Via Gill Gunson, I learned of a “blog meme” that’s making the rounds. It’s called the Interview Game. Gill asked me five questions and I’ve included my answers below:

1. How important do you think education is for marketing and business people? Is it comparable to experience?

Education is important for everyone, not just marketing and business people. But I don’t think it replaces experience. It complements it. There are many paths in life and many ways to get to the same or alternate destinations. That being said, spending a few years in school forces you to focus on things you might not otherwise find time for. When I was doing my MBA, I had to spend countless hours thinking about business cases and theories, often in disciplines outside my own area of expertise. But I worked full-time during the program, so I had a constant exchange of formal education and practical experience. In fact, I worked full-time throughout much of my undergrad, too, so my education experience has never been in a vacuum. For me, the combination had been important, since my varied education has allowed me to explore concepts I would not encounter in the workplace. Likewise, my work experience has grounded and tested what I’ve learned.

2. Do you believe that the same rules of marketing apply to all demographics, or that how a company promotes a product really depends on the age, education, and lifestyle of its customers? Obviously not everyone is going to like blinky lights and dance routines, but disregarding the specifics, are consumers really that varied in what attracts them to a product?

The same rules of marketing always apply, but the strategy and implementation vary. To develop and market a product, you need to understand your customers, choose the right ones, and speak to them on a level that’s compelling for them. The product may help to determine the market, but approaching that market is also key. People are alike in that they are attracted to products that meet their needs, wants, interests, and opportunity costs. But those factors and their weightings vary for each person. So you can’t expect the same marketing mix to work for everyone.

3. What benefits have you received from maintaining a business blog? Would you recommend it to others in your field?

My blog helps me communicate with customers and prospects. It keeps me current — to come up with content, I have to stay on top of what’s going on in my field. My blogs also helps with search engine rankings, gives people another reason to visit my site, and keeps them here longer than a basic site would. Since implementing the blog, my site traffic has increased by 500 percent and I have been able to reduce my investments in other promotional activities. I have a steady stream of leads and new customers. I’ve also been approached by the media and was recently involved in a pilot tape for a major media outlet. I’ve also made connections with people in my field. All this has come via my blog. I don’t recommend blogs to all businesses, though. You need to have a strategy, ability to implement, metrics, and a compelling reason to blog. It really needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy, not a replacement for it.

4. If you could figuratively slap a company for its ad campaign, which company would it be, and why?

You can’t say Dairy Queen for their Moolattes, as you’ve already talked about that on your blog.

Canadian Tire commercials irritate me. The Canadian Tire Guy and his family seem to have an endless amount of cash to spend on every possible product. And they never talk to one another! The husband and wife constantly surprise one another with power generators, air compressors, house-sized tents and more. I’d hate to see their Visa bill, although perhaps they subsist on Canadian Tire money. If I had more time, I’d start logging their purchases. It would be interesting to see their home inventory.

5. If the company in your answer to question 4 agreed with you in your assessment of their marketing strategy, and asked you to take over that particular campaign, what would you do differently?
Although I’m annoyed by Canadian Tire commercials, I’m not convinced they’re a bad idea. I’m hardly a loyal customer, but I’m able to recall their ads, characters, products and even pricing with little effort. The predictability of the ad formula reinforces the image of Canadian Tire as a reliable retail outlet with good deals on a variety of products — more than just tires. Although the ads don’t work for me, they do work. See my answer to question 2, above.

The Official Interview Game Rules

  • If you want to participate, email me saying “interview me” (it’s a self-tagging meme).
  • I will respond by asking you five questions — each person’s will be different.
  • You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
  • You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
  • When others reply, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    (c) 2005 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.