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October 2009

Marketers Spark a War in the Boardroom

All marketers should read the latest book by Al & Laura Ries, which describes the battle taking place between right brain marketers and left brain managers. The book, titled "War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don't See Eye-to-Eye--and What to Do About It " is an apt title for the battles that are taking place. I've been a big fan of Al Ries ever since his classic "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition" was published.  Next to Aaker, Kotler, Hopkins and Ogilvy, this is one of the must reads for any marketer.

Left brain managers are taking over to the detriment of marketing.  Those that can quantify results and make numbers dance tend to win over those that can see the ship sinking, even though the numbers add up.  The trend is being exacerbated even further by the easy to quantify on line marketing results being a driving metric of marketing vs. the harder to quantify brand.  On the internet mediocrity measured well often wins over brilliant marketing.

The difference in outcomes is stark when you look at Apple's Steve Job's as a right brain guy vs. General Motors management that is still playing the better features = better car game.

According to Ries, The fundamental problem is that CEO's tend to be left brain thinkers and CEO's tend to approve marketing direction.  Since marketers speak and think in a different language, the two do not communicate well.  It's why CMOs last for 26 weeks on average vs. the much longer lifespan of CEOs. 

The other problem described by Ries is that left brain managers believe that they can overcome current consumer perception and what I call the "physics of marketing."  Case in point are recent efforts by T-Mobile and Version to battle Applie's iPhone.  New operating systems such as Android are being promoted as being superior to the iPhone.  The consumer on the other hands looks at both providers as offering weak substitutes for what they really want, an iPhone.  Who cares that other phones have better features.

Quantitative analysis is great when trying to optimize a campaign that is working.  The only issue is, figuring out how what makes for a great campaign is a right brain activity that is more gut than numbers. 

War in the Boardroom.  Marketers and great ideas are the casualty.

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Visa Debit Card Gets Funky

Is it just me, or is the advertising industry getting lazy.  The new Visa Debit Card commercial featuring "Super Freak" is a great example.  Excellent music, strong production values and a message that is as thin as the Visa Debit Card itself.

I'm not sure what this commercial is trying to say.  That the card is cool, or was it an account planner at the agency that said that young innovative eccentric musically inclined people are early adopters for debit cards.  Even if all that is true, the commercial is more lifestyle than persuasive.  I'm not sure that a Visa card can ever be perceived as "funky" or cool in this lifetime. It is a tool for certain kinds of individuals that like direct and immediate control of their finances.  Instead of a "super freak" maybe it is a "control freak" that is needed.

I'd suggest that Visa go back and find the USP for these products, and then maybe, consumers will start using them instead of credit cards, which have the obvious benefit of delaying financial pain for those of us who are out of control.

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The Use of Negative vs. Postive Words

Interesting study out of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience published in the Journal Emotion.  The study shows that people process emotional information unconsciously, that people can perceive the emotional value of subliminal messages and that people are more attuned to negative works.  You can read more about the study with an abstract featured at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.
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