In Search of the Obvious | Jack Trout

Summary of: In Search of the Obvious: The Antidote for Today’s Marketing Mess
By: Jack Trout


In today’s world of commoditization and information overload, businesses are struggling to maintain brand identity and stand out from the crowd. In the book ‘In Search of the Obvious: The Antidote for Today’s Marketing Mess’, author Jack Trout argues that the key to marketing success lies in simplicity and common sense. This book summary offers the valuable lessons and insights gleaned by Trout, who emphasizes the importance of simplicity, understanding, timeliness, and intuition in marketing strategy. You’ll learn the pitfalls of relying too much on complex research and technology, and discover the tactics that can steer your marketing efforts back on track by finding and leveraging the obvious aspects of your brand.

The Power of Common Sense in Marketing

The increasing commoditization of branded products and services has led to a lack of distinction in the market. Marketing experts attribute the rapid turnover of chief marketing officers to a failure to see the obvious solution. Robert Updegraff’s 1916 book, “Obvious Adams,” presents the timeless concept that good ideas are simple, understandable, easy to explain, instinctive, and timely. Common sense is often undervalued in the commercial world, where jargon and inaccurate data prevail. To avoid missing the obvious, marketers must focus on reality, listen to others, and embrace a bit of healthy skepticism.

The Importance of Keeping it Simple

A company’s success is largely dependent on a CEO’s understanding that customers’ opinions dictate results. However, many executives lose sight of the importance of simplicity and clarity in their decision making. Research can also be misleading, with false assumptions leading to poor business choices. The pressure from Wall Street to expand, even when it is not in the best interest of the business, adds to this confusion. For example, Krispy Kreme’s overexpansion resulted in quick success followed by a sharp decline. While segmentation studies and observing consumer behavior can provide some insight, they do not necessarily explain if the segment is worth pursuing. Instead, research should provide a quick snapshot of how customers view your product and competition. Ultimately, companies need to focus on keeping things simple and straightforward, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

Breaking the Addiction of Technology

The excessive use of technology can be more harmful than we think. It deprives us of quiet thinking time, bombards us with information, and lowers our attention span. As a result, we become addicted to checking emails and text messages, leading to mental disorientation. The author highlights that advertising should focus on selling products rather than just entertaining people. He also mentions that word-of-mouth and buzz marketing have credibility but not for all products. To break the cycle, the author suggests delegating tasks, being selective in what we read, and minimizing distractions. In essence, this book is a guide on how people can effectively control their use of technology to maximize productivity and balance in their lives.

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