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March 2006
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May 2006

Demographic Deceptions

While demographics can be a useful tool for marketing, behavioral demographics is a slippery slope.   First mistake junior markeeters make is assuming that if someone is a member of a particular group, they will behave like the group.   It's statistics 101.    50% of the population has below average intellegence for instance. 

The second mistake is extended assumptions.   Usually our data is not granular enough to make sweeping assertions based on combining several statistics.   

What brought this to mind, was seeing War in Salt Lake.  (reminded me of going to Foster Foster Beach in the summertime growing up.)  I got into a discussion with one of the concert promoters. It's a delicate equation.  They need to balance the cost of the perfomer, overhead and venue against ticket price and sales.  Every band appeals to different people.   

Here's a pop quiz.   Utah is the most Republican state in the US.   Now think about Republican demographics and behavior.   

Question: We have three performances: Michael Moore, Ann Coulter,  and Bill Maher.   Which one(s) do better in Utah?

Michael Moore : sold out
Ann Coulter: cancelled
Bill Maher: sold out

Bonus points:  Why?

Stopping Market Research

There are two types of market research.  The first is environmental scanning.  This is an ongoing process as part of the marketing conversation.   Feedback is always important to make sure you are aware of what is going on.

The second type is used to validate your hypothesis before building a new product.    This involves secondary research (what has been written) and primary research (talking to people).    When I was teaching graduate students, the question was "How much is enough?'   Which is important to know.

Research leads to planning, which leads to execution.    But marketing research is time sensitive.   It grows stale quickly.   Not enough understanding, you do stupid things.  Too much research, you miss the market window.

The risk factor determines the amount of research needed.   If you have a lot of flexibility in your design, you just need to know which way the wind is blowing and you can adjust as you get into the market.   Sometimes that is hard to figure.   There is also the law of diminishing returns.   At some point, your results will keep repeating.  Nothing new is being learned.

When this happens, stop.  Start executing.   But always have your key one or two assumptions front and center and keep an eye out on those market conditions.   Just think of the auto companies building SUVs.   And gas prices of $3.   

Flying Suprise, Embraer 170

I fly quite a bit.   Mostly shorter flights around the West.   I tend to gravitate towards the small jets.  You get on and off them quickly.   The only downside is they tend to be the Canadair Regional Jets.  What I call the "hang over" flights.  No matter what your size, you always seem to hang over the next seat, or into the aisle.   And you tend to bang your head.   But if you can keep the flights under a couple of hours, it's worth it.

The big jets just take a lot longer to load up and get off.  But you do get more room to walk around.   For me the ideal jet would be one which had some room, but was easy to load and unload.  Now Southwest has taken that to an art form, but I just don't get excited waiting in those cattle chutes to get on.

Today I flew back from Chicago on a Delta code share flight and did I get a pleasant suprise.  They were flying an Embraer (Brazil) 170.  Same number of passengers as the Canadair plane, but the seats were larger, and you could stand up in the aisle.  No more hangover.  And the seats were comfortable and the cabin was good looking.   There even was a first class section.   I'm not sure of the economics of this aircraft, but I would switch airlines to fly on this airplane.   (I do think Jet Blue is going that way.)

Now if only Travelocity had an option to pick the aircraft............

MRDs, Product Slicks and Postcards

We've all done marketing requirement documents.  They get pretty involved, and when done, a great product emerges.  At least if we've done our job.   Then we need to communicate it crisply to others.   I don't know about you, but I've seen way too many PowerPoint presentations.   Which tends to be a crutch because if you have more to say, add another slide.

A very powerful technique is creating a dummy product slick.   This has two advantages.  First off, since you are restricted to a single side of a sheet of paper, it really helps you focus on the value propositions.   The ones which really count.   Secondly, you can show it to different people and get their reactions.  Kind of like web analytics, but in the first person.   If you are on the mark, they will get your concepts and react.  If they don't, well  it's back to the drawing board.   

Once you have the product slick mastered, try a small post card mailing.  The kind where you only get a title and one sentence to grab someones attention and present your product. 

When you have this, you are ready to get engineering on board.  Because they too will get it, and as they go through the detailed product requirements, everyone will be building toward a common goal.  And that beats trying to mico manage a product.