A Conversation with Alvin Achenbaum in August 2013

 

Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book in part because I believe very strongly that there is a need in business today to re-establish the critical role marketing plays in economic success.  Marketing is a crucial component of the free competitive market system, which has its roots in earliest civilization, and is being vastly underutilized today.  I was motivated to share my experiences because I wanted to provide those in the field — including recent college graduates, small business owners and corporate executives — with everything they need to do their jobs better, from understanding the basic tenets of brand equity to how to create a strategic marketing plan.

Why is the role of marketing in today’s marketplace?

For too long, marketing has played second fiddle to finance in the mindsets of the public and of the aspiring young people just preparing to launch their careers. Frankly, I find it appalling, especially at this time when there is such an intense need to create the demand for innovative goods, that the role of marketing is so diminished. As I have learned over many decades, marketing methods have proven the most efficient and cost effective means of recovering from recessions. Kickstarting a faltering economy needs something besides an infusion of capital.  When there is a demand under a free enterprise system, business moves to meet it, hiring and purchasing needed components and raw materials with the resulting ripple effects going up the supply chain.  Marketing is the key to successfully guiding that process.

What needs to change?

I believe that companies need to be re-educated about the central role that marketing plays in economic activity.  A new generation of innovative managers needs to understand how critical marketing is to retaining brand leadership and to ensuring long-term financial health.  Beginning right now, U.S. businesses must dramatically improve their use of marketing effectiveness — and they must help the rest of the world to do the same.

How does your experience qualify you to address these changes?

I believe that my experience as a marketing practitioner puts me in an unusually advantageous position to provide practical, experience-based lessons to illuminate the critical role which marketing plays in all business success.  My real-life stories of brand successes and failures among major leading corporations of the past half century are instructive, applicable in today’s business environment and, I hope, a bit entertaining.

What do you hope your readers will take away?

It is my hope that the ideas presented here will inspire a conversation about getting the practice of marketing back on track.  There is no question in my mind that for our country to succeed in the increasing global and technologically complex future of business, back-to-basics marketing planning and research will be essential to business success.