What Marketers Don’t Know

I love to be challenged by someone who holds a marketing perspective that differs from my own.

How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp is such a challenge. I devoured this myth busting book on a flight to California this past week and found it to be one of the most refreshing marketing books of the last few years. Byron is the Director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for marketing at The University of South Australia. He uses data to challenge much of the marketing thinking that swirls around the Internet. Imagine that, using data.

He tackles such long held views as:

To give you one specific example, I have often thought that those “heavy users” of a consumer brand need my focus and intention. But in some fascinating charts, the author illustrates how this just isn't smart. 

Consider Coca-cola: You’d think that the volume of consumption comes from the daily consumer of Coke. Yet, the data illustrates how the greatest volume comes from people who may drink one or two cokes a year. That quite counter intuitive but the mass market of people who consume Coke on rare occasion is an enormous amount of people. Suddenly that long tail of infrequent customers may prove to be of greater interest to reach than those who are frequently consuming your product. 

In another section of the book, Sharp provides some data about how advertising really works. I am not a fan of advertising per se as a marketing tactic. However, he illustrates the role that advertising plays in refreshing memory structures and the message itself is of less importance than reinforce critical cues connected to the brand. These ideas about advertising are challenging me to rethink the role that advertising can still play in the marketplace. 

I rarely reread a book but have already started to go back through this gem again. Although I still don't agree fully with each argument, Sharp has gotten me to think about some long held views on how to market and grow a brand. 

I’d urge you to pick up a copy and get on a long plane ride without distractions. 


Could you use a little counter intuitive coaching? Give me a call through Clarity and let's talk. 

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