Luncheon Recap: Fantasyland and Left Brain Analytics

The June luncheon played host to two guest speakers, Mike Guillory who manages Worldwide Brand and Communications for DLP® Products at Texas Instruments, and Jerry Thomas who is President/CEO of Decision Analyst, one of the top 20 research companies in North America. The event was held at our favorite hangout, Cool River Café, and there was an impressive turnout of AMA members, nonmembers, and first timers.

Jerry Thomas, of Decision Analyst, started out the presentation by leading us into a journey of the archetypal fantasyland known to us as “corporate headquarters.” Mr. Thomas continued on with this metaphor as a way of describing the disconnectedness that top-level execs have with the rest of us. He said that living in a lakeside mansion or commuting in a prestige air jet is all good and well, but these are not the people who should be making a company’s marketing decisions.

Mr. Thomas went on to speak from his personal experience of working as a consultant for many of these executive types. He assured us that many companies that are in fact ill run under the direction of these “disconnected CEOs” are generally spending very little market research dollars. The trend with these companies, he said, is more along the lines of “Hey, what’s the guy down the street doing?” This will inevitably lead to a follow the leader game in which a cheap sense of innovation is created by trailing behind whoever has the newest and most effective idea. Mr. Thomas warned us that this “trailing innovation” must be replaced with true innovation. There must be an earnest commitment among the marketing industry to go out and talk to people so as to create real and effective innovations in marketing.

The presentation was then handed off to Mike Guillory, of DLP® Products at Texas Instruments, who moved us on to the topic of communicating your marketing work, and essentially your value, to your left-brained colleagues who may not exactly subscribe to a marketing philosophy. In Mr. Guillory’s case, working for Texas Instruments, he deals with engineers on a weekly basis and is tasked with the job of helping them to understand the value in the marketing behind their one-of-a-kind products. He stated that his favorite tool comes in the form of a question to the engineers:

“Did you ever sell lemonade as a kid?”

To which the engineer will inevitably answer, “Sure.”

“Well, how much lemonade do you think you would have sold if you had set up the stand in your garage, with the garage door closed? That is why marketing your product is important.”

Mr. Guillory went on to speak on the importance of having all departments within your company on the same page as you, the marketing manager/director. He said, “You must be able to communicate your research and findings so that they resonate with those in your company who are not in marketing.” Depending on the situation, and your company, this could be a difficult task. He recommends using “selective granularities” and not just throwing a bunch of findings at them (for example, click through rates). It’s not enough to speak to your colleagues about the numbers in your findings, but instead what those numbers mean to them, and to the company.

I would like to thank both Mike Guillory and Jerry Thomas for their time and cooperation, as well as everyone who made it out to the Austin AMA June Luncheon. See you next month!