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Monday, July 25, 2016


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In order to ring the cash register (i.e., make a sale) we first have to trigger a customer behavior. This is Part C of “Critical Marketing Mistakes – ‘Bad’ Behaviors.” Part A covered “Bad” Behaviors. Part B revealed “Authentic” or good behaviors. If you missed these click here:

Critical Marketing Mistakes - "BAD" Behaviors - Part A

Critical Marketing Mistakes - "BAD" Behaviors - Part B



Part C, the final installment of this article, covers:

  • What’s the Big Deal About Behaviors?
  • The Essential Questions
  • Boats & Helicopters


So, What’s the Big Deal About “Behaviors?”

Unfortunately, from our experience with our client companies, which are among the most admired in the world, few marketers (or their agencies) think about and/or make choices regarding the customer behaviors they need to drive incremental sales, achieve their business objectives, generate a positive return on investment, leverage resources and/or measure performance. As a result of not focusing on behavior objectives these organizations and their brands wallow in ignorance squandering precious resources, mounting opportunity losses and eroding organization and brand health.


The big deal is if the marketer isn’t focused on behaviors then s/he, and the company, is not creating a clear line of sight to sales. They don’t know what they are trying to accomplish with a marketing initiative or how they are going to get there. In the words of the late Yogi Berra, “any road will (not) get you there!” (Parentheses are ours.)


The California Dairy Board’s 1992 “Got Milk?” campaign is a classic case in point for identifying and addressing the correct behavior. After years of consistent declines in milk consumption the “Got Milk?” campaign was able to arrest the decline. This came about from getting on the right track with an appropriate authentic behavior goal, which, in turn, led to the development of a compelling campaign based upon a “legitimate” and “productive” consumer insight.


Interestingly, the behavior the marketers originally sought out was stimulating adoption, specifically to get people to drink milk. If you asked me “Do you drink milk?” my answer would be an unequivocal “No!” I haven’t had a glass of milk since I was a child and even then it was forced upon me. I didn’t prefer it then nor do I prefer it today. If you were to ask me “Do you eat (boxed) cereal?” the answer is “Yes, I do.” The follow-up question is “What do you put on your cereal, Budweiser?” The answer is “Of course not. I use milk.” Aha! The realization was that the needed behavior wasn’t to drive adoption of milk since consumers, like me, have already adopted it. We consumer it! The correct behavior was to get consumers to consume it more frequently.


This led to the campaign where milk was linked to foods we crave that go better with milk like chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, brownies, Frosted Flakes, etc. The campaign produced results. Oh for the want of a correct behavior, and insight (more on that in another issue).


The big deal is focus on behaviors will also encourage a meaningful dialogue and investigation with other functions (such as the sales force) in the organization. It will serve to help us to think through what we need to accomplish more deeply and clearly so we make the correct choice. It’s about identifying those authentic behaviors the brand requires to achieve its business goals and generate favorable productivity from each of its investments for initiatives in the marketplace. It’s about creating a blueprint for line of sight accountability not just for marketing but also for the sales force and support staff (e.g., agencies).


The Essential Questions

Let’s apply the practice of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). What’s the one, most important question every marketer should ask her/himself (even if senior managers don’t)?


“What behaviors do we need to generate?”


This addresses “why” we are proposing or conducting a given marketing strategy and/or initiative. But marketers have not been asking themselves this question because their senior managers aren’t asking it. What a pity. It’s all about what you need to accomplish to grow your brand and business.


Assuming we can answer the question with an authentic behavior then the logical follow-up question is:


“What behaviors will this marketing initiative generate?”


This address whether we are using our limited resources appropriately.


If we can get this far (with these two essential questions) then we’ve made real progress because it suggests we know what we want to accomplish and we’re using it as a filter to assess everything we do for appropriateness and relevancy to achieving our business objectives. (There are a few more questions that we’ll pose in a later article in this series.)



Let’s keep this simple:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge that triggering customer behaviors results in sales – The connection is indisputable. Don’t just acknowledge it in word, but where it really counts, in deed.

  2. Adopt good behaviors – Choose “authentic” behaviors. Appreciate the difference between superordinate behaviors and subordinate objectives and apply each appropriately. Use the correct nomenclature so that the behavior is incapable of being misunderstood and will direct problem solving, opportunity analyses and resultant marketing activities fittingly.

  3. Identify and pursue the most meaningful behaviors – Specifically, we need to identify and prioritize pursuit of those behaviors that will lead to the most incremental sales. Do the math!

  4. Get in the habit of asking “the following essential questions”


“What behaviors do we need to generate?”

(What we are trying to accomplish.)




“What behaviors will this marketing initiative generate?”

(Whether this is an appropriate use of our resources.)


            And, don’t proceed without answering both, to your satisfaction.


If we can be of service to you in any of the aforementioned ways, please don’t hesitate to let us know. All you need to do is click reply and we’ll start a dialogue.


Best wishes in choosing “authentic” behaviors to make your marketing matter (more),


Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney


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Richard Czerniawski

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Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 

reply to Richard:



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.761.4038                

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