“The mind is the ultimate battleground in all marketing wars.”
Although this phrase sounds like it could belong to a summer blockbuster, it is actually one of the driving principles behind businessman Jack Trout’s theories of strategy in the cutthroat marketing industry.
On Thursday evening, the Fairfield Quick Center stage hosted the world-renowned strategist as he presented on his experience in the marketing industry to an audience of over 300 students, faculty and community members.
To open the event, which was sponsored by the Fairfield Marketing Club, Dean of the Dolan School of Business Dr. Donald Gibson briefly introduced Trout. The author of 12 acclaimed marketing books, Trout helped found the essential concepts of differentiation and positioning as well as marketing warfare, which changed the landscape of the business and marketing industries.
Promising to take the audience “around the business world in 45 minutes or less,” Trout stressed the importance of global marketing in the world today. “Global marketing drives the world,” he said, “and you’ve got to figure out what you’re selling and how to sell it.”
Using a combination of humor, statistics and his own experiences working with brands, Trout gave an overview of the importance of differentiating and positioning. He frequently referenced the popular pizza chain Papa John’s, with whom he worked closely and helped to develop the famous slogan “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”
But Trout has also worked on campaigns much more broad in scope and far-reaching than Papa John’s. For example, Trout was brought to Spain as a consultant for their national tourism board to help develop the country’s marketing strategy and slogan “Everything under the sun.”
The Obama campaign also recently consulted Trout, who contributed ideas such as how to reach the middle class and market America overseas. While some of these ideas ended up in Obama’s speeches and talking points, Trout was quick to make sure he did not overstate his involvement in the campaign. “I was just an outsider saying, ‘Here’s an idea, you can use this, and this is how you can verbalize this,’” he said.
According to Trout, much of what he does as marketing strategist is playing the role of “corporate gunslinger.” He said, “You have to shoot a few ideas, and then you clean up the town. Then you have to tell the town fathers to keep up your work because the same bad people, the same bad ideas, are going to come back once I leave.”
Trout ended his presentation with about twenty minutes of question and answer from the audience.
Senior Peter Lyons was one audience member who asked about how recent graduates or soon-to-be graduates should differentiate themselves in the business world. In response, Trout said: “You have to figure out what you like and what you’re good at.”
Trout continued, “Go find a place where you can learn. Don’t ever work with stupid people. Smart people are where you’re going to learn … That’s the key.”
Audience members also included professionals such as Pamela Ciaburri, an account manager for Cox Media Group who came to hear Trout’s marketing advice. “Sales is one part of my job, but then I have to develop a campaign,” said Ciaburri.
“Getting advice from him will help the campaign continue and keep success coming, so it was really great to talk to him and get that advice.”
Dr. Rajasree Rajamma, an assistant professor of marketing at Fairfield, was one of the professors who worked with the Marketing Club to help organize the event.
She learned that John Neal, a visiting assistant professor of marketing at Fairfield, has been friends with Trout for over 20 years. “When I floated the idea of bringing Jack Trout, Mr. Neal contacted him and he agreed,” said Rajamma.
The event was a great success for both Marketing Club and the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield.
“When you read about a concept in a textbook or class, it is just a concept. But when the student associates it with a person, suddenly he or she starts realizing the importance of the same,” said Rajamma.
Del Prete is one such student who greatly appreciated the experience. “I don’t think anyone including myself understood the magnitude of how important and influential this man has been in the industry until hearing his presentation,” Del Prete said. “He’s simply a marketing genius and has an uncanny ability to simplify some of the most difficult things.”