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The Key to Marketing Success: Realize You’re in a Laboratory

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

The most successful marketing efforts aren't preplanned. They come from experimentation and studying customer behavior. Steve Brody, current chair at Vistage International and President of Naviond US, shares why the best marketers understand that they operate in a laboratory.

Robin: Hello and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I’m Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands, and my guest again today is Steve Brody. Steve is actually a current chair at Vistage International and President of Naviond US. So Steve, I’m very glad you’re back on Brandonomics.

Steve: Thank you, Robin. Good to be here.

Robin: Well, I loved the advice that you shared on helping branding and marketing professionals be more successful, and I think in your time over the years, you’ve seen a lot of different things. You were, of course, a Senior VP of Marketing at Coca-Cola, and I’m curious: from your time there, what advice would you share for other marketers who are looking to be successful?

Steve: One of the biggest insights that I realized over the years — and I think very few people tune into this when they look at the development of something new, a new product or a new service — and that is that most success, most successful products or services were not planned. They were not planned. Now it’s not the same as saying they were random or luck, but what I mean by that is the marketer realized something, and the lightbulb went off. And so what I’m describing is that the most successful marketers realize that marketing is an empirical science as opposed to a preplanned science.

So how do you go about that? If you’re looking to do something and you’re studying the audience, or maybe you’re getting some research, and you’re watching what those users do, you may find out and realize that they’re doing something that you didn’t think of, and if you’re really observing what’s happening, that’s where the new idea comes from.

Robin: So you’re sharing this idea that the next success may be from looking at some real customer data rather than us trying to make a lot of assumptions?

Steve: Most people get focused on how smart they are or how talented their inside people are and I will tell you that no one is smart enough to figure out what the consumer is going to do. And so what happens is you have to trip over something, and the really smart ones, when they see something, they then realize and they adapt and change and that’s what they go test with, but normally it wasn’t the original idea.

Robin: So the secret here is to keep an open mind and definitely don’t try to bias the data.

Steve: It’s to look at everything like you’re in a laboratory and your audience is the customer, or the prospect.

Robin: Ok. Well, thank you. We will now all be successful because of your advice. I appreciate it. This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


Vistage International is a peer-to-peer executive coaching organization, providing CEOs, business owners and executives of small to mid-size companies leadership training and business coaching to help them grow their companies. Founded in 1957, Vistage has more than 18,000 CEO members in 16 countries.

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