The authors contend that by and large marketing plans are formulated on the basis of intuition and guesswork, by marketing professionals who have no real appreciation for their science. To demonstrate the point, early on in the book, they explode several 'marketing myths' notions that are part of the conventional wisdom of marketers that have empirically been proven false. (This is a topic to which they return in their subsequent book Marketing Myths That Are Killing Business: The Cure for Death Wish Marketing).
"We believe and we demonstrate throughout this book that a company can stand out in this [increasingly competitive] environment, that computer-aided market-planning technology exists today to help companies make their marketing decisions. But even though marketers have far more data than in the past (so much indeed that it¹s become a form of intellectual pollution) and even though computer programs can manipulate that data faster and less expensively than ever, neither the data nor the computer is the solution.
The marketing revolution in the 1990s is management's recognition that, for every decision in the marketing mix, the company must evaluate hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of alternatives. And it must evaluate all these alternatives in terms of forecasted profitability not appeal, demand, share, sales, or warm "feelies".
We¹ll show you what's wrong with many marketing tools in wide use today focus groups, gap analysis, perceptual maps, and more. And we describe the tools a manager can use to evaluate alternatives in order to generate profitable solutions to marketing problems." (p. 14)
In a nutshell, the authors argue that a major problem with marketing today is that (1) not enough alternatives (i.e. potential combinations of market segments, price points, product attributes and other dimensions of the marketing mix) are assessed, and (2) that assessments do not focus on evaluating the bottom-line profitability of each segment.
Clearly, to do a proper job of market evaluation, significant computer power is required, as well as correct (meaning valid and reliable) market research data to go into these models. It is not an inexpensive proposition, and the authors do not hesitate to suggest that you really need to call in the experts to do a proper job of it. (Not too coincidentally, the authors are two thirds of Yankelovich Clancy Shulman, one of the largest market research and advertising firms in the world, and which undoubtedly has the capability to do one of these monster studies.) They tout their own expert system, Litmus, as a key tool in assessing all the relevant combinations and permutations, but to be fair also mention various competitors¹ products such as Assessor, Bases and ESP.
This, then, is the marketing revolution: the use of tools and models that will thoroughly and rigorously assess the profit potential of all possible market segments, and in the process turning marketing from an art into a science. It¹s a grand vision, and even makes sense for those organizations that can afford it. The smaller firm, however, or the not-for-profit organization, will be left wondering how they can get in on the action. Here the book is less clear 'marketing on a shoestring' is not within the set of concepts that they play with.
The book does, however, contain some useful information that will be of use to any marketer. For the most part, this consists of warnings on various research techniques (most of which fall short when compared to the grandiose expert systems that are capable of doing so much). Among the pointers in the book in this regard:
There are also various principles that the authors espouse as key underpinnings of a successful marketing strategy. These are:
The Marketing Revolution is at once a very illuminating and very frustrating book. Illuminating, in the sense that the flaws that the authors point out in several popular research techniques are very real and dangerous: frustrating, in that the operation of the expert system alternatives is never very explicitly spelled out, and is very expensive in any case.
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