The Big Idea is like a nail against the head: Jack Trout

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Last updated : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM
"Marketing programmes are the hammer that will drive the nail in," said Trout, while speaking at a day-long seminar organised by Business Today in the capital yesterday

Two decades ago, Jack Trout, with his partner Al Ries, gave the marketing world their big idea: Positioning - The Battle for the Mind. Yesterday, Trout pointed out what big marketing ideas were all about. "The Big Idea is like a nail against the head. Marketing programmes are the hammer that will drive the nail in," he said, while speaking at a day-long seminar organised by Business Today in the capital yesterday (Friday, November 21).

For the gathering of marketing professionals at Trout's well-attended presentation, it was a day well spent. The author of some of the most famous marketing books of our times spoke at length on "Brand Strategy" in his inimitable way. Citing real-life examples, Trout took the audience through all the nuances of brand strategy, focusing on differentiation, for its sake as well as in a competitive context.

And Trout is perhaps the best placed to do that too. He is president of Trout & Partners, one of the most prestigious marketing firms with headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, and offices in 13 countries. Trout manages and supervises a global network of experts who apply his concepts and develop his methodology around the world. His firm has done work for Procter & Gamble, AT&T, IBM, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Burger King, Ericsson, Tetra Pak, Merck, Lotus, Repsol, Hewlett-Packard, Southwest Airlines and other Fortune 500 companies.

At his Delhi workshop Trout made no bones about his disdain for the brand 'destroyers'. Wall Street got some attention for the constant pressure it puts on companies to grow, frequently diluting the power of their brands, or making them move away from the core brand personality to push a 'higher' growth area. Umbrella branding and glorified 'line extensions' also came in for criticism, for the little they have achieved, wherever they have been tried.

A votary of 'specialists' vis-a-vis generalists when it came to companies, Trout had words of praise for only one 'generalist' company, which in effect, is actually a collection of specialist companies. The company is United Technologies, which owns Carrier (air cooling), Otis (elevators), Pratt & Whitney (aircraft engines) etc.

Delving into Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clauswitz's masterpiece "On War" for insights into marketing warfare, the audience was treated to a barrage of relevant examples, to drive home the point of attacks, counter attacks and differentiation in the marketing battlefield.

With the many companies he has consulted for, in regions as varied as Argentina, Austria and the US, Trout held his audience's attention easily, with his simple and easy to digest style. If the audience missed specific Indian references or issues in the Indian context, the fact that almost all the brands discussed were present in the Indian market would have provided some consolation, no doubt. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

First Published : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM
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