Marketing Myths that are Killing Business

The Cure for Death Wish Marketing

Kevin J. Clancy, Robert S. Shulman

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 1993, 308 pages

ISBN: 0-07-011124-3

Keywords: Marketing

Last modified: July 22, 2021, 10:01 p.m.

Most businesses blithely cling to common marketing "wisdom" — and many pay the price by failing. That's the tough premise of this spirited book, packed with unconventional solutions and counter-intuitive answers adaptable to almost any business situation. Drawing on years of experience in the marketing trenches and corporate boardrooms as two of the most renowned marketing consultants in America, Kevin J. Clancy and Robert S. Shulman show marketers how to eliminate the myths and death wish practices that are killing brands, products, services, and companies throughout the world. Readers will learn to self-correct more than 100 prevalent death wish marketing fallacies.

Written by two of the foremost experts in marketing, this highly readable guide debunks the most commonly accepted myths that have perpetuated themselves in American business today and provides solutions that can be adapted to most every business situation. The authors show marketers how to eliminate the myths that are killing brands, products, services, and companies throughout the world. Readers will learn how to self-correct more than 100 prevalent death wish marketing fallacies.

    • Acknowedgments
    • Test Your Own Marketing IQ
    • Introduction
  1. Myths about Business Performance
    • Myth 1: American businesses were doing just fine during the 1980s.
    • Myth 2: Many companies/brands/products/services failed to thrive in the 1980s and early 1990s because of the recession, Japanese competition, recalcitrant American workers, and other factors the organization could not control.
    • Myth 3: Finance should be the center of the business solar system.
    • Myth 4: CEOs know a great deal about marketing. They've studied it, practiced it, become adept at it.
    • Myth 5: Most marketing programs work.
  2. Myths about Market Planning
    • Myth 6: Short-term marketing results are what's important. Take care of the short-term, and the long term will take care of itself.
    • Myth 7: Faster is better in planning.
    • Myth 8: Because marketing may be defined as "the discipline concerned with solving people's problems with products for a profit", most companies attempt to uncover consumer problems.
    • Myth 9: Small or entrepreneurial businesses don't need to follow a disciplined approach to understand the market.
    • Myth 10: One good way to spot marketing opportunities is to see what the competition is doing.
    • Myth 11: Partnership marketing is a surefire way to increase profitability.
    • Myth 12: In the coming decade, marketers will derive more profits from new products than from existing brands.
    • Myth 13: Brand equity is a marvelous new concept that every strategic plan should adopt.
    • Myth 14: "High" versus "low" involvement are useful terms to describe product categories.
    • Myth 15: In most product categories, and brand that succeeds in getting placed on shelves will generate a good return on sales.
    • Myth 16: The way to develop a strategy to invigorate a brand is to begin with an analysis of where the product falls in the product life cycle.
    • Myth 17: The faster technology changes, the more valuable the brand names.
    • Myth 18: Most marketing plans are adequate blueprints for success.
    • Myth 19: Market share determines profitability; firms should always strive for market leadership.
    • Myth 20: Effective marketing plans should be based in the premise of continuous year-to-year improvement — what the Japanese call kaizen.
  3. Myths about Marketing Department Organization
    • Myth 21: The important thing is to get the marketing program launched now rather than build consensus.
    • Myth 22: We don't need a corporate marketing and research staff when we can push the marketing function down in the organization.
    • Myth 23: It is important to promote brand managers quickly, because otherwise the company will lose them.
    • Myth 24: When the organization needs new marketing talent, the place to recruit it is from packaged goods companies.
  4. Myths about Marketing Decision Making
    • Myth 25: You can make the right marketing decision for a new product or service, target group, positioning, or ad execution by evaluating a few alternatives and picking the winner.
    • Myth 26: Probability is the guiding criterion when marketers pick a target group, positioning or advertising strategy, new product, price, or marketing plan.
    • Myth 27: Companies evaluate different marketing options on the basis of attitudinal criteria (what people want, what they like, what they say they will buy) and seasoned judgment, because profitability is too difficult to measure.
    • Myth 28: Management judgement based on experience is the best way (if not the only way) to make key marketing decisions.
    • Myth 29: The key to successful marketing is in being "different", "creative", "exciting", "sexy", or all four.
    • Myth 30: A reasonable way to set the marketing budget is to take last year's figure and adjust for inflation.
    • Myth 31: Getting the right decision-making process or system in place is what's important; the details of execution will take care of themselves.
  5. Myths about Marketing Research
    • Myth 32: Small or entrepreneurial businesses can't afford to research and plan strategy the way big businesses can.
    • Myth 33: A company should spend a fixed amount of the total marketing budget on marketing research, year in and year out.
    • Myth 34: The only way an organization can obtain marketing research is to buy the services of a professional marketing researcher, a consulting firm, or both.
    • Myth 35: Research practitioners are well trained in the common tools of the trade.
    • Myth 36: Most marketing research tools in widespread use have demonstrated reliability and validity.
    • Myth 37: You can count on interviewers to ask a survey's question precisely as written, and to write down the respondent answers exactly.
    • Myth 38: Data analysis is far more important than data collection.
    • Myth 39: The focus group interview is a serious marketing research tool a manager can use safely to make serious marketing decisions.
  6. Myths about the Marketing Climate
    • Myth 40: The U.S. population is becoming more diverse as men and women, rich and poor, young and old, black and white, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and other religious groups have less and less in common.
    • Myth 41: Knowing consumers values will not help us to understand how people will behave in the future, or how to motivate the to buy our product.
    • Myth 42: Status-seeking remains an important motivation for people, and an effective way to differentiate products and services.
    • Myth 43: People like to shop; it's a form of recreation.
    • Myth 44: Companies can safely ignore the environmental issue.
    • Myth 45: The "middle market" for products and services are dying.
    • Myth 46: Brand loyalty is dead.
  7. Myths about New Products
    • Myth 47: Most new products fail.
    • Myth 48: New product failure rates have declined as companies have become more effective marketers.
    • Myth 49: If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods the world will make a beaten path to his door.
    • Myth 50: A company cannot create a market.
    • Myth 51: A company must offer the highest-quality products.
    • Myth 52: The key to company profits — not to mention personal promotion — is to create new products.
    • Myth 53: Line extensions are the least risky way to introduce new products.
    • Myth 54: The way to make incremental improvements in a product is to test the new version against the old.
    • Myth 55: A product that scores high in a concept test will be a sure winner in the market.
    • Myth 56: The more appealing a new product, the more likely it wil be a success.
  8. Myths about Targeting
    • Myth 57: Heavy buyers (also known as "heavy users", "high rollers", "big spenders") are the best targets for most marketing programs.
    • Myth 58: Because most consumer packaged goods companies target their advertising to 18-49-year-old women, they must be a good target.
    • Myth 59: A business should invest more money in finding new customers than in further developing current customers.
    • Myth 60: A company's best prospects for a product or service are people who "look" very much like current customers.
    • Myth 61: The way to build the business is to bring nonusers into the product category.
    • Myth 62: Big customers are the best customers.
    • Myth 63: Needs-based segmentation stratgies are the most profitable way to segment and understand a product's market.
    • Myth 64: Psychographic segmentation is a useful tool for segmenting markets.
    • Myth 65: Attitudes are an excellent way to segment markets.
    • Myth 66: There really are only a few different market targets to choose among in my product category.
    • Myth 67: Since a marketer can't evaluate target groups in terms of profit potential, only seasoned judgment can help.
  9. Myths about Positioning
    • Myth 68: Most marketers know what positioning means and how important it is. As a result, most established products and services are clearly if not powerfully positioned.
    • Myth 69: Most new products and services are based on positioning strategies for which they have an advantage in highly motivating features or benefits or both.
    • Myth 70: Powerful positioning strategies can be based on ethereal, intangible attributes rather than real product differences.
    • Myth 71: Problem detection is the best way to develop a positioning strategy.
    • Myth 72: Positioning strategies based on gap analysis will be successful.
    • Myth 73: Perceptual mapping and choice modeling offer prescriptive insights that help marketers to develop improved positioning strategies.
    • Myth 74: An established product doesn't need a differentiated positioning strategy to be successful.
  10. Myths about Advertising
    • Myth 75: Most advertising campaigns have a demonstrable effect on sales, if not productivity.
    • Myth 76: Most marketing/advertising practitioners believe that advertising has a positive effect on sales.
    • Myth 77: Advertising budgets must be set and controlled as a percentage of sales.
    • Myth 78: Share of voice determines your share of market.
    • Myth 79: The only formula a retailer can use to calculate advertising is one based on the number of stores in a market.
    • Myth 80: Major brands, once launched and successful, can cut back advertising spending to maintenance levels.
    • Myth 81: Advertising works best in markets where a brand is doing poorly.
    • Myth 82: Pretests of advertising copy predict real-world sales performance.
    • Myth 83: It does not matter whether people like your advertising or not.
    • Myth 84: Given enough cues and prompts, most people remember something about your television commercial the day after they have watched it.
    • Myth 85: Associating a brand with a social cause is a good way to revitalize it.
    • Myth 86: The more messages you pack into a television or print ad, the more effective the advertising.
    • Myth 87: Naming your competitors in ads is a way to distinguish yourself.
  11. Myths about Media Planning & Scheduling
    • Myth 88: Media planners at advertising agencies know a great deal about the relative effectiveness of print, television, and radio advertising.
    • Myth 89: The more deeply people are involved in television programs, the less likely they are to pay attention to advertising.
    • Myth 90: The best way to build media is based on the cost per thousand people exposed — CPMs.
    • Myth 91: Nielsen's rating service — especially the people meter — is a valid indicator of the number of people and the percentage of homes watching particular programs on television.
    • Myth 92: Three advertising exposures is an effective advertising level.
    • Myth 93: Flighted campaigns are better than continuous campaigns.
    • Myth 94: The best way to introduce a new consumer durable product is with heavy-up, front-loaded campaign.
    • Myth 95: Working women don't watch daytime television.
    • Myth 96: Prime-time commercials really move the brand, and prime time excites the trade.
    • Myth 97: Continuous sponsorship of a program will build frequency against the viewers of that show.
    • Myth 98: Teens are heavy users of radio. Therefore, radio should be a central part of any media plan targeting teenagers.
    • Myth 99: Print is boring.
  12. Myths about Promotion
    • Myth 100: Promotion decisions, like serious capital investment decisions, are guided by rigorous thinking, strong research, and at least one eye on the bottom line.
    • Myth 101: Couponing is good for consumers, good for retailers, good for manufacturers.
    • Myth 102: Consumer and trade promotions are more effective tools for building brand awareness than advertising.
    • Myth 103: Promotion is a more profitable tool than advertising when it comes to generating sales of a new product.
    • Myth 104: Marketing managers know a great deal about the effects of sports and event marketing.
    • Myth 105: Promotion is an effective way to maintain existing products.
    • Myth 106: Trade promotion is a profitable thing to do.
    • Myth 107: A company should increase its promotional budget if its market share is decreasing.
    • Myth 108: Cross-promotion may be a good idea, but it's just too difficult to identify possible partners scientifically.
  13. Myths about Public Relations
    • Myth 109: A company cannot measure the effects of public relations and other forms of corporate communications.
    • Myth 110: Corporate communications and public relations may feed executive egos, but they do no real good for the company.
    • Myth 111: Money the company spends on public relations has far less effect than the same dollars spent on conventional advertising.
    • Myth 112: Management cannot count on public relations to make a measurable contribution to the marketing mix.
    • Myth 113: Public relations, because it is an art form, cannot be quantified, and thus cannot be measured.
    • Myth 114: A company cannot measure public relations' return-on-investment.
    • Myth 115: You cannot measure the quality of media coverage.
    • Myth 116: Public relations cannot be used as an integrated marketing tool.
    • Myth 117: A small business cannot worry about public relations.
    • Myth 118: It's better to spend money to distribute the news than to analyze results.
    • Myth 119: It's too expensive and time-consuming to target public relations to local markets and audience.
  14. Myths about Pricing
    • Myth 120: Because pricing is such an important component in the marketing mix, most firms have a serious pricing strategy based on businesslike pricing research.
    • Myth 121: Pricing is one of those factors a company cannot test beforehand. You have to pick a price and live with it.
    • Myth 122: A company has to accept the market price; nothing it can do will influence prices; it is the victim of its competitors pricing.
    • Myth 123: Price sensitivity is a function of the customer's personality.
    • Myth 124: Price is the consumer's "bottom line"; during a recession, price becomes the most important consideration.
    • Myth 125: You must match price in a competitive market.
    • Myth 126: Cost-plus pricing is a sensible means of establishing product prices at profitable levels.
    • Myth 127: It's not necessary for marketing directors to know manufacturing costs; their job is to create successful marketing programs.
    • Myth 128: If sales are not what they should be, the best thing to do is reduce prices.
  15. Myths about Sales Force Management
    • Myth 129: Selling is the only form of marketing I need.
    • Myth 130: Every order is a good order; every customer is a good customer.
    • Myth 131: The best salespeople are those who are closest to the customer in terms of longstanding personal relationships.
    • Myth 132: Personal sales calls are the ultimate marketing weapon, and their use should be encouraged.
    • Myth 133: The more calls a salesperson makes in a day, the more sales he or she will close.
    • Myth 134: I know my customers because I know what they buy.
    • Myth 135: Knowledge of the product or service is the single most important asset an effective salesperson possesses; therefore, intensive training is absolutely necessary.
  16. Myths about Direct Marketing
    • Myth 136: Direct marketing is growing more efficient.
    • Myth 137: A direct-marketing effort that obtains a 2 percent return is highly successful, while one that obtains a 1 or 1.5 percent response rate isn't bad.
    • Myth 138: You have to make specific offers to specific people.
    • Myth 139: By looking at your zip code, some companion can figure out what you eat for breakfast or which political party you vote for.
    • Myth 140: Privacy is such a concern among consumers and legislators that before long companies will not be in the direct-marketing business or be able to use any specialized information to talk to people.
    • Myth 141: Most retailers today send very different communications — letters, catalogs, flyers — to different customers.
    • Myth 142: Some retailers today have personalized mailings for individual customers.
    • Myth 143: Truly personalized marketing communications aimed at individual customers (not segments) are still a generation away.
  17. Myths about Retailing
    • Myth 144: Location, location, location.
    • Myth 145: Small retailers can't compete with the giant chains.
    • Myth 146: Partnership marketing is the answer to the problems between retailers and suppliers.
    • Myth 147: Don't worry too much about your profit margin, you can make it up in volume.
    • Myth 148: Retailers know a great deal about their customers.
    • Myth 149: High-end, exclusive retailers know their customers so well that they can, if necessary, duplicate the customer's last purchase.
    • Myth 150: Eliminating locations is easy; find the nonperforming stores.
  18. Myths about Customer Service
    • Myth 151: One-hundred-percent customers satisfaction is a practical, profitable objective for a business.
    • Myth 152: There's only one way to handle customer problems.
    • Myth 153: Technology is working to distance business from its customers.
    • Myth 154: Customer satisfaction is so easy to measure that just about any kind of survey will do.
    • Myth 155: We need to hold to all of our customers from one year to the next.
  19. Myths about Test Marketing
    • Myth 156: The simplest and best way to evaluate a new product prior to the national roll-out is through conventional test marketing.
    • Myth 157: When a new product or service fails in test market or in national introduction, there's very little you can do to rejuvenate it.
    • Myth 158: No $100,000 simulated test market study can provide the same results as a $3 million, 18-month, in-market test.
    • Myth 159: The technology does not exist to transform a failing new product or service into a winner.
    • Myth 160: Simulated test marketing has a questionable track record in predicting marketplace performance.
    • Myth 161: A simulated test market is only a research tool for forecasting new product success or failure.
    • Myth 162: Simulated test marketing cannot measure competitive response.
    • Myth 163: Simulated test marketing works only for new products.
    • Myth 164: Marketers thank the messenger who brings bad news about a new product introduction.
  20. Myths about Measuring Marketing Performance
    • Myth 165: CEOs know the right questions to ask about the marketing program's performance.
    • Myth 166: Marketing programs can be evaluated without specific objectives related to profitability.
    • Myth 167: If the market program works, we'll know it. If it doesn't, we'll know that too. Tracking research is a waste of money.
    • Myth 168: Automated intelligence shows little short-term promise in helping to develop and evaluate good advertising and marketing.
    • Myth 169: Once a marketing program dies — and most do — it can't be resuscitated. It's time to create another program.
    • Myth 170: .You can't evaluate the performance of specific media vehicles
    • Myth 171: Auditing marketing performance in the same way that we audit financial performance is a farfetched idea that will probably never be implemented.
    • Myth 172: Even if we could do a marketing audit, it's not clear what it would contain.
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix: How to Grade Your Marketing IQ


Marketing Myths that are Killing Business

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Decent ****** (6 out of 10)

Last modified: Aug. 31, 2009, 2:05 p.m.

A classic, that is starting to feel juvenile.


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