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Marketing in Troubled Times

March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Wiseman

You’ll excuse me if I make a racist observation.. Or maybe you won’t.
But a review of several top weekly magazines reveals an all too visible truth: the ads in Ebony Magazine communicate better, faster and with more impact than those of several of its more well established competitors.

This doesn’t mean the magazine is better… or worse, just that, on the whole, their advertisements deliver their messages with more communication value.

The reason for this is not to be found in a Wharton MBA thesis on the successful strategies of ethnic advertising.

It is simpler than that: their ads are more visual than those of the other weekly magazines we reviewed (Time, Forbes, Fortune).
Most people think the familiar adage, “One picture is worth a thousand words,” is an old Chinese proverb. In fact, it is often attributed to that all time Oriental homeboy, Confucius.
But alas, the C-man missed this one: the phrase was created by ad man Fred R. Barnard, for an advertisement he placed in the industry journal, Printer’s Ink, in 1921. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Surveys vs. Focus Groups

March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Wiseman

The Focus Group Fallacy

It is a magnificent spring morning. You ease your car into your parking space at the office, turn the key to off and step into the brisk morning sunshine. Walking across the parking lot, you wonder how it is that an evening’s rain can clean things so purely that it smells like the air just took a bath. As you bound through the front door of the office you see the receptionist just settling down to her desk, a cup of Starbucks finest occupies her immediate attention. “Good morning Melinda, how’s it going?”

”Fine, Mr. Crystal, just fine.”

But guess what, Melinda is not fine. She had a fight with her boyfriend last night, she is hung over, and she is not “fine.”

“Fine” is a social answer to the question. It is not an honest answer. It may well be that you really didn’t want an honest answer to that question and it’s not that Melinda “lied” in any harmful sense at all- more of a PR handling of the boss. But this little vignette illustrates one of the most critical aspects of effective market research–getting an honest answer to a question, a survey question. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Positioning: The Key to Success in Marketing and PR

March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Wiseman

Let me begin with a story.

In the winter of 1991, like many here in America, I sat glued to CNN’s coverage of the historic toppling of the statue of infamous founder of the KGB in Dershinky circle near the Kremlin. Little did I know or suspect that 6 months later I would be delivering a seminar to 200 Russian businessmen in Moscow on the use of market research and surveys in developing positioning and branding strategies for advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns.

As it turned out there was a member of the Russian Government in the audience–a Lt. Colonel from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs–the Russian National police. He approached me after my talk, told me how much he had enjoyed it and asked if I would meet with his superior at the Ministry the following day. I looked at my wife, who was with me at the time. She gave me the “Hey, why not?” smile” and we agreed.

And so, the next morning she and I and the Colonel stood in front of the Ministry Headquarters (a huge yellow and white cement structure) awaiting security clearance. Finally uniformed guards came out. They ushered us down long, dark, cement corridors, up four flights of stairs (the elevator was broken) and into the office of Colonel Stanislav Pylov, the Director of Personnel for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. This man was in charge of the welfare of a million Russian police (they are all federal police in Russia). Read the rest of this entry »

A Look Behind the Wizard’s Curtain

March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Wiseman

I’m tired of hearing about subprime mortgages.

It’s as if these things were living entities that had spawned an epidemic of economic pornography.

Subprime mortgages are as much a cause of the current financial chaos as bullets were for the death of JFK.

Someone planned the assassination and someone pulled the trigger.

The media, J. Edgar Hoover and the Warren Commission tried to push Lee Harvey Oswald off on the American public. They didn’t buy it.

They shouldn’t buy subprime mortgages either. Read the rest of this entry »