Moments of Truth Cartoon: Homework…Bridging the Information Gap for Marketers

Moments of Truth: Homework

Moments of Truth: Homework

This is the fourth in Motista’s series of cartoons by award-winning cartoonist Tom Fishburne, titled “Moments of Truth.” We’re looking forward to your input on this cartoon and any issues related to consumer connection you’d like to see us lampoon in the future. If you post your feedback as a comment by next Tuesday, August 2, we will send you a print of this “Marketoon” signed by Tom (U.S. addresses only).

The inspiration for this cartoon is the Hindenburg, an archetype loaded with calamitous inevitability. The marketing team portrayed here is ready to launch something big, and we already know the outcome. (Let’s face it: a cartoon about a campaign that comes in 17% under goal isn’t as entertaining.)

The C-level executive, only seconds before marketing cuts the cord, is downright scared. He assumes (and prays) that marketing has done its “homework” to justify this monumental, resource-draining event.

The eager marketer reminds him that they went overboard to prepare for the launch, hoping to temporarily relieve worry and get on with it.

This “moment of truth” you can really feel.

Great marketing is about taking risks. The Hindenburg did capture the public’s imagination. And the Hindenburg’s “equity” is still paying dividends. (According to, a surviving bottle of beer from the disaster recently sold for $8,350 per bottle.)

So, here’s one for the marketers, their courage, “sweaty palms” and risk-taking ways. Without them, there is no big sales “upside.” There is no memorable commercial. There is no social wave.

But, it can be made easier.

Yes, marketing requires a bit more courage because intelligence about what really motivates consumers can be a little sketchy. (For clarification, the problem is in no way the specific choice of Topeka for the focus groups.) Focus groups or other qualitative methods—combined with agency “brilliance”—can and do shape great campaigns. But an information gap persists, one we all experience, yet we don’t always see.

And that’s why doubt and uncertainty lurk beneath the surface. CMOs who, in poll after poll, express their desire for better metrics about consumers, know well this “moment of truth” when they go on the line to recommend a huge campaign investment. This moment repeats itself on a smaller scale as questions about brand, marketing expenditures and competing for consumer affection rise daily.

So, is it getting any better when it comes to information for marketers? (That wouldn’t be a leading question, would it?)

Most marketers I know do their homework. Problem is, consumer intelligence hasn’t kept up with the times. It’s the marketer here who is the hero. She works really hard with the information available to her, rallies enthusiasm, exercises courage and tries to move her brand and company forward. The fact that she doesn’t have high-quality consumer intelligence about what really matters in motivating consumers on hand to share with the scared executive now, or months earlier, is a deficiency of the research and business information category that serves her.

Motista, for one, wants to help her bridge that gap.

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About Alan Zorfas

A 30-year marketing veteran, Alan Zorfas co-founded Motista with Scott Magids in 2007. He has led the creation of its breakthrough consumer intelligence product and is now driving the company’s go-to-market plan.
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5 Responses to Moments of Truth Cartoon: Homework…Bridging the Information Gap for Marketers

  1. avatar Hayley says:

    This cartoon highlights glaring issues that occur often when developing a new product. The first problem is an over-reliance on focus groups on the part of marketing and management in general. Focus groups have their place in the market research process, but I have seen marketers time and again fall into the trap of relying on the opinions of a handful of consumers when making changes to either products or brand messaging. These groups can be taken over quickly by the most vocal of the participants and are clearly subject to group think. That organizations will take this information as gospel has always baffled me. Of course, as we see above, the fact that these groups can be so easily sent in a particular direction can be a boon to marketing and management when they need to CYA. As always, Tom hits home because we see these situations so often.

  2. avatar Sandra says:

    Getting management to care about the consumer throughout the innovation process can be one of the biggest challenges for market researchers. Like in the cartoon, we always have that launch meeting in which everyone checks the appropriate boxes, including market research. I’d like to throw out the check-list and focus on the consumer throughout the process.

  3. avatar Lawrence says:

    Love this one as it’s always been one of those things that I don’t quite get. Yes, you need to have done your homework and preparation for a launch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean focus groups (look at Apple). Truly understanding consumers is all to often overlooked and tossing out trial and error scenarios seems insane to me. I also feel that the bigger issue here is that you have to be able to learn, adapt and react to the changes following a launch to adjust for any miscalculations. Nevertheless, Tom your art is always on the mark and so real in true-to-life business experiences.

  4. avatar TimConnorsNJ says:

    The problem here is the “”c-level” feigning interest at the moment of truth, rather than getting involved early on (or better still, sharing a vision and giving his managers the tools to carry it out, then trusting their judgment as they do so).

    This isn’t antiquated marketing, it’s antiquated management.

  5. Pingback: launch homework | Tom Fishburne: Marketoonist

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