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4 Key Takeaways from "10 Demoralizing Facts All Marketers Must Reluctantly Accept" Luncheon

Written by Roland Bydlon

I had the opportunity to hear Charlie Hopper, Principal at Young and Laramore earlier this week. He delivered a talk titled 10 Demoralizing Facts All Marketers Must Reluctantly Accept.  On first blush it was not an enticing title to get someone immersed in marketing to spend an hour of their time.  On the other hand I was curious. He gave the talk to the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association. About 60 of us were there to learn from others to not make the same mistakes and jump-start our programs in the future.

In spite of the title (Charlie, you may want to make it more positive the next time) the information was interesting. Through a number of examples Charlie demonstrated that we need to be true to our customer and differentiate our products and services from others.  That is Marketing 101.  Even so marketing teams in high places are making mistakes, costing their companies money and adding confusion to their brand.

The following are some key takeaways:

  1. Define your reason to exist.  Are you the same as everyone else?  If everyone says the same thing everyone must be the same.  How do you tell one piping hot entrée from another?  If you are not different you will go extinct.  Define your market, define what your customers want and tell them what you are and what you are not.  Yes, saying what you are not is risky but it will help your customers identify and trust you and your brand.
  2. Answer the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) question.  According to Charlie most marketers are very passionate about what they do.  As a result they overestimate what their customers care about.  People don’t care about you until you give them a reason.  You can’t tell a customer what to think but you can give them a reason to care.
  3. Be who you are.  A consistent voice is a key advantage.  He used as an example Steak ‘n Shake, a client of his.  He and his team hooked “real steakburgers.”  It is simple.  It is real.  It is a promise to the customer.  It is a differentiator!
  4. Ask your team what is it specifically that makes you different?  Why do your customers care about that?  How do you know? Now design a program.

Charlie talked about his relationship with E. W. Kelley, the philanthropist that endowed the Kelley School of Business at IU $23 Million in 1997. Kelley acquired a lot of his fortune by growing Steak ‘n Shake in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. He said Kelley had a “restless dissatisfaction with the status-quo.”  That drove Kelley to strive to improve and consistently reevaluate what was working, what was not working and why.

The discussion was a good use of an hour.  10 Demoralizing Facts All Marketers Must Reluctantly Acceptmay not be the best way to frame the conversation though.  I think a better title may be.  Marketing and Restless Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo.  It is something all of us should have and strive for.

Give Customers a Reason to Care!