Marketing By Committee
August 23, 2011
Last week we all witnessed a textbook case of "marketing by committee" when the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Learfield Sports and the Iowa Corn Growers unveiled the new Cy-Hawk traveling trophy. The reaction was not what Mindy Williamson of the Corn Growers was expecting. People from all sides...hated it. I know that's a strong word...but true. And when, the ever mindful of polls, Govenor Branstad weighs in and says, "I think they can do better." You know the new trophy will have a very short life.
This fiasco does allow us a "teachable moment" and something we've warned about in the past. Don't dabble in something you know nothing about especially when it's a committee with competing interests. The corn folks know corn...and Learfield, based in Plano, Texas knows...uhm, let me get back to you on that. That's how we ended up with a trophy that has nothing to do with football...or reality. (There hasn't been a "farm family look" like that for forty years. Well, maybe in Texas.)
"Hold on their Libbie! In my company we all have our product/service at the top of our minds. There is no competition here." Sure there is. When the new head of marketing comes in, talks with the folks in accounting and they talk with the sales department we get mistakes like...New Coke. To name one.
Let's say you have an idea for a product or service that you've developed. It might be wise to ask the advice of an expert before you dive head-long into...an Edsel. No?
The good news...later today there is going to be a press conference among some of the folks involved in this. The spin will be...amazing. And that leads us to another "teachable moment": Rather than dance around the issue and talk about corn and families and whatever they should simply say. "We made a huge mistake and we've heard from the people of Iowa. We're going back into design and come out with a new, new Cy-Hawk Trophy." Some...free professional advice: Maybe a likeness of Nile Kinnick on one side and Jack Trice on the other? And, no...not running through a corn field.