Achenbaum’s Contributions to the Industry

Throughout his career, Alvin Achenbaum was widely respected both as a researcher and as an intellectual within the advertising and marketing communities. He pioneered and refined new techniques in marketing research, such as behavior and attitude studies, copy testing and pre-testing, and measurement and media comparisons.  He wrote on a wide range of ethical and professional issues, including manipulation in advertising, agency expansion and agency organization. Achenbaum generated considerable controversy by challenging the way that agencies were compensated by clients and by creating a revolutionary approach to the agency selection process.

A true believer in empirical study, Achenbaum applied well-crafted quantitative market research methods to business problems.  His findings often reinforced, but occasionally refuted, the intuition and judgment of those closest to a particular project. Ultimately, the scientific processes he developed proved essential to addressing a multitude of business challenges.  In fact, today his methods are consistently applied to market research design, strategic planning, and advertising and product development by marketers around the world.  Ultimately, industry experts credit Achenbaum with making several critical contributions to today’s complex business world.

Below is a list of the Six Lessons in Achenbaum’s e-book, Lessons Learned: A Practitioner’s Guide to Successful Marketing followed by an explication of the author’s related and unique contributions to the industry.


Lesson 1: Building and protecting a strong brand identity is key to success in any business

Lesson 1 presents an overview of what gives brands value and provides guidance on how to use a systematic process to create a unique branded product which is differentiated from its competition.  The author’s contribution was the development of the Basic Brand Asset Model, a scientifically-based, strategic approach to creating a brand identity.


Lesson 2: Understanding consumer attitudes and behavior is fundamental to designing a meaningful brand strategy

Lesson 2 guides marketers in identifying the ideal consumers for a brand.  It advocates the use of an innovative market survey technique, known as the Market target/Buying incentive study, to aid in the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior.  The author’s contribution, which was the development of this powerful new research tool, used the integration of psychological perceptions with quantitative analysis to identify consumers and define market segments.


Lesson 3: Keeping up with an ever-changing marketplace requires disciplined strategic marketing planning

Lesson 3 lays out a step-by-step process for translating a brand’s strategy into an effective action plan.  The author’s formidable contribution was the development of a systematic strategic marketing planning process, which calls for a disciplined articulation of key business goals and the identification of specific quantifiable strategies, as well as market-tested tactics for achieving those goals in the marketplace.


Lesson 4: The application of science to marketing makes brand management more professional and improves results

Lesson 4 addresses the critical role that the prudent application of science plays in brand success.  It guides the marketer in identifying which quantifiably-based market research methods will best answer a brand’s strategic questions and thus provide actionable and replicable results.  The author’s contribution to this effort was the creation of a novel, systematic approach to testing market variables.  This research method, known as the Checkerboard market test, can accurately project marketplace results on a multitude of variables, and can therefore direct both plan development and implementation.


Lesson 5: Identifying real media exposure is critical to evaluating advertising effectiveness

Lesson 5 focuses very specifically on how to evaluate the effectiveness of a brand’s communications strategy.  It addresses the marketer’s need to determine if a brand’s advertising is reaching the appropriate consumers and, equally important, if it is reaching the consumer with enough frequency to convince them to purchase a product.  The author’s contribution to this process was to create a new effective rating point tool to improve the assessment of advertising effectiveness. This method, which measures the actual number of times a consumer is exposed to an ad, remains the standard by which many media plans are judged today. 


Lesson 6: A successful client-agency partnership will drive business and brand performance

Finally, Lesson 6 addresses the critical role a successful agency-client partnership plays in ensuring great brand communications and corresponding business success.   The author’s groundbreaking work addressed an industry void in two areas – first, how to help clients identify the optimum strategic agency partner and, second, how to develop a fee structure which equitably meets both parties’ needs.  Achenbaum’s specific contributions were: 1) The creation of a system for identifying the right communications agency partner, and 2) The development of an equitable tailored agency compensation agreement to ensure results.  Today these two mainstays of business practices are universally employed in the creation of mutually-beneficial agency-client working relationships.


A practitioner’s perspective

Over the course of six decades as a practitioner in the field, Achenbaum advised and aided over 150 clients, from Fortune 500 powerhouses to novice single-brand start-ups.   He saw first hand the challenges that marketers faced, what works and doesn’t work in the marketplace, as well as the opportunities offered by experimenting with innovative research methods and conducting rigorous strategic planning.  Through these experiences, Achenbaum gained invaluable insight into how best to address the business issues of today—and how best to help determined marketers prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.  The six most important Lessons he learned, as well Achenbaum’s unique contributions to the marketing, advertising and research worlds, are all outlined in detail in Lessons Learned: A Practitioner’s Guide to Successful Marketing.


Download the book