Summary of Selling Blue Elephants

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Marketing gurus Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman believe their method of product testing, called Rule Developing Experimentation (RDE), can lower your costs, shorten turnaround time, and improve your product development, packaging, messaging and competitive analysis. RDE involves defining your problem, then testing a series of alternatives to determine its boundaries. The data you gather may confirm your expectations, but often enough it will contain surprises. Even if your customers can’t articulate their needs, their choices and behavior will show you what they want. RDE will also inform you about how to sell to each market segment. The authors illustrate their method with interesting case studies; they also include amusing, if irrelevant, sidebars (one covers the history of the tomato, for example). Their style may be digressive and flawed by the overuse of jargon, and some of the graphs and illustrations can be confusing, yet getAbstract recommends this book to experienced marketing managers who are tired of guessing about their strategies and want to base them on reliable data.

About the Authors

Howard Moskowitz is the president and CEO of a strategic brand development firm. In 2005 he received the Charles Coolidge Parlin Marketing Research Award. Alex Gofman earned degrees in computer science and holds several patents. He has published widely on the topic of technology-based experimental psychology.



Rule Developing Experimentation and Green Eggs In the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham, the character Sam-I-Am tries to persuade everyone he meets to try his “product” – green eggs and ham. They refuse. Sam-I-Am may be a character in a children’s book, but his approach is not so different from that of most businesspeople who have something new to sell: They make random guesses about who will like it, and approach the problem by trial and error. Instead of trying to appeal to particular market segments, they try to make something that will please everyone. In the process, they please no one.

The old methods of product testing such as focus groups and surveys are outdated. They are too narrow for the range of products and product features among which consumers can now choose.

Rule Developing Experimentation (RDE) can help you take the guesswork out of launching new products by testing features one at a time. RDE enables you to learn about customer preferences even before the customers themselves are aware of or able to articulate them. To use RDE, follow these steps:

  • “Think about the problem and identify groups of features...

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