Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kellogg School Book Reviews

March 2011 Book Reviews

Kellogg on Marketing (Second Edition)

Edited by Alice M. Tybout and Bobby J. Calder

Kellogg’s books are a great “compromise” between basic business books and textbooks. With the exception of one chapter in Kellogg on Branding, which I cite in the next review, the authors are not overly academic, do not exceed 500 pages, yet offer more than the latest “buzz-worthy" bestsellers. Marketing is almost impossible to wrap one’s arms around in a book less than 1,000 pages let alone 500. I know I find myself quickly forgetting that marketing means a lot more than advertising, sales or promotions. Kellogg on Marketing is a great reference or guide book to the actually subject area of marketing, in product development, pricing, distribution, branding, advertising, customer service, etc.

As a research analyst I’m bias toward finding greater utility out of a few different chapters, but I believe this was their intent. The chapters: Marketing Research, Goal Driven Marketing Research and Aligning Sales and Marketing were of the greatest value to me. They include great process outlines, best practices and strategies. In the research or analytics profession, I’ve seen too many make the same mistakes. It’s easy to hand off a report with a lot of numbers on someone’s desk. What makes analysis, analysis is uncovering patterns and identifying opportunities or threats for those not equipped to or those who do not have time to do the analysis.

Here are a few great quotes that touch on this very issue:
“…the important thing to realize is that explanations are never in the data. Explanation is always separate from the data.”
“Explanations come from creativity. Explanation is the creative act of figuring out what is going on with consumers. Such creatively may be inspired by looking at patterns of data to get an idea about what is going on. Or it may follow from other creative impulses, inexperience and intuition. The critical thing is to have and explanation.”
“…savvy marketers should aim to be explanation-driven, rather than data-driven.”
“This process (marketing research) should produce not marketing research reports, but knowledge.”

If you’re looking for a good chapter on social media’s impact and how to leverage it, turn elsewhere. It wasn’t given much credence in this book.

Here are a couple additional highlights from the two chapters on research:

“[Make] sure that the research does what it is supposed to do; that is, to provide useful inputs for managers to make informed decisions.”
Marketing research process:
  • Defining the research purpose and objective.
  • Determine the research design.
  • Specify the sampling plan and the sample size. 
  • Gather the data.
  • Analyze and interpret the data.
  • Report the results and provide recommendations.

Kellogg had some additional insight on Brand-Led Innovation:

“The point is that every successful innovation is based on an important, as-yet-unsatisfied need, or at least an, unarticulated problem to which people are resigned. Without discovering a new need, or a new way of satisfying a need, there is no possibility of innovation, and so not surprisingly companies invest significant resources in trying to uncover and understand customer needs.”

All in all, I thought this book had some great advice for strategies that can help in an array of marketing efforts.

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars
(4 ½ on three different chapters)

Kellogg on Branding

That’s it; I’m taking a “branding” break. There are way too many books on branding and this one helped bury my interest in the subject for quite some time. Just what we all needed, another book referencing Nordstrom or Southwest Airlines in case studies. I have immense respect for the Kellogg School of Management; otherwise, I wouldn’t be buying its books. There are definitely some great theories and models to be learned and taken from this book, but I would be remised if I didn’t mention that the worst chapter I’ve ever read claims fame to holding real estate in this book. Without this chapter, I would have given the book another star and a half. I question the publisher’s decision making on this inclusion.

Here’s just a sampling of two sentences from Chapter 3 (Branding Meaning):

A treatise on meaning rightfully begins with a lexical focus.”
Fightin' Analyst Translation: Let’s start by looking at the word “brand.”

As a totem, the brand performs the crucial social function of symbolic classification."
Fightin' Analyst Translation: Brands, as symbols, help people in different ways. (“Me, have no PhD,” followed by audible grunts.)

I’ve criticized “academic language" in the past, but this takes it to a whole new level. I sure hope this professor doesn’t teach any 8 am classes. Given this book was compiled before Kellogg on Adverting & Media and Kellogg on Marketing (Second Edition), I won’t hang them out to dry completely. I feel Kellogg has redeemed itself. There are a few chapters I felt offered value/utility and are worth mentioning: Competitive Brand Strategies, Building Brands through Effective Advertising, and Building a Brand-Driven Organization.

A quick Kellogg note on “Ad Effectiveness Measurements”
I had to post this endorsement from Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg on Branding):

“Depending on the objective of the advertising, different measures of advertising effectiveness may be appropriate.”
See "Ad Effectiveness" post for more details on finding and using measures. It only took me 2,600 words to reflect the same sentiment.

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars