Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” This concept of “Maslow’s hammer” means to overly rely on a familiar tool.
This cartoon was inspired from an insight I heard from a CMO at a CPG company. He talked about the knee-jerk approaches that marketers frequently take when they join a new brand: immediately change the packaging, change the advertising, etc. Yet sometimes these tactics are not only inappropriate; they can actually cause harm.
This CMO talked about an example early in his career when his company acquired a brand. The first thing he did was completely change the packaging design, packaging format, and advertising. He discovered that sales dropped off a cliff. He had succeeded in making the brand unfamiliar to its customers.
This is also what Tropicana learned in 2009 when it redesigned it’s packaging so dramatically that sales dropped 20% in two months and they ultimately returned to the previous design.
Marketers are prone to pulling the same familiar tools from their toolkit. This is particularly apparent when there’s turnover in the team. The rise of data-driven marketing is calling into question how many of those tools are used.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the marketing tools in the toolkit.
Here’s a cartoon from two year’s ago on the CMO revolving door: