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Often new products fail because there is no perceived need for them. That is, they don’t solve a real consumer problem.

What is it that makes a problem “real?”

For that answer, like all marketing/business/strategy answers, we have to ask the ultimate expert in our business, THE CUSTOMER! Whatever “real problems” we think our product solves is irrelevant. Unless the customer agrees that a problem exists and perceives our product as the solution (and recall, a product can be a good, a service, and idea or a combination of all three), we don’t have anything to offer them.

How will we know if we have a winner?

Asking the customer before we begin the design the product (and, once again, the “product” can be a good, service, idea or some combination!), and continuing to involve them in the development of the product are two effective actions. But often, the only way to know if we have a winner or loser is to launch the product. Until the customers own and use it, they (and we) won’t really know if we have a winner or a loser.

This is why our marketing information systems should be considered an investment rather than an expense! And also why marketing may seem simple in theory but tough, tough, tough in practice!

Marketing isn’t brain surgery. You can learn brain surgery.” – Jack Trout


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Thank you 2012!

By Dr. Burt Smith November 20th, 2012

This post is always my favorite to do each year because it showcases what’s on my mind every day…How THANKFUL I am for the blessings my family and I enjoy, and that certainly includes how much I appreciate your inviting me onto your electronic device to share a thought from time to time.

I know this is a busy time of the year so I’ll keep it short:





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Before there was the great feud between Conan O’Brian and Jay Leno, there was a knock-down-drag-out between Leno and David Letterman to fill the void left at 10:30 when the legendary Johnny Carson retired. This story is hilariously told in the movie, The Late Shift. If you like docudramas, this is a good one. The dude who plays Letterman is dead-on, so much so that Letterman still makes reference to him now and then.

What was left out of the movie was the role comedian Gary Shandling played in the whole process. Shandling was so successful at the time he had been named the permanent “guest host” on The Tonight Show, yet he opted out of the running to replace Carson. Instead, deciding to “go where they ain’t,” Shandling launched an entirely original concept in television at the time, a fictional show that intermingled real-life characters and events. He played talk show host Larry Sanders in the HBO show of the same name, and it ran for several years, occasionally even making fun of the whole late-night war thing and even featuring cameos by Leno and Letterman. I always suspected Shandling had a ball doing this show.

Instead of competing in a category and engaging in an ongoing battle for the number one spot, Shandling created his own category. Next time you’re stewing over how to compete in a category, think instead about what kind of category you might be able to create, and you could own it from the start.

You gotta be first, better, or different” – Loretta Lynn, Country Music Legend


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Want more business?

Here’s how you can get it: Do GOOD business! Yep, it’s just that simple. Just commit to consistently doing GOOD business in every aspect of your business.

Granted, that’s a lot easier said than done. Simple yes, but easy, well, not so much…

But worth it? You betcha.

Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise.” Will Rogers

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Veteran’s Day 2012

By Dr. Burt Smith November 8th, 2012

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” – Woodrow Wilson

I know a lot of my readers have worn our country’s uniform. I have floated the idea out there in years past of asking you to let me list your name on Veteran’s Day just so I can give you a little much deserved, likely far overdue, recognition for your service to our country. I have typically received a lot of resistance from you service men and women who I am fortunate enough to have as readers when I have in the past reached out with the request to list your name in a post on Veteran’s Day or the 4th of July. You’re always very polite but adamant in your refusal. You say you don’t want that kind of attention, that it wouldn’t be appropriate since you were just doing your duty, and many of you even try to downplay the importance of what you have done for your country as a result of your service. I respectfully disagree, but I also respect your wishes.

That being said, I won’t be naming you by name in this post, but I would appreciate your allowing me to express my thanks and that of my family for your service to our nation for your contributions to our FREEDOM. And if you say I’m overdoing it because you just “did your duty” or that you weren’t in harms way during your service, may I ask you to go back and re-read the oath you took when you joined the armed forces? Did it not say that you basically were committing to give your life for your country if necessary? That’s pretty significant in my book.

If you’d do like to read more about why I feel so strongly about Veteran’s Day, you may do so here. I’d appreciate it, in fact.

And if you are a veteran and are reading this, my apologies if such recognition makes you uncomfortable, but please know your service is something my family appreciates greatly. Lest we forget…

There can be no real peace while one American is dying somewhere in the world for the rest of us.” – Ronald Reagan



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Ever wonder why you see so many commercials that make you wince and say, “Why would they put something like that on the air?”

The short answer is RESOURCES. The two key resources are time and money, and rarely does any organization, large or small, have enough of either these days. If they ever did.

In a perfect world research would drive every aspect of every campaign. Before the messages were developed, research would be conducted with members of the target market to determine what value they are seeking. After the message was developed, additional research would be conducted to see if the message’s value proposition resonated with them. After the campaign launched, follow up would be done to see how the message was received and that information would be used to help develop the next campaign.

Of course, rarely do all those steps get followed. There are deadlines to meet with limited budgets, so what happens most often is that corners get cut in each of the steps outlined above. Or some get omitted altogether.  What often happens is that, at best, a mediocre campaign is launched and the organization winds up depending  more on hope than strategy, all the while dissatisfied, or downright embarrassed, at the way the campaign tells their branding story. At the worst, the campaign actually ends up doing irreparable damage to the brand.

Oilfield fire-fighting legend Red Adair once said that if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, just wait until you hire an amateur. That’s kind of what is at risk when organizations try to cut corners on research. If you don’t believe me, do a little research yourself. Just watch a few commercials that are obviously poorly done and ask yourself if you’d entrust the brands featured in them with your business! Those are the kinds of questions the owners of the brands represented in the commercials SHOULD have asked consumers like YOU before they put it out there.

Research is an investment. Do it right and it’ll pay dividends for your brand.

Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” – David Ogilvy


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