene was a dramatic aerial shot of serpentine car headlights as far as the eye could see heading to the field. Hope springs eternal.

In real life, however, hope is not enough. Today businesses build products and offer new services with the hope that customers will come and buy. Hope, however, is not a strategy and, more importantly, without a strategy there is no hope. Sounds reasonable, but, more often that not, schizophrenic marketers still rely on hope when they are strategically bankrupt.

Need some examples? Consider these.

Delta Airlines attempted to launch a discount airline, Song. It brought together really smart people; invested really big dollars; and "hoped" that they had a winner. Not? The music ended and Song was no more.

Speaking of Field Of Dreams, every year, smart people in Hollywood, backed by big money premiere box office flops that leave movie goers wondering "what were they thinking?" Didn't anyone in this "Emperor's New Clothes" scenario say "this is a stinker"? There are too many "stinkers" to name here, but I'm sure you've been the victim of a few. The backers "hoped" they'd be blockbusters.

In the annals of the cola wars, Pepsi marketing executives once "hoped" that the market was ready and eager for Pepsi Clear - Pepsi, just without the color. Go figure. Smart people, big money, clear failure. By the way, Coca-Cola countered with Tab Clear. Same result.

The new AT&T has recently announced that Cingular, the nation's leading mobile phone company, will change it name to AT&T abandoning the Cingular brand. This decision was made even though AT&T once had its own mobile phone offering that suffered from poor customer service, low customer retention and its ultimate demise. They "hope" for better results this time. Smart people, big money, smart decision? The new AT&T hopes for the best.

Before smart people like yourself put big money behind a big dream, first make sure you have a solid strategic foundation.

If you are hearing voices, take this advice.

Before you start "clearing the cornfield", have a clear strategy.