Asking the Right People, the Right Questions, the Right Way,
and Effectively Using the Answers to Make More Money
 

 

 
Five Star review from Amazon & Borders Top Ten Reviewer,
Robert Morris
 

Guerrilla Marketing Research (with author, 6/13/06)

I was curious to know the etymology of the term "guerrilla" and consulted Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia): "Guerrilla, from the Spanish term guerra, or War, with the -illa ending diminutive, could be translated as small war. The term was invented in Spain to describe the tactics used to resist the French regime instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte. The -illa term accepts the unequal fight between civilians against an organized State Army. Its meaning was soon broadened to refer to any similar resistance of any time or place. The Spanish word for guerrilla fighter is guerrillero. The change of usage of guerrilla from the tactics employed to the person implementing them is a late 19th century mistake: in most languages the word still denotes the specific style of warfare. However, this is changing under the influence of broad English usage." Credit Jay Conrad Levinson with suggesting all manner of appropriate correlations between the battle field and the business world. He wrote the Foreword to this book and is the author or co-author of at least 20 other books as well as countless articles in which these correlations are identified and examined.

In this volume, Robert J. Kaden includes Levinson's definition of Guerrilla Marketing as "achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money." To Kaden, a Guerrilla is any company which uses the tools and techniques that big companies use, but do so for a fraction of the cost. Levinson would refer to this as investing in "sweat equity" rather than paying big company rates to get the same results attainable at half the price. However defined, Guerrillas in the business world (either by choice or of necessity) use unconventional and unorthodox strategies and (especially) tactics to achieve what are essentially traditional results: lower costs, higher profits, better margins, increased productivity, greater efficiency, etc.

According to Kaden, there are two general "paths" to obtaining primary market research or information about the marketplace: One is the customer attitude path (i.e. the attitudes and perceptions of customers and prospects); the other is the customer behavior path (current or emerging marketplace trends, patterns, tendencies, etc.) The former explains the "Why?" of the marketplace whereas the latter reveals its "What?" Kaden focuses on the "Why?" because, and I wholly agree with him, only then can the most appropriate decisions be made in terms of the "What?"

In this context, I presume to assert that all of these considerations must be taken into full account when formulating marketing initiatives, whatever the size and nature of the given enterprise may be. Also in this context, I am reminded of a venture capitalist (whose name I do not recall) who, when asked what his key questions were when considering an investment proposal, identified three:

“Who are you?”
“What do you do?”
“Why should I care?”

If marketing's primary objective is to create or increase demand for whatever is offered, those responsible for it must formulate compelling answers to the same three questions.

Here in a single volume is about all most marketers need to know about research techniques that can help them increase both sales and profits for their business. With appropriate modification, these same techniques can also be of substantial benefit to decision-makers in non-profit organizations which heavily depend upon benefactors (e.g. private schools, colleges, and universities) or on memberships (e.g. trade and professional associations). The research topics which Kaden covers include focus groups, brainstorming, surveys, questionnaires, and sampling but first he quite correctly provides a remarkably comprehensive introduction to customer attitudes, asking the right questions, "How the big guys do it - large company research," how to get started, how much research can cost, how to use research professionals, how much research is sufficient, and devising a research plan. In the final four chapters (15-18), Kaden explains how to organize and evaluate data, which statistical techniques are needed, how to "tell a story" using survey results effectively, and finally, "Putting results into action."

It is important to note that although Kaden concentrates almost entirely on the "Why?" of the marketplace, the counsel he provides is pragmatic rather than theoretical or hypothetical. Stated another way, he helps his reader to understand the "Why?" by explaining how to gain that understanding. Peter Drucker once suggested that "If you don't have a customer, you don't have a business." Hence the importance of constantly generating prospects (marketing), of consistently converting them into customers (sales), and then sustaining their involvement by converting them into what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "evangelists." (superior personal service).

How important is market research? How essential is constantly obtaining and then evaluating competitive intelligence? After a substantial increase of tuition at Harvard, then president Derek Bok met with hostile parents. He patiently heard them out, then replied "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Presumably Robert J. Kaden agrees. I know I do.


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