What it takes to add value
Professor Kevin Lane Keller reports on a new book that doesn't just show success stories, but also illustrates where marketers go wrong and why – in graphic detail
Its tough advising marketers on how to grow brands profitably without reinventing the wheel, but Mark Sherrington seems to have managed it
The contents of this book, Added Value, reflect his many years of experience advising top marketing companies worldwide. He offers many unique perspectives and practical insights into how to grow a brand profitably.
At the heart of the book is the five Is process -- insight, ideas, innovation, impact, and investment return. In each of these five areas, Mark offers fresh ideas and points-of-view.
Most importantly, this discussion is all anchored in the practical realities of how to excel in each area. It is a holistic process that he advocates, but one which has a very applied focus, to make the reader a better marketer.
The book helps us to:
<li>Identify sources of insight, plus research techniques to uncover them<li>Characterise what makes a winning strategy or idea<li>Define a process to facilitate the birth of an innovative product<li>Provide a means of capturing a 360 degree view of consumer-brand interactions<li>Formulate research processes and concepts to assess the return on a marketing investment
In each of these five areas, the book is organised into lists of five key considerations, a good balance between richness and focus.
One of its strengths is that it challenges conventional wisdom. For example, Mark claims that brand positioning can be overplayed and that marketing plans are fundamentally flawed.
Moreover, in each of the five areas, the book also provides a clear-eyed, down-to-earth, no-nonsense view of where marketers go wrong and the barriers to success (e.g., the fact that most companies give up once an innovation is launched).
All of this commentary is illustrated with real-life examples that put these ideas to the test. It is an extremely well grounded book in that regard, as everything feels tried-and-true. There is no armchair speculation to be found.
Finally, it should be noted that Mark has a real gift for engaging communication. This is a highly readable book. In fact, Added Value is the best kind of business tome -- creative, well reasoned, and practical. It is hard to imagine any kind of marketer who would not get something from reading it -- novice marketers and experts alike. It will make you think, as well as re-think.
Added Value, The Alchemy of Brand-Led Growth, by Mark Sherrington is published by Palgrave-Macmillan, ISBN 1-4039-0387-5, www.palgrave.com
Kevin Lane Keller
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, September 2003
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2003