IN SEARCH OF THE OBVIOUS

Jack Trout

The one-sentence summary

Marketing is a mess, so stop overcomplicating everything and do some simple thinking based on your brand’s obvious differentiating characteristics.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS

  • Sub-titled The Antidote for Today’s Marketing Mess, this is a pointed polemic about the state that marketing has got itself into. He gives a thorough pasting to marketing, advertising, research, Wall Street, the internet, and several named client companies.
  • Instead of concentrating on segmentation, customer retention or search engine optimisation, marketers should be looking for that simple, obvious differentiating idea.
  • Particular culprits are people and organisations that deliberately put complication in the way of the obvious – and shoot themselves in the foot.
  • Many people fear the activity of thinking so they follow suggestions made by others to avoid it.

ELEMENTS OF THE BOOK I PARTICULARLY LIKE

  • We seem to have no time to think any more. Many meetings are little more than gadget envy sessions.
  • Mission statements are denounced as bunk. A survey of 300 revealed that the words used in them are all the same: service (230), customers (211), quality (194), value, employees, growth, environment, profit, leader, best.
  • Sales, technology and performance leadership are all valid concepts. Thought leadership is not – it doesn’t mean anything.
  • If you want to solve a problem, try: substitute, combine, adapt, magnify, minimise, eliminate, and a range of other angular thinking techniques
  • The biggest blunders these days are: Me-too product or idea, unclear what you are selling, untruthful claims, arrogance brought on by success