HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategic Marketing: A book review by Bob Morris

HBR 10 Must Strategic MktgHBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategic Marketing
HBR Editors and various contributors
Harvard Busxiness Review Press (2013)

How the right strategy can help create or increase demand for whatever is offered

This is one in a series of volumes that anthologizes what the editors of the Harvard Business Review consider to be the “must reads” in a given business subject area, in this instance strategic marketing. I have no quarrel with any of their selections, each of which is eminently deserving of inclusion. Were all of these ten article purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be $60 and the value of any one of them exceeds that. Given the fact that Amazon now sells this one for only $16.16, that’s quite a bargain. The same is true of volumes in other series such as “Harvard Business Review on….” and “Harvard Business Essentials.” I also think there is great benefit derived from the convenience of having a variety of perspectives and insights gathered in a single volume

In all of the volumes in the “10 Must Read” series that I have read thus far, the authors and HBR editors make skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include “Idea in Brief” and “Idea in Action” sections, checklists with and without bullet points, boxed mini-commentaries (some of which are “guest” contributions from other sources), and graphic charts and diagrams that consolidate especially valuable information. These and other devices facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review later of key points later.

Those who read this volume will gain valuable information, insights, and counsel that will help them to determine which business they are really in, how to create products and services that people need to get their work done and done right, how to get a bird’s eye view of their brand’s strengths and weaknesses, how to tap a market that’s larger than China and India [begin italics] combined [end italics], how to deliver superior value to their B2B customers, and how to resolve all issues between and among departments, especially between sales and marketing

Here are three brief passages that are representative of the quality of the articles from which they are excerpted as well as the quality of the other seven articles in this volume.

From Marketing Myopia, Theodore Levitt, Pages 29-56: “In short, the organization must learn to think of itself not as producing goods of services but as buying customers , of doing the things that make people want to do business with it. And the chief executive officer has the inescapable responsibility for creating this environment, this viewpoint, this attitude, this aspiration. The chief executive must set the company’s style, its direction, and its goals.”

From Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure, Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, and Taddy Hall, Pages 57-76: “Thirty thousand new consumer products hit store shelves each year. Ninety percent of them fail. Why? We’re using misguided practices…Here’s a better way: Instead of trying to understand the ‘typical’ customer, find out what jobs people want to get done. Then develop [begin bold face] purpose brands [end bold face]: products or services customers can ‘hire’ to perform those jobs.”

From The One Number You Need to Grow, Frederick F. Reichheld, Pages 151-170: “Based on information from 4,000 consumers, we ranked a variety of survey questions according to their ability to predict this desirable behavior. (interestingly, Creating a weighted index – based on responses to multiple questions and taking into account the relative effectiveness of those questions – provided significant predictive advantage.)

“The top-ranking question was far and away the most effective across industries [what Reichheld characterizes as “The Ultimate Question”]:

o ‘How likely is it that you would recommend [company X] to a friend or colleague?’

“Two questions were especially effective predictors in certain industries:

o ‘How strongly do you agree that [company X] deserves your loyalty?’
o ‘How likely is it that you will continue to purchase products/services from [company X]?’

“Other questions, while useful in a particular industry, had little general applicability.” Reichheld then provides a list of those questions. The “number” to which the title of this article refers is generated by the Net Promoter® Score System, devised by Reichheld and discussed in this article and then thoroughly explained in two subsequent books, The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth (2006) and The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Revised and Expanded Edition): How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, with Bob Markey.

* * *

If you read nothing else on strategic marketing, read these ten classic articles from Harvard Business Review.

Posted in

Leave a Comment