Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jack Trout on Marketing News Radio

There are few in marketing who can legitimately claim guru status – people who early on shaped the way marketing has been practiced for decades. Today on Marketing News Radio* I spoke with one of those people -- Jack Trout. One of his earlier works almost 30 years ago defined how companies approached market leadership, and his soon-to-be-published book will hope to correct some of the mistakes that he feels we’ve been making.

That seminal book I was talking about is Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Well, Jack has written a new book called In Search of the Obvious and he’s taking marketers and companies to task for creating a complex mess out of something that should be, well, obvious.

Trout earned his reputation with practicing his own preaching -- focus on one thing and be known for it. Well, no one can argue his credentials in helping companies find their singular identity. And from that experience he is decrying the state of marketing today and pointing a finger at marketers who have gotten lazy in the face of stiff competition, and at Wall Street for focusing on generating profits rather than building brands and customers.

Based on research spanning 70 categories, Trout has noticed at least a 10% increase in commoditization turning products into placeholders, and brands into price points. In today's show he offers a straightforward four-step process for marketers to use to battle the trend toward commoditization, and highlights the five-ingredient formula for being obvious to the consumer.

Though Trout can't be credited with keeping up-to-date on the latest technology and new media, he does admonish marketers who put the medium before the message. If the singular idea and story is the nail, the medium is the hammer. It doesn't matter if that hammer is social networking or direct mail -- you're only measuring its ability to drive home the message.

A great show today with one of the founding fathers of marketing. Make sure to listen for his predictions of what it will take to survive the future.

* Some of you may not be aware but I have the privilege of hosting the American Marketing Association's weekly radio program, Marketing News Radio. For the past four years I've interviewed some amazing (and sadly, some not-so-amazing) people. Check out the archives of the show, or set up a podcast and RSS feed.

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