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How To Turn Your Business To Gold In Times Of Crisis And Pandemic-Al Ries


Encounter With Al Ries, King of Global Advertising and Marketing Strategy


Al andLaura-Positioning Pioneers


(Exclusive only toNaija Times andThe Crestonline newspapers)


By Ehi Braimah and Shola Oshunkeye, Lagos, Nigeria

He was born on November 14, 1926, three short years before one of the most catastrophic events of the 20th Century hit his country, the United States of America.  He was raised during the Great Depression, a period that marked the worst economic downturn in American history; a period of unprecedented suffering stoked by the crash of the stock market in October 1929, running till the end of the 1930s. The period shot unemployment through the roof at 25 percent, and killed at least 5000 banks.

But unknown to the world, that era of excruciating pain also brought some great news to the world. One of them was Al Ries, a mathematical prodigy who bloomed to become a globally renowned marketing guru, successful businessman and a prolific writer. Al Ries will be 94 on November 14, 2020, yet, his light has never dimmed and his popularity has never waned.

Best-selling authors, Al Ries and his daughter, Laura, have been working together for over 25 years as marketing, positioning, and branding strategists. During this period, the trailblazing dad and daughter have taken their act to extraordinary heights, and primed their company, Ries and Ries, for the skies as a global brand.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, but based in Atlanta, Georgia, Al Ries stormed the global stage in 1972 with three riveting articles published in the Advertising Age magazine. The articles propagated the concept of ‘positioning’ in the field of marketing, and the idea so captivated the business world that AdAge voted it as one of the 75 most important advertising ideas of the past 75 years.

Al Ries, who spent 18 months in the US Army, “most of which was spent on occupation duty in South Korea”, had a six-year stint with General Electric before opting out in 1963 to found his first agency, Ries Cappiello Colwell in New York City. The agency, now simply known as Ries, rapidly metamorphosed into a global consulting firm with offices in Atlanta and Shanghai, with affiliates across the world. Not one to retire, Al continues to enjoy working on consulting assignments and writing articles, as well as books on marketing.

Widely known and respected as the “Pioneer of Positioning”, he, at almost 94, is one of the world’s best marketing strategists and author. He has 11 bestsellers to his credit. He wrote most of the books and co-authored some with his daughter, Laura, and his erstwhile associate, Jack Trout. His books have sold more than 3.5 million copies across the world.

Some of the trail-blazer’s bestsellers include: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Focus: The Future of Your Company, The Fall of Advertising and The Rise of PR, among others.

Al Ries, who got a degree in mathematics from DePauw University, a private university in Greencastle, Indiana, with a Methodist heritage, was inducted to the New York Marketing Association Hall of Fame in 2016.

But how did the paths of these journalists cross with that of the phenomenal Ries? Call it divine ordination and you would have hit the nail right on the head.  It all began last year, 2019, when, after reading my article, How to build a great brand in TheCable online newspaper, he sent me an email to thank me for citing two books which he co-authored with his daughter Laura in the article.

Since then, we have been exchanging emails on a fairly regular basis. The relationship so rapidly blossomed that he promised to write the Foreword to a book I plan to in 2012. On one occasion, we discussed how we can build successful global brands for Nigeria, and gave me some case studies and notes for my benefit. In fact, he inspired the book under reference and even suggested the title.

At almost 94, Al Ries says he is neither tired nor retired from the work that has given him fame. He is the co-founder and chairman of Atlanta-based consulting firm, Ries & Ries. With his partner and daughter, Laura, they consult with Fortune 500 companies.

Early August, this year, Shola Oshunkeye and I had a meeting and in the course of our discussion, the idea of interviewing Al came up. Shola and I composed and sent Al an email immediately; and he obliged us with a question-and-answer format.

The interview turned out to be very revealing. We asked Al every question under the sun and he not only answered with speed, he also gave us enough photographs to brighten the interview.

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the interview: 

What kind of a kid was Al Ries, growing up? From the tales your parents told you, how and when did they spot the genius in the young Al Ries? 

I grew up in what the historians now call the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1933, America suffered the worst economic decline in history. National income fell 36 percent. Unemployment increased from 3 percent to 25 percent. More than 40 percent of all banks were permanently closed.

My dad was a primary school teacher and didn’t make much money during the entire decade of the 1930s. The economy didn’t improve until after World War II.

Why did America fall into the Great Depression? I’m convinced it was the Smoot-Hawley tariffs of 1930 that caused it. The tariffs dramatically increased the cost of almost every category of imports. 

Looking back at the whole of your 93 years on earth, sir, how many recessions have you witnessed and how was one different from the other?

I grew up during the Great Depression which lasted from the stock market crash of 1928 to the end of World War II in 1945. Since then, every recession has been mild. So, I can’t really remember any of them.


Al and daughter Laura

Business and COVID-19


Many countries across the world, even the United States, appear to be heading for recession (or are already in recession), largely fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were to advise, what remedies must countries apply to avert the looming danger?

I think it’s the opposite. When the pandemic ends, consumers will rush out to bars, restaurants, entertainment facilities and create a rapidly-growing economic environment. That’s why the American stock market has not seriously declined.

How can we use marketing tools to convince dyed-in-the-wool skeptics that COVID-19 is real and that the protocols and remedies approved by the World Health Organisation, WHO, are not for any sinister motive and must be followed religiously if we must beat coronavirus?

You can’t. People in America don’t trust the government. They only trust their own instincts.

What are the functions of marketing and advertising during a global pandemic like the ongoing public health crisis? How can organisations, companies effectively utilize marketing and advertising to sustain their brand in the market place? Why should organisations advertise during a crisis or recession?

It depends. Certain products, like face masks and disinfectants, are in great demand and should be promoted. Most other products, not so much. When your product or service is not in demand, the best thing to do is nothing.

At what age was your passion for mathematics discovered and how? What roles did your parents play grooming the passion? And what would you advise parents about helping their kids to groom their passion and helping them to fulfill their dreams?

My experience suggests that people fall in love with that they are good at. There were a lot of things I wasn’t good at, like sports. But I was good at mathematics. So, I took up chess and other games that involve mathematical thinking.

Children, in my opinion, are not particularly influenced by their parents. They usually rebel against their parents, which is good. That’s what drives progress, both good and bad.

What are (1) the good and (2) the bad sides of children’s rebellion against their parents in following their passion and not what they are guided to do by their parents? Many consider children’s rebellion against their parents’ wishes as one of the reasons there are too many troubles in the world today. 

Children rebelling against their parents is what creates progress. Without this rebellion, a society would stagnate. When European adventurers like Christopher Columbus arrived in America, they found societies that hadn’t changed in hundreds of years No ships. No guns. No manufacturing facilities. No organized agriculture. 

You ended up studying Mathematics in the university. What were your other passions apart from mathematics? 

In college, I read a novel by Frederick Wakeman called The Hucksters. It was a book about the adventures of a man in the advertising business.

I decided that was exactly the business I wanted to work in.

What were the lessons you learnt from Frederick Wakeman’s novel, The Hucksters, that propelled you into devoting your entire life to advertising? Please, give as many points as possible.

The importance of the individual, not the company. I always wanted to do things my way and not have to follow the orders of others. Several times in my career, I’ve said to management, ‘If we won’t do it my way, I quit’. They always did it my way.

How many children did your parents have and were you the only mathematical genius in the House? Or does mathematics run in the family? 

Five. Three boys and two girls. None of my brothers and sisters were particularly interested in mathematics.

Why were your siblings not interested in mathematics? What was the turn-off for them (as much as you can recollect)? 

I don’t know. I left home when I was 18 years old to join the U.S. Merchant Marine. Since then, I have had not much contact with them since we all live in different states.

How many years did you spend in the U.S. Army altogether, and what was the experience like? 

Eighteen months, most of which was spent on occupation duty in South Korea. Not a happy experience. 

What were the lessons you learnt while you were in the military? And what was the one year you spent in Korea like? 

Military people need to study history. Today, we have 28,500 American troops in South Korea. They have been there for 75 years. When will it ever end? We should have left Korea decades ago.

And how did your time and experience in the military influence your life, especially, your advertising and marketing career?

Being a general doesn’t make you smart.

Could you share with us some of the life experiences, sweet and bitter, that shaped your life? 

In World War II, I failed the eye exam so I wasn’t drafted into the U.S. Army. So, I joined the U.S. Merchant Marines instead. As a seaman, I traveled to Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and France. These trips encouraged my interest in world affairs. After the war ended, I joined the U.S. Army and spent a year on occupation duty in Korea.

As you were leaving DePauw University as a Mathematics Major on your graduation day 70 years ago, what kind of future did you envision?

I was lucky that Stan Smith, another graduate of DePauw, hired me to work in the advertising department of General Electric. So, I was employed in the advertising industry from my first day of work.

Why did you go for advertising, taking an advertising position in General Electric, dumping mathematics, your first love, as it were? Or, you never truly dumped mathematics? 

Mathematics is not really an occupation, it’s way of thinking.

Could you please recall, as much as possible, your first day at General Electric? 

I don’t remember the first day, but what I do remember is that the GE advertising department had training courses for two years for every new employee. These courses were very helpful.

You didn’t stay too long in General Electric before you started your own practice, establishing your own advertising agency, Ries Cappiello Colwell, in New York in 1961. What informed the move? 

I worked at General Electric for six years and felt that I had learned as much as I could about advertising. So, I moved to New York City, the heart of the advertising industry, and worked for two advertising agencies before starting my own agency in 1961.

What were the critical advertising and leadership lessons you learnt in your six years at General Electric that empowered and emboldened you to start your practice?

The advertising courses focused on print advertising. Some principles:

(1) Photos are better than artwork.

(2) Simplicity is better than complexity.

(3) The “you” approach is better than the “we” approach.

(4) Functional use of color is better than decorative use of color.

(5) The more type faces and sizes you use in an advertisement, the less effective it is.

(6) Advertising should feature “news,” not product claims.

When you started the journey, did you ever imagine you could be such a global brand in advertising and marketing that you eventually became, and within the time span you did? 

No. On the other hand, I felt that I was good at advertising for two reasons: (1) I learned a lot about the business at General Electric, and (2) I was a bold thinker who was willing to try new approaches to almost any advertising problem.

What is the nexus between mathematics and advertising? What is the meeting point?

There are many advertising media: print, radio, television, outdoor, direct mail and, today, digital media. Each of these mediums are priced in “cost per thousands,” or similar measures. What medium to use requires a lot of mathematical type thinking.

You said, and I quote: “Mathematics is not really an occupation, it’s way of thinking.” Please, can you expatiate? 

I don’t know of any occupation called “mathematics.” A math teacher is primarily a teacher, not a mathematician.


Jack Trout And I

Al Ries and former Partner, Jack Trout, and their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

How did your path cross with John Francis “Jack” Trout’s with whom you wrote a three-part series of articles for Advertising Age published in 1972? 

A number of years after I left General Electric, a friend of mine from the company called me and told me that Jack Trout was leaving and I should hire him because, He is the best advertising person I have ever worked with. I didn’t have room for him at my advertising agency, so, I got him a job at a client of ours. Then, several years later, I hired him.

Your partnership with John Francis “Jack” Trout worked well and was mutually beneficial. What are the factors to be considered when attempting to forge a business partnership with a friend, relation, anyone?

They should be different, not similar. Hopefully, a left brainer (Jack Trout) and a right brainer (Al Ries.) 

What were the qualities you saw in Jack Trout that made your partnership and friendship with him work?

We worked together for two years. He was a client. I was his advertising agency. Working together helped me decide he was the right person for our advertising agency to hire. 

The two of you were credited with resurrecting the concept of positioning in marketing. What has positioning got to do with marketing? 

Positioning was never mentioned in advertising or marketing until Jack Trout and I wrote articles and published books about the subject. At the time, the entire industry was focused on the creativity of the message. There were many “creative awards” for various advertising campaigns.

We were the only advertising people who focused on the mind of the prospect. Positioning, as we defined it, was “owning a word in the mind.”

Al Ries and erstwhile partner, Jack Trout with their book, POSITIONING

How was it like working with Jack Trout, your long-time friend and partner? You co-authored four best-sellers with him, namely: Marketing Warfare (1986), Bottom-up Marketing (1990), Finding a Horse to Ride: The Key to Marketing Yourself? (1991), and the phenomenal The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (1994). 

You have two brains, a left brain that handles sounds and a right brain that handles visuals. The right brain is also the source of your emotions.

When a body has two of anything, one dominates. Some people are left-handed, some people are right-handed. Some people are left brainers and some people are right brainers.

Jack was a left brainer, extroverted and very talkative. I am a right brainer, introverted and very quiet. As a result, we worked well together. I managed the agency and he managed our clients.

Still on your relationship with Jack Trout, you spoke about he being a left brainer and extroverted; and you being a right and introverted. In setting up an advertising agency, which of the two would you rather have in preponderance-left brainer or right brainer? What should be the right mix? 

Half and half.

What are the qualities you look for in hiring an advertising or marketing executive? 

You hire a person to fill a job. So, it depends on what the job is.

How did Jack Trout’s death, on June 4, 2017(at 82), affect your life’s rhythm? 

We had not worked together for 23 years, so the affects were somewhat distant. In 1994, my daughter, Laura Ries, wanted to join us. And Jack had a son about the same age, Peter Trout, who also wanted to join us. But Jack disagreed and we broke up.


From Al To Youths:

Follow your dreams. Not every business is good for every person in spite of how knowledgeable they are.

If you were to talk to a group of youths, young professionals, on the concept of strategic positioning, what would you tell them? 

Follow your dreams. Not every business is good for every person in spite of how knowledgeable they are.         

What are the fundamental differences between advertising and marketing? What are the key success factors one must consider before drawing a marketing plan for an organisation requiring such service? 

Marketing is the broader term. Marketing includes the strategy of the brand plus its communication. Advertising is just one form of communications. PR is another. Marketing strategy comes first. Advertising comes second. 

Has public relations sounded the death knell on advertising?   How has the former affected the latter, and vice versa? 

No. But it has changed its function. You need PR to introduce a new brand and advertising to maintain that new brand after it has become successful. PR, in that sense, is more important than advertising.

If a researcher is keen to explore strategic positioning concept for his/her doctorate degree programme, what would be your advice? Which universities would you recommend? 

Harvard University in Boston, USA.

How would you define “marketing strategy” in one sentence? 

Marketing strategy is defining the objective of a brand in terms of a word or concept the brand can own in the prospect’s mind.

Talking about positioning in advertising, how do you “own a word in the mind”?

The best way is to create a new category like Elon Musk did with Tesla. Today, Tesla owns the words “electric vehicle” in prospects’ minds. Of course, there are many other ways to own a word in the mind, including “leadership in a category” and an attribute like “driving” that BMW owns. 

In what practical ways are advertising and marketing principles, as well as public relations strategies, useful in helping a country gain prosperity and respect before its various publics? Please, elucidate as much as possible. 

The best book on that subject was written by Adam Smith in the year 1776. It is called The Wealth of Nations, and I quote Smith many times.

The division of labor leads to specialization, expertise, dexterity, and machinery, thereby producing greater wealth.

But there is a limit. As it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division of labour, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of the market.

In other words, it is specialization that produces wealth and the degree of specialization is limited by the size of the market. That’s why larger countries are economically more successful than smaller countries. That’s why America, the largest country in South and North America, is also the most successful country in South and North America. And Germany, the largest country in Europe, is also the most successful country in Europe.

But there is a solution to the problem of size. It involves marketing your brands to the world instead of just your own country.


How Nigeria Can Build Successful Global Brands

A country doesn’t get rich by selling things to each other. A country gets rich by selling things to people in other countries.

You visited Nigeria a couple of times and I’m sure you have a good knowledge of the country. Nigeria is a country with very high potentials, and indeed a lot of great things are happening in it. But what get reported is the ugly side of us. Yet, every country in the world has its ugly side. Now, since marketing is also about selling your brand to its varied publics, what do you advise the country, and Nigerians, to do to position themselves in ways that would attract more goodwill and enhanced patronage worldwide? 

A country doesn’t get rich by selling things to each other. A country gets rich by selling things to people in other countries.

Look at China. In the year 2009, the per-capita gross domestic product of China was $4,100. Ten years later, in the year 2018, the per-capita gross domestic product was $9,800, or more than double. In those ten years, China became the largest exporting country in the world. Exports in 2018 were $2.4 trillion or 32 percent greater than America’s.

Nigeria’s exports in 2018 were just $62.4 billion.

Like your friend, Jack Trout, said in his book: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace. What must Nigeria do to gain more respect and better appreciation on the world stage? 

Nigeria needs to build global brands.

Apart from building global brands like you just recommended, what should citizens do to enhance their countries’ marketability to the outside world and gain respect on the global stage? What should citizens do economically, socially, etc. to help their country gain more goodwill continentally and globally?

I don’t think there is anything an individual citizen can do to enhance a country’s marketability.

How do you honestly think Nigeria can build successful global brands? 

You win by being different, not better. How is Nigeria different from every other country in Africa? Nigeria has more arable land.

Here are the numbers:

Nigeria . . . . . . .  304,843 sq. km.

Sudan . . . . . . . .  169,894 sq. km.

South Africa . . .  146,389 sq. km.

Ethiopia . . . . . . . 112,713 sq. km.

Arable land is the biggest problem in Africa. Here are the numbers:

The world . . . . . . . 21 percent.

Europe . . . . . . . . .  35 percent.

America . . . . . . . .  19 percent.

Africa . . . . . . . . . . .  7 percent.

Nigeria . . . . . . . . . . 33 percent

Nigerians in the diaspora remit back home an average of about US$25 billion every year, which is roughly 6% of our GDP and 85% of our national budget. As a strategic positioning expert, what should we do to take advantage of this “huge resource”? 

One of the biggest mistakes a person or a company can make is to try to do everything. The $25 billion is a trivial amount compared to the potential of a country like Nigeria with a population of 199 million.

Take Singapore with a population of less than 6 million. Yet, Singapore has a per-capita gross domestic product of $65,000, more than America and 32 times as much as Nigeria’s $2,000.

What’s the difference between Singapore and Nigeria? Singapore exports more than 300 percent of its gross domestic product.

Let’s revisit the dramatic turn in the fortunes of General Motors in 2009 shook America. According to a 2013 report by Forbes, by the time the company closed its books in 2008, it was already heading for the rocks by a staggering $30.9 billion. And by June 1, 2009, it made history by filing the largest industrial bankruptcy ever with $82 billion in assets and $173 billion in liabilities. From your perspective, what were the factors that drove General Motors to the edge of the precipice? 

None of General Motors seven brands (Saturn, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac and GMC) led in any automotive category.

How did General Motors violate the principles of positioning; and what do you recommend to companies to avoid the kind of situation General Motors suddenly found itself? 

General Motors brands were line-extended so they didn’t stand for anything. What’s a Chevrolet? It’s a large, small, cheap, expensive, car or truck.

Almost every company in the world is violating the principles of positioning

It is said that the PAST is history, the FUTURE is mystery, and TODAY is a gift. This is the summation of life. Looking back at your 93 plus years on earth, what are the life lessons you want to share with those who would be reading this interview across the world? 

The opportunities to become successful are enormous. You might think that positioning has become famous and almost every company in the world is using positioning principles to become successful. But the opposite is true. Almost every company in the world is violating the principles of positioning.

Look at General Motors, once the largest, most-profitable company in the world. Yet in the year 2009, General Motors went bankrupt.

Looking back, what are those things you wish you had done but you didn’t or couldn’t do and that now constitute points of regret? 

We could have been more successful if we had tried to build a global positioning brand much earlier in my career. At the time, we were focused entirely on the domestic market.

How are you spending your retirement? Drawing from your experience, how do you advise people to prepare for retirement? When should one start preparing and how? 

I didn’t realize I was retired. We still have a marketing consulting business and do a lot of work with companies in China.

One example is our work with Great Wall Motors. In the year 2009, Great Wall made four types of vehicles (sedans, SUVs, minivans and trucks) with nine brand names (Deer, Wingle, Haval, Sailing, Coolbear, Socool, Florid, Peri and Lingao.)

Our advice: Focus on one brand, Haval, the company’s SUV vehicle.

Great Wall sales increased from $1.9 billion in 2009 to $14.2 billion in 2018, the same year that General Motors went bankrupt. 

Talking about positioning in advertising, how do you “own a word in the mind”?

The best way is to create a new category like Elon Musk did with Tesla. Today, Tesla owns the words “electric vehicle” in prospects’ minds. Of course, there are many other ways to own a word in the mind, including “leadership in a category” and an attribute like “driving” that BMW owns.

the best thing I can leave the world is a daughter who will continue to promote our marketing ideas

Al & Laura, Dad and Daughter, inseparable corporate master strategists
Al & Laura, Dad and Daughter, inseparable corporate master strategists

Most brands don’t outlive their owners, especially in Third World countries. What are the necessary conditions needed to prevent brands from following their owners to the grave?

A company needs to hire someone who will take over the company in the next generation. The Ries brand will survive because I haired my daughter, Laura Ries.

You now work with your daughter, Laura, who is the co-founder of your consulting firm, Ries and Ries. How is it doing business with your child? How does it strengthen the Ries brand and ensure it survives generations to come? 

I have given speeches in more than 70 countries in the world, and the question I get asked the most often is: How did you get your daughter to work with you?

I didn’t. She asked me. And the best thing I can leave the world is a daughter who will continue to promote our marketing ideas.

What are your marketing ideas/principles that Laura is building on that gives you hope that your company, Ries and Ries, will not only survive you but generations to come? 

Our principles are the same as they always have been. But very few companies follow these principles. Take the automobile industry in America. There are 29 brands that each sell more than 50,000 vehicles a year. Yet, none of these brands follow our principle of focus. Concentrate all your energies on one model. They all have many different models.

Tell us more about Ries Global Network: the vision, growth/expansion and what success looks like. And why is the network not yet in Africa/Nigeria? 

The coronavirus has halted our expansion. But we currently have associates in many countries of the world. And in the long run, the Ries global organization will be run out of China where Simon Zhang has built a large marketing-consulting business. We still have many things to do before expanding to Africa.

Why did you say Simon Zhang will run Ries and Ries out of China? It appears you want to surrender without a fight. 

He is the best person for the job. My daughter doesn’t want to.

Simon Zhang
Simon Zhang


Everybody is running to Africa, tapping the huge business opportunities that abound in the rising continent. Why are you not in a hurry to expand to Africa? 

I can’t do everything. At my age, I don’t want to travel, which would be necessary to expand our brand to Africa.

Based on your experience, what are truly the secrets for building successful global brands?

Build your brand on an idea. BMW was a small company competing with Mercedes-Benz, the automobile brand created by the inventors of the automobile (Daimler and Benz.)

Compared with Mercedes, BMW was different. It was a smaller and more-nimble automobile. So, BMW launched a positioning programme with the slogan: The ultimate driving machine.

BMW became the largest-selling luxury-vehicle brand in the world until they changed their slogan to Joy and lost their leadership to Mercedes.

The world has changed over time and marketing is evolving too. So, how should marketing strategy evolve/change to meet today’s consumer/customer demands?

The truth is, almost every company talks about positioning strategies, but does not follow them.     Name one company that truly follows our positioning advice. I can’t.

Even our client, Great Wall, has introduced new vehicles in spite of our strong recommendations to do the opposite. As a result, their sales have declined in the past few years.

We are witnessing how technology (rapidly changing all the time) is disrupting the world, enabled by the internet, smart phone, and social media. What should marketers do to position themselves strongly amid these disruptions?

Take the biggest single new technology, the Internet. We have strongly suggested that the Internet is a new category and a new category demands a new brand name. Yet, almost every company still uses their existing brand names on the Internet.

Take Walmart, the world’s largest retailer with sales last year (2019) of $514 billion. In the year 2000, Walmart launched Nineteen years later, in the year 2019, sales accounted for less than 4 percent of the company’s overall sales.

In the year 2015, Walmart realized its mistake and bought an Internet site with a unique brand name ( for $3.3 billion.

Has the new brand affected Walmart’s fortunes?

No, it has not. Walmart has given up on (a bad name) and now spends all its marketing dollars on the brand.

The global pandemic (public health crisis caused by coronavirus) upended the world in several ways. How should marketers respond in times of monumental crisis of this nature?

Cut marketing expenditures and wait it out. Don’t try to figure out how to benefit from the virus. Your messages will be lost among millions of other messages on the coronavirus.

Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly in the context of a “changing world”. How should marketing strategists respond to these changes?

The biggest single change is the move consumers are making from retail stores to Internet websites. Yet, how are companies responding to this change? By line-extending their brands. This is a tragic mistake.

Why and how is it ‘a tragic mistake’?

The Internet is a new category and a new category demands a new brand name. I don’t know a single retail chain that has been successful using its brand name on the Internet. Meanwhile, is enormously successful, worth $1.7 trillion on the stock market. The gross national product of Nigeria is only $1.2 trillion.

What are the biggest money mistakes a man (individual), or an organization (corporate), must never make? And why?

Being customer-oriented rather than competitor-oriented.

Why is being customer-oriented bad? Because all of your competitors are customer-oriented. That’s why most brands in most categories are very similar.

You can’t be successful unless you market a brand that is different, not similar.

What is the worst marketing mistake an organization can make? And how can it be rectified?

Being customer-oriented rather than competitor-oriented.

What was your experience like consulting for Fortune 500 organisations? Please share useful lessons from that experience.

 Big companies hire consultants all the time, but they seldom take their advice. That has been true with our work.

What were the advice you gave Fortune on the Fortune 500 project that they turned down?

I don’t remember doing something like this.

What are the biggest mistakes to avoid in retirement? When is it too late to start a new venture? And why?

 I don’t know. I have never retired.





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